FREE SLOMO: Let This San Diego Legend Return To Ocean Front Walk!!
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For many San Diegans, the picturesque "boardwalk" known as Ocean Front Walk between Mission Beach and Pacific Beach makes for a welcome respite from the daily grind, but for one man that space is life. We are asking San Diego County & City officials to open Ocean Front Walk to Slomo! He needs it. We need him. Please sign our petition to FREE SLOMO!
It has been nearly 2 months since San Diego's Ocean Front Walk connecting Mission Beach and Pacific Beach was closed to the public as a precautionary measure to battle the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. This may be a slight inconvenience for a lot of locals, but for San Diego's most well-known celebrity-on-wheels, this alters the fabric of his life. As such, we have launched this Change.org petition asking San Diego leaders to allow Slomo to do his thing.
To many, Slomo is just a strange old man balancing on one skate with his arms outstretched, a huge smile on his face, brightening the day of all those he slowly, and I mean slowly, rolls by. But to true locals, he is a sign of normalcy and the personification of San Diego's laid back beach atmosphere. He needs to be on the boardwalk, and we need him back.
The man known only as Slomo is actually 77 year-old Dr. John S. Kitchin M.D. Before he spent his days skating down Ocean Front Walk doing a form of slow-motion Tai Chi on roller blades to a soundtrack, he was a successful neurologist and psychiatrist. He even owned a 30 acre ranch at one point with a petting zoo and started a nonprofit foundation to bring children to visit the animals. The basis for his rollerblade skills was downhill skiing, Kitchin's former passion. Kitchin also suffers from prosopagnosia, an affliction that makes it difficult to recognize faces. He believes his uncanny balance might be a compensation for his visual disorder.
For more than two decades, Slomo could be found on a near daily basis rollerblading back and forth on Ocean Front Walk. He is usually seen wearing a bucket hat, blue tanktop, Bermuda shorts, his safety pads, roller blades, and of course blaring mostly classical music from speakers affixed to his body. The locals can frequently be heard yelling out his moniker "SLOMO!" as he wistfully glides by. In a beach town filled with characters, Slomo is king.
"The people that love Slomo are cheering for one person that got away, that escaped, and got to real freedom where he skates all day, doesn't apologize, he simply is doing what he wants to," explains Dr. John 'Slomo' Kitchin in the documentary SLOMO (embedded below). "This is your good ole days, it only gets worse from hereon, okay. The good ole days are these!"
In 1998, Kitchin retired from medicine. He already had taken to skating with headphones at Dana Junior High School in Point Loma. He began to see slow-motion gliding to music as a portal to religious ecstasy. He moved into a "monastic" studio a half-block from the boardwalk and took to skating the length of the boardwalk seven days a week. Naturally, his family worried about him.
Kitchin wondered if his obsession with oceanfront skating might be the manifestation of a psychological breakdown, fueled by the heady essence of the boardwalk. Years later, those fears have dissipated into the morning mist. He spends his days writing, creating art, mixing music and, of course, dressing in the Slomo outfit and skating for hours into the cosmos. Kitchin uses the Slomo character as a sort of meditation device/social experiment. Kitchin's philosophy of "the Zone," is where Slomo lives and where he meditates on eternal questions.
Kitchin has embraced the stardom of his Slomo alter ego. His Slomo T-shirts, bumper stickers, postcards and self-published books – "The Trial of Slomo," "Slomo and the New World," and "Portraits in Slomovision" – once sold briskly at the Swings n' Things at the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach (as well as on Amazon.com). He is the loved mascot of the beach community although most people do not know anything about him. Slomo definitely reinforces the ole adage, "you should never judge a book by the cover."
Visit SanDiegoVille.com to watch the award-winning New York Times documentary short on Slomo and please sign this Change.org petition to ask our city's leaders to allow Slomo to return to his home turf of San Diego's famed Ocean Front Walk.
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