The first time I met Shark Dog in NYC, it was at the vert bowl Kess and crew built on the West Side Highway. He was looking like a Suicidal Tendencies hitman and it looked like a fight might break out, but the only aggression he had was for the pool coping, which he attacked with style ! Behind the tough, tattooed demeanor is a skater with a heart of gold. He is always down to roll, while motivating all with his heckle hill approach. He has a great sense of humor, which is mandatory if you’re gonna skate on the East Coast, and his Instagram posts every Friday give you an insight of why you will see me laughing my ass off with him on the platform 24/7. Now riding for Dogtown and Suicidal for life, here is your man, Shark Dog! ATTACK!!!

Name rank and serial number. 

Shark Dog. Dogtown x Suicidal Army. Skeleton Key Family. SMA Factory Pilot. Independent Trucker. Punk Rocker. 4-Life. 

Where were you born and raised? 

I was born in Santa Ana, California and grew up all around Southern California. I was raised in Irvine, which was surrounded by miles of orange groves. There were tract home developments, so you can imagine the amount of plywood available. There were a lot of local skateboarder kids. Remember Beavis and Butt-Head had Todd who was the super cool older kid that locked them in the trunk and would just be a dick to them? They were like, “Todd is rad!” Well, we had dudes like Todd that would skate full power down the street with BB guns, long hair, and they had skateboards with “Alva” across the grip tape and green Kryptonics. They built a quarter-pipe in a garage and ran it up to the wall. They would pull the stop sign off the signpost down the street and duct tape it to the skirt at the bottom of the gutter. They had Devo blasting! In 1978, my older brother, Dino, and I were watching and tripping out. Then one of the dudes goes all the way up onto the wall, hits the light bulb at the top of the wall with his board – “Pop!” – it shatters, and he rides away back down the driveway. That blew our minds! In that    moment, I knew I was gonna be a skateboarder. 

Did you have a skateboard at that point? 

Yea. There was a convenience store called Stop-N-Go, and Dino and I got boards from there. The boards had a red and blue swirl polyresin deck with a kicktail and red clear urethane Road Rider wheels, and ball bearings that weren’t sealed. There was a skatepark in Irvine, next to Adventure Playground. It was a snake run that emptied into a deep bowl. We could carve down the snake into the bowl and try to not get smashed by teenagers. At Adventure Playground, they’d give you hammers and drills, and you could go in there and build forts out of plywood and have dirt clod and rock fights. It was insane! We were broken-home, latch-key kids, so the older skate punks would pull us around with them in their crew because we were little punkers that skated. That’s how we learned about skate spots and places like Big-O. My pop took us there a few times, but it closed early in the ‘80s. We’d watch people skate the big pools and roll around the mellow areas. We were groms without a nearby skatepark, so we   usually skated local ditches, school banks, painted curbs, occasional empty pools, wooden quarter pipes and halfpipes, until we started going to Del Mar. 

After going to those skateparks, were you aware of skate culture and magazines? 

Always! My first real skateboard purchased from a real skate shop was a Santa Cruz Duane Peters. I’d seen Duane in a Thrasher ad doing a layback at a local ditch called Dyer Street in Santa Ana. We used to go to Newport Beach and skate and Duane worked at O-Zone behind the counter sometimes. The lady at O-Zone, Karen, was cool and she looked out for us. I had a signed Duane Peters Santa Cruz deck with Variflex Connection Trucks.

[Laughs] When you got the Duane board, you weren’t into Independent Trucks? 

Not yet. Kids in the neighborhood had all kinds of trucks. One kid had a Neil Blender board with G&S trucks. G&S was popping off at that time and so was Tracker. Some kids had Motobuilt Trucks. My second board was a G&S Gator. By then, I’d been to Del Mar and had seen Gator skate. The Gullwing Army was powerful, but Tracker was comin’ in hot. 

Were you in Del Mar hanging with people or did you just go check it and blaze? 

I was skating and I learned to drop into every bowl except the halfpipe because it had a rounded lip that went to over-vert. This was the early to mid-‘80s. Jason Richardson had moved to Irvine. He was a local Big-O ripper. When I talked to Grosso about my past, he told me, “He used to make Eric Nash and I cry at the CASL contests because we couldn’t beat Richardson at Big O.” I’d tag around with Jason and he showed me the ropes skating local halfpipes with PVC. We’d go to Del Mar and I had an uncle that had a place we could stay. We’d end up on Via de la Valle in the morning, eating at the AM/PM or Denny’s, and walking through the trailer park to the Skate Ranch. Losi was always at Del Mar at that time because his family was involved with the park and facilities. 


