Jon Blank is a skater. Not an ice skater, but a skateboarder. Growing up in the Washington D.C. metro area, he explains, skateboarding made him a bit of an outcast, since it was not as widely accepted then, but upon moving to New York City for college he felt right at home on the city streets, which are “great for street skating,” Jon says. “Finding obstacles in the street is what’s so fun about skating in New York.” His passion for skating led him to volunteer to help build Green Skate Lab, the first free public skatepark in Washington D.C. and a leading example of alternative, eco-friendly construction and design. Based off African mud-hut building techniques, the park was built almost entirely out of recycled materials (the only non-recycled materials were the rebar and concrete) including salvaged tires from the Anacostia River in Washington D.C.
Jon’s father is from Brownsville, Brooklyn, and growing up his family made frequent trips to visit his NYC cousins and grandmother as well as for Yankees games and Broadway shows (which his mother loves). “New York’s always been like a second home,” Jon says.
He attended New York University where he majored in History and Political Science. His interest in history was first sparked in elementary school when he visited the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials.
“I remember we were at the Lincoln Memorial gift shop and there was the Look-It-Up Book of Presidents and I asked my dad to buy it for me, and I read the whole thing. Ever since then history’s all I can think about.”
After graduating from NYU, he joined Daryanani Law Group. “I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been here,” he says. “I always knew immigration was important, especially being Jewish. In my family there were those that died in the Holocaust and there were also those who were able to escape, and so it definitely translates why immigration is so important for so many people, especially to America, which has always been a refuge for the displaced and oppressed.”
Jon plans to attend law school. Soon. He smiles. “Well, I need to take the LSAT. I’m thinking this December.”
As an only child and now that his father has passed away, he’s thinking about attending law school in Washington D.C. to be close to his mother. Though there’s a chance his mom might move to New York City. “She’s a Broadway nut,” Jon says. “Her dream is to live with three roommates who are all obsessed with Broadway shows and they would all go to shows at least once a month together.”
“Are you going to skate home today?” I ask.
“I haven’t lately because of the weather,” he says. “But now that it’s warming up, I might save on subway fare.”
Be careful, Jon.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
What turns you off?
What is your favorite curse word?
Son of a bitch.
What sound or noise do you love?
Rain on a tin roof.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What is your idea of happiness?
What is your idea of misery?
A long line and one open window.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?
Tom Joad and Sam Spade.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My father, FDR, Mark Gonzales, Stanley Kubrick, and Bob Dylan.
What would your last meal be?
Pasta with anchovies and garlic.
What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
Singing or being musically inclined in some way.
What makes you laugh?
One-liners delivered dry and backward country riddles.
What makes you cry?
Losing people. The Grand Canyon.
What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
The internal combustion engine.
Where do you feel most at home?
Wherever my coffeemaker is. Can’t live without it.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
Green Skate Lab, a public skate park I helped build in D.C.
Whatʼs the best advice youʼve been given?
The first rule of observation, “Keep your eyes and your ears open and your mouth shut.” – My father, Walter Blank.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
Riding shotgun in my Dad’s ’88 Chevy Celebrity in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I loved that benchseat.