Disregarding my scholarly responsibilities, I left Savannah for Gainesville, Florida on a Thursday evening last spring to rendezvous with my fellow team rider Justin Bright. After having the weekend of a life time filming A New Wave, the boys decided to reunite even further south to film another righteous freestyle film. In classic Donny style, I arrived at 2 AM. Late as that may be, I was still a day earlier than anyone else, so Justin & I caught up on old times, talked about top secret Original goodness, & got hyped on all the spots we were gonna shred that weekend. We chatted until sunrise, then I got cozy with some pillows & passed out on his couch.
Friday afternoon, Justin & I stacked footage and scouted campus for weekend #SpotGoals before the rest of the fellas arrived. The University of Florida’s campus is crawling with hills, three stairs, ramps, rails & hubbas just waiting to be ripped. The surrounding town of Gainesville also had no shortage of unique street features. As a diehard park rat privileged by smooth concrete and only a handful of falls per skate session, it is no exaggeration when I say that street skating absolutely whoops my ass. A steep hubba with an abrupt transition welcomed me to Florida with a firm high five with the concrete and left my fingers bashed & bloody (wear your gloves on AND off the hill, kids). We got kicked out of more spots than I can count, which occasionally resulted in not getting the clip–a huge pet peeve of mine. I was so bruised and battered by the end of the day, that I felt uncertain if all the pain & suffering had been worth it. As usual, reviewing the clips that evening restored my confidence. Against the will of a vigilante customer, I was able to secure a kickflip-ollie line down a double stair set at a local bank, as well as several unique ditch clips at a steep spot Justin called the “poop chute”.
Jack was the first to arrive. The spunky Virginia native pulled up to the poop chute, stoked as ever. Shortly after, new Original team rider & Justin’s best friend Vin Dalessio arrived with the Talking Heads blaring from his speakers. Jack took time to stretch his legs, but Vin hopped out the ride with his board in hand and immediately proceeded to eat it on the steep chute. What a go-getter! After stacking a fair amount of footy, I convinced Justin & Jack to take me to the local skate park for a night session. Due to the boring, grey aesthetic of skate parks in general, it is often a rule of thumb not to include park footy in skate videos. As serious filmers, Justin & Jack swear by this rule, much to my discontent. My hometown is infamous for its awful pavement. Commuting from spot to spot is a nightmare thanks to cobblestone and pebbles galore. I am fond of big airs and smooth concrete, so I spend most of my sessions confined to the new Savannah Skate Park. The gang knows this and likes to give me a hard time, my best tricks require ramps and quarter pipes that simply can’t be found on your average city street. The boys tolerated a successful night session full of fakie blunts & early grab bigspins. Satisfied with my coerced park visit, We went back Justin’s apartment to welcome the late arrival of Nick & Lambert.
That weekend, Justin’s front door seemed more like a revolving door at a mall food court. A constant stream of smelly dudes frequented the stairwell. Justin’s sits right above a 24-hour CVS, making the location prime real estate for a team of hungry skaters. Jack regularly terrorized CVS shoppers by flying his racing drone inside (that’s right, racing drone–notice there was plenty of drone action in Floridiculous!, but no drone shots because this glorified Air Hog was designed for micro-Pod Racing, not cliché sky shots.) When CVS’s TV dinners weren’t enough, a fat order to a local pizza delivery satisfied us. We were nearly asleep when Lambert arrived late that night. King Lambz took it upon himself to be in charge of his own transportation this trip, lest we forget him in Tampa again. Shortly after Lambert’s arrival, we got rather sleepy and attempted to hit the hay. I slumbered in the kitchen, closest to the snacks & sugary beverages for when I needed them most. Nick Jones is a long fellow, so it was only fair that he get the couch. The rest of the team strew themselves miscellaneously across the living room floor.
I awoke insanely sore the next morning. Judging by the aches in my knees and hands, I knew that whether I liked it or not, my part for Floridiculous! had more or less wrapped up the day before. This surprise paled in comparison to Justin’s morning, he woke up to a snug Lambert curled up to him for warmth, complete with extensive snoring.
We rallied the troops, DK’s, Apexes & Derringers and drove to a flatground spot off-campus where Nick landed a few dancing lines and Lambert spent the greater half of the morning flinging his body down a hellacious 9 stair line.
Next, Vincent shot a high-speed line flying down a parking garage on his Derringer 33. Vin embraces his surfing roots by skating with a fast and smooth flow. He’s also determined–We got kicked out of a stairset spot twice by a chill guy on a moped. Needless to say, he was not so chill upon his return and revved his scooter in vexation, but Vin persevered and landed the iconic ollie that scored him a mouthful of moss in the outro.
Next we visited a steep downward slope into an underground passage. This urban tunnel of sorts was paved with slick concrete and covered in dead leaves and graffiti. After a few nice freeride lines, Jack Darby took a potent spill.
“Call the police!” Jack yelped.
With such an uncharacteristic request, I knew before I got to the bottom of the hill that Jack had dislocated his shoulder. Like a DJ scratching a record to a halt, we snapped out of film mode and divided up. Half of the team skated to Nick’s car, the rest of us sat in the leaves and comforted Jack and denied him contact with the local police department until he calmed down.
Visiting Gainesville General Hospital triggered horrendous flashbacks of my extended stay in their emergency room thanks to a lame fall that resulted in a dislocated elbow. Poor Jack did not have to suffer as long and reportedly popped his shoulder back in himself. The team eventually left the scenic waiting room and caught a breath of fresh air.
Feeling woozy from his pain medication, Jack swayed to the next spot in his hospital gown and became filmer-in-chief. Nick and I sessioned a gnarly set of three three-stairs where Nick did his no-comply tre to boneless line and Vin ollied the five stair to four stair.
After Vin left behind a bit of skin on the stairs, we set off with our good friend and Gainesville local Neena Schueller to skate some mellow neighborhood downhill runs that were reasonably fast for Florida. Lambert did his double 360 slide, Nick popped a variation of his signature Strawberry Milkshake flip on a Derringer 33 proto, & I went irresponsibly fast on my little Derringer 28.
Sunday morning soreness hit the whole team hard. I limped around the kitchen and prepared a meager meal of ramen and mushrooms. The stiffness in my knees let me know that I would only be gently cruising for the last day of filming. Fortunately, we found a hella steep sidewalk run for Lambert to stomp his tech freeride/freestyle line. Vincent & I worked with Jack behind the lens to capture an E X T R E M E grass ride down. We capped off the skating portion of our Florida quest with a sunset session at an endless ditch on the side of the highway.
The final night of the trip was, as always, overflowing with debauchery. Many a munchies run was made to the 24-hour CVS below Justin’s apartment, we were so loud that a cop knocked on the door & told us to cool down, and the Derringer 28 was christened as the unofficial Tinder Cruiser. For 20 minutes, we wagered that the police officer would go away if we stayed quiet and dug our heads in between the cushions of Justin’s couch so we couldn’t see him. Finally, Justin stepped up to the plate and answered the door, only to find out that it was in fact his apartment’s security guard, who had gotten a complaint about how loud our room was & asked us to keep things down. We apologized and invited him in to watch A New Wave, but he had important matters to handle downstairs and left us with no more than an eye roll.
With sore feet and heavy hearts, the team said farewell the following morning. The boys returned to their respective parts of the south until the next big trip.