It is with peace, love and respect that we share the sad news that David Carl Beck, known to most in the skateboarding and surfing world as “Mondo”, passed away on February 4, 2021, from cardiac arrest. R.I.P. Mondo…
Born and raised on the East Coast, Mondo was the son of Carl and Elly Beck of Cherry Hill, NJ, and he had two sisters, Lorrie and Joanne, both highly-regarded, world-class athletes. Mondo’s father, Capt. Carl Beck, died serving our country in the United States Air Force when Mondo was just two years old. Mondo was the father of two sons, Cody and Dylan, and was living in Hawaii at the time of his death.
From the very beginning, Mondo was an extremely strong swimmer and an excellent diver, competing for Barclay Farm Swim Club, (The Barclay Barracudas) starting at age 8 (around 1970)… He started skateboarding around 1974 during the beginning of the skateboard explosion. A few years later, Mondo was an integral part of the labor force that built Cherry Hill Skate Park in 1978, and became one of the rowdiest, most ripping locals.
Glen E. Friedman shot this epic photo of Mondo at Cherry Hill Skatepark in 1979 and offered high praise in Beck’s memory, “One of the gnarliest locals at Cherry Hill, hands down!”
Around 1982, Mondo moved to Southern California where his surf/skate style and airbrushed artwork sparked revival and revolution and his story continued. From the East Coast to the West Coast to Hawaii and beyond, Mondo left a lasting impression everywhere he went.
There are so many chapters to the Mondo story, some of which you’ll find in this tribute, and many others that will carry on in the hearts and souls of those that lived them. In memory of Mondo, we hope you’ll find solace in these stories of good times shared by his family and friends…
As Mondo’s sister, Joanne Brubach, shared the sad news of his passing, she also shared her great love for her little brother, “He was a very talented and devoted guy. He put everyone else before himself and certainly lived life to its fullest! This earth has lost a wild, but gentle soul… such a talented athlete in everything he did – football, swimming, wrestling, surfing and skateboarding, where he was a legend and a pioneer, building skateparks, Alva/Mondo Beck boards, Local Motion Surfboards… He gave my boys, John and Carl, their first surfboards and skateboards and shared his love of the ocean, putting fun into everything he did… Such a wonderful dad and a talented artist. He was larger than life, but simpler than life. If I learned one thing from my younger brother, it would be, keep it simple, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life has to be fun or it’s not worth living.”
As Mondo’s good friend, Gary J Spatola A.K.A. Dogman, who grew up with Beck since the mid 1960’s, recounted, “David was a kid that grew up in my neighborhood in the Barclay Farm Section of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We first crossed paths at Barclay Farm Swim Club, but our strongest bond was established when we were both drawn in by the skateboard explosion in the early 1970’s. We were consumed with skateboarding over the next couple of decades and shared countless missions together, skate/ocean/music/concerts and parties. His skateboarding was raw, high wattage power, speed and surf/flow style, so I tagged him with the nickname “Mondo” around 1975. The times shared with him barging and bailing pools are among the happiest of my life. The Cherry Hill Skate Park chapter stands on its own merit. Mondo and I were the only ones to get banned from Cherry Hill Skate Park because new ownership just plain didn’t dig our whole wild vibe… David and my brother, Steve A.K.A. Biff, surfed and skated together a bunch and shared many adventures in Hawaii too and I’m really grateful that Steve had Dave while finding their way around the island… David was one of the absolute BEST friends that I’ve ever made. To me, Mondo was more than my friend. He was my brother.”
Chuck Treece remembered Mondo at skate sessions at Cherry Hill, “Mondo was always a mentor to me from the Cherry Hill days, being a grom and having one of my last sessions there, watching him skate barefoot in the right hand kidney. Mondo was the best, my favorite skater of all time, always pushing us to travel and meet people. He had the best stories too. Bless.”
