Perspective | Looking for D.C.’s most sacred skate spot? Follow your ears.

It has to be one of the best sounds you can hear while strolling down the sidewalks of Washington’s smallest city, right up there with the car stereo and the morning bird song: the cool of skateboard wheels rolling across the pavement. The drone. To sympathetic ears, it’s an almost meditative roar, like bedtime white noise haunting you in broad daylight, yet a little more chaotic than a skateboarder’s push, like an ocean with hiccups. It’s a sound that moves, and if you’re on foot, it’s faster than you are, which means it always fades and fades away. And while it could come from any direction, it’s highly likely that it’s headed for one particular place: Pulaski.

City officials call it Freedom Plaza, and Back in March, the National Capital Planning Commission proposed to give the park at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW a major architectural makeover — much to the dismay of many of the city’s skateboarders during the warmer months. (Local skaters have always called it “Pulaski Park” after the park’s statue of Revolutionary War figure Casimir Pulaski.) To them, Pulaski’s stone geometry is sacred. It should not be touched.

To see why, listen. Follow one of these downtown drones until you reach the granite and marble plateau from the White House — with a postcard-perfect view of the Capitol — then head east to the park and listen. To the clatter of wheels, the sound of decks. These hums and grinds are sounds that represent creativity, improvisation, determination, fun—and together, they make a music that lets you know you’re most culturally aware. Standing in one of the organic, best sounding venues the district will ever know.

“The way this place sounds and feels is like no other,” said Jeff Fuchs, 31, during a weekday lunch hour in Pulaski earlier this summer. The Nine-Two-Fives sat on a nearby ledge, grazing on the greens of the salad chain, watching the skaters as they repeatedly rebelled against gravity. When a skater went into the air for a tailslide, Pulaski scraping the stonework off the edge of his deck, Fuchs pointed an index finger upward as if the sound were scenting the air. “Scream on that ledge? Old marble, old granite,” he said with a smile. “Old pieces of history that feel and look different than anywhere else.”

How long will Pulaski sound and feel like this? After presenting three options for revamping the Pennsylvania Avenue walkways between the Capitol and the White House, the National Capital Planning Commission says it will bring in consultants to help refine its plans in 2023. public and stakeholders, including the skateboarding community, to provide input, comment and inform the development of the concepts,” Stephen Stodgill, public affairs specialist at the commission, said in an email.

So there’s still some time to skate on Pulaski, and some time for listeners to listen. During daylight hours, the park hosts anywhere between a handful and a few dozen skateboarders, seemingly of all ages. “It’s kids and old men here,” Durian Holmes, 34, said on a blistering early summer afternoon.

Playing music from a Harman Kardon Bluetooth speaker shaped like a 72-kilogram kettlebell as he made some repairs to his deck, Holmes said he’s been skating here since he was 10 years old, but he’s not exactly sure. Not when he became one of Pulaski’s unofficial DJs. “Some days I might want to listen to some techno. Other days it’s trap. Sometimes it’s old-school hip-hop,” he said. “It’s just the vibe.” Then, a song by a Louisiana rapper Summers Booming out of the speakers, his sticky, auto-tuned rhymes sounded like they were melting the afternoon sun.

Skateboarding and underground music culture have always been strongly linked, of course, and Pulaski’s history at this intersection spans generations. From hardcore punk dudes to bands of varying levels of appreciation Weak inclination To Turnstile — Known for skating here, being a member of the District Rap group. 3LG Pulaski was a regular in the late 90s. The fact that a handful of go-to groups, including Junkyard Band and TOB, as well as punk heroes Fugazi, have performed in Pulaski over the years only makes this hallowed ground more hallowed.

But ultimately, the most important music in Pulaski is made from skateboards. On the last day of August, 26-year-old Donovan Stubbs was making something of his own, trying to grind a corner of Pulaski marble, the right angle of an edge that had turned into a gentle curve after years of similar attempts. had fallen towards . Again and again, Stubbs tried to land the trick, until his efforts became like a little song. Could he hear too? “Oh yes,” she said. “Every time you get that right pop; you hear that grind for a good, one and a half, two seconds; and come out clean?” His face lit up as if searching for another word but he could only find one: “Music.”

So how long will he be out here? “Dude, until I get it!” Stubbs said. Then he laughed and went off to another pass. The song begins with the screeching of its wheels while the city provides some light accompaniment: the shrill noise of a sports car at a stoplight, the beat and buzz of a nearby construction crew, the distant screech of airplane engines as they fly past Reagan. Landed in National. Airport. Then came the Pope. to grind The sound of two shoe soles melting a drum fill on the ground as Stubbs tried to regain his balance. Didn’t come out clean. So he played it again.

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