Return to Mondo’s

Mondo’s Pool. March 2019

Mondo’s Pool. Who was Mondo? Was he the gardener who took care of the property and let the guys skate all of those years ago? Was it a teenage kid named Armando, who told some other kids at school about the empty pool at his house and ultimately word reached everyone about the greatness of this particular Blue Haven? History is often vague. Differing versions of the pool’s particulars and its ownership exist. One thing that hasn’t changed, is the fact that this pool was big, open and special.

Art Dickey -Mondo’s 1979

Mondo’s March 2019

Heavy sessions went down and the pool riders of the San Fernando Valley would take what they learned in the skatepark bowls and begin applying them to the walls of this particular gem. Deathboxes, airs, inverts, laybacks, ladder grinds and shallow end skating were all documented in this one pool. The deep end was open and wide. Side-to-side skating could be done. The shallow end transitions were mellow enough to be used for a speedy return. The coping was smooth, sun-baked bullnose. I recently went by the house to show them the William Sharp book, BACK IN THE DAY. They were really surprised to know about the skateboarding that occurred on those hot summer days in the seventies. I looked at the pool.

Jay Smith at Mondo’s. 1979

Kent Senatore – signature backside layback. Mondo’s 1979

The yard and house had been redone. The pool had new plaster, tiles and coping. A jacuzzi sat in the shallow cup. I stood and closed my eyes. I was back there then. Kent Senatore threw a backside layback in a sharp arc across the side wall. Jerry Valdez talked shit to him from the shallow stairs and pushed in past him.

Jerry Valdez- frontside deathbox. Mondo’s 1979

Jerry hit the deathbox hard and afterwards Kent told him to take off the copers and do it right! Shit talk. Friends. Others joined in. Tricks were made and nothing would ever be the same. I opened my eyes and saw the homeowner looking at me. I smiled. “This yard is special.” I murmured. “Very special.” She nodded and I’d like to think she understood.

Jerry Valdez

Kent Senatore

Thank you to William Sharp for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Return to Magoo’s

Magoo’s March 2019

Sometimes it just takes time. I’ve been trying to get into the backyard of Magoo’s for several years. I think that the first time I found her was in the summer of 2013. The owner was fascinated by the photographs that I was showing her on my laptop… “These guys skated the pool here, long before you owned it.” She nodded and took in the condition of the house and commented on changes she noticed. I asked to walk out and look at the pool and take a few photographs but her husband wasn’t having it. He simply said “No.” I stood and looked out of the big plate glass windows… the pool was huge. It had been refurbished at some point because the bullnose coping was gone, as were the tiles, and smooth round brick coping wrapped its face. The deck was huge and made of concrete. The chain link fence, rusting cars and lawn were all gone. The block wall around the yard looked different as well. I could really see little else and bid them a good afternoon.

Steve Picciolo R.I.P. at Magoo’s. 1978

Magoo’s March 2019

I kept in contact and after the publication of our book ‘Back in the Day’, I contacted the owners to show them the book and images. I’ve always wanted to shoot photographs of the pool as it is now and write about this historic place. This pool is one of many in skateboarding history. It is similar to Elephant Country, Mondo’s, Fishbowl, L-Pool, Gonzales, Dogbowl, Fruit Bowl and others. These pools were some of the early backyard pools featured in the magazines where so many of our forefathers rode and pushed skateboarding into what it ultimately became. I have always hunted these gems. I always want to stand in these yards. Even if I cannot ride them, I still want to stand there and take it all in. Magoo’s was also featured in the film ‘Skateboard Kings’. They had a night session and house party on this property.

I recently reached out to the family and received permission to come by. I showed them a copy of the book, BACK IN THE DAY. They were really excited and I also think a bit weirded out by the fact that all of this craziness happened in their house and in their pool all of these years ago. I was allowed to shoot some photographs and share them here with you all. Strangely, I found out that during 2011, the property sat empty–as did the pool–for almost a year. I shrugged it off. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe my wheels will never roll across the surface of Magoo’s and this is alright with me. In my mind, I’ve ridden it a hundred times by now.

