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by Michael J. Crosbie
One of the wonderful things about a big city is how you can turn a corner in an old neighborhood to find a fresh idea has moved in. That's the impression you get from a new store in the gallery haven of SoHo, in lower Manhattan, New York City.
The new etnies showroom for skateboard footwear and apparel takes an avant-garde approach to retail with custom display cases, an exhibit of skateboard history in the basement, and, of course, a functioning skateboard ramp on the roof.
SoHo is not only home to offbeat culture but is also a shopper's dream come true, with block after block of stores crammed with all sorts of things you'd have a hard time finding anywhere else. Like etnies.
The store is the brainchild of Pierre Andre Senizergues, the founder and head of Sole Technology, Inc., which specializes in skateboard footwear, apparel, and accessories. Senizergues, himself a 1985 World Skateboard Champion, planted his flagship store in SoHo because of the neighborhood's funky chic character and its reputation as a magnet for creative innovators such as avant-garde artists.
In a certain way, you can appreciate skateboarders as street artists, using the hardware of the city (exterior stairs, railings, ramps) as their medium. The thrill in skateboarding comes from pushing technique, vision, and guile to the limit without killing yourself, sort of like avant-garde art, but riskier.
Translators Note: If you're not in on skate slang yet, don't worry the article title "Busted Pipe" is complimentary! Way. Drawing on its roots in surf slang, skate slang calls the U-sectioned thing you go back and forth on a "pipe", as in half-pipe. And "busting" is a good thing, breaking out of the box, going radical and pulling it off, as in "bust a move", or, "I busted some big air."