INTERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION by STEVE OLSON
PHOTO BY BILL SHARP AND BOYD HARNELL
Jerry Valdez, a.k.a. The Jer… From the streets, to the Top. When one claims, skateboarding saved my life, this is the truest statement for one of the pioneers of the SPORT…. Take everything from what you’ve learned, and apply it to the rest of your life… another true statement of Jerry Valdez… Not to hard to see, when one reflects on the past, and settles in the now… all I wanted was a PEPSI, or whatever else you could get away with… from staying true to one’s self…and never backing down, or compromising… You can learn from the ones before you. – OLSON
Is Jerry there?
No. Jerry is not here, but The Jer is.
Good. Let me talk to The Jer. [Laughs]
I want you to know that out of respect for this interview and you, I am swilling down a PBR.
Yes. Okay. We’re recording.
Do you want to ask me questions or do you just want me to peel it off?
[Laughs] I’m just going to talk to you. Listen, Hackett…
All right, bro, you better get a cig in your mouth and get a poster of Farrah Fawcett next to you.
The cig has been going since we started. Okay. It’s really basic, Jer. What’s your name?
[Laughs] Kid Blow Me. I’ve rolled with that alias since I was a Hollywood Hills skateboarder.
KBM. Is Jerry Valdez your real name?
No, it’s not my real name.
I know your real name. It’s simple. It’s the Jer. Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the streets of L.A. actually.
I had to leave home when I was a kid. As I was growing up, it got pretty hardcore, because back then, your parents could beat your ass and you couldn’t say jack shit about it. I had a pretty rough start as a kid, so I left home at eight years old and hitchhiked to California to hang out with my dad. I got here through many circumstances that were laced with luck and God watching over me. When I got here, I found out that my dad was a hardcore alcoholic, living on the streets of L.A. That was a rude awakening, and a real decision maker, as I started to see myself as a person growing up. I learned how to deal with people that were not looking out for me.
You had to look out for yourself.
Yeah. I was living on the streets since I was eight until I was 17. I used to go skateboarding with my friends in the Hollywood Hills, and we’d skate Vipers bowl and all the different pools we’d find. At the end of the day, they’d be like, “We’re starved. We’re going to go home and eat.” I would leave to go find an empty car to go sleep in.
“It was an incredible journey to go from living on the streets to being sponsored by the sixteenth richest man in the world and flying on the Concorde. That was an incredible scenario.”
It was gnarly. I didn’t give it any thought because it was way nicer than being abused from the early beginnings I had. I realized it was better to not have people making decisions for me.
You were just out of there.
Yeah. There was such a big emphasis on my father trying to keep me in school because he got State aid for that shit, so he was frantic when I wouldn’t go to school, but they weren’t teaching shit. For me, to waste another minute of my creativity wasn’t acceptable, so I used to get the fuck out of school. School didn’t teach me shit. I always say that skateboarding was the greatest education that the L.A. Unified School District never offered.
I can agree on that. Tell me what it was like being a kid on the street.
Back then, there was so much shit going on that is absolutely illegal now. Pedophile weirdoes were coming after you when you were skating down the street, trying to befriend you. It was almost as bad as, “Come and look at my pet dog and get in the van.” You had to be very careful to whom you talked to back then, especially in L.A. and Hollywood, although the trannies and hos were cool, and then there was the gang activity that I grew up around. My pops got Section 8 living circumstances going, so with that, it was a survival game right from the get-go. I’m fortunate that I didn’t end up like a lot of my peers that have gone to prison or killed people because those were the options that you were given. There was no creative outlet. If you had any hope of finding a creative outlet, you had to be born into nepotism in some family that I wasn’t a part of.
How did you get into skateboarding?
