VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

Introduction by Joey Tran
Interviews by Andy Kessler, Dan Levy, Heidi Fitzgerald, Joey Tran
Photos by Bagel, Block, George Wilson, Geri-I Lewis, JB Fitts, Jesse Martinez, Joey Tran, Pat Myers, Ray Flores, Will Hightower
Interviews with: Aaron Murray, Block, C.R. Stecyk III, Jay Adams, Wes Humpston, Eric Dressen, Dennis “Polar Bear” Agnew, Scott Oster, Chris “Cooksie” Cook, Joey Tran, George Wilson, Jesse Martinez, Ray Flores, Skip Engblom, Will Hightower, Ennis Miller, Eric “Tuma” Britton, Eric “Froggy” Anderson, David Hackett, Tim Jackson, Pat Bareis, John Thomas.

 

VENICE PAVILION R.I.P. VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

VENICE PAVILION R.I.P. VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

VENICE PAVILION R.I.P. VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

VENICE PAVILION R.I.P. VENICE PAVILION R.I.P.

Venice: the unofficial skate capital of the world… home to skaters, surfers, ballers, bladers, artists, actors, filmmakers, musicians, models, poets, pimps, hookers, pushers, stoners, bums, gangsters, and crackheads. You name it… Venice breeds it. Everyone kicks it. At the epicenter of it all is the world-renowned Pavilion… stomping grounds to four generations of skaters. It’s played host to countless concerts, contests, demos, fairs, and exhibitions… not to mention the occasional riot. People come from all around the world to visit and snap pictures of it and its inhabitants. It’s a landmark. A vestige. For the privileged enough to grow up here, it was a backyard. A place where you could play and do dirt… chill with your friends… puff fatties… drink forties… count fifties… and bust sick shit. That was the ticket. It was tight. It was family… you got all your homies and a G. Generation after generation. It all revolved around the Pavilion… the sessions, the scenes, the personalities. It was the spot. The stage where drama unfolded and lessons were learned. To have been a part of it was something special. Now, after over 40 years, the Pavilion’s ticket is up. It’s the end of an era. The last chapter in four decades of antiquity. So what we’re gonna do now is go back… way back. We’re gonna do some reminiscing with some of the players involved. From O.G.’s to new jacks… here’s some retrospection from Venice heads of the late great… — JOEY TRAN

 

TALES FROM THE PIT
Stories from the Front Line: Venice, CA

JAY ADAMS
Jim Morrison used to live in Venice and my mom used to hang out and get high with him. My mom told me this story. She was pretty good looking and she used to hang out with him. She told me about times she and Morrison ran down the beach naked together.

POLAR BEAR
In 73 or ‘74, I was sitting in the pavilion at a concert and watched this guy shoot three or four people.  He emptied out his gun on a bunch of people and these biker guys chased him down and stabbed him like fifty times. The police weren’t around that much and by the time they arrived two people were dead and the guy himself died. That was the most radical scene I’ve ever witnessed in the Venice Pavilion.

JESSE MARTINEZ
Some of the craziest shit I’ve seen down there didn’t have to do with the skateboarders because we’re small time. I mean we’d kick some ass when we had to but it was all about the real people who really owned the beach area, you know who died for Venice. Like the esses and some of the black gangs in Venice, those are the dudes who really own the beach because those are the dudes who really died for the beach to keep the neighborhood and Venice real hard core. I’ve seen huge gang fights on the beach, you know 100 on 100, guns and bottles breaking and people going crazy. You know, the skateboarders did their share of ass kicking but we were never to that level of wanting to stab you or shoot you. If it took ten of us to beat your ass to get the point through, then that’s the way that it was. The biggest fight we had ever saw down there was when we got in a fight with another gang across town. It all started while I was on tour with some Powell shit. I came back in town and I was like ‘what happened?’. It turned into a whole little fighting thing for a few weeks. They got us and then we got them. Then they came down to the beach like a big showdown, one Saturday. We recruited all of ST, all the Venice boys, everybody that we basically could because we knew they were going to come deep and they sure did. There were probably 70 of them in cars. They didn’t come down to play games, but we wanted to show them we’re down too, you know. We pretty much squashed it after a while so everything was cool. That was pretty much the craziest thing we went through because there was some serious shit going down for a while. They shot my house and other shit like that but you know everything was pretty much squashed, so that all led to good things. But, there were hundreds of good fights and hundreds of funny times, I can’t even describe. Just crazy shit.

RAY FLORES
Jesse Martinez was famous for going down to the pavilion after the rollerbladers infiltrated the area and every now and then he’d go down there and reclaim it.

BLOCK
What about the time the bmxers came down to the pavilion to do a BMX contest and they set up all these ramps and they wouldn’t let us skateboard the ramps so we ended up stealing twelve of their bikes. They were like $2000 bikes. Ever since that, there’s never been a BMX contest down there again.

AARON MURRAY
I’ve heard about Jay-Boy jumping off the pier to surf big ass El Nino in ‘83. That’s crazy! Some Venice Beach highlights were Christian and Jesse blasting, Jay-Boy’s backside nosewheelies, Jimbo’s axle stall on Top of the back Pavilion wall, something every other second, a constant series of events that will never happen again. Riding “Gonzo’s” pool with: Jay-Boy, Alva, Reddog, Eric D, The Mess, Cooksie, Oster, Hackett, Christ, Block, Julien, Kel, P.B., M.V., Jimbo and Chano was sick. Me and Christ got into skateboarding when we were kids, 5-6. Jammin down the hall – crashing into shit. Then jumping over stuff from board to board. Around 7-8 we skated “Skateboard World” skateboard Park. That’s where we really learned – jumping (staying on one board), snake runs and bowls, vert, half pipe, banked slalom- then Marina Skatepark. It was time to go large. I like to remember a lot of cool times – skateboarding in Venice – to remember all the terrorists on skateboards with finely tuned equipment. The adventures of “Hooligan” and “Fingers” was fun. The V.S.A. ramp at Joff’s was fun. Christian showed us how it can be done – smooth. Respect to all that did it – at the expense of life, or limb or mind – to advance, and defy gravity and death- to enhance our lives.

