A teenaged Angelo pushed hard with his back foot and felt his skateboard accelerate. He laughed as he heard George Orton trying to catch up. They were cruising through the skatepark. Skate City Whittier. Angelo’s parents owned the place and he and his friends would fly through the park, playing tag and laughing.
Skate City had the infamous Clover Bowl. Local rats that participated in some of the legendary ripping were: Blender, Lucero, Armijo, Mountain, Kasai, Nash and Grosso. George Orton, Ray Bones Rodriguez and Darrell Miller were the Skate City pros at the time. In the skate park catastrophe of the early 1980’s, Skate City disappeared as well. Angelo always recalled the times at his parents skate park with fondness. They were the times of his life… but life moved on. In 1981, Angelo went off to Pepperdine University to play baseball. Skate City receded from his mind.
Fast forward thirty years. Angelo had moved on and moved up. He worked hard. Harder than most. Little time for play. He retired at forty-one years of age and bought a place up on a Malibu hillside. After fixing up his dream home, Angelo decided to put in a little kidney pool. He said that, “I always skated. I just love to carve. I thought about putting in the Skate City Clover Bowl at my home. I first put in a kidney swimming pool but made the transitions rideable. I dug the thing myself. I had a friend that I phoned. He owned a pool building company. He instructed me to rent a Bobcat, lay out the pool, get spray paint and do the outline. I was to dig it out. Once I got it close to the way I wanted it, I was to call him.” Angelo laughed. He said that with his ADD, he had to be involved in every step of the thing. He went on- “I was obsessed. My friend came by once it was close to being ready. We cleaned it up a bit, the steel guys came out and that is how it went. We rode that for a few sessions and then filled it up and swam in it.”
“I just wanted to build the Clover again. I called up Art Kent who was the original architect for Skate City. I got the original blueprints for the Skate City Clover from him. Immediately, I went out and measured the yard trying to find a place to fit it in. I was talking to my friend who made pools and he said ‘… call California Skate Parks.’ I left a message. Lance Mountain ends up calling me back. It was so awesome. We hadn’t seen each other since Skate City. The next day Lance was out here and it was like we hadn’t missed a beat in twenty years. Lance was here everyday until it was done.”
“We paced it off and worked so hard on the waterfalls and transitions. Then Lance had the best idea of all. He decided that since we are bigger and older, the walls should be moved out three feet. It came out perfect. We did the pool fast. Five days of digging, two days for the forms and the concrete guys came three days in a row and poured it. They did it in thirds. It was done in two weeks. We rode it immediately. It was great to see everyone again. We acted like we were twelve years old again… in fact, we are twelve years old most of the time.”
Lance filled me in on the details of building the Clover. “Well, the original was only eight feet deep. In the original at Skate City, you could fly between the bowls and pressure ollie into the next. We knew that this wasn’t going to be the case with Angelo’s. We decided to pull the walls out three feet and add another half a foot to the depth. It made it more user- friendly. We worked hard on the bowl. Building it went pretty quickly. In the end, one of the neat things we noticed was the addition of the roll in. It took us back to the skatepark era. Only someone from that era would understand. Modern skatepark pools all have coping around and you have to tail drop into them. Angelo’s has a roll in… just like the old days. It brought back that nostalgic feeling right away. I looked around during the first sessions. There we were: Blender, Bowman, Angelo, Lucero, Sharp… it was like we went back in time… except we went back in time as someone’s grandparents!” Lance laughs. He related how they rode Angelo’s and sat around laughing like they did back in the day at Skate City. The Clover Bowl. Timelessness. Fun. Friends.
Perhaps when all is said and done, the photographs will tell the story better than the story itself. After all, how does one put thirty years of daydreaming and the subsequent fulfillment of that dream into words? Is it even possible? Can I write about Angelo’s baseball career plans, water ski accident, leg injury and the demise of those plans? According to him, he was messing it all up anyway. Could I write about his frustrations and unending work days that led him from there to here? Would it matter? Perhaps it is only important to the story in one regard. Angelo kept his love of carving alive all those difficult years so that –one day– when he finally retired, he could rebuild his favorite childhood place and share it with his friends. In life, most people measure success in the accumulation of possessions. Respectability. Power is their drug. Many of those people lose their dreams in the process. They forget how to dream. They lose sight of how to have fun. Angelo has succeeded where many fall short. He has more fun than most. In life… this is what counts. Thanks to Bill Sharp for the images. Skate- Ozzie