INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTO BY PAT MYERS
And the Winner is… SALBA… To win is to win. To win throughout a lifetime, is the real victory… To charge is to charge, for almost three decades, To destroy is to destroy… is to dominate… every time you skate, from a pimple-faced kid to a true killer, and I do mean Killer. That’s the one thing that always happens when Screaming Lord Salba enters the arena, whether it be a backyard pool- pipe- small or large… Death is certain to whatever terrain Salba rides. Live to Ride – Ride to Live. That’s an understatement, when speaking of Salba. The proof is on his trucks… Just look… You’ll see what I’m talking about….
“WHEN I FIRST STARTED LEARNING TO RIDE POOLS FROM THE OLDER GUYS, THEY TOLD US WE HAD TO GRIND EVERY WALL AND RIDE EVERY OBSTACLE. YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT 110%.”
Is Steve there?
This is Stacy Peralta. How are you?
What’s going on with you, Olson?
Same old. Okay, tell me your name.
Steven Jerry Alba. What’s your middle name? Fleming?
Yeah, of Captain Fleming Williams of Blackbeard’s pirate ship. How long have you been skating?
I’ve been skating since ’74.
You do the math. That’s 30 years.
It’s pretty crazy. I never thought I’d be riding all of these years.
How did you start skating?
I saw some of the neighbor kids skateboarding. They lived on this street with a slight incline at the end. It had sidewalks on both sides. We used to shoot the hill and try to make it around the curve.
What kind of board were you riding?
I was riding one of those clay wheel boards. It wasn’t that rad.
How was the transition from clay to urethane?
It was a major deal. Urethane was way better. They didn’t skid out on rocks. It was a better ride with a better flow.
Who were you skating with back then?
I just skated with my friends from the neighborhood.
Did you skate with Malba?
Mick wasn’t skating yet. He was just riding his bike.
How old were you when you started skating?
I was ten when I got serious about it. I got my own board and started going with my buddies to skate.
You didn’t surf, did you?
No, we lived 30 miles from the beach. We were lucky to get to the beach once a month in the summertime. We used to go to Huntington Beach and hang out at the pier. They had a little snack bar with a little bank ride, so we skated there. We didn’t surf much, so we rode boogie boards. That’s all we could afford.
Were you trying to emulate surfing moves when you started skating?
Well, we saw the surf magazines and tripped on that whole scene. Then, later on, we saw the Dogtown boys. We tried to copy surfing, in a sense. Our friend’s older brother, Gary Lazone, was really into Gerry Lopez. He had lightning bolts on everything. He’d carve them out on his grip tape and stencil them on his t-shirts.
He was a lighting bolt addict, which is similar to a sticker addict nowadays. There were lots of heads like that back then.
Yeah, and Gary was a good surfer. He showed us the ‘Surfer’ magazines and ‘Skateboarder’ magazines. As we were learning, and the magazines came out, we’d hear about places to skate. These two skaters told us about this pool up on top of Foothill Boulevard near Grove. That’s how we heard about Baldy and the L-Pool. Skateboarding is crazy like that. It’s a lot of word of mouth. That’s how we got into it.
You got into rolling around, and then you were skating banks and pools?
Yeah, we started out doing tail wheelies, jumping over broomsticks. One day, we were riding down this alley called ‘Stoner Alley’. It was a road you didn’t want to go down. A couple of cholo kids lived at the bottom of the alley. Some Harley stoner dudes lived at the top of the alley. They were always fighting. It was a gnarly place. My friend’s older brother Gary went down the alley. We hid behind a wall and waited. Then we heard the whoosh of skateboarding in a pool, so we went down the alley, too. We went through the fence and there was the pool. We were like, ‘This is cool.’
Which pool was this?
It was a right-hand kidney called the Central Pool. That was the first pool I ever rode.
The first pool I ever rode was that square pool right off Foothill.
They called that the Groid bowl, at Foothill and Gary.
Then we found the L-Pool. Tell me about the L-Pool.
The L-Pool was rad for us. First, we found the Central pool, which was three blocks away from my house. Then two blocks away from that house was the Bel-Air pool. The very first photo I ever had of me was from that Bel-Air pool. Arab found the photo randomly on the wall of a surf shop somewhere and gave it to me. Then another pool opened on Santa Anita, a block from the Bel-Air pool. I was only twelve at the time, so we took the Omni bus. It was the community bus that went all over town for a quarter. It dropped you off at Grover and San Bernardino Road where the L-Pool was. That place was insane. It was an abandoned swim club with a huge pool, shaped like an upside down ‘L’.
There were a lot of dudes that ripped the L-Pool from your area.
Tay Hunt ripped it the most. He had flow in that thing. He never went frontside though. The first guy we saw go frontside was ‘Worm’.
Yeah, ‘Worm’ killed the L-Pool.
He used to go frontside over the steps. That pool was really good. It had clamshell steps on the east wall and good lines. It was super big with vert, 12 feet tall. It had another wall opposing that one that was 3 feet tall. You could pump the shallow end and then pump the south wall from 12′ to 9′ to 7′ to 3′. It was a really unique pool. You rode it. You know.
My perspective of it was, like, going to Salbaland now or Upland then. There were a lot of guys with a lot of potential killing the L-Pool,
There was a guy named Buddy Allred. He was gnarly. He basically gets credit for the ‘rock walk’. He called it the ‘cess slide’.
Didn’t Buddy always ride with Lee Gahimer?
Yeah, he rode with Lee Gahimer. Lee used to rip it. Charlie Ransom used to shred it. Steve Evans and Rick Howell used to ride there. Chuck Stokey used to kill it all the time. There were two guys named Dino and Steve Alvarez that lived a block away and just shredded it. Everyone skated barefoot, more or less. Then it was the slip-on Vans and the two-tone Vans with the killer grip. Anyway, the L-Pool was super sick. We made up lines. There were stairs and a couple lights to go over. There were different walls to hit. We had it dialed.
You were like the little dirty kid at the L-Pool that ripped.
Yeah, I was the youngest of all of them.
There was that thing about jumping out of the L-Pool at the bigger wall without your board.
Yeah, Tay Hunt made that up one day. We all started copying him. Then Buddy launched it, too. Remember Garret Chick?
Yeah, of course.
He was another kid that just killed it. He used to do a flip out of the pool. It was rad.
What about your first time to Baldy?
The first time I went to Baldy was in the seventh grade. At that time, people went in from the top. You had to take the hill down and go in. They didn’t use the fields.
Back then, we were running for it. Everyone was looking for the truck at the top of the ridge. It was a dope hide-and-go-seek thing.
Yeah, it was full commando style – like army games.
That was sick. A lot of the times that we used to go and session, it was like that.
There were guys at the top of the hill in the maintenance shack. They were looking out for you, too. If they saw you, they’d bust you. Sometimes, even if they caught us, we’d jump on our boards and shoot the line. They weren’t going to chase you down. You could go all the way to Arrow and Monte Vista and get out. That was the beauty of Baldy. There were three little tunnels off to the right of the pipe that came up through the pit. That’s how we went in the first time. It was like walking through the sewer. There was another sewer line at Mountain Overpass and Hope Boulevard. It had banks on one wall that ran into an elliptical pipe that was 8′ tall. We used to ride those banks and try to stand up and do the loop. Mike Martin would put his board down and put his hand down all the way around and yell, ‘I just did the loop!’ We weren’t scared to go into pipes like that. That was nothing. We used to ride our bikes all the way up Mountain in the sewer tunnels before we started riding pools.
How was it riding pristine Baldy in the old days?
It was sick, for sure. It was mandatory to start at the top and carve all the way down.