Honor The Past / El Gato Classic

Upland Pipeline Combi
Hester II

They came from everywhere. San Diego, Northern California, the beaches… pro skaters, amateurs and spectators made the long drive to Upland and the Pipeline Skatepark for the Hester II final contest in 1979. The Hester I Series had been the year before and it shook the skateboarding world. It was a ‘put it on the line’ event where legends were made and egos were battered. The magazines at the time were pushing their own agendas.

Bobby Valdez

Doug Pineapple Saladino

Scott Dunlap

Peter Kiwi Gifford

Hot shots and pin ups were finding their way into skaters bedrooms around the world as glossy photographs were Scotch taped to walls. Heroes. The skaters involved were too busy to notice at first. They just wanted to skate and progress. Most spent the day at whatever local skatepark they had, perfecting lines and tricks. Some were inventive. New tricks were unveiled at each contest gathering. The surf style, speed and lines of the Hester I Series were quickly swept to the wayside as bigger airs, innovative tricks and unique lines were being put down by contest riders in the next contest season.

Eric Grisham

Dave Andrecht

Hester II ushered in a new list of names and the magazines scrambled to feature these skatepark heroes. The veteran riders of the contest series found that they had to evolve. Skateboarding was changing so quickly, some could barely keep up. Some found themselves on top of the skateboarding world and a year or so later, they were virtually ignored by the magazines and sponsors. The Pipeline skatepark was a heavy scene. It had a full pipe, huge bowls and the massive Combi bowl. The Pipeline Combi was not for the faint of heart. Massive vert, huge coping, rough flat bottom concrete and a heavy local contingent of vertical masters were enough to intimidate virtually all who ventured to the Badlands. The heat and smog were another issue. It was like going into a dragons lair.

Steve Olson

Micke Alba

Steve Alba

Tom Wally Inouye

Some couldn’t skate the Combi and others didn’t even try. Local brothers Steve and Micke Alba were — by all accounts — the absolute rulers of the Combi pool at this time. Make no mistake, the lines drawn in the Vans Combi of the current generation were born in the Alba household. Heavy hitters of the Hester II made the drive to Upland on that weekend. The Upland final. It was a brawl. What those few riders did on that weekend will echo forever.

Eddie El Gato Elguera

Eddie El Gato Elguera is an innovator. He brought new tricks and combinations to every event. He was responsible for a dramatic wave of progression in himself and those that followed in his footsteps. Eddie Elguera raised the bar for generations to come. His El Gato Classic event has been a huge success. He began by paying tribute to the legendary skateboarders of the Hester Series and Gold Cup eras. He endeavored to educate the current generation of skateboarders of where they come from. He built an event that marvels history and all of its traditions, yet isn’t bound to it. Skateboarding is doing just fine. Men and women are pushing skateboarding into new territories. The future is in good hands and the El Gato Classic will forever remind that future of its incredible past.

Please join William Sharp and I on Friday at 7:00 pm, January 26th at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. There will be an art show and we are having a photographic exhibit and will have books for sale and signing. Tony Alva will be there as well as many other legendary skateboarders from this era for signatures. The event is free and a Legends Talk will follow. Tickets for other events at the El Gato Classic are available here – EL GATO CLASSIC TICKETS / INFO

For direct online purchase of Back In The Day click here –  Back In The Day

Thank you to Eddie Elguera for the initiative, influence and hard work. Thank you to his kind wife Dawn for all of her involvement. Thank you to his church for all of the volunteer efforts. Thank you to William Sharp for allowing me to do this book project with him and for allowing me to pillage his archive. We will see you this weekend X Ozzie

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The Shot / Jay Smith

Jay Smith at Mondo’s
Action Now Magazine

Jay Smith. One of the first members of the Bones Brigade. Frontside lapped-out grind on the hip at Mondo’s pool. It was taped to my wall in Pennsylvania. I simply find it to be one of the greatest skateboarding photographs of its time. He’s just hanging up there… balanced and stylish. No hurry. Fluidity. Everything about the photograph is perfection. I have brought this image up in conversation and many people feel the same. When I sat down to review slides with William Sharp for our book Back In The Day, I started coming across images from Mondo’s pool. My heart fluttered. “Could it be?” I set the loop down on a slide and peered through, hunched over the light table. I caught my breath. It was one in a series of outtakes from that photo shoot at Mondo’s pool. I quickly looked through the rest of them. “It is not here!” I questioned William. “I’m not sure. I actually think that the particular photograph you’re talking about was published in Action Now magazine and not in Skateboard World magazine. I had stopped working at Skateboard World and it folded. I don’t think I ever received the slide back from Action Now. It’s probably in someones garage in a box.” I grimaced at the thought of a holy relic now gone and peered through the slide loop again and thought about the outtakes for awhile. The original published image is radical. Jay Smith is balanced on his back truck and his board is almost straight… majestic.