Was Reese Simpson there? 

Yeah. Amateur ranks were still around, and Ams were hungry. It was Team Losi – Allen and Reese, and the Sims Team – Lester and Chris Black, the Madrid dudes – Ken Park and Chris May, the Uncle Wiggly Team. John Schultes was under Magnusson’s wing. The Powell team, Steve Steadham, Adrian Demain and Lori Rigsby were there. Then there was the Alva scene going down in the Kona bowl next to the Keyhole. This was where the Pro Shop couldn’t catch you if you weren’t wearing a helmet and yell at you over the speaker. The Alva dudes did not wear helmets skating the Kona Bowl and it was insane! Dave Duncan was there and I remember a lot of dreadlocks and speed grinding going down. These types of sounds you did not hear in the Keyhole. The Keyhole was more halfpipe style, vert stuff, very light on your feet, high airs and board slides, unless you were Losi. Losi would power through the Keyhole and skate it like a pool. His grinds were insane. I grew up seeing Tony Hawk and Lester Kasai at Del Mar too. Those dudes were doing it. Bruno Herzog, Rex Kay, and John Shultes were some of the young guns ripping, so I identified with those guys. 

Was there a ‘locals only’ vibe at Del Mar? 

No. Everybody was rad and stoked to be skating. Everyone had a different style – punkers, surfers, rockers, slalom dudes, hessians, new wavers, and freestyle guys too. The Alva dudes were a tougher crew than the G&S guys and the Uncle Wiggly party and the Tracker guys. I was fortunate to be able to pull into their scene. I knew how to handle myself because I hung with dudes that knew how to skate pools. Jason Richardson taught me etiquette. Getting into the Keyhole was snake or be snaked! It was always going down in the Keyhole! 

What trucks were you riding at that point? 

I was probably riding Trackers in 1985 because I was at Del Mar. Yellow Tracker Magnesiums were king at Del Mar for sure. 

What about the Gullwing army? 

Fluorescent-colors were in full effect. The Gullwing Army was there in full force – Full Power Trip. G&S was there and Sims was there and a lot of those dudes were riding Gullwings. 

Would Miller show up riding Gullwings? 

I never saw Miller at Del Mar, but I saw Miller ride Upland Combi. Richardson, Mike Barnes and I would go to Pipeline with the Lloyd brothers – John and Joe. I saw Chris Miller skate with his protege, Eric Juden. Most pros seemed to hang with one of the amateur skaters who were gunning to be pro. Salba really impressed me when I saw him at Pipeline. You’d call your turn in line – “Next!” or “Next after next!” “Round, shallow!” Salba was like, “Look out!” and he’d roll into the channel between all the skaters fighting to drop-in, Disco Rock on hip and then destroy the pool. Punk as fuck to this day! 

“Every guy or girl at the park that I skate with means as much to me as some of the pros and legends I emulate because they keep me on my board. They all inspire me. I love watching people devote themselves to the discipline and the pain and pleasure that it takes to be 100% skateboarder.”

When you went to Pipeline, was it cool? 

The Indy vibe was a lot more alive at Pipeline. I started riding Indys because you needed to be able to turn quickly through the corners. Combi Pool was serious and that park wasn’t as manicured as Del Mar. The concrete was lumpy in spots and across the flat was cheese-grater gritty. Duct tape held the coping together in the hot spots in the square. 

Did you see Malba? 

Yeah. Malba had serious power and style ground in granite! Chris Miller was the Holy Grail of Upland skateboarding. I saw him fast plant in the square! Mind-blowing. He was powering lines with finesse. There were places that he could get in and out of that you didn’t think were possible. It was heavy to watch, and Pipeline was gnarly! 13.5 feet deep with crusty flat bottom. I saw a lot of coping blocks ground down on the main walls – the one that Cab and Mountain were doing doubles on where Cab was backside airing and gripping Lance’s helmet in that Glen E. Friedman shot. That was the main wall where you came through after a corner carve in the square. I could frontside grind that and lien-to-tail there, so I was stoked! The reason I could grind it was because the coping was so ground out. Combi coping had a big reveal. Everywhere else the coping was so big that you’d have to power into it at a hard angle to get over the lip for a grind. 

If you were grinding Upland, that was a gnarly pool. That vert was in your face. 