DAVID HACKETT
I remember one time I was hanging with Jay, we were going to go surf, but the waves were flat, so we chorbed a gnarly fatty, we were just hammered, so we went and threw down some grub at Cora’s coffee shop and then decided to skate down to where TA was living at the time, I think it was on Dudley Court, or something, (this was just after he won the Overall world title), and we knew he had more Da Kine, and we were going to see if he wanted to go ride after that, but on the way we started just verbally abusing everyone we skated past, thrashing anything or anybody that got in the way, and then Jay said to me, “Hackett, check this shit out man” and we skated down this alley right by Bay street where there was this camper shell on stilts just sitting there. We were at least a half a block away, when Jay picked up this half a brick, and just launched it. That thing came down so hard and so loud on top of this thing I could not believe it! It sounded like a gun shot! Right after that some crazy maniac came screaming out of the back of that thing running after us, just as a cop car was pulling up behind us. Jay and I took off in separate directions and all I can remember after that was running, skating and hiding out the rest of the day. I could tell you some way crazier shit, but some people might go down ‘cause of it so its’ better left unsaid…

COOKSIE
Seeing little rollerbladers come up for contests and then the skaters show up, take their buds and money and send them home.

SKIP ENGBLOM
The pavilion area used to be just a giant lawn area and when the fog would roll in we used to go and play hide-and-go-seek and there was this one bum that would always be out there playing his saxophone. The whole experience of not being able to see but hearing that music was a surreal experience. It epitomizes how it was back then in a way. There were so many characters with Bohemian lifestyles that there are 10,000 life stories every single day.

C.R. STECYK III
Best stories? Alva shooting Marine Street hill at rush hour and passing cars. Jay Adams grabbing the old ladies wig on a roll and she comes up bald. Skip Engblom hustling Orson Welles at pinball on the set of the movie Touch of Evil. Cleopatra taking down Jack Nicholson in his star trailer behind the Zephyr shop when they were filming the Fortune. His co star Warren Beatty couldn’t believe the intellect and agility of the local girls. The Hollywood hags didn’t stand a chance. Most personal fun? Skating the concrete ramp in front of P.O.P. while Dick Dale, Richie Valens and the Crossfires played at the Aaragon Ballroom. Fishing for rats through the knot holes in the pier decking. Skating pools and ponds after the Bel Air fire. Riding the long off-ramps of the 10 freeway before it opened and skating into the traffic on the operational 405.

ENNIS MILLER
About five years ago, we were all up here skating and during the summer on Sundays after 5:00, a bunch of gangs come out and swarm the beach in their lowriders up and down the alley. It’s like the movie “Boys in the Hood” – it’s Black Sunday. Y’know, Cypress Hill, they wrote about it. And the craziest thing I saw was these six gangs get into a fight right on the grass area, people started pulling out guns and like 3,000 people started running toward the sand and up the alleys and stuff. They parted like the sea. I headed toward the water. I would’ve swam for an island and lived like Gilligan.  [Did anyone get shot?] No. It was lucky. Over the past couple of years the cops were getting experienced at dealing with it because it was happening so much. So, they just happened to be out in full force in riot gear.

WES HUMPSTON
In or around ’83 watching the storms rip off the end of the Santa Monica pier and seeing all the flooding in Venice. I really dug that.

TIM JACKSON
What about the guy who got shot down there on the boardwalk? He was standing right next to me and he just dropped. That is just about as crazy as you can get. Some crips were going at it and he was just standing there. He wasn’t even a crip, he got shot by some overflow shots. I was standing like four feet away when that happened. Or what about the time the cop tried to arrest me and and I socked him. They had three helicopters and everybody looking for me. I was stuck hiding in the bathroom of an old skate shop. It was right there on the corner of Speedway and Horizon. This was like twelve years ago. I was in that bathroom for four hours and the cops were coming in like, ‘hey have you seen a kid…?’

JOEY TRAN
Christian lived at W.C. Fields old estate, Echo Park  and he had a steep narrow driveway in his front yard. Eric D. went out to get his pads out of Little Man’s (Eric Garber) car (a brand new 5.0) and knocked it out of gear. Halfway down the driveway were these rocks. They were like little launch ramps. The car rolled down the hill, launched off the ramp and landed through the roof of the house next door. The city had to get a crane to come and remove the car. When they got it out, Little Man got behind the driver’s seat and drove away, nonchalantly waving in his not so new anymore 5.0.

