George Powell

George Powell and Stacy Peralta have always supported my deal. At Woodward Skate Camp, Mission Valley Skate Park and up to the present day, they have been there for me. George has been making great skateboard products for a very long time. I rode my first set of white Bones in 1978. I ride Bones still. He’s motivated to engineer and deliver the best skateboarding products that he can. Check out this documentary that Stacy put together. – Ozzie

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Dust

Bulldog

Bulldog

The wind blew. Dust hung in the air and bit at my lungs. I stood beside the truck on a hillside, looking down into a narrow valley. It was still and nothing moved except the wind. Far to the west, a ridge of dark rock spilled over and out of my view. The faces of the stones were split and cracked. Sun. Heat. Eternal elements. A white sun. Palms scraped the sky. Green fronds. The only splotch of color on an empty palette. It was like the artist forgot the other paint in the color scheme. Tan. White. Brown. Little else.

Andy Neal

Andy Neal

Scott Cooper

Scott Cooper

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

In the middle distance, I could see a ribbon of concrete cresting a rise. Freeway. Encroaching civilization. The end of peace and quiet. People. Ignorance and all of its problems. I walked a short distance as I spotted a ranch home tucked away in a narrow stand of trees. I glimpsed the white plaster and blue tiles that could only be one thing: pool. It appeared empty. Forlorn. A hole in the ground that awaited happiness. My friends and I could provide such a thing. Happiness comes in all forms. You can buy it in bottles. You can get it in pills. Choose wisely. That happiness is short-lived. The element becomes everything. Your life is dust.  Then you’ll wish for something you can no longer find. “Like the way you cry for a happy ending…” I know. I know. Skate- Ozzie

Ripperside Shawn

Ripperside Shawn

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Van Nuys

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Valley Morning

Van Nuys, California. The police moved in slowly along a side street. Stealth. The targeted house was one block up and over. Even now, the officers knew that the people in the house were about to experience a reality check. One officer grinned and elbowed his partner. “I love this shit!” His partner laughed under his breath and shared in the enthusiasm. The house they were headed for was a known pornographic studio.There were reports of underage teenagers being filmed there. This particular area of the San Fernando Valley was the home of the porn industry.  The officer checked his gear one more time and readied himself. The officers had been briefed by administration. The pornography industry in Sylmar, Chatsworth and Van Nuys had an estimated yearly income of one billion dollars. The officers were stunned. “A billion?!” It defied a polite response. With such money, they were bound to have unscrupulous parasites operating in the margins. The task force, they were told, were to raid these suspect pornography studios and stop the filming of minors and the law would prosecute the child molesters in the process. The officers reveled in it. The thought of setting things right made them feel remarkably useful. Civic. It was why they did what they did.

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Hours later, the officers stood outside of the house as investigators and detectives arrived en masse. They had raided the home. It had been divided up into larger rooms. Studios. Walls had been removed to allow for open spaces. There were bright lights set up. Little else was in the room except for a large bed and a couch was off to one side. Officers on the scene were a bit shocked at what greeted them. A fifteen year old girl was being filmed with a man, while several other men stood naked to one side waiting their turn. Disgusted, one of the officers had to restrain a fellow officer from punching one of them. They were happy to put such scumbags in jail. No problem. Detectives flowed up and into the house. The sun waned. Patrol officers set up a barricade nearby to keep the neighborhood away. Computers, films and expensive camera gear were all seized. Night oozed into the next morning. Detectives sealed the doors. Construction personnel boarded up the windows. They were done.

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Turnabout

The skateboarders drove down an alleyway and pulled to the side. Charlie and Eddie had heard about the house from a kid who went to a local school. He had been there the summer before when the Van Nuys police raided the “Porn Palace”. It was the name that the kids gave the old house. It had been boarded up all year. Disrepair. Neglect. The kids knew that there was an old swimming pool in the back. One of the neighbors had told people that the porn actresses once sunbathed naked there. He watched them through a fence. Charlie and Eddie didn’t care what had been done in the past. They only concerned themselves with the future. Turnabout. They soon pulled themselves over a fence and found what awaited them. It was a massive mess. Someone had drained the pool and cleared out the remaining contents of the home. All of it was in the pool.

