“Bowl Bash is a yearly event in Ohio, that attracts the Big Guns, and the Scary Brave. I consumed more alcohol in this week than in the previous several years combined, i think it was a survival response.”

The Road to Skatopia
-Gizzard

This is a necessary trip for me, as a Skateboarder. Rutland… it’s a holy land of sorts. This hellride has been in the works for many, many moons. Between the beer, gasoline, minimart food, and missed work, I’m taking a real big kick in the finances for this trip. (next month maybe someone could loan me a few hundred bucks for rent?) I’m stoked and hyper and today is the first of my scheduled days off. Sweet, sweet laundry day. I havent done my laundry in months, and honestly, it was getting foul. I weighed the options: Laundromat vs. Mom’s house. 10 bucks to do all my laundry and hang out with those wacky ghetto folk, or take the train bi-state and do it for free. Either way i gotta ride the bus. After careful consideration I went with the cheaper method and took the train across the Mississippi. As i walk down the sidewalk away from my door, one of the midwest’s famous “flash thunderstorms” tears the sky apart around me.

The midwestern thunderstorm is somethin’ fierce, by God. The wind grew stiff, lightning cracked, the sky opened… and within steps, I was soaked through with huge fat rain drops. My heavy ass laundry was now double it’s original weight, and it was then that i knew defeat. I raised my eyes to the heavens and stood before the storm lords..humbled. In response to the brutal grace of nature’s fury, i made up a new expressionist dance I like to call, “Angry, wet, man with two heavy cloth sacks. Pissed at God.” There is some stomping and arm flailing, accompanied by soaring gutteral vocals. It is a dance of tragic grace, and sadly, a one time performance. The passing motorists seem to have enjoyed it. Yeah. Rad.
It’s half a mile to the busstop from here, start walkin’.
RIIIDDIIINNG TTHHEEE BUUSSS……
RIIDE THHE TRAAIIN..

I walk another half mile to Ma’s casa from the train stop and now my arms feel like they are on fire from the inside. The laundry is soo fucking heavy and it’s been an hour and a half since I left home.
Laundromat = good. Remember that shit.
I drank some water, plunked in the laundry and went to sleep on the couch, only to be awakened by the cellular death knell. Sarcoma head. On the phone is my man, Baconpiss Dan, telling me all about how he slammed his car into some chick’s car, and that the hellride needs to find a new wagon. No Car! It seems we won the BONUS ROUND, and the scramble is on….
“who has credit cards, with actual money on them?”
“When is payday?”
“Do you owe me money?..seriously, i think you do, pony up.”
“ever rented a car before? ..me either.”
“does the bus go there…no, fuck that. i’ll thumb it.”
“I gotta get gunpowder and film.”
“do we need the extra insurance? it’s 20 bucks a day extra..”
“how far can you walk in 8 hours?”
“someone may die on this trip, i hope it’s me.”
“How come every road trip i go on starts like this?”

Fuck yeah, this is looking like a mighty fine trip indeed.
Dan wrecked his car all up, hitting some chick who claims whiplash, so the decision was made to rent a car. Easy as pie. HaHa. Right. When you look like us and you roll into the local Thrifty Car Rental, shit gets all kinds of sketchy…quick. The lady was having trust issues with me in particular probably because we were waving a bunch of cash around and I was drinking beer from a “32oz Minit-Mart Man-Mug” at 11am. Whatever. It was most definitely not a go.

We decide to bag the whole business, throw all our shit in the broken car and see how close we can get before it breaks for good. We were hoping to at least make Louisville. 25 minutes in, as we cruise down the highway in the red turbulance rocket that is dan’s car, the weather gets dodgy. Then it got wild, and continued to get crazier and crazier until it became a storm of biblical proportion. I’m fucking talking about a 60+ MPH dust storm followed by rain sheeting sideways so hard it blocks out the sun, kinda shit. We opt for a store trip to see if it blows past, as i open the car door, the wind grabs it and violently slams the door against the front quarterpanel. Car doors are not supposed to open that far, it seems. So.. I’m standing there gawking at the unhinged door, trying to figure out how to tell dan his door is most likely not gonna close again…ever, when the wind snatches my bitchin’ new sunglasses and whips them across the parking lot. It was then i decided that so far things were going well, and it seems that we are right on track. We manage to wedge the car door shut and it looks like its “Dukes of Hazzard” action from here on out. There is something super funny about pulling into a gas station in Kentucky and jumping in and out of the window, i’ll tell you what. Its like hillbilly nascar. i think the local ‘necks respected the concept.