Skateboarding was something that was happening on the street. Since I lived on the street, it seemed to be a pretty decent thing. I fucked around with it a little bit in ‘69, in the days of the Black Knight. I really couldn’t afford shit, so skating was like a luxury. I think the commitment that got me into skateboarding is when I saw Warren Bolster’s picture of Gregg Weaver drain riding on the cover of Skateboarder. I said to myself, “I can do better than that.” I wasn’t even a skateboarder then, but I knew I could do better and I wasn’t going to quit skateboarding until I beat that. That’s how my whole skateboarding career started, with that kind of a wish.
It was that attitude. Do you think it was a wish or knowledge?
It was a wish. As I grew up, I realized that you better be careful what you wish for, because you usually get it. I realized now that I should have wished for it with more detail, but coming from the background that I did, I didn’t have any input. I didn’t have a stable family. I didn’t have brothers and sisters that were looking out for me. They were looking out for themselves because they were thrown into the same pit that I was. I give a lot of kudos to the kids and adults out there that have made it because it was pretty hellacious growing up in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
When you say hellacious, what do you mean by that?
You had to avoid gang influence. You had to avoid homosexuals coming at you from all sides, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but back then, it was pretty shady.
How did you avoid it?
It’s funny, but when I was a kid, my parents, like most people, didn’t have much of an education. The most education that people had back then was living by the rules of the Catholic Church. You looked at things until you formed your own opinions and you couldn’t form your own opinions until you got old enough to make some mistakes and find out what was right and wrong about your choices. I think that those early influences helped steer me away from being a fuckin’ porn star. [Laughs]
Were you getting offers?
Well, you know, bro, in life you get dealt certain circumstances, and I can’t say that I’ve had any problems or complaints in that area of my life, so it’s been pretty exciting.
As a young, handsome male roaming the streets, I’m sure there were scouts out looking for the next stud, no?
Well, I did have to lay down a lot of older ladies that were able to feed me and get me to the next skate session with some energy.
[Laughs] You started skateboarding on Black Knights in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. When did you realize that you had talent?
It wasn’t so much talent as it was ability. When you’re not thriving in academics in school, they throw you in sports or shop. I had my fill of shop and sports, but I excelled in gymnastics. I was League Champion Tumbler. I cruised through high school with that as a door opener for me. With a gymnastics background, it was pretty elementary to get into skating.
When you say tumbling, what do you mean?
It’s Floor Exercises and all the flexible moves and acrobatic somersault stuff.
Was it like v-sit to handstands and all that stuff?
Yeah. I used to do strength moves like handstand kickflips at the same time Russ Howell was doing them. We used to look at Russ Howell like this petrified skater, but really he was kicking ass for his age. Now that I’m a lot older, I think, “Those guys had it going on back then.” Of course, they chose a more wholesome lifestyle. I had to go and beat myself up pretty good to understand why I had what I had. With no influence to guide me, I only had the TV version of what to do when you make some kind of a movement in a successful way. It was pretty tough.
How did you get into riding pools, ditches, spillways and everything else you rode?
What really got me started was skating at this place called Viper’s Bowl in Hollywood. It was a big catch basin that was located right underneath Bugsy Siegel’s mansion at the forefront of the Hollywood Lake, nestled up there in the Hollywood Hills. That place used to rock. We used to get up to 250 people sitting around the rim of that thing watching us drop in at 30-35 mph. When we’d hit the bottom, those transitions were brutal! Sometimes your trucks would just shear off when you’d hit the bottom transition and you’d just fly and shave off a good quarter-inch deep of skin about 12-inches long and four-inches wide. Those were the days that really instilled toughness about who skated and how you skated and what commitment level you were willing to throw down. That brings me to the thought of how skateboarding is something of a higher mentality. It’s one of the sports that let’s you actually fantasize a particular move or a trick that seems impossible or hasn’t been done. In your mind, you play it through until you find all the flaws in it. Then you have to eliminate those flaws and then you have to go into a full belief system when you apply them on a vertical plane or a spillway. The result is that when you have a flawed thought, you pay with mega pain. The mega pain is a great understanding of how strong your belief in yourself is when you’re going for it.
