Trackmarks

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He couldn’t sleep… the gnawing in his blood stream was overwhelming. His veins screamed out wordlessly in a language most don’t ever want to know. Dante forgot that there are not nine but ten levels of Hell.  Opiate withdrawal definitely comes into the count. Killed by an angel. By his calculations, he was almost a full day into kicking this shit. His veins were gone. He had skin infections and fever. An open wound had developed on his arm. His bones ached and his intestines spasmodically twisted. He thought that he’d die… No merciful God up above could give him any aid. Long ago he had given up on doing any real good in the world. He made several bad choices in his life. Life changing. Most people looked back on such things with a comfort that comes with distance… the pain no longer so searing. His wasn’t so. Heroin didn’t provide such niceties. The first moment that spike punctured the skin… the hot wire pissing oblivion across his nervous system, he was lost forever. He writhed in sweat soaked agony. He tried thinking about anything… futility. The door opened to his garage. He was in a corner. Couch and rags. Rumpled. A voice called out, “Alec?” He moaned. “It stinks in here.” He felt like a thousand nails were coming through his skin… Skinned from the inside. Wrung out. A girl approached. He opened his eyes. “Hurt. I hurt. Fuck me…” She knew what he needed and went about doing it. He was a few short hours closer to relief than he was if he went back the hard way. She tapped his arms and then moved to his feet, looking for a vein. Tiny mouths opened up in his veins…  his bloodstream cried. Soon… oblivion.

Trackmarks

Trackmarks

Hours later, they emerged from the garage. The sun hurt his eyes. He was numb again. The heroin had smoothed out his rough edges. Lethargy. Insulation. He walked past his grandmothers swimming pool. It had been empty for years. He couldn’t recall swimming in it, anymore than he could recall what his life felt like without drugs… He wasn’t a tenth of what he thought he’d be. That’s when he noticed the skateboarders. He stopped. They were in the pool. They had skateboards and they just stood there looking at them.

Lance Mountain

Lance Mountain

Corey Philips

Corey Philips

Rick Stine

Rick Stine

Ozzie

Ozzie

His friend Candice was mumbling to him, “They asked one day. Grandma had them clean up the yard and trim the trees.” He walked past the pool edge and looked closer. One of them pushed into the deep end and came flying up to the edge in front of him. he pivoted and plunged back down. The others smacked their boards on the ground as each took a turn riding in the pool. “Who painted over the crappy graffiti?” he asked. Candace said that the skaters had done it the day before. “You were out of it, Alec.” Must’ve been…  They watched for awhile. Between the dope and the skateboarders, everything felt dream-like and strange. They left to go to a friends house and as he climbed slowly into the car, he could still hear their laughter…

Thanks to MRZ for the images. Skate and don’t try heroin. – Ozzie

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Balloons

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We saw it months ago… Rick took me by the house and I knocked. No answer. The front yard landscaping was rough. Trees untrimmed. Lawn virtually non-existent. I knew that I could trade some landscape work in exchange for permission to ride the pool that sat behind the house. I gave a quick glimpse over the fence. The side walls seemed amazing and the facewall looked unreal. Graffiti covered everything… That could be problematic. Usually, spray paint on pool surfaces can be slippery. You can’t really pump the transitions or get speed off of a tight wall when you are sliding around. I left a note and waited. Weeks flew by, then a month. Nothing. I left another note and then another. A full month after the last note, my phone received a text message. “Hi. I’m the owner of the pool.” I laughed because I had no idea what pool they were referring to. In the last year, I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors. Boots on the ground. We do the damn work…

Corey Philips

Corey Philips

Me

Me

I’ve got a great crew of friends and we put in the hours and hours it takes. She told me which pool and I smiled. I was hoping it was the graffiti kidney. We drove over the next day and struck a deal. A few days later, we were doing yard work, tree trimming and general cleanup. The pool was washed down and we rode. It was slick and the owner really didn’t want the graffiti in there anyway. I wanted to paint the pool white and make it really grippy and fast. She agreed. Today, we drove over and did the deed.

