San Fernando Valley

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San Fernando Valley. The night hides a million horrors and ill deeds. People secure themselves behind barbed wire, brass locks and brandy. The world is held at bay. Lights shimmer from the hillsides. Every shadow hides a heartbeat. How long will the pattern of another broken life define us? How far will our voices reach as the machinery of government rides over our liberties? The valley held so much hope. Los Angeles sprawled and spilled up and over the hills… The further it grew, the higher the heat climbed and the freeways split things into parceled concrete and neon pieces. Huge palm trees and family homes climbed the hills and ran away across the valley as far as the eye could see. Shimmering water. Swimming pools. Dreams were built on the backs and sweat of the hard-working immigrants and residents. Years blew by. Goodness. It once was and it no longer was what it could’ve been. Unravelling.

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palm

Some areas remain unchanged. Some are in decline. Some are lost. It is the way of things. Restoring order. Life will do it for us sometimes. In the 1970’s, there was drought and heat. The San Fernando Valley cooked under the relentless sun. Skateboarders moved through the area. Cars were loaded with boards and the occupants were loaded in turn. Fun and mischief. It is what they did. Jerry Valdez, Kent Senatore, Marc Smith, Dave Ferry. Arthur Viecco, Brad Bowman, Shreddi Repas, Jay Smith and a crew of others, were constantly on the search. Unknowingly, they created a path for us to follow.

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Did you ever notice how day by day we do the same routines and nothing seems to change? Then, we eventually look back and nothing is the same. Everything is different. In this case, the world evolves into a continuing shit show. The lonely parade marches down the street followed by a band that plays no music…  Rome burns. Skateboarders roam through the detritus of life and create where they can. What life leaves as scraps, we form into a useable canvas for expression. Urethane is our paint. Eddie Mighty Moreno, Oscar Navarro, Al Brunelle and Robbie Russo took MRZ and I to the San Fernando Valley the other weekend. They follow closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, yet they expand on an original idea. Progression. Things would cease to be interesting if those that come later, simply duplicate what is already here. These guys are our future.

Eddie Mighty Moreno

Eddie Mighty Moreno

Al Brunelle

Al Brunelle

Oscar Navarro

Oscar Navarro

Robbie Russo

Robbie Russo

We drove a concrete ribbon of oil and grease. Trash and smog were a constant reminder that there are far too many of us in the world. Condoms should come as standard equipment on all new models in production. The world is going half the speed of what it takes. We pushed through. Alleys. Cinder block walls. Foreclosures.

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Driving into a waning sun, we slipped into a quiet neighborhood. We pulled to the curb. Looking to the right, we all saw it. Neglect. Abandonment. The house sat in silence. Leaves and blistered paint marred its face. A broken white fence sagged on its hinges. “This is the one. It is basically a ten minute get in and handle your business type of pool.” We nodded. Eyes ran over the nearby houses. I saw a neighbor standing shirtless on the sidewalk nearby. He already laser-beamed us. I wanted to walk up and tell him that I found his nose… in our business. I didn’t. I smiled and said “Hello.” I approached. I told him we wanted to skate the pool and take a few photographs. He turned his head to the side and spat on the ground. “You can do what you want. I aint no rat.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked back into his garage. We slipped into the yard. It had huge trees and the pool was carpeted with debris. Everyone silently went to work.

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Within fifteen minutes, it was cleaned, ridden and vacated. Abandonment and neglect were conquered. The pool was left behind as a perfect memory of how a San Fernando Valley afternoon could be. We took a lost dream and infused with with new blood… if only for a brief moment.

Eddie Mighty Moreno

Eddie Mighty Moreno

Oscar Navarro

Oscar Navarro

Robbie Russo

Robbie Russo

Al Brunelle

Al Brunelle

Thanks to MRZ for the images. Thanks to the crew. 1970’s B&W image courtesy Fineman Archive. Skate- Ozzie

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Mike Weed/ Weaver Woody/Pepsi