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Charlie and Eddie couldn’t quite believe the work that they had ahead of themselves. They made phone calls. Help arrived and within a few hours, most of the debris was out of the pool and stacked in the back alleyway. The skaters could see that the transitions were good. The pool had a straight face wall with round carveable corners. The corners were amazing and everyone was anxious to try them out. It was growing late in the day and the crew agreed to come back the next day and drain the remaining filthy water. They’d skate it and have fun.

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The crew managed to get the muck, filth and debris out of the pool. The ‘Porn Palace”. Cleansed of its seediness, sin and vice. The old pool raised its plaster face to the sun. Charlie and Eddie talked quietly while the skin of the pool dried in the warming light. They shook their heads about the pools history. Life is crazy sometimes. “Who would’ve thought? A porn house?”

Eddie Mighty Moreno

Eddie Mighty Moreno

Charlie Blair

Charlie Blair

They skated and took what the pool offered up. Possibilities. The afternoon sun grinned down on them as wrongs were made right. A Karma debt had been repaid. A cloud that once lingered overhead… was now, long gone. Thank you to Deville for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Dreams

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Corona, California. He stared at his hands. Calloused and rough. His heart was in a similar condition. Where was the boy he once was? Peering through the trees, he watched a bird flutter in the branches and hitched his pack higher on his shoulder. It would soon be dark. America was a country of dreams. He hadn’t come very far in this land of opportunity.  The only opportunity he found was a chance encounter with the Border Patrol. A group of them had walked together for two days and were stopped near Escondido. In the ensuing chaos, he found an opportunity to slip away.  Good luck? He figured that it would only be a short time and then — once again — he’d be in zip ties, bouncing down a dirt road and headed south. Poverty. Tears. He had watched his father grind out a mundane existence throughout his childhood. Hunger was ever-present. The sun set on thin bodies and empty bellies. Tired eyes looked towards the sky. Prayer. Muttered words fashioned with hope. Dawn brought more of the same. God didn’t seem to be listening. Most of his friends looked toward the north. America.

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The boys sat around the Mexican village and spoke of it. Americans had it all. A real man could have gleaming cars and sex with any woman he wanted. Food never ran out.  He remembered tugging at the sleeve of his uncle and asking – “Is it true that people in America have televisions in every room?” Contempt was the response. “Spoiled Americans. A fat belly cannot believe that such a thing as hunger exists.”  He thought about his uncle’s bitter words. He knew that one day he would cross the border. He’d have a television in every room. He’d leave it on all day and night.  He’d work hard… he had built his body up to be strong. He knew that he would go to the clubs and flash his dark eyes. He dreamt of blonde beauties clinging onto him. Soon.

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The cold Corona night had settled over him as he set out once again on foot. His backpack dug into his neck and he was tired. Soon, he arrived at a lone house up an overgrown driveway. He saw no lights. Approaching, he realized that it was abandoned. Walking slowly inside, he heard glass crunch and a rattling tin can was startling in the quiet night as his foot sent it spinning into the darkness. A corner served him well as he adjusted his backpack under his head. He slept. Dawn and the cold air awoke him. He heard a car approaching. Border Patrol. Panicked… he gathered his things. There was no time to flee. He pulled himself up into the second floor of the garage. Through a wooden slat, he noticed the swimming pool and the backyard below. The minimal grass was long dead and the bright blue colored pool had some black water and refuse in it. He heard voices. There were a few men that came into the yard. They seemed uninterested in anything but the pool. One guy walked down inside and made comments to the others. Shortly after, they walked out of sight and returned with a pump, tools and skateboards.

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They then drained the water and sat around waiting for it to dry. He had moved down to the first floor and stepped out of the back of the garage to go and that was when he saw one of them. The man was standing beside the garage taking a piss. He nodded at him calmly. He finished urinating and curtly said “Hello.” The others came over. Awkwardness. He was unafraid. These men seemed nice. In a moment, he found himself sitting near the Americans. They were bright-faced and laughing. They spoke to him and he answered their questions as best he could. “No. He didn’t live here. He was just passing through.” They shared some food with him and offered cigarettes. The sun was warm. For a moment, he felt like he belonged. It was a strange thing. For most Americans, a Mexican is invisible. People looked right through him.