Jay Smith at Mondo’s Pool

The outtakes are more lapped over. In my opinion, I  immediately felt that one of the outtakes was actually better than the original published one. Over the next few days, I found myself thinking about the Jay Smith Mondo’s photograph. I was driving along Mulholland and mumbling to myself.  “Dude, you’re absolutely crazy! The outtake actually couldn’t be better. Could it?”  Of course not. The original image has so much meaning to me and countless others. The uncounted legion of skateboarding fans out there, living in cold, snow and rain. Those of us that lived far away from the palm trees and pools of Los Angeles. That original photograph — taped to my bedroom wall — got me through some long winter days and stoked out some heavy sessions in the summer. William and I decided right away that one of the outtakes must go in the book. It is perfect to us in every way. You can even see the Blue Haven tile logo on the face wall if you look closely. Such greatness. Thank you to Jay Smith for being one of the best ever… Thank you William for pushing him out and past the edge. Skate-Ozzie

For more of William Sharp’s amazing skateboarding photography – BACK IN THE DAY

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Back in the Day / Arthur Viecco

Arthur Viecco

Arthur Viecco

“Moving to a new country at the age of twelve and not knowing the language, I had to find things with which I could immerse myself into the California culture. I began riding bicycles to imitate the local kids, and because of the necessities of transportation. This would help me to get my first job. A paper route, allowed me to earn money to buy my first skateboard. It was a bright yellow GT board, and the love affair began . Skateboarding was as foreign to me as the country that I had just moved to. The boards kept improving and so did I. I was blessed to go to a school in the San Fernando Valley that had a small asphalt banked wall on the playground. It was the place were we improved our moves and style. Skateboarding gave me the ability to communicate in a way I still lacked with words. Skateboarding allowed me to be my own individual person. It allowed me to express myself more like an artist than an athlete. I would skate and would connect movement, speed and style all into one. It was a great feeling to learn at such a young age.”

Arthur Viecco

“When I first discovered pool skateboarding, it was like opening a magical box of never-ending possibilities. Different shapes, transitions, colors. It was a perfect canvas to decorate and explore all of its possibilities. There was a lot of work involved in finding new pools, cleaning, waiting for them to dry and the rewards were well worth it. Some of them we only got to skate for a day but when we were done, we knew the enjoyment they gave us. It would outlast the cement they were built out of. Everything about skateboarding made me an individual. I would spend hours decorating the bottom of my skateboard with stickers or paint it to make my board different than anyone else’s. Skateboarding is still a huge part of my life. It taught me to be true to myself, always develop my own style and look at things with a creative perspective. Skateboarding permeates life at every level. I feel like I am a part of a very amazing community. Thank you skateboarding!”   Arthur Viecco

Thank you to Arthur Viecco for the words and William Sharp for the images. Please join William Sharp, Tony Alva and I on Saturday at Dogtown Coffee in Santa Monica for our launch and signing of Back in the Day. Skate- Ozzie

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Circle

It had snowed. The boy sat on his bed and read through a tattered skateboarding magazine. Skateboard World. He read through the advertisements, letters to the editor and scanned the photographs endlessly. He could quote the captions. It was his Holy Bible. He had started skateboarding in nineteen seventy five on a skateboard that his friend Bradley had given him. Bradley had stood on it once and just as quickly found himself on his back. He was glad to give it away since he didn’t want to ever stand on it again. Learning curve. With this welcome gift, the boy started skateboarding and was surprised that when he stood on it… he could ride. Sure, he fell off, but he realized that he had a natural aptitude for it. He loved the way it was always there for him. He would spend hours, carving and kick-turning around. Growing up, he lived in a small town. There were barely any good sidewalks or places that were smooth enough to skate. The winter snows and ice made the asphalt crumble and buckle. Cinders were spread on the roads and plows gouged the surfaces. He built a small quarter pipe in his dads barn. It was basically a large piece of plywood nailed to two by fours and propped on cinder blocks. He attached a piece of metal pipe on top and bent the nails over to hold it in place. He wanted to grind some pool coping like the skaters in Skateboard World Magazine. Grinds were particularly fun and he slashed at the lip until his shins bled from missed attempts.

His Skateboard World Magazine subscription arrived in his mailbox once a month. He dodged slush and puddles as he crossed the road to retrieve it. The air bit at his lungs and he shivered as the winter wind whipped at his clothing. He peered quickly at the cover. December 1977. Jim Muir. Hot Times In Dogtown. “Oh man…” He quickly made his way back inside the warm farmhouse and up to his room. He studied like a Chemistry student and the magazine was his lab manual. It would always be this way.

