August 1977. The city baked under the angry glare of the sun. Smog. Pollution. A yellow haze hung in the air like a bad reminder: “Don’t breathe too deeply.” Cars jostled for position on the freeways and the streets were crowded as always. Concrete. Humanity. A frantic-paced world of chrome, glass and sweat. Jerry Valdez and Kent Senatore cut down an offramp from the 110 freeway. They slipped the car into traffic and moved into the sun driving up Exposition Boulevard. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum squatted on the left side of them like a giant statue to the gods. Its sprawling parking lots were empty and the team pennants and banners hung lifeless in the hot summer air. Jerry lit another joint and inhaled deeply. Ted Nugent wailed away on the stereo as he handed the smoking weed to Kent. They were headed to the Coliseum Bowl. The neighborhood had changed in the ensuing years since the city had built the Coliseum. Poverty reigned now. Houses sat vacant. Liquor stores flourished and drug dealers peddled their vice to an ever-hungry population. Escape. Despair. They both knew that there were awesome pools to be found in the ghetto’s of Los Angeles. They drove around and found them. They kept it positive and real.
Kent laughed as Jerry made faces and yelled out of the car at a few teenage girls walking nearby. They pulled up to the pool. Kent helped get the brooms and buckets out of the car. The house sat boarded up. Life had left this place a long time ago. Jerry and Kent pulled old furniture and a bathroom sink out of the deep end. It was a beautiful square pool and the mid wall transitions looked perfect. A few local kids cruised by and watched. Once Jerry and Kent started riding, the local kids grew excited. This is what skateboarding is all about! Jerry pulled frontside grinds as a few local thugs came to the pool. They tried to intimidate but Jerry wasn’t having it. They kept riding and the drug slingers left them to their pool. This one lasted for a short while only to be replaced by others. Shelf life then no life. Bulldozers reduced the property to rubble. This image and Jerry’s memories are most of what remains. It seems that it is all we’ll ever need. Thank you to Jerry Valdez for the memories and Bill Sharp for the image. Skate- Ozzie
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- David Gonzales
- 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
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.
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