Tyler Kirshenbaum is a wolf dressed in a 10-year-old’s body. I’m not sure if you remember what you were doing when you were 10, but chances are no one cares to remember anymore. Technically, he is going into fifth grade, but on a board, he’s got a master’s in slaying old guys and turning heads.
Now, let’s figure out how to be more like Tyler.
I met up with Todd (Tyler’s dad) and Tyler at Emerson Skate Park around noon. They beat me there, and when I jumped out of my truck, Todd was sitting patiently watching Tyler skate. Simple nostalgia settled in.
Then, I saw something that was hard to comprehend.
Tyler dropped into a 5-foot quarter pipe — straight up a 3-foot launch ramp, and flew through the air — big ass BS 360 nose grab. He looked up at his dad like, “You see that? That was baller.”
Tyler started skating because his brother, KK, and his dad would go surf, but he would stay home. Todd said the only thing he taught Tyler how to do on a board was stand. Now he’s showing up to contests, advancing through stacked heats, and then probably heading home. He’s likely not doing yoga — more like having a burger and taking it easy.
He hits a few handrails, does some more massive airs — hardflips off the manual box, blunt to fakie — and stomps everything. His style is nonchalant. It’s respectable, and his lines are mature, especially for a 10-year-old kid. Tyler came over to us spectators on the bench for some water, and I was inspired, full of praise, just nerding out on this little grom.
“Tyler, dude … you rip.”
“Thanks,” he said.
Todd is telling me about some other spots they like to hit downtown. Apparently there’s a new secret spot, but I can’t disclose the location. I will tell you that a bum lives there, so hopefully that narrows your Google search. Welcome to the wild goose chase. But I went, and I saw, and Tyler destroyed it, of course.
Eventually, we went to a sketchy DIY rail under an I-95 overpass. Todd pulls out an industrial broom, and sweeps the runway. Tyler is standing in front of this truck trailer with some pretty amateur graffiti on it. There’s crushed concrete, overgrown weeds, a perfectly timed siren screaming overhead, and I felt some goosebumps … not the scared kind, the good kind. Then I grabbed my camera, and I’m pretty sure the camera had goosebumps, too.
I want to take a step back. We’ve been zoomed in on Tyler and his prodigy esque vibes, but let’s not forget his support system. Todd and Jennifer Kirshenbaum deserve mad respect for being the mother/father, husband/wife and teachers that they are for their sons. When I say, “take a step back,” I mean a few, because Todd is huge. I didn’t bring my tape measure, but I think Tyler’s head is like knee-high on his dad.
So, that previously mentioned grotesque rail was manhandled, and we headed to lunch at Unity Plaza. Tyler causally kickflips a seven stair, orders a pepperoni pizza, and then I finally get to ask him all the questions that have been buzzing through my mind.
What does he do when he wakes up? Does he even sleep? What does he eat? Who does he look up to? Where does he skate? Is he a nice person? All these questions and more …
I’ll be brief.
He eats breakfast when he wakes up (so he has to sleep). He told me his favorite breaky meal is waffles with Nutella, and he might jam to “Two Phones” by Kevin Gates for moral support. He is a nice person. I figured that out, but the most important thing I learned about him is that he just simply and holistically loves skating.
There’s no doubt in my mind, his mind, Todd’s mind, and if you consider me to be a trustworthy source, then you shouldn’t have any doubt in your mind either. That’s why the answers to my other questions don’t matter much. If you wanted to know Tyler, all you’d have to do is go skate with him once. The rest of us will be gawking from afar.
After lunch, we head to The Block Skate Supply, and said what’s up to Pete. He proceeded to unlock the ramp for Tyler.
I shot burst photos every time his trucks approached the coping. I’d holler and let out an approving “Yew!” when he stuck something sick. After about 45 minutes, he sat down next to his dad, and was fidgeting with his board.
“What’re you ’bout to do next?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said.
And if you don’t know, now you know. I’m not here to over analyze Tyler. There are no pie charts or statistical projections. He’s 10. He loves skating, and he’s probably better than you. No helmet. No pads. No girlfriend. No problems.