Growing up in the 70s (the early days of skateboarding), I spent endless amounts of time looking through skateboard magazines. Before skateparks sprang up in every city, a place known as Dogtown (the Venice/Santa Monica area of Los Angeles) was the proving grounds, the place where the best and most innovative skaters were found. Heads like Stacey Peralta, Bob Biniak, Jay Adams, Shogo Kubo, Tony Alva, Mike Muir, Eric Dressen, and Dave Hackett all came out of the Dogtown heyday. For me, seeing their pictures in magazines was all I knew. I could only dream of how these guys actually skated. Backyard pools were their arena, and from reading skate magazines, it seemed as if Venice Beach was jam-packed with empty pools. The Dog Bowl and the Gonzales pool were two of the most famous, and every skater back in the day knew their names and the names of those who ripped them.
In September 2000, another 30-something skater who idolized the Dogtown skateboarding genre, Ozzie Ausband, went to the house where the Gonzales pool rested and asked the owner if he could skate it. He told the owner (who’s been hip to people sessioning it over the years) that he’d drain, clean, and paint the pool and do some landscape work in the backyard in exchange for some session time. Mr. Gonzales gave the project the thumbs-up, and Ozzie got to work.
On Monday October 9, our crew¿Ozzie, Matt Moffett, Andy Macdonald, Chris Miller, Grant Brittain, and I¿met at TransWorld and drove the two hours north to Santa Monica. Once at the Gonzales house, we met Lance Mountain, Tony Alva, and friends, who had already been sessioning the pool. Ozzie, Matt, and Andy quickly joined the session while Chris put together a board. Andy’s pool skills immediately became apparent with airs over the stairs and frontside blunts. Lance slash-grinded under the slide (nearly hitting his shins every time), and Moffett gnar-grinded everywhere. Alva was his legendary, stylish self and demonstrated his great knowledge of pool skating by whipping out new line after new line.
I felt so lucky to have witnessed Alva ripping one of the very pools I saw him skating in pictures way back in the 70s. Miller got in the pool and quickly put everyone to shame. I have to say he’s my all-time favorite skater to watch¿style overflows from this man. Kill frontside airs, fastplants, boardslides all done in one line. Very nice. The day ended with Lance getting Tony to sign some old magazine pages with photos of him at the Gonzales pool. Lance had these photos on his wall growing up as a kid, and to see him (also a legend) watch excitedly as Tony signed was pretty sick. This was one of those special sessions that can’t be done justice to with photos and words, but we’ll give it a try. Thanks Ozzie for making it all happen. You’re a genius.