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INTERVIEWS

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C.R. STECYK III
[Zephyr]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
I grew up in Ocean Park which is the community that used to be between Santa Monica and Venice. The Pacific Ocean Park Pier was located right on the dividing line. In about 1963 there was a federal program which “re-developed” the heart of the town. The feds tore down square blocks of homes and buildings, many of them being architecturally significant, and replaced them with a golf course and two giant towers of apartments. The government was not real successful in leasing these elitist monstrosities so the project collapsed and all that was left of much of Ocean Park were vacant lots. Abbot Kinney the visionary developer of Venice also founded Ocean Park. Both were intended by Kinney to be utopian arts communities that were based on the European model. Venice of the Americas was a copy of Venice Italy replete with canals and Palladian colonnaded squares. The original Ocean Park bath house was similarly grandiose. P.O.P. the amusement park ceased operation in circa 1968. Around that time Kent Sherwood who is Jay Adams step father had the board rental concession on the southside of the pier. Generally from then on the pier environment was poorly maintained and abandoned. For a while you could rent space where the businesses used to be in front of the park along the Promenade. We had one that was no bigger than a closet there in which we knocked a hole in the wall which opened up on a five thousand square foot sound stage that used to house one of P.O.P.’s attractions. It was a fantastic art studio deal. Rick Griffin was next door for awhile. Laddie John Dill was over at the old trolley shed.  Bob Irwin was down the block, as were Jim Ganzer and Billy Al Bengston. Our clique worked the pier painting and foraging materials as we went. The Zephyr organization started at the pier and as it formalized moved to Zephyr Court in Venice. In the early days it moved quickly and often as Zephyr adapted its location to what ever free space was available. There were good waves inside of the pier and no one from outside of the complex could get in. Everyone skated the sculpted concrete fountains at the P.O.P.’s entrance. All in all it was a great place to live. There was a wide mix of interesting individuals there and everyone basically got along. People were generally tolerant and minded their own business. The surf and skate scene started there. Tom Blake built the first modern production boards in Venice at Thomas Rogers factory in the early 30’s. Pete Petersen who was far and away the greatest all around waterman anywhere worked out of Santa Monica Pier crafting stuff like all fiberglass boards in ‘47. The Malibu crew led by Bob Simmons, Joe Quigg and Matt Kivlin built the first balsa and fiberglass boards in the late ‘40s. Dave Sweet made a polystyrene and epoxy board in 1947 and later crafted the first polyurethane production boards in the early ‘50s. Velzy who was on the peninsula in the ‘50s became the world’s largest manufacturer. Those guys invented the surfboard shapes and construction that are still the standard one in use today. Even the Hawaiians began using the Malibu styled surfboards.  The skate thing came out of that same surf clique. Skipper Boy was the first guy I ever say or heard of that had people paying him to build custom skates. A couple of years later in ‘63 Larry Stevenson started Makaha and Surf Guide Magazine. He also patented the kick tail.  Baby Dave Rochlen defected from Makaha a little later and they did Hobie with the Hilton’s dad. It was a close knit tight scene. It still is. The industry, the media, the moves, all of it came from there.

Talk about localism in Venice?
If you belong there you’ve got no problems. Otherwise good luck.

How do you think Venice has changed?
The wholesale takeover of the community by real estate speculators and agents of commerce has mutated everything to the point that a lot of the real shit is gone or unrecognizable. Movie stars, art marketeers, music moguls, web billionaires now all take up a lot of space. These people have the financial where withal to make things go their way. They want to wake up to hearts and flowers and the world singing their praises. The old social order gets rezoned by the new. Venice funk is an endangered species. It will survive though, it always does. The circus will eventually pull up stakes and leave town taking all of the clowns with it. When times get hard the soft get out.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
It was a place of congregation for a lot of people that did not have any other place to go. It was an incredible gathering place . Very stimulating and completely unstructured in how it functioned. Something was always happening there 365/24/7.  People intent on making Venice over into their own image and likeness feel threatened by indigenous culture like that. So the real is supplanted by the surreal.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
It all happened there first.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Skating in Venice is just fine.

“SKIPPER BOY” ENGBLOM
[Zephyr/SMA]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The best part was that there were no people, there was hardly anyone here back in the day.

Talk about localism in Venice.
I grew up in Venice and     people would move in from all over and instantly start telling you how it was. You ended up hating tourists, because a lot of them never left. They’d take your parking and you’d be dealing with their drama on your doorstep.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Well, first, it was one of two last great seaside slums: P.O.P. and Asbury Park.  It  started out as a community of artists, poets, free thinkers and a small Jewish community on the beach. And as happens the real estate brokers follow and all of a sudden it’s outrageous.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
A lot of good memories.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
Venice in ’58 was the birth of street skating. Venice is the historical and spiritual home of skateboarding just like Hawaii is the spiritual home of surfing. There may be better skaters from other places and there are better surfers than some of the Hawaiians, but these are their spiritual homes.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Skate park, “let the kids be free”!

ERIC “FROGGY” ANDERSON
[Venice]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
We could build ramps in the pavilion and the city wouldn’t mess with them. No tourists.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Dogtown SxM wasn’t Venice and Venice wasn’t SxM. Don’t confuse the two.

How do you think Venice has changed?
The skate scene in Venice was really dominant during the mid-to-late ‘80s, when Jesse Martinez used to bring out all the jump ramps. Everybody would be hitting the ramps and riding up the walls and grinding the lips of walls.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
It’s kind of sad you know because I grew up there, saw concerts and hung out in that terrain so it was a major part of my life. It’s kind of stupid though the way it’s all set up, y’know, picnic tables and all. But it is a part of Venice Beach.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
Venice is surf skate style.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
I hope they make something better visually where people could really hang out.

JAY ADAMS
[1st Generation]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
P.O.P. Pier, because it was abandoned and the beaches and the canals. The Venice Canals were really cool. And the fact that it was a multi-racial area. You know, all of the hippies hanging out. It was a really good time.

Talk about localism in Venice?
There was always a tight group of locals as far as the surfing community went.  A lot of surfers were afraid to come down and surf the p.o.p. because the locals were pretty violent, but as far as skating was concerned everybody skated together. Skating was one thing. Surfing was another.

How do you think Venice has changed?
There used to be a lot more locals and now it attracts a lot more tourists.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
It’s about time, who cares about ledges? It stinks of bums and piss anyway. It had it’s day.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
We paved the way. We were the original punk rock rebel skaters.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Ideally, in a Utopian world, another Marina Del Ray type skatepark. Realistically, a smooth sidewalk, that would be nice. That would be okay.

RAY FLORES
[Alva]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The weather, being outside of L.A in the clean air.

