Escondido

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Escondido. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego. I’ve heard that it means ‘Hidden Treasure’.  I’m unsure. I know that Escondido is about forty square miles of rolling, sparsely populated countryside. Horse farms. Avocado trees. Palm tree growers prosper here. Ripperside Shawn and I decided to take a scenic tour today. We were looking for hidden treasure ourselves. Ripperside Shawn had completed some homework and we left the KRSNA farm with some definite destinations in mind.

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We spun a lazy arc through the countryside. Our boards were tucked away in the truck behind us and Ripperside Shawn told me about the possibilities today. There were several large Christian retreats that were now defunct. They needed looked into. Shawn smiled at me, “These places were built mostly in the 1950’s and had massive plunge pools to provide refreshing summer destination places for families to visit.”  I grinned. “… massive plunge pools”   I loved the sound of that. Horse corrals ran off into the distance. Old tractors lay abandoned in the dirty fields. It was like the owners ran them until they stopped and left them to deteriorate in the angry sunlight.

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We pulled over behind an older neighborhood. Shawn pointed. Walking along a pathway, we eyed up a gate that loomed on our left. “There is a pretty big pool at this place.” He said.  We climbed a fence and stepped down into a golf course pool. Abandoned. Belly up. The pool was long and had a beautiful surface. However, it was a pit. It wouldn’t be worth the arrest to ride it. We moved on. Our next stop was a hillside fire home. In the last decade, fires had ravaged certain parts of the area. It was a wise move to investigate the hillsides in the burn zone. Even after years, some people never rebuilt.

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We drove to an egg shaped pool that looked amazing on satellite. We located the property and pulled in to speak with the owners. A huge white dog greeted us hungrily. There appeared to be no one home. As the pool sat far away from the house, I got out of the truck and slid between the fences. I walked up to the pool and heard dogs (plural) barking. I realized two things. The pool had no deep end and there were two huge dogs lunging across the yard towards me. I’m fairly fleet-footed and quickly made a safe exit…

IMG_6545We spotted two on a hillside and spoke with the owners. “No can do. Liabilities man…” We smiled and thanked them for their time. We made our way through the hot afternoon. We knew that such searches are often bound to failure. It didn’t deter us. It is the hunt for pools that makes the entire thing so interesting. We live and let live. Guys are going to the skateparks or the same old, same old and that is cool with us. At least those guys are still tearing it up and not waiting for old age and infirmity to remove any hope of stoke to survive. We understand. We know. Ripperside Shawn and I talk about getting older. Pools are hard to skate and harder on the body. But to us, it would be harder living without them. If I had to give up pool skating, I’m not sure I would want to survive such a thing…

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We cruised by the old Pala pool area and stopped for a quick rip. Ripperside Shawn swept it out as I looked around. I had ridden both of the Pala pools back in 2002. Matt Moffett took me over after they were found. I have photographs stashed away. Both pools were pristine and barely ridden. That was no longer the case.

IMG_6600We rode for an hour or so. The square pool is a bit of a challenge. It is kinked and lumpy. There are coping blocks missing and we both carved and kickturned around. It was fun. The weight of the world slipped away. We were both young again. We felt like we did when anything was possible… still.

Ripperside Shawn

Ripperside Shawn

Me

Me

Driving back to the KRSNA farm, we grabbed his son Gopa and headed down to a hidden treasure. It is a ditch tucked away in the countryside. I took a cool shot of Ripperside Shawn and Gopa taking a run together… I ended the day on that. Nothing could be better. Skate- Ozzie

Ripperside Shawn and Gopa

Ripperside Shawn and Gopa

 

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Pepper Reflections

I was visiting California from Pennsylvania’s Woodward skate camp in 1994. It was cold at the airport in Philadelphia. Snow was falling and they kept de-icing the huge jet wings, while I sat there and watched. I idly wondered in my own macabre way, if I was going to crash on the way up or once aloft. Somehow, the thought of hurtling at 300+ MPH into the earth…. kinda felt nice.

Anyway, we finally arrived and Andy Macdonald picked me up in San Diego. The next morning, Andy, Jon ‘Bacon’ Hobbs, Rhino, Preston and I, drove up to Salbaland to ride backyard pools. Salba met us outside his garage. We loaded up, buckets, pumps, brooms and a turkey baster. I looked sideways at Rhino and he quickly informed me that, ”…the turkey baster gets the water out of the drain hole, when you cannot remove the drain cover”. “Oh…..” I mumbled. It was the start of a brave new world for me.

