The Warrior

Robert Buchsbaum

The Warrior

Robert Buchsbaum stood at the doorway. His big brown eyes watched the boys from the Japanese martial arts school. They stood perfectly in rows. Uniforms white and clean. All of their movements were crisp and efficient. Lifetimes of tradition woven into the fabric of the country. Honor. Discipline. Sacrifice. He was in Japan and found himself the outsider. Everywhere he went… it was palpable.The Japanese were too kind and never said anything. No pointing fingers or dirty looks. It simply wasn’t their way. Inscrutable. His father was an interpreter at the US Embassy in Tokyo. They had come from Los Angeles that summer. Pretty soon, he knew he’d be in public school here. His fathers assignment would last three years. He’d already started learning the Japanese language. Later in life, he’d look back on this day. A bright yellow sun, a blue sky, the white uniforms and perfect fluidity of the young warriors martial arts kicks and strikes and a longing that took him on a lifelong journey. He’d find himself sitting in an armchair in Cheviot Hills in Los Angeles. He would be old, tired and broken. He thought of all the years of training, the self sacrifice and preparation to be a warrior. His greatest battle would end up being time.

Robert Buchsbaum

As the years flew by in Japan, his ability level increased at the martial arts school where he trained. His love for the martial arts and combat consumed him. He loved the way his body felt. The iron discipline. It felt good to master himself. He returned to Los Angeles in his late teens and had already trained himself to a high level. His fathers connections soon helped him begin training in fencing, Kung Fu and boxing. He found himself in school during the days and every evening he was lost in combat. Bloodied and sore, he’d drive home to his parents house in Cheviot Hills. He’d take a hot shower and go swim in the huge square pool behind the house. The normal things that interested other young men, meant nothing to him. Girls, cruising, booze. He felt these were a dead-end. All that mattered was mastering his body and his mind. His entire focus walked on the edge of a knife… the gleaming blade, his stance, the weight shifting on the balls of his feet… It became his entire existence.

Time. Its relentless hand sweeps through everything. It leaves nothing. It takes all we have and all we’ll ever be. Robert moved through the shadows in the late afternoon. The windows were dirty as was the rest of the house. His parents had died in the nineteen seventies and he’d sold his condo and moved back into the house in Cheviot Hills. Cluttered. He’d never really got around to going through their things. He just closed the doors and lived on in the rest of the house. He saw his martial arts equipment in a corner. Unused. It had been years… he couldn’t move like he once did. Vitality and flexibility were a thing he no longer knew. Youth was a stranger’s face mocking him in his infirmity. He parted the curtain and saw the gardener watering the pots on the back porch. He waved. Robert saw the shimmering water in the huge square pool… it had been a long time since he swam. “I should get in the water again.” He thought. “It would probably be good for my joints.” Turning away, he sat back down. “Maybe another time…” he mused. Robert sat there, an old man, in an old house and idly thought through his past. The sun spun through the afternoon heat. He thought of his training, the warrior he once was and the battle he prepared for and never fought. Robert felt his advancing years in his bones. That night when he went to sleep, he couldn’t know that his battle was finally over. Sleep took him one last time.

Arthur Viecco

His Shadow On Every Wall

Arthur Viecco pulled his car to the curb and looked the house over. It was sagging there under the heat of the afternoon. The trees were overgrown, the yard a mess and it had a heavy unused look about it. Arthur’s friend bought homes and was involved in developing properties. He had bought the property from the state after Robert Buchsbaum had passed.There were no relatives. He’d told Arthur that the pool there was massive and the home would be demolished. Knowing Arthur was a skateboarding legend from the seventies, he thought it might prove to be a good pool for skating. Arthur looked it over and realized that the walls were big and round. He got a pump and the pool soon sat empty under the afternoon sun. Arthur called me and I went by. We walked through the house. Robert Buchsbaum. His entire life lay inside those walls. Every dream he ever had, every long night awake and sleepless, every fortunate and unfortunate occurrence… it was there with glaring realism. There were piles of clothing, shoes and the furniture still sat where Robert had last sat… it made us quiet and sad. In a closet, a pile of sixteen millimeter movie spools sat on the carpet. ‘Italy 1960’ was written on one canister, ‘Christmas 1957’ on another. These were scattered with photos and slides. His entire life discarded. It was grotesque in its abandon.

