Wesley

 

Tommy, Wesley and TA

I met Wesley at Angelo’s in the summer of 2012. He was a sparkler on the 4th of July. He put it all out there. White hot… that’s how he lived. It seemed that way to me. He struggled with life like most of us. Sometimes he was caught in a safety net but sometimes…. there was nothing. Then he’d reappear later, threadbare and tattered like a rumpled flag. Wesley would hoist himself back up again and wave above us at times. He was that sort of person. We’d walk behind as he would run. Now the lamp expired… and here we are.

Angelo

Christian Hosoi

Tony Alva

We gathered in Malibu where we first met. Everyone came together to ride and think on these things. Friendships and accidents. Life and living. The meaning of it all. Driving home with TA afterwards, we spoke of Wesley. We wished him peace. It is a hope I carried with me all day today.

Bennett Hirada

Scott Foss

Jim Gray

Rest Wesley- Love, Us

Thanks to William Sharp for the images. Thank you to all that came and sent Wesley into the great unknown. Rest brother… XO

Always Remember

The fountain of youth is often drained.

3.31.21. It’s been a year. In the midst of the most chaotic and confusing times we have all been experiencing, and through a sea of confusing and constant changes, some things haven’t changed at all. One of these constants is the void left behind when Jeffrey Grosso departed this mortal coil far too early. Everything went black. There is no other way to accurately put it into words. This void has given rise to the discomforting concept of having to speak of a dear friend in the past tense and the constant reflection on that painful reality. Perhaps delusion would be easier, living in a constant state of denial. Pretending. But that’s not the path anyone should take. The catharsis may remain incomplete for years to come and it may or may not be true that time heals all wounds. It hasn’t helped that the pandemic prevented us from being able to come together to mourn as well as celebrate our friend’s life. But let this not be a long-winded lament, nor tear-invoking eulogy, nor a string of endless reminders of our collective grief. As I often remind myself the last thing Jeff would want us all to be doing would be soaking in a lukewarm bath of self-pity and never-ending sadness. He’d be screaming at us to get out and get it on. How could he not be? He was that way in life and that is what should echo into eternity.

Gordon Lightfoot. The undisputed King of the Ollie

I first “met” Jeff in the mid 1980’s. It was just prior to his defection from Schmitt Stix to Santa Cruz and he came to a session at the Page Mill vert ramp one day, unannounced, with no real fanfare or egocentric flair. I use the term “met” loosely because Jeff and I didn’t have any sort of real conversation, just the normal banter of a session. To say he left a lasting impression would be an understatement. His skateboarding was a full power trip, every move done with authority, and he would stand up straight through the flat heading towards each wall as if he were looking for a fight. Needless to say, when Jeff jumped on Santa Cruz, I rode perhaps a dozen of his Demon Bat decks. A year or two later we crossed paths at the Kennedy warehouse a couple of times. The 80’s nod/what’s up was about the extent of our interaction. Now if anyone had said to me back then: “One day Jeff will be one of your closest friends and you will be creating the majority of his deck graphics”. Well, I would have said that they were both imaginative and full of shit. But 20 years later, that friendship and working relationship started in a completely random and organic way. Ray Zimmerman and myself were the chief content creators for Concrete Disciples, a website that was dedicated to pool, pipe, park, and other forms of transition skating that the standard media had mostly abandoned in favor of street skating. We would organize events and invite our community to come out for an all day shred fest. Jeff showed up randomly at one of our so-called “bomb drops” in 2004. It may sound silly but I couldn’t help fanning out on him and I was honestly surprised that he even showed up. He rolled right up to me, extended his hand, and told me he was a fan of my writing, before I had a chance to work up the fortitude to even approach him without worrying about saying something completely stupid. We made some small talk about skateboarding and sobriety, perhaps even the weather. Some days later Jeff called me out of the blue and wanted to talk skateboarding, I’m not even sure how he got my number. We spent some 3 hours on the phone during which he put me through a sort of friendly interrogation about my life in skateboarding and we swapped stories of the variety that are seldom believed unless you actually witnessed them. By the end of that call, It felt very much as if we had been friends for years, which was mind-blowing because it started as a random call. Thus begun a friendship and a relationship in which we shared highs and lows, countless hours of skateboarding, travels, intense dialogues, and a nearly daily download of thoughts, ideas, feelings. What surprised me about Jeff, I soon discovered, was all based in my own stupid assumptions about what kind of human being I thought he might be. Rare are those who carry themselves with the the level of honesty, generosity, and self-analysis the way Jeff did. Some of his “flaws” were what made him such a charismatic and lovable person. Self-deprecating to a fault. OCD and mildly neurotic. Unafraid to make mistakes, but never afraid to admit them. He seemed to be in a constant state of evolution as a person, even if on rare occasions he might have taken one step forward and two steps back. Sometimes down, never out.

Smiles were never in short supply.

Way back in 2009 Ray Zimmerman and myself decided to publish a Grosso interview feature on the website. The following is the verbatim intro to the piece.

___________________________________________________________

If you ask most people to run down a list of their favorite skaters of all time, 99 times out of 100, Jeff Grosso will be on that list, and usually near the top of it. To a skateboarder, the reasons for this are obvious. One of Jeff’s tricks is worth at least three of anyone else’s. So much Power, so much style, his skating is truly in a class of it’s own. A beautiful and raw thing to witness, a true show of greatness. But to an outsider, a non-skateboarder, Jeff might not even rate as a “decent” human being. Why not? Well Jeff didn’t have the fabled and illustrious competitive pro career, with dozens of contest wins. He turned pro when it all went to shit. He didn’t become a poster child for milkTM or become a marketable commodity that could be paraded on television
for the sake of selling products. Jeff didn’t become a household name synonymous with video games, cheap Chinese made toys, or extreme sports stage shows. Instead Jeff floored it, down what some might consider to be the highway to hell. This is a recurring concept that we have seen repeatedly throughout history in the lives of the gifted, the brilliant, and the talented. “Fuck it. Fuck it all.” And in the last year or so, when Grosso was getting some coverage and interviews, it seemed as though a large part of those features’ focus was his ride down that so-called highway. Since he isn’t afraid to tell anybody anything, most of us are already familiar with the basic story line. Why dwell on the same old shit? I’ve been fortunate enough to witness Jeff’s skating in brief installments, from early on, right up until the present. Mile High, Page Mill, Upland, Del Mar, Kennedy Warehouse, and on and on. The one characteristic that has always struck me about his riding is how such a big powerful guy can put such finesse to a trick. I have often imagined video footage of his runs in which a giant exclamation point would flash on the screen after each trick. It just seemed somehow appropriate, because everything he does is carried out with authority. That’s the thing with Grosso, he tells the absolute truth through it all. In an era where we could all use a lot more truth, in times where the bullshit is piled higher than the drop-in for the mega-ramp, we should all be very grateful that he is here. His skateboarding is among the purest truths ever told, along with his words. – BLKPRJKT

