During a visit to the bowl a young BMX dude of about 12 saw me with my skateboard and said “So are you gonna have a skate?”. I explained I used to skate here as a kid and haven’t done so in about 15 years. To this he replied “Ohhhhh, that’s cool! You should just do it, just drop in. You’ll remember how!” And so I did, and it was amazing! That was the beginning of me learning to skate the bowl again. I’m not great skater by any stretch of the imagination, nor was I when I was a kid, but that doesn’t matter. So this video in a way has turned into a document of me learning to skateboard again at 30 years of age, and why not! You gotta do it while you still can.
Aside from this, there are deeper issues, that Fitzroy Bowl touches upon. There are other elements, in between the lines of the story, that are hard to express in words. The spaces where this story takes place I know well, the primary school (North Fitzroy Primary School) in the story is my primary school, Edinburgh Gardens is somewhere we did sports days, I learnt to play tennis there, it's where we had Carols By Candlelight each year, we marched through it when our school protested the closure of the Fitzroy Pool in 1998.
All Nations Park was constructed when I was at Northcote High School and part of the push for Darebin Council to build a skate park there. My boyfriend and I were both skaters and we met at that skatepark. I worked at Kmart in Northcote Plaza (behind All Nations Park) for a few years after High School.
I was working the cash registers the night Tyler Cassidy was shot dead by police in All Nations Skate Park. I saw him walk into the store, and saw him walk out with the two kitchen knifes. Shortly after there was a lock down at the store. Once we were allowed to leave through the back, I asked a police officer what was happening, he said "Well, it's just about as bad as it gets over there" in a solemn voice.
It was only later I found out Tyler lived less that 100m from me, basically at the end of my street. It still think about his death every time I drive past the plaza and the skate park.
Fitzroy Bowl is about a lot of things, the loss of friendship, the feeling of powerlessness and distress you feel when you're unable to help or have any control over a situation. The way we as adults distance ourselves from situations that are uncomfortable. How disadvantage, poverty and family violence are intertwined and have huge implications on lives of children in those situations. It impacts on their health (mental and physical), their education, their working lives and their lives as parents. As a teacher I feel so sad and angry when I hear discourse in the media about educational outcomes for children being about 'hard work'.
It doesn't feel like I wrote the song anymore, it feels like I am the singer of this song, and that the song has a life and message of its own.
Thanks to the musicians who performed on this song, Justin Bernasconi (electric guitar), Ben Franz (bass) and Justin Olsson (drums), and to Jeff Lang for producing it.
This video was shot by Justin Bernasconi and myself on iPhone, and edited my myself on the humble program iMovie.
Thanks for reading x