Fire Sign

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People had no idea what would happen when the end came. No one did. People assumed that they’d act courageously…  running straight into burning buildings to drag the elderly and infirm to safety. Mounting the high ground on a rooftop to send a stream of brass into the sidewalks to deter looters from the family business… I think that’s the general picture most would wish for. Sacrificial bravery. Living on in songs and stories. Picture it. Long after the great sleep descended on the earth. Fire light. Windows barred with brass locks and brandy. “Kids. Shhh! Sit quietly. Let me tell you a story about your crazy cousin…” Alas, this probably would be the exception and not the rule. No one saw it coming and no one knew what started the whole slide into oblivion.

It came… and there could be no doubt. Phone service and electrical went first. The power grid was decimated. Long dull explosions marched across the earth. Crump! Crump! Crump! Giants in black boots. Freeways were littered with the fleeing… as people screamed and scurried. Running for nothing. No safe harbor. Squirming and impotent. No where to go… death turned its face toward the dark night. It beckoned… “Come with me.” Fire came rapidly. Rats and other animals were seen pouring onto the city streets. They ran ahead of the heat. Maddened. People flailed through the inferno blindly. No plan, just panic. Smoke hung on the horizon like a leprous thing. It smelled pungent. Acrid and biting.

The five men sat quietly inside the motel room. They had sheets over the windows and duct tape surrounded its edges holding it in place. It kept the worst of the smoke out when the winds shifted. It had been their refuge for the last few hours. The fires consumed the hills around them and boiled towards them on every side. Hours earlier, they had tied a rope to each other and wandered out looking for an exit. They frantically searched for a break in the doom that scorched the land in every direction. Nothing. Now, their eyes were the only thing showing above the bandanas covering their noses and mouths. Outside. Hell. Ash dropped like snow… ashes from the burning world they no longer believed in. One of them had heard a radio broadcast several days ago that told of relentless horror. No government. No help. No future. They drank deeply from water bottles and then poured water over their bandanas. They wrapped them around their heads again.

MRZ, Chris Livingston, Rick Stine, Corey Philips, Ozzie

MRZ, Chris Livingston, Rick Stine, Corey Philips, Ozzie

They grabbed skateboards and slipped out the door. The heat pushed at them like wall of pain. One by one, they moved into the old abandoned swimming pool behind the motel. This was it. They skated one last time. Like they did when they were kids… when the world was a better place and a new day was dawning.

Corey Philips

Corey Philips

Rick Stine

Rick Stine

Ozzie

Ozzie

Chris Livingston

Chris Livingston

Thank you to MRZ for the images. Skate and send positive thoughts to the Santa Clarita area and its firemen. – Ozzie

Don’t Change

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San Fernando Valley

Stones crunched under the tires as Rick pulled into a shady spot under a tree and switched the truck off. He grabbed his phone and thumbed the key pad. Momentarily, he was scrolling a grid search of the neighborhood. “Where are you looking?” he asked. My head was down and I mumbled about being in the neighborhood west of us. “I saw something earlier…  wait! What the hell? Where did that come from?” I leaned over and showed Rick my phone. Huge left-handed kidney in an alley nearby. “It wasn’t empty a month ago…  I just drove this area. I shrugged. They must’ve updated the satellite photographs recently. We started driving over. In a few quick turns, we were in the alleyway. I stood on the front tire of his truck and peered over the edge. A perfect Blue Haven kidney. I took a quick look. It appeared that the paint was peeling. “Drive around front… we have to talk to these people.”

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DSC01052

A lady came to the door and I spelled out why we were there. Glib. Truth. Real talk. “Here’s what I can do for you…” She listened. “Yes, we’re going to repaint and fill the pool very soon. I’ll talk to my husband.” She took my number. We drove off and talked excitedly. The waiting awaits us. A few days later, they agreed to have us come by and look at the pool. The pool was a pale shadow of herself. Cancer had marred her face. Semi-good looking. A well-used street hustler. I smiled. “I wouldn’t change a thing…”

Rick Stine

Rick Stine

I wasn’t sure that it was worth money for paint and supplies. We talked. I asked if we could scrape, sand and clean the pool out and then give it a few test rides. The transitions certainly looked very good. The family agreed. Rick and I went to work. Once we were done, we gave it a solid half hour session. It worked. It was a bit rough, but the transitions were so mellow, you could carry your speed fairly well. We thanked them and I worked on setting up a super session to help pay for the paint, rollers and pans. That was the trade off. The owners said that if we painted it when they were ready to fill it, we could ride. “A few weekends at the most…”

Me

Me

A few days later, the family informed me that I needed to buy a special pool paint. It would be around seven hundred and fifty dollars but it would last for a few years. I informed them that this was not something I could do… But I’d look into something that might work. I called around and worked on it. Futility.