Gregg Weaver- ‘Massage pool’- 1977
I lived in a small place in Pennsylvania and in the summer of 1977, the Pepsi skateboard team came through. They set up a clear plastic U-Shaped half pipe, in the parking lot of the local JC Penney store. It was hot and sweltering, as only the northeast can become in June. Pennants and colorful Pepsi banners hung slack in the stifling heat. People milled about the large plexiglass ramp which was roped off and empty. A PA system was set up to one side and a technician fiddled with wires, duct taping them flat onto the ground.
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The asphalt lot was hot and people grew restless. I skated around the periphery, trying to see anyone I might notice from Skateboarder magazine. So far, zilch. I noticed some greasy looking guy selling snow cones from a box truck. He was doing a brisk business. The way he eyed up the kids, made me uncomfortable, so I kept my two dollars tucked deep in my corduroy OP shorts. There were a bunch of fat people sweating it out and from the looks of things, should’ve found themselves a spot inside the glass-fronted JC Penney store. At least they would be cooler in there and wouldn’t sweat and stink so badly. Damn!  Even the store mannequins seemed to droop in the shoulders.

pepsi

I skated around behind the ramp and that’s when I saw them. Roy Jamison and Mike Weed were getting their boards out of a small van. I caught my breath. Mike Weed looked at me and nodded. If Roy Jamison did as well, I didn’t notice. Mike Weed just nodded at me! Mike Weed! I couldn’t believe it. Go ahead and call me a moron, but I hadn’t seen a skateboard pro in my entire life. All I saw were magazine photographs of a life and culture far, far away. I stood there slack-jawed, I am sure. They slipped under a rope and crossed the bottom of the ramp out of my view.

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I heard the PA system spark to life and the announcer began introductions. They began riding to music. I believe it was Foghat or some frizzy-headed, bell-bottom band similar to them.  To be honest, I remember one -wheelers, forevers, Roy Jamison having such a rad style, and almost passing out when Mike Weed gave me a sticker. I recall little else. I know that I didn’t sleep that night… not much anyway. The next day, I talked my mom into going to the JC Penney store with me. They sold the only skateboards in town.

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They had a Hobie Weaver Woody for sale. It was $49.99. I rubbed my fingers across the smooth wood and smelled the red, urethane Power Paw wheels. The ACS 430 trucks mocked me… I only had $11.00. I must tell you, that I worked an entire summer in my fathers upholstery shop, to save up the rest of the money to buy that Weaver Woody. It came without grip tape, so I cut up strips of floor sand paper and glued them onto it. I rode that board into the ground until it was unrecognizable.

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Gregg Weaver wasn’t at that JC Penney demo, not that I can remember. His spirit was though. There are a few things that don’t make sense to me now. Over thirty years has passed. I don’t know why other Pepsi team riders weren’t there and I only really recall Mike and Roy skating. I can’t remember what I did with the sticker Mike Weed gave me. In my mind, it matters not one bit. He gave me a sticker….that is all that matters. When you are thirteen years old, and a poor skateboard kid from PA, that stuff stays with you forever. It is in my blood.  I heard that Mike Weed passed away from cancer and it saddens me…  R.I.P. Mike and thank you bro. Thanks to Jim Goodrich for the Weaver image and Marlon Whitfield for the Woody images. Thank you to Bill Sharp for the Skatopia image. Skate – Ozzie

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Flight

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She moved under him. He gripped her hips and held her tightly down. Rutting feverishly. Afterwards, he lay on the bed beside her and smoked. She stirred and he heard her ask a question. “What?” He didn’t want a shower. Pointing toward the bathroom he told her to go ahead. Turning towards the window, he lay on his side. Smoke hung above him. His thoughts drifted. The flight into Denver. He was to fly to California for United but his schedule had changed. He would wait on another flight in the morning. Hotel bar. Strong drinks with plastic stir sticks. The girl in black nylons and a stirring in his loins. He’d had more than a few stewardesses. It came with the job. He was to catch the morning flight as an add on from Denver to LAX. Sleep soon took him…

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He barely made it to the airport. The usual bustle and frenetic pace. People trying to get somewhere. He was waved past security as he presented identification. The pilots had a pretty good arrangement. He boarded as the crew nodded in his direction. Familiar faces. Stowing his carry on bag, he took a seat just behind the cockpit in the main cabin. He would link up at LAX and pull a three-day flight routine from LAX to Denver and back. It was tiring but he ended the week with four days to himself. Smiling, he knew he’d be back in Vegas at the tables…  travel arrangements compliments of United. Las Vegas was where he really lived. At least this is what he told himself. He loved flying into Vegas at night. A thousand dreams. A million magic lanterns. Possibilities. He would fly tourists into Vegas sometimes and during his layover, he’d play craps…  cigarettes, strippers and booze. His household Gods. He smiled to himself as the United flight into LAX started boarding.

