“You don’t have to be a punk kid to do it,” said Ben Dietz, 32, who works for a media company in Brooklyn. “I don’t skate with anybody who’s under 25. You were going to stop skating at a certain age because life had more to do with jobs and families and mortgages and all that shit. But I love to skate because it’s something that’s still manageable.”
Mr. Dietz moved here from Syracuse in 1998 after college and skated recreationally, quitting for a few years after separating his shoulder at an Upper West Side skate park. After a short stint in Australia, he returned to a New York with more skate parks, tolerant cops and paved roads with bike lanes.
The technology had also changed, with hard, stiff wheels replaced by softer, road-friendly ones. Mr. Dietz got himself something called a Zip Zinger. “It was easier, just as fast as if I was going on a bike,” he said. “And you don’t have to worry about it, you can just pick it up and carry it into the office. You don’t have to lock it up or worry about it getting stolen.”
Mr. Rodriguez draws a crucial distinction between shortboarders like himself and Mr. Dietz, who still work on tricks and dart around city streets on their more agile boards, and the more laid-back, definitely older longboard riders. “It’s like looking at Dave Mirra [a professional BMX athlete and MTV heartthrob] to a Lance Armstrong [seven-time Tour de France winner and Don Juan to soccer moms],” Mr. Rodriguez explained. “It’s two totally different worlds.”
“It’s about getting around and seeing the city, going from bar to bar with my homeboys after work,” Mr. Dietz said. “I don’t think it’s about, ‘Hey I want to go out and be a rebel.’ I’m too old to be a rebel.”