Curren Caples
Curren Caples
David Gonzales
David Gonzales
Brandon Perelson
Brandon Perelson

They began riding skateboards in the pool. He marveled at this. The guys rolled around  the inside of the pool. They would fly out of the top and magically hover there… it was like they were suspended on strings. Awe. He almost forgot to be wary. He almost forgot his weariness and troubles. Transported. He couldn’t have ever imagined such a thing when he lived in his tiny village. Only in America. It truly was a land of dreams. Thanks to MRZ and Michael Burnett for the images. Be kind, skate and remember how good we have it. – Ozzie

Greyson Fletcher
Greyson Fletcher
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Kent Senatore / Guest Post

Tony Alva

Tony Alva

Love among men… it’s a subject that makes most uncomfortable. That said, I love Tony Alva for many reasons, most importantly, he’s real. You can say what you want about him, but I know who he is, and that person is worthy of loving and looking up to. To have become a close friend with him is something I’m not only proud of, but something I’m also grateful for.

We met on a hill overlooking the ocean. The skies were overcast and grey, the mood, mellow. Our destination would be considered a paradise to any surfer or skater on the planet. Our host Angelo was gracious as always. Why wouldn’t he be? This was his paradise we were visiting. It was a place he’d created for himself and so generously shared with us and so many more…  William Sharp was with us as well, another man I’m unafraid to admit loving, an old friend that photographed many memorable sessions with Tony and I back in the day. Our mission was simple, meet on the hill and roll around in a clover shaped bowl, while William shot a few photos… a quiet, unhurried day with a few close friends and a great deal of good conversation.

Kent Senatore

Kent Senatore

According to the historians, we are legends. All three of us. We’re supposed to do that kind of thing with ease, although in my case it’s a bit of a struggle to own the title, “Legend”. We talked and traded runs. Tony was drawing flawless lines that connected every pocket and hip while laying down immaculate edgers one after another. I was following and attempting to emulate him as I always have… both of us holding the conversation as we rode. The session ended on a good note with Tony busting a beautiful backside air on the right hand hip… on that last run he rode out of the bowl and up the roll in. He looked me in the eyes and said, “One trick leads to another…” Alva wisdom. Now that’s a man who knows how to own the title, “Legend.”

It’s been said that without intention… words are nothing more than so many letters arranged in the right order and that the action possesses the power, not the words. Here’s a bit of Senatore wisdom:  let your heart guide you through this thing we call life, be yourself, and never be afraid to express your love for a friend. Thank you for the opportunity to write this guest post Ozzie, love you bro! – Kent Senatore

Thank you to William Sharp for the images and Kent Senatore for the awesome Guest Post. Skate- Ozzie

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El Gato Classic / Three

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Church. Salvation. The immortal soul. It is something that some skateboarders don’t like to talk about. I’ve posted things about religious belief and spiritual searching and actually received hateful comments from people. The Blue Tile Obsession is purely mine. My thoughts. My beliefs. I write about skateboarding as I see it. I write about life as well… there are many facets of life that are beyond our understanding. When I worked as an RN on an AIDS unit, I took care of people until they died and sadly zipped them into body bags. I peered out of the windows and wondered if God were really on the job. I’ve questioned his existence in the past. Don’t we all?

Dennis Martinez

Dennis Martinez

Eddie Elguera is a pastor and has his own church. Christian Hosoi, Dennis Martinez and Steve Caballero joined Eddie on Sunday morning for a panel discussion. Each of them spoke to the audience in a heartfelt, meaningful way. Dennis Martinez spoke of his brutal drug addiction and all that it bled from his life. He was a husk. A broken, raw nerve ending that neither felt or cared for anything. All he wanted was the soothing rush of amphetamines… until the drugs stopped working. He asked God for help. He now helps paroled prisoners and addicted youth to turn their lives around at the Training Center San Diego.

Steve Caballero

Steve Caballero

Steve Caballero spoke. He said it quite clearly… an echo of the usual argument against God- “My life is fine. I have money, fame, travel, things…  what do I need God for?” He felt life’s hollowness and wanted more. He walks with the son of God now. Christian Hosoi. Prison. Drug addiction. His fame brought all of its deadly shadows. He stated, “My life was a bucket full of holes.” He now walks with the son of God. It shows in all of them. Courageous. The higher the perch, the further the fall. The hungry wolves are just waiting to take them down. The message that morning was clear and concise. Some people may actually look at a church and think,  “Abandon hope all ye who enter.”  Dennis, Christian, Eddie and Steve think in a different way. “Bring your hopes inside, leave your old life behind and watch the son rise.” They share the courage of their convictions and I respect them as skateboarders and men.