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The plane was packed. It was filled with the usual bustle. Knees in the back. Elbows being bumped by people moving in the aisles. Cramped legs and tired neck muscles. The stale air was recirculated in a pathetic effort to make it seem…  less nasty. Tiny round nozzles spit it directly down onto the passengers from the little plastic control panel above them. Call light. Oxygen mask. Nasty air nozzle. The crew didn’t think they were fooling anyone. After 9/11, people’s IQ’s dramatically improved. Folks were wary and questioned everything. They wouldn’t take too much shit either. The pilot seated behind the cockpit knew the deal. He once saw a Federal Marshall put a Saudi man on his face on a flight into Miami. It was ugly but the pilot thought the man probably had it coming. Didn’t they all deserve it?  “Infidels my ass.”  Pushing the thought away, he took two Vicodin and started to order a drink…  He thought better of it. Too early. The thought made him chuckle. He sat quietly and thought of Vegas. The passengers soon heard the Captain announce, “Good Morning. We are on the final approach to Los Angeles where the weather is a pleasant seventy-nine degrees. Please prepare for landing. We’ll be on the ground shortly.”

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On the ground in Los Angeles, the passengers began to gather their things. The pilot sat in his seat and waited for them to exit the plane. Two guys moved past him toward the exit. They carried skateboards. “Scumbags.” he thought. They both appeared to be in their thirties…  The men had a few tattoos visible and talked excitedly between themselves. They seemed in a hurry. One of them had a green camouflage baseball hat on. They nodded to him… The pilot turned away. Evening found the pilot in a downtown Los Angeles night club. Music pulsed and hammered through the building. He was sweating. Slipping into a bathroom stall, he opened up a bindle and carefully snorted half of the coke inside. His pulse quickened. He loved cocaine. It made him feel…  well, less empty. Voices outside. Urgency. The bathroom was loud…  flushing the toilet with his foot, he quickly went out to the main club. People danced and writhed. It wasn’t long before he saw her then. Blue dress. Tight. Her eyes were wet jewels…  She smiled. He moved.

LosAngeles

Three days later, the pilot stepped into the airplane in uniform. He was hungover and tried to look fresh and ready for the flight to Denver from Los Angeles. The crew hurried about the cabin preparing and he strapped himself behind the console to begin his last minute flight checklist. If he had been looking back into the main cabin, he would’ve seen the two skateboarders coming on board and taking their seats. If he had taken the time to speak to them at length, he would’ve learned that they were much more than skateboarders. They weren’t ‘Scumbags”. They were solid. They weren’t an empty husk like him. They valued friendships. They held jobs, had loving families and more friends than he could ever hope to collect in a lifetime. These were two guys who had a passion. Skateboarding. They broke themselves to overcome fear and to become better people. The two skaters talked and looked at photographs on their phones. The Gorilla Pool.The Bent Square. Triple Bubble. It had been a blur…  A weekend of pool skating with friends. It truly made life better. Take flight to live. They looked through the photographs again. They had skated with some really cool people. Cam, Shane, Ripperside Shawn, Kevin Burke, Brandon Wong, Kent Senatore…  good people. Good times. Thank you to Bill Sharp for the images. Skate- Ozzie

James Hedrick

James Hedrick

Kent Senatore

Kent Senatore

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

Ripperside Shawn

Ripperside Shawn

James Hedrick

James Hedrick

Cam Dowse

Cam Dowse

Terrill Schmidt

Terrill Schmidt

Shane Allen

Shane Allen

Ripperside Shawn

Ripperside Shawn

James Hedrick

James Hedrick

Terrill Schmidt

Terrill Schmidt

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

Shane Allen

Shane Allen

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shadow passes, light remains.