Eric Groff A.K.A. Arab shared his memories of Mondo, “The legendary Alva Skates Artist/Surf-Skate Ripper/Jester… I first met him in 1982. The original Skoundrelz (Tony Alva’s old band) was in full swing, and Mondo painted a killer backdrop for the band. Mondo, TA and I were skating a lot of backyard pools and closed skateparks, at the time, which was when Alva 2.0 was being birthed in my Mom’s garage, and Mondo bought an airbrush machine and taught himself how to airbrush. Mondo had been on a perpetual couch tour, until he ventured back to Cherry Hill, NJ, to visit family. He then inherited a 1973 Buick Century from his grandfather and headed back to the West Coast. He lived in that car, spending his days at the beach surfing or skating with the boys. Then he would come back and park it in the condos where I was living and he would shower at the community pool before slipping into the backseat for a night’s sleep. Mondo was like a big puppy that would traipse into a room with his tail wagging and knock all the beer bottles off the coffee table. One night I watched him break a branch off of a tree. I jokingly said “What are you gonna uproot the tree next?” The next thing ya know, the tree was unearthed. I was amazed at his strength – he was like Hercules. After the first big check came in from the initial run of the new Alva Skates boards, TA and Mondo rented a garage to live in on Orange Street in Newport Beach. Not long after, they moved to Venice and got a little surf shack. Mondo lived a simple life. Surf, Skate and Rage HARD at ALL Times! Rip in Peace, ya Big Galoot….”
Dave Duncan [Alva posse] memorialized Mondo, “Sad to hear that we’ve lost a legendary man! I was lucky to have many amazing skateboarding and surfing sessions with Mondo! Also many soulful memories skating backyard pools in the Alva days in the early 80s when they were operating it all out of the garage. Mondo was taking the time to airbrush all of the boards and make each one unique and special, which helped to get Alva Skates back up and rolling strong again. We were just trying to keep the fun times going! I remember one crazy night in Hollywood, there was a nightclub where he painted and airbrushed these day-glo ramps. We took mushrooms and skated and raged all night! Good times with a fun crew! He was a great old soul that we loved and will be dearly missed by everyone he knew. RIP Mondo Beck!
Mondo was an amazing skateboarder and surfer who also became widely known for his airbrushing technique and artistic skills. Photographer, Wynn Miller, recalled Alva ad photo shoots as always being fun, “We’d just fuck around and do all kinds of stuff. One day Tony dragged Mondo along and we shot Tony and Mondo with their faces spray painted… We usually had something we were trying to accomplish.” [Juice Magazine #77] Today, Wynn added in tribute to Beck, “Mondo’s art and skating blew minds, and still holds up after all these years. He was a brilliant artist and airbrusher, he was a loyal friend, and he shredded. RIP. Mondo.”
In the mid ’80s, Alva Fish skateboards were screen-printed and airbrushed by Mondo. Reflecting on everything that Mondo brought to skateboarding, Tony Alva said, “Abstract art and thinking was his bread n’ water.”
Alva Skates O.G. Ray Flores remembered, “Uno Mondo! The number one style master on the Alva team. The number one graphics artist on the Alva team. Now doing graphics and riding for Heavenly Skateboards.”
Fred Smith [Alva posse] recounted seeing the Alva “factory” early on, during his first trip to L.A., “We were totally in shock and in awe. It was like, “This is it. This is where it’s all going down.” We loved it. Remember where Mondo spray-painted the boards in the back?” [Juice Magazine #69]
Tim Kerr [Big Boys] paid tribute to Mondo with this story from 1984: “I remember Mondo as a crazy free spirit in the best way possible. He took me to hang out with him and TA and their friends when Big Boys were playing the Perkins Palace show with Suicidal Tendencies. There had been a crazy party the night before and, while driving and telling me some crazy story, he turned in mid sentence to projectile vomit out the open driver window. Vomit like “The Exorcist” pea soup scene. He turned back to me and, after saying, “I feel lots better”, finished his story and then asked me if I was hungry because he now was and wanted to get a burrito. I just remember it being a really great day. On the Flipside video, you can see him fucking with me while we were playing. I did not mind at all. Later, you see him walking across the stage and sort of stopping to watch the drummer while Suicidal is playing. Their manager, at the time, was on the side of the stage yelling “Mondo! Mondo!”, but Mondo was on his own time. Earlier that night, I was told by that same manager to go downstairs and calm my friends down because he was worried that Suicidal was going to get blamed for the craziness going on down there. When I get downstairs, it sounds like a mini riot and, as a bottle is flying out of a door down the hall, I see in the first room, all of Suicidal sitting on a couch looking innocent and not wanting to get/or be involved. When I get down the hall, it ends up just being TA and Mondo…. just a bunch of kids having fun. Like Taters, I wish we could have met up again, but I KNOW they will always be around. Safe Travels.
