You know, back in the day, cell phones and digital video and digital still-shot cameras didn’t exist for us. Heck, we didn‘t have cell phones either! We really had to rely on cameras with film (so you never knew what you were shooting until you developed the film) or very large and obnoxious VHS video camera that weighed twenty pounds and had to sit on your shoulder to get any footage. So as a result of all that, most of us just focused on finding pools and riding them. Some of us knew photographers who we could bring to pools or spots and record the session or try and create a shot that would be remembered forever. This was really the golden age of skateboarding. A photograph of a single image in skateboarding, I believe is SO much more powerful than a moving sequence. It leaves so much more to the viewers’ imagination, and you had to wait a whole month for it to come out in a magazine! I think Lance Mountain captured this reality in his new book titled “On my Wall” perfectly. In his book Lance states “Those first images in the magazines expanded my idea of what was possible on a skateboard…You would just see a skater in a wild position and try and understand how he got there and if they were able to land it.” Lance goes on to say more about how powerfully inspirational some of the early images were, that inspired us all to go out and find the pools and recreate or create a new insanely iconic or radical Image. (I highly recommend picking up a copy of his new book!)
I have been very fortunate to have been shot by some of the greatest skateboard photographers in the world such as, Craig Fineman, Wynn Miller, Craig Stecyk, Glen Friedman, Jim Goodrich, Stan & Bill Sharp, and of course Daniel Harold Sturt (who shot the image of me doing the Loop of Death- Padless.) This brings me to the topic of what and how some of the greatest and most iconic skateboard photos were created. What exactly are the elements of an iconic photo? In my opinion, it comes down to three elements. 1) The terrain. It should be either a new challenge or obstacle. Some that come to mind are The Loop of Death, The Great Wall of China and the Guitar Sign at the Hard Rock Cafe. All are locations of iconic photos. 2) A new move (or trick) something that is new, cutting edge and radical! 3) The MOST important thing I believe is STYLE! Every iconic image, all the way back to Tony Alva’s first perfect tuck-knee frontside air in the DogBowl, to Jay Adam’s frontside snap at Krypto Bowl, where his Tracker Trucks and Green Kryptonics are hitting the coping so hard, it’s literally lifting from the force, were done without safety equipment of any kind. Now I’m not endorsing anyone to ride helmetless and padless, but there is just something SO Pure about just you, your skateboard, and the terrain that makes a photo timeless. Now go skateboarding! Wear your helmet!
God Bless, HACKMAN!
Thank you to David Hackett for the words and Aaron Sedway for the image. Skate – Ozzie
They say, “You can never go back”, it’s a lie. Yes you can. They also say, “Things change, but they stay the same”… some might argue, others would agree, but does any of what “They” say even matter? No, of course not, what matters is that we keep on going, happy or sad, right or wrong… no matter what they say we keep on going, because we simply have no other choice.
Tony Alva has kept on going through the thick and thin and so have BB, Deano, William, Lance, Rick, Ozzie, and I. We’ve kept on going because it’s all we know, because it’s how we identify ourselves, and how we challenge ourselves.
I’m grateful we had this chance to skate together, even though it felt odd to me, like some sort of surreal replay of a battle we’d fought decades ago, a battle of egos. I can tell you, from my perspective, nothing has changed. Tony still sat us all down, just like he always has. He remains the king! BB? Still as photogenic as ever! Deano, just hot man, sooo hot! Lance, nursing a recent injury, sat on the sideline hungry to join in, he lightened the mood with an occasional humorous tension breaker like only he can! Rick and Ozzie pushed us all with their own mastery of the coping, and William –as always –caught every instant perfectly… it was dreamlike. A day such as this had certainly never happened before, and it will probably never happen again. It was that kind of day. Thanks to all!
Back in the late seventies, I was shooting for a magazine and was able to photograph a lot of rad skaters, like Tony Alva, Kent Senatore, Brad Bowman,and Deano Mueller, to name a few. We were all young and full of life back then, cocky in a youthful kinda way. Good times. I didn’t really know how good I had it back then. But I knew I dug it and was going to enjoy it as long as I could. Jump ahead, thirty-five plus years and here we are again, in a backyard pool, stoking to session like the old days. We had a great time reminiscing about past pools, stoked that we were all together again and pumped that everybody was still skating great and making new memories. Good times all over again.
designate yet never identify other than “them”. Whatever. I’m choosing Life, and skateboarding brings me life.