Rick Blackhart

Over the next year or two, he saw skateboarding turn in a radical new direction. There were skateparks popping up everywhere in California and the magazines continually showed new tricks being developed and hot new riders were making names for themselves. Several skateparks had pools put in and contests were held. The Hester I Series was a showcase for the heaviest skaters of the time. Tony Alva, Rick Blackhart, Chris Strople, Tay Hunt, Stacy Peralta, Scott Dunlap, Doug Saladino, Steve Alba and others were featured in the magazines. Airs were being done. What the skaters had taken from the banked schoolyards and into empty swimming pools, were suddenly being intensified in the new skatepark bowls and pools. He went to his barn and skated hard. His ramp had now become a halfpipe. It was U shaped and had smooth round transitions. He had installed cinder blocks on top of one deck so he had concrete to grind. It was what he had. He looked at the William Sharp photographs from Skateboard World Magazine and tried to figure out how to do the tricks. He learned airs. He slammed so hard learning rock-n-rolls that he actually pissed bloody urine for a few days and had a hard time doing chores.

Chris Strople

Eddie Elguera

The following summer, the magazines were published with photographs from the Hester II and the Gold Cup Series. Duane Peters, Eddie Elguera, Steve Caballero, Eric Grisham and others were taking skateboarding into fresh new territory. Surfing style and flow were being usurped by tricks and technicality. Inverts, foot plants and back to back airs were becoming the new standard. His barn ramp became a splintered mess as he rode in isolation, trying to keep up. He moved the ramps farther apart and added some flat bottom between them. A new plywood surface gave him more speed. A skatepark opened up a few hours away and periodic trips gave him new perspective. He once felt isolated and alone. Alone with everybody. He walked through school. Head down. Jocks pummeled him into lockers. He smiled inside. He belonged to something special. It was something they could never have… or understand. Skateboarding.

Steve Caballero

Years flew by. Skateboarding had fallen on its face when he was just out of high school. He didn’t stop. Why? Why would he? There was no reason to eliminate the one good and positive thing in his existence. He drove to other towns and visited others like himself. Small plywood half pipes. Scenes. Friends. Skateboarding. It was underground and undernourished. They didn’t care. They rode anyway. After a time– its veins nearly bled dry– skateboarding experienced a new surge and heartbeat. It came back. New magazines brought recognizable faces back into the public eye. There were new heroes as well. Skaters that were young at the first fall, had kept skating during its downturn. They were now on top. They were electric. Lance Mountain, Christian Hosoi, Allen Losi, Neil Blender, Jeff Phillips.

Allen Losi

In time, he found himself in California. College had eased his way into a good job and he soon found himself riding pools and places all over San Diego and Los Angeles counties. He constantly looked for pools to ride. His parched youth in a cold, bleak state had given him an obsession. The hunter. He soon found a house outside of Los Angeles that had a really good pool in the backyard. He had become friends with many of the skaters he once saw in the magazines and they skated the pool together. He eventually met William Sharp. They decided to work on a book project together. They wanted to tell the stories of all of the legends that had paved the way for so many others. They wanted to show respect to as many of these people as they could. They would use the photographs that William had stored away from that seminal time in skateboarding’s history. They wanted to… and they did.

Lance Mountain

Christian Hosoi

Steve Caballero

Eddie Elguera

Pops Hosoi, Rick Stine, Eddie Elguera, Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain and Ozzie Ausband

Please join William Sharp and Ozzie Ausband on Saturday December 16th from 3:00-5:00pm at Dogtown Coffee in the original Zephyr / Jeff Ho shop for the book launch and signing of Back In The Day. Thank you to William Sharp for the previously unpublished images and MRZ for the other images. Skate- Ozzie Ausband

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Back In The Day / Chris Strople

Chris Strople / Upland Pipeline 1977

Chris Strople

“The Upland Pipeline raised the bar when it opened. Skate environments were forever changed and the level of skating increased along with them. Backyarders will always be the staple and parks the breeding grounds. This photo was taken about the same time Skatopia opened. Pre-Hester. Obviously the pipe was a game changer for a park. Tay Hunt absolutely destroyed it early on. I remember skaters showing up to skate and being completely intimidated. The biggest rush was carving down the channel at Mach speed and dropping into the fifteen footer. Nothing but adrenaline!” – Chris Strople

 

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Back in the Day / David Hackett