____________________________________________________________

At some point, a few years down the road from that interview, Jeff made the following absurd statement: “You and Ray singlehandedly resurrected my career.’ Ridiculous. He did it all by himself. We were simply documenting the process and we were honored to do it. His humility, coupled with a sharp sense of humor, and his penchant to make flamboyant statements. Personality disorder or endearing traits. But all of it was 100% genuine. No punches pulled, no holds barred. Warts and all. I have never laughed as hard or smiled as much as when I talked with him.

Grosso practicing what he preached. “Tuck your fucking leg when you do a boneless.”

Not long after Oliver was born, Jeff told me “It’s so fucked, I haven’t slept in 3 months, I love this kid, a total terrorist already”. Jeff and Ray had a deep and close friendship, and when Oliver came along they shared fatherhood stuff. Jeff would often tell me about how he would find himself out of patience and at the end of a so-called rope with regards to being a dad and how much he appreciated Ray’s counsel when it came to raising a child. When Oliver began skating, that bond of skateboarding and being a dad they shared only grew stronger. They would go off on skate adventures together and I would get downloads of stoke from Jeff after each and every one. Seeing how Jeff interacted with Oliver, his intense love for his son was blatantly obvious. Through everything, Jeff’s love for Oliver, for his family and friends, and for skateboarding never wavered.

Rad Dads

Throughout the years of Jeff’s professional tenure with Anti Hero, I had the distinct honor and privilege of doing several of his graphics. Our interactions surrounding the art will always be among my favorite memories from this life. He encouraged me to let it all fly, to never hold back, and he never once treated me as a “sensitive artist”. His brutal honesty made him a far better muse than most artists are worthy of. Each and every graphic was an honor for me to create, and it never felt like “work”. It was quite the embarrassment of riches to be his personal art attache to Anti Hero, and I never took it for granted.

Assorted graphics shenanigans.

A lot of love and passion went into each and every graphic, it wouldn’t be possible to do any of them without approaching them in such a way. He eventually dragged me into working on the graphics for the Love Letters to Skateboarding with Buddy and Rick at Six Stair as well. Jeff was always quick to help a friend or extend an opportunity to someone who needed it. That’s just how he was.

The infamous “End Game” graphic and the un-released “AHRP Skate Coach” graphic.

Love is really the key point of Jeff’s legacy. His lasting imprint is everywhere. Enough photographs to choke a horse, video footage spanning 4 decades, and 10 years worth of the Love Letters To Skateboarding. But more important than the documentation is the impression he left on nearly everyone whose lives he touched and the pure love for skateboarding and skateboarders he shared with us all. For my part, I will remain eternally grateful for the all-too- short time we shared and the indelible mark he left on my life. We laughed. We cried. We rolled.

–BLKPRJKT

Friends.

Thank you to BLKPRJKT for the words and memories on a continuing painful subject. Thank you to Ray Zimmerman for images and my heart goes out to all of Jeff’s family and friends. He made the world a better place and is missed. – Ozzie

Magoo’s Rediscovered

Steve Picciolo RIP
Skateboard World
Subscription page

In 1978, Skateboard World magazine reached my dreary little cornfield corner of the world. In the newest issue, there was a William Sharp photograph on the subscription page and it showed Steve Picciolo blasting a frontside air out of a pool. It is the image above. In my cold, desolate Pennsylvania existence, I couldn’t know that one day I’d be sitting with that very photographer putting a book together. I couldn’t have dreamed such a thing. I would’ve never been chosen to succeed. Darkness. Soul draining and true. A nether world of ice, frost an old ideals. Time on rewind.

Decades later, I find myself in California. I’m searching for the next Buddha pool, Gonzalez or Ranch pool. I started to wonder about the old pools from the magazines. I dig deep. I call people. I drive an asphalt wasteland… I realized pretty early on that Magoo’s was the name of the pool in these photographs. Actually, in some of the images in William Sharp’s archive, I could see that someone wrote it with magic marker on the tiles. The story I’m told is that Magoo was a biker that lived in the house and all types of craziness was the daily norm for him and his friends. Steve Picciolo would smoke out with Magoo… He’d ride the pool and it was basically his permission. A few guys had the chance to ride it. Arthur Viecco, Marlo and Kent Senatore had photos taken there. In 1978, the BBC came to LA and did a documentary called Skateboard Kings. They filmed at the pool at night and Tony Alva, Jimmy Plumer and Billy Yeron are featured in the film riding Magoo’s.

Billy Yeron
Image: Glen E. Friedman

When William and I were putting the book together, I finally found the pool. It is in Northridge. I did research on the property and realized I was two years too late. It had sat empty in 2012 for over a year while on the market. I found photos on the real estate web sites. The pool looked refurbished also…  It intrigued me. I drove over. People now lived there. In a note, I explained the house, its significance and told the owners that I had fantastic photos from their property in the 1970’s. I’d love to show them. I left my number. One day the call finally came.

Real Estate Image

The owners asked me to come by. We talked. I showed them my laptop with photographs and the film Skateboard Kings. They were surprised at how it all looked back then. They were very nice. I saw the pool and it was absolutely massive. I hinted at possibly draining it to film something sometime but they barely flinched. The wife said, “Maybe. If the price is right.” I left and put it out of my mind. It seemed impossible. The entire property was completely refurbished and gorgeous. Better a “maybe” than a firm “no”. It would be two more years before Magoo’s would find its way into my life again. This time, it was Tony Hawk that managed to do the impossible.