Talk about localism in Venice?
You’re either a local or you’re not. It’s whether your heart is there. You can be from anywhere and be a local.

How do you think Venice has changed?
It’s stayed very much the same, still very funky and it’s still not totally overrun with yuppies yet.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
It sucks, I hope they build something better. It had a lot of history.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
It started there, Venice is skateboarding’s birthplace. Modern performance skateboarding would not exist without it.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Put up something skateable, a skatepark maybe.

WES HUMPSTON
[Bulldog]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The surf and skate atmosphere, good friends, being leaders not followers and the original thinking.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Back then it was Venice Beach vs. Santa Monica attitude in the water surfing but on land, everyone skated together.

How do you think Venice has changed?
It used to be more of a skateboard scene than it is nowadays. I don’t see the new generation of kids out there skating like we did.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
For me the pavilion brings back a lot of good memories. I guess it’s time for a change, it was a vagrant hangout and the place did always smell kinda bad.  I’m a little biased but I think change is good.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
Venice Beach has always had it’s own group of hardcore skaters so it definitely influenced skating today.

JESSE MARTINEZ
[SMA/Powell Peralta /World Industries]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
Growing up at the beach was pretty cool. It was close to the hood, surfing. Everything I wanted to do was there. The older skaters who were in their prime when I was small were always cruising around and that was always good. Then in like ’81, skating started coming back and people started showing up down at the pavilion. Everyone was into surfing too, the VBWL. I guess those are some of the benefits of living here, surfing, skating, hanging out. It was good. Jay hooked me up with Santa Monica Airlines and that did a really good thing for the skating scene and the pavilion. I started skating with Natas and we started getting coverage in magazines and I started pumping the name Venice everywhere. Everywhere I went I would make sure to have it on my board or on my shirt. That started bringing more attention to Venice and before you knew it, there were guys popping out of the woodwork. By the time ‘85 came around it was a full blown scene. Guys from everywhere were coming down pretty much from ‘85-’86. The locals were pretty established by then and there must have been about fifteen or so pros down there around ‘86-’89.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Well back then there was localism. Things were a lot easier to get away with then. If somebody talked shit or we didn’t like what they were doing I’d ask them to leave kindly. If they didn’t want to leave, I would handle it any other way it had to be handled.  We pretty much kept the beach regulated. Then things started kind of going down hill for a while. I decided to come back and hang out a little bit, when I started noticing the people with the wheels on their feet getting a little too deep down there. I didn’t really notice anybody trying to let them know that this was our beach. I knew we couldn’t kick them off, but we could definitely let them know what was up. I didn’t kick them out. They chose to leave.Their head guy decided to step up one day and say that it was their beach now. Those were pretty much the last words he got out of his mouth. We took care of him. Right after that there was a petrified panic throughout the rollerblade world so for a while it got pretty desolate down there. Then the cops started hassling me. I was keeping clean so they didn’t know what was up but they knew we were hassling rollerbladers so they started putting the pressure on me.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Back in the day, they were  pushing rollerblading too much down there and I was getting upset with them. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, well, I really didn’t like them, but they shouldn’t have been bringing all their buddies down to the beach putting stickers up everywhere. All they had to do was come down and stay to the side, you know, mind your business, the American way. Mind your business, but no, they had to step up, put stickers up and actually have contests down there. That’s just like spitting in my face. I did what I could for a while then I decided I had done enough. It was time for me to step down and then hopefully some new guys with cleaner records than mine would take care of business. I’m not encouraging anybody to fight but just let them know that skateboarding will always be in the neighborhood. No matter if it is called The Pavilion or some Venice art fag mecca, we’re still going to be there.  We’re still going to make a spot somewhere. You can bet your ass the first day that thing opens I am going to be there to make a spot for skaters whichever way I can.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
Well, it’s not just a place I skateboarded like for a lot of people, it’s where I grew up. It’s where I have memories of my mom and brother, who have passed away now, so it goes back along way for me. Not just all my homies that I met and everybody at the beach. It was more of a whole family thing for me now that my mom and them are gone. I can walk down that beach and see a lot of things. That place holds a lot more for me than just skating memories. If I had it my way I would never have it torn down. I would just remodel it. Leave the same structure but maybe put in those new benches. Fix it up, remove some asbestos and put in some plants. Bring it up to modern times. Maybe build some structures next to it that are more modern. Tear down that substation. I am more for that. Yeah, I hate to see it go but you know I have no power. You know, I have never had any real power at the beach. I just do what I can.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
I am sure that Venice had a lot of influence on skating. Everybody wanted to come down to the neighborhood and check probably the hardest scene that ever was in skateboarding history. I agree that there will never be another group of people in one place holding down that hard for just a skateboard.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
If they built separate skateparks like segregation,  rollerbladers only and skateboarders only, maybe it would work because they are going to change the pavilion but they are never going to change the attitude of the skaters. We can co-exist with the rollerbladers but they are going to just have to take a back seat. I don’t know, go hang out with Arlo somewhere. Arlo ain’t my buddy, but I ain’t got much to say about him. I ain’t even going to waste my time with him. I am pretty sure he feels the same way though he just shouldn’t be backing Venice in ads and shit like that. I feel you have to earn your right to have a photo out of Venice. That’s the way it is. There were times when I actually kicked other skateboarders out of Venice for shooting ads just because I didn’t think they deserved to be there. It’s not like it’s the Holy Land but it is our neighborhood and we built it to give it a name. I didn’t want randoms coming in and doing full page ads in Venice. When homies who should have had those ads should have been in them but, you know, people always want to play.

SCOTT OSTER
[Dogtown]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
My favorite part was just hangin’ with all my friends, skating down at the pavilion, messing around, smoking weed and just hangin out. Just having fun.