Al Brunelle

Al Brunelle

Chelsea Castro

Chelsea Castro

Brad McClain

Brad McClain

The following Monday, I asked the family if Ray Zimmerman, Al Brunelle, Chelsea, Rick and Brad McClain could come by with me for a couple runs. “No problem.” We rode for an hour and everyone had a great time. Unfortunately, it would be the last rides we’d ever take. Change was coming… The following week, the family had the pool tiled and plastered. I suppose, paint may have never been an option. Later, we found out that others had ridden the pool a few years before this family had bought the home. It was just another, of the seemingly unending pools that the Valley offers up. Thank you to Rick Stine for helping. Thank you to MRZ for the images. Skate – Ozzie

FINI

FINI

Return to Adolph’s

Adolph's Pool

Adolph’s Pool – 1977

Adolph's 2015

Adolph’s Pool – 2015

Over thirty five years have gone by since Shogo Kubo, Brian Clark, Jay Adams, Mike Szeliga, Craig Clark and Darren Ho were captured by Glen E. Friedman at Adolph’s Pool in Holmby Hills, California. Adolph’s pool was also known as Westlake by some skateboarders in the late 1970’s. It was located near a school of the same name. Last Saturday morning, I was up early and drinking coffee. I had decided to go to a meeting on the beach at Gladstones. I was cruising along Sunset Boulevard. The road twists and turns on itself. There was minimal traffic. I passed through the flats. I saw North Maple Drive. I passed Rodeo Drive. Huge estates marched up into the hillsides. The morning sun glimmered through the heavy green screen of trees. Black wrought iron fences were lost amid a tangle of vines. Security cameras perched high on gated driveways. I was thinking of how things might have been back in the 1970’s when Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez and all the early pool riders would hunt for pools in this area. Times have changed. I doubt I could scale a wall to check a pool, without finding my face in the grass and tasered within a micro-second.

Jayboy

Jayboy

I then thought of Adolph’s pool. There are only a limited selection of photographs from there. Glen Friedman, Craig Stecyk and Hugh Holland shot there. I was on Sunset Boulevard and was approaching Bel Air. “Didn’t Glen say that Adolph’s was in Bel Air?” I mumbled to myself like some mad scientist no one understands. Some people occupy themselves with things that others find mystifying. I picked up the phone and called Glen Friedman. “Hello.” Sleepiness… “Glen, It’s Ozzie. I’m driving through Bel Air. Can you remember where Adolph’s pool was?” Glen said something about it being early in California, told his son Ezio in the background something about his breakfast and said he’d look on his computer. “I think I know exactly where it is.” Twenty minutes later, I had hastily scribbled directions and was on my way. Glen Friedman’s instincts were spot on. It had been thirty-eight years and he recalled the exact place. Later that morning, I found myself in front of the property. It was huge. Gates. Cameras. Privacy. I rang the bell…

Shogo

Shogo

According to Jay Adams, he had previously told me that Adolph’s pool was the first place were they started really exploding off the lip. Shogo Kubo wrote to me about the Sharp book in 2011. He stated that, “I remember doing frontside edgers and wheelers at Adolph’s Pool. It was pretty early on.” Adolph’s has a place cemented in my mind and heart. I never rode it and never will. But the images are scorched into my brain cells. I saw them and fantasized about riding there with Jay, Shogo, Darren and the others. Sometimes, you simply can’t go back… and maybe we shouldn’t. Perhaps the thing that makes Adolph’s great, is that it happened, these particular progressive skaters were there, they were captured in these photographs and history was written. Perhaps… Thank you to Glen E. Friedman for the guidance and photographs. Rest in peace Jay and Shogo. Thank you both for everything. Skate – Ozzie

For more of Glen E. Friedman’s remarkable work, books and words – Burning Flags Press / Glen E. Friedman

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Brad Bowman / Guest Post

Brad Bowman at Mondo's Pool

Brad Bowman at Mondo’s Pool 1980

Brad Bowman

I don’t know if I can honestly say “then and now”. Life is one big ride and journey for us. We cycle and roll through the ups, downs, in and outs of a long and winding road titled “life”. Birth. Nurture. Education. Discovery. Appointment. Duty.  Somehow we squeeze in enough pleasure to make it all worthwhile. Elements that keep us marching forward in accomplishment. For some of us, the wonders of rolling on a piece of wood attached with plastic wheels by metal devices is a lifestyle.