Christian Hosoi, Bobby Valdez and Brad Bowman

Christian Hosoi, Bobby Valdez and Brad Bowman

Jeff Tatum

Jeff Tatum

After church, I was walking into the Palm Springs Skate Park and Steve Caballero pointed to a guy he was speaking with and stated quietly, “Bobby Valdez”   I was beyond stoked. I’d tried and failed to locate him when I was doing the William Sharp book. He looked great and people quickly gathered around him. Bobby Valdez did the first Invert and is responsible for progressing skateboarding at the time. Inverts were a real game-changer. The contest was about to start and we found our way over to the pool. I spotted Jeff Tatum. He’s hard to miss. He also is responsible for more vertical carnage than most people can understand. Backside ollie? Nope. It was called a JT air. Jeff is responsible for arch carves, huge backside airs, early tailtaps… the dude rules. At the pool, people were ripping. First look: Arab- speedy lines. Tony Magnusson- huge frontside airs.  Keith Meek- fluid drive.

Arab

Arab

Tony Magnusson

Tony Magnusson

 

Keith Meek

Keith Meek

They decided to scratch the contest and simply have a jam session. The crowd grew excited as everyone began to throw down. Most of the people skating were at least fifty years old. Amazing. We’ve never really had fifty year old skateboarders before. Tony Alva is fifty seven. He still crushes a pool. Looking at these guys, I laughed. Fifty seemed like the new ‘fifteen’. When it was announced that Bobby Valdez was present, inverts were brought out and served hot. Bobby just smiled…

Bobby Valdez getting some impromptu skateboard love

Bobby Valdez getting some impromptu skateboard love

Brad Bowman

Brad Bowman

Steve Caballero

Steve Caballero

Things grew even more hectic and laybacks started to flow like water. Jay Smith smiled from a nearby seat. He has been injured and couldn’t get in the pool to show exactly how a layback should be done. There are none better. Jay Smith told me a few years ago that a motorcycle accident removed some of his famed rubber-man flexibility. I thought that Jay Smith without flexibility was like Picasso without a paintbrush. Eddie and a few others put them back for him…

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Eddie Elguera

 

Steve Caballero

Steve Caballero

Jim Gray skated hard all weekend long. People called out for the ‘Jim Jam’. If you call out Jim Gray, you’re going to get it. Jim handled his business. Dave Hackett stood up tall all weekend long as well. Full speed frontal attacks were his and his alone. Allen Losi was poolside and watching and we wish him better health.

 

Jim Gray

Jim Gray

David Hackett

David Hackett

Allen Losi - Get better brother

Allen Losi – Get better brother

Lonnie Hiramoto

Lonnie Hiramoto

Last trick of the day- Eddie Elguera FS Invert

Last trick of the day- Eddie Elguera FS Invert

In the end, it all went down better than it was expected or planned. Eddie Elguera took an idea and implemented the entire thing. All of the good in life, fell onto Palm Springs that weekend from the heavens above. Legends from the Hester Series and Gold Cup Series came out in droves. Respect from fans and their peers were in abundance. The very thing that Eddie Elguera tried to do, he did. He wanted to “… honor the past and champion the future.” I believe that Eddie and everyone present accomplished that very thing. Thank you to MRZ and Orlando Welsh for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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El Gato Classic / Two

El Gato & friends

El Gato & friends

The sun was high overhead as the El Gato Classic moved over to the nearby Palm Springs High School. On a black asphalt lot, the Tony Hawk organization had set up its massive vert ramp. Tony, Eddie, Cab, Hosoi, Kevin Staab, Lincoln Ueda, Neal Hendrix, Evan and Tom Schaar began a late afternoon skyclimbing exhibition that left the vast Palm Springs audience in awe.

Lincoln Ueda

Lincoln Ueda

Tom Schaar

Tom Schaar

Kevin Staab

Kevin Staab

Steve Caballero

Steve Caballero

Neal Hendrix

Neal Hendrix

Tony Hawk over Eddie Elguera

Tony Hawk over Eddie Elguera

When one witnesses such high-flying talent, it is immediately evident how far skateboarding has come. Surf style and roots bled into finesse and technique which manifests itself in the fine art of vertical ramp skateboarding. Symbiotic. We cannot have a future without a solid past. The Hester Series and Gold Cup pioneers gave us exactly that. Foundation.