With that, how did you come across with doing the tricks that you invented?
I think it was a natural progression and seeing my peers skating. There was a lot of great talent. There were a lot of great people putting their nuts where their mouth was.
What tricks did you come up with?
For an original trick, I would say the tail tap. I would stand that board on the very edge of the tail and make that with no problem, in front of many witnesses, way before anyone else was doing them.
How did you come up with the tail tap?
Well, kickturns started to get boring, and I was always getting inverted in my head, so the lower my head got, the more inverted my board got. After a while, it seemed like doing a one wheeler or an edge turn was irrelevant when I could just slam the tail and catch it at the bottom lip of the coping. I’d hit it, go upside down and just turn it around. Then that just became something that was a natural movement. For me, a rock n’ roll is easier to do than a basic kickturn. Certain moves become more natural to the way your mind thinks and the way your body relates. That’s why a lot of skaters do some awesome shit because their mind is on a whole different level in the way they approach it.
What about the frontside rock n’ roll?
I think my frontside rock n’ roll evolved from the way I used to do my frontside floater carves in the Arizona pipes.
How did you do your frontside floater carves?
I would come from the outer edge backside and shoot up frontside towards the center of the pipe. To get the maximum height, I would throw my legs as high as I could above my head while twisting my body and looking towards the bottom. My feet would arc over my head, my body would untwist catching up to my board and my board would come off the wall, my feet would come off the board and then we’d all meet back up on the transition. It was such a twisted move. That twisting itself is what I used to feel when I did my frontside rocks. It was a natural move, after a while, to be twisted. For me, frontside is a way more acceptable compromise than a backside.
I wonder why.
Maybe it’s because of the gymnastics. I have no idea. A lot of people prefer backside because they’re always in control of what they’re seeing.
When you go backside, you can see where you’re landing, for lack of a better word. Frontside just seems gnarlier.
There’s more commitment involved, but you can see these guys doing gnarly airs now, and you think, “How can it get so contorted?” For them, it seems like a natural movement.
Okay, with the frontside rock, did you invent this trick?
Again, I have to resort back to this spot. I have a couple of patents that I hold in bicycle accessories. I realized this back when I was getting more into creativeness. It seems like there is a canvassing of the same idea that goes on simultaneously, and whoever acts on it is the one that’s usually acknowledged as the first one to do it. I would think, for certain moves like that, there was a spectrum of people working on it, or saw it once and said they could do it. Within that same time zone, a lot of people were doing it. Back then we were all one magazine away from doing each other’s moves. I would definitely say that if I didn’t invent it, I was in the top two of doing it.
On a personal note, I find that is a heavily committed trick.
What is really bizarre is back in the Marina Upper Keyhole, I was doing this trick and nobody else had ever done it. It was something that I worked on because I wanted to master the stall. I was doing a frontside axle stall and I would kick my back axle into the bowl and then fall in backwards and then turn and do a frontside in. I actually made that a good ten times before I gave it up. It was brutal falling.
[Laughs] Okay. So up, frontside axle stall, kick the back wheels into a front rock, fall in and then eventually turn it around so your nose is going back down.
Correct. It’s total commitment.
Brutal. Oh yeah. The commitment to running that off is insane as well. You’re running backwards. You’re coming down backwards.
It’s way gnarlier than going frontside. We used to do backside airs and land with the board half out and the axles in and then fakie back in, but this was a way different commitment because it was technical and then it was a stall. When you stalled, you were turning frontside, so it was a pretty brutal commitment. I was really proud that I was able to do that. In skateboarding, there is such a thing as killer lines and flowing and that’s not a flow move. That was more of a trapeze move. I don’t think it would have had a lot of life in it except to blow people’s minds.
“I made sure that I had everyone confused about themselves, and once I got them feeling a little upset, I would drop in and do a killer run and really cap the bottle of their insecurities.”
