About Ozzie Ausband

I buy books. If there is any money left over, I pay rent then buy food. If I make an ass out of myself, I can be assured that there will always be someone there to ride me. Rimbaud, Rilke, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Howard ... the greatest writers the world has ever known! There is peace in poverty.

Frontier

They came in waves. The barrel of the machine gun was hot. Steady left to right. “Choose your targets…  Don’t waste any rounds.” I barely had time to look over my shoulder. Castaneda was surgical with his AR15. I watched as a roaring face pulled itself over the crumbling cinder block wall of the outer perimeter. Its eyes glimmered and it moved way too fast for a human… once human. No one knew what they were now. Castaneda’s AR15 jumped and it lay twitching in red ruin. They came in waves. I slammed a fresh magazine in and kept at it… burning eyes, gnashing teeth. Smoke and death. How the fuck do you kill something twice?! How does something come back to life? I pondered these maddening questions as I removed the arm from one of them in a welter of gore…  “Shit.” It crawled towards me, howling furiously… one arm dragging itself. I put one through its head and a torrent of blood splattered the window edge. “Jesus…”

It went this way forever. Magazine after magazine. Blood oozed from a million wounds and I heard them clawing at the roof and beams. “They’ve worked their way behind us! Dude… watch our back!” Castaneda moved quickly. I heard him behind me in another part of the building. Boom! Boom! His twelve gauge Mossberg was speaking. That thing sure made a mess of them. Castaneda shot one in the face a few hours ago and it literally stumbled around for a few minutes without a head… if I hadn’t been so completely disgusted at the sight, I would’ve laughed. It was almost comical. A lull. They stopped coming. “Drink some water.” Castaneda threw a bottle to me as he moved up beside me. “I’ll watch.” He pulled a large box nearer and removed more ammo. “Fucking things…” Our eyes met. We were both growing weary. I had to get a grip on myself from time to time. Insanity slipped its fingers under my skin. I heard voices whispering to me… It had seemed like days. At first it was almost unbelievable. I watched as one of them moved up slowly behind a woman on a bus and bite her. “It couldn’t be?!” I stood frozen… “What the…?”

She screamed. A fountain of blood jumped from where her shoulder once was. It splashed the roof and those seated nearby. They shrunk back horrified. It quickly became madness. It stayed that way and here they were. Castaneda was inside of a gun shop when I broke down the back door to give myself a fighting chance. I needed firepower. He stood there pointing a sidearm and looking at me… “Hey dude. Lower that thing. I think we are thinking the same thing. He looked closer. “You know what the fuck is going on?” He growled, as he lowered his pistol. “No idea. None. I saw one of those things bite a woman’s shoulder off and figured that I’d seen enough. Their teeth grow! Did you know that? That thing’s teeth were four or five inches long…” He shook his head in the negative and pointed to the open door behind him. “Lots of stuff in there. Stock up.” My name is Castaneda. I’m a cop…   well, I was a cop. I looked at him over my shoulder. He had a blank expression on his face. It was one I’d seen before. When you suddenly realize nothing will ever be the same as it once was. I started shoving ammo into a huge backpack. “My name is Ozzie. Let’s see if we can figure a way out of the city.”

We’d been together ever since. Castaneda watched my back and I watched his. We didn’t run into too many people and when we did, we didn’t want them around us. Panic-stricken, noisy, running, ill-prepared, slow, soft and weak. I don’t think we slept longer than thirty minutes at a time. Daylight seemed to filter into one long, gray nightmare. Things burned redly and the sky was the color of dull metal. They came in waves. If we were quiet enough, they’d root around the building and continue on. Where they were going or where they came from, we didn’t know. They were attracted by the gunfire so we tried to stay quiet. Ghosts. Invisible. Castaneda was peering over the window ledge. I smelled skin cooking. Nauseating. He shouted horsely and pointed… several of them were crawling over the block wall. Tattered clothing hanging down. Rivulets of hair lank and clotted with blood and dirt. Eyes burning. Red-rimmed. They came. We fired and fired.

