How much do you reckon you paid out in tickets for skating Love?
Zero. Oh, to tell you the truth, check this out – I paid zero tickets for skating Love Park but then they fucked me on taxes! Six years after I moved out of the city they hit me with this bogus tax bill. It said ‘Mr Kalis we know who you are’ shit like that, I fought it for two years and I lost. I had to pay the City of Philadelphia $117,000! It took me three years to pay it off, there was no beating it. They knew exactly what they were doing, they knew my accountant from those years had passed away, they had all their ducks in a row and they fucked me for sure.
“Six years after I moved out of the city they hit me with this bogus tax bill… I had to pay the City of Philadelphia $117,000”
What were the police like? How would they behave towards skateboarders?
To tell you the truth, the cops were dicks dude! If you didn’t have some kind of pass, I hustled up a nice little unspoken agreement with the undercovers in the area, otherwise they were dicks to you. I know people who’d been taken under the concourse and robbed by the cops, punched in the face, dragged, handcuffed – 13 year old kids handcuffed! I’ve seen cops pull guns on skaters, they were rough. I just gave them product, I’d give them shoes and shoot the shit with them to make them feel like they were important, that worked for me. It was wild for sure.
What happened with Stevie or DC trying to buy Love Park?
I don’t know about that. The city told the skaters if they could raise $100,000 per year for maintenance then they would let us skate, and that’s when DC came and said they’d do it for ten years but the city denied it.
Did you have a favorite part of Love Park to skate?
My favorite was always the top, we just called it the top. There were only three sections: the top with the taller ledges, the fountain ledges, and then the bottom which was a mix between the one fountain ledge you had to pop out on, the tall ledge, and some pretty rough flat ground down there. Of those three sections, my favorite was the top with the open space, the tall ledge, the main ledge, the real rounded one – that was my favorite shit.
Was there ever a stand off with out of towners coming to skate the fountain gap or anything?
Nah, it really wasn’t a thing until the later days, the days that I wasn’t a part of. Especially that last weekend when the city let everyone skate and it was like -5 degrees or something. There were some kids that came out there to skate the gap to try and win this money, but all the locals wanted to skate the fountain ledges. You have to shut the fountain ledges down in order to be able to skate the gap. The locals were pretty pissed off about these kids trying to win some money jumping the gap, so they poured water that froze and put trash on the bottom.
The dudes skating the gap could not believe it, but the reality is the locals are the ones who’ve been there the last five years, dealing with the cops, fixing the spot, shoveling snow, paying tickets, they paid dues to have this freezing cold weekend that they could skate for free, and they had to stop to let these two kids from California jump the gap? You can see where they’re coming from. There were some media folks out there who weren’t very happy about it, couldn’t understand it, they even called me like ‘yo what the fuck?’. I just said ‘that’s plaza life, don’t worry about it’.
It’s just having respect isn’t it, simple as that. What impact has losing Love had on the Philly scene? Are you still close with those guys?
Yeah they’re still crushing it dude, they skate across the road at the Municipal building. They got a bump to can, the ledges, they’re still killing it out there.
Do you think it has a galvanizing effect on the scene losing such a key spot or is it not even that deep?
I look it at like this – it closed for me in 2005/6 and it hurt me enough that I had to move on and continue elsewhere. It’s when I moved back to Michigan to skate in Chicago and do all that. It affected me to the point where I wanted to step away for a while. For them, some of these guys don’t have the option to leave, so I don’t really know.