How was it to blow people’s minds for you?
That’s the building of a skater. It’s how you deal with people and how you want to attract them and the way they perceive you through different ways of blowing their minds. My technique as a young skater was to talk a lot of shit as soon as I got on the scene. I made sure that I had everyone confused about themselves, and then once I got them feeling a little upset, I would drop in and do a killer run and really cap the bottle of their insecurities.
[Laughs] Okay. When did you ride your first pool?
It was probably late ‘76.
Do you remember the pool?
These were a bunch of shitty square pools with nice face walls. I remember we were doing kickturns and it was just awesome. Doing a tile ride was insane. In the early days, you saw people doing forevers, and that’s when you started realizing about gyrating and creating lines and going all over the place. Once you could go all over the place, you were thinking of how dramatic of a hit you could make on the spot you were going to.
What was it like when you hit tiles for the first time?
It felt about the same way it felt last summer. Last summer, I started skating again after 35 years. When I hit that grind, it felt like I was in the moment, defying my own fears and pulling it off and just elevating the next level of fear.
What was the reason for stopping for 35 years?
Well, skateboarding had some ups and downs in the industry. It would have real heavy momentum and there would be some real money in it and lots of attention to it, and then it would fade out. I just didn’t want to be somebody that wanted to hang onto a meatless bone forever, and ride the challenges and ups and downs of that bone. I wanted to look for other bones. Being a hungry dog, I had to ask myself, “What’s keeping me from doing other stuff?” Then I realized that all it takes is the same attitude I had in skating, which is to reinvent your moves, reinvent your tricks and reinvent yourself. Once I reinvented myself, there was no turning back. I started making good money on my own. If you skate, you skate for the love of skating. If you’re skating for the dream, great, but the dreams you have later may not be the same dreams that you started with.
Well, your dream was good though. I have to give props when it’s necessary. What was it like to go from being a kid on the streets to being a pro skateboarder?
It was an incredible journey to go from living on the streets to being sponsored by the sixteenth richest man in the world and flying on the Concorde. That was an incredible scenario.
Wait. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves so quickly. When did you first get sponsored for your skateboarding skills?
The first sponsor I ever had was this guy that worked in the studios. He was such a nice dude. He loved surfing and wanted something to do with skateboarding. It was so early in the formation of the sport that he thought he could get a championship team that he could afford without getting any big names. We were the non-names that could be afforded, so he started us off with these little boards. We used to call him Kemo, because his name was Kim. He was the first actual sponsor I had. He’d buy us lunch every once in a while and give us skateboards at the contests. He was like, “If you need something, I’ll buy it if I can afford it.”
What kind of contests were you going to?
Well, I got turned off to contests right away. I really trained for the Topanga Canyon contest in ‘75, and Stacy Peralta was the judge at that contest, and I remember he was really excited about having his friend “Jose” skate. When anybody else was skating, Stacy was busy schmoozing his friends on the sidelines, and he never looked at anyone skating. It turned me off to the fact that, at the contests, it didn’t really matter how good you could skate. It was all about politics. If I would have been blowing Stacy at the time, I’m sure he would have been looking harder.
“Skateboarding is all about being by yourself and making it happen by yourself. It’s not about having other people make it for you. You make it yourself.”
This is like freestyle contests, right?
Yeah. Those were the only contests then. There was some slalom, but that wasn’t really part of the main circuit. As years went on, I ended up being on the Pepsi Skateboard Team and I was the Skateboard Team Captain with Stacy Peralta. It was funnier than shit.
[Laughs] I love that you have the title “Pepsi Team Captain.” That’s insane. Here’s Captain Jer Valdez for Pepsi. I love that. Tell us what the Pepsi Team was.
