Just another cage

Eddie Reategui - won't be caged in. Tijuana - April 1986

I was people watching today -outside of a church-and caught myself mumbling, drawing a few curious looks from those passing by. People were buttoned up in tinsel & lace. All of it was fine leather & brand name stuff from stores selling the same tired things. As the saying goes—-’The greater the outward show…the greater the inward poverty.’ My usual skepticism … my judgmental mind was at work. Cynical. I am truly cynical. My experience in life has proven to me that most folks are fairly self-centered but -inwardly-pretty nice. My experience has shown me that people blindly follow gods & gurus… seldom asking why they think the way they do.

They sit in church & repeat words like parrots. When questioned they say, “I was raised a Catholic.” or whatever belief they might follow. I feel that it’s a good thing for there to be religious people in the world. My experience tells me that the world could use a few more good spiritual folks around. My experience also showed me the darker aspects of religiosity & its outcomes. I worked as an RN in a major hospital here in southern California for a few years. My study & field of medicine was Oncology. I dealt mainly with cancer & AIDS patients. It was grueling & depressing but meaningful work. It sounds cliche… but I ‘made a difference’ daily.

We had this one young man as a patient. He was a piano prodigy at an early age. He went to Juilliard in NYC & performed all over the U.S. He opened a jazz festival with the wonderfully exquisite, Japanese pianist- Keiko Matsui, in Orange County, which I attended. When he fell ill, his hospital visits quickly became a frequent occurrence. His body & immunity shut down & he rapidly deteriorated. His parents-whom the man desperately longed to see-refused to attend to him at his bedside. They were devout Catholics & couldn’t believe their sons diagnosis of AIDS. Though they -previously- had attended every piano performance & gushed at the ovations their son received, they had nothing but damnation for him now. I wondered if the fathers past was so laudable….hmmm.

When I telephoned the parents to relay the sons plea to see them, the father stated that, “I can’t bring myself to look at him.” He actually had a hospital chaplain pray for his son..”the sodomite.” This is an awful story…but one that truly occurred. I looked on in horror, yet with a strange fascination as well. I am always appalled at the human condition. I have seen hundreds & hundreds of people die…some in my very arms. I must say that I hold no shame in admitting to my tears.

I have watched & waited in those white, sterile rooms, listening to their tortured breathing . I heard the oxygen machines humming, sending greatly needed air to the cancer-ridden lungs sucking feebly at the tubing. I waited & observed. In the hallway, people moved like they lost all hope. I saw the family of one patient across the hall. They were sitting on plastic chairs outside of the room; staring at their shoes. They were as silent as painted people. I turned my attention back to my patients. I medicated those poor doomed souls. My vigil. Time crawled as they prayed. In those dark dawns, I never saw anything that led me to believe that a God or any higher power held sway. It was an exercise in futility. He never came. When I watched children die of Leukemia, it made me think that God was no longer on the job. I closed the unseeing eyes with my fingertips & said a small prayer regardless. I then called the Coroners office. The life with its religious belief seemed like just another cage to me.

You now ask me, “What does this have to do with skateboarding?” Well, it seems to me that its a simple study in the human condition. We can obtain our peace of mind in many ways. We can play piano, worship in churches, raise our children, paint, draw, skate pools or experience the raw essence of life by caring for those close to death. However, anytime we close ourselves to another person & their humanity, we ultimately cage ourselves. Thanks to Jim Goodrich for the image. Go skate…and be kind. – Ozzie

posted– originally–in January 2010

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I hope I see you on the other side.

Follow no one. Stand for something & don’t be a clone. We currently have a surplus of those. Just amble around town and use your eyes.  Surplus. People walk through life like they are on TV.  Paper-thin personalities. Living a lie. I know. I’ve been there. Everyone is so untrue. If you lie, it will eventually become your truth! Deficit. Anxiety. Defeat. You dug the ditch yourself. You dug it with words as a shovel. Maybe your mouth should be boarded up. People never really say what they mean. Here I sit. On the roof. Dawn. Quiet. Picking myself apart again. As long as I don’t go back to what I was… pointing my all-knowing finger of blame at anyone but myself. The dark hole of self-loathing is a bad place.

