During the last days of high school, my friends and I used to frequent an indoor skatepark "Grassroots" that had opened up in Brampton. The roots was a little further north from our neck of the woods, but it was well worth the drive. I skated there a few times and it was fun, but what truly brought joy to me was just chilling there and watching the other skaters, some of whom even went onto be pros in the business.
There was a large vertical ramp (half pipe) on site that was about 10-12 feet high and seriously intimidating. Most kids didn't even go near it, some started in the bottom and gingerly worked the lower regions of the pipe, and few actually had the balls and the skills to tear it up....like my man Steve Waller from E.B.S. The ramp had a bench at the top of it, and I loved sitting there and watching Steve rip that ramp up.
Now that my first summer as a graduate was coming to a close, I ended up helping my girlfriend Sue get a one bedroom apartment downtown Brampton. Although I technically hadn't moved my stuff out of my parents place, I was essentially moved out. Between crashing at Derek's and staying at Sue's, I was now a mere memory in my parents house. The times I was there, it was usually to sleep or to have a meal or to pick some things up.
While staying at Sue's I had the privilege of getting closer aquatinted with a few members of Team Scam, a local skateboard crew that Waller was apart of. Their name was synonymous with skateboarding in Brampton during the 80s and 90s, and anywhere you went you'd see their stickers plastered all over town. Rumour had it that to make the team you had to A) be a dope skater, and B) you had to steal something gnarly. Sue came home one day with some friends from school as she was now in her graduating year, and with her friends were 3 guys I had seen around....Jay, Navie, and Jamie. We instantly hit it off and before long they were almost a permanent fixture around our apartment.
The guys ended up telling me how the owner of Grassroots had left them in charge while she went on a trip to her native home of the Philippines. The trip was supposed to be for 2 weeks, but it had now been a month or two and she still hadn't returned. No calls, no letters....Team Scam was essentially running the roots and all the money they made on admission, memberships, snack bar confectionaries, skateboards, accessories, and clothing, went straight into their pockets.
Grassroots had now become like a suburban underground wasteland for the youth. There were no rules, vandalism and graffiti was encouraged. The Scam boys even went as far as to build a man cave INSIDE the big half pipe, fully equipped with a couch, television, and surround sound stereo system. The place had become something comparable to the foot clan hang out in the first Ninja Turtles movie. As incredible as this was to witness, eventually consequences would follow. Once the products ran out and the money was gone, there was nothing left to sell and make profit on, as they had never re filled any inventory. Unpaid bills were piling up and questions started being asked.
Eventually some unnamed associates took matters into their own hands and trashed the place one night. They then proceeded to call it in to the police as a break and enter/theft/vandalism report. Nobody got in trouble for anything, and the roots was now officially dead. I'm not saying that's exactly how it went down, but that's how I remember it. Two of the three scammers were now homeless, so I openly gave them a couch and floor to fight over. Navie and I even ended up working on some beats together and doing a few raps so that was really cool to me. As always I was thankful to have some new and interesting friends in my life, but I was really bummed about Grassroots.
It was a beautiful thing, a beautiful place, filled with memories and nostalgia, and it's never nice when something beautiful passes on. As wild and wacky of a history that it had, it was sad to see it go out in such an unjustified selfish manner. To this day there has still never been an indoor skatepark in Brampton, and deep inside, part of me truly believes it's due to the life and death of Grassroots. R.I.P.