All I knew is that I needed a skate session to neutralize all of it. One that was comfortable and appreciated. An empty backyard pool. These are always appreciated and generally don’t take too long to become comfortable in, with the help of your crew. Uplifting comments, one liners and an occasional outburst are enough to make one feel the sense of belonging in these situations. And belonging means that your soul and mind are open and free to excel at whatever artistic expression one desires.
Positivity always carries weight, especially with comrades from decades past whom are still six feet above ground. In this age of instant globalization where one photo can be on seven continents and in millions of personal devices in the blink of an eye, its the personal things that still matter most. Face to face meetings, story sharing and raw energy bouncing off of each other. Always there is a nucleus, one thing that brings all the elements together. Today it was one Ozzie Ausband. A nucleus that many want to be near these days for his knowledge of perfect cement holes in the ground we call play places. An east coast man with a long life story of adventure, destruction, reassessment, reinvention, contentment and love. He put together a skateboard session for the ages with a crew that hadn’t been assembled for possibly thirty years.
It was a sunny, fast, hard session that will stay burned in my memory for, hopefully, the remainder of my time vertical here on the rock.Thank you Rick Stine, Ozzie Ausband, William Sharp, Tony Alva, Kent Senatore, Lance Mountain, Deano Mueller & Rose for making it a fantastic afternoon. And in the future- if you see a skinny balding pre-senior caucasian wondering around aimlessly, point him towards Hollywood and send him along his way. Muchas gracias.
Who would have thought, that all my West side boys would be either gone or just over the idea of skating a good pool. I still love it. Especially after surfing Zuma in the morning. Back in my youth, we never associated amicably with the dudes from the valley. My how times and brotherly love have changed that type of thinking. We had an awesome time ripping during this session. No attitudes, all fun. I’m stoked on my old school posse’ that is still riding pools. When in the Val, do as the Valleys do. Shut up and skate. For your information, I was outnumbered four to one. Wisdom, tolerance and peace prevails.
Thank you to William Sharp for the images and words. Thank you to Kent Senatore, Deano Mueller, Tony Alva, Rick Stine, Brad Bowman, Lance Mountain for helping out, being there and being who they are. I am grateful. Skate- Ozzie
In the late eighties, there really were no skateparks. We had pools and backyard ramps. We were on full pool missions back then. These were the Alva Posse times. The San Juan pool happened around that time. I was working at Alva in San Juan Capistrano. One day at the factory, a guy told me that he’d been to a Halloween party at this old mansion on a hill. There were actually two pools on the property. We went up there and the place was abandoned.
Something bad had occurred with the people who had lived there. There was a square pool and a round one. They were filled with green, crappy water. We stuck a garden hose in the square pool and drained it but it was junk. We put the garden hose in the round pool and drained it down a hill. It slowly emptied and it took days… Once emptied, it was so good. It saw some unreal sessions. The pool had several lives. It was filled with dirt, then it was jackhammered… and resurrected again. It was one of the best pools ever. Charleston Hanger ramp was fashioned after it by Tim Paine. The face wall was very round and it half-piped back into the shallow end. A bunch of heavy sessions went down in that thing. The Alva crew. It was ours. We were there all the time. – Dave Duncan
This Venice local Tonan, he was living in San Clemente at the time. He worked at Alva. He got wind of this abandoned mansion. I heard that a guy lived there and supposedly killed his whole family in the house. Crazy shit. Murder scene. Tonan got intel on the pool. We’d all go up there… We ended up draining it. I actually drained it with TA and the Alva crew. It is the only pool I ever actually recall draining with TA, so it stands out in my mind. When we first skated it, we were like, “Oh shit. This thing is unbelievable.” It was like a side-to-side capsule. Elongated. We called it ‘Time Capsule’ but Thrasher came and shot photographs for an article and they called it ‘Haunted Hole’. It was an amazing pool.