Steve Picciolo RIP

Kent Senatore

Tony Hawk called and informed me that a national advertiser was looking for a pool to do a video shoot. They had a great budget but Tony wanted a pool that he could really do something in and I wanted to showcase his talents. In other words, we needed a good deep pool with big trannies. I thought of several and did a bunch of ground work. I thought of Magoo’s one day while driving to look at another pool altogether. I pulled over and text the producer. I asked the location fee budget. I took down the figure and called Magoo’s current owners. They said “Stop by. Let’s talk.” We met and talked. Insurance, damages and liability were all discussed. I walked the pool. The original coping had been replaced with bullnose brick but it was smooth and not set too far out. The grout in between was coming out but the pool would definitely work. I called Tony and the producer. An agreement was reached after several days and work was needed to get the pool ready. I phoned Lance Mountain, Rick Stine, Ray Zimmerman and William Sharp and cautioned them to silence.  This was going to be unreal.

Early start- Rick Stine means business

Lance and I grout coping

Rick Stine, Lance, Me

Once empty, we had about forty five minutes until it was dark. We all took a few turns. Lance was injured so Rick and I got first grinds. It was definitely not a flowing pool but the face wall and side to side action was great. I checked off the death box but nothing could compare to the stoke I was experiencing. I was riding Magoo’s with my friends. As far as we knew, we were the first to skate in this pool in almost forty years! We left and went home. Tony Hawk and Chris Gregson were coming the next day… It was going to be amazing.

Me/ Deathbox

The next day was commercial production nonsense all day. Truck after truck, unending lights and wires and us…  trying to get runs in between things. They shot the commercial and Tony did a fantastic job. Ultimately, the company decided to shelve the commercial and not use it. I had been under a non disclosure agreement regarding the location but I’ve since been released and here we are.

Tony Hawk

Chris Gregson

The production company hired a pool company that was coming the following Monday to replace the coping and replaster. The owners gave me permission for one more session. Grant Taylor and Pedro Delfino were around, as were Arthur Viecco, Brad Bowman, Bulldog Andy and Marlon. Mike Early came up as well. William Sharp, responsible for shooting the original images and planting the seeds of this story was also on the deck. We marveled at the idea of being in that pool all of these years later.

Grant Taylor

Marlon Whitfield
Deathbox

Pedro Delfino

Rick Stine
Deathbox

Thank you to William Sharp for setting the fire all of those years ago. Thanks for the images and I am grateful that we did our book BACK IN THE DAY together. Thanks to the owners for allowing this. Thanks to Tony Hawk for making it happen. Thanks to Glen E. Friedman, Chris Gregson, Rick Stine, Lance Mountain, Pedro Delfino, Grant Taylor, Marlon Whitfield, Bulldog, Andy and my good friend MRZ for always coming along and perfectly documenting my obsession.

Jungle Bowl Revisited

Grant Taylor

January, 2009. It was a cold, wet dreary day. Grid search. My soul wasn’t into it. The rain fell in sheets and the wind pushed the clouds around in the sky. I drove aimlessly until I happened upon this kidney pool. The estate loomed off to my left and squatted behind the trees. Huge tall palms marched around the property and everything was in disrepair. Trash festooned against the wrought iron fence. Everything was overgrown. No lights lent warmth to the windows. The place reeked of decay. I stopped the truck and got out. The wind grabbed at me and I walked along the street in front of the place. Nothing stirred. No neighbors.  Just me and the storm. “Perfect, you little fuck.” I mumbled. I quickly scanned for dogs and did my recon. Trash cans were empty, old newspapers littered the ground around the gate and a rusty lock secured the driveway gate. It seemed abandoned. I pulled myself over and into the property. The kidney pool was visible from the street but I needed a closer look. It was partially filled with black water and tree debris. It stank… even in the wind and rain. I ran an experienced eye over the house and assessed for threats. Nothing moved. I was a lone wolf in a wasteland. I grinned to myself and examined the pool. It was a total mess. Palm trees grew tight against the right side and boulders were cemented in clumps along its edge. It was going to take a huge amount of work but seemed worthwhile. Once home, I called my pal Samwise and we set it up for the next Sunday morning.

Sam and I put in the work that morning. The smell of rotting vegetation was indescribable. The pool stank from the street. It took us hours to get it cleaned and once back at Ridiculous, I threw my clothing and shoes away. The next day, we went back for the first session with Salba, Adam 12, Billy, Josh Borden and MRZ. As soon as Salba saw the pool he said, “I rode this with John Nakama back in the early nineties.” We believed him. We all set to work getting into it.

Everyone did what they could do and things were going well until we heard voices nearby. A neighbor was watching us and we decided to leave directly. As soon as we were out on the street, a police cruiser pulled up. He pointed behind me and said, “Were you guys inside there skateboarding?” Since five of us were standing there with boards and stuff, it seemed prudent to be direct. “We were sir… but we are leaving and you’ll never see us again.” He waved us away and that is where the story ends.

Jungle Bowl with Salba, Billy, Adam 12 and Josh Borden Image: MRZ

Adam 12 Image: MRZ

Josh Borden Image: MRZ

Me Image: MRZ

We thought that the story of the Jungle Bowl ends…  But it doesn’t. A couple of young pool riders in the Inland Empire happened upon the pool again this past summer. I was thumbing through the instagram feed and saw a familiar pool. I stopped and did a double take. It was the Jungle Bowl empty…  but the trees on the right side that ran flush with the coping were gone! “WTF? ” I reached out. It seems that the house had burned at some point in the last few years and a caretaker on the property was letting skaters ride. I don’t usually ask for favors. This time I did. I asked and received.

Grant Taylor

Me Image: Atiba

Tristan Rennie Image: Swift

Alex Perelson Image: Swift

Ethan DeMoulin Image: Swift

We headed out with Tristan Rennie, Grant Taylor, Atiba, Ant, Franco and Andre. It was about two hundred and fifty degrees that day but we did what we went there to do… It was good to go back. It seems that a few sessions have happened lately and the level of skating continues to rise. The trees are gone from the right side but the boulders are still there and make for an interesting challenge in an already challenging world. Be kind and go skate- Ozzie

Thanks Andre Montague for the session. Thanks Franco, GT, Atiba, Ant, Tristan, Swifty, MRZ, Adam 12, Josh Borden, Salba and Samwise. Thanks to MRZ, Swift and Atiba for the images.

