Journey

Marlon Whitfield

Sometimes when I’m driving the grid searching for pools, I think back on life, people I’ve known, sessions I’ve been in and the strange journey we all take. I know that I’m not alone when I marvel at the number of people who were once an integral part of my life and have now moved on. Through the hand of fate, employment, financial upheaval or some other reason, people come and go in our lives and I find it difficult to understand how quickly time gets behind me. When I was young, there was always time to do things “tomorrow”. I never ran out of tomorrows… until I did. Now I find that every session counts. Every day is a gift. I try not to look back and I keep my tired eyes always forward. Regret is expensive and my account is tapped out. If you are drama, you are gone. Journey. We are on one and it seems to me that by the time we figure how we are supposed to be and what we are here to do, it is almost too late to do anything about it. I attempt to make everyday count. If I can make one person happy, I’ll do my best to do so. When I look at the state of the world, it seems that everyone is drowning. Going under. Swirling black undertow…debt, frustration, technology, politics that don’t matter and an emptiness which seems to be the only thing filling people to the eyeballs…

Andy Neal

Brad McClain

I have friends and I love them. They know me and still like who I am. They accept the weakness and fragility that I possess as a human being. My friends understand that they are not always that different. Black, white, male, female… no matter the flag or the religious belief, we are the same. It is the human condition. When my friends come to visit, I do my best to give them a good time. Luckily, I hunt for pools and I’ve become fairly proficient at getting them going. I think that much of my luck is simply because I do what I say I’m going to do. I respect the homeowner. I know it is a stretch to allow strangers to play in the backyard. If I had a perfect back lawn and a bunch of guys wanted to play soccer on a Sunday afternoon in my yard, I’d find it hard to allow. I don’t want a bunch of guys running around my property on my weekend off. Shoe on the other foot. Empathy. The homeowner… How does it feel to be him? I understand and do my best to give them something up front. Then I get to know them and form a relationship. It’s a journey.

Rick Stine, Andy Neal, Bulldog

Jon Bulldog and Andy Neal came to town, which they do every year. They are both professionals and hopping fences and riding barges — though it is always fun and an integral part of what we do — is daunting when thinking of the unlawful aspect of it all. Being arrested for trespassing will cause heavy problems with licensing institutions and the like. These two are men with families and children. It is not a solo road they are on. I called Josh Peacock on the phone the week before they came. He and I always help each other out and he assured me that a Fresno day would give us more than enough permission pools to round out the trip. Saturday we met up and rode a few local favorites and put down some lines with BLKPRJKT, Marlon Whitfield and Brad McClain. The next morning we left in the darkness for Fresno.

Tom Majewski

Josh Peacock

Nick Creighton

Seth Sanders

Travis

Nelson Not Decked

We were in our first pool of the day by seven in the morning and it continued that way until mid afternoon. At that point, an entire crew of pool crushers descended on us and we had a chance to meet up with Nick Creighton, Seth, Nelson, Joe Heffington, Fryle, Travis and a few other wreckers. The new hype and infusion of stoke quickly lifted the session to a new level. Things were done in rapid machine gun fashion and we soon drove into the fading sun for one last pool to ride. The final pool was well off the beaten path. It was a huge old Rossmore that hunkered down, forgotten and alone beneath a clump of old palm trees. Dust blew in from the surrounding fields and the trees swayed and spilled debris into the pool. We cleaned it up quickly and everyone threw themselves at this new pool as afternoon waned on this seven pool Sunday.