The shape was great. The transitions were really good. There was a deathbox on the middle of the face wall, firecracker coping, side ladders… It was great. The Alva Posse took it apart. It lasted awhile… It’s hard to recall how long it lasted anymore. It got jackhammered and then patched. John Lloyd lived near there and ripped it really hard with his brother Joe. The surface was slow after the patches were put in. When it was first going, it was pretty unbelievable the things that went down in that pool. There were only a handful of times that the Alva Posse ever rode together in a pool in the mid to late eighties. The San Juan pool was one of them.- Darrel Delgado
I remember when Alva moved down to the San Clemente area. Dave Duncan was the team captain. I remember Duncan saying that he knew there was a pool up on a hillside nearby at an old abandoned property. Finally one day, they went up and found two pools. They put a garden hose in there and started draining it. Everyday, it went down about a foot. Day after day, it looked better and better. One day, Duncan called me and said, “Dude. This pool is unreal. You have to come.” We got there and it was basically just us. The Alva crew and some friends.
The guy that really blew it was John Lucero. We told everyone, “Keep it quiet. Keep it quiet.” One day I pulled up and there was John Lucero. Tony said, “You better not tell anyone…” The very next day, Lucero showed up with a bunch of people and after that, everybody found out about it. He told someone and they told someone and it was over after that… we did have it for like a month to ourselves though. Just us. Overnight, it was crazy. Big parties. Someone lit the house on fire… out of control. It didn’t last that long. We’d go there and it seemed like a hundred people were there. Blown out. The local authorities quickly put an end to it. That pool had perfect transitions. I could do frontside inverts in it. Beautiful pool. The house had some bad vibes to it. The pool was quiet and peaceful though. I’d just sit there by the pool and listen to the birds… One of my favorites. – Eddie Reategui
I wasn’t one of the first to ride the San Juan pool. When I went there, the house was still standing. When I went back, it was destroyed. We skated it for awhile. It was filled in with dirt and it got dug back out. It was jackhammered. Kelly Bellmar and Chicken went in and patched it themselves. Tony Alva rode that pool really well. The shallow end had gnarly transitions. Steep. Most people avoided that area and would go into a figure eight line in the deep end. Tony would hit the face wall, come way into the shallow past the ladder, do a three block long micro edger and then head back into the bowl. I’ll never forget it. Some guys would half pipe it. The deep end was good. The coping was raw. It was as raw as it could be. Firecracker. Chris Miller ripped it. Here’s a Duane Peters story: We came early one day. Someone had spray painted on the pool wall, “Duane rules pools…” or something about Duane being awesome. Duane showed up that morning, grabbed some paint and painted over the words and then just left. That was pretty rad.
Kelly Belmar and I were going to see Devo at the Coachhouse nearby. We got there early, so we went up to skate the pool. We arrived and there were guys that had driven a ways that were camping there and bucketing the pool. We helped them bucket the pool and emptied it so they could ride. We went to the concert. When it was over, we came outside and it was pouring rain. The poor guys didn’t get much time to skate… Kelly ripped that pool. He did inverts, rolled in… He basically dominated.- Chuck Hults
The San Juan pool was a big part of the Alva Posse days in San Clemente. We’d go up there and ride every day. It was our spot. We had it to ourselves for a little while. The thing I really remember about that pool were the Texans. John Tex Gibson and Craig Johnson. Tex and Craig made that pool look like a mini ramp. They killed it. They were doing vert ramp sized airs and crushing it everywhere. They took a doubles run, doing figure eights together and then they both went over the ladders on both sides simultaneously… They were ripping so hard. They’d go to the shallow end, smoke a fatty, swig a beer and go back at it. Those two guys were gnarly skaters. The Texans… Besides Eddie Reategui, they were the best. John Lloyd too. He was gnarly. – Tony Alva
Thank you to Aaron Sedway for the beautiful images. Thank you to Chuck Hults for his images as well. Thank you to Darrel Delgado, Eddie Reategui, Tony Alva, Chuck Hults and Dave Duncan for their memories. Skate- Ozzie
The homeowner stood in his backyard and stared at Lance and I. He looked over at the pool thoughtfully. He mumbled to himself. “So, you want to cut the rocks off and cement it flush?” He asked a whole string of questions. Lance and I went over it all. We looked closely at everything involved. It was a massive undertaking. After careful consideration, the owner gave us permission. For obvious reasons, we decided to do a section on the face wall. We weren’t quite sure how the cutting of the slate top and rock would be. We had no idea on the degree of difficulty involved.
