The Skyline

Skyline June 13, 2017

Johnny Altieri at Skyline Summer 1976

June 12, 2017. Los Angeles. I left my place in West Hollywood and drove to work. Santa Monica isn’t that far away but it took a long time to get there. I drove across Sunset Boulevard into Beverly Hills. Cars cluttered the intersections and the sidewalks were full of people coming and going. The sun was white and the sky clear and blue. A day just like any other. This was Los Angeles. I worked at several properties on the west side and then worked my way back up into Bel Air. I decided to take a break and run up by Bruce Lee’s house where he once lived just off Mulholland Drive. I stretched out and put a few miles in, following the route Bruce would take. The huge pine trees wound up the hillsides and I ran in the shade, content with the strain on my body and the feeling of running in the footsteps of the Master. I love tradition but I’m not bound to it. I have been heavily influenced by Bruce Lee all of my life. From fitness and martial arts, nutrition and even my reading interests. Bruce was inspiring in many ways. I find it comforting to go back to where he once was…  my soul connected in some way.

Driving back across the spine of Mulholland Drive, I stopped by Skyline to eat lunch. The rusting fence was overgrown with ivy and Bougainvillea. The gate hung slackly on one hinge. Others had been here recently and pulled it loose. Last time I had been to Skyline, I had to crawl over the top… I slipped inside and sat down. A thin rivulet of murky water ran down a concrete gash in the center and trickled into a storm pipe. I could hear it gurgling in the stillness. The concrete was rough. I mean, if any part of my skin touched this surface in any way, I was going to bleed. I sat and ate an apple. Ghosts spoke to me. They told me about the summer of 1976. Skyline. Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, UFO and Ted Nugent grooved from eight track tapes and huge speakers in the back of cars parked nearby. The sweet smell of Thai stick hung over head. Skaters sat along the top edge of the huge catch basin on its flat surface as they would take turns carving down and across its super steep surface to carve through the end corners…

The heavy players were there regularly. Tony Alva, Kent Senatore and his brother, Jerry Valdez, the Altieri brothers, Marc Smith and Dave Ferry put some serious lines in. The catch basins and reservoirs of the Hollywood hills were an early proving ground. Pools were already being regularly explored and new terrain was being conquered daily. As all things must, the Skyline is now in disrepair and mostly unusable. Many years ago –in late 1977– the city of Los Angeles Water Department put a three inch layer of black asphalt across the entire bottom of the place. It was rendered useless as a skate spot. I sit and think. In the same way I visited with Bruce Lee, I visit with these pioneers at Skyline. My soul reaches out and I left the place…  connected and in gratitude. Thank you to William Sharp for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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Three Corners

As a kid in Pennsylvania, the only thing I wanted to skate were pools. There were none. At least none where I lived. If I wasn’t in school or working, I skated. While I was doing those things, I was daydreaming of California and pool skating. I would eventually be running Woodward Camp in the early 1990’s and would visit California several times a year. I’d meet up with Steve Alba and he’d take a crew of us to some backyard pools. Those days will be seared into my memory cells until I am no more. THIS was the skateboarding I always longed for. Steve would roll into the deep end and do frontside grinds in the shallow end. He’d then go over every obstacle. I remember being completely in awe of how he and the pool skaters we were riding with would simply absorb the small transitions and obtain speed from every radius in the pools surface. It was a completely different experience for me. I’d push in, grind the facewall, run over the drain, almost die and then slam into the shallow end and that was that. At one point, Steve threw a truck wrench to me and said, “C’mon dude. Loosen that shit up.” It was humbling and exhilarating all at once. After I moved back to California permanently, I started looking for pools everywhere I went. This was in the pre-cell phone satellite times. You had to drive all day…  dead lawns, HUD homes, real estate open houses, ghetto neighborhoods… prowling alleys and hopping fences. There was no “gimme gimme”. One had to put in serious work and money. More importantly, it took a huge block of time. Over the years, I’ve found a fairly large number of pools. When people ask how many, I don’t really have a number. I’m not wired like that. I recall certain tricks or milestones…  certain sessions with people. I love finding the odd-shaped pool. There are so many shapes and sizes of pools out there. It is quite amazing.