The Pepsi Skateboard Team was an agenda created by John Baron. He was going to partner up with Stacy and whosever name he could drag through to get what he wanted. Stacy wasn’t having it, so Baron had to look other places. He ended up recruiting up-and-comers like us. He created a promotional platform for everyone to be launched from. That’s when he started the Pepsi-Cola Skateboard Team to promote all the products that he was launching.
What were his products?
360 Sportswear and 360 Skateboard Series Competitions, which I believe you were aware of.
Yeah. I never got my trip either, but who cares?
Well, guess what? [Laughs]
[Laughs] Neither did you. Right. So the Pepsi Skateboard Team is born. What were you guys expected to do to be part of this skate team?
We had to sell the concept to the executives at Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company. He got a couple of people that were good communicators and they narrated the show. It had a beginning, middle and an end. It showed our tricks and skating routines and there was a part that was all about safety and the beginning was about the history of skateboarding up to that point.
What would you do to open the show and where were you doing this?
It started off as $50 a performance. He targeted the marketing of the Pepsi-Cola soft drinks to all the schools through skateboarding. We would go out and perform at four or fives schools a day, which was a pretty big commitment for a bunch of street rats. As it became more refined, we were able to do up to ten shows a day, which moved us into the slave labor category. The truth was that we were making up to $200 a day and $1,000 a week. That was pretty good money for all skaters back then. You were happy to get that kind of money. It was a good learning experience. Those are part of the things that turned me into the person I am as a negotiator. You have compromise on most of those deals, so you learn from life experiences how to handle negotiations.
Where would you guys perform these shows?
It was broken up to areas that canvassed all of the Los Angeles basin and the valley. Whatever skaters were in the area, we’d split them into groups of three to five and we’d work in our areas. After awhile, we were doing all of California. Then we started going across the United States, and we did all 50 states, pretty much.
You were getting paid pretty well, right?
Yeah. I was moving up the ranks, promoting John Baron’s products, and he was doing placement and helping my career along. He would make sure that I was in most of the magazines that were featuring his products. Do you have any memorable shows from the Pepsi days? One of the most fun ones was in Huntington Park. We were all there: me, Stacy, Gordy Lienemann, Lonnie Toft, Marc Smith, Alan Scott, Greg Ayres and a few other guys that were regulars. The Dr. Demento Show was on, and he asked me to do an interview and he was talking all this crazy stuff, and I was like, “I can take this crazy up another notch.” I started singing all my songs that I make up. I sang one song called “PantyGrams.” It was a fun story about how G.I.s go off to war and they have nothing to jack off too, so they want their wives to send them pantygrams. It didn’t matter how many skidmarks were on ‘em, the more the better. It was something to smell before they went to sleep at night. That got recorded and played on The Dr. Demento Show for years afterwards!
[Laughs] The Dr. Demento Show was amazing. I just remember how funny it was. What about the pool skating thing and being a pioneer of finding pools and riding pools and everything that goes along with that from your perspective?
My perspective is that I’ve never been a surfer. Skateboarding has always been treated in the same perspective as surfing, which I would think is all about who is hot and who is controlling the local spot and who rips the local spot. Those things were pretty prevalent when we first started skateboarding. I had no idea about localizing somebody or not letting someone skate if they weren’t part of a clique at a certain location. When I first went out skating to other places, we came across people like the Inlanders, Dogtowners and other groups, and they would puff up in front of me and try to intimidate me, and I almost had to laugh. They had no idea that I was brought up in the inner city with gangbangers that would really throw down and leave you bloody and leave you for dead. I wasn’t intimidated by that shit. After they realized that it wasn’t going to happen, and that my skating was up to par, to say the least, we all started to get along. That was a major door opening for the beach-going skaters to open up their minds to skaters outside of the beach area. Once they started doing that, you started to see all the talent pour out of the different locations of the inner city and no longer was it a surf-only related activity.
How did you get connected to the Valley?