I grew up skating wooden halfpipes in the orange groves. The punk rockers that I grew up around would go from construction site to construction site and take like 10 plywood sheets from each site, as opposed to taking 50 from one site, because they knew that they could go back again undetected. It was slick! We always had a ramp somewhere in the orange groves until the cops came to spoil the fun. Then we’d find a new spot and build another. 

Were you building with them? 

No. I was just a little skate punk. Chris Cantella, a punker from Marina Del Rey, put me under his wing, so I had full access to the scene. Those guys craved swinging hammers, drinking beers and punk rock music. They were cranking Subhumans, Septic Death, Suicidal, Dr. Know, Crass, G.B.H., JFA and the Partisans and building and ripping these ramps with PVC coping. We had a strong punk rock local scene, and these halfpipes. We had a strong ditch scene going too. We used to go to this place called Flower Street in Santa Ana, which was a main skate spot. Sadlands was another main spot. 

That place was rad. 

Sadlands was sick. The locals were savage punk rockers and skated aggressively. I saw Lester there and he had a cousin named Terrence that used to skate with a long black trench coat with knee pads. It looked so cool. He was skating crazy fast and carving, and he was just stylin’ rad. 


Where did you go skate locally after that? 

By ’88, all the big transition parks had closed. Halfpipes were harder to hide in orange groves because the trees had all been ripped down to build more tract homes. The real estate boom took all the land and tore up the ditches, so we headed into the streets. Dino and I started taking the bus to skate around Newport and Huntington Beach. Eventually, I started skating for Lido Skate Shop with Omar Hassan, Efren (EazyHood-E), Shawn Sullivan, and Gus. Norm was the shop owner. We would hang out across the street from the shop and in front of the Smith’s supermarket and grind the curbs and skate the walls. Grigley and Gonz were there and we’d see Lucero with Ricky Barnes ripping on the curbs at the Post Office. Lucero Ltd. and Vision Street Wear were in full effect. Gonz would show up and blow our minds with ollies and wall rides. There were all these curb shots coming out in the magazines too. Christian Kline, one of the Poweredge photographers lived down the street from me, so I’d tag along with him to all the rad shoots. I went with Gonz and Lee Ralph to go skate Suzuki banks, which was the Suzuki motorcycle factory. It had rad transitions, almost like Sadlands, with four feet of transition and two feet of vert. If you fell off the top platform/deck, you’d fall 30 feet to your death. I went to Hermosa Beach to do Mike Smith’s interview and skate that ramp with him too. That was super rad! At that time, jump ramps kicked in. Skateboarding had changed to flat earth, and I had to learn to stand on one hand because the street plant came into fashion. 

Were you street skating because you wanted to do something different? 

I was just moving with the scene. We started doing the launch ramp thing. Powell Peralta was touring and doing demos at that time. They had this gnarly jump ramp with them and they’d show up at the local skate shop to demo and we’d all go skate the ramp with them. The demos were just a big session. It wasn’t like everybody sat down while just the Powell guys skated. If you could hit that ramp, they wanted you in the session because they got to take a breath in between kicking mach speed down the street to do a 360 Judo, 8 feet high off the ramp. That Powell ramp was one of the biggest jump ramps designed to catch air. They built it for maximum distance and height – for Jesse Martinez and the boys. 

“I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, as far as riding Dogtown boards and mentoring the kids and keeping the  community strong at 62 and anywhere I go skate. 

Jesse was blasting. 

Yeah. We’d go to this place called Pay ‘N Play in Huntington Beach. It was Jason Lee, Ed Templeton, Ron Chatman, Remy Stratton, and the Saiz brothers – Marco and Steve – leading the charge. Ray Barbee  had moved to OC from up north. Then some of the Black Label dudes – Skippy – put ramps on the walls, and we would just go at these walls and over the drinking fountains. They’d have jump ramps set up and we’d skate across the basketball courts and skate all over the walls until they got sick of us, so they put ribs on the walls. They were like vertical skate stoppers. Then we moved into Huntington High School across the street. That’s where the handrails and stairs were. We had seen Gonz do handrails and we all started trying to ollie to slide onto handrails. 

Did you pull any? 

I could slide the kinked handrails at the high school. Somebody drove their car into the bottom of this kink rail, so instead of it being a 45-degree angle kink, it was a 30-degree angle and you could slide through it easier. Ed Templeton could do big ollies and 50-50 those rails. Jason Lee too. Then we started going to the Santa Ana courthouse and those were some of the earlier longer rails being slid. A lot of the street stuff was vert-oriented, as far as boardslides, bonelesses and catching air. Ramps still had PVC coping too but then everything switched to metal pipe. 

