Fifty One

Nope

Nope

Skateboarding. The clock becomes an enemy. Injuries and physical decline another foe. Bills, obligations, responsibilities… the list goes on. “I can’t find time. I can’t get hurt. I can’t do what I once did. I can’t…”  Eventually, skateboarding takes a back seat. Then it goes into the trunk. Then it goes into the garage. Then it goes away forever. I’m turning fifty one tomorrow. I run, lift weights, eat well and still… I feel my years every morning. I hurt. Always. This past week, I went to Kelly Belmar’s house as I wanted to give the eight foot channel a try. I don’t know about you, but I still dream about doing stuff on my skateboard. I’m realistic. I know my limitations. Yet, I still daydream about pushing past them. There is no glory for me. There never was. I got into the wrong line during the glory years.  It’s okay. I know exactly what and who I am. I’m proud of the person I have become since I gained sobriety. One day at a time baby…

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I looked at the channel at Belmar’s last Friday night. First of all, it’s a big one. Eight feet. Secondly, the corners are terribly close. I stretched a bit and skated the pool. It is big and fast. I have been riding Belmar’s since Andy Macdonald took me there in 1993. I like its size and scariness. Belmar’s is no joke. I was just considering the channel. It was considering me. I thought, “The hell with it.” I pushed hard and rolled into the channel. I carved just under tiles and aimed for the corner of the channel. Momentary fear. Flight. Board tumbling away. Kneeslide. I did this about a dozen times and was rapidly running out of day light. I decided that it might be possible to air the channel. I carried my board across with me on my last few tries. I phoned MRZ. He said that he’d shoot it and we set it up for Sunday. I pictured it in my mind. Positive imaging. Resolute. Determined. Sunday came and in I went. Twenty to thirty tries.  I was a sweat-soaked mess. I wore my Superman shirt. I wanted to fly but I couldn’t do it. The times I had control of it and I thought I could make it, I came up short. The times I sailed over, I didn’t have control of it… I wanted to be Superman and I realized that I’m only Clark Kent after all. You want to know something? I’m cool with that. I didn’t fail. I think that failure would have been sitting around and talking about it. As long as I try…  I’ll be fine. Besides, there is always tomorrow. Thank you to Kelly Belmar for the session and MRZ for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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Daight Street

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Daight Street. Hot and hateful. The sun an enemy. It hurt our eyes and our skin. Steve Alba located this one portion of Hell that had previously been overlooked. The art of Recon. He had developed his craft well. Decades of pool searching. We went to this one and Steve told us about the neighborhood. Dope houses. Homicides. Squatters and pathogens. Disease is shared in all its sordid forms. Crime oozes like a contagion. I was told that when a person leaves prison, they are given a bus pass that can take them anywhere in the county. The county ends about a tenth of a mile away. This friend told me that there are more convicted rapists, murderers and felons per square mile right here than anywhere else. Last house on the block. Watch your back. We cleaned up motor oil, glass and trash from the pools bottom. We commenced a heavy pounding.

cleaning out the date pool to be skated

Scott Ward and I

 

Salba, Scott Ward and me

Salba, Scott Ward and me

Steve Alba

Steve Alba

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Michael Serna Jr.

 

Scott Ward

Scott Ward

Me

Me

In the end, the pool wouldn’t last. They rarely do. I find it interesting to watch guys like Steve Alba, Tony Farmer, John Zask and numerous others as they ride a new pool. They get into it, figure it out and handle their business. They know from experience that this might be all there is… Thank you to Zach Petschek for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Why?

Tom Groholski

For those of you completely in the dark and new, here you go. BS and FS Ollies were done at different places in history and were called different things. Jeff Tatum: JT Air (BS Ollie), Alan Gelfand: FS Ollie. Frontside airs were done in different places and in a totally different fashion : TA & George Orton.  Who was first? Hmmm… Rock-n-Rolls were first done by Tim Marting but Steve Olson supposedly received the first photograph in the magazine. Hence, people think Steve Olson was the first to do them. It is also rumored that Chris Strople–the inventer of the Alley-oop air–did Rock-n-Rolls at this early stage. The Smith grind. Was it done by Alan Losi or Pat Ngoho or Mike Smith first? There are photographs and accounts that support all three. Gunnar Haugo did the Gunnair which is Duane Peter’s Indy air a few years before the fact. Documented. History.  Questions. Questions. To my thinking, there was a huge period of discovery and possibly even these facts are not all together factual. Maybe there was a guy somewhere in Nebraska hucking frontside airs before others! Who really knows!? Does it all really matter?  Credit has gone to others. A place in the sun denied. Some people have knocked back that bitter pill. Sadness. I feel for them.

In Jeff Grosso’s Love Letters,  Jeff Tatum posed the question perfectly: “Who really invents anything?” I have to agree with him. They say that history is written by the victors and that half the world believes what the other half invents. Well… that might be so. The truth is the truth. There are no versions of the truth. Will we ever know? Will the Indy Air  become the Gunnair? Will the BS Ollie become the JT Air? I don’t know. I think that they’ve become ingrained into the collective skateboarding consciousness as what they are. A BS Ollie and an Indy Air. It might be a shame, it might be untrue but its the way things are. I think it is amazing that these things were invented and passed on at all. I think that we are supremely lucky that Gunnar Haugo did the Gunnair. We are blessed that Jeff Tatum did the JT Air. I think we are fortunate that Ngoho, Losi and Smith were ripping and inventing things simultaneously. I think we were privileged to see Tim Marting, Chris Strople and Bulky Olson doing Rock-n-Rolls! I’m happy that Duane did his version of the Gunnair & named it an Indy. This is only my opinion and  I hold the skaters that I’ve named in the highest regard and they should know it. I intend absolutely no disrespect. That being said, I simply thought that some of this should be illuminated.  I may catch a bunch of angst for this. It matters not. One salient fact. The most important thing is that ALL of these guys  collectively pushed skateboarding ahead to new uncharted territory for a billion of us to follow!   Without each and every one of them… things might not be. Here is an epic Love Letters episode on Tom Groholski. He rules…  and you can take my word on that one!  If not, click the flick. Skate- Ozzie

http://offthewall.tv/video/tom_groholski

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Escondido

grand

 

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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