Of course, as a child, the wonders of a magic rolling board under my feet gave me indescribable amounts of pleasure and education.  It served as a mode of transportation, it was my trusted dear friend that rarely let me down, unlike some human contemporaries had done.  My current-of-that-moment skate stood proud and mightily next to the door of my bedroom in the same place it did every night, awaiting our next adventurous destination.  Some nights I would just stare at it until I fell asleep thinking about the events of the day behind me. Also anticipating tomorrow’s newest backyard pool that one of the boys found and was going to share with a lucky few.

Backyard pools. Challenges. Permission or bum rush? Coping size? Shape? Left or right bend? These and so many other questions are the first line of offense to a backyard pool skater. In the early days when a pool came upon someone’s radar, they usually told the crew about it with stoke and confidence.  Currently, most hold them near to their heart like a Vegas poker player. Not blinking or showing any tells. Unless the pools have been around for some time and many sessions have taken place. Then it’s cool to spout off about it in critical mass.  These days when I get in a backyarder – I feel much like I did when I was fourteen.

The smell of chlorinated walls brings me right back to my first pool on Ventura Boulevard in Encino where the 405 and 101 freeways intersect. It was one of those cool, old two-story hotels that went under due to a multi-story monolith that was built two hundred feet away and, upon completion, instantly put the old school version out of business.

Perfect! We young skaters were always seeking new spots and challenges. This was a perfect U shape pool that had 9′ depth and reddish-grey 2″ round coping (which didn’t matter as no one was going onto it yet). We were so psyched that we had a hassle-free place to skate since everywhere we went we got hassled skating. Every few days after school I would catch the RTD bus along Ventura Blvd. and ride twenty minutes to get there. Stoked.

Brad Bowman 2016

Brad Bowman 2016

These days, as a middle aged teenager, I exude the exact feelings that overwhelmed me when I would first hear wheels clack-clack-clack on the blue tiles while carving over the light. I still attack pools in the same manner but with decades of wisdom and a better perspective of what not to do. The same feeling 40+ years on. That’s incredible! I don’t think there are many sports/hobbies that give the same feeling decades on quite like skateboarding does. Perhaps this is why the elder statesmen of skating (Alva, Olson, Peralta, Hackett, Pineapple, Strople, myself, etc.) still capture that same emotion when we step on deck and roll. There is no then and now in live form. That’s for the books, mags, dvd’s, websites and documentation of the blood sport we love, known as skateboarding. Roll until you drop!  Regards, Brad Bowman

Thank you to Brad Bowman for his thoughts and thank you to William Sharp and MRZ for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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Skatercross / Clash at Clairemont 2016

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Clouds boiled on the horizon. It was almost as if the sky knew something. The death of the old ways or the death of the new. The barbarian riders hunched over their horses and watched their leader. He sat and chewed on his moustache. His brain was a cauldron. They were gathered in the woods facing a long clearing. On the other side was a Roman army. Thousands of horses pawed at the brown and green earth. Men sat and watched each other. Old feuds. Swords glittered and all were thirsty. The barbarian leader hated the Romans, as had his fathers before him. Pillaging and plunder ran in his bloodline. He thought the Romans weak and soft with their cities, science, art and progressive thinking. The wise men in his tribe said that the Romans had turned their backs on the old Gods and original ways. He spat on the ground beside his horse. He knew –as well as his men– that the Romans outnumbered them. He waited. Indecision. Across the field, the Roman general called for his archers. He told a nearby Centurion, “If the barbarians don’t want to move forward…  then we’ll make them come to us.” He ordered fire arrows to the forest behind them and their flanks. He built a fire and made them come… Come they did. Many died. The ones that didn’t were taken back to Rome and assimilated into the population. These learned. Over time. Progress can be good. Sometimes, the old ways of thinking must be swept away…

Now you ask yourself, “What does any of this have to do with Skatercross Skateboard Racing or the Clash at Clairemont?” Well, I’m going to tell you. First of all, if you suffer from ‘Contempt Prior To Investigation’, I’ll have you stop right here. There are plenty of websites and forums designed to perpetuate the darkness and trickle the Cool Guy Kool Aid for all comers. Help yourself…  just know one thing: I’ll leave the light on for you. I’m fairly certain that Andy Macdonald had none of the above inside his head when he came up with the Skatercross Skateboard Racing concept over fifteen years ago. He told me that, “I was watching BMX bicycle racing on a dirt track and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had something like this built out of cement or wood to race on?!” The BMX race ended, but the idea remained. Over the next decade or so, Andy formulated a plan to put it into motion. Would it work? Could it be built? Where? How would the races be organized? All of these details percolated in his mind. The next indicated step. He put them to paper. He sought out help. Meeting followed meeting. At last, a practical plan and financial resources were established.