I watch the sun come up today alone. The Ridiculous house is empty. Morning light runs down the hillsides. Drinking coffee on the roof, I look over the neighbors fence & think of draining their pool while they are at church. My new neighbor isn’t so nice. I invited his family to the house for the D-Face party & he said something about his kids needing sleep, church and– “too much noise” before closing the door in my face.  People…  Oh-well, he has his view of us fixed in his mind. If I drained his pool & rode it…  it would just make HIM right. I turned & looked the other way. The sun was coming up quickly. Warmth. Life.  A few weeks ago, I found a silver pigeon dead in the street out front. It had a red band on its leg & appeared to be well cared for. It was beautiful actually. Was it a homing pigeon? I removed it from the street & covered it with rocks that night. Up until today, there has been another pigeon that appears every morning & sits on a rock in the front yard. It must be the mate of the dead pigeon. It sits & waits…  cocking its head & cooing. The long wait. Timeless. The great empty void when someone leaves. Always waiting. I wish humans loved like that. It reminds me that we have had quite a few people leaving us these last two years. I think of  Bob Biniak, Baby Paul Cullen, Eric Swenson, Andy Kessler, Chris Cahill & others.  “I hope I see you on the other side.”  We are –collectively–losing greatness. Just thinking…  I’m sitting on the roof & thinking. Thank you to Geoff Graham for the ‘Dead Phone’ image. Skate- Ozzie

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Duane Peters, me and Jayboy

Inspired. They inspired me in my youth and continue to do so now. I think that they are two of the most soulful hardcore skaters on the planet. They really don’t care. Never have. I mean, in the larger scope of things I think they care…  but to give a damn about what others think or with regard to bodily injury to themselves? I don’t think that either of them give it a passing thought. I remember my friend Jim Howell helped me paint lines on the bottom of my board when DP’s model came out and we went outside and learned sweepers on my rickety half pipe. We both slammed that day. My friend loaned me his Z-flex board one time back in 1977. I told him over the phone that I had the chicken pox and he shouldn’t come by the house to pick it up. I rode it on my ramp everyday…  for a whole week!  Inspired. Thanks to MRZ for the image. Skate- Ozzie


Jay Adams

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I am an idiot

going in hot

Fun. I’ve said it before & happily repeat it here- Fun is where you find it. Sometimes you just need to laugh. Too many guys out there take themselves WAY too seriously. It’s funny. We all see the ‘cool guy’ crap that exists…. Delgado said it best : “There is no Man.” Well, just so everyone knows… I’m an idiot. I’m quite proud of it too! Thanks to MRZ for the image. Skate, learn to laugh at yourselves and leave the idiocy to me. I’m a specialist… – Ozzie

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I don’t think they knew.

Tony Alva - San Diego 1976

Almost without exception, the pioneers of our sport will claim ignorance when asked if they had any idea that what they were doing in the 1970’s would make such a radical impact on the world. Sure, there are a few individuals flushed with pride & filled with themselves that will say different. There are those that remain bitter for what they feel they never received. Ego. I feel sad for them. Some advice- ‘Greatness’ can only attach itself to humility. Most of the early pool riders were just having fun & doing ‘their thing.’ They had no real concept of the ripple effect. They–collectively–threw a pebble in a large pond & those ripples spread from the sunny beaches of California, across the feilds and farms of the midwest and into the cold industrial northeast. The ripples continued on across the world. TA told me that for the longest time, they just skated. They finally did notice that what they were doing was special. They came to realize that nobody really did it like them…  empty pools were mostly a drought-stricken California phenomena. There were pool crews all over. San Diego, San Fernando Valley, Badlands, NorCal, Ripperside… just to name a few. Waldo Autry, Jerry Valdez, Kent Senatore, Kevin Worm Anderson, Gunnar Haugo, Lee Gahimer, Doug Schneider, Rick Blackhart,  Mike Weed, Curt Kimbel and a long list of early rippers were out there doing this thing we do.

Doug Schneider

Waldo Autry

Kevin Worm Anderson

Guys were doing airs simultaneously in different areas. Tricks were landed, legends were made. Skateboarding arrived, blew up and quickly changed rapidly. One thing that didn’t change though, is the feeling one gets when carving across the pure white plaster of a backyard pool. It feels perfect everytime.  Thanks to all those that came before us. You helped define our lives. Thanks to Warren Bolster (R.I.P.)  for the image of TA and public domain for the others. Skate- Ozzie

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Nora Vasconcellos

Nora- Indy - Protec practice

I was at the ladies Protec and saw a young girl flowing perfectly throughout the pool. She had a great style & a healthy bag of tricks. I couldn’t believe how well she skated. Ray was taking some photographs of the practice so I posted up in a corner & watched. I saw a woman sitting nearby and noticed her enthusiasm everytime the young girl took a run. I asked her about the rider. It was her daughter- Nora. Ahhh…  I understood. We talked then about the contest and the family travels to California. Proud parents. Nora is lucky to have parents like that. I recently had the ladies at Lance’s pool and wanted Nora to be there but she lives near Boston. I made contact with Nora & asked her a few questions and this is what she had to say.