Jo Jo Heffington

Bulldog

Rick Stine

Driving home, we were exhausted and elated at the same time. Of all the people on this chunk of rock in space, how many people had played football, golf or soccer on this day? How many people had ridden skateboards? I pointed out that it would’ve been astronomical… Yet how many people skated in seven empty swimming pools today on Gods great big green earth? Very few we surmised. It left us feeling pretty special… We are grateful for the journey, the pools and the chance to meet new friends. Thank you to Peacock and the crew. I appreciate everything you do. Skate- Ozzie

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EGC / FINI

Eddie El Gato Elguera
Del Mar Skate Ranch 1979

A grand idea which is properly executed will always be remembered. It has legs. Longevity. Such is the case with Pastor Eddie Elguera’s brainchild the – El Gato Classic. We just departed the desert after a weekend of legendary skateboarding, fun, food and friends. This was the fourth installment and reportedly the last. Each year was filled to overflowing with daily events and craziness in one form or another. The Rock Church (Pastor Eddie presiding) in Coachella Valley consists of some rather amazing people. I know because I’ve met a fair amount of them over the last few years. The church members volunteer and help at each El Gato Classic. They put their money where their mouth is… courage of conviction. Real people. I find it interesting that Eddie has the most skateboard savvy parishioners on the entire planet. “Christian Hosoi? Steve Alba? Steve Caballero? We got that…!” They give of themselves and carry it off with polite, calm integrity. Eddie Elguera knows how to organize and throw a party. This year was no exception. Honor the past. Champion the future. This has been his mantra… his mandate these past four years. He’s developed and completed four amazing events since its inception.

Legendary skateboarding photographer William Sharp

This year he had a book signing and photographic display of William Sharp’s work from the Back In The Day book project. Back In The Day features photographs that legendary skateboarding photographer William Sharp shot in the early years of skateboarding. The images cover 1975-1980. People mingled and took in the photos on display. Books were sold and signatures were being inked all night long as legendary skateboarders filled the building.

Steve Caballero and Scott Dunlap talking through a copy of Back In The Day together

Hester I Spring Valley Winner Steve Alba

Freddie DeSota and Lonny Hiramoto

Kevin Anderson, Larry Bertlemann and Steve Olson

William Sharp and Gregg Ayres

Some folks realize the gifts they’ve been given. Robert Vargas is one of these. He could be the greatest phone repair guy on the planet but the world is a better place with him doing that thing he does. A true artist. Robert Vargas came to the event and displayed his near-magical abilities with some rather amazing portraits while we stood watching in awe.

Laura Thornhill / Robert Vargas Art

Lance Mountain and Robert Vargas

A legends Forum was held and David Hackett, Jay Smith, Rick Blackhart, Arthur Viecco and many others were questioned at length regarding the past and their place in it. There was a great deal of laughter and storytelling… You could feel the stoke in the room.

Eric Dressen, Dennis Martinez, David Hackett, Arthur Viecco and El Gato

El Gato, Tony Jetton, Gregg Weaver, Gregg Ayres and Henry Hester

Saturday brought out the legends. The skatepark was overrun by some of the greatest skateboarders the world has ever seen. They were special then and they are special now. Legends lined up around the bowl and flow area to skate for the crowd of excited onlookers, family and fans.There were quite a number of catcalls and people being put on blast…  but all in fun.

Eddie Elguera hip transfer

Mike McGill

Jami Godfrey

Salba

Clay Kreiner did not remain seated on the airplane with his lap belt securely buckled. We are glad.

Julz, Tate Carew, El Gato and Clay Kreiner

Contests were held through the afternoon and prizes awarded. While we were all watching the ripping going on by Brad McClain, Tristan Rennie, Josh Rodriguez and Trey Wood… Clay Kreiner must have fallen out of a passing airplane and landed in the middle of the session. This promptly earned him a first place finish. Julie Kinstrand smashed every wall for a top slot for the ladies and Tate Carew punched the park in the nose for a grom win.

His Eyes Have Fangs

One Less Zero

One Less Zero

Later after dark, everyone gathered to hear music from One Less Zero and His Eyes Have Fangs. The entire event was an absolute knockout and all I ever saw were happy faces, legends at every turn and honor and respect placed upon all. Eddie Elguera said, “Honor the past. Champion the future.” We did exactly that.

Thank you to Eddie Elguera, Dawna Elguera and The Rock Church for everything. Thank you to the Palm Springs community for having us all. Thank you to William Sharp for putting up with me and allowing me the space to do what I think is right. Thank you to Orlando Welsh, Glenn Miyoda and William Sharp for the images.

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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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