Haut Skateboards

Christian Cooper

Were it not for Doug Haut moving to the west coast from Milwaukee in 1954, it is indeed
possible that, none of what is said beyond this point would be anything other than pure myth. Haut began the journey of becoming an expert waterman off the shores of Santa Cruz and parts north. Later, while living in Hawaii and honing his big wave riding skills, he apprenticed under legendary surfer/shaper Mike Diffenderfer, learning the fine art of surfboard repair, glassing, sanding and all other aspects of the craft. In 1964, Haut returned to Santa Cruz where he eventually would open three locations where his surfboards sold as fast if not faster than he could make them. In 1970, brothers Lance and Kevin Reed began to take their surfing expertise onto dry land on flat days, constructing ramps and annihilating any and all terrain they could get their wheels onto. Kevin, who had taken on the nickname “Mr. Radical”, was already creating his own prototype fiberglass/wood boards as early as 1971, not settling for available ready made boards of the era. Kevin surfed and skated competitively for O’Neill and in 1974 the Reed Brothers along with Lance Moulton discovered and cleaned out the now legendary Buena Vista pool and were the first to ride it.

Kevin Reed

 

Peter Kiwi Gifford Image: William Sharp

 

Kevin Niccoli

Some two years later, The Haut brand would enter the thriving skateboard marketplace. Not an easy arena to enter when one of the most prominent brands of the time is not more than a few blocks away. The initial offerings were longer, laminated rocker/kicktail combos, something that was extremely innovative in a time when boards still clocked in around 7-1/2″ wide and rarely eclipsed the 30″ length mark. The Boards came out of Haut’s Swift Street location, and if you’re from NorCal, you know it was a stone’s throw from Derby park. As skating entered a light-speed era of progression, Santa Cruz was one of the NorCal epicenters, with the challenging contours of Soquel’s park being a proving ground for skaters and equipment. Haut’s first signature pro model released in early 1978 was the Kevin Niccoli model, which would be followed only a few months later by Kevin Reed’s “Mr. Radical” pro model. All of this history minutiae aside, I had been aware of the Haut skateboard brand nearly from its inception, not only for the nod to a NorCal-based brand but also, because in the early park days at Soquel, Newark, Campell, and Winchester, often times the guys laying down the most fluid lines and innovative moves.

In a recent interview, Kevin Niccoli stated,  “The Haut Team was small. I basically did freestyle but I skated everything. The real heavies were Kevin Reed and Kiwi Gifford. They ripped pools and bowls well. I remember Kevin Reed was the first guy I saw do 360 frontside airs. He also did tail taps holding his inside rail. He was innovative. We did a tour of the east coast through Atlantic Skates. They gave us an RV and we drove around and skated. After that, I wasn’t making too much money and had to get a regular job. Around then, Scott Parsons joined the team. I do recall a funny story. When we were putting out our boards, we all drove to George Powell’s house in Montecito. I think it was Doug Haut, Bob Skinner (team manager) and I. George told us to stay out of his kitchen. We were like “Huh?” Anyway, George goes to do something in another part of the house and we went into the kitchen (of course we did) where he catches us. He was baking his wheels in his oven! I guess he was scared we’d steal his formula or something. We ended up using Bones Wheels on all of the original completes from Haut.”

Haut
Kevin Niccoli model
Image: Greg Baller

Kevin Reed
Image: Fineman archive

I can loosely classify these skateboarders as the “first generation” of park rippers. Kevin Reed possessed a style that combined the best type of surf-based fluidity and style with one of the earliest forms of aggression seen in the pay-to-play environs. Reed was all business in all situations and having seen that I was inspired to buy the first and only Haut board I would ever own. Kevin Niccoli seemingly vanished from the scene, just as Reed’s star was rising. It’s important to note here that the two year span of 1978-1979 remains the the most accelerated period in skateboarding history from skateboarding progression itself to product innovation and advertising. By the time the newest issue of Skateboarder Magazine hit the newsstands, a good portion of the content and advertising had already been eclipsed by current action. An aural interpretation of what this period felt like can be found beginning at 3:58 of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”. A chaotic building crescendo ending in a massive echoing piano slam that slowly fades to silence.

Haut was at the forefront of deck innovation, releasing wider boards earlier than most companies as well as constantly evolving new shapes and craftsmanship, and the advertisement announcing pro models for Reed, along with Scott Parsons, and Peter “Kiwi” Gifford is a perfect example. Upon close examination, the boards currently available in the ad are already surpassed by the prototypes these guys were riding in the action photos. The brand and it’s riders still remained largely unknown outside of NorCal, but for those of us coming up in the area they were the marquee guys, along with the original lords of the north Rick Blackhart, the Buck Brothers, Kevin Thatcher, and Tim Marting. The “up north versus down south” rivalry felt very real from our perspective. Our dudes could throw down with anybody, anywhere, anytime, and this was about to be proven on our turf after a controversial SoCal-centric first Hester ISA series.

Peter Kiwi Gifford
Image: William Sharp

Kevin Reed Winchester

In a recent interview, Peter Kiwi Gifford stated, “Initially, Bob Skinner ran the team. It was hard preparing for a contest with Bob as your team manager. He was a fast-living rich kid and he was always partying. We were quite the opposite of the Bones Brigade. We were like pirates or something… Myself, Kevin Reed, Scott Parsons and Eric Halverson really rolled around everywhere together. We would party really hard and have fun. There wasn’t much more to it than that. We would travel everywhere and meet up with cool people and ride with them. We pushed ourselves and each other.”