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It was Rick Stine, Corey Philips and yours truly. The pool is smooth, white and beautiful. It’ll be a joy to session in a few days time. Five gallons of flat white Kilz2, rollers, sticks, pans and trays, painters tape and beverages: $135.00. Split it up and you’ve got magic… not a bad investment. Thank you Corey Philips & Rick Stine. A-Game. Thanks to Brandon Wong for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Pool Lives Matter

The night was still. Dawn was an hour away. A small lizard crept to the edge of the pool and darted its tongue… insects scurried, killed and fed a thousand others like themselves. The great cycle. The water was a silver screen that reflected the night sky. A cold moon lit the water… uncaring. Far away. No life. No love. No treachery. The pool stretched out beneath it all and waited. The lonely hours. The time between the darkness and heat and sun. The family that would slip into his cool embrace… a respite. They laughed and splashed each other. The grill spat out smoke and it crawled up the side of the house. Roasting meat. Vegetables. Colorful drinks littered the tables by the waters edge. It went on and on into the night… music pulsed. Dancing. Joy. The pool stretched and waited. The wait went on. Its water soon became cloudy. Clarity left. The family could no longer be heard nearby within the brick walls and shimmering windows. “Where have you gone?” The garden keepers came. They made their noises. They blew dust and grass across his green face… He couldn’t understand his ongoing neglect. The men who normally came and kept his vision clear were no longer around. Despondent. The cycle of sun and moon continued on and one morning a man came. He dropped a metal mouth into his green surface. He felt it pulse and life began to leave him… His surface receded. He couldn’t understand anything. Baking in the hot sun, his plaster skin cracked. “Why?”

A man in a beanie came. He sat on the stairs and spoke. “You sure are a shoebox… I don’t think I could skate you if I wanted to. You barely have any transitions.” He walked around. He caressed his tired brick edge, his round-eyed light, the smooth tiles. The pool knew that this one cared. He sat there on the plaster and sipped water. He ate an apple. He sat silently with the pool. They were one. The man’s eyes took in the beauty of the pool. He felt admired and loved. After the man left, he wanted him to come back. “Come skate me… Try. You can. I know it.” The pool longed for company. None came. Weeks had wings. Clouds hurried by. Leaves littered his plaster face. Silence was broken one morning. A rumbling punched across the ground. He could feel it in the bowels of his plumbing. “What on earth…? It grew closer. A growl and a clank of metal feet…  A Godmachine. Destruction only. It loomed overhead. An orange head appeared and its iron mouth gaped. Huge teeth. Rend and chew. The teeth fell…

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He couldn’t believe it had come to this. He felt his body shudder. The Godmachine billowed smoke. It hissed and snarled. It bucked and rocked. The pool’s brick mouth screamed silently… “No….”

Thank you for reading. Pool lives matter. Skate – Ozzie

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Tim Brauch

Tim Brauch

Tim Brauch

Tim Brauch was an amazing human being. He came to Woodward Camp in Pennsylvania when I ran the place in the early 1990’s. We skated the Morton Building bowl together… the guy oozed speed, style and flow. He burned like a bright light and then he was taken from us. He is missed. The Eighteenth Annual Tim Brauch Memorial Bowl contest was held the other weekend. Lorrie Palmos was on hand to expertly document the proceedings and offer those that couldn’t be there —like myself– a glimpse into the madness, mayhem and joy that has defined this annual NorCal event.

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Arianna Carmona

Arianna Carmona

Nicole Hause

Nicole Hause

Mikee Zion O'Friel

Mikee Zion O’Friel

Jed Fuller

Jed Fuller

Mitch Mendez

Mitch Mendez

Max Jenson

Max Jenson

Julian Torres

Julian Torres

Jack Winburn

Jack Winburn

Demarcus James

Demarcus James

Colin Graham

Colin Graham

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin

Rodney Mead

Rodney Mead

Steve Revord

Steve Revord

Richard Sanchez

Richard Sanchez

Thank you to Lorrie Palmos for working so hard to bring the contest to all of us. Thank you to the participants, sponsors and thank everyone for keeping the memory of Tim Brauch alive. Skate- Ozzie

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Back in the Day / Release

Jay Smith at Mondo's Pool

Jay Smith at Mondo’s Pool

Back in the Day. William Sharp and I have completed our book. It has been a long and arduous process. Books don’t write themselves. Just when we thought the end was near, something else came up. Setting it up. Knocking it down. Gingko Press is doing the final publishing process and it is scheduled for release on November 1, 2016. Obviously, William and I are overjoyed. We’ve lived with the text and images for four long years… We had to make some changes to the front and back covers, remove some images, decrease page numbers and a few other things, but the work is virtually identical to the vision we set out to produce. I was adamant that the skaters themselves be the voice of the book. They were there. They know what happened. Who better to tell it than they?