Skatercross Skateboard Racing course

Skatercross Skateboard Racing course

Andy and the San Diego crew decided that in order to get interest and progress made for Skatercross Skateboard Racing, they’d have to build a fire. They’d have to make people interested. Be an example. Build it and they will come. Rather than sit back, Andy and his like-minded friends believed in what they could see in their dreams. They knew that they’d have to take radical action. The Clairemont YMCA, Geico Insurance and MovieTickets.com agreed to fund the build and it began in earnest. Skatercross Skateboard Racing was born in San Diego.

Andy Macdonald

Andy Macdonald

I asked Andy the particulars about how the design developed and the building. It struck me as a particular problem as nothing like this had been built before. How tall do you make the drop in? How far are the gaps to be? How big should the transitions be to send someone up and not out? How high should the corners be? All of these issues seemed difficult to solve in my mind. Andy answered, “We built the entire thing in segments. We had to. We had a general idea of how we wanted it to be, but we needed to build a section first, ride it and then build the second section accordingly. When we built the first roll in and jump gap with the landing ramp, it abruptly ended in an open parking lot. On my first run, I dropped in, completely cleared the gap and the landing ramp and basically tried to knee slide onto the asphalt parking lot. I just tumbled all over the place. We grabbed a forklift and dragged the landing ramp and everything out further. We overshot the mark.”

First Gap

First Gap

Andy explained that they built the entire course in sections, making adjustments here and there in order to keep it flowing and fast. The jump gaps varied from eighteen feet to twenty five feet. The rhythm sections could be used for speed as well. The entire structure ended in the two-hundred thousand dollar range. Photographs cannot translate its magnitude. Its an awesome thing to see. Once people started riding it, I felt the vibe and excitement build. Racing is exciting. It is probably the oldest form of human entertainment. Everyone generally loves racing. Especially men. It seems to be hard-wired into our biology. I’ve heard rumbles and subtle innuendo regarding the Skatercross Skateboard Racing course. Does racing skateboards on a specially built skateboard course, make the participants any less of a skateboarder? Less hardcore? Personally, I think not.

Cory Juneau, Willis Kimbel and Matt Boyster cutting it close

Cory Juneau, Willis Kimbel and Matt Boyster cutting it close

People that skate the Mega ramp, Skatercross, vert ramps, bowls at skateparks, pools or streets are all skateboarders. It doesn’t change the lifestyle that is skateboarding … it only changes it for that particular person. If Andy Macdonald and the other riders of Skatercross Skateboard Racing wish to do the event, why should anyone care? After all, I studied the course all day and watched every run. It takes a great deal of courage and skill in my opinion. With anything progressive, there are going to be people that won’t try and understand. If you do nothing new, you get nothing new.

Andy Macdonald and Mike Rogers of Grind For Life

Andy Macdonald and Mike Rogers of Grind For Life

They decided to unveil the Skatercross Skateboard Racing event at the ten year anniversary of the Clash at Clairemont which was originally started as a way to raise funds for Grind For Life. GFL is an organization that is headed by two-time cancer survivor Mike Rogers. GFL helps cancer patients get treatments and directs funds to families as well. Mike and GFL have been instrumental in helping human beings that suffer from various forms of cancer throughout the last ten years. Over the last decade, the Clash at Clairemont has helped raise thousands of dollars and everyone came together yesterday for the ten year anniversary of the event. There would be a vert ramp demonstration with Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Mimi Knoop and others. There would be a bowl demonstration sponsored by Independent Trucks and Agent Orange would play music by the ramp and bowl with Buck O’ Nine and Cubic III supporting them.

Tony Hawk

Tony Hawk

Mimi Knoop

Mimi Knoop

Andy Macdonald

Andy Macdonald

The greatly anticipated Skatercross Skateboard Racing event followed the vert ramp demo. There were people everywhere as skateboarders seemingly fell out of the sky and raced around the course. The drop in ramp was a must-see. There was no roll-in or tail drop at the top. A rider had to ollie off a horizontal deck and basically fall into a huge transitioned launch ramp. No room for error. All in. Period. It started and it was quite exciting. Unique. I enjoyed the racing and momentarily was caught up in the thrill of it. Greyson Fletcher, Trey Wood, Willis Kimbel, Cory Juneau, Mike Owen, Beaver Fleming, Josh Stafford, Andy Macdonald and the others went as far, as fast and as high as they could. Trey Wood took top honors in the competition with speed and style. They ended the entire event with a high jump contest as well. Tom Schaar took the High Jump event above all others… Intense.

