A small sign lays out the rules at the Z.T. Maximus Skatepark in North Cambridge.
"No Loitering/Skateboarding, Hanging Out or About, No Assembling for No Reason Whatsoever, No Kickin' Back in Lot After Hours, Flotsamizing, Littering or Other Fun Activities," it reads.
"If we weren't sitting around doing an interview, we would be flot-samizing," skate-boarder Jared Klein offers by way of a definition. "Flotsamizing--it's kind of sitting around with no purpose."
Klein collapses his lanky, 19-year-old frame into a cushionless sofa bed just to the left of the sign. He's sporting a beard eerily similar to Abraham Lincoln's, with his ears covered by a black knit headband.
Klein has volunteered at the Z.T. Maximus, 324 Rindge Ave., for about one year. He lights a cigarette. Then, dangerously close to flotsamizing, he begins to talk.
"Maximus has been here, right here since '89. Before that, since the mid-80s, it was in Arlington on Mass. Ave.," he says of the skatepark.
"When we first got here, the city wasn't too stoked on the idea of having a skatepark. There was a whole lot of hassle with zoning laws and shit like that, and so we were shut down like a year or so."
"And then finally they granted us, you know, the licensing. It has been a problem. We've had to be very careful with what is going on here," he says.
Maximus occupies a squat one-story brick building that stands in the shadows of the Jefferson Towers apartment complex, a 15-minute walk from the Quad.
Secreted away behind an auto repair shop on a dirt lot, it's a windowless jungle of concrete, metal, wood, masonite and discarded furniture. The only ventilation comes from a garage-sized opening that forms the entrance.
A half pipe (a "vert ramp," for those in the know) stands against the far wall, comprising a semi-circular ramp with metal pipes on its upper edges.
Battered furniture sits on various platforms alongside large stereo speakers, with an assortment of different size ramps, secured to the floor by metal plates, lining the remainder of the skatepark. A chicken-wire fence separates the half pipe from the rest of the park.
A mix of New York Hardcore music pulses in the background, with the wheels of skates and skateboards grating over the granite.
"Maximus is just a place where, like, you know, all sorts of people will just come here," Klein says. "It's a place where people know that, like, nobody's out to get 'em. We're not out to, like, bust 'em for doing whatever their doing."
Maximus is a haven for at least one Harvard student. Dave Valdez '98 says, "Maximus is a lot more like home. You're just playing and having a good time and that's where I come from."
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