BTO- “When did you start skateboarding and how did you get interested?”

Nora-  “I have been skateboarding for about 7 years. I got into it in middle school and then really started to compete and travel later in high school.  The earliest influence in skating for me had to have been Reggie from that cartoon Rocket Power – (laughing)  I would watch that show when I was really little and that’s what really got me interested in surfing and skateboarding.”

BTO- “Name some of your skateboarding influences?”

Nora- “Once I really started skating I’d have to say that I really admired Bucky Lasek and Lyn-z Adams Hawkins.”

BTO- “What is your favorite thing or place to ride?”

Nora- “My favorite local place to ride would be Rye Airfield in Rye, NH. It’s a 50,000 sq ft indoor skatepark and it’s amazing…brand new vert ramp and street plaza. They have a really awesome wooden clover bowl too, just everything you would want to skate in one place, unfortunately it’s an hour and a half away.”

BTO- “Can you name a trick that has been difficult for you to learn and the sense of accomplishment once you made it?”

Nora-“Last summer I was skating vert a lot and learned kick flip Indys- which I was super stoked on. I lost them for a while and have been trying to get them back better but that trick was one I was really happy to have finally landed!”

BTO- “Name three tricks that Nora MUST learn!”

Nora- “Okay. McTwist! or any 540 variation. I was working on them earlier this year but hung up pretty bad…I need to get back on that horse.  Uhmm, backside ollie to tailtap on vert would be sick and backlips on rails and front smith kick flip out would be fun.”

BTO-  “Name three skaters that you think rule it.”

Nora- “Three skateboarders in my mind are : Aaron Homoki,  Grant Taylor and  Raven Tershay …All terrain rippers.”

BTO-  “What are your future plans?”

Nora-  “Future plans…move to California to do what I love everyday with my friends.  I really want to push my skateboarding and bring surfing back into that picture. Work to help make more of a place for women in skateboarding. Go to school at some point, I’m interested in marketing and design…maybe work in the industry. First things first though… I just want to get out there!”

Thanks to Nora Vasconcellos for taking the time with us. Thanks to Michael Cirelli for the images. Skate- Ozzie

hip transfer

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Hester Series II Hi- Roller in Boulder

Micke Alba- enroute to 1st place overall. Hester Series II- 1979

Hi-Roller logo

Blueprint- read it & check out the details

Hi-Roller Hester II

I love skateboarding. Passion. Writing the Blue Tile Obsession has been a really cool experience. Every once in awhile, someone reaches out to me & I always find it fascinating, when I realize that there are many people out there that view & experience the world in the same way. We agree. I received an email from a guy in Boulder, Colorado last year. Jack Lovell. He loved the old photographs & stories.  He said that he also had some images from Hi-Roller skatepark taken during the summer of 1979. I called him & soon realized that we had a story that must be told. The Hester I & Hester II series were held  in California. The only Hester contest held outside of California was Hi-Roller in Boulder.  Henry Hester was a downhill racer. Jack Lovell had seen him in Boulder the summer before at a downhill race. When Henry was planning his Hester Series for 1979, Boulder fit perfectly. Hi-Roller. It was a contest where some incredible tricks were unleashed for the first time, a place where anarchy collided with conservative sensibilities & a place where nicknames & legends were born.

Henry Hester- La Costa -1977

All roads lead to Henry.

After speaking with the numerous people involved, I soon realized that all roads led to Henry Hester. “You need to talk to Henry.” “Ask Hester!” I phoned around & tracked him down. He lives in Texas. I quickly told him my deal & he readily agreed to help, “If I can.”  Henry told me that he went to Texas for love &  money. He ended up with love & it’s still ‘all good!’ . “It’s just the way it goes, I guess.” I asked him about the Hester series. He actually told me some of the contest order but wasn’t quite sure of all his facts. “Check with Steve Alba. I’m sure that he remembers.” I laughed. Yeah, I would do just that. I’d hear his side of things… Henry said that he drove to Boulder in a pickup truck. In the back were the PA system speakers & all the stuff. “Duane was on fire that weekend!” he said hurriedly. I asked him about other riders practicing. Henry hesitated a minute, lost in thought. “You know, Eddie Elguera was looking for the overall win, but he missed a contest in the series & was out of the points. Micke Alba was determined…  he really was! Micke wanted the overall win. He was skating so consistent. I remember that Peter Kiwi Gifford was really funny.They were all pretty nutty.”

