Coliseum

Jerry Valdez

Jerry Valdez

August 1977. The city baked under the angry glare of the sun. Smog. Pollution. A yellow haze hung in the air like a bad reminder: “Don’t breathe too deeply.” Cars jostled for position on the freeways and the streets were crowded as always. Concrete. Humanity. A frantic-paced world of chrome, glass and sweat. Jerry Valdez and Kent Senatore cut down an offramp from the 110 freeway. They slipped the car into traffic and moved into the sun driving up Exposition Boulevard. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum squatted on the left side of them like a giant statue to the gods. Its sprawling parking lots were empty and the team pennants and banners hung lifeless in the hot summer air. Jerry lit another joint and inhaled deeply. Ted Nugent wailed away on the stereo as he handed the smoking weed to Kent. They were headed to the Coliseum Bowl. The neighborhood had changed in the ensuing years since the city had built the Coliseum. Poverty reigned now. Houses sat vacant. Liquor stores flourished and drug dealers peddled their vice to an ever-hungry population. Escape. Despair. They both knew that there were awesome pools to be found in the ghetto’s of Los Angeles. They drove around and found them. They kept it positive and real.

Kent laughed as Jerry made faces and yelled out of the car at a few teenage girls walking nearby. They pulled up to the pool. Kent helped get the brooms and buckets out of the car. The house sat boarded up. Life had left this place a long time ago. Jerry and Kent pulled old furniture and a bathroom sink out of the deep end. It was a beautiful square pool and the mid wall transitions looked perfect. A few local kids cruised by and watched. Once Jerry and Kent started riding, the local kids grew excited. This is what skateboarding is all about! Jerry pulled frontside grinds as a few local thugs came to the pool. They tried to intimidate but Jerry wasn’t having it. They kept riding and the drug slingers left them to their pool. This one lasted for a short while only to be replaced by others. Shelf life then no life. Bulldozers reduced the property to rubble. This image and Jerry’s memories are most of what remains. It seems that it is all we’ll ever need. Thank you to Jerry Valdez for the memories and Bill Sharp for the image. Skate- Ozzie

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