San Fernando Valley. The night hides a million horrors and ill deeds. People secure themselves behind barbed wire, brass locks and brandy. The world is held at bay. Lights shimmer from the hillsides. Every shadow hides a heartbeat. How long will the pattern of another broken life define us? How far will our voices reach as the machinery of government rides over our liberties? The valley held so much hope. Los Angeles sprawled and spilled up and over the hills… The further it grew, the higher the heat climbed and the freeways split things into parceled concrete and neon pieces. Huge palm trees and family homes climbed the hills and ran away across the valley as far as the eye could see. Shimmering water. Swimming pools. Dreams were built on the backs and sweat of the hard-working immigrants and residents. Years blew by. Goodness. It once was and it no longer was what it could’ve been. Unravelling.
Some areas remain unchanged. Some are in decline. Some are lost. It is the way of things. Restoring order. Life will do it for us sometimes. In the 1970’s, there was drought and heat. The San Fernando Valley cooked under the relentless sun. Skateboarders moved through the area. Cars were loaded with boards and the occupants were loaded in turn. Fun and mischief. It is what they did. Jerry Valdez, Kent Senatore, Marc Smith, Dave Ferry. Arthur Viecco, Brad Bowman, Shreddi Repas, Jay Smith and a crew of others, were constantly on the search. Unknowingly, they created a path for us to follow.
Did you ever notice how day by day we do the same routines and nothing seems to change? Then, we eventually look back and nothing is the same. Everything is different. In this case, the world evolves into a continuing shit show. The lonely parade marches down the street followed by a band that plays no music… Rome burns. Skateboarders roam through the detritus of life and create where they can. What life leaves as scraps, we form into a useable canvas for expression. Urethane is our paint. Eddie Mighty Moreno, Oscar Navarro, Al Brunelle and Robbie Russo took MRZ and I to the San Fernando Valley the other weekend. They follow closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, yet they expand on an original idea. Progression. Things would cease to be interesting if those that come later, simply duplicate what is already here. These guys are our future.
We drove a concrete ribbon of oil and grease. Trash and smog were a constant reminder that there are far too many of us in the world. Condoms should come as standard equipment on all new models in production. The world is going half the speed of what it takes. We pushed through. Alleys. Cinder block walls. Foreclosures.
Driving into a waning sun, we slipped into a quiet neighborhood. We pulled to the curb. Looking to the right, we all saw it. Neglect. Abandonment. The house sat in silence. Leaves and blistered paint marred its face. A broken white fence sagged on its hinges. “This is the one. It is basically a ten minute get in and handle your business type of pool.” We nodded. Eyes ran over the nearby houses. I saw a neighbor standing shirtless on the sidewalk nearby. He already laser-beamed us. I wanted to walk up and tell him that I found his nose… in our business. I didn’t. I smiled and said “Hello.” I approached. I told him we wanted to skate the pool and take a few photographs. He turned his head to the side and spat on the ground. “You can do what you want. I aint no rat.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked back into his garage. We slipped into the yard. It had huge trees and the pool was carpeted with debris. Everyone silently went to work.
Within fifteen minutes, it was cleaned, ridden and vacated. Abandonment and neglect were conquered. The pool was left behind as a perfect memory of how a San Fernando Valley afternoon could be. We took a lost dream and infused with with new blood… if only for a brief moment.
Thanks to MRZ for the images. Thanks to the crew. 1970’s B&W image courtesy Fineman Archive. Skate- Ozzie