Well, growing up in Hollywood and skating the Hollywood Hills, the only good skateboard shop was Val Surf. We’d go there and try to do what we could to get the best equipment possible. Back then the equipment sucked compared to today’s standards, but they saw that I was getting recognition. People would come and say, “Oh, that’s the Jer. He shreds. He’s ripping.” So Val Surf said, “Hey, do want a skateboard? We’ll give you a free skateboard and free wheels.” I didn’t have money to buy anything, so that was a very beautiful thing that happened. To this day, I am thankful for people like Val Surf that got me started. It was the same with Vans tennis shoes. When Vans approached me to do their mail order advertisement, they were only a ten-store deal. After the mail order, they went to a national company and then an international company. They just recently used my image and likeness in the same photo in that advertisement in their timeline for their 40-year advertisement campaign.
It’s the tail tap photo, right?
Yes. It’s the tail tap photo.
Just checking my memory, buddy. So the Val Surf thing happens and you’re getting free stuff from them. Where did it go from there?
It went to Bennett Trucks and Alligator Wheels. The guys that I was skating with back then were people from the Hollywood Hills and one of them happened to be David Ferry. We used to cruise around and I had this really nice stereo system that I had acquired. He let me stay at his house every now and then, as long as my stereo could sleep at his house. He also liked the fact that I would drag over new talent every night. He was pretty excited about that. From there, we ended up branching out and skating other places. Then we met Kent and Scott Senatore. I was still sleeping in cars, but through skating, between David and the Senatore family, they took a stray dog in and showed the love and, in return, they got to skate with a skater that was going out and killing it as often as I could. It was a fair trade.
You guys had a lock on the Valley pools.
Oh yeah. All the skaters that would buy their stuff at Val Surf would come in and brag about where their new empty pool was. Of course, if they wanted anyone to skate the local spots, it had to be The Jer and his crew. Then we had Stan and Bill Sharp that started doing amateur photography and they started getting their photos acknowledged, and then Stan was able to put together Skateboard World. From there, it just blew up.
You’d travel religiously with those guys though, right?
Yeah. They always wanted to take us along because we would turn up the juice whenever we were there. They opened their own doors and before you knew it, they had crossed the borders. It was us and the Inlanders, the Dogtowners and other groups and then everybody was part of the magazine and it was great. It was fantastic. There was a lot of energy.
How old were you when this was happening?
This all started coming together when I was 19. It really blazed through age 21. At 22 years old, I had gotten pretty much chewed up and I was burnt out on all of it. That’s when I had to take my break.
What was a normal day like back in the heyday for you?
A normal day was to wake up around midday and smoke a big bong rip and then go out and eat something gnarly, because we needed the energy, and then we would go out and skate for eight to ten hours every day. In the summertime, there was no school, so we’d go to parties and hook up with some new talent and just do it all over again. It was like that for quite some time.
[Laughs] How about the transition from loose ball bearings wheels to precision bearings wheels?
It was awesome. I skated a little bit with loose ball bearings at the beginning but then I stopped because of my circumstances and moving around as a kid. I never got a chance to focus on it. When I got back into skating, the precision bearings were already going on. The first really insane set of wheels I ever got were RoadRider 2’s. They were smooth as glass and quiet as shit and it broke loose, but still gripped when you needed it. They were the shit. I do remember, prior to that, getting my first set of Cadillac Wheels at some toy store on Hollywood Blvd. I had the Bahne board with the Cadillac Wheels. Once they had a kicktail on a Bahne board, all of that started to change too. It all happened within a year’s time. The industry was moving very fast. I remember Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk and Alan Gelfand. They were just little kids. I used to whip my knob out and scare them away. [Laughs]
“Certain moves become more natural to the way your mind thinks and the way your body relates. That’s why a lot of skaters do some awesome shit because their mind is on a whole different level in the way they approach it.”
When did things switch up for you from living in the streets?