Peter Kiwi Gifford

Henry seemed to think that all of those contests sort-of blended together over the years. Memories. The passage of time distorts & deceives. Henry told me that the skateboarders were crazy. Boulder was pretty mellow & probably wasn’t ready for these behaviors. ” Bert Lamar & Dave MacIntyre started a food fight. Bert threw something & then it just went off…. a 100% food fight! Bert just wouldn’t stop. He was a devious little 12 year old kid. We knew this one skater who could vomit on cue. I grabbed him. Scott Holleman. He threw up in a glass in front of everyone. Bert was like.. “Dude -you rule!” and quit throwing food at everyone. It was so gnarly.”

Henry Hester letter to participants

Eddie Elguera- frontside invert

image courtesy: King James Cassimus

“Eddie would’ve won!”- Micke Alba

Eddie Elguera’s name came up often. He was really ripping in the series. He looked like he was going to take the top spot. I obtained his number & called him. Eddie was gracious & forthcoming. “Hi- Roller was my first pro contest. Hobie sent us there with one-way tickets. It was Duane, Darrell Miller & myself. Gil Losi bought our tickets home, I think. I recall staying on the roof because we had no money. Somehow, we finally got into a hotel room. I remember it being really hot! Someone filled up the skate reservoir of the park with water & we all swam in it to cool off. The skaters were all acting crazy. Duane was pretty wild at that time. I do know that the Hi-Roller contest was the first time I did an ‘Elguerial’ in a contest. I had learned it about two weeks before. I came into that contest in pretty good shape in the Hester Series standings. In the end, I think it was 1st- Micke Alba, 2nd-Eric Grisham & I got 3rd. That year, I received 2nd place overall in the Hester Series.”

Hester Series standings

Eddie Elguera- backside air

Eddie Elguera- frontside invert

Steve Olson

“Duane was always a hippy!”- Steve Olson

Steve Olson makes me laugh. He’s a funny guy. I caught up with him & asked him what he recalled from the Hi-Roller contest. He responded quickly & to the point.  “I don’t know man! I fucked up my ankle, so I wasn’t in good form. I went anyway. The reservoir had water in it. It was the most fun all weekend. We’d ride around the edge & just jump or ride into it…”  He started laughing at a memory. “A-ha… ” Olson then related the following story. “We were staying in these hotel rooms. They had this closet that went half-way up to the ceiling. You could climb up & see over them into the next bed. George Orton came in with some chick. I was hanging out. He wanted me to leave but I stayed. He took her in the next bed & started hooking up with her. I climbed up & looked over. She was on top & couldn’t see me. George looked up & I started making faces at him & stuff…  He got mad & chased me around naked. It was so funny.”

George Orton

Steve Olson & I were cracking up. I had heard similar stories from the others. Skatepark groupies, lost virginity, crabs…  sounds like it was a blast! He also told me that skaters were wrecking themselves. Olson is a great history source. He rules! Steve Olson  then ended with the following terse ‘Olson-ism’. “All those new dudes were learning tricks. I didn’t think that any of those tricks had anything to do with surfing… ” Perfect. As I was thanking him, he asked me who else I was speaking with regarding Hi-Roller. I told him “Duane & others.” Before he hung up the phone, Olson added with a laugh- “Duane was always a hippy. Don’t let the uniform fool you!”

Duane Peters

‘The Master of Disaster.’- D. David Morin

I saw Duane recently & we skated Ridiculous together. I asked him about Hi-Roller. He had similar memories much like the others. “It was my first Hester contest on Hobie. It was Darrell Miller, Eddie Elguera & me. We got one-way tickets. We slept on a roof for awhile & I think we had to ‘place’ well in the contest to get money to go home. It was pretty gnarly! The Hobie guys. All three of us pulled new moves in that contest & we were all on Hobie. I did the invert-revert, Darrell Miller did the Miller-flip & Eddie Elguera did the Elguerial!  Ozzie! These were the first 360 airs in skateboarding!” I was thinking about what Duane was telling me. I found it hard to believe that these three amazing riders were throwing down historical maneuvers & were sleeping on a skate shop roof with no way to get home! My how things have changed… I asked Duane if he had other memories of the event or the skaters. He laughed. “Well, Darrell Miller & I were drinking beer in the days leading up to the contest. During those days, Frank Blood & George Orton were kind-of looked upon as jocks. They were staying in the same hotel room. The night before the event, we drank & then climbed up on the roof of the hotel. We started throwing rocks down at their patio window. They came out yelling. “Mother fuckers!”  We hid & laughed…  We threw more rocks & when they came out again, I pissed down onto them! They were so mad! We had to hide from them. Then, D. David Morin heard about it. He was announcing at the contest. So, when my contest run started, he announced me as ‘The Master of Disaster’. That’s how that whole thing started.”