Scott Parsons
Image: William Sharp

In August of 1978 the Winchester Pro Bowl contest gave the rest of the skateboarding world a first-hand look at what the Haut crew was capable of. The results sheet were a bookend of sorts. 1. Tim Marting. 10. Peter Gifford. At the time, it was clearly understood that Kevin Reed would most likely dominate any Winchester event, but injury kept him on the sidelines, giving many of the top pros of the day an instant placing boost.  In April of ’79, The Winchester Shootout served to cement reputations on the northern front, when Peter Gifford dispatched all comers including the red hot Chris Strople and young upstart Micke Alba. 3 Haut guys finished in the top 8, with Scott Parsons in 7th and Kevin Reed in 8th. The placings of the Haut trio had less to do with local knowledge than with the blazing level of skating they were applying on a daily basis. A scant year later, at the Winchester Open, skateboarding had changed dramatically. Style and lines had taken somewhat of a backseat to tricks and “bionic” aerial leaps. Whereas the Haut team had once been more synonymous with a flowing surf style punctuated by power moves, the new paradigm had been cemented in by the power moves of Gifford, Halverson, and Parsons. An overall Nor Cal dominance was crystal clear when the dust settled in the keyhole. Young guns Steve Caballero and Scott Foss firmly handled the second and third spots (as amateurs no less) and Halverson and Gifford taking 5th and 7th respectively and Scott Parsons tying Jay Smith for the 14 spot.

Eric Halverson Image: William Sharp

Not long after this event, Winchester would be closed and dozed, and every other pay to play park in northern California would quickly follow. The real story behind the Haut brand and the guys who rode for it truly runs far deeper than a couple of contests. Purveyors of both style and attitude, and a unique presence in a time of growing contrived conformity. For myself, having grown up witnessing it first hand, I can honestly say that in the long history of skateboarding, the Haut phenomena was something very special. The shapes, the wheel wells, the airbrush jobs, and the guys that rode them. Sometimes the candle that burns twice as bright truly lasts half as long. – Christian Cooper

Thank you to Christian Cooper for taking the time to put this together. Thank you Duncan Campbell for the Fineman shot of Kevin Reed. Thank you to William Sharp for the images.

The Tony Alva Story

Tony Alva
Image: William Sharp

The Tony Alva Story is released tomorrow and I spoke with Tony today because I wanted to see if there were any things he wanted to talk about that weren’t really covered in the film. I know that the surfer Bunker Spreckels had a huge impact on his career and life. He spoke candidly about his old friend and mentor. He also discussed the film itself and his take on the whole thing. – Ozzie

Bunker Speckels and friend with Tony Alva
Image: Art Brewer

“I lived with Bunker Spreckels the last couple years of his life. I lived with him in Hollywood and in Hawaii. He had a townhouse there in Turtle Bay and it was actually the last place I saw him before he passed away. You see, Bunker and guys like Torger Johnson really taught me about attitude. Winning. Seeing the way they were helped shape my thinking. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if I would’ve won the World Championships. I mean, I had to beat older skaters who had been competing for years already. I had to beat Torger himself. I had to beat Bruce Logan, Stacy Peralta… I had to go in there ready to be the best. It was the only mindset I could have. It was me against the world. Bunker taught me that. That’s why it was so hard to get that phone call. I had left Hawaii and when I went to go to the airport, Bunker was looking tore up. I knew he was using hard drugs but I hoped he’d get it together. He gave me a hug and a look like, “Don’t worry about me.” He said, “I’ll see you in LA.” That was the last time I saw him. I was staying at my dads place when I got back to California when I received the call that he’d been found over dosed in a house right in front of Pipeline. It was only a week later. That was profoundly hard on me. But, I still utilize things Bunker taught me back then. Maybe that’s the best tribute I can make.”

Bunker and TA
Image: Art Brewer

“I think that one of the things about the film that I find interesting, is that the Alva Posse gets their recognition. I mean, these are some pretty influential skateboarders. Fred Smith. Dave Duncan. Billy Danforth. All of them. They sold a bunch of boards. The Alva Posse photograph with all of us in the leather jackets is in there. It was in Chicago on a rooftop. We were all there at the same time for a shop gig, a demo…  something. Scott Gross specialized in B&W film so we went up on the roof and took it. All in all, the film is just another interpretation of things. Buddy and Rick put it together and Jeff Grosso guides it. It’s a bit heartbreaking to watch now. It’s almost Jeff’s film rather than mine. In it, he talks about the price I payed and skateboarders pay sometimes to live the life some of us lead. He is quoting my Skateboarder Interview. He quotes, “Be prepared to suffer the consequences.” Then Jeff states, “I’m a perfect example of that.” Jeff gets to the end of the film…  before the end ever arrives. I hope everyone likes the film. Thank you to all involved.” Tony Alva

Thank you to TA. Thank you to Art Brewer and William Sharp for the images. Ozzie

Back in the Day / Big Day Out

Back in the Day. For the skaters in our book, the term itself describes a time when they were young and pushing the limits of a little known past time called ‘skateboarding’. They’ll all generally disagree on everything regarding those short years, especially details like who did what first and on and on and on. What they won’t disagree on is that this period was the absolute best time of their lives. From 1975 – 1980, William Sharp was on these pool, pipe and park missions and he shot the key players in the most secretive and exclusive locations. It was during this particular period that skateboarding evolved from a flat land, 360 spinning, head-standing, short-shorts wearing fad and exploded into something with a fucking soul. It took a bunch of surfers to explore banked school yards, empty pools and pipes. They took the classic coolness of surfing and applied everything about it into their skating. Skateboarding was pretty small then but it exploded rapidly in a short time. The magazines were publishing photographs of this raw new form of self expression. Stories were told of high adventure, partying, mayhem and fun. It wasn’t long before skaters everywhere were looking for increasingly radical terrain.

Lance Mountain, Brad Bowman, Jay Smith, Arthur Viecco, me

Lance Mountain and Brad Bowman

The San Fernando Valley was filled with pools. Brad Bowman, Arthur Viecco, Eric Grisham and Jay Smith didn’t need a skateboard magazine or the Dog Town skaters to tell them a damn thing about pool skating. They’d been living it from the first moment they rode a skateboard. The SFV had more pools in a three mile square area than all of Santa Monica put together! These guys became new heroes to so many. The magazine Skateboard World published image after image, of skater after skater, in pool after pool. They never ran out.