Jay Smith at Mondo's Pool

Jay Smith at Mondo’s Pool

Over one hundred skateboarding pioneers are featured. This book covers an era… not an area. It is a slice of skateboarding history and it is William’s photographic images and the skaters memories. I wrote chapter headings to set things up… The book is available pre-order from Amazon and Gingko Press. I’ve included both links. I’ve written on the Blue Tile Obsession for years. I’ve supported and covered countless events, art shows, contests, demo’s, tours, interviews and brought you hundreds of backyard pool stories. It is my hope that you’ll now purchase my book and support my dream. Thank you for everything. I’ll let you know when we launch the book and where. William and I thank you here and now. Thank you to William Sharp for the previously unpublished Jay Smith images. Skate – Ozzie

AMAZON Back in the Day

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Menzanator

Nick Menza R.I.P.

Nick Menza R.I.P.

Jim Howell and I skated in the freezing cold all day. It was December 1990. Pennsylvania can be raw at this time of year… We felt it all day long. We rode the Reading skatepark. Asphalt. Both of us were amping on overload. We were skating all day and then headed to see Megadeth and Testament open for Judas Priest that night. A day of days. That night, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth introduced the band members in between songs. Drummer Nick Menza raised his sticks in the air as he was introduced and at that, Dave Mustaine stated unequivecally, “…and you all better know who the fuck I am!” At that, Megadeth launched into new songs off the Rust In Peace album that had just been released. As I worked myself into a thrash metal, sweat-soaked heap, I would’ve never believed that about twenty five years later, I’d be standing in Nick Menza’s backyard in California, he’d be gone from us and we’d be skating his empty swimming pool.

Nick Menza played drums with Megadeth for four albums and on solo projects after. Nick tragically passed away May 21, 2016 while playing drums with his band in Los Angeles. His home in Los Angeles, which he moved into in 1995, sat on a quiet street. The ivy grew over the fences, the trees sagged in the hot sun. His sister Donia started cleaning things up and going through Nick’s belongings. It was all terribly daunting and sad.

Rick Stine was driving through an alley in the San Fernando Valley, when his phone began vibrating. He stopped at the next corner and checked it. His friend Phil had text him a photograph of an empty pool: “Look at what I found”  Rick went back and forth and learned the news of Nick Menza’s passing and that Phil was helping Donia clean up the place. The pool sat empty and — delicately — Rick asked about permission to skate it.

After a month or so, Donia gave Rick permission to come by. The house was being sold and was empty. Rick and I drove over one morning. We weren’t expecting too much. On satellite it seemed really narrow in the deep end. Usually, a narrow deep end can make a pool difficult in some ways. When we arrived, there was a small amount of construction debris in the bottom but little else. The facewall transitions were amazing and the sidewalls pillowed. We were immediately stoked. Rick and I took first grinds and the following weekend, we came back with Chris Livingston, MRZ and Corey Philips.

Rick Stine

Rick Stine

Corey Philips

Corey Philips

Chris Livingston

Chris Livingston

Me

Me

The Santa Clarita fires were burning and the sky was orange and smoky. It was a strange thing to look up and see the entire sky in such a way. It seemed like the whole world was burning. La fin du monde. This was to be the first real session and we did it right.  I put on Megadeth and played Rust In Peace. While Nick Menza hammered away on the drums as only he could, we hammered away at the coping on his pool. We knew that Nick was smiling down on us. Good friends, a great pool, Megadeth and the sky on fire… A proper tribute to the greatness of Nick Menza.  Recently, Rick had shown me a photograph Donia had sent him of Nick Menza skating his own pool! We were so stoked. It seems that he had ridden his own pool back in 2014.

Nick Menza R.I.P.

Nick Menza R.I.P.

He was a multi-faceted guy and very talented. It is a tragedy that he is gone. We hope that in some way, we gave him a proper tribute. His life. His music. His skateboarding and legacy. Thank you Nick. Rest In Peace. Thank you to MRZ for the images and Donia for the session. Thanks Rick. Skate- Ozzie

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Edge Of The World

sunset

It was nearly Christmas.  I walk outside with my hands buried deep in my pockets.  I see a skinned sky. Blood red. I notice mountains that can’t be climbed and oceans that won’t be crossed. It seems like the whole world is losing.  I spend the long night by myself.  I read books and find it interesting that we were to mark the conclusion of a five-thousand year cycle in the Mayan calendar. Yet the world didn’t end… Oblivion? The edge of the world.

endless

endless

Every year during the holidays, Ripperside Shawn and I take a skate adventure somewhere. We were going to head to Phoenix this season but things didn’t work out. Shawn and I decided to scout the desert areas to the east. When I left Ridiculous that morning, it was pouring rain. It didn’t really matter and I  didn’t really care. It was supposed to be the end of the world anyway… I drove to meet up with Shawn. I wondered at the behavior of people around me. Deceit. Indifference. It was probably for the better that the end was coming…

Scouting

Scouting

finality

finality

We scouted around randomly for awhile until we came upon this huge pool. It was at the very end of a long valley. There were dirt roads that drifted off into nothing. I saw sun-split boulders and burnt scrub brush from fires. Wind shrieked and moaned. We saw the pool through the trees and smiled thinly at each other. We had located a gem and it truly seemed like we were living at the edge of the world.