I found myself shrieking incoherently as one landed on top of me as it got inside the building. It smelled horrible. Feces, urine, blood. I tore out my Gerber knife. I stabbed it in the face and neck. It clawed at me. “Jesus Christ…!”  Rolling in the dirt. My blood thrummed in my veins. “Fucker! I twisted its arm underneath it and stabbed and stabbed…. “FUUUCK” Brutality. Castaneda was screaming and shooting. I felt its fingernails rake my face. Blood poured out of me. I threw the thing off of me and it scurried like an animal and quickly pinned me down again. Blood, warm and copper-smelling was everywhere. I was slippery and my eyes were swollen… I clawed and fought that fucker with everything I had. I saw its head go back and its teeth extended. Time crawled. Nothing moved. I couldn’t speak as the flashing white teeth arced towards my neck and face. Hate filled my heart. I was poison. All I stood for was lost… it lifted my face up and bit again. Pain stomped across my brain in giant black boots. It held me against its neck and swallowed. It groaned in ecstacy. I woke up. Sweat-soaked. The sheets were a tangle around my legs. Desperate. “Jesus Christ!” The coffee pot had started on automatic and it gurgled wetly. I rubbed my eyes and — for a moment — I could still smell those things. My skin crawled. I sat up. My pulse hummed… I felt the cool floor under my feet as I moved to the bathroom.

Tony Alva, Rick Stine and Lance Mountain

Tony Alva

Lance Mountain

I soon checked my phone. Messages. Things were beginning to feel normal again inside my head. “Ahhh, this I understand.” Skateboarding. Familiar ground. My bad side burned itself slowly out. The past came to haunt me. I sipped coffee and read the text and looked at the photographs. It seems like the crew found a new pool. I shook my head to rid it of the lingering images from last night and slowly got dressed.  Skate- Ozzie

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Pilgrimage

Howie, Rick, Gopa, Shawn, Henry

“If you’re a skateboarder… you should make a pilgrimage to Mt. Baldy.”  Steve Alba said it and — for once — I am in full agreement with him.  A few of the crew had never been there and rode the concrete cylinder. Last week we were texting back and forth and the topic came up. It was quickly a sealed deal. We were going during the weekend and so it was. This morning the sky was steely. We left Hollywood and drove east. The rest of the crew came in and met us at the base of the spillway. We made the walk in. Howie, Gopa, Ripperside Shawn, Henry Matus and Rick Stine.

 

On arrival, there was no plank. A few didn’t want to make the jump. Old bones, older injuries…  Howie and I left to go to a lumber yard. Leaving the neighborhood, we spotted an old pile of lumber at an abandoned lot. Problem solved. We marched back and in less time than it takes to tell it, we were rolling and laughing.

Ripperside Shawn

Howie

Rick Stine

Gopa

There are some things that cannot be explained. How do forty and fifty year old men explain the feeling of absolute happiness that burns through our blood streams when riding a huge concrete pipe or a new pool? How can we understand the inner compulsion that drives us through so much adversity… pain, injuries, lawlessness, social stigma? We can’t even explain it to ourselves. I don’t understand why I do what I do except to say that it is fulfilling beyond anything else in my life. While my contemporaries watch TV and live life through others actions, my friends and I are participating in our own… viscerally. In the gut. In the bones. Happiness.

Thank you Shawn, Gopa, Howie, Rick and Henry. That was truly fun. X Ozzie

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Unchanged

Punker Matt doubles up

We do this thing we do. It occupies our thinking. It is drug-like in its persistence. Responsibilities gnaw at us like a festering wound. We carry these on slumped shoulders. Shoulders that carry a long tortured road of hurt. Broken words, friendships and promises. To us and from us. It goes both ways. Shoulders attached to backs of worn muscle and degenerating bone and cartilage. Joints that have been bent and broken. Our future will remain unchanged. We couldn’t turn it all around if we wanted to. We are skateboarders.