Anyhow, we ditched for Louisville and made it with no incidents aside from me smoking pot constantly while Dan drove…you see, Baconpiss is straight edge, and that means he’s no friend of the reefer. We spent two days in Louisville, alternately riding around, dodging psychotic BMX bandits, and taking drunk naps on the sidewalk by the retaining wall. We skated with the Axis Skateshop fellers and they were stand up guys. we bought shit to support the cause, and we were glad to. We also met the goddess we call “Vert Girl”. This vision of all that is good in this world, is my new imaginary wife. Vert Girl is blonde, petite, hot as hell and blasts enormous airs. I dont know her name which is just as well, because if I did, I would be parked by her mailbox professing my love through a bullhorn. So yeah, we skated and it was fun. There was big money in town via the “Mountain Dew something-or-other Contest”, and it brought the ego mafia out, but at least the sessions were charged. We took it easy, knowing Ohio was coming. We crashed on the vert ramp deck and had rest. I awoke the next morning to vibration i was unfamiliar with. As i opened my eyes, the first sight of the day was a dude with a ponytail, flying, holding frontside with a tucked knee. It was like a hazy dream, he seemed to stay there for a long time and when his wheels clicked in just below coping, the fog cleared. Suddenly i was wide awake and the world sped up. i was charged up from minute one. The Lesson: Sleep on the decks and the Board Lords will send a message that the path you follow is the rightous one.

We packed our hyper asses into the demolition derby car (through the window, of course) and bugged out for Rutland. So, mapquest sucks. It sucks an extra 3.5 hours worth of asshole. We forgot our skatopia directions on the table, so I drive and Dan goes to sleep, no doubt figuring we’ll be lost in rural Ohio forever. well let me tell ya’ a thing! I got the head compass, i am a seasoned road warrior and i can smell concrete from miles away. I can track skateboarders like a bloodhound! OK..in truth, Rutland seemingly has only one gas station. Skateboarders need beer. Simple Math = Follow the leader. I never even came to a complete stop before i spotted my targets and we were off into the countryside following some people we had never even seen. 10 minutes later we were driving beneath the famed entryway to Skatopia and i couldnt help but lay into the demoderby car a bit and toss some gravel around on the way up the hill. We had arrived.

We parked mid-hill and got out to cruise the grounds. It was a good crowd of strictly skateboarders, everybody trying to get wound up. At first look, skatopia is a staggering sight. Everything is HUGE. When you first see The Punisher’s barn, it fuck’s up your head a little. The bottom floor has a cafe/lunch counter and a mirrored stage with a stripper pole. Look to the right, just past the stairs, and you’ll see a 20 something foot fullpipe that goes through the entire building. It gives the illusion of looking at the backyard ramp through a telescope with both eyes open..ya know what i mean? Its strictly Beetlejuice type shit. Fucking Gilligan’s Island/Swiss Family Robinson/Peterpan Land. With the exception of the concrete cradle addition the average shallow end height is about 7′ and deep-ends hover around 12′ or oververt, whichever would be harder to skate, in that spot. This shit is scary and kinked and it’s the best shit ever. E-V-E-R. The first night was pretty mellow and we skated the metal/wood hybrid “King Dong” ramp until dawn, The capsule bowl in the back is awesome. It has harsh sidewalk concrete and metal coping scattered all around it in strange places and the seams in the metal sheeting are so far apart you can almost catch a finger in em’. I bled every nearly every time i slammed on this thing, and that was fine. Late in the evening, when i became Jaegermeister brave and less people would witness my potential demise I took my first runs in the Big Bean. The Punisher is the horse that Death rides upon. We’ve all seen it, but, in person its the most menacing bowl i’ve ever had the priveledge to worship in. The waterfall alone looks like it could either drop you to the center of the earth or provide enough speed to blast you into another dimension. It’s big, steep, and its hard to even run up on foot. Immediatly after navigating the waterfall you are shot into a 13 foot-ish wall that seems to never end. It’s a glorious feeling until you look over your shoulder going frontside and it’s kinda like looking out an airplane window…I thought I could see my house from up there. One walks away from its embrace glad to have survived the experience.

We fucked shit up with fireworks, ate bratwurst, drank, hung out with some real deal swamptrog skateboarders and i felt like we had come home. The real ruckus began saturday morning…most of us saw the sun risebut few knew what carnage awaited.

