Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson in Minding the Gap. Photo: Bing Liu. In 1949, Life magazine called my hometown of Rockford, Illinois, a place as “nearly typical of the U.S. as any city can be.” Today the city of a hundred fifty thousand hosts some of the highest rates of unemployment and violent crime in the country; every year, it makes lists of America’s worst cities. My friends, almost all of whom have left town, are so accustomed to sharing embarrassing headlines that there’s an air of disbelief when something good comes out of Rockford. More than disbelief, I felt envy when the director Bing Liu won an award at Sundance for Minding the Gap, a documentary set in Rockford, a city whose story I have tried—and failed—to tell. A documentary about skateboarding, no less. I grew up skating those streets. As the rave reviews poured in, I didn’t read them; I didn’t want to hear someone else’s take on my hometown. I felt guilty, but the jealousy gnawed at me. Still, I wanted to see Rockford writ large on a big screen in Manhattan. I brought my wife and two friends to an art house cinema where Liu was… Read full this story
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