Posted by:on August 23rd, 2005
Review Date: 8/23/05
Formerly known as just The Skatepark Guide, Best of the West is now being published by the Concrete Wave Editions, meaning the good folks at Concrete Wave Magazine. First off, let me just say, what an improvement. The last version seemed kind of hastily put together and wasn’t nearly as useful as it could have been. The main reason being the photo editor’s fault. Too often there would be an action shot or aesthetically framed shot that not only failed from a skate-photography standpoint, but took up valuable space that otherwise could have given the reader a more useful overview of the park. This time around the photography is much better, although sometimes still trying to be a skateboard magazine instead of a 100% utilitarian approach. I suppose that they are trying to strike a balance so that you’ll want to flip through it for more than just park information.
The new edition is printed on full color, glossy, letter sized paper that is wire bound. It’s a pretty hefty book and it sells for $9.95, which seems like a good price especially considering the minimal amount of advertising. The guide is broken down into 5 color coded sections; Arizona, Nor Cal, So Cal, Oregon, and Washington. At the beginning of each section there is a very basic map that should only be used for approximation. Each park has a block of info that includes a rating on scale of 10, street address, phone number, designer/builder, square footage, hours, price, waiver and pad rules. The rest of the page is filled with photos, a paragraph or two about the park, and some quick directions. Some parks take up two pages. The majority of parks are public, but there are a few privately owned or indoor parks as well. Like the title says, it’s supposed to be the best, so you won’t find every two bit prefab park or half-assed concrete debacle listed.
There are a few things that could be done to improve the effectiveness of Best of the West. As with any subjective guide, your opinions on the ratings may not be in sync with the guide’s editor, so you have to take them with a grain of salt. The photo editing, while a major improvement from the last publisher, could still stand to focus more on the layout and features of the park instead of showing what amounts to the same handful of people on the tour hitting tricks in the different spots. Also, the park stats are not consitently filled out in every review. One major thing that could be added is a few measurements for each park, namely the biggest transition size as well as the average transition size. Failing exact radius measurements, a simple depth comparison would be helpful.
In the day of the Internet, there is still probably room for the printed skateboard guide. The current skatepark building bubble will mean any printed guide will likely be out of date before it hits the street, but most of us can’t surf the web in our cars yet. Best of the West could be good for the planning stages of a road trip, or just seeing what’s out there at a leisurely and un-wired pace. This edition has Benji Galloway on editorial staff, but he has since parted ways due to the usual creative differences. It will be interesting to see what happens. It could either be an addendum or a recompiled version. There also is a Best of the East version in planning stages. Right now there are three formats for skatepark guides: The internet (SkateOregon.com, ConcreteDisciples.com), the road map format (Conspiracy’s Colorado Skatepark Map II) and the AAA style guide book of Best of the West. As I see it, they each have their uses.
Available online through Tailtap.com or at local skateshops.
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