Steve Picciolo R.I.P. 1978

Kent Senatore

Magoo’s March 2019

Steve Picciolo R.I.P. Frontside invert 1978

Magoo’s March 2019

Steve Picciolo R.I.P. 1978

Thank you to the owners and thank you to William Sharp for the images. Skate and wonder… X Ozzie

For more on Magoo’s – Magoo’s

The Fall of Magoo

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Four of Seven

Dog Bowl. Santa Monica. Summer 1977. David Hackett, Shogo Kubo, Jay Adams, Bob Biniak, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Stan Sharp on the deck. Four of seven. I look at this shallow end lineup and find it difficult to believe that four of these guys have slid away from the sun. Shogo Kubo, Jay Adams, Bob Biniak and Stan Sharp are no longer here. However, everything they ever were is not lost, as long as we keep talking about them and keep their spirit with us. In my opinion, there is no such thing as, “Out of sight, out of mind.” There are so many skateboarders out there in the world. There are way more now than when this photograph was taken. Most have no idea why anything moves the way it does. Life. Dreams. They probably don’t question…

Life seems to move much faster than it did in 1977. Attention is limited to a quick flick of the thumb and what was surprising, new and amazing, quickly becomes a thing of the past. I recall studying photographs…  boards, trucks, wheels, sticker placement. I took in the tiles, the crumbling block wall beside the pool, the palm trees… everything. The big picture. Etched into my DNA. I look at this photograph from time to time. I’m filled with wonder. I’m sure the guys in the photo would barely recall it… “…just another great afternoon at the Dogbowl with the boys.” they’d say. When pressed, one or another might remember a certain aspect of the photograph. One can never be sure. Memories become a confusing mess as we age. I’m unsure how many times all of these guys were there together, but I know that it couldn’t have been that often. The pool only lasted through that summer. That one special summer. As I grow older, I still skate as much as I can. I look around at some of the legendary skateboarders that paved the way for us and I see them gray, bent and broken. Some, not all. They skate better than they walk.

I love what they did all of those years ago… some are consumed with the past. Others don’t really care too much. Some scream out for recognition they say they don’t want. Actions… actions. Your words say one thing  but your behavior? Some are eaten alive by all-consuming ego. Sadly, I look on and wish I’d never met them. Rather a perfect photograph Scotch-taped to a wall in a Pennsylvania farmhouse, than the realization that a would-be hero is forever stuck as an insecure twelve year old. I guess, we get what we get in life. One should be like Teflon. Nothing sticks. I once looked for validation from them… something I will never get. One cannot relay something that one doesn’t possess. I look at this photograph. They never knew. I don’t think that this moment in time was anything other than what it seems. In their minds, they were only having fun. There was no ripple… pebble in a pond. There wasn’t a strange sense of convergence. No thought for tomorrow. Maybe it’s best this way. Fun in its purest form. This is what they gave us and it is all we get. I guess its all we need. Thanks to the people that came before us. Rest in peace Stan, Shogo, Bob and Jayboy. Thank you to William Sharp for the image. Skate- Ozzie

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Bruce Lee

When I was about ten or eleven years old, I saw an article on Bruce Lee. There were photographs of him kicking towards a man’s head and it seemed impossibly high… yet, there it was. Human physical perfection. There were other images of him sparring, running, lifting weights and there was one photograph of particular interest to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but this photograph would change my life forever. Bruce is sitting in front of a wall of books. Personal library.

In the image, I could see some of the titles. There were books by D.T. Suzuki on Zen Buddhism, works on Confucius, several books by Krishnamurti and works on philosophy, religion, weapons, wrestling, Karate, boxing, fencing and other things. I wrote down as many titles as I could read and went to the school library the next day. They were accustomed to me being in there. I practically hid out in the school library. It kept me from being bullied and having my ass kicked. I learned early on, that jocks don’t use the library too often.

I read and read. Most of it I didn’t understand. The philosophy and religion books were too wordy and deep for me. I was young. But several things stood out to me from this experience. The world was vast and interesting, I lived in a very isolated backwards area and that I could do anything, if I set myself to the task. Bruce Lee was a small, thin and sickly boy. He was rebellious, hyperactive and in trouble regularly. He discovered the martial arts and weight lifting. Soon, he began to build himself up. He applied himself to reading and cultivating his mind. He channeled his energy into becoming the best human being that he could be.