Recently, Rick Stine and I located a new pool. It had a Rossmore shallow end and a deep end with two carvable corners. The transitions were amazing. We both realized its potential immediately. The lady gave us permission to drain it and we did it that very evening. The cancer was depressing. It was roughly seventy percent of the surface. We decided quickly that we’d patch and paint it. We spoke with the owner who was more than happy to have the pool kept empty and her landscaping done. A long road lay before us. Rick said, “How does one eat an elephant?” I looked at him blankly. “One bite at a time.” So it was.

tree trimming

Ardex is your friend

Rick – preparations

Me / First corner Ardex

We trimmed all of the vegetation and trees close to the pool. We scraped the entire surface and cleaned it and then we let it sit for a week. We came back and Rick rolled through it. Even with the cancer, he could keep his speed deep to shallow and back. We smiled. Once patched, we knew that the pool would be fast. We fixed the homeowners back deck, did landscape work and bought supplies. Ardex, paint, rollers, trays… Rick and I would meet up and do a section at a time. We finished the first corner and brought Charlie Blair and Brad McClain by one Sunday. We told them it was rough. We felt the pool was worthy. Both Charlie and Brad were definitely stoked on the round corners and big transitions. They attacked it and pieces of crumbling plaster billowed up above them as they crushed the poor thing.

Brad McClain

Charlie Blair

I was injured for almost two months and couldn’t skate. Rick and I continued to work on the pool at every opportunity. We’d scrape, Ardex patch and go eat tacos. The elephant became smaller… We decided that the drain was right in the way of the double double pretzel line, so we filled it with gravel and a locking system, then cemented it in. We began painting the pool with flat white Kilz primer as well. The pool was starting to look fantastic.

Drain game

too many kooks in the soup


We finally finished the entire pool and left it sit for a few days. We wanted it to bake in the sun. I knew from experience that –with so much surface cancer– we’d be having minor repairs after each session for a while. This proved to be the case. We were prepared though. We bought an extra bag of Ardex, had duct tape ready for any immediate quick patch and extra Kilz primer on hand. After a session, we’d simply clean off the duct taped areas, scrape them, whip up a batch of Ardex and fill them in. Our first big session happened to be a real hammer. Jeff Grosso, Peter Hewitt, Eddie Alioto, Lance Mountain, MRZ, BLKPRJKT, Rick Stine and I got into it pretty heavy. The surface took a beating, but held up fairly well.

Rick Stine


The pool is pretty unique. Conventional lines won’t work. Each skater that has been there is perplexed at first. Once they ride, everyone starts working it out and seems to love the corners. The cost to repair the pool came in at a bit under four hundred dollars. MRZ, Bulldog, Andy and others have helped with the funding. I thank them here and now. Rick and I shouldered the rest. We’ve kept it pretty tight thus far. KB, Chris Reilly, Robbie O’Connell, Arto, Roche, Tom from San Diego and Howie got some turns, as those previously mentioned.

Arto Saari

Robbie O’ Connell

The homeowner likes to watch us and we recently had a BBQ at the pool. She sat and smoked cigarettes and drank beer while Brad McClain cooked up some burgers for us. I can’t recall ever patching a pool to this degree. We put five weeks worth of hard work into it. As far as Rick and I are concerned, it was worth every minute. Thank you to Deville, Arto and MRZ for the images. Thank you to Rick Stine for the endless help. To those concerned, (you know who you are) don’t barge other skaters permission pools. Find your own. Make your own scene. Work hard and give something back to skateboarding. Skate- Ozzie

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The fire started in a dry riverbed just east of San Diego. Smoke blackened the sky and when one looked up, it seemed for certain that the end had come. The death of dreams. Finality. The fireman arrived as residents were leaving. The lonely battle. The uncommon dark. Helicopters. The crackle and hissing… Smolder. Afterwards, the media pointed its fingers. Who? How? Does there have to be a reason? Sometimes the world simply breaks. It gives us things to do… Houses were gutted and the dead black earth slept. A man on a nearby hillside looked over the remnants of his property. Ash colored his world. He kicked at a charred photograph album and decided then and there to build again. Spinning on his heels, he walked towards his truck. He passed by the huge Blue Haven cement swimming pool and noted that it was the only thing left virtually unscathed.


Fast forward forty years. A small ranch house now stood on the lot. The long rolling hills and sun-split boulders stretched away unimpeded into the distance. Neighbors were still a rarity and the area remained desolate. Remote. The dusty road leading to the house was festooned with rusting barbed wire fences. It stated clearly: No Trespassing. The old man had rebuilt after the fires, his kids had moved on and started families themselves. He grew old and eventually passed away.  The property changed hands. The house became a renter. It fell into disrepair and occupants cared little for the home. They squandered long nights with their crime in their veins. Vice. They had long ago given up on doing any real good in this world. They moved through life in a vacuum.  Rent was spent on escape. The owners saw no way out. The property suffered. The house soon became a bank foreclosure.