Brad Bowman

Lance Mountain

Progress never slowed and style was kept to a premium. They pushed each other and conquered themselves. Among them was Jay Smith. Jay Smith skated pools everywhere and he adapted quickly. When choosing the new cover for the Back in the Day / Fun Size edition, we knew exactly what image was going on it. The Jay Smith hip lapover at Mondo’s pool. A couple days ago, William Sharp and I gathered the guys at a local pool that we have. Eric Grisham, Arthur Viecco, Jay Smith and Brad Bowman joined Rick Stine and Lance Mountain and all of us sat and talked and took a few turns.

Eric Grisham

Arthur Viecco

Everyone was saying how cool it was to be together in a backyard pool again. It was like being young… carefree and in the moment. All of the burdens of adulthood slipped away. No Covid, family strife, no bills, no broken bodies or aching muscles… all of that was gone. It was just us on skateboards fighting a common enemy. Ourselves. I have respect for everyone in the book. Some more than others. It was fascinating for me to sit there and watch the interaction among them. What is new for me, is old tradition with them. I’m an observer. I know that collectively, they are the reason I am what I am. I am grateful for that. Thank you.

Rick Stine, Brad Bowman, me, Arthur Viecco, Jay Smith, Eric Grisham and Lance Mountain

Thank you to all of the skaters in the book and thank you to William Sharp for the photographs. Thank you to Geoff Graham for the book portraits.  http://gingkopress.com/shop/back-in-the-day-mini/

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Raleigh

The helicopter that pulled them out of the desert bounced and dipped in the fire blast. Smoke poured in as it careened to one side and Raleigh saw the burning buildings through the side door far away below him. People were holding onto anything… Bullets ripped through the metal panels… punching their way through and seeking flesh. “Fuck!” He grabbed onto the webbing straps on the wall as the old helicopter caught an updraft and pulled them away. His eyes caught Corporal Candela’s… they both shook their heads. That was fucking close. Timmons was screaming in the back and the Doc was sliding around in his blood as the chopper bucked and rutted. Candela screamed at him and pointed towards Timmons and the Doc. “Go!”

He found himself pulling bandages and handing them to the Doc. Timmons was covered in blood and his leg pumped huge arcs across the metal riveted panels beside him “Cover this! Pressure! Pressure here!” Doc was scrambling around trying to keep the fluids inside Timmons… Raleigh looked at Timmons face. He pressed his knee down onto his thigh and the bandages saturated with Timmons life… a life quickly being lost. He grabbed Timmons on either side of his face, “Hang on man! Listen to me… ”  Timmons was mumbling but he couldn’t understand anything in the noise and chaos. Raleigh looked back at the others lining the webbing straps and hanging on. They watched. Some looked away. They had all been to bootcamp and Infantry Training School together. They drank beer , watched football, talked about fucking girls they never fucked…  time honored tradition. Raleigh glanced back at Timmons. He hoped for something… Empty eyed. Nothing. The Doc shook his head in the negative and they covered him with a shelter half as the chopper slid through the night. Grim cargo. A dark metal death merchant filled with the best and worst sort of men. They were their own and each one trusted the other far beyond a bloodline. Marines.

Camp Pendleton

After being deployed, the remnants of the platoon went home. Rotation complete. Weeks turned into months. New boots (recruits fresh out of boot camp) refilled the unit. Life returned to boredom, live fire exercises and beer drinking contests. Raleigh missed Timmons, as did the other guys. He held his head high when on base. He now had a CAR (Combat Action Ribbon) and unlike these REMFs (rear echelon mother fuckers), it commanded respect. He drove off base for a 96 and wondered what to do with his days off. The beaches were busy and crowded. He used to surf and skate with Timmons but… He shook his head and turned up the stereo. Warrell Dane of Nevermore shrieked like the voice of doom. “I am the darkness. I’m waiting for you!” Raleigh smiled grimly.

Later, his cellphone vibrated and he saw a text from Mattson. Matthew Mattson was a Corporal in Echo Company. He skated whenever he wasn’t on the base. He called him. “Sup dude? Anything going on…?” Raleigh mumbled something about driving by the beach and chilling. Mattson told him about a new pool his buddies were skating. It was in Anaheim. They were riding it the next day and a couple Pro skaters were going to come. “You should roll up and hang. It’ll be fun.”  Raleigh had him text the address.

The next day found him in Anaheim. He was drinking coffee out in front of a typical 1950’s ranch home. Quiet streets. People walking dogs. Huge palm trees rustling in the morning light. Idyllic. Raleigh wasn’t sure he could skate a pool. They were hard to ride. But, he’d done more difficult things. He wished Timmons was here with him. Timmons had grown up in Orange County. He’d ridden the big indoor Vans Skatepark bowl. He rode pools too. Flipping the sun visor down, he pulled a photo from it. It was part of his squad. Timmons, Candela, Cole, Meddlins, Fain and Kroft. They were… death on a moonless night. Grim. Raleigh put the photo away and sipped his coffee. It was still hard to believe Timmons wasn’t coming back. Death has a strange finality to it. Takes all you are… and all you’ll be.  A car pulled in behind him. Mattson was here. They greeted each other and moved to the backyard of the house. The owner came out and said “Hello” to the others joining them. Lance Mountain, Rick Stine, Tristan Rennie, Marlon Whitfield, Grant Taylor and Ray Zimmerman.

Lance Mountain

Tristan Rennie

Marlon Whitfield

Grant Taylor

Raleigh watched as the crew swept and cleaned the pool out. They carved around and felt it out. A math puzzle. Each wall was different. Every turn left a possibility. Lance Mountain flew over the deathbox. Marlon Whitfield didn’t leave the challenge unanswered and quickly put a check mark beside the same box. Grant Taylor bombed the ladder and went faster than anyone on earth. Tristan Rennie poked a Gunnair over the ladder and the rest of the crew held their own. When all was said and done, Raleigh felt that Timmons would’ve been proud. The hot sun. A new pool. Friends. They were doing what they loved most.

Ozzie

Thanks to MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie

A Woodward Story

Buster Halterman
Wellsville Pa
Image: Graham

I was skating with Buster Halterman and Nick Rinker in Buster’s barn one afternoon and Buster asked me if I wanted to go along with them to a sports camp the following weekend about two hours away. They were riding in a demo at this camp during the BMX nationals. Some bike pros were going to ride vert and we were going to cruise along and fill out the session.