Norman Vincent Peale’s book, ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ quickly became a regular read for me. It made sense. Krishnamurti’s ‘Think on these Things’ was one book that I thoroughly enjoyed at a young age. He wrote, “Religion is the frozen thought of man, out of which they build temples.” I was raised a Christian and I saw hypocrisy all around me before I even knew what hypocrisy was. Krishnamurti was like a cold drink on a hot day. Through the years, I’ve practiced martial arts, lifted weights, trained, ran and kept super fit. I read voraciously. All of the books and words  I’ve read didn’t help with my alcoholism… I couldn’t quite escape its tortuous calling. Words are weapons… but only sometimes.

 

Once I turned myself over to a course of recovery however, those books and pages of knowledge became invaluable. I could see and apply principles everywhere. Another thing that came from all of this at a young age, is that by reading the books in the Bruce Lee photograph, it really opened my mind to other people, races, cultures and religions. I may not have completely understood, but I was open to learning about it. My Pennsylvania Christian fears gave way to a freedom and desire to learn… I received this gift from Bruce Lee.

Back porch. Bruce Lee and relative 1968

Back porch 2018

Bruce Lee with Brandon and Shannon. Roscomare Road 1969

Bruce Lee Roscomare Road 2018 (compare neighbors palm tree with previous image)

Over the years, I’ve gone to places that Bruce Lee lived and trained. When I was in the military, a few of us went to his old place on Cumberland Road in Hong Kong. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I go up into Bel Air and periodically stop by the Roscomare Road property. I stretch out and jog up onto Mulholland and run the route Bruce once took on his exercise days. I’ve been able to have access to the back yard of that property after a long effort. I took images of Bruce and shot the same angles from then and now. It is interesting that the property hasn’t changed that much.

Backyard. Bruce with family 1969

Backyard 2018

Bruce Lee and sparring partner. Back porch. 1968

Back porch 2018

Bruce Lee’s ‘Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute’ in Chinatown Los Angeles is empty and unchanged as well. I stood on the sidewalk yesterday and marveled at that fact. The Roscomare Road Bel Air property is mostly the same after forty plus years and I found the Chinatown location the same. I must admit that it was a spiritual experience being at both. I pictured Lew Alcindor and Danny Inosanto and the others, walking through the door back in 1967… I sat on the stoop and took it in.

Bruce Lee and Bobo at the Chinatown Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute at 628 College St.

628 College St. Chinatown. 2/22/2019

Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute Chinatown Los Angeles 1968

Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute
2/22/2019

As a teenager, my inspirations were mostly skateboarders…  Tony Alva, Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez and others. However, Bruce Lee always held the top spot for me. His life–as an example–made me realize that I could accomplish anything, that I was worth something and that I could build myself up. If I wanted to do something, I had to go do it. Thinking about it, wasn’t enough. “Knowledge is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Thank you Bruce Lee. Love you man! XO Ozzie

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Dogbowl Memories / Wes Humpston

 

Wes Humpston at Dogbowl. Summer 1977
Image: William Sharp

Wes Humpston

“I remember being so stoked because I started getting frontsides at the Dogbowl.  The more I did them, the better they were. It was a big deal, because the guys I skated with regularly, ripped frontsides.  Many times, when they saw me going for one, the next guy knew it was his turn!  I usually bailed on my frontside attempts up until that time. Ha-Ha!   I remember a guy sitting at the side of the pool, telling me that I was going across three blocks of coping on some attempts and that other guys were hitting the coping and going right back down.  I was just stoked I was hitting them regularly. 1977 was a good year…”

Thank you to Bulldog Wes Humpston. Image: William Sharp

Back in the Day Book – http://gingkopress.com/shop/back-in-the-day/

 

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Dogbowl Memories / Jay Adams

Jay Adams at Dogbowl August 1977 Image: William Sharp

Jay Adams

“The Dogbowl was special. We had permission. Actually, I was at a party at the house one night and we saw the pool half filled with dark green water. It was sort-of nasty. We saw the size of the pool and we were like…  “Damn!”  Dino lived there and was dying of cancer. He asked his parents and they gave permission. I remember draining it the very next day. It was me, Billy Yeron, Wayne Babcock and Mike Ball. I think that was the crew. The first runs were unreal. We couldn’t believe how open it was. I could push two or three times before taking my first turn…  We had permission and it was great. Private. You couldn’t come if you weren’t invited. Some sessions, there were twenty people at the pool. Smoking, skating, drinking. It was our scene, girlfriends and all.” – Jayboy

Words and photo from William Sharp book ‘Back in the Day’

Available here-  http://gingkopress.com/shop/back-in-the-day/

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