As Jesse Martinez remembered Mondo during his L.A. days, “He was always full of life and saying, “Let’s go, Mess!” He was doing big carves and big grinds. Mondo was the man. I was hanging out with him when I was 16 or 17 years old and he was in his 20s and he was in his prime, ripping! He used to airbrush the most badass skateboards back in the day for Alva. Mondo was a great guy. He was a real good dude. I know he was wild, but he was a kind-hearted guy. He was a fuckin’ legend!”
Chris “Cooksie” Cook shared his story of first hooking up with Mondo and the Alva posse, “At the time, I was up here in the city, hanging with the Jak’s and going to shows at night. I was making boards for Santa Cruz down at San Carlos when I introduced the first color stained boards to the market. T.A. and Mondo came up with The Skoundrelz to do shows and I hooked up with them. They were like, “Dude, what are you doing? Come down and skate some pools. I started going to LA, skating pools and silk-screening in Tony’s partner’s garage.” [Juice Magazine #58]
Mondo offered his memories to Juice Magazine in 2018 for a tribute to the Venice Pavilion where the cult classic movie “Thrashin'” was filmed starring Josh Brolin [Corey Webster – ‘Ramp Locals’], and Robert Rusler [Hook] and the ‘Daggers’, with Mondo featured as one of the Daggers. Mondo said, “The Venice Pavilion was a place for people to hang out and it was condemned. I just remember Tim Jackson’s insane wall rides in that place. The most fun part, for me, was the two-mile skate to get there to the beach.”
Josh Brolin remembered Mondo and the impact he had on the scene, “RIP Mondo. Loved that dude. What a time. What a fucking life.”
Steve Olson, who, along with Mondo, was part of the Daggers crew in the “Thrashin’ movie recounted the days during filming, “Thrashin’ comes through and we all get parts as gang members and Daggers. My boy, Rick Ducommun, is up for the lead part and, when he didn’t get it, all of a sudden, the movie is a piece of shit, but I got to shoot in a movie with all of my boys: Hosoi, Reategui, Hartsel, Mondo, Johnny Ray, TA…” [Juice #50] In remembrance of Mondo, Olson said, “We will miss Mondo… too soon.”
Chris “Cooksie” Cook [Alva posse] recalled his memories, as well as injuries, as Josh Brolin’s stunt double in the filming for the movie, “Thrashin'” with Mondo. “Doing the super jump at the end, Mondo was pulling me on the motorcycle. I was flying off the ramp into these boxes and my board flew out. When I looked back, the board came down right into my thigh… Mess ran into Kevin O’Connor like a pedestrian, flying down the hill. It was twisted meat from the front of his thigh to the back of his thigh… The whole thing was classic. We started out that first day with 60 guys. By the end of the week, there were only 15 guys left. People were yelling, “Medic!” but the medics stopped coming because they’d run out of supplies after the second day. No one else wanted to skate, they all split.” [Juice Magazine #58]
Jef Hartsel [Alva posse] remembered meeting Mondo when he came to visit Hawaii before Hartsel joined the Alva Skates team, “Mondo comes over and I take him to all of the spots and the dude is gnarly. He was doing S turns, bottom turns and full surf turns. His skateboard kicktail was even made out of surfboard foam and fiberglassed on. I tripped out on the dude. There was a lot of hype about surf skaters, but Mondo was the real deal. He’s a Jersey-head, mind you. He used to always get kicked out of Cherry Hill for being too radical… Mondo was dope. He was the guy that was shaping, painting and airbrushing these boards. That was when Alva ads had Mark Gonzales doing a streetplant on an airbrushed board. To me, as an artist, Mondo was the shit… When Mondo was getting ready to go back, he told me that I should come to California and enter some contests. He said he thought that I should be riding for Alva. He said, “When I get back, I’m going to talk to Tony and the heads and make it happen.” He had given me an Alva board and then I got my first UPS box from Alva. It had Alva gear in it and a board that was hand airbrushed by Mondo. It was gnarly… So that was my in. Mondo just opened it up for me like, “You should be skating over here.”