Kevin Burke

Texas Dan

I stood at the Combi contest a year or two ago and noted how old we are getting. Collectively. Gray beards, thick waists, slumped shoulders… We walk slowly and some limp. I saw a certain legendary pro skater amble in. He looked as if he’d have a hard time finding a seat in the bleachers, let alone, ride a skateboard. Yet, once he rolled into the huge Combi bowl, he moved like one born to it. Flow and grace. Savage fucking beauty man… He skates better than he walks.

Mike Smolik

I know that some of these guys are one in two billion. They were special when they were young and they remain so. Their bodies can barely contain their unique abilities… and so it goes. The joints inflame, the muscles ache and we won’t change. Why should we? We know something and own something others completely missed out on. I’m glad they did. Skateboarding is ours and it is us. Thank you to Joe Hammeke for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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Kelly Lynn / Guest Post

Kelly Lynn pivots as Clyde Rogers looks on.

Remembering Oaks pool

Really good backyard pools have always been rare in Florida and the 1970’s Daytona Beach pool known simply as “Oaks” was no exception. It was rough, dirty and seriously kinked, but it was all ours and of course we loved it. Oaks was no joke and at times could be a source of great pain, but more often it was a source of even greater pleasure. Mrs. Oaks lived in a house located right on the Intracoastal Waterway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Local skaters Ben Duffett and Clyde Rodgers first approached her about skating her pool in 1976. Ben’s younger brother had stumbled across it while cutting through her yard one day. He then told Ben and soon after Clyde and him decided to knock on her door and ask if they could skate it. She gave the go ahead to skate and agreed to let them clean it out for her. Additionally, they cleaned up her patio and trimmed a few bushes to further seal the deal. I remember she had a white corvette tucked away in the garage we would all drool over as we walked in to skate. I never knew much more about her other than she was always very cool to us and I always felt like she enjoyed our company. On occasion she was known to walk out the back door and surprise us with M&M cookies. I remember thinking how cool that was. As skaters we were all used to getting kicked out of places and here this lady not only took us in and let us skate her pool but she made us cookies!

John Wade

Clyde Rogers

I remember going to Oaks for the first time in 1977 at the age of 13. The entrance off of the main road was a narrow crumbling asphalt driveway overgrown with hanging limbs and bushes. Marking the entrance was a flat black mailbox that simply read “Oaks”. The entrance to the backyard was a narrow overgrown path on the north end of the house. Once you rounded the corner into the backyard the atmosphere was cozy and private. The house and patio were on the east side, with trees and shrubs at both ends of the yard and the river to the west. The neighbors were very close but you had the illusion of total privacy. The pool itself was pretty intimidating to say the least. I would describe it as having a skewed guitar shape with stairs in both the shallow end and also the deep end corner which was a little unusual. Originally the transition was basically a wall ride, a 6ft banked bowl with a 3ft vert wall around it. If you didn’t know how to do a wall ride you were out of luck. I remember the jolt was so severe it made a loud thwack when you hit it and it would usually knock your feet out of position. Overall the pool was about 9ft at the deepest point and the shallow end was just a wall with no transition. The tile was turquoise blue and in perfect condition. The coping was weathered, rough and stained black with mildew but had a perfect profile and stuck out just the right amount.

Al Davies

Jay Smith (Florida)

By my first visit, the Daytona locals already had it wired and the one person that stands out most in my mind is Clyde Rogers. Watching him skate Oaks I realized you really had to attack the pool to survive. In this pool there was no half-assing it, it was eat or be eaten. You were either throwing yourself up onto the vert wall at full speed or you were stuck down in the bottom just carving around. That aggressive approach to pool skating has stuck with me since and served me well, so I thank him for that. In the beginning skating Oaks pool was tough. Getting a grind or even hitting tiles was pretty manly and about the most you could hope for. But soon enough all that would change.