Seven months later, Billy Green sat by the side of a country road and looked at the list in his hand. He shook his head in annoyance. Turning the truck around, he soon pulled in at the start of a long meandering dirt road. It arced up and out of sight. “I guess this must be it…” He drove slowly. Billy cleaned up foreclosure properties. It was his job. He skated pools and did the best he could do. Don’t we all? He saw the house as he pulled to the top of the hill and looked over the recent foreclosure that had come his way. He slowly walked the property. It was a mess. Seeing a long dark wooden fence, Billy spotted pool tiles!  He rushed forward. “All the way out here!?”  He looked at the pool as it spread out on the back of the property. He couldn’t believe it. The pool was actually bigger than the house. Strange. The Blue Haven was deep in black water. Frogs were in the water and it reeked from a few feet away. The transitions looked massive. Billy made some phone calls. He would need help.

Billy Green – crail

John Torchia – method

Tyler Martin – lien melon

Kyle Berrard- gets in on a secret session and gets a one-up on the jacuzzi lip

Billy called in some friends and the cleanup began in earnest. Brian Fick, Riverside Shawn, John Torchia and Mike Lopez all joined Billy in the draining mission. The pool was a mess. To all appearances, it hadn’t been used for its intended purpose in a long time. Decades. The crew laughed as the water and muck were pumped away and the pool’s secrets were revealed. It was stellar. They kept it to themselves and rode it for a few months. The area is virtually uninhabited. They were left alone. Eventually, it needed paint and the crew gave her a fresh new skin.

The pool was a secret. It was kept that way. The big Blue Haven sat so far out in the wilderness that it was a journey just to get there. The crew rode it for a few more months then it sat again. Neglected. Wasps and frogs moved back in. The house squatted there… the years moved by.

filthy lady

Ripperside Shawn and I crawled through the mist in my truck. It was winter and the mountains were cold this early in the morning. The Blue Haven lady waited. We drove up the long dirt lane. Shawn was going to check the pool for the first time in a few years. I had never been there. As we approached the house, we saw a car in the driveway and a trailer parked nearby. Surprise. Defeat. “Damn!” I frowned into the morning…  Shawn said little but his disappointment was evident. “Well, lets go… its gone.” I told Shawn to wait a minute. I wanted to –at least– look at this pool that I had heard so much about.  I got out of the truck and as I approached the house, I saw a man walking towards me. I smiled and waved. As it turned out, this man had bought the property. We told him the story. Pools. Skating. He seemed intrigued. He let us drain it then and there. He shared in our stoke. The pool was thrashed. Elements and neglect had taken a heavy toll. Shawn and I spent several weekends draining, sanding and painting the pool. We rode it and kept the crew tight.

Ripperside Shawn- putting in the work.

Ripperside Shawn, John Torchia and Pepper… painting.

Ripperside Shawn- feeding the bird

the original crew reuntited

We decided to get some pals together after we painted it and have a fun little session. We got the original crew together and had Billy Green, Brian Fick and the others all in for some fun. Sometimes…  you can go back and do it all over again!  One day the owner said that he knew nothing about skateboarding but he knew who Tony Hawk was. Surprise? Since this man had shown us so much kindness, I made a phone call. Tony Hawk, Josh Stafford, Brian Fick, Lance Mountain and Kevin Staab all rolled out together. The owner was so happy. He couldn’t believe it.

Tony and Lance

Josh Stafford – hanging one high

Tony- front rock

The session was fun. Everyone fought to keep their speed on the big transitions and there was quite a bit of laughter to be found. Tony Hawk didn’t play around. Rock-n-rolls, backside airs, tailblocks and ollies were thrown down in quick order. Lance rode like a champ. Inverts and loveseat frontside airs went into the books. Stafford killed it all day… We rode for a few hours and it was inspiring to see Staab, Stafford, Hawk and Mountain all rolling around in a backyard pool. I must admit that I was very pleased to have had a small part in making such a thing happen. In the end, good things went down. The sun dropped over the hillside and the wind picked up. Everyone left in good spirits. In the past, there was a bit of bad juju associated with the property. Fire. Loss. Drug use and neglect. Skateboarders flipped it all on its head. After sessions like these, we can make things right. Karma debt is paid. Peace falls once again over a quiet San Diego hillside. The birds are free and they run these grounds….

