Walk The Planche
That Time Billy Rohan Nearly Saved Us All
by Cole Nowicki
Billy Rohan went to Trump Tower in New York City on November 16th, 2016, to get a “hot tea and relax.” While waiting for his tea to cool, Billy ran into a Trump staffer and they talked. Billy told them about skateboarding and its positive impact on kids and communities and suggested the government look into building more parks across the country and beyond as a form of “skate diplomacy.” The news media, who packed the lobby in emotive, curious and nervous clusters in the aftermath of the historic election upset, erroneously reported that Billy met with the 45th President of the United States himself and personally told him to build skateparks around the planet, for you know, world peace. This didn’t happen. It’s doubtful the Trump staffer Rohan spoke to even passed a single word about his “skate diplomacy” along to DJT. Doubtful because there was no 5am presidential tweet storm expounding or decrying the tremendous effect of skateboarding on the earth’s youth.
But what if Billy had found an audience with Trump, was able to take the POTUS’s tiny hand in his, shake it, and connect with him on a human to human-adjacent level? Skateboarding does have transformative powers after all; it allows strangers from all over the world to connect and find understanding using a common passion unlike any other—that’s an ideology ingrained within it. Trump’s administration unfortunately conducts itself within the ideology of football elitism: they want you to like their team, they’ll let you in the stands to watch the game, but they’ll never let you play. You being a fan will only make them rich and while dragging you into moral bankruptcy. Skateboarding however, is an equalizer: anyone can session Pulaski Park with Bobby Worrest, even if all you have in your arsenal is a Slappy Noseslide. If you’re not on his team, Tom Brady ain’t passing you the goddamn pigskin. If Rohan had exposed Trump to skateboarding, perhaps he would have found an ideology of (for the most part) true populism and inclusion, instead of what he has now, which is Steve Bannon’s Bill Belichick-esque mind control over his decision making that has driven him to focus only on his “team” with an alarming brand of hate and hyper-protectionism––don’t let the quarterback get sacked!
Billy’s visit to Trump Tower leaves us with a gluttony of “ifs.” What if Trump had spent just an afternoon pushing through New York City with Rohan? What if he went to LES and rolled around for only a few hours? If the diversity within skateboarding’s ranks startled him at first, our kindness and acceptance would have eventually disarmed him. By the end of the session he would be less concerned about “bad hombres” and more encouraged by the rad ones. His wall, a physical testament to the idea of protecting the QB—Trump’s selfishly warped perception of America and its ideals—would only need slight modifications. Instead of a 13’ tall, continent spanning concrete schism between nations, he could just add eleven feet of transition to both sides of the wall, creating a spine that “rad hombres” from either side could use, transferring peacefully from one country to another while creating a greater understanding and respect for each other as they went, as skateboarders do when they skate together.
But that’s not what happened. Billy Rohan and his hot tea only made it to the lobby of Trump Tower, espousing visions of a hopeful future to Team Trump’s waterboy’s waterboy. His dream of skate diplomacy didn’t get anywhere near the POTUS’s offense; it didn’t even make it onto the field.