Everything changed after I got hooked up with John Baron. He was a pioneer in creating the financial gain for skateboarding. Val Surf nor Vans would pay a salary. They would pay us for appearances, but it was so minor. John Baron knew how to put a carrot out there and make it work. My hat is off to him.
That was a turning point for you. You could at least afford a roof over your head?
I went from nothing to making $30,000 the first year, and it just increased until I got out of skating. Back then $30,000 was a lot for a street kid. It would be almost safe to say, with the way the economy is, $30,000 is still a good value for a street kid.
What was the driving force that kept you skating?
I thrived on the mental sharpening. Every day I was quicker in dealing with my opponents mentally, and everything that I could do psychologically and physically was such a driving force. It was fantastic to wake up and pull that shit off.
After Val Surf, Alligator Wheels and Bennett Trucks, what came next?
Val Surf offered me a signature model. Things started to flow with the signature model. It was basically a dollar a board agreement, and it was a very loose agreement. It was still worthwhile because they had the coolest shit, in our eyes. Then a guy came in and asked for some skateboarders to help in designing a skatepark. He specifically asked for me and Marc Smith.
Why do you think he asked for you and Marc Smith?
The guy’s business was located in the valley, but he lived in Marina Del Rey, so I don’t know if it was because that was the closest best skateboard shop around. It could have been the luck of the draw. Also, we seemed to be cresting at that time, so it seemed appropriate.
How did you guys design Endless Wave? Take me through the steps.
Well, Ed Olson was a concrete contractor and he had poured a lot of concrete for NORAD, which was a big military facility in Colorado, and he wanted to throw down a skatepark. He was asking us what we thought and then he took us out a few times and interviewed us. After that he seemed pretty content with what we had to offer and we started putting together our thoughts and concepts of pools with spillways and creating an atmosphere that encompassed all of the different transitions that people were looking for in skateboarding.
How did you and Smith start designing it though?
We would talk about it, and then we’d make a rough sketch and then we’d sit down with his people and they’d refine it into a mechanical drawing. Then we’d explain to them how crucial it was to try to get the surface and transitions to be as forgiving as possible. We would watch over them spraying the concrete and doing the rebar. We made sure they took out as many kinks as possible, even though that double pool, which was the best attraction there, was kinked on the front wall. Not to mention the halfpipe. That halfpipe had nice transitions at the bottom and went straight to vertical.
You know what? I never rode that park. I went to one contest there, but I never rode Oxnard.
Wow. When I look back on it, most everybody had ridden it, and I don’t remember seeing you there.
It seems as though you helped guys like Brad Bowman and Jack Waterman. The design and availability of the Oxnard Park helped a lot of dudes become really good.
Yeah. Bowman came out and started doing these gnarly ass board slides on this little spillway that led into this banked bowl, like a catch basin. He shredded those stand up rail slides. From there, he developed such a great pool skating style.
From your designs and the craftsmanship, you helped other cats, as well as building a cool park.
There was a series of parks, and we also did one in Bakersfield.
How did that one turn out?
That one turned out not as nice, because we weren’t there. Bakersfield was a lot further to go out to see. We couldn’t supervise it as tightly and it suffered a little neglect. The surfaces were rougher and some of the transitions were not elliptical.
I don’t remember any dudes coming out of Bakersfield that were amazing at the time.
[Laughs] That’s right.
I’m not saying that there weren’t. I just don’t remember.
No. In our time, we wouldn’t have known. It was just like the Uplanders. Steve and Mickey were ripping Upland Skatepark.
What was the experience of actually designing and working with dudes and trowelling and doing the transitions and making a park?
It was great. First of all, you’d see how they put it together and you’d see the equipment and how they tie the rebar and how they prep the dirt and dig the hole. You could see the inconsistencies in the transitions by the way they were already shaping it, but it was really cool to see how a pool is done. They used to do so many of those. That ended up helping me out later when I was trying to do concrete construction and building with concrete on hillsides.
So it was another victory for being involved with skateboarding.