Talk about localism in Venice?
You had people that were enforcers and you had to get what was called a “day pass” to even paddle out or skate certain spots at all and it was well enforced by a few of the heads.

How do you think Venice has changed?
I watched them build the pavilion. It was a plan for urban renewal that just didn’t really work for what it was built for, but the ledges were perfect for skaters. It was a shitty design;  set up for child molesters, perverts and dope fiends.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
Venice was a mecca of innovation and progression of skateboarding. It started on the walls of the pavilion, the ramps and the flat ground.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
I think a skatepark would be cool. You’ve got parks in every city these days, so I think Venice is a perfect spot for a good one.

CHRIS “COOKSIE” COOK
[Alva Team]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
It’s always been a social spot for everyone from the L.A. basin to come and skate. And when street skating started to develop in ’85, it just exploded. Now in the early 90’s, it’s gone. Who knows what we have in store to skate next. It was cool, coming from up North to skate with all the people here. All colors and creeds skated together.

Talk about localism in Venice?
It was hard for me when I first came down for the fact that I was a pool skater basically. Then I came down and started doing slappos and stuff and tripped people out. After that I met Jesse and got to know him and it was cool, but there was always that friction of meeting different people from Venice and having to prove my worth to them.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Commercialism and the way Santa Monica and Marina are closing together. That’s what this pavilion project is doing. It’s lame, because people did that art naturally here as opposed to them deciding what’s art.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
I guess it’s good since it was never really used, but bad because it was used for   activities other than what it generated for years which is skateboarding. If they build us a park and can agree on the design and we can retain our access to the public facilities that have been there to skate for years then it’s good..

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
We pretty much took over. Especially what we did in the ’80s, winning all the contests; people were asking what was in the water.  It wasn’t about what was in the water, it was about the environment and going off. And that’s what everyone does here, they do it full court because that’s where we live. It’s full court.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Allocating a space and giving us a park. They just spent millions to put up the weight courts and the handball courts, but they have some major hemmoroid about doing anything for skateboarders. But they have to provide that – we will continue to skate. I just want us to be able to have somewhere to skate.

BLOCK
[Team Hosoi]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The best thing about growing up in Venice to me was that Venice gave us an equal balance of life. You had rich kids, poor kids and we all got to vibe off each other and that’s what grounded us so well.  It was a good reality of life, it wasn’t any kind of fantasy life; it gave us median outlook so we could look at people and not judge. Just come here and be yourself. Our social circle was open, so that made us cool.

Talk about localism in Venice?
My generation of skateboarders was Christian Hosoi, Jesse Martinez, Eric Dressen, Scott Oster, Aaron Murray, Tuma, Joey Tran, J.T, Jeff Hartsel and the Alva boys and the Z Boys. But there was a whole generation of skateboarders before our time that made Dogtown and the West side of the Santa Monica and Venice area the mecca of skateboarding in the ‘70s.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Well, the skateboarding industry has changed. If you go up North to San Francisco, you have a lot of skate     companies like Independent and Thrasher that really support the industry and really try to keep skateboarding alive. Down here we don’t have that. There are really no skateboard companies in L.A. There are kids from L.A. that skate and Dogtown was the original but there are no real companies here.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
I understand it being torn down, but it’s an icon of Venice. It’s a monument. A lot of us have history there, but everything has to go, everything has their time. Everyone is against changing tradition. There are a lot of traditional things that have been here a long time and have taken a long time to marinate and become great and for some people that weren’t here for that experience, it means nothing to them.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
There were all these radical skateboarders coming out of here: Jay Adams, Stacey Peralta, Jim Muir and all the Dogtown boys had a lot of clout in the industry, so we had higher expectations. And we were skating the areas they had already skated for years as teenagers. And the older dudes were showing us what was up.

WILL “UHURU” HIGHTOWER
[World Industries]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
I was just another one of those groms seeing Venice in the magazines and I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in the mix too. I came out in ‘89 from Hawaii and the thing I like most about Venice is la familia. They take you in under their wing and you got a whole family of people that will protect you, clothe you and feed you; it’s family.

Talk about localism in Venice?
If someone comes to Venice and they’re ripping and they’re not from Venice, then everyone yells and it just makes everyone else want to skate harder, no vibes. There are vibes and you can get popped, but if you’re a cool head than you will be taken in. If you’re a ripper, all the better.

How do you think Venice has changed?
I got here at the tail end of it. By ‘89, it had definitely started to change but I remember seeing the banks of Venice, and the Alva boys down in the pit and I wanted to be here. The first place I came to was Venice. I had met Hartsel in Hawaii, I was riding his boards in the parking lot of a skatepark in Hawaii when I met him. So, Hartsel took me in when I got here. Mishi, Michelle and Hartsel all lived together.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
I can’t even bear to look at it. It has all this history. And what are they going to put up in it’s place? Some neuvo art? It’s going to look like Santa Monica. It could have been cleaned up so easily. It is art.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
I think Venice influenced skating in a big way. It’s a meeting ground for everyone. You can skate everywhere in Venice.

JOEY TRAN
[Team Hosoi]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
I remember Jesse Martinez declaring war on rollerbladers. and all the beautiful, horrible, unique, strange and cool experiences that I had with my friends. Raging, basically.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Well… membership definitely has its privileges. Put it that way.

How do you think Venice has changed?
It’s mellower… depending on who you are.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
It is a landmark being torn down but I’m about forging ahead. When your ticket is up, your ticket is up. I’ll miss it, but life goes on.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
I think Venice is like O.G. in style. I think Venice is like the style capital.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
A skatepark would be nice with transitions.