Nick Rinker Image: Graham

I went along and it would ultimately change the course of my life. Woodward Camp is a world famous gymnastics camp and — at the time — one half was made up of gymnasts from all over the planet, while the other half had a small BMX / skateboarding program. It was run by a skateboarder from Florida and his name is Mike Speranzo.

Mike Speranzo Image: Graham

I went to Woodward Camp with Buster and Nick that day. I met some really cool people. I’m pretty sure that Chris Guilfoose and Mark Podgurski were there. Rob Randolph and Alan John were there as well. The camp had an outdoor street course with quarter pipes, pyramids and mini ramps. There was a massive vert ramp connected to a seven or eight foot medium ramp as well. All of the outdoor surfaces were covered in blue steel. There was an indoor building called the Morton Building. I believe it was the manufacturers name. Anyway, it had a great mini ramp and amazing bowl built out of wood and surfaced in masonite. Legendary ramp builder Tim Payne had built some of the new stuff at Woodward. We arrived that day and just started skating all over the place. Everyone was super nice and cool. They fed us and took very good care of the crew the entire time. I thought, “What kind of place is this?! Here… in the mountains of Pennsylvania?” I was in awe.

Chad Vogt Image: Graham

Chris Guilfoose
Image: Graham

Mike Speranzo told me about the early days at Woodward. “In 1989, Gary Ream contacted Vision. I was going to go Pro for them. Vision sponsored a contest there in 1989 and I was sent there. Tim Payne had built a ramp for a skate camp in St. Louis and Gator and other skaters were teaching kids skateboarding. I didn’t have anything going on in Florida and I thought it a really good opportunity.The idea of teaching skateboarding appealed to me. I went to Woodward. It was a BMX camp and Everett Rosecrans of Vans would come with riders. Greg Flowers built the first Woodward vert ramp for the bike riders. It was kinked but rideable. We ended up helping build the street course snowplow and other stuff to skate. We repaired the kink in the vert ramp, drilled steel all day and layered everything with steel sheeting. Skate camp started with fifteen campers the first session. In the spring of 1990, Tim Payne built the outdoor vert ramp, the spine and Morton bowl and mini ramp. The BMX Nationals were that May. That is when you came up with Buster and Nick. Over the years, it grew pretty well. The industry changed and the campers coming were different. Street took front stage and it all changed and was strange. I just remember the ‘Golden Hour’ sessions on the vert ramp with my friends. The cornfields, nature, the mountains. I always think of those things. We all grew up there in those summers at Woodward. We became better people.”

Mike Speranzo
Graham photo

During the upcoming year, I kept in touch with Mike Speranzo. I got to see his band ‘Out of the Blue’ perform in State College / Penn State a couple of times. When it came time to hire some staff, I applied and Mike hired me as a cabin counselor. I think it was Buster Halterman, Brian Patch, Andy Macdonald and a few others. We each had a cabin full of frothing skaters, ages 12-17 years old. There was no air conditioning and many of them didn’t want to shower. It was a hotbox of nastiness, filthy pads and farting children. The skaters would arrive on Sunday morning and Sunday evening we would set up stations around the skate park. Each was numbered. 1- mini ramp, 2- bowl, 3-rails, 4- street course, 5- micro ramp, 6- vert ramp, 7- ledges, 8- pyramid etc etc. There were 12 stations and each one had an accomplished staff skater that would evaluate each camper. Mike would plug all this information into twelve groups of beginner, intermediate and advanced skaters. Monday morning, we’d separate them into groups and go from station to station for thirty minutes to an hour. That way, every camper would move through the camp working on different aspects of skating with staff assistance. It worked pretty well and I know of many skaters that learned a great deal with this system.

Paul Zitzer
Image: Thompson

Tom Boyle R.I.P. and Paul Zitzer
Image: Thompson

Tony Magnussen Image: Graham

 

Matt Dove

Mark Podgurski Image: Graham

Summer to Fall. The leaves changed and all things with it. Snow came and covered the camp and its ramps. Nothing moved in the frozen spaces. I walked the narrow path between the camp cabins and marveled at how unusual it was to be here only a few months earlier with a thousand people living a dream… the time of our lives. Now… ice and the sleepy season. Life will be life. Summer was the destination and Woodward Camp became the driving force in my life for awhile. I met with Gary Ream that day and we talked about me helping as assistant to Mike Speranzo that coming summer. Spring found me drilling masonite sheets, moving lumber and hiring skate staff. Every second of every day was accounted for. It was the Woodward way. The kids were coming. As skateboarding changed from transition skating to street skating, Woodward evolved with it. The owners – Gary Ream and Ed Isabelle never flinched when it came to building ramps, ledges, banks and — in some cases — buildings full of stuff to skate. They trusted the people that gave them advice and those that rode. They saw the summer numbers increasing. They made money. It was working well.

Donny Barley

Donny Barley

tony_hawk_noseblunt_slide_woodward_camp_080692_(kanights)

Tony Hawk Morton Building Bowl Image: Kanights

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Woodward Camp Image: Kanights

Campers Lunch – Think Team / Wade Speyer/ Greg Carroll / Brian Howard

tom_boyle_ollie_north_fakie_woodward_camp_080692_(kanights)

Tom ‘The Rock’ Boyle R.I.P. Image: Kanights

Tim Payne and a crew were frequently at Woodward from March until June. Many of its early skatepark additions were Tim Payne’s craftsmanship.  In those days, Woodward had visiting Pros each week. It was a general rotation. Sometimes a team would come through for a few days. I started working with people I knew to get the Pro street riders that I knew campers would want to see.

Neal Hendrix Image: Thompson

Tom Rock Boyle R.I.P.
Image: Thompson

I spoke with Neal Hendrix and the people at Giant and other guys who lived in California. They helped me a great deal. I remember working on getting Willy Santos, the Think team, Jamie Thomas, Salman Agah, Kris Markovich and others during the rise of the street skating period.

During this time, wheels became smaller, pants became bigger and skateboarding changed into something hideous. Looking back on it, skateboarding needed to do what it did in order to evolve. I understand that. Street skating had become the big thing and I watched in disbelief one summer as skateboarders ‘focused’ other skaters boards. (focusing a board is intentionally breaking the board in half). Campers didn’t really care about vert or transition in any way and the industry felt it. There were no contests and few demos. Pro vertical riders were relegated to the dustbin. Campers routinely called the fast forward button on a video the ‘vert button’.