Tony Alva

Tony Alva

Transit umbra, lux permanet.  The weekend loomed on the horizon. Respite. A relaxation nation… Most spend the days luxuriating themselves under alcohol’s smooth fingers. Warmth pisses down the spine. Edges dulled. Life and it’s problems disappear… if only for the moment. We once did things in a similar fashion. But, not any longer. Not on this weekend. I drove up to the clover bowl on Saturday with Melanie. The sun glittered off of the ocean and crowds gathered on the beaches as we moved up the coast. It was warm. Kent Senatore, Tony Alva and Katy met us there.

TA and Kent Senatore- Friendship

TA and Kent Senatore- Friendship

We all smiled. We were grateful for the sunshine and sober moment in paradise. Life’s hurried comings and goings were soon forgotten. Transit umbra, lux permanet. We cruised together, ate a light snack and believed in the good in all things. Kent carved and worked an experienced line through the clover bowl… style lives forever. Tony rolled in and surf-carved speedy lines and spent as much time on the coping as he did in the bowls. His frontside grinds were extraordinary. We rolled for a few hours and went our separate ways. Traffic cluttered the drive home. Shadow passes. Light remains. The next morning, Kent and I drove up once more and met up with Lance Mountain, Patrick Ryan and MRZ. Our day was one of laughter and skateboarding. The world’s -sometimes-cruel grasp kept its dark hand from pulling any of us down. Transit umbra, lux permanet. Thank you to William Sharp for the images. Skate- Ozzie

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan

Lance Mountain

Lance Mountain

Me

Me

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Past and Present

Kent Senatore - Skyline

Kent Senatore – Skyline

Some say we are actually three different people. We are who we are, we are what we want others to think we are and we are who people think we are. Convoluted? Not really. We all wear a mask from time to time. I think it is defensive… We are the sum of all our experiences. I also think we are a bit of everyone that came before us. From our childhood, we are brought up to present ourselves in a certain way. “Boys don’t cry and show their emotions.” “A girl must always be a lady.” But what if you are a dude and want to cry? Life hurts. What if a girl wants to be a filthy bitch? Just saying… There is nothing wrong with being human. There is nothing wrong with being yourself. I’d rather be ‘me’ than some cookie-cutter Cool Guy cut from the regulation template and served up in whatever is deemed the current uniform. We are all products of the past. To know where we are going, we must sometimes look back. Someone once wrote, “I only look back in order to see how far I’ve come.” Makes sense. I like when the past and the present meet. Recognition. Nostalgia. A glimpse into the future.

Kent rolling over The Gorilla

Kent rolling over The Gorilla

Kent Senatore is one of skateboarding’s original pool pioneers. He is a lifelong surfer and skater. Kent rode it all in the Golden Days of the 1970’s. In his magazine interview from back then, I think he listed over twenty pools that they’d skate on a regular basis. He rode the earliest parks, the desert pipes in Arizona and everything in between. Kent recently came into town and we wanted to spend a day riding backyard pools. Ray Zimmerman thought it would be cool to bring young Patrick Ryan along. Patrick is a wonderful skateboarder. He has great style and extraordinary board control. He is the future. I left Hollywood early and drove up the Laurel Canyon road that twists over into Studio City. Kent was staying there with his father. We quietly talked and discussed Jay Adams recent passing. The sun glimmered off of nearby cars. Traffic crawled. We soon found ourselves at a coffee spot where we met Ray and Patrick. We climbed into one car.  Soon, we were at our first pool. It was 9:30 am, the sun was bright and spirits were high. Kent swept the pool and immediately wasted no time. It was his first backyard pool of the trip and the sounds of wheels on tiles and coping, soon filled the air. Patrick is no slouch and Kent and I were joking about how Patrick was going to “…sit the old men down.” with his speedy lines and perfect style. He didn’t disappoint. Crails and shallow end rocks were offered up to the skate Gods.

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan

Kent Senatore

Kent Senatore

We drove into the late morning and visited a few old favorites. Pools. Blue tiles. Death boxes. Hips and curves.  All the things that make skateboarding so special… There is something amazing about pool searching. I looked over at Kent and his eyes missed nothing. Years of driving through Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley had instilled in him the exact same obsession that all pool skaters share. His need was our need. Symbiotic. It didn’t matter our age differences. Ray, Kent, Patrick and I were hunting.