ERIC “TUMA” BRITTON
[OG Dogtown/SMA]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The best thing would have to be just how out of the ordinary it was when I first came around. I saw some pretty wild stuff. I would chill with Joey, Little Man and Shag, We were the third generation crew. Jesse Martinez, Scott Oster and Aaron Murray they were the second generation, then we got George Wilson and James Muir, Jay Adams, Polar Bear, Shogo and Pat.

Talk about localism in Venice?
The attitude down there was a real tight family. If you weren’t in, you weren’t going to fit in. People tried to come in and  blend in for a while but you know they would get excommunicated cause they just weren’t down with program. but then there were a few  people from out of town with the same attitude: Jeff Ramos, Jeff Strubing and George Watanabe.

How do you think Venice has changed?
It was a lot different back then than it is today. People could terrorize and there was a lot more freedom. It was more of a performance for us, we would create huge crowds. The pavilion was the only place you could really go and have a big crowd of skateboarding where it wasn’t a contest or anything like that.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
A skatepark… duh…

DAVID HACKETT
[Alva Team]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
I didn’t really grow up in Venice, I grew up in Malibu which is about 10 miles north of Venice. I can tell you that surfing and skating “back in the day” (for me, that would be 1972-1980) was all about hangin’ with my bros surfing the best waves we could find in the am, and then reproducing those surf moves to the banks, streets and pools by the pm. For me, the best thing was that I used to hang with a bunch of hard-core guys from Venice (who were considered gangsters in my town) and I just loved it because all the pretentious rich bitch assholes that lived in Malibu were afraid of me because of my association with guys like Tony Alva, Jay Adams, John Palfreyman, Paul Constantineau and  serious Venice homeboys like Block, and his posse. We basically raged all over, doing anything we wanted.

Talk about localism in Venice?
You know I never really saw anybody get abused by Venice locals because it was just a fact that if you were an outsider, a DSK (down south kook) or a Valley Hatter (San Fernando) and you happen to find yourself in Venice, or DT, you just didn’t try to pull any moves on any of the boys or you would pay the price. Most of the outsiders I saw tried hard to fit in by trying to skate with DT style and pay respect to the OG DT locals. Every once in a while, someone would start talkin’ shit and end up being just a babbling fist magnet…

How do you think Venice has changed?
Back in the ‘70s, Venice was really a low key artist colony filled with underground culture, lots of fine art studios, groovy little places to hang, and some interesting people all creating cool art, music, movies, books, poetry, and wild parties. It was like the Village in New York, just a epicenter of creativity. In the ‘80s, with the Reagan administration there was a lot of money pumped into building up Santa Monica (specifically the 3rd street promenade) and that started to bring a lot more people, tourists, shops, revenue, and sort of seeped over into Venice and just jacked up the prices on everything from food to rent. I still think there’s a lot of really great art being made in Venice and the talent pool is incredible, but the cost of living there is out of control, the number of homeless people is increasing, and the water in the Santa Monica bay is really polluted.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
You know, change is inevitable. I think most of the pain we, as humans create for ourselves, is in our inability to accept change. For me personally, I don’t know all the details in and around the destruction of the Pavilion, I can say that it was a very cool place to hang and skate, and certainly the sessions on the wall with all my homeboyz at the time I will never forget – Aaron Murray, Eric Dressen, Block, Christian, Scott Oster, Pat Ngoho, LittleMan, TA, Jay, the list goes on. I think it would be a tremendous mistake not to build a killer community skatepark in place of the Pavilion, because skating and surfing are the lifeblood of Venice and Venice deserves a skatepark! I see community, parks being built in areas of California that haven’t had half the impact that Venice and Santa Monica gave to skating.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
If you really go back to the origins of skating, you will find that yes, there may have been some skateboarders in Chicago in the late 40’s or early 50’s, but the fact remains that all vertical skateboarding has it’s roots in Southern California. Beach towns like Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica and Venice are where the surf craze in the early sixties took place, and “Sidewalksurfin'” was popularized by the Beach Boys, and guys like Torger Johnson, Danny Bearer, John Fries, Dave and Steve Hilton, and a bunch of other guys started riding banks and even swimming pools back then, inventing a style of skateboarding – “SurfSkating” that was eventually passed on to the next generation who took it a couple of steps further, and most of those guys were from Venice and Santa Monica.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Build a skatepark!  Build two! Build an exact replica of the original DogBowl, Canyon Pool, Gonzo’s and put a big sign at the entrance saying “Venice SkatePark- Home of the ZBoys!” and then right underneath that sign put a bigger one that says “Learn to Turn”.

DENNIS “POLAR BEAR” AGNEW
[Venice]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
Growing up here was fun when the pavilion had all its’ programs and stuff.  Luckily I was born and raised here and I meet all the local surfer kids and they took me in and told me where too surf. Skateboarding just came along with it. My main influences for surfing and skating were Jay Adams, Gramps, Paul Cullen and Arthur Lake. Those guys really skated hard. But mainly Jay pushed me as far as skateboarding and surfing goes. They used to let us build ramps and stuff at the pavilion in like ‘74 or ‘75.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Back in the ‘70s, the middle part, we had little surf wars between P.O.P. and Santa Monica because it was right in the middle.

How do you think Venice has changed?
They’re tearing down our pavilion and they’ve talked about doing it for twenty years. I heard they’re building a McDonalds in there and at one time they promised us a skating area (laughing).  Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen now. Venice used to be a cool place to hang out, skate and surf. In the early 80s, all the gangs started coming down here from Watts and all over. Then people were getting stabbed or shot every weekend.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
I really don’t believe it, I think they should have restored it. It’s been there ever since I was born and it kept a lot of kids out of trouble including myself. The Pavilion was the place in Venice for recreation.  We had surf clubs, baseball teams, boxing, karate, ping pong; we had everything down there. They had concerts and stuff for the people but the main thing was all the programs for the kids. It helped me stay out of trouble.  Skateboarding and surfing helped me stay out of trouble, it gave me something to do.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
They still do a lot of street skating there, but now that the pavilion is gone, I don’t know what the skaters are going to do.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Open up some programs again and some places for kids to skate.  There is a lot of people who come here to skateboard and we’re losing places to do it.  You’ll get a ticket on the boardwalk and you can’t do it on the bike path. We need a skatepark. We had Marina Del Rey and that kept a lot of kids out of trouble. I would spend fifteen hours a day skating there.