Salba, D. David Morin, Vicki Vickers & Malba

As far as the contest went, everyone ripped & placed. I think I ended up in 6th. Micke Alba won Hi-Roller. We all made it & got paid. We made it home. Duane shook his head & smirked at me. “It’s hard to believe how gnarly the Hobie team was at that time. They just didn’t see it.” I filled him in on some of the other riders memories. We were laughing. When I mentioned the reservoir filled with water, Duane lit up. “Oh-yeah!  Olson went into the water & came up naked! His shorts were ripped off of him. He was like…  “Oh-fuck!”….”

Dave Andrecht & Darrell Miller

Duane Peters- “..always a hippy”

Steve Alba- tailtap

“My brother, Duane & Olson would vibe … just to do it!”- Micke Alba

I skate with Salba often. I talked with him numerous times about the Hester Series & his brother Micke. Sallie filled me in on the Hi-Roller contest & the days leading up to it. “The Hi-Roller pool was good. We went up there often, because Kryptonics was there in Boulder. Micke was really rad. He was super consistent. Back then, a rider had to stay on. If you fell, you left the door open. A skater could do three or four gnarly things, but if he fell, it wasn’t considered as good as someone else who completed an entire run with some rad tricks thrown in.” Salba remarked how fast skateboarding was changing at the time. This is a major point that other riders expressed. Skateboarding was evolving very rapidly. Salba pointed out a few facts regarding the Hester I & the Hester II. ” In the Hester I of 1978, it was a contest consisting of street, banks & bowls. The differences between Hester I & Hester II were insane. Skateboarding was totally changing. There were guys riding in the Hester II that hadn’t even rode in the series the year before. Guys from the Hester I were brought up skating streets, ditches, pools & pipes. The riders in the Hester II — Grisham, Hirsch, etc.–were brought up in skateparks.” I remembered living through the evolution of skateboarding at the time. It was changing rapidly. Salba told me that Brad Bowman had such a rad style. His frontside ollies were particularly awesome at Hi-Roller.

Brad Bowman- frontside ollie

Salba remembered some shenanigans. “Steve Olson had a rental car. We were all drinking beer & stuff. We started doing donuts with the rental car in the parking lot beside the park.” I told him about Duane & Olson’s memories & stories. Salba nodded & smiled. “It was a pretty rad time.”

Salba watching Ray Bones Rodriguez

Brad Bowman

Brad Bowman

Micke Alba

“Micke Alba wanted the overall title so badly…”- Henry Hester

I caught up with Micke & finally sat down with him. He had some fantastic memories of the Hester Series. He told me about how it was, growing up in the Badlands with Steve as an older brother. ” Duane, my brother & Olson were so gnarly. I was really young. They would vibe & heckle everyone. Intimidate. They did it just to do it. It was the way they were. I looked up to them so much. Back then, you had to stay on your board. I wanted to be the most consistent. My brother & the older guys would give me a hard time. It just made me focus –even more–to get better. Kryptonics was our sponsor at the time. They were located in Boulder & we went up there a week or so before. We got to ride it early. For its time, the pool was good. It was wide open with a good shallow end. I had learned backside airs & did them higher than most riders. I also learned inverts. I worked on consistency.” Micke also emphasized what others had told me. Back then–in contests– staying on your board was paramount. Micke continued. “I remember seeing Ray Bones Rodriquez & Steve Olson ride from the deep and into the shallow end. They did rock-n-roll boardslides in the shallow. I wanted to copy that.  Before the contest, I worked on my deep to shallow skills. I also saw Kevin Reed do something really rad. Kevin Reed always wore shorts over his sweatpants when he skated. We always laughed at him. At the contest, he did the first 50-50 grind that I’ve ever seen. It was unreal. I really recall the contest being super rad! Many of the guys were ripping. Ray Bones, my brother, Olson, Chris Strople, Duane, Doug de Montmorency, Rick Blackhart. They all rode well. Bert Lamar was riding great too. I always had a rivalry with him. We were both really young.”