After 2 1/2 hours sleep, i awake to a heavy thudding noise.I couldn’t immediately identify it, but it was familiar, and I was confused. I look over to the left and i see some girls sitting in a car. I look about, kinda dazed, and don’t see anything more interesting than girls so i look back towards them just in time to see a young lady shove a rifle out the window and let the clip loose, just ripping rounds into the sky. The sweet thunder of gunfire as an alarm clock and once again i’m amped out of my mind first thing in the morning. I fish a beer outta the cooler, grab a camera and take off to check out survey what carnage i may have missed. I trundle down the rocky, dusty, gravel driveway and I’m passed several times by guys on skateboards, SKITCHING CARS, DOWNHILL. ON GRAVEL. fucking crazy. One soldier caught the rock and shared his blood with the earth right at my feet, so i handed him my new beer and continued on my way. The first thing i see as i approach the barn, is a Jeep Cherokee that was operational and in good shape just a couple hours ago, burned out and broken, parked on the stairs. How did I miss that? I then vow to not sleep anymore. I wander up to a girl at the base of the stairs just as another guy shouts to her, “Hey, aren’t you the chick running around naked, covered in mud last night?” to which she replies, “I hope not.” It was, but she had no memory of the incident, which is probably better for her. Rutland is so crazy that my beer addled brain never even registered a muddy/drunk/naked girl in the rain as something odd, until someone reminded me that i was there to see it. I remembered, and nearly fell off the stairs with laughter. After a 2 cheeseburger and beer breakfast, its time to skate. skatopia burgers are badass.

As I head for the top of the hill, a gasoline fueled, black mushroom cloud erupts and I start sprinting uphill. The first car has met it’s fiery demise since our arrival and I missed it. Some folks apparently upended a gas can into the car and shot a roman candle at it, with spectacular results. We lurked a heated session on the ‘crete park with the CIA family, while the smell of gasoline and charred metal lingered all around. During the session, some renegades with a bus start pulling wire, cable and cardboard tubes from a bag. I decide that I should be paying close attention to what they are doing, and when they set off across the field to a parked car, i am rewarded for my vigilance. A man spends maybe half an hour with the car and suddenly takes off running like his ass is on fire, which would be true if he had run any slower. The car detonates with a huge concussion and an unholy fireball, flinging car parts and dirt all over the place. FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC! i look to my right and i see that everyone else is full of flaming, exploding, violent joy. i decided that i needed to find fireworks in the trunk of the car.

About this time the “grass sled” was conjured up. it works like this: tear the hood off of an exploded vehicle, attach it with chain to a truck, put some drunk people on it and drive as fast as possible across the field. soo funny watching hammered folks get flung off the hood and into the grass at 40 MPH. it was a study in ragdoll physics. the game ended when a crusty punk kid decided to dive on it as it went by and nearly severed his arm. he recieved one of the worst, deepest, goriest elbow injuries i have ever seen for his bravery. duh…jagged metal edges flying by at speed is not the best thing to dive onto. punker guy knows that now, as valuable a lesson as i have ever seen. as im looking at the jacked elbow a red truck goes whipping by with some girls in the back, and they are fucking flying down the dirt track. they whip through all the camps in a loop, narrowly missing tents and people, and come back for a second go..but this time the camp was ready and trash of all sorts had been gathered in preparation. As the girls pass by the tidal wave of trash started flying and they punch the truck up to terminal velocity, nearly bucking people out the back and swerving into the main camp area, causing people to literally dive for cover to avoid being hit by the truck. By the time they passed the camp, the bed was full of trash and the broads in the back were bummed. Drive down a busy sidewalk and you have the proper visual. At this juncture I decide that I want to be somewhere else because i’m too loaded to see crazy trucks bearing down on me, until it’s far too late. I wandered off, and i got drunk again/still and lost alot of saturday afternoon wandering around talking to people i sorta remember. im still looking for it that afternoon, but i know its certainly not in my lost shoes, which apparently i had hurled way under the car for some reason or another. i do recall watching some nice woman trying to stitch up that punk kids elbow at the lunch counter, and that was pretty rad. Once again at dusk, and we are skating the kingdong again, except this time I can get speed and do airs. There is also a documentary film crew present and they were asking me questions that i could only reply to with inane rambling, such is my state of mind. They were cool folks. My theory is that in order to ride skatopia, alchohol is a must…communication skills are not. Interrupting the continual cry of “Where is the waterbong?” over the bullhorn, someone announces the beginning of the boobie competition over the PA system and the craziness begins anew.

Bruce announced the tittie festival and called his strippers, which were culled from the attendees, and they take the stage. first up is a punk chick who had been topless for several days. yay. titties are less exciting when you can’t escape them, i think. next up is a chick who won’t strip who is heckled off the stage, so far this is pretty weak.. But bruce had a suprise!