TIM JACKSON
[Dogtown]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
I think the strong influence of being surrounded by all the pros – the surfers and the older skaters – that made everyone stand out.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Back in the day it was strong. If you weren’t from the area and you came down it was  literally like you had to ask for permission to skate. It was pretty hectic but then a lot of us got a lot older and a lot smarter and realized that bringing people from other cities and other places just made it better to skate, made it popular and more powerful for us.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Venice has always been the same. I just think that the styles and the people change but Venice will always be the same.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
I think it really sucks because it’s a landmark. There is nothing else they could put down there that could be more of an influence to people. I mean, how long has that pavilion been down there? Everyone goes to see the paintings on the walls or skate the benches. When all of that is gone, it is going to be a lot different. It is not going to be the same old Venice Beach Pavilion.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
I think if it wasn’t for Venice and the people like Jesse Martinez, Block, Julien Stranger, Natas Kaupas, me, Christian Hosoi and my brother Aaron Murray, street skating wouldn’t be where it is today. We brought out everything. If it wasn’t the first person to ollie it was the first person to railslide or the first to curb grind. We influenced skateboarding and made it what it is today. I used to have shoe boxes full of letters from kids wanting to know how to do wall rides and stuff like that.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Open a skatepark.

GEORGE WILSON
[Z-Flex]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The energy level was high, skating hard, hanging with your friends. Sex, drugs, live fast, die young, that was the lifestyle we were living. I have an abundance of great and crazy memories of Venice. It’s where the debris meets the sea. Venice has always had a crazy mystique about it and that’s the beauty of the whole scenario.

Talk about localism in Venice?
If you didn’t live in Venice or know the right people you definitely didn’t surf there. If you deserved respect, you got respect over the years. I have seen a lot of people get beat down but it seems like things have mellowed in that aspect.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Changes in skating are immense. In the 70’s, it was all about a quarter pipe here and there, hanging out, trying to get a ride to Oxnard, Skateopia or Lakewood. Then we were saved by the Marina Skatepark in ‘78. Things died down a little in the early ‘80s. Little did I know it just was taking a breather from the abuse it was about to receive from the likes of Jesse Martinez,  Eric D, Oster and Murray. Those guys devastated the place. I would consider that the heyday of actual skating at the pavilion. You can check out any of the top skate videos and see people going off.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
To say I won’t miss the place would be an understatement but change is inevitable. The building has been stagnant forever. I would be happy to replace it with a skatepark. R.I.P…

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
Style and speed … this area is the major influence in all aspects from the beginning of bank, bowl and pool riding to the beginning of street skating. Hands down. Period.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
How do you spell skatepark?  Plain and simple, build a skatepark. Most important, build a good one. I’ve been seeing a lot of wasted wood and concrete at some of the new parks.

Pat Bareis
[Venice]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
For the size of the city we had a lot of skaters, skaters with natural talent, so we would skate in packs on the streets at the beach or the Venice ramp, pushing each other to higher limits.

Talk about localism in Venice?
I’ll let Block answer that one.

How do you think Venice has changed?
The giant fruity clown on the corner of Main and Rose says it all !!!

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
Like someone bulldozed part of my mind.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
For a city without a skatepark the city itself became the park. From the hot places to the pro faces in the mags Venice became a crossroads for skaters globally. We had a cool scene and a welcome mat for out-of-town skaters.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Long over due skatepark.

ENNIS MILLER
[Circa flow]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
The best thing about growing up here was it was an experience because you’re either twisted between gangs, surfing or some kind of activity. That’s how it is growing up in the hood. It just so happened that Jesse Martinez’ grandmother lived two doors down from me when I was growing up and he was always stopping by, skating down the street but he always used to stop and talk to me. Over a period of time I got to know him and then he started taking me down to the beach to the pavilion and we used to have little barbeques and parties. Jesse was an influence, he brought me from the hood to the beach and got me started skating. And people like Block that supported skateboarding, he gave all the kids boards to ride.

Talk about localism in Venice?
When a local has some trash cans set up, y’know, the way he wants ‘em, if you’re from some where else and you try to rearrange his set up you’re probably going to get some words and maybe even the golden glove. It’s pretty cool though, most people that come down here, show respect. Sometimes there’s a problem, when someone comes down here and thinks they’re a bad ass and they try to stand in the way. Basically, over the years we’ve worked it out. Y’know there’s been some beef over the years between us and the rollerbladers, but now we have just all separated and have our places to skate.

How do you think Venice has changed?
Skating is more of an inter-racial sport now, there are a lot more Blacks and Asians and so on. And for some reason, somehow they all get together at the pit. No matter what age or differences or whatever, the pit was the place everyone could get together, put everything aside and just skate.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
It’s been there a such a long period of time. It’s a great place to skate but the benches are getting kind of raggedy and some of it is just falling apart. If they can like save it that’s cool or rebuild it. You know what would be great is if they would steam clean it, it smells like piss in there.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
Well, because we had a whole lot of old school pros out here like Eric D [Dressen], Jay Adams, Jesse and Julian Stranger, Eric Britton, all from Venice, keeping it real and still skating. They were our influences, still skating since 1980.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
Build a skatepark, where if you’re over 18, you can sign a release and skate with no pads. Just build us a nice skate spot and let us be.