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Driving to one of our permission pools, I looked over and saw a boarded up house. It was a particularly nice part of town. Golf courses. Huge trees. The houses sat back from the street. It looked promising…  We pulled over and approached the yard. We saw a square pool and went inside. There was a small amount of water and debris but we decided to give it a turn or two. I slipped out in the muck and put my board into the water. Once I pulled it out, I knew I had to grind the damn thing. Next turn. Done.

 

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Me

Me

Patrick Ryan took a shallow end plaster blast and then sat the old guys down with a frontside ollie to truck… How?! We were so stoked. Kent Senatore gave him a high five and smiled. He shook his head. Youth. The past meets the present.

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan

We decided to try and stop at an old favorite. I had painted it with the help of a few friends at the beginning of the summer. The owner was going to have it filled and use it for its intended purpose. I phoned him and asked if we could stop by and swim. He said that we couldn’t swim because it wasn’t filled yet. I don’t have to tell you what my next question was…  Ray, Kent and Patrick were stoked and as I stood on the love seat emptying buckets of putrid water, I was laughing. I was watching a fifty-something, legendary pool master- Kent Senatore bucketing a backyard pool with a teenage, style-wire – Patrick Ryan. The past and present meet. The circle complete. Thank you to the crew. Good times. Thank you to MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Kent Senatore

Kent Senatore

 

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Tim Brauch Memorial Contest 2014

Austin Poynter fell out of the sky...

Austin Poynter fell out of the sky…

If skating is an analogy for life then contests would be the equivalent of going to work. While most of us do not live to work it’s something we still do as a necessary evil that is part of life just not necessarily an enjoyable part. Fortunately, once a year the Tim Brauch Memorial Contest comes along to show what a contest could really be . . a celebration.
This year the 16th annual Tim Brauch Memorial “Celebration” saw a couple of changes but still produced what it’s known for, great energy and incredible skating. The most notable change was that the event was split into two days to accommodate the number of riders and divisions without turning it into a one day test of endurance for the riders as well as the spectators, a great call by the organizers. Secondly a deep pocket sponsor was lined up to avoid the possibility of a cancelation which the event nearly suffered from last year.
Saturday hosted qualifying and finals for all the amateurs.
Demarcus James

Demarcus James

Steve Revord

Steve Revord

Jean Rusen

Jean Rusen

Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

While some come only to see the best of the best (i.e. the masters and pros), if you want to see some real and inspiring skating in a contest format then watch the kids, they have the passion and drive that makes skating what it is. Their significance to skating’s future can’t be overestimated, it’s always good to keep an eye on what’s coming.
Jack Winburn

Jack Winburn

Jed Fuller

Jed Fuller

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Poppy Starr Olsen

Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson

Arianna Carmona

Arianna Carmona

Josh Rodriguez

Josh Rodriguez

Sunday was marquee day with the men’s and women’s pro divisions lined up for battle. It was a day I’m sure Tim was smiling over as every skater threw everything he/she had at the skull bowl. While the level of skating was intense as always the really special thing about this event is that the “competition” aspect takes a back seat to the real reason for all of this, to celebrate Tim’s spirit and the joy we all share in being a part of the skating family. You can see it when the riders on deck congratulate and hug each other after every run . . they are not competing as much as sharing. The sincere joy and gratitude is palpable and it’s awesome to see these skaters that dedicate so much to their profession still be able to feel and appreciate what it’s really all about. The crowd as well is not only treated to some of the best skating in the world but they also get the rare treat of being able to glimpse the soul of this art, definitely a special time for all.
Mark Partain