MRZ, Lance and I drove over one day in December and started in on it. It was pretty gnarly work. Lance cut the top away and scored the rocks underneath. I took a huge chisel and a hammer and broke the rocks as flush with the pool plaster as I could. We did a fairly long section of the face wall. Our lower backs were screaming after a few hours bent over at the waist. We stretched, ate lunch and mixed up cement. We slowly moved our way back across the lip and troweled the cement into the holes. We finished it flush and cleaned and rolled the top lip.
It was getting colder and late in the afternoon when we were done. We cleaned up and let it set for a few days. The following Sunday, Lance, MRZ, myself, Ripperside Shawn and Gopa met together at the Box of Rocks for its trial run. The transitions were so good, we could all maintain our speed really well. The new lip was smooth and functional. Grinds and airs were put down. We were elated.
Everyone talked about the new lip and how amazing the pool would be once we completed the entire circumference of the pool. I knew that this scenario would take awhile. It really was a gnarly undertaking to just get it this far! Over the next few weeks, I brought the Volcom crew back out for a film day. Pedro Barros and his Brazilian friends tore the pool into bite-sized pieces and gobbled it down. David Gonzales and Omar Hassan punished, Arto flowed through the pool like water and CJ Collins spent more time above the lip than below it.
The homeowner continued asking for things each time we went there. I understood. He has a large family. Many children. We had set him up very well during the first few weeks and I thought he’d be content for awhile… it wasn’t to be. I soon realized that if we were to keep the pool going on a regular basis, it would take a decent financial commitment on our part. It couldn’t continue as it was. In the end, maybe this is the way it should be. We took nothing and made something. Everyone received a good time, gifts were given and the Box of Rocks lives on in the Volcom Holy Stokes video for everyone to see and admire. Why ask for more? Thank you to MRZ and Arto Saari for images. Thank you to Lance Mountain for the assistance and knowledge and thank you to Russell Houghten for the video footage. Thank you to Remy Stratton and Volcom. Skate – Ozzie
Box of Rocks Part 1 – BOX OF ROCKS PART 1
Remy Stratton contacted me a year or so ago and asked me to help him find some pools for the Volcom film that they were currently producing. I ride with Arto Saari – one of their primary photographers – and had ridden with virtually everyone on the Volcom roster at one point or another. They’d be in town and would ultimately end up in some pit I had recently found and drained. After all, its what I do. I talked with Remy awhile and we agreed on what would work for everyone involved.
Having access to clothing, boards, wheels, shoes and cash can help open doors that may previously stay closed to me. I try hard to figure out what a homeowner needs on my initial recon and approach. Gather intel. If there are toys in the yard, you can automatically play the kid angle. Most kids love skateboards… especially free skateboards. Same thing applies to the cars on the approach. Stickers on windows? Stickers on cars can tell you a good bit about who may answer the door. Is there a child seat? Toys? Then scan the yard. Beer bottles? Broken fence? Paint peeling? Is there yard work in need of attention? Meticulous yards and well-maintained homes are usually going to be a hard sell. These people pride themselves on their property and most people think that skateboards will somehow ruin the pool. You can gather a ton of information on a drive by. But, you only get one chance at the front door approach.
I approach alone or with only one person. I prefer alone. It is less threatening to the homeowner and if anything tragically does go sideways (drug house, etc), I am confident that I can handle myself, but if I have to defend a friend as well, people can be hurt. Look clean and appropriate. Smile. Have a good line of banter ready. I knock on the front door and immediately step down the stairs again behind me. It affords me the opportunity to keep my eyes open for threats and watch the windows. It also gives the homeowner a psychological space… They are looking down at me. They hold the power. I keep my hands open and in sight. I smile. I tell them my name and ask if they know anything about skateboarding. In this day and age, virtually everyone has heard of Tony Hawk or Tony Alva. You can tell the homeowner that pools are where modern skateboarding came from. These two skateboarding superstars evolved from the backyard swimming pools found all over. The vert ramps that are seen on television during the X Games somewhat have their origin in the simulation of pool walls… Have a good skate photograph pulled up and ready on your phone. Preferably of yourself. Show them what we do. It helps them understand and is a testament to your ability.