Lance- invert on a tall wall

Kevin Staab – crail

Tony Hawk- tailblock

Thank you to the original crew. Thank you to Chuck for allowing this to happen. Thank you to everyone involved and special thanks to Brian Fick for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Bulldog and Andy laughed as Rick Stine, Marlon and I kept up a running dialogue during breakfast. “You see, the California pool scene is probably way different than it is on the east coast.” I muttered. Marlon interjected, “Yeah…  California has pools that you can actually ride!” Andy quipped, “Didn’t Farmer say that a pool is good if you can get over the light?” “Yeah…” I answered. “Yeah, he did say that.” The Gospel according to Farmer. Heavy source. Deity. Make no mistake…  If Farmer said it, it must be so. We sipped our coffee and talked about legends, heroes, bros and zeros. We ate our breakfast and moved into our day. Pools awaited us. They always do. Rick and I had found two or three new pools for Bulldog and Andy’s visit. One was an old Anthony kidney. It looked like a pit, but it was something new to roll around in. We drove by and spoke with the owners. Interestingly, he and his wife didn’t think the pool was rideable. We laughed. I heard someone tell the wife, “If we can get over the light, the pool is good.” I smiled. Lesson learned.

Rick Stine

We each took a couple of tries in the thing. The left wall pinched hard and flattened out. The right wall wrapped tight and it sort-of funneled you and the waterfall ate your speed. The shallow would’ve worked but it was a struggle to even get back up to… Pain pit. The facewall had a few steep feet of vert which was topped by some buck-toothed Anthony. I had much better things to do with my time and thought of the other pools on the days list. Rick Stine had the goofy-foot advantage and zipped onto tiles… a few dollar bills dropped from pockets and everyone urged him to grind this beast so we could leave with honor. As long as someone put trucks on… We were good. Fourteen dollars and a nudge and up he went. The best part of that pool is that we never have to go there again. I don’t mind riding a pit once in awhile. I think it helps. But in this case, I was happy someone took us off the hook and took one for the team. Thanks Rick. I heard someone recently talk about pool skating and they said, “If you aren’t breaking the law, you aren’t doing it right.” I personally think that person is confused. If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t doing it right. Thus endeth the lesson. Thank you MRZ. Skate- Ozzie

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Not Enough Middle Fingers

They drove the yawning expanse of concrete that wrapped the city of Los Angeles in a tight grasp. Snarled. Lips curled and cursed as people frantically jostled for position; switching lanes, slowing down and switching back again. The sun glittered on chrome and glass. Frustration rose up with exhaust fumes. Dirt gathered with heaped trash along a guardrail. Someone had sprayed lime green spray paint on an ivy-spangled wall leading down an offramp. It looked like it said, “Not enough middle fingers” The two guys in a silver Toyota truck laughed between themselves. They were skateboarders and they were pool hunting. It struck them as a pretty funny thing to spend time spray painting… The one told the other about some graffiti he saw recently in downtown Los Angeles. It said, “Homeless people + Empty buildings = Society fail.”

They talked about skateboarding and the saturation of fake tough guys. Society is full of them. There always seemed to be an abundance of them.  They both agreed that there was a definite shortage of brains in Washington DC lately. During the election, social media had exposed a good many people for what and who they really are. The two skaters laughed and thought that some of those people may have wanted to keep their opinions to themselves. They cut a slow arc across the San Fernando Valley and started running the grid of side streets and alleyways in the west end. Trash spilled from dumpsters, ice cream vendors pushed little colorful carts in the hot sunlight. Dark eyes flashed from under wide-brimmed hats. They saw a few empty pools but nothing really worth getting into. They’d try and talk with homeowners. If someone lived there, they’d attempt to reach an agreement. Yard work, house repairs, a little cash or some beer… whatever worked. They were stopping for a cold drink and one of them punched up the satellite. A few houses down, he spotted a teardrop shaped pool. It looked pretty good.


A few minutes later, the homeowner was standing outside speaking with them. He didn’t seem to understand. He thought that the two skateboarders were there to fine him for the dark green sludge and water that festered in the deep end of the pool. “No sir, we want to empty it for you and skate in it.” The owners daughter came out and explained…Sometime in the next week, they received permission to drain, clean and skate the pool. It was an old one. Blue tiles with fish on them, red bullnose coping, palm trees scraping the hot sky… The skaters were putting away the pump and laughed as the homeowner came out and tried to pay them for cleaning the pool out. “No thanks. Your money is no good here. We are getting to skate the pool… We need nothing else.” So, it was. On a hot summer day, in the San Fernando Valley. Like it always was and always will be.