David Hackett / Reseda

David Hackett

“There really is nothing that describes an ‘era gone by’ better than ‘Back in the Day’!  In every sport, art, pastime, and act that was worthy of devoting your heart, soul, mind, spirit and which defined your very being — when you were young — can be described as ‘Back in the Day’.  This photo represents that time period for me. In fact, as I’m writing this, I had to listen to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ with the volume cranked up to ELEVEN, just to feel that vibe again. I think I was about sixteen in this photo and I’d been hanging out with Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Steven Picciolo and Wentzle Ruml quite a bit. We were riding pools like Canyon Pool, Rabbit Hole, Arthur Lake’s and the Keyhole in Beverly Hills. This photo was shot by Bill Sharp at the newly-opened Reseda Skatepark, during a heated night session where ALL the boys were present and ripping.”

“Barriers were being destroyed by the minute! This is in the second bowl and its a high speed ‘One Wheeler’. This was a big move at that time. We used to try and ‘One Wheel’  EVERYTHING back in the day! This photo is a real time capsule in terms of the equipment too. I was given that deck by Tony Alva, and he rode it for probably a couple weeks testing it for his soon to be released ALVA SKATES company. The first concept was to have a “Model “A”, and a Model “T”- This was the first Model “T” Prototype. An 8.5 x 33″ solid oak deck with routed out wheel wells, set up with state of the art Bennett Hijackers and Road Rider 4’s. Tony drew the Swastika, not in a racist gesture, but as a big middle finger to anybody that would be offended by it. Maximum Shock Value!  Jay Adams loved to do that kind of thing as well. Back in the Day… We got away with a bunch of shit!  Anything was possible.” – David Hackett

We will be posting Guest Posts from some of the skaters in the book ‘Back in the Day’ in the weeks leading up to our Saturday December 16 launch and book signing at the original Jeff Ho Zephyr shop in Santa Monica. It is now called Dogtown Coffee. Books will be available for purchase that day. William Sharp and I are excited and hope to see everyone there. We will also be having a book signing at Val Surf in January. Details to follow. Thank you to David Hackett for the memories and William Sharp for the previously unpublished image. Skate – Ozzie

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Back in the Day / William Sharp

Legendary skateboarding photographer -William Sharp

In doing the book, William Sharp and I tried to include as many skaters as we could. I was adamant that we look through everything. We ended up with 103 skateboarders in this book. If you aren’t in the book, it is not for lack of trying on our part. It isn’t because you weren’t ripping. It is simply that William wasn’t there or the photographs are lost to history. The following list was drawn up today. These people are included in the book ‘Back in the Day.’

Jay Smith, Jerry Valdez, Johnny Altieri, Tony Altieri, Danny O’Kane, Marc Smith, Tony Alva, Kent Senatore, Dave Ferry, Arthur Viecco, Wally Inouye, Stacy Peralta, Jeff Tatum, Sam Durick, Gunnar Haugo, Murray Estes, Art Rat, Jim Sigurdson, Jon Warneke, Steve Archer, Kevin Anderson, Henry Ward, David Paul, Brad Bowman, Jay Adams, Shogo Kubo, Steve Picciolo, Shreddi Repas, Tim Marting, Peter Gifford, Gregg Ayres, Terry Bixler, Stan Sharp, Moses Padilla, Jim Muir, Ray Flores, Steve Lippman, Deano Mueller, John Harris, Art Dickey, Bob Biniak, Billy Yeron, Jimmy Plumer, John Palfreyman, Wes Humpston, Arthur Lake, Paul Constantineau, Chris Strople, Ralph Valencia, Dan Mackey, Rodney Jesse, Marty Grimes, Steve Alba, Scott Dunlap, George Orton, Doug Saladino, Steve Olson, Micke Alba, Ray Bones Rodriguez, Eric Grisham, Alan Gelfand, Eddie Elguera, Dennis Martinez, Scott Foss, Bobby Valdez, Mike McGill, Darrell Miller, Dave Andrecht, Pat Ngoho, Duane Peters, Steve Caballero, Brenda Devine, Kim Cespedes, Terri Lawrence, Allen Losi, David Zakrzewski, Rod Saunders, Steve Hirsch, Neil Blender, Lonnie Toft, Paul Hackett, Bert Lamar, Mike Weed, Kirk Talbott, Waldo Autry, Frank Blood, Charlie Ransom, Doug Schneider, Tay Hunt, Tom Fain, Jack Waterman, Curt Cortum, Chris Cortum, Darren Ho, Eric Dressen, Rick Blackhart, Scott Parsons, Doug de Montmorency, George Wilson, Dennis Agnew, Teddi Bennett, and Eric Anderson. Thank you – William Sharp and Ozzie

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