Mark Partain

Max Jensen

Max Jensen

Steve Caballero

Steve Caballero

Every skater that entered the event should be proud of their effort and honored to be a part of this legacy. There is one award that merits mention as it’s central to what the TBMC is all about. This years “Spirit of Tim” award went to Jed Fuller and it appeared to be unanimous throughout the competitors who give an informal vote to pick the recipient. Jed travels a long way to compete here every year and if you’ve ever seen him skate you know he charges every second. More importantly he is always smiling and stoked just to be skating with friends and living life legitimately. It was a great celebration to remember Tim and the true reason we all skate . . to feel the joy of being with friends and to live life on our terms. Thank you to all the organizers, sponsors and to Tim’s spirit for giving us this opportunity. Peace- Scott Foss
PRO- 1-Alex Sorgente, 2- Josh Rodriguez, 3- Daniel Cuervo
MASTERS- 1- Steve Caballero, 2- Steve Revord, 3- Josh Nelson
WOMENS- 1- Kisa Nakamura, 2-Arianna Carmona, 3- Sarah Thompson
Am Ladies- <14 1- Poppy Starr Olsen, 2- Brighton Zeuner, 3- Spencer Breaux
Am Ladies->15 1- Jordyn Barratt, 2- Pauline Branom, 3- Erin Wolfkiel
Am Men- <14 1- Jack Winburn, 2- Evan Doherty, 3- Kiko Francisco
Am Men- >15 1-  Nick Wallace, 2- Charlie Martin, 3- Bobo
Addendum- I could not be present at this years event and I asked Lorrie Palmos to send me some photographs. Scott Foss joined in and wrote a great piece. I  randomly placed the photographs that I found interesting into the article. I thank both Lorrie and Scott for their contributions. Skate- Ozzie
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Kent Senatore / Guest Post

Jay Adams at Cholo's

Jay Adams at Cholo’s

Kent Senatore

One afternoon, while I was surfing Rocky Point, Jay Adams gave skateboarding back to me… he, along with Tony and Stacy had already given it to me once before, many years earlier, but this second time was much more special. Jay reconnected me to something very, very, important that I had been neglecting for several years.

I was out at Rocky rights on a typical North Shore day. The waves were nothing out of the ordinary, but it had that sparkle. You know it if you surf… Then, I see a familiar face, and that big grin of his that at times was so elusive. It’s Jay Adams and he’s talking to me but I can’t quite hear him. He’s too far away and there’s still water in my ears from falling on my last wave. We were both living on the North Shore at the same time, and although we didn’t hang out day and night, we saw each other often, and would always stop to speak to each other. The last few times, he’d been telling me about a book he had with some pictures of me in it, and how he wanted me to come see it. I’m such a hermit that he’d been asking for a few years, and I still hadn’t made it over there… just a block or so from my house. The book turned out to be – Fuck You Heroes.

Jay paddles closer, and I clear my ears… then he says, “What are you doing after you surf? Let’s go skate Cholo’s ramp.” Cholo was a guy named Steve Ellis, you may have heard of him. Steve had been trying to get me to come over and skate for a while too, but for whatever reason, I just hadn’t made it up there, and I have to say, if anyone else had asked me to go skate that afternoon, I would have said no… but because it was Jay asking me this time, I said yes… so, after we surfed, Jay and I went to Steve’s. Steve had a six foot mini ramp with metal coping in his yard. They were doing grinds and 50-50’s and I was tripping. I’d never seen a 50-50 done before. It looked fun, and they kept offering me their skates to take a run, but I kept refusing. I just sat there, head bobbing back and forth in a mock pump watching them trade runs.

That night as a slept, something funny happened. I had a dream I was skating. Back in the day, I had skateboarding dreams all of the time, but it had been years since I remembered having a full blown skate dream. Apparently, there was one tiny ember buried underneath all those burnt out coals in my belly, and seeing those dudes doing this thing called skateboarding that we all love so much must have reignited that ember. The very next afternoon, I went straight up to Steve’s, bought a set-up from him, and never looked back. For several years I spent almost every afternoon at his house riding his wooden half pipe. Steve and Nancy must have been sick of my face at times.

In reflection, I love how it was Jay, and it was something that happened while surfing, which returned me to skating, because surfing and guys like Jay are what brought me to skating in the first place… it all makes a nice little circle. I’ve always had such love for Jay, but after what he did for me that day, I also have gratitude, I always will… and now when I look back on that one afternoon out at Rocky Point when Jay came paddling towards me, smiling a big smile… It takes on an even greater significance. Thank you Jay Adams for asking me to come skate again. You gave me back something I cherish. It was the best gift a friend could ever give another. – Kent Senatore

Thank you to Kent Senatore for the memories and thank you to Peter King for the image. Skate- Ozzie

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