We walked around and took it all in. The fragility of life. Paper-thin.  I found a teak wood shelf filled with martial arts books. I saw his belt certificates and I found his Karate Gi. His belts were all there to show his rise in Karate and the combative arts. Martial arts equipment and books on fencing and combat were strewn about. I told Arthur “This man was a warrior.” It was hard to reconcile all of the discipline, training and achievement with the mess we were looking over. His shadow was on every wall. We finally called in some friends and rode the pool. I was haunted by Robert Buchsbaum, his demise and the fact that all he ever was, would soon be a pile of rubble. We took his Karate Gi and photo and hung them up. Respect. Honor.

Tribute

Every session became a tribute to him, at least for some of us… The pool was big, deep and you had to step up to it. One had to be a warrior. Arthur called the pool the Equalizer. I think he felt the pool challenging enough that it had a tempering effect on all who came there. The pool made you give one hundred percent. If you didn’t charge in full-throttle, you came away with nothing. The pool was the ultimate opponent.

Brad Bowman

Lance Mountain

Arthur Viecco / Equalizer

Tony Alva

Axel Cruysberghs

Grant Taylor

Raney Beres

The sessions became a weekly thing. We knew that the pool wouldn’t last. If anything, this property reinforced how fleeting life can be. One look around the remnants of Robert’s house made that abundantly clear. Life waited for no one. Soon, word came down the line that permits were secured to demolish the house. The next time I drove over, a green construction fence was wrapped around the property. The endless cycle of life, death and life. The sessions increased and the pool demanded more from everyone.

Terrell Schmidt

Tyler / Gone Cemental

Patrick Ryan

Jake Reuter

One of the things that I noticed immediately, was the intensity in the sessions. The pool made each skater battle it out. Hardly one of us would walk away unscathed. It seemed fitting, given that the homeowner had been one to challenge life in the way that he did… In every session, someone was at war with themselves. Apropos.

Tony Alva

Howard Hood

Grant Taylor

Me

Mami Tezuka

The power company appeared one day and installed a new power box and pole in the back corner. That same week, all the trees and shade in the backyard were gone. It was like some giant hand had reached down and moved things around like a chessboard. Huge trees gone, giant piles of lumber stacked, concrete bags and pipes scattered along the fences. Progress… just not the kind I like. I walked through the house after the last session there. I saw an old first aid kit, razors, tea bags and medicine from the nineteen nineties scattered across the filthy carpet. Someone had come and piled the living room area with old appliances, furniture, wires and clothing. I picked up a postcard from the floor. It had a foot print on it. Smudged. It showed a handsome couple dressed in winter clothing at a ski resort. In big red letters it said , “Greetings from Paradise.” I looked at the pool and thought of the sessions we’ve been having. I laughed under my breath… “Paradise indeed!”

Darrel Delgado

Tristan Rennie

Elijah Akerley

Robert Buchsbaum spent decades becoming a master of the martial arts. Pain, sweat, injury, self denial… things — as skaters — we can completely relate to. For us, there’s no other way. People live their entire lives collecting stuff. They go to school, collect a few letters to put after their name, some gather trophies, others ribbons and banners, some collect cars and wives… the list is endless and ultimately sad. These are but small victories on the long, gritty road of life. As the great end is sweeping in, we find ourselves standing before only one opponent and it’s the same for each of us. Time. Time always wins. Rest in Peace Robert Buchsbaum. Thanks for the lesson and the fun. – Ozzie

Thanks to all of the photographers, skaters and filmers that contributed to this story.

Robert Buchsbaum RIP

 

Steven Lippman

Steven Lippman
Marina del Rey

In any endeavor, there will always be some that were a bit overlooked or those that fall by the wayside. When we were doing the book ‘Back in the Day’, I came across many images of skaters that were absolutely ripping. Parks, pools, pipes, ditches, banks… every aspect of skateboarding has unsung heroes. Steven Lippman is one of those. William had some amazing photos of Steven and I found out through others of that era, that he was basically a Reseda Park grom that came up through the scene in the mid to late 1970’s. When everything took a nosedive in the early 1980’s, he discovered surfing and devoted himself to it. I decided to do a quick Q&A with Steven and I leave it here for your edification. Ozzie

Steven Lippman

Steven Lippman

I started skating very young. I went to the parks and ended up riding mostly with Shreddi Repas, Don Szabo, John Harris, Jay Smith and Bert Lamar (off and on). We were mostly on the Sims Team together so it was a natural thing for us to ride consistently at places. I personally never really  cared what we rode, just as long as I was skating. Backyard pools were great though… They gave me a feeling of being — in a way — one of the elite. I had a sense of being a part of the growth of skateboarding. Special. It was just us, no one around. Pushing limits and each other.

