I started in 1973. Nash. Steel wheels… For whatever reason, when I stood on a skateboard, I could do it. I had that tricky balance thing early on that kept me from breaking my ass every minute that I stood on it. So I kept at it. Here we are all of these years later. I never became any good at it but it sure has been fun. You’d think that after doing something for over forty years, I’d be pretty polished. Not so. Skateboarding isn’t like that. I’ve spent so much time bailing tricks and falling off my skateboard that if I calculated all the distance and times I’ve fallen…. It would equal the distance that I could easily be dropped from the Space Shuttle above earths orbit to crush myself into the earth far below me. Hard on the body. Here we are… I turn fifty five years old tomorrow. I wake up daily with my bones burning. The bones in my feet are particularly destroyed. I’m tired of hurting. I work all week at a very physical job and then skate pools on Sunday. Monday through Wednesday, I’m limping around. I love to run and workout and I can’t because I’m so destroyed from pool skating. I run and workout Wednesday through Friday and then repeat the cycle. I’m tired. I had a birthday session yesterday. One last hurrah. I invited the regular people I generally roll around with from time to time. They didn’t know it, but it was basically my last session. I’ve had a good run and seen some amazing things that resulted from my involvement in skateboarding all of these years. I saw the seventies skateboarding boom and subsequent fall. I watched the rise of vertical from pipes to pools to parks. I built ramps in my hometown.
Jami Godfrey at Cherry Hill
I rode Cherry Hill with my best friend Jim Howell and saw Jami Godfrey, Mike Jesiolowski and a ton of locals hold it down regularly. I saw Shogo Kubo at Cherry Hill. I watched Mike Weed and Roy Jamison ride a plexiglass halfpipe when I was twelve in a JC Penney shopping mall. I traveled to California in the military and rode Del Mar and Upland Pipeline.
Neil Blender Finlan’s
I rode Pete Finlan’s Oceanside ramp with Tony Hawk, Britt Parrot, Brian Ridgeway and others. Jim Howell and I would drive to Virginia Beach for the Trashmore contests in the eighties. During the practice session, we watched Steve Caballero, Kevin Staab and Lance Mountain practice their runs. It was boiling outside… no shade. After awhile, we watched as Tony Magnusson and Micke Alba basically held a two man demo for the hundreds of spectators in ninety five degree weather… everyone else gave up and those two guys just kept hammering at it.
Lance Mountain at Trashmore
I rode Cedar Crest Country Club. Jay Henry, the Sigafoos brothers, Buster Halterman, Brian Kentucky Boyd, Fred Smith, Opie, Devin McQuire, Mike Mapp, Metal Man, I think Sean Jones was there… Actually, on one weekend, I think every vert skater on the east coast was there. It was madness. I recall three dudes dropping in at the same time. They kept skating. No one would step out…We were screaming! Unbelievable energy and fun.
Cedar Crest Country Club
I rode Easter Vert with all of the greats, Charleston Hanger with Blaize Blouin and ultimately ran Woodward in Pennsylvania from 1992 until 1997. I saw craziness there that had no end. A young seventeen year old Tas Pappas completely destroying and daily vert sessions with Mike Frazier, Neal Hendrix, Tom Boyle, Buster Halterman, Andy Macdonald, Paul Zitzer, Chad Vogt (yes he rode vert), Matt Dove, Brian Howard, Mike Speranzo… the list is endless. We had visiting pros on regular rotation as well. It wasn’t unusual to have fifteen guys on the deck throwing down. I watched Christian Hosoi do ten foot high airs across the ramp while he sang reggae…
Neal Hendrix at Woodward
Mike Frazier at Woodward
I saw Tony Hawk film his Birdhouse video ‘The End. I recall showing up to the warehouse to skate and wading through spool after spool of spent film laying in heaps by the flat-bottom. Tony sat in a chair in a sweak-soaked heap… mumbling. I got to watch the sun come up after riding the Nude Bowl all night with a million people… I rode ditches and pools everywhere. I rode around with Steve Alba in his truck and he took me to Baldy for my first trip. I drained more pools than most pool skaters will ever see. Tony Alva and I rode pools all over Los Angeles… and that was just one day out of many. I was arrested for cutting the chain on a foreclosed home to get into a pool and thrown in jail. I lost my RN license over said infraction. I’ve been chased by dogs, homeowners and criminals. I wrote a book on skateboarding with famed photographer William Sharp about all of my childhood influences and heroes. I started a skateboarding blog. I met all of you… some of the greatest friends I’ll ever have. I am very lucky… and so it ends. I put my board and pads in storage today. I’m all good.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to shoot a photograph with Ray Zimmerman on the Vans vert ramp. I wanted to do something for my 55th birthday. I tried a fastplant. I almost ran out of daylight but I put it down. No trick should take over two hours… I don’t know why its this way for me, but it is. The pain was once worth it. No longer. I’ll always ride but I’m done torturing myself. I am going to focus on martial arts and writing. That’s where I’ll be. Thank you skateboarding and thanks to all of you. Peace – Ozzie
Thank you to Jim Goodrich, MRZ, Pete Thompson and Bryce Kanights for the photographs. Be good to each other out there. X