Ben Duffett

After it was approved by Mrs. Oaks, we started to try and smooth out the transition and patch the kink. Bags of concrete were mixed in a wheelbarrow in the bottom of the bowl and was then slapped in place and troweled as smooth as possible. It would probably all chip off, but nobody seemed to care. The urge to have a more skate-able pool had taken over. It would never be perfect but we all knew that smoothing out the transition could really open it up, and it did. This was DIY concrete work at it’s finest and it was 1977. I remember being there helping out watching the older guys mixing the concrete, the anticipation was almost unbearable. At first it was patched in 3 opposing spots so you could work the pool in a triangle. Eventually the transition was filled in almost all of the way around the deep end. Thats when things really got good and it actually felt like a legit pool.

Clyde Rogers

Warren ‘Seadog’ Messner

Kelly Lynn

The years to follow are a bit of a blur. So many amazing sessions went down it’s hard to keep track. The level of skating rose quickly in a very short amount of time. It seemed to go from below tile kick turns to blasting air out of the top almost over night. It was a tight knit group and we all had a lot of mutual respect for one another, which by the way is one of the things I love most about being a skateboarder. My last session at Oaks was probably around 1980. I don’t fully understand the reason it ended but eventually it did. The skateparks were all closed and the skate scene in Daytona Beach was dying a slow death. Surfers turned skaters were now reverting back to their first love, the ocean.

Jay Smith (Florida)

Fast forward to the late 1990’s. I was working in Daytona Beach as a graphic artist for a screen printing company. One afternoon I received a call at work from a guy who said he had an old skateboard he wanted to give me. He said it was covered with signatures and mine was one of them. He remembered me from back in the day and had tracked me down. Evidently his brother had retrieved this deck from an estate sale at the Oaks residence after her passing. At that point in the conversation it all came flooding back to me. Someone had donated a blank deck and it was kept in the room out back by the pool. Pretty much everyone who ever skated there had signed it. I was in shock. Not only did this guy have it but he wanted to give it to me for free. He said he felt like it belonged to someone who knew the story and could pass it on. I agreed and was honored and grateful he had thought to call me. The day I went to retrieve the deck from him, I realized his address was just a few blocks from where Mrs. Oaks lived. It’s an area of Daytona I’m rarely in and upon leaving his house I could not resist but seek out the old Oaks residence while I was in the neighborhood.

After a couple slow passes I spotted the driveway and it looked surprisingly the same, minus the black mailbox. Turning into the driveway was like going back in time at first then it quickly became evident that I was pulling into a freshly cleared lot. The house, pool, patio, everything was gone. I parked and got out, I wanted to go stand where the pool used to be. The view of the river was the same and it was very peaceful that day on that empty lot. I noticed that there was no grass growing yet and the dirt looked freshly groomed. I immediately wondered how recently they had demolished the pool. Had it been sitting there waiting for someone to ride it again after all those years? Dragging my feet on the way back to my truck I spotted something in the dirt. I bent down to pick it up and sure enough it was a small piece of blue tile from the pool. That tile is now treasured and kept with the deck that everyone signed.

I carry my memories of Oaks with me everyday, especially when I skate a pool. It’s an inner strength that I’m glad I have to draw from. Looking back, I know that the pool being so bad, is what was so good about it. It had prepared us for anything.

Mrs. Oaks

Oaks Pool Locals: Ben Duffett, Clyde Rodgers, Warren “Seadog” Messner, Jeff Croyl, Jay Smith, Mark Lewis, Kelly Lynn, Tim Nolan, Charlie Gonzales, Dave Narducci, Jeanie Narducci, Robert Hougham, John Wade, Bubba-G, David “Turkey” Rodrigue, Tony Warren, Billy Bray, Matt Dresser, Al Davies.

Thank you Robert Hougham for the use of your amazing photos!