When you were skating handrails were you skating pools too? 

We would skate wherever, whatever. We had a pool at a burned out house on a hill in El Toro and others like that San Juan Pool. Lloyd’s Bank was still around. That was another tight transition place. 

Blender took me there. Gnarly. 

That thing was cool. As the ditches started to be a bust, we had to find something else to skate. Someone would have a halfpipe until the neighbors called the cops, and it would get torn down and we’d move to the next one. Mini ramps came around then. There was Scooter’s ramp and Hellbow, and they were starting to do the spines. At another spot, there was a punk rock gang called The League and they had a halfpipe, so we’d go skate that ramp. We were young Suicidals, so it was sketchy. As the ‘80s progressed, so did the punk rock movement and the Crips and Bloods movement. As Colors came out, life imitates art and art imitates life, and people started pulling guns on each other and punk rock shows were now extra sketchy. Rap music kicked into the skate scene too. Public Enemy. NWA. EPMD. 

What punk rock bands were you seeing? 

I would go to Fender’s Ballroom and see Bad Brains and Eddie Reategui would come walking up. I’d seen him in Eagle Rock Ramp a few times, and he was like a celebrity. Team Alva was strong on the scene. I saw GBH at the Olympic Auditorium. It was whatever we could sneak into, or we’d just hang out in the parking lot. We could hear the bands if we couldn’t get in and that’s where everyone partied. There was Adolescents, Vandals, Social  Distortion, Agent Orange, Decry… Punk rock and skateboarding is what we were all about. There were rocker skaters too. Hessians/Metal Heads. They would wear Reebok hi-tops with tighter pants and they had combs in their back pockets and cut-off Iron Maiden shirts with strong mullets. They had ramps and their own scene with pentagrams spraypainted all over and hair music was blasting, so we’d roll there or they’d come to our spot too. 

You guys got along, right? 

We got along good because it was all skateboarding. We didn’t get along with the surfers though, which is weird because surfing and skateboarding were developed out of the same influences. Jay Adams and those guys would talk about how important surfing was to their skateboarding, but this was the late ‘80s and we were pure skateboarder punkers. 

Were you trying to surf? 

No. I surfed when I was in fifth and sixth grade and after you eat enough saltwater and get snaked you’re like, “There’s just not enough waves.” It’s not easy to be a surfer, and I know a lot of guys that are getting into surfing now and I’m jealous because I don’t have access to something like that. 

“I try to be the NYC Ambassador for people visiting NYC who skate pools. So hit me up, and I’ll meet up.”

When I’d see the Venice crew, it seemed like everyone was united. It seemed like all of the skaters were cool together. 

I’ve seen the “locals only” mentality go down in Venice. I’m from Orange County, and I am proud of that, but when you go to Venice and they know you’re from Orange County, they’re already looking at you out of the corner of their eye. Eric “Tuma” Britton is my age, and I’d see him, and I’d see other kids that I skated with in CASL – Jimmy Acosta and Butch Sterbins – and you’re all skaters and you’re cool with each other, but you know that’s your peer. If he’s ripping, and you’re going to go higher than him or pull a trick that he’s working on – don’t do it! It’s like, “You can skate the ramp, just don’t try to be Corey Webster!” I saw Thrashin’. Once you’re in with the crew, they want you to get gnarly. Until then, you have to keep it cool. They accepted me, and I skated and watched the Dogtowners and 3rd Gen Z-Boys do their stuff at the Venice Pavilion. They had ramps on walls and they were full power gnarly. They were a huge crew too. If other skaters would come kook out, they were ejected abruptly with fists. 

The ‘90s were somewhat of a low point for transition skateboarding. When things started coming back, where were things for you, post little wheels and Jnco pants? 

It’s funny because the last board that I rode for a long time was a Dogtown board with a small pig graphic on the top with K-9 wheels. Jim “Red Dog” Muir had given me the board in the early ‘90s when I had gone by the warehouse, so I held onto it. When I came back to skating, I ended up moving back East to go to school. As I started working and needed an escape from the torment of work life, I looked to my skateboard. I went on, and found a few local skateparks. I ended up at that Hoboken ramp. I wore pads and nobody wore pads at that time, and these guys (Underground Skate Shop Crew and NJ Locals) were looking at me like, “What is this guy doing?” I could throw a backside boneless on the extension, so they thought I was from some ‘80s time capsule and soon became my day-to-day crew and best friends. 