Andy Macdonald

We went to numerous pools that day. It was a blur of dirt, graffiti, broken beer bottles, refuse, human decadence, poverty and filth. It was also one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I had found exactly what I had been looking for all my life. That may sound odd.  I love pool skating. When I rode with these guys and carved over the light– grinding– it was epic. I felt the speed and knew I needed more.

I remember that I didn’t do well that day. I rode vert often, my trucks were too tight and I kept kickturning…a ‘no-no’ in pool riding, because you lose ALL of your speed. They were patient, probably because of my enthusiasm. The final pool of the day was one that Salba found. He called it ‘Pepper’. It was a Master pool by Jim Hendricks. Pepper was a right-hand kidney with smooth, shiny bullnose coping, a deathbox left of the light and steep side hip stairs. The surface was fast and smooth. Palm trees hung in the sky overhead. It was an image straight out of ‘Skateboarder’ magazine.

Steve Alba

Steve Alba

Salba told us the crazy story of finding and draining it the first time. “When we found out and bailed it for the first time, I was scared shitless because wasps were using the water for their wasp nests. There were hundreds –if not thousands– of wasps. I am allergic to bee stings…’epi-pen’ bad! Anyhow, Slide 540 was just laughing at me and swatting those wasps away with his hands. It got so bad that I jumped back over the brick wall, until Slide got the rest of the water out. Pepper lasted for about a year and a half, just sitting there ‘H.U.D. house’ style….then this Mexican family moved in and we thought it was finished. But much to our amazement, they let us ride, for a case of beer. After that, I got to know them real good…in fact I took my boys there often and they played with the kids there………mind you– my kid Jesse was like two to three years old at the time. He would sit there, playing in the dirt with his cars and motorcycles when we rode the pool………epic!” Salba had us laughing with his memories of the pool.

Kale Sandridge with Dave Reul and Salba looking on.

540 Slide

540 Slide

On my visit, we rode there until dark that night. I saw things that defied logic. I saw Andy Mac pull waist high FS nosebones. I saw Salba roll-in, then fly through the pool, going over every obstacle. I saw standup 5-0 grinds on the shallow end coping. I saw Bacon pull FS boneless & FS airs. I was drop-jawed in amazement! These guys destroyed that pool. On the long ride home, in the dark stuffy confines of Andy’s Honda Civic, I made up my mind to move to California. I knew I would live here and ride pools. Visiting ‘Pepper’ pool was a turning point for me. I will never forget it. Thank you to Tom Groholski for the images. Skate-Ozzie

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Superbowl

 

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Steve Alba phoned me. It was 2002. “I need you to try and check on a pool over in Santa Ana. A friend of mine was working on a powerline and he said that he looked down and saw a huge kidney pool in an apartment complex. From what he could see, it is pretty empty.” I drove over the next day. The apartments were small one-story bungalow type things that sat in a huge rectangle on the property. The pool was situated in the middle of it all. There was an old rotting wooden fence around it and I could readily see white plaster and blue tiles between the slats. I looked inside. Huge pool. Virtually empty. I knew that there was no possible way  that this pool could be skated without people knowing. The people that lived there had front doors and windows facing the pool only a few feet away. I was already being looked at.

Chuck Hults

Chuck Hults

I approached the Manager unit and knocked. A man of about thirty years old answered. I used my gift for gab. I explained that we wanted to skate the pool for a few hours and take photographs. He named a fee. I had no problem with that. The next weekend, we drove over. We brought stickers for the kids in the apartment complex and took some rides. It was pretty fun. It was a super bowl…  and it just happened to be Superbowl Sunday. The pool didn’t last. The Manager put a chain and lock on it to deter the local kids from skating. Word went out into the local high schools…  The Manager told me that kids were climbing in there all the time. He was going to put water in it… The pool went away. Many had sampled its sweetness. I drove by a year or so ago. It was early. Quiet. Dawn. They had filled in the deep end and it looked like it was going to be a wading pool or a huge fountain or something…

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Such a loss. Find it, drain it, grind it, share it. Tomorrow, it may be gone. Thanks to MRZ for the Chuck Hults image. Skate- Ozzie

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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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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.

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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.

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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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