Thank you to Kelly Lynn for taking the time to do this Guest Post and sharing this piece of Florida history with all of us. Skate- Ozzie

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Express Your Identity

 

Tony Alva

Last summer, Tony Alva called me up and we got together. We were going over his book project and he asked me if I had a pool that he could do doubles in. I thought about it and asked who he’d be doing doubles with. Who and what will always determine where. That is how things go. He said that Vans was shooting something with him and Elijah Berle. I called around and got something going for us.

Gopa, Ripperside Shawn and yours truly

Elijah Berle

I had Rick Stine, Ripperside Shawn and Gopa come along to round out the session and we met up on the appointed day. Things went well and Elijah and TA put the hammer down for Vans and each other. Any day riding a backyard pool is a good one, but skating on this day, with these two, was pretty fantastic. Thank you to Vans, TA, Elijah and MRZ and Anthony Acosta for the images. Skate and wear Vans- Ozzie

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Return to Menzanator

Nick Menza R.I.P.

Nick Menza R.I.P.

Jim Howell and I skated in the freezing cold all day. It was December 1990. Pennsylvania can be raw at this time of year… We felt it all day long. We rode the Reading skatepark. Asphalt. Both of us were amping on overload. We were skating all day and then headed to see Megadeth and Testament open for Judas Priest that night. A day of days. That night, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth introduced the band members in between songs. Drummer Nick Menza raised his sticks in the air as he was introduced and at that, Dave Mustaine stated unequivecally, “…and you all better know who the fuck I am!” At that, Megadeth launched into new songs off the Rust In Peace album that had just been released. As I worked myself into a thrash metal, sweat-soaked heap, I would’ve never believed that about twenty five years later, I’d be standing in Nick Menza’s backyard in California, he’d be gone from us and we’d be skating his empty swimming pool.

Nick Menza played drums with Megadeth for four albums and on solo projects after. Nick tragically passed away May 21, 2016 while playing drums with his band in Los Angeles. His home in Los Angeles, which he moved into in 1995, sat on a quiet street. The ivy grew over the fences, the trees sagged in the hot sun. His sister Donia started cleaning things up and going through Nick’s belongings. It was all terribly daunting and sad.

Rick Stine was driving through an alley in the San Fernando Valley, when his phone began vibrating. He stopped at the next corner and checked it. His friend Phil had text him a photograph of an empty pool: “Look at what I found”  Rick went back and forth and learned the news of Nick Menza’s passing and that Phil was helping Donia clean up the place. The pool sat empty and — delicately — Rick asked about permission to skate it.

After a month or so, Donia gave Rick permission to come by. The house was being sold and was empty. Rick and I drove over one morning. We weren’t expecting too much. On satellite it seemed really narrow in the deep end. Usually, a narrow deep end can make a pool difficult in some ways. When we arrived, there was a small amount of construction debris in the bottom but little else. The facewall transitions were amazing and the sidewalls pillowed. We were immediately stoked. Rick and I took first grinds and the following weekend, we came back with Chris Livingston, MRZ and Corey Philips.

Rick Stine

Rick Stine

Corey Philips

Corey Philips

Chris Livingston

Chris Livingston

Me

Me

The Santa Clarita fires were burning and the sky was orange and smoky. It was a strange thing to look up and see the entire sky in such a way. It seemed like the whole world was burning. La fin du monde. This was to be the first real session and we did it right.  I put on Megadeth and played Rust In Peace. While Nick Menza hammered away on the drums as only he could, we hammered away at the coping on his pool. We knew that Nick was smiling down on us. Good friends, a great pool, Megadeth and the sky on fire… A proper tribute to the greatness of Nick Menza.  Recently, Rick had shown me a photograph Donia had sent him of Nick Menza skating his own pool! We were so stoked. It seems that he had ridden his own pool back in 2014.

Nick Menza R.I.P.

Nick Menza R.I.P.

He was a multi-faceted guy and very talented. It is a tragedy that he is gone. We hope that in some way, we gave him a proper tribute. His life. His music. His skateboarding and legacy. Thank you Nick. Rest In Peace. Thank you to MRZ for the images and Donia for the session. Thanks Rick. Skate- Ozzie

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