Hartsel also gave his respect to Mondo’s unique style, “I have to say that Mondo (Dave Beck) is the raddest “surf/skater” I’ve ever known or have witnessed surf’n on ‘crete! Mondo oozes surf style, and defines what “surf skate” style is for me. I’ve seen him hand push off the flat bottom of a half pipe before going up the wall and snapping the lip! Mondo surfed everything that he skated!” [Juice Magazine #75]
AntiHero Skateboards founder and Venice Beach native, Julien Stranger recalled Mondo was the first one to ever hook him up with a free skateboard, “I saw Mondo at the beach and he told me to come by the Garfield house and get a board. I was fucking stoked… It was a window into a whole other world and I was beyond stoked. It was insane… Mondo was sick. He was a good dude.” [Juice Magazine #74]
Kale Sandridge also credited Mondo for helping him and giving him skateboards, “I rode for Alva – that was the gusto. First, Mondo helped me up. That was the first board I ever got. And one time, the Gonz came down to Wallos with Rocco and Steve Rocco gave me a board. That was funny. I was just skating there one day and the Gonz showed up. He was busting method airs off ‘88 bowl. I was trippin’ out. I was skating barefoot, doing big footplants, so Rocco gave me a board. I was just riding scrap boards and borrowing other people’s boards. Then they had a Wallos contest, and that’s when I saw Mondo. He kicked me down some Skull Skates stuff and I met Salba too. That’s the first board that made me feel sponsored.” [Juice Magazine #52]
Eugene Teal, pro surfer, 3 x JPSA Longboard Grand Champion, surfboard shaper and ET Surf Shop owner remembered Mondo, “I met Mondo when I was about 7 or 8 years old as a Waikiki beach grommet. My sister (no blood related) Lisa [Scott Owen] introduced me to him and Tony Alva and Mondo gave me a few skates. I just remember he was the coolest guy and he ripped on a skateboard and had such an unreal aura. I think all the girls were drawn to him also. I always wanted to be like him (lady’s man) even if he wasn’t trying to be. So much Aloha and glad to have been able to hang with him.” Aloha. RIL Mondo.”
Grant Fukuda remembered his first Mondo encounter, “I first met David “Mondo” Beck in 1985 when he was visiting Hawaii. He came over to session my mini ramp which he made holes in because he was so big and aggressive. My first impressions weren’t so great of him because of the damage done. But the next year he came back to town and we had my first rendition of my vert ramp functioning and it was on! Mondo attacked it like he was Larry Bertlemann at Big Rights on a perfect swell. I remember it so clearly: Black Chuck Taylors, surf shorts (no shirt – he never wore tees), custom sprayed Alva Fish, wide Indy’s and some big conicals.
Recalling some of the early days of skating pools with Mondo in Hawaii, Fukuda added, “Popeyes was the only skateable pool at the time. Mondo and Salba wanted some action, so we ended up at this shithole pool. Mondo lifted two blocks, edged it to the third block and snapped it back in.” [Juice Magazine #49]
“We all talk about surf/skaters and who had the best of this style – Mondo was hands down the ruler of the SRF/SK8 style. He would drop in and do figure 8’s on the ramp, drop in frontside but instead of hitting the next wall frontside, he would crossover on the flat and hit the wall backside. He would do this to pump for speed and emulate carving as though he were surfing. His hands would drag on the masonite and sometimes used to push/paddle himself forward. Hitting the lip was pure Alva style, he would windup as though he were aiming to rip the coping off the ramp – and he achieved this with each slash.” said Fukuda.
Grant Fukuda also spoke of the time after Beck made the transition to living in the Islands, “Mondo moved to Hawaii permanently in 1987. He had ended his run with Alva Skates, launched Mondo Skates with Skull and moved to Oahu for good. We skated a lot together in random pools, ramps and surf-skated the streets of Honolulu. His run with Skull didn’t last long and he needed work. I asked my friends at Local Motion to see if they needed any airbrushers for their surfboards and, luckily, he got the gig from them. The craziest thing was for about a six month period you could walk into any of the Local Motion surf shops and their surfboards all looked like the Alva skates from the mid-80’s. All of his “mind expanding” techniques, patterns and tricks were on the surfboards! The skaters got it right away – black boards with fish scales and scratches.”