Make sure that you say that you saw their pool on satellite, even if you spotted it in another way. Some people are still computer naive and will think you were already in their yard somehow. Tell them at the start… “I saw you have an empty pool on satellite.” Remove suspicion. Alleviate fear. Always. I’ve used these principle approaches and they usually work. Sometimes they don’t. As I have said before, “It is a numbers game.” I run about ten percent. This means that you have to do a whole bunch of work… I spotted the Box of Rocks about a month into our search for Volcom. I approached the home. Gated off. No buzzer. No access to knock. It is this way at times. I left a note. Carefully worded.
I received a phone call from the homeowner and we agreed on a time to meet up. On satellite, the transitions and shape seemed incredible. There was something bothering me. It seemed as though there was either bad plaster, graffiti or something wrong with the pool. It didn’t have the typical look that a pool does on satellite. I needed to get into the yard. I went over and spoke with the owner. He let me see the pool and it was as I thought. Graffiti was on the pool but the surface was fantastic. The problem was the lip of the pool. It was completely covered in rocks and to make things worse, there was a slate top lip cemented over the rocks. The entire top of the pool was practically useless. The owner and I agreed on a deal and I informed Remy. He looked at the photographs and thought we should try it out. Lance Mountain, Arto Saari, CJ Collins and Grant Taylor met up and rode it one cold December afternoon.
We all tried to use the pool as best we could. It was amazing and amazingly frustrating. The transitions and shape were such that you could generate a good deal of speed, but because the rocks stuck out everywhere in a jagged way, you’d hit your wheels carving through the shallow end and get crushed. Without coping and the dangerous nature of the top, we were limited in what we could really do. Lance and I talked at length. We had an idea. We spoke with the homeowner. He rubbed his chin with his fingers and thought…
Box Of Rocks Part II will be coming soon. Thank you to Arto Saari for the images. Thank you to MRZ for the image of Lance Mountain. Thank you to Lance Mountain for the help and thank you to Remy Stratton and Volcom for the opportunity. Skate – Ozzie
There are now about nine times the amount of smart phones in the world than there are smart people. Funny how that works. Friday afternoon, I was driving in the San Fernando Valley and a girl went past me… I saw her coming up fast in my rearview mirror. She was weaving in traffic. When she went past me, she had her head down looking at her phone. She switched lanes and cut in front of me. I never saw her head look up. Indefensible. I had some guests coming into town from elsewhere. Tony Farmer had called from New York and had a friend of his visiting California. He asked if I could throw him into the session. “Of course.” There are very few people I won’t skate with… I like Farmer and — with rare exception — a friend of his is a friend of mine. I gave Farmer’s friend Chris a text and an address to meet.
Sunday morning, I went out early. Rick Stine and I had drained a few pools in the rain on Thursday. We got everything to a manageable level. I took three buckets, some hot coffee and drove out of West Hollywood a bit before seven in the morning. It was cold and quiet. Bucketing kept me warm. I like draining pools alone. I think. I wonder why people are such egotistical messes. How can some people think the way that they do? Delusion? I can’t really figure it out. It’s like this vision they have of themselves is all they are capable of seeing. No empathy. No way of putting themselves in another’s shoes. I guess one can’t really get too angry at them. They aren’t purposefully trying to hurt others because they never really think of anyone else in the first place. I feel sorry for them. Tragedy in two shoes. I think of our incoming President. I wonder about the El Gato Classic. I hum the Buzzcocks and think about frontside airs. I got the pools readied for my friends and we met up. Farmer’s friend Chris was really cool. We hit it off right away.
Cam brought James who was visiting from Colorado. Brandon Wong came out, Rick Stine, Ripperside Shawn, Gopa and BLKPRJKT all joined together for some fun. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: If its not about the skating, the fun and the friendship, you can keep your distance. I don’t want you around. I am generally kind, but I’m capable of quite the opposite. Just because I smile at you, doesn’t mean I like you. I might be picturing you on fire… Thank you to Brandon Wong for the images. Skate – Ozzie
“This shot was taken during a period in my life when I was one-hundred percent focused on snowboarding. At this time, I was traveling the world, competing as a professional snowboarder and was revitalizing my skate days from the past with some fun sessions and some crossover skating. My snowboarding was really taking my skateboarding to a new level. This was a fun pool session with a few friends and this opening shot looks like a very nostalgic, Tony Alva-esque frontside air.”
Thank you to Bert Lamar for the thoughts and Aaron Sedway for the images. Skate- Ozzie