Bobby Worrest on Growing Up at Pulaski Park

Skateboarding is still a crime in our nation's capital. Just over half a mile from the White House sits Freedom Plaza, one of the most famous and illegal skate spots in the entire world. Somehow Krooked pro Bobby Worrest managed to film an entire part...

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Mar 21 2014, 7:58pm

Photo by Gabe Morford

Love. EMB. MACBA. Pier 7. The single-word names and acronyms of some of the most beloved skate spots in history instantly conjure up romanticized thoughts of low-fi skate footage that shaped and changed generations of skateboarders. In the upper echelon of defining skate plazas is Pulaski Park in Washington, DC, just blocks from the White House. The main difference between Pulaksi and the aforementioned spots is that Pulaski has never gone through a phase when it was kosher to skate there. It has always been a complete and total bust. Overzealous cops patrol and protect the plaza at the corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW as though it were the actual residence of the President of the United States. It is not uncommon for the police to chase, arrest, and ticket someone for just walking through the plaza carrying a skateboard.

That said, it's a minor miracle that DC-area native and Krooked pro Bobby Worrest was able to amass nearly four minutes of footage (55 tricks in all) and pull off an entire part shot solely at the biggest bust on Earth. We sat Bobby down to hear some of his horror stories with the DC police and what went into making this part.

You recently shot an entire part at DC's most famous skate spot, Pulaski Park. For people who don't know, what's the history of the park in skateboarding and how hard is it usually to skate there?
Pulaski is a plaza in the city that's all marble, but that doesn't mean it grinds like marble. Chris Hall, Pepe Martinez, and Andy Stone definitely made careers out of that place, but it's always been a total bust. We're running every day from the cops. Every day. I haven't been caught in a long time, but when I was younger, when I first started going there, the cops would come around in cars and hassle everyone. I was caught a few times, but I haven't been caught since I was 16. I remember getting chased around. I got caught and handcuffed and put in the back of the car. They searched my car. They took my board and gave me a $50 ticket. That's how it is to this day. If they catch you, they take your board and don't give it back and give you a $50 ticket.

What's the worst cop story from Pulaski you know?
One summer, cops on foot and in cars rushed the whole plaza trying to bust everybody. Everyone split, and while one of the cops was chasing a kid down the steps, the cop fell and broke his ankle. The other cops caught one or two kids and put the blame on one of them, Mike, saying it was assault on a police officer because the cop got hurt. He was charged with assault on a police officer and had to deal with that for the next year. I think he beat it because he's not in jail. But it's always lame shit like that.

Were you dealing with that kind of stuff the whole time you were filming this part? I thought maybe you banged it out during the government shutdown.
No. The government shutdown didn't have anything to do with the police manning the parks. I think the government shutdown was only for the people working in the office buildings. I was running every day.

Photo by Gabe Morford

Well, damn. How did you manage to film a whole part there then? How long did that take? Would you get one trick, then run?
Yeah, I would come close to getting something after filming for an hour and then—boom!—the cops would show up. So I had to run, hide my board, and wait it out. But we didn't get caught the whole time filming. I rode my motorcycle from California to DC at the end of July, so I filmed the majority of this in August and September. All in all, it was about five months of filming.

Are you ever going to film there again? Is there anything left for you to do?
There's so much shit left to do there. If it were up to me, if I had more time, I would still be filming for this little part. There's a ton of things I still want to get. There are so many combinations that you can do there. Some days things work there, and other days they don't.

Are you surprised no one ollied the walls until Chima Ferguson and Johnny Layton went there over the past couple years?
Yeah, it's pretty gnarly. When I heard Johnny did it, I was tripping. We always thought Reese [Forbes] would come back and do it. Or Darren Harper might do it. But those are the only people I think who have the pop for the double walls. When you go there and look at it, it's absurd. I've gone as fast as I can and ollied over the one wall and kind of went to the side of the second wall, but I wasn't even close. I think I'd land on top of the second wall if I got lucky. It's pretty gnarly.

Johnny told me he thinks Chris Pfanner can kickflip it.
Oh, man. I bet that fool could frontside-180 it. Kickflipping it would be pretty buck. I haven't really seen that dude kickflip something that big, but I wouldn't put it past him.

So you filmed a full part at a plaza; what's next? Full part on some rails? Can we expect some Cold Worrest?
Nah. No full part on the rails, but I have been skating rails lately. I'm just kind of psyched on skating some shit other than ledges again and not forcing myself to jump down gaps.

Photo by Chris Nieratko

When did you officially relocate to the West Coast?
I don't know if it's official yet. I'm just posted in Long Beach for winter while it's snowing back there. I'm planning on going back to the East Coast in a few months when the weather gets burly hot again. I like Long Beach. It's cheaper and mellow. Cherry Park is right down the street, and it's kind of like DC in a sense to me. The only similarity LA has with DC for me is that I grew up outside of the city, so I was used to a 30-minute commute into the city, and now, living in Long Beach, if I'm going to skate LA, I have a 30-minute commute. As funny as it may sound, the commute kind of reminds me of home.

What does the rest of your year look like?
Just keep skating. I'm working on some video stuff, trying to film some shit in DC before the deadline for this little video thing I'm working on with JT Aultz and Massimo Cavedoni. We're gonna call it The Three Pack, like the three-tall-can pack.

Before we end this, I would like to give a shout out, though. The direct inspiration for my Pulaski part was Josh Kalis and Stevie Williams from the Love Park days. Seeing that Sabotage video was pretty inspiring too. It showed you don't have to film all this Cali shit—those dudes are still skating plazas in Philly. That's what I want to see. That's what I grew up seeing. When you grind a ledge, you know you're grinding it. I love seeing those Sunday clips of Kalis at JKwon; it's fucking rad. JKwon is the closest thing to Love Park or Pulaski that we have out here, and Kalis kills it. People hate on JKwon, but they don't know what it's like to grow up at a skate plaza. Even if you can't skate that day, even if you're hurt, you know all your buddies are going to be at Pulaski on a Saturday, so you still go down there to hang out. There's always something happening, like fights. Bum fights. Luckily I've never witnessed any bum sex, but things can get pretty rowdy when they're smoking crack and shit. A plaza is not like your local skatepark. You're in the middle of the city, and anything goes.

Follow Bobby Worrest on Twitter or go to KrookedSkateboarding.com.

More stupid can be found at Chrisnieratko.com or @Nieratko.

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