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There was a good bit of water in the pool and we bucketed it out in silence. The wind kept us company… the ghosts of the desert spoke to us. They wondered, “Why are you here? This is a dead place and it belongs to us.” I knew that they couldn’t harm us and they would soon see why we had come. Inevitability. We dried the pool with towels and pushed in. It was with a sense of unreality that we rolled through the pool. We couldn’t believe the perfection. There was mutual agreement. It was truly the best backyard pool that we had ever skated.

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I went to see Bucky Lasek at his house a few days later. We were talking about pool riding and he said that he wanted to come out again and ride some backyard plaster. I immediately thought of something that I could envision him riding. I showed him a photograph of the desert gem and he simply raised an eyebrow and asked, “Tomorrow?” I nodded my assent. I went about my business and prepared. I told him that few things are certain. Texting. Phone calls. Plans. We met up early. Paul Wisniewski, Owen Neider, Mike Napoli, Bucky, Scott Taylor, Aaron Astorga and Brian Fick. Looking around at the talented crew, I hoped we weren’t taking a long drive for nothing. I asked the Gods above for a glimmer of hope. “Please, shine a light on us  today…” I really wanted to see what these guys could do in this pool. We drove east. The sky was ominous. Once in the mountains, it started snowing. Spirits sagged. We pushed on.

Paul, Fick, Bucky, Scott and Mike

Paul, Fick, Bucky, Scott and Mike

We drove for a few hours and talked about all of the things that skateboarders always talk about. Tricks, contests, style… there was a good bit of friendly crap talk and everyone was laughing at each other. Descending down out of Julian, the skies remained gloomy but the ground was dry. No snow. No rain. Hopeful, we soon arrived at the desert gem and saw that everything was perfect. Everyone had the same look on their faces. Awe!

Aaron Astorga- tailslide

Aaron Astorga- tailslide

Aaron Astorga is a joy to watch when he rides a skateboard. His first runs were fast and stylish. He did shallow end grinds right away and soon followed it up with Smiths and tailslides. Bucky had to backpedal from the huge transitions of his bowl and onto smaller ones. It took him only a few runs and he quickly lit the session up with inverts, airs and grinds. Bucky did trick to trick combinations with apparent ease. He pulled a huge boneless and I thought to myself, “Good Lord!”  I was happy that I had witnessed that.  I wondered if the old ghosts of the desert were watching. Mike Napoli put his trucks on the spit gutter and the look on his face was priceless.

Bucky Lasek - boneless

Bucky Lasek – boneless

Mike Napoli- frontside grind

Mike Napoli- frontside grind

Paul Wisniewski was on a mission. He pulled some insanity out, formed it with some soul searching and put it out into the universe. Frontside lipslides over the spit gutter and bullnose was an absurdity in my book. I never saw that one coming… Awesome! Owen Neider fought with his demons, Scott Taylor stood up the longest 5-0 grinds in between filming and I took to the sky on a tall wall. Everyone had a similar sense of disbelief going on within them. We couldn’t quite grasp how amazing this huge old pool was. It was a gift from the Gods. It was the end of the world and we had been given a temporary reprieve. Opportunity. Setting things right. I caught several of the guys looking around in wonder. Here at the tail end of a mountain pass, in a land of desolation and bleak wind, we had found a place to make a final stand.

Paul Wisniewski- Sean Penn

Paul Wisniewski- Sean Penn

Owen Neider- tailblocked

Owen Neider- tail-blocked

Scott Taylor - 5-0

Scott Taylor – 5-0

me

me

The afternoon waned. The clouds started spilling over and a cold wind picked up. Rain rode down the hillsides. Everyone was tired, yet elated. It had almost been too much. We looked around at each other and smiled…  If this was to be the end of the world then we were certainly going out in grand fashion. I peered up at the clouds as they shoved their way across the gaunt passes above me and wondered what the new year would bring.

Edge Of The World II – Dawning

Thank you to Shawn, the crew and KRSNA. Special thanks to Brian Fick and MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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