Charlie Blair / Deathbox

Brad McClain / Disaster

Thank you to MRZ and Deville for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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Neil Blender / Guest Post

Duane Peters

Neil Blender

I remember sometime in late nineteen seventies, I was at Skatopia in Buena Park trying to skate. Suddenly, there’s this dude coming down the halfpipe edging and tapping at will. His style was noticeably intense and his hair was long. I thought he was a crazed hippy. I was hypnotized by his level of commitment. Another time, I was at the Concrete Wave in Anaheim, trying to skate the pool there. It  didn’t seem like they finished the surface very well as the deep end had weird transitions. You had to pump three times, in order to get up the wall. It sounds weird but it’s true. The pool seemed about ten foot deep with about a foot of vert and more on the hips that led up to the shallow end.The coping was kind-of burly and there were tiles too. A few people could pump the deep. I couldn’t but a dude named Andy Helps could and so could Duane.

I was walking out of deep when all of the sudden, here comes Duane straight at me. I though he was pissed but it’s what he does all the time, I later found out. He went past and started “working” the deep. Once again, I was mesmerized by how easy — yet super critical — he made it look. I remember standing at the bottom of hip and watching his tail slide up the tile into a perfect tail tap on the coping, no axle touching.  I couldn’t believe how that had just happened. Steve and Mike Hirsch were probably there too that day. Later on, the Big O opened in Orange and that’s when I started to realize just how intense DP was: 1- The Layback Rollout, 2- The Sweeper, 3- Fast Plants, 4- Fakie Footplant (fakie thruster), 5- Acid Drop, 6- Invert Revert, 7- Sliding Fakie Hangup, 8- Indy Air and various slide moves too. There’s probably more, but those are the roots to most vertical moves.

People shit themselves, when he did an Acid Drop, especially at Upland. Duane was the first guy that I saw, ride Big O’s Capsule end to end. That really helped me to understand the importance of distance between walls. One time a guy was taking too long to walk out of the capsule and Duane just shook his head and said to him “Are you for real?” The dude was slowing the session down and DP gets pissed at that. When you skate with Duane, you feel like you have to start making something happen out of your comfort zone. I feel he influenced everyone that skated with him or simply watched him. If you see one of his current Potato Grinds you will know.- Neil Blender

Thank you to Neil Blender for the Guest Post and William Sharp for the previously unpublished Duane Peters image. Skate- Ozzie

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On the Eighth Day / Cherry Hill

Victor Perez

During the late nineteen seventies, there were skateparks all over the United States. All of the parks had locals that made their park a sanctuary. It was like a religious cult where many in the community would come on a regular basis to share their bond by skating together. We all believed in the same things and read the same scripture, SkateBoarder Magazine.

Jami Godfrey

Eric Grisham

From a true miracle, in nineteen seventy eight, Cherry Hill Skate Park was born.  It was a miracle because there were no other parks designed like it. First, it was indoors, so it could be ridden all year round on the east coast. Second, it featured unheard of terrain for its time. Lastly, it brought the top disciples of skateboarding to unveil it to its followers.     

Mike Jesiolowski R.I.P.

Word spread quickly of the glory of its creation. For the scriptures showed the best riders grinding its three quarter pipe and airing its egg pool. The skaters from the New Jersey skateparks like Vineland, Seaside Heights, and Thunder Dome in York, Pa. came. They came from Crofton and Ocean Bowl in Maryland. New York’s Sonic Wave in Albany. They came from Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island and other states too. Then more came back with the disciples from the promised land of California. To those that rode Cherry Hill, it was glorious.  

Mike Hirsch

Jamie Mosberg

Eric Grisham

Papo Cappello

The locals that lived close to CHSP were privileged to be in close proximity to it. Many from afar were there often as well:  Evan Feen from Rhode Island, Tim Cunningham and Mike Maxwell from Virginia, Jamie Mosberg, Papo Cappello and Kevin Cook from New York made frequent pilgrimages to ride this true oasis. These riders were there so often, they were as much a local as myself or Tom Groholski. Jay Adams, Tony Alva, and Shogo Kubo were some of the first of skateboarding’s ‘greatest’ to ride this park. More than once, I’ve heard these legends compared to as ‘higher powers’ in regards to their abilities on a skateboard! For all locals and visiting ‘greats’ that rode CHSP, you sure were a part of something divine.

Victor Perez

Words by Jami Godfrey.  Images by Cody Letsinger. 

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