Camping out with ‘The Nihilists’ | AspenTimes.com
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Camping out with ‘The Nihilists’

Eben Harrell
Professional skater Benji Galloway airs over the deck during the first Carbondale Run skateboarding festivus on Saturday at the Carbondale Skatepark. Aspen Times photo/Devon Meyers.
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The Roaring Fork Valley, long a destination for America’s glitzy holiday makers, played host to an altogether different clientele last weekend.They were skateboarders from across the country, and many of them gladly forsook the high end Aspen hotels for more modest accommodation – the nearest available field.Organizers of the first Carbondale Run presented by Thrasher magazine set up camp sites for participants and spectators, and word spread fast. By 5 p.m. on Saturday, almost all available spots were full.Chad Balcom, a skateboarding-squatter from Kearney, Neb., said he heard about the camping spots over the Internet.

“We always take our camping gear, just in case,” Balcom said. “For skateboarders, the plan is typically no plan. We’re a fly-by-night group. So this worked out great.”Despite his claim of an impulse-driven culture, Balcom said he and three friends had been planning the trip to Carbondale since May. To Balcom, a self-described skatepark expert, the Carbondale park is one of the “gnarliest” in the country, second only to a park in Hailey, Idaho.”I’m trying to raise money to get a park like this in Kearney,” Balcom said. “It would just be wicked.”Casey Braacksman, another camper, said the company who designed the park, Grindline, made its name through parks in Oregon and Washington state, “which explains a lot of the people camping.”

Braacksman, who lives in Aspen, decidedto stay in Carbondale anyway. As he rummaged through an ice chest full of Coors Light – “There’s got to be a real beer somewhere here” – he explained why he decided to rough it for a night.”I just launched a new clothing company called Fchr clothing,” Braaksman said. “So I decided to keep it real and spend the weekend down here with the skaters.”In the tent next to Braacksman, a San Diego-based band sat idle between sets. Restless and a little menacing, they passed drinks around, waiting for an afternoon shower to abate. One of band’s groupies, a half-naked man with a paper bag on his head, ran around outside in the rain with a half-empty bottle of E & J brandy.”This is way better than a hotel,” one of the band members said.

The name of the band is “The Nihilists.” As they sat around, several skaters came over to compliment their set, share a drink, talk skating. Here was the irony of the entire event. Funny that a band that professes to believe in nothing should have found everything they wanted – community, camaraderie and a wicked skatepark – in a makeshift campground in Carbondale.”Camping is the way to go. You get to be with your people,” the lead singer said.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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