Steven Lippman
Mondo’s Andrecht

Once we were sponsored AM’s, we really worked hard to get better at skating. Our crew would spend hours every day at the parks… we wanted it. Back then, you had to do really well to get products and be a top AM. It seemed that we didn’t get the focus from the photographers and magazines that some of the other riders received. Stacy Peralta did a great job of taking the Powell Peralta riders under his wing and getting them that exposure. I can say this, we were in the finals with those guys nearly every contest. Looking back, we definitely gave it one hundred percent.

Steven Lippman Skatercross

Steven Lippman
Oasis
Image: Mukai

Steven Lippman
Andrecht Reseda
Image: Sharp

I think that in those days, I looked up to the riders around me. We motivated each other and pushed it together. Shreddi Repas was insanely good! He didn’t get what he should have as he was as good if not better than everyone out there. I liked Brad Bowman, Steve Olson, Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez.

Steven Lippman

Looking back, I recall that some of my favorite sessions occurred at Marina del Rey. We had some amazing sessions there at night. Everyone was riding well and ripping. I remember Christian Hosoi and he was like ten years old… It was a time of pure progression unlike anything else. I rode the Vans Pro/Am at the Dogbowl around that time. I did inverts and airs. I held my own. I took third place there.

Steven Lippman
Marina del Rey

Shortly after that contest, I quit. It is the one great regret of my life. I tell my son that all of the time. I had discovered surfing and just fell in love with it and the entire beach life. Sun. Sand. Waves. Once I discovered surfing, I realized it gave me the same sensation as skateboarding. I took what I knew as a skateboarder and implemented it into surfing. I soon began entering surf contests and  sponsors recognized me. I found myself competing every weekend. I surfed all of the NSSA’s, WSA and PSA contests. Surfing had now became my way of life.

Skateboarding disappeared and I eventually gave away or threw out all of my trophies and boards. At the time I was young. I thought, “Why hang on to this stuff that I got as a teenager?!” I’m skating again and I love it. I rode Angelo’s bowl in Malibu recently. The old muscle memory is still there… though it hurts more than it once did. I’m grateful for the times I had with the people I was with. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Thank you to William Sharp for capturing my youth.

Steven Lippman
Image: Trevor Pikhart

Steven Lippman / Malibu Image: Dave Weems

Thank you Steven Lippman and all the photographers that sent images. Ozzie

Dust & Desolation

The heat pressed in on us from all sides. In the San Fernando Valley, that’s a way of life. Heat. Dust. Desolation. We drove through it. A pool awaited. A backyard plaster beauty;  its blue tiles welcoming with cool water… a respite on a hot afternoon?  No. None for us, thank you! We are more visceral than that. Our need is a much more primitive thing. An inner engine that pushes us to push ourselves. We met up at the familiar place. Climbing out of our cars, we greeted each other… the heat again, a palpable thing. The sun felt angry. So be it. We were there to do our thing and its a thing that can barely be explained. How to explain, the unexplainable.

Jesse Lindloff

Patrick Ryan

The San Fernando Valley is a hothouse of sprawling apartments, ranch homes, concrete ribbons of roads going no where and everywhere all at once. The sun has been out for hundreds of years. Its an old and tired friend. City after city offers up plunder for those that seek. I can’t count the days and money I’ve spent searching for pools… If the truth were told, no one would believe it anyway. Such is Planet Hate.

I realized a long time ago, that virtually nothing I do matters. The only thing that does, is the way I treat those around me. Pushing pools and stoke out into the great cold distance. It’ll out live me. My dream. Jesse Lindloff, Josh Peacock, Patrick Ryan, Lance Mountain, William Sharp and I slipped into that dream… its one of my own making. I know I’ll never trade it for the world.

Lance Mountain

Jesse Lindloff

Patrick Ryan

Thanks to William Sharp for the images. – Ozzie

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/