Rene Matthyssen

Chris Livingston
Image: Graham

christian_hosoi_rocket_air_woodward_camp_080692_(kanights)

Christian Hosoi Image: Kanights

matt_dove_lein_air_woodward_camp_080692_(kanights)

Matt Dove Image: Kanights

Mike Speranzo started a long held tradition that vertical skating would always have a place at Woodward Camp. With all the blood in my body, I upheld that tradition after Mike had moved on to work on his music. For those with short memories, for awhile, Woodward was the only paying gig a vert Pro could get. No one knew at the time, but the first X Games were right around the corner in Rhode Island and they drew many of the original vert riders from Woodward Camp. We can thank Gary Ream, Ed Isabelle and Woodward Camp for this. I believe in my heart that this one fact led to some of these guys having a career further into the late 1990’s.

Andy Macdonald

Jimmy O’Brien
Image: Graham

Chuck Wampler

Mike Frazier
Image: Thompson

Woodward’s owners opened the door during the Inline craze which — thankfully — didn’t last too long. It made the camp a great deal of money, but it was hard to watch those kids every week…. I had my brother Dave come up and assist me on the skateboard side, as things were growing by leaps and bounds. We had something like five hundred campers a week. The bike program was big with an epic bike crew like Matt Condor Hoffman, Superstar Joe Rich, Dave Mirra R.I.P., Jay Miron, Taj Mihelich, Kenan Harkin, Sean Dorton, Nate Wessell and a bunch I’m forgetting. I loved the bike guys. They were always solid. Always stoked. As camp grew, I became more of a dick. I’m not a cop and I felt like one. It was hard policing that many campers and staff. I had to make sure the girls and boys didn’t mingle inappropriately, I had to keep everyone safe, I had to enforce the rules… I barely even rode my skateboard in the summer. Ultimately, I didn’t like who I became. I’m sure there are those out there that didn’t like me either. However,  I always tried to make each year bigger, with new stuff for campers and Pros to ride, I tried to give paying jobs to my vert friends and I really hoped people were stoked. I may have done a few things the wrong way, but — from this vantage point — I think the good I did, outweighed the bad. One last thing: for all of you skaters out there enjoying Woodward and to those that have visited a Woodward Camp… remember that it was a bunch of vert ramp skaters that made that place happen. WE built the foundation of what it grew into. Believe it. Peace – Ozzie

Mike Frazier
Image: Thompson

Brian Howard

Tony Hawk
Image: Thompson

Neal Hendrix
Image: Thompson

Thank you to Woodward Camp. Thank you Gary Ream, Ed Isabelle and all of the people I worked alongside. Thank you to all of the riders I helped hire and ride with. Thanks to the campers for coming. Thank you to Pete Thompson, Bryce Kanights and Geoff Graham for images. Lastly, Thank you to Buster Halterman, Nick Rinker and Mike Speranzo. I’m not sure I would’ve ended up where I did if it wasn’t for you guys.

Mike Crum, Me, Brian Howard, Neal Hendrix
Image: Thompson

The Ranch

The Ranch 

California Historic Landmark number 716 sits at Foothill and Vaughn streets in Sylmar. It echoes from the past. A long echo that bounces off the dry nearby hillsides and speaks in low tones. It marks the property of famed movie icon D. W. Griffith and ‘Griffith Ranch’. D. W. Griffith became a San Fernando Valley fixture and is known for his story telling and camera techniques in film making. He bought the property in 1912. Many films were shot on the large ranch including ‘Custers Last Stand’ and the racist and obviously controversial ‘Birth of a Nation’ which is Griffith’s 1915 Civil War film.

Griffith Ranch

Griffith Ranch today- Ranch pool location is small light colored area above parking area lower right side

Fritz Burns bought the D.W. Griffith Ranch in 1948 at Griffith’s retirement and became a fixture in the San Fernando Valley as well. He founded Panorama City and also instituted a Christmas custom by bringing Santa Claus and reindeer at every Christmas to the local stores. He did this for almost thirty years. He kept the reindeer — numbering over one hundred — at the Ranch.

A pool was put in at the Fritz Burns Griffith Ranch property in the nineteen fifties. It gets hot out in the valley and he frequently had many guests. Fritz Burns held huge BBQ parties and swimming was always a part of this. Fritz Burns was a developer and worked with the Kaiser family developing many parts of the residential Los Angeles area. Ultimately, Fritz Burns died in 1979. The property had sat vacant and the reindeer had gone. It had been that way for a few years leading up to Fritz Burns’ death. Skateboarders found it.

Kent Senatore
Griffith Ranch Pool

Brad Bowman Griffith Ranch Pool

Rick Stine and others had talked about the Ranch pool for years. It was described as perfect. When we were working on the book ‘Back in the Day’, several of the skaters told stories about this spit gutter pool. Memories had the pool above Bronson Canyon. Recently, I was speaking with John Swope and he put me in touch with his friend Randy. Randy was skating pools all over the San Fernando Valley in the early to late seventies. He was at the Ranch pool regularly. We discussed its location. He knew about where it was and gave me some coordinates. Forty plus years had gone by. I talked to Rick and we decided that we had to go look for the Ranch pool.

Brad Bowman – Griffith Ranch Pool

Over Rick Stines’s left shoulder, you can see the notch in the hillside over Brad’s right wrist.

On Thursday morning, we drove out and started trying to find the area.We hiked around for awhile and kept looking at the Brad Bowman color shot trying to match up the hillsides in the background. After a bit, we came upon an old bulldozed area. There were bits of plumbing pipe, floor tiles and debris. We looked for about an hour for some tile and coping but realized that Randy was probably right when he told us that he thinks they just pushed the nearby building into the pool and covered it with adjacent dirt from the hillsides.

Brad Bowman Griffith Ranch Pool

Thanks to Randy and Swope for the intel. Thanks to Rick Stine for sharing in the adventure. Thanks to William Sharp for the images and thank you all for reading. Skate – Ozzie