Ray Bones Rodriguez- frontside air

Chris Strople- invert

Micke sat & rubbed his chin. He was sitting there lost in thought. I — personally– remembered some great Jim Goodrich images from that time. I wasn’t at Hi-Roller… but I wish that I had been. Micke looked up at me. I moved my pen to my other hand & asked- “How were the finals at Hi-Roller?”  Micke shifted in his seat. He answered- ” It really came down to Eddie Elguera & me in the finals. Eddie had the frontside invert & the Elguerial. Eddie would’ve won. He fell in the finals.” Micke shook his shaggy head & shrugged.  “I wasn’t the best, but I was the most consistent. That is how I won the Hester Series that year.”

Jack Lovell in the Hi-Roller pool

Jack Lovell

“What are you doing in this contest?”- Micke Alba

Jack Lovell was the starting point on this entire continuum.  He was an amateur rider in the Hester Series. If you look at the point standings that are included here, you will see his name. Jack Lovell is legit & I thank him for his contributions. He told me that he was riding at Hi-Roller the week before the contest. Steve, Micke, Ray Bones, Duane, Eddie & others were practicing. He took a few runs. Micke came up to him & asked with a hint of disdain, “What are you doing in this contest?!”  It defied a polite response. Jack told me that he didn’t feel like he should be there. “Those guys were so gnarly. They rode so well…  It felt weird being in there with them.” I asked Micke if he had said that to Jack. “Probably.” was his only response. Intimidation. Micke had learned well.

Craig Miller was a ripper! R.I.P. brother…

Jack Lovell

Jack Lovell admitted an interesting point. “At Hi-Roller, Craig Miller & I were some of the locals. We had the park wired. We were ‘the guys’. Then, the Hester Series came to Boulder. Once the whole circus came to town, we realized– all too quickly– that we were not ‘the shit’. These guys were our heroes… It was pretty crazy!”

I interviewed a bunch of rad people & spent quite a bit of time on this one.  I did the best I could with the old snapshots. Thank you to Jim Goodrich, King James Cassimus & Jack Lovell for the images. Thank you to Jack Lovell, Salba, Malba, Henry Hester, Jim Goodrich, Steve Olson, Duane Peters & Eddie Elguera for their memories. Thank you to all those that rode & inspired me & others all around the planet. This is dedicated to Craig Miller. R.I.P. Skate- Ozzie

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The Snowman

June- 1994. An  airplane roared overhead waking me up. “Damn – that was loud!” It quickly came to me then, where I was. I was in San Diego visiting Andy Macdonald, Rhino and P-Stone. They had an apartment directly under the flight path of the San Diego airport. The other guys were sleeping. It was a bit after 7:00 am. I got up and headed out to Newbreak Coffee on Sunset Cliffs and grabbed some caffeine. When one visits California from the east coast, one doesn’t dally in bed. I am up and out the door! The sun was absent for now. June gloom. The sun would come out later.

The night before–after they picked me up at the airport–we all drove straight to the Human Skateboards warehouse with Jonathan Bacon Hobbs and had a vert session until late. I remarked that the weather was rather cool outside. Rhino answered – “Don’t worry Oz. It’ll be hot where we’re going tomorrow.”  Badlands. I slowly drank my coffee and made my way back to Andy’s place. In awhile, they were up & we loaded the cars and headed up the 15 freeway towards the Badlands. Once there, Salba gave us direction  and we helped load up his little blue Nissan truck. Buckets and brooms. Shovels. Gear. We rolled to a few pools. The houses were dumps. It seemed as though people were fleeing from Federal Warrants. They just left everything and vanished.

see you later...


gonna need something more than a 'Swiffer'

When we started riding the pools, I had a hard time. I rode vert ramps often — at that time — and struggled. My trucks were too tight. I wasn’t carving and was kick-turning far too much. I ran over a plastic drain cover and broke it. My wheel dug into the drain beneath. Green scum flew all over the pool. Salba scowled and said something unpleasant like – “Clean that shit up you Pennsylvania pussy!” So….  I cleaned it up. He finally took us to this pool that he called – Snowman. One look and you can see why. It resembles a snowman and the bowls are completely round. I recall doing better at this pool,  probably because I was really trying and humbled by the previous few pools we had visited. I tell you now- it was a struggle just to get a face wall grind in those pools for me. The Snowman was big and round. Everyone else slaughtered the thing and I am still astounded at how well those guys rode. The pool would quickly be lost to the crew. Years came and went. A decade. I had — subsequently — moved to California and been here for a long time.

chum buckets

cleaning team

One day,  I received a phone call.  Salba – “Dude! The Snowman is going again.” We eventually met up with a crew on a gloomy weekend and cleaned it out. We rode. We laughed. Fun. We found an old trophy covered with pool scum in the bottom as we cleaned it out. Bad Billy was heckling everyone about – “… doing the deathbox.”  We set the trophy up on the deck and the race for the deathbox commenced. Bad Billy won about as fast as it took me to write this. He received his trophy and we all were cracking up as he stood there proudly hoisting his trophy high.