Josh Stafford looking into the fire

Josh Stafford looking into the fire

Tom Schaar and Mike Owen

Tom Schaar and Mike Owen

Tom Schaar High Jump winner at 11.5 ft

Tom Schaar High Jump winner at 11.5 ft

The Skatercross Skateboard Racing event. It was unique, exciting and explosive. I’m a skateboarder through and through. I understand skateboarding and although I’m fairly certain that I’ll never make the Skatercross plunge, I understand the geometry of it. It is carving, ollies, air, speed and style. It is individual guts and determination. It is all the reasons that I ride pools with my friends… It is all of the reasons why people ride bowls at skateparks, drop into the Mega ramp or skateboard down sidewalks all over the planet. It is skateboarding.

Daniel Vargas

Daniel Vargas

 

Agent Orange

Agent Orange

Josh Borden

Josh Borden

Kiko Francisco

Kiko Francisco

The Clash at Clairemont did what it set out to do. Excitement. Nothing is exciting, when you know the outcome. Like I stated in the beginning, sometimes progress is a good thing. This event brought progression and it collected greatly needed donations to help people with cancer. It collected together the rough-edged and often disagreeable family of skateboarding to one place where we all pitched in to help others. A new discipline was unveiled and was shown to be an exciting and original event for the skaters and the audience. It was a perfect day of skateboarding. Thank you to the sponsors, Grind For Life, Chris Conway, Andy Macdonald and MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Steve Olson / Guest Post

Steve Olson Hester I / Big O

Steve Olson Hester I / Big O

Steve Olson

When it first happens. No one knows exactly what to expect. The energy is beyond, the boundaries broken. Everyone  involved understands. To say I could put it in words would be a lie, but I’ll try. The first series of its kind. Competing in empty swimming pools at skateparks. That was weird enough. But it had to happen. It helped guide skating in a direction for quite sometime. Everyone seemed pretty stoked on being involved. New faces showing up, established pros killing it. The food fights were amazing in their own right. The skating and the equipment were changing from contest to contest. Tricks being unveiled and blowing people’s minds. Inverts, roll ins, channel airs, doubles, one wheeler contests, longest carve, highest air contests… It goes on and on, and no one would have ever figured this would have happened. But it did, and it was amazing. Thank you Henry Hester…. We owe you more than you can ever imagine. – Steve Olson

Thank you to Steve Olson for the memories and William Sharp for the previously unseen image. The William Sharp book ‘Back in the Day’ will be out on shelves this fall. – Ozzie

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Sky

Chris Miller

Chris Miller

Pacific Palisades rode the upper edge of Brentwood and crumbled off in a jagged ridge above the ocean. The Pacific Coast Highway crawled along its border.  Meandering. It twisted and turned on itself. Huge houses perched on the bluffs above. Fences and walls were draped in green ivy and colorful Bougainvillea. Security. People spent top dollar for privacy. The ocean stretched its long green face and moved slowly. Its closest edges licked the stones. Boats dotted the shimmering water.

Pat Ngoho

Pat Ngoho

Eric Dressen

Eric Dressen

Lance Mountain

Lance Mountain

It was a perfect day. They all were. I once heard an old man say, “Everyday above the grass is a good one.” I had to agree. I was driving through a morning that had started gloomy. The sky above had been iron. Dropping onto the PCH, I was happy to see the sun glimmer behind the clouds. A seemingly unending line of cars and trucks moved up and down the coast. I saw people on the beaches. Colorful umbrellas cluttered the sand. “Optimistic” I mumbled. Tears for Fears was on my stereo and I sang as I drove up to Malibu. By the time I arrived at Angelo’s, I could see the bright blue sky… going by. Perfect.

Bart

Bart

Brad Bowman

Brad Bowman

Me

Me

Ray Zimmerman, Lance, Wesley, Conan & Felix, Trevor, Brad Bowman, Bart & Odin, Pat Ngoho, Chris and Lauren, and Eric Dressen arrived in short order. Angelo welcomed everyone and we lit into the clover. I could list off a trick by trick account of the day, but with the names listed above, I shouldn’t have to. The only thing you need to do, is look at the pictures, close your eyes, and find yourself sitting there with us… Thanks to MRZ for the images. Skate – Ozzie

Pat Ngoho, Me, Lance Mountain , Eric Dressen, Brad Bowman, Bart

Pat Ngoho, Me, Lance Mountain , Eric Dressen, Brad Bowman, Bart

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