Was that when I first met you, when you came over to that Kessler bowl? 

Exactly. In 2005, I started skating a lot of the Jersey and NYC parks. I was also skating the Tylenol bowl, which turned into Autumn bowl. I met Andy Kessler there and he invited me to a bowl at the helicopter pad on the Hudson River. When I got there, he was chillin’ with Tony Alva. Kessler was the dude! He was the magnet for the dudes that we all emulated from California because Kessler had that coolness and style to him. Tony Alva respected him a lot and so did Olson, who came to NYC often. They were fun to watch together. Hosoi and Cab would come out often too. Those were the dudes that were still traveling to the East Coast and, whenever they were here, Kessler would be in the session and pull us in. 

What was that like, meeting Kessler, and being on that New York scene? 

I was from California and wore that bandana proudly, and they were not digging me at all! It was a “locals only” vibe in NYC and they didn’t want some new guy coming into their zone that they’ve never heard of. I dressed full-on Southern California Suicidal cholo style. I had a bandana on, and I had my socks pulled up, and I’d wear Dickies or Ben Davis and Vans, and they weren’t ready for that. 

“It’s all z-Culture. That’s always been my lifestyle. If you’ve ever hung out with me, I dress like I ride for Dogtown, and it’s funny that I somehow naturally ended up there. I’ve always been a Suicidal Punker too, listening to bands like Excel, Beowülf, and Suicidal Tendencies.”

When I first saw you, I thought we were gonna fight. You had a look on your face, and I’m like, “Are we gonna throw down?” 

I was pissed because I felt like I had to prove myself. I stopped wearing pads, because no one wore pads. I hadn’t learned the golden rule, which is, “The name of the game is to stay in the game.” That’s where “Suit up!” comes from. “Pad up, Buttercup!” You’ve got to maintain yourself, if you want to stay skateboarding for life. Otherwise, you’re taking the slam straight up with no chaser. If you saw me skate then, I would either slam on my first run, or make it and skate for the rest of the   session full aggo-style. Usually, I would take myself out in the first two runs though, because I was “Do or Die!” Full throttle! I had this chip on my shoulder that I was working with. Kessler helped me lose it and to be comfortable and accepted on the scene. He paved the way for me onto the NYC scene. I rode his boards for a while with the punk point. 

It was rad because once I cracked the ice with you, I realized that your sarcastic sense of humor was just like mine. 

I love making you and the homies laugh and just saying stupid shit. I love heckling! It’s motivating and that’s how I was raised. Verbal abuse! 

Was it weird coming to the East Coast and riding a vert bowl in Manhattan? 

I was tripping. 62 was like an island of California in a sea of New York. Plus, I never had a local skatepark. People living in NYC had never seen bowl skating. New York was street focused. Street skaters in New York are a powerful crew and that movie the Six Stair guys did called Deathbowl to Downtown showed the power of the streets and Brooklyn Banks and the New York scene. The transition scene was an underground thing in NYC, and that was the Tylenol bowl and the Heliport. There was Kessler’s Ramp on 108th Street and Riverside Drive with its steel-surfaced ramps painted with multiple layers of Smurf blue paint with steel coping and pool coping on the extensions. I loved those ramps, but they were splintered and water-logged at the end. Then Chelsea Pier 62 appeared in 2010. 

Yeah. There was Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, too. Did you ride Owl’s Head? 

Owl’s Head is an 8-foot pool with chunked out coping because they let BMX-ers ride it with pegs early on. One thing I noticed, coming East, is there’s a gritty level of skateboarder here. Skateboarders on the East Coast are just a heartier, more vigorous bunch in the sense that you don’t just get to go out of your house and go skateboarding because the weather is nice and the pools are smooth. You really have to fight to skate here. You have to layer up and shovel out the bowl and wait for the sun to come out, or bring the blow torch, so that you can skate. To progress as a skateboarder, you have to have that grit because it’s not just something you do when the weather is nice. You have to skate hard every day. The type of skateboarder that it breeds is a different bunch. I was used to California which always had skate sessions and so many parks. There’s four  people at every skatepark at any one time, so there’s never a big session. In New York, there are just a few skateparks, so there are 20 people on the regular and sessions going all the time, when the weather is nice. When it’s not, it’s just the 100% skateboarders bundled up and ready to grind. 


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