Bad Billy - trophy hunting

laughing / pool pals

John Zask

Ripperside Shawn

Michael Serna Jr.

Brandon Wong

Salba- notice Billy's trophy in background

Over the years since my first visit, the pool had become dirtier but the lines were cleaner. I had learned a few things. Everyone had. It was a rad day with cool dudes. The Snowman is gone again. Bright blue paint covers its surface. The house is refurbished. A small family lives inside probably trying to become a big family. Work. Eat. Sleep. Propagate. The endless cycle of human beings, concrete and the flow of life. All life is colors. Pain. Lessons learned. Thanks to BD Wong for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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don’t change a thing…

Paul, me, Al, Mazza, Bucky, Stafford, Owen, Lance & Nick

The crew. At this point,  it is safe to say that you don’t have to change a thing for me. Sunday was crazy. I don’t have sessions like this usually. Too many guys…  However, it went off and the story is coming up. Have a rad day. Thanks to Bucky Lasek for the image- Ozzie

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Jen, Carabeth, Julie, Mimi, Allysha, Lizzie and Amelia

“In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis.”- Quentin Crisp

Outcast. Socially isolated and kept at bay. Unfortunately, it is the human condition to look upon others in such judgmental fashion. In skateboarding, I know that many of us considered the label of ‘outcast’ as a badge of honor. I was glad to not be like ‘them’. To quote OG Zephyr team rider – Peggy Oki- “The differences between us felt very real!” I was at the girls Protec contest and was slightly dismayed. I heard some fat old guys grumbling. One scoffed “Ha! Girls Protec… yeah right. ”  I have news for you buddy. Sexism is nothing but misogyny. He should have left those thoughts inside the empty head they originated from. I was more bummed at the lack of media coverage. I thought –and still do–that the ladies deserve so much more. Call me what you will…  Things are not what they once were.

At one time, girls were seen riding but they were few and far between. At Woodward–when I was director–I saw only a handful of female skate campers each summer. Few of these girls stood out with exceptional talent. I moved back to California in 1997 and began seeing Carabeth Burnside at places. She was ripping and I remember being amped that a girl could skate so well! At that time, she and few other females were seen riding. Jen O’Brien was on the scene as were Calamity Jean , Jodi McDonald, Heidi Fitzgerald, Jessica Starkweather,  Holly Lyons  and others. With the concrete skate park explosion of the new millennium, female skaters began to be seen everywhere. The huge popularity and accessibility of street skating helped as well. More skate parks equal more skateboarders and it didn’t take long for the number of female riders to increase proportionally.

Jen O'Brien - FS Ollie

Carabeth Burnside- rock-n-roll

Mimi Knoop - BS Smith

With the deluge of ‘Extreme’ this and ‘Extreme’ that, televised skateboarding events and Tony Hawk’s name recognizable in every household, it isn’t a wonder that some serious female skateboarding talent began to emerge. A few years ago, I skated with Carabeth & Mimi Knoop. It was an impressive day. I’ve been skateboarding vert and pools for a very long time and I had to admit to myself that these girls were better than me. It was an odd feeling actually. I remember it quite well. However, I don’t really recall being jealous or bummed…  I looked upon them as very talented & gifted skateboarders, much in the same way I would admire the vertical skills of any other amazing rider. Gender wasn’t really an issue.  I simply knew they were women because I’m a man and am inherently attracted. However, I was stoked! These women were–in the face of strong adversity–pushing the limits and creating a place for future female riders. Outsiders?!  I think not. In my opinion, anyone who thinks female skateboarders don’t belong shouldn’t be walking around without a ‘keeper’.

At the 2010 and 2011 girls Protec, I was floored by the level of skateboarding talent, the style, the great vibe and the willingness these ladies had to take a hard slam. I remember watching the contest this year and seeing judges -Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero and Sasha  –all on their feet–screaming as these girls charged super hard and stayed on. It was pretty impressive. It made me think. Last year, I got a few girls together with my pal Patricia and we had a backyard session. The day was pretty neat. That afternoon stuck with me due to the complete lack of ego noticed during the session. It simply wasn’t there. There was no ‘one-up’, no vibes and no name calling. Fini.