The drunken slut who looks like paris hilton takes the stage and we all cheer. she runs onto the stage, throws 2 fingers down her throat and hurls yellow vomit all over the place. the place erupted with a combination of respect and revulsion. Fucking rad, if you ask me. The punk chick tries to one up her by stripping down and introducing her puckered starfish to the folks. She succeeds when some dude in the front row, plants his face square into her unwashed ass, courtesy of a shove from his drunk buddy standing behind him. The place had become a rock and roll nightmare! Z-Flex Wrex’s shouts of “TAKE A DUMP!” went unanswered, sadly. We all gradually start to lose interest and drift back to skating.

Tonight is the night that the locals, dubbed “miegs-icans”, come out to play with the skateboarders. Imagine 500 skateboarders being infiltratred by several hundred toothless Ohio rednecks, and the party they would have. YOU CANNOT. I could hardly believe that nobody died due to the combination of reckless behaviors these two groups consider to be acceptable. The fireworks battle on saturday was epic and hairy. If you didnt get burned, you werent playing hard enough. I got my scar and bailed out to ride the king dong by firelight. Bruce’s dog eats fireworks. it seriously eats ’em…lit. Everything in Ohio is core, including the animals. The word had been put out that the cops were coming to raid the place and bruce gave more bullhorn instructions. his instructions were as follows: “You all better be throwing bottles! if you arent, your outta here.” Sounded like game on to me, so i put an empty in each back pocket and watched Bruce drive his bulldozer down the road where I’m told he constructed a makeshift roadblock, parked the dozer in the middle of it, and wandered back to the party. Cop problem solved, i guess.

The Punisher session was getting out of hand and i’m glad i was there for it. The people were going for it. I’ll save the list of riders and hammers, cause it doesnt matter anyway. My band highlight for the evening was “VALIENT THORR”, a band on the volcom rip-ride, and they fucking blew the house down! I collected myself for long enough to realize I was hanging from a rafter over the pit, swinging a frothing beer can like it was a war hammer, and losing my mind. Off the rafter on onto the floor like a drunken old whirlwind, i went dancing. then someone hit me in the head with an elbow, i stumbled, and bruce (in a bright pink construction helmet) crashed over the top of me with at least two other people in tow. After the set I nicked a lonely beer from some redneck guy, and went in search of something. I staggered around the grounds, watching guys jump 4-wheelers over bonfires and such, until i came to the ‘crete park. It was pitch black and we were drunk and we wanted lights…right now. the hunt for illumination was on. Someone nabbed some extension cords from someone, snagged some lights from somewhere else and plugged that shit into the Kona Skatepark tour bus. They would never have been bothered were it not for the blinding brilliance of the sun pointed directly into their windows. The nuclear assault CD that suddenly came blaring over the radio probably didnt help, either. We skated the concrete cradle in the shadows..poorly. Mr. Dollin came staggering up at one point and asked us something in a garbledy-gook manner, threw a horned fist in the air and disappeared, to places unknown. In retrospect i think he may have fallen off the park and down the hill, maybe he was lying there the whole time, mumbling about something or other. Sometime in the early morning, around 6am, we called it quits.

I crawled into the car and passed out for a minute. Literally a minute, since Bruce and Dave Ruel, chose this moment to bring the bullhorn and PA system to life again. In tandem, no less. have you ever hear two drunk guys having an amplified conversation from several hundred yards apart? it’s pretty funny. Bruce thought it would be a good idea to walk the property screaming, “WAKE UP AND SKATE THE BOWL!” into the bullhorn while Ruel called everyone out for being sissies, and played country tunes in between tirades. Well, i was having none of this shit, ’cause I pride myself in being a bit roughneck, when i need to be. I sat up, mumbling about being tuff shit, put my shoes on and promptly fell out of the car door. I got up and began trundling down the hill determined to skate the burly bean with Dave and Bruce while the rest of the pussy constituency slept. About halfway down I started hollering about “gettin’ it on” and shit like that, probably all slurry, and fell down again. After several failed attempts to navigate the hill, i decided that if i can’t even FALL down a hill to get where i want to go, i shouldn’t skate the enormous pit that is Epcott Killride, and i went back to sleep. When i awoke folks were on the full bailout. I stumbled down to the barn, I saw several cops and an ambulance. It seems pukey paris had it in her head to drive away last night and passed out going down the driveway. Her car was upended in a ditch and she was crying. I love Ohio, did i say that already? I got moving, said my goodbyes and we hit the road to Athens, Ohio. We met up with a legendary lowkey fella who keyed us into his rad “hobo camp” he was building, while we cruised around the park. it was a super fun time. We smoked cigarettes, skated, shot the shit, and at long last it was time to drive the 10 hours home. So we did. It was boring as hell. Ohio is a go. .

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