MRZ and I went to the hotel. We were pretty thrashed. It takes quite a bit to do what we do. I had hastily scribbled notes and thoughts while he had cards filled with photographs to download and process. I put together a small event update and we both cleaned up and were out the door. We were soon headed over to the Hacienda Beach Club for the legends dinner and the infamous Johnny Rad gig.

Hacienda Beach Club

Hacienda Beach Club

Arthur Viecco, Skatemaster Tate and Brad Bowman

Arthur Viecco, Skatemaster Tate and Brad Bowman

Steve Caballero, Mike McGill & Lance Mountain

Steve Caballero, Mike McGill & Lance Mountain

Chris Strople & Wally Inouye

Chris Strople & Wally Inouye

It would turn out to be a stellar evening of good food, socializing and memories made. A good friend of the Elguera family — Tammy Seheult — made a special cake for the event. It was really something to see. It must have taken the dessert chef a million hours to make it. The details were impressive. Later in the evening, the Tony Hawk Foundation was presented with a check to help with all the good they do. As far as I can tell, cake and donations of money always put people in a grand mood.

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Tammy Seheult, Tony Hawk, Eddie Elguera, Steve Caballero & Christian Hosoi

Tammy Seheult, Tony Hawk, Eddie Elguera, Steve Caballero & Christian Hosoi

Eddie & Dawna Elguera present to the Tony Hawk Foundation

Eddie & Dawna Elguera present to the Tony Hawk Foundation

Johnny Rad came into the room and I couldn’t contain myself. I must have sang his songs off the Bones Brigade videos thousands of times. “I skate to school, I skate in the pool… skating is great!”  Johnny Rad and his sidekicks started in on the first song. All I remember is, “I don’t need air and I don’t need water, just my skateboard and your youngest daughter.” I fell apart. It was so funny. Johnny Rad is the perfect name for that guy….

"Isn't skating great?"

“Isn’t skating great?”

I walked around all night and watched and listened. I took it all in. The clink of glasses and silver wear on plates. Voices and laughter. Good times. I moved off to the side patio and stood beside a fire pit. It spat and sent sparks up into the darkness. Fifty feet away from me, I watched the legends of skateboarding as they chatted, ate and reminisced. I watch people. It is what I do. I pondered over it all so far… the El Gato Classic.

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Dr. Rick Blackhart was larger than life. He spoke of trips to the Arizona pipes and rolling out of and back into pools long before most. Dave Hackett walked by with his wife and I smiled. He pulled Hackett slash grinds in the pool that day and I can honestly say that style is forever. He has it. Speaking of style, I saw Gregg Weaver signing someone’s Warren Bolster book… Gregg Weaver. The Cadillac Kid. He was ten feet from me and I just sat there and grinned like an imbecile.

Gregg Weaver signing a fans Warren Bolster book

Gregg Weaver signing a fans Warren Bolster book

I spoke with Doug Pineapple Saladino who was nursing some displaced ribs. He was ripping the pool that day. Gunnar Haugo and his lovely lady were present. Always gracious and accommodating, Gunnar talked about Kevin Anderson and his abilities at Mt. Baldy pipe. I smiled as I walked past Scott Dunlap, Arab, Steve Evans, Jay Smith, Scott Foss, Mike Folmer, Alan Gelfand, Mike McGill, Larry Balma, Henry Hester, Tony Magnusson, Eric Grisham and Steve Hirsch. Unreal.

Steve Evans & Arab

Steve Evans & Arab

The night wrapped around me. I was soon alone with my thoughts. My youth. Pennsylvania. Snow-covered hills. Skateboard magazines spilling over the blankets of my bed. Reading. Peering intently at the photographs… and here they all were. I shook my head at the strangeness of life. I had watched the stars come out…

The El Gato Classic Three will be ready tomorrow. Thank you to MRZ and Orlando Welsh for the images and the attendees for the inspiration. For more on the Golden Era of skateboarding, the William Sharp book ‘Back in the Day’ will be available soon. Back In The Day Update  I will inform everyone on the Blue Tile Obsession as the book approaches release. – Ozzie

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