As time went on, Fukuda remembered the next chapter of Mondo’s life, “At the end of the 80’s, he gave up skating and hung up his Chuck Taylors. I literally mean he stopped wearing shoes. I would visit his workshop in Waimanalo and he would be welding in his slippers and shorts. He unplugged from society and lived the life of a hippie on a commune. No phone for years, no address and no cares in the world. I would stop by to catch up and he would always have some creative project that he was engulfed in, from painting cars to painting murals on buildings, he did whatever he wanted to. A few years ago I asked Mondo to paint our 1950s vintage barbershop tin sign that’s original to our building for our shop Golden Hawaii Barbershop. I told him to add his Alva flare to it. He didn’t dive too hard into the goth script, but you can see his style. Happy to have an original piece from our old friend hanging in our shop.”
As Fukuda shared his fond memories of Mondo he said, “The way I will always remember him is embodied in the timeless picture JGB shot of him at the Gonzales Pool doing a Bertlemann (front hand down, truck barking and that big bulky body stretched out with style). The kid from New Jersey who moved to Hawaii will be missed by many. Aloha ‘Oe my old friend.”
Mondo’s good friend and photographer, Lisa Scott Owen recalled many good times, “I met Mondo when he was on tour with Tony and the Skoundrelz. They did a gig and then we took them to a pool in the Marin hills. It was eye-opening watching those boys skate with that special style of theirs. Other skaters were all clickity clack. These boys were like the sound of breathing with insane clean surf style lines. Many years later Mondo lived with us in Hawaii. In the mornings, while Athena slept in [my besty/his lady], he and I would have ice cream sandwiches and coffee for breakfast as we walked from Waikiki to Ala Moana bowls to surf. I surfed in-betweens while he surfed the left or right depending on which friends were out, might be LB and Buttons or our Waikiki beach bros Eugene and Jim Jim, regardless, tons of laughter and sharing of waves. Later, we would sometimes break into hotel swimming pools and then meet Athena at crazy vintage outdoor bars with flowers floating down around us, and more laughter would ensue. We disconnected for a while and then I found him living country in HAWAII. His son, Cody, was the apple of his eye. They worked on truck projects and surfed together and Mondo was very proud of Cody. When last we spoke, we argued about the dog that he and Cody wanted to get. Their big beautiful puppy had just passed away… he sent me photos of his latest truck rebuild. His sudden death was really shocking. Best big brother ever. I will love and remember him always.”
Mondo’s love, Majique, shared this final tribute to Mondo. “I’m grateful and very happy to see this memorial for Mondo. Today, at his viewing, I kissed his lips and thanked him for all of us. We’d known each other for over 10 years and lived together for 6-7 years – madly in love we were! It’s such an honor to have been been so close with him. We shared HUGE SIZED LAUGHS about anything and everything, and we always knew how to bring it back together no matter what challenges we had throughout our lives together. We moved on from being boy/girlfriend around July 2019 when I moved to the Big Island. I talked to him just about every day and I visited him the last time in October 2019. We talked for hours and always spoke honestly about our feelings for each other. MONDO would call me up and, with his BOOMING voice, say, “What’s UUUUUUUUP Majique!?” I’d just laugh and tell him how much his phone calls mattered. I’d get to hear a lot about cool movies he had watched and how he and Cody were surfing/cruising at the beach. There was never a dull moment being with him. About an hour before he passed, MONDO told me on the phone that he loved me. It was a pure shock that he skated off the Earth so suddenly. MONDO will ALWAYS be the “BEAST FROM THE EAST”. MONDO is my heart and will always be the artisan that made me a better person. He used to say to me, “Majique, You’re my muse in many ways. You’re no painter, but your dancing style paints many a heart.” We met because we just clicked and the rest is OUR STORY that keeps us together beyond these physical principles. MONDO was an absolute PHENOM. There is absolutely no one like him, besides Cody, of course. Being a loyal father to Cody was his heart. MONDO is a legend. Lots of good memories of love being made because of MONDO and that’s what he always wanted. This tribute was a breath of fresh air to say the least. Thank you from my heart for all the memories and pics. MONDO loved the RADICAL life style and he committed his life to art and skating. Thank you MONDO for your undying love. R.I.P.”
Juice Magazine sends our sincere condolences to Mondo’s family and friends with gratitude for everything that Mondo gave to the world.