ERIC DRESSEN
[Dogtown]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
Best thing about living / skating in Venice. Stepping out of the house and hopping on your board jamming down the street and checking out the sights.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Venice locals show up and rip on everyone at their own spots. Also, we’ll kick your ass if you ain’t cool.

How do you think Venice has changed?
A lot skaters from back in the day don’t skate with each other. It would be rad if a park was around here that would get the boys out skating.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
Each section of the pavilion has its own story. Different ways it’s been sessioned. A lot of rad skating has gone down there, hopefully something good will be made there to skate..

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
Skating hard, keep it raw and stylin’.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
24 hour open public park with ripping terrain.
JOHN THOMAS
[Alva Team / World Industries / Deca]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
I would have a hard time saying what the best thing was. You got to remember the older you get the better things were “back in the day”. I think the thing I appreciate the most  is the sense of community we really had. We would all skate, smoke, eat, smoke with each other. We would hang at each others pads and go out to clubs. Out of many we were one, truly. You messed with one bean, you got the whole  burrito. I wasn’t born here, I moved out in ‘85 at the age of seventeen on my own from the East Coast but I paid my dues, I gave respect to all, and for it I found friends for a lifetime.

Talk about localism in Venice?
There is nothing different about localism here. Anywhere you go in the world where there are a lot of tourist or visitors there will always be  those that are protective of their neighborhood and those that prey on visitors. A big part of back 10-15 or so years ago was local kids protecting the Venice Breakwater from non-local surfers and that naturally transcended to skaters localizing our spots at the beach.

How do you think Venice has changed?
A few Hollywood types came and went,leaving behind steel framed, concrete fortresses in the middle of ghost town to make room for the next producer to move in. Newer city buildings are popping up,new library, new boys club, etc. It’s alright, when I was younger I would’ve said, “They’re trying to change Venice to a 3rd Street Promenade and push out all the original vendors, blah, blah, but the fact of the matter is that the people who have their shit together will hold it down and be fruitful and the people who don’t will get weeded out.That’s just natural selection.

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
Part of me is sad, but only because it’s being torn down. If it wasn’t being torn down and you asked me or any other heads from Venice, we wouldn’t care. The place stinks like piss. Every time you’d fall in there you’d be looking for the Neosporin. It’s time for a change.

How do you feel Venice  influenced skating today?
At the advent of pro street skating, Venice was the spot defining style and innovation. Not to mention the talent pool we had at that time.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
To have a free city sponsored cement park. The skaters were a huge part of the scene at the  beach that attracted so many international visitors. Remember that Venice  is, to a great extent, what defines the image of Southern California to the world.

AARON MURRAY
[Dogtown]

What was the best thing about growing up in Venice?  
How can you beat living and skateboarding at the beach? We’re lucky to be able to skate hard and breathe fresh air. That’s why riders from Dogtown rip so hard. They came from the ocean. And while herds of tourists follow each other, aloof  – dedicated riders who were all homies – rode, with 300 spectators – crowding – to watch, yelling, taking pictures, tripping on the shit we were doing. There was complete purpose – meanwhile it was no big deal. And at the same time, it’s all there was. I’m grateful for my experience with skateboarding from Marina Skatepark, seeing the original Z-Boys skate in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and for all the sessions at the beach. I don’t like to remember all the injuries – as much as all the good times. I mean if I had a choice – to rip off a pinkie finger, to give me the power to grind the 12.5’ wall of the Pavilion – I’d do it again. And again. Team Pain. Venice Beach was the medium to do – whatever you thought was possible. It was also the visual – to experience – what you may have thought was   impossible.

Talk about localism in Venice?
Localism is good. People need to be informed. There needs to be the “people’s voice”, for the community – public conscience. Between the cops, the markets, the tourists and the locals – who are you going to talk to about Venice? Locals remind everyone to come correct – have respect on people’s home. Respect the origin – of this culture – of skateboarding.

How do you think Venice has changed?
There’s less localism. It looks to me like they want to give Venice a facelift. All the tourism, commercialism and “marketizm” is shallow. The real depth and weight of Venice is in it’s people, their environment and history and in our case – skateboarding. For all it’s worth – and all the good times, blood, sweat and pain – paid my dues and skateboarding represented in full. These days some of the “haves” in the skateboard business have forgotten where they came from, and become big-headed conservative wannabes. Meanwhile, there are a lot of “have-nots” who were the real “doers” of skateboarding who have stayed humble, thankful and active and haven’t asked for much. Skateboarding was born out of defiance of preconceived rules or thought. Skateboarding continues to show us what’s possible. It’s good to see these articles on skateboarding history, the Z Boys, Dogtown and Venice Beach. Giving credit where it’s due, don’t even trip -believe it!

How do you feel about the pavilion being destroyed?
We blazed a lot there, listened to music and skateboarded. I know that after the Pavilion goes down – nobody will ever grind the top of the 12 1/2 foot wall again.

How do you feel Venice influenced skating today?
Venice influenced skateboarding with the style through the skateboarding moves and  riders it produced. Riders like the original Z-Boys.

What do you think can be done to benefit skating in Venice?
What can be done for skateboarding in Venice is to keep it simple and always allow skateboarding. Build skateable structures and sculptures at no cost to the public.

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PHOTO CREDITS:

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Clockwise from Top Left:

Eric “Froggy” Anderson wallride in 1975. Photo: courtesy the Anderson Family

Jeff Hartsel Photo: Bagel

Block Photo: Bagel

Tim Jackson and his signature trick the wallie.

Ru doing the roof gap. Photo: Myers

Big Dan snuck out of work to hit the last session and ollied from flat over the can. Photo: Myers

Background Photo: Eric Dressen nosesliding a Cadillac on the boardwalk. Photo: Block
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