Seriously, you should move to West Chester

More great things about suburban West Chester:

My brother-in-law Matt has been rebuilding the wall extensions on local underground skating hangout “The Dust Bowl.” This is a place right near King of Prussia that I was nowhere near cool enough to know about as a kid (but Matt was.) It’s a concrete-lined ditch with angled walls, and local skaters had poured concrete wall extensions, added pool copings, and otherwise done Awesome Secret Skateboarder Stuff there. I think Bam Margera is at the Dust Bowl at about 0:20 here.

When route 202 was widened, the homemade extensions were jackhammered out. Trees were removed between the Dust Bowl and the hotel behind it, so you couldn’t skate there without a hotel manager calling the cops. I can’t count the number of times that a hotel manager has called the cops on me. Actually, yes I can, and that number is zero.

Anyhow, the trees have been replanted, and so Matt built a wall extension and installed it there, and posted some pictures to the straight edge hardcore forum where the skaters hang out, and they’re all a really courteous and genial lot (“Mind if I add some pool coping, friend?” “Why not at all, my good man! Please be my guest!”)

The Dust Bowl

I’m posting this because I’m absolutely certain that my blog readership does not contain anyone that’s likely to go blow up Matt’s secret skating spot by parking stickered cars in the hotel parking lot and generally acting like jerks. DO NOT PROVE ME WRONG, MOM. Thank you.

The Dust Bowl

Anyhow, that’s Awesome Local Thing number one. The other Awesome Local Thing is the tack shop right around the corner from my office. I went in and talked to Joe, and told him that I’m looking to sew plastic to leather, and can he…? YES OF COURSE it turns out he has these giant sewing machines that sew bridle leather together and he makes tack right there in the store:

Pisano & Son Shoe & Tack Repair

He got down a patent-leather hide (actual leather! actually shiny!) and we started looking at different materials, and HOLY DAMN there’s nothing cooler than custom-made tack. Especially if it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything useful. More on that later. Here’s Joe, busy taking notes on all the bits of leather we’re sewing together:


West Chester is awesome. New York friends, I urge you to move out of NYC before the recession really solidifies. Come down here (housing is a buyer’s market, although real estate prices here remain strong!) and start a vegetable garden. We’ll weather the Coming Global Depression in style.

Seriously, you should move to West Chester

The Fire Store: get the gear to be a real-life Playmobil figure

I love special-purpose gear. I especially love special-purpose gear in bright colors. And I freaking LOVE special-purpose gear in bright colors that conjures ADVENTURE. And helicopters.

So I’m incredibly fortunate that firefighter uber-outlet The Fire Store is just around the corner in Coatesville. I went there on a SECRET MISSION this morning to talk to their embroidery department, and I took some pictures, in which I start foaming at the mouth from excitement. Speaking of foam, did I mention they have foam depth charges just kind of casually sitting around next to the special-purpose Pelican Cases? And they have helmet crests (all the leather awesomeness of horse tack, with all the graphical punch of Fisher-Price Adventure People!) And Combine Soldier gear, if you’re into that.

Just check out all the helmets: each is heavy, like a motorcycle helmet, with all kinds of mount points for expensive flashlights with triangular cross-sections. And oxygen masks. And radios. Plus, they all have a kind of a new-car smell:


As icing on the cake, Declan the embroiderer instantly picked up on what I wanted to do, unlike every other embroiderer I’ve talked to who’s looked at me sideways and patiently explained to me why I’m an idiot. Plus, anything I do through the Fire Store is going to be just totally STEEPED in Rescue Ranger karma. Wow, what a morning!

The Fire Store: get the gear to be a real-life Playmobil figure

“Boom Shack-A-Lack! Vote for Barack!”

Barack Obama was at West Chester University today, appearing on a road tour of Chris Matthews’ Hardball. Barb was stuck in Harrisburg, so Kate and I got to use her VIP tickets. Without Barb there, they were downgraded to semi-VIP tickets, but that was even better because we got to sit right next to the band and behind the cheerleaders and it was loud and boisterous and enthusiastic, and just what you would expect!

I took a lot of blurry pictures on my iPhone, but Kate got the only good picture of The Man Himself, looking suitably presidential in the spotlight:


I thought Senator Obama did a decent job with the questions. He kept the answers to the softball questions short (“Have you had any really strange experiences on the campaign trail?” “Daily, until I stopped watching cable news YUK YUK”), and went into more detail on the actual question questions. He came across as straightforward — when he wanted to avoid answering a question, he would declare that he didn’t want to answer it and why. All in all, I was impressed, but I didn’t have a Shining Camelot Moment like I’ve heard my parents’ generation describe.

The crowd was the most fun — outspoken, enthusiastic, energetic, and a definite mix of black and white.

“Boom Shack-A-Lack! Vote for Barack!”