I wondered about getting the top female vert competitors together and having a session. I wanted to set it up and watch what went down. I had only really seen these girls skate together –en masse–during a contest. What would it be like? Would there be a vibe? Would they feed off each other? Would ego’s and rivalries develop and get in the way? Hmmm… I talked with Lance Mountain, Ray Zimmerman & Brandon Wong. They agreed to help me & I set it up. In attendance would be : Lizzie Armanto, Carabeth Burnside, Mimi Knoop, Jen O’Brien, Allysha Bergado, Julie Kinstrand and Amelia Brodka. I wanted to invite Nora Vasconcellos because she is one of the most stylish female rippers I’ve seen, but she is living back east. The girls readily accepted and I came to find out that they had NEVER done this before. They couldn’t recall ever riding in a session together except during contest times. I thought  – “Damn! It took a man to bring them together!?” Irony…

The day dawned early for me. I drove over to Lance’s with Ray Zimmerman. A terrible windstorm had torn the hell out of the area a few days earlier. Lance had a tree knocked down in his yard and it seemed as though every leaf on every tree had shed into the pool. I grabbed a rake, trash bags and started getting it all cleaned up. Amelia Brodka arrived first. She is like a bright ray of sunshine on a cloud-covered day… It was great to see her. Mimi, Carabeth, Jen O’Brien, Lizzie and Allysha turned up shortly after. There were smiles and happy faces everywhere.  Brandon & Ray set up cameras and we received word that Julie Kinstrand was en route. The girls stretched & quickly hit the pool… hard! Amelia seriously didn’t play around one bit. She started into an attack mode and Ray was quickly scurrying about on the deck to set up a shot. She was ripping and he didn’t want to miss a thing. She decided to pull a FS lipslide over the deathbox. Ray set up and got the photograph. On her next run, Amelia slightly over rotated, went to bail and couldn’t get her foot off her board. Her knee buckled and she was –unfortunately–quickly out of the session. Lance and I helped her out of the pool and into a chaise-lounge. We immediately went and obtained some ice for her. We all wish Amelia a speedy recovery. You are an inspiration.

Amelia Brodka- FS Lipslide deathbox

Julie Kinstrand- was on fire!

By this time, Julie Kinstrand was at the pool. It was her birthday and she quickly started  flying out of the pool like it was her last day on earth. Mimi, Jen, Carabeth, Lizzie and Allysha followed suit. It was like watching an ‘add a trick’ contest… only there was no contest. Each girl would flow throughout the pool pulling tricks and ripping. The others were cheering and yelling as things were landed. Carabeth worked on lines and lien airs. She pulled super smooth feeble grinds and decked rock-n-rolls.  Jen O’Brien threw down speedy 50-50s over the deathbox, FS ollies, FS airs and kept it stylish all day long. Perfection. Mimi nailed fastplants, BS Smith grinds and pounded herself as she worked on lien disasters. She stomped one and everyone was super hyped!

Carabeth- feeble grind

Jen- BS deathbox

Mimi Knoop- lien disaster

Allysha Bergado- Andrecht

Lizzie Armanto- BS Disaster

Allysha flew about the pool with smooth precision. Andrechts and picture book FS airs were hers… anytime. Lizzie Armanto will make a man think. Don’t blink. When this woman rides, you can bet that you are going to see something you don’t normally see. BS Disasters, full throttle 5-0 grinds and table-top methods were in her ‘warm up’ run. Damn. Enough said!

Allysha - FS Air

Lizzie- the only tabletop she'll be serving. Enjoy!

Julie Kinstrand dropped in at the end of the day and pulled a Frazier-esque FS nosebone that made us all wonder…  Good Lord! What did that girl eat for breakfast! We all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her and ended the day in good spirits. Even Amelia put on a brave face, set aside her ice pack and hobbled about thanking everyone and sharing the stoke.

Julie- Happy Birthday


In the end it all comes down to this. Outsiders. Exclusion. At one time, all skateboarders were looked upon in such a fashion. No more. Things have changed and for the better. Skateboarders are making a living. Progression. The ladies are here and they are ripping. We hear them loud and clear. They are –collectively–grateful for the sponsorship and contests but these do not seem like the kind of ladies that will sit back, be subservient and do nothing. We haven’t heard the last from these women and others like them that are appearing all over the world. I find it exciting and interesting… the human condition fascinates me and anytime I see a wrench thrown into the supposed ‘male-dominated’ mess we live in, the happier I become. Thank you to the ladies involved. Thank you to Lance for the session and Thank you to MRZ and Brandon for the images and film. Skate- Ozzie

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