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Friday, February 26, 2010

Mike Green Skate park, Long Beach, CA

Long Beach has a great skate scene. My brother moved to Long Beach first and he was the one who introduced me to Long Beach. When I skated more often back in 1999 – 2000 my brother and I used to skate with the 508 crew with the likes of Rob Gonzales, Danny Montoya, Stephen Attardo, Dave Hoang, Tuan Nguyen, Stacy Lowrey, Justin Reynolds, Allison Castro, and many others. This was the time they were making the New Horizon video and a lot of the skating in the video came from those moments. At that time there weren’t any skate parks in Long Beach. We used to skate at the Civic Center, Belmont Plaza Pool, the Catalina Boat Landing, Cherry Park and all the other little spots in Long Beach. That was a good time but I always wondered with such a great skate scene in Long Beach why there are no skate parks here. I guess the city got the message because today there are four skate parks in Long Beach—El Dorado, Houghton, Cherry Park, and Mike Green. I will review all four parks; the first being the Mike Green Park which is the newest and my current favorite skate park in Long Beach.

Today my back is finally feeling better to skate. The last time I skated was in Venice about a week ago (see my last blog). My body doesn’t recover as well as it used to so Epson salt baths are good as well as having an awesome girlfriend to rub your back. Thanks honey, you rock! Anyway, Jeff Petrick wanted to go skate today because he has been filming lately and has been getting a lot of footage. He sounded excited so I wanted to watch him skate some spots. I know he has been excited to skate because he told me we were going to go skate at 9:00am and he called me at 8:15am to make sure that I was up. He is motivated to skate. He came to pick me up with Josh Erickson, one of Jeff’s high school buddies, and we proceeded over to AJ’s house. AJ is another great skater that moved here from Seattle and is currently killing it all over the place in Long Beach. He started a skateboard filming company where he wants to help promote young skate talent in the area which I think is really cool. You have to check out his blog which has some great footage of some good local skaters. AJ is not only a great skater but he is also a great host. When we got to his place we had to wake him up and as he was getting ready he put in the new Thrasher Video “Prevent this Tragedy” for us to watch, which got us all pumped up to skate. Thanks AJ! We then all decided to go to Mike Green Park to warm up.

For those of you that do not know him, “Michael K. Green” for which the park is named after, was a 19-year-old upcoming local Long Beach Skater who on April 2005 was caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting. He had no gang affiliations he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t know him but from what I’ve heard, he was a great guy and loved skateboarding. You can check out the Documentary “On the Grind” which showcases local Long Beach skaters and also highlights the Mike Green Story. In January 2010 they remodeled and reopened the skate park on 14th St. (between Pacific & Pine) and dedicated it to Mike Green. The Mike Green story is a tragic story and when skating at the park you know the locals feel it because they are very protective of the park. Even in a rough neighborhood the park is known as a memorial and is protected. Just ask the guy who tried to tag the park; needless to say he will not be visiting anymore. The park is great and I have been coming here a lot because it is close to where I live. It is a mixture of concrete and metal ramps with some kind of cool material for the surface which makes the ramps fast and smooth. It has two street areas and a mini half pipe. For me the best thing I like about the park is the half pipe, it is fast and fun. But over all, the whole park has something to offer for everyone.

Today when we got to the park there was no one there—the great thing about getting up early to skate is usually you will have the place all to yourself. The bad thing is that you have to get up or make sure your buddy gets you up, thanks Jeff! We got there at 10:00 am so nobody was up yet except for us. It just rained the night before so the park was not in the greatest shape. One of the design flaws of the park is the dirt sand ring around the whole park and, especially after a rain, the park gets really dirty with sand dust. It was ok though because we had the park all to ourselves. We all warmed up in the middle street area and I played a game of SKATE with Jeffery and AJ. They took me out early and I think AJ won. I went over to the mini ramp and tried to clean it up the best that I could and preceded to skate. I was still trying to take it easy because of my back but just doing some grinds and fakie rocks, was fine with me. I actually pulled a board slide to fakie which I was happy about because I had been trying them lately and I couldn’t do them. I guess I was feeling good today because I pulled it on the first try. I love getting my old tricks back; it’s like when you first started skating and got that rush when you pull tricks off for the first time. What a great feeling. I love skateboarding!

The Park has some great locals—in particular Billy Moya who was the first person to arrive after us. Billy is a local ripper who I met the last couple times I have been at the park. He is fun to watch skate because he looks like he is always having fun. Billy is a super cool guy and I can’t wait to see him skate in the next couple of years because I know he is going to be good.

While I was taking a couple pictures of the park I noticed some construction guys checking out the park and watching the skating. I ended up talking with them and found out that they were some of the guys that built the park. It was Michael Cross and Zach Cowie. I just wanted to say thanks guys for building a great park!

We ended up staying there till 11:30am and then went to go check out a couple of other spots to film but the guys were not feeling any of them. I ended up going back home because I had to go pick up my step-daughter from school, such is the family life.

Long Beach has one of the great skate scenes and I know I am going to have fun documenting my adventures here. With the addition of the Mike Green Park the scene is only getting better. Another reason I love the skate scene in Long Beach is because of the skaters. The Skaters here are like one big family and I believe all the skaters here are connected in one way or the other. So, if you haven’t been to Long Beach come to Mike Green Skate Park to meet the family. You will most likely see me there or any of the great skaters I mentioned. If so feel free to say “hi” and have fun skating!

DJ TimTim

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Venice Skate Park

Today I visited Venice.  I wanted to check out the new skate park which I heard was pretty awesome.  The last time I had been to Venice to skate was back in the 80’s when the Pavilion was one of the happening spots.  I remember the quarter pipe to wall rides and the jump ramps that you could see the likes of Christian Hosoi, Jesse Martinez, Natas Kampas, Scott Oster, and everyone else that skated in Venice at the time.  I remember street plants, Ho-ho’s, Method Airs, Judos, Japan Airs, and all the great tricks being put down by the best.  I used to live in the South Bay and I remember skating all the way to Venice with some of my friends to go skate and hopefully catch a glimpse of some of those great pros.  So Venice has had a great influence on my skating and I know it has been a great influence on the skating culture in general.  Fortunately I did not have to skate there because I know I wouldn’t be standing right now.  I planned on going to Venice for the whole week and was excited because I combed You Tube for all the available clips on the park and it looked fun as hell.  I wanted to go with my brother Chad but he was on an Element tour; he was supposed to get back the day before but he was coming back late.  So I grabbed my skate buddy Jeff Petrick.  Jeff is great young skater that lives just down the street from me.  His mother used to work with me and since he moved into my neighborhood we have been skating together around Long Beach.  Jeff loves skateboarding and is always down to skate.  I love his skating style—he is as happy on transition as he is skating street which I find unusual in young kids now a days.  He skates fast and always looks like he is having fun. It is great to watch.  I believe you will be seeing a lot of Jeff in the future because of his passion for skateboarding.

We decided to try to get there early because I heard the park gets packed really fast.  So we left at around 9:00am and got on my favorite ride, the 405 freeway.  Of course there was traffic so it took us a little while to get there, fortunately it was a beautiful day so I didn’t mind the drive—plus we were going to Venice.  If anybody has been to Venice you know that parking sucks.  I ended up paying 10 bucks for a space in a lot only to find out later that you can park a block down for 5 bucks, oh well at least we were right there by the park.  I didn’t want to drive around to find better parking.  As I said it was a beautiful day and skating up to the park I took in the view.  It was bright and sunny and we were right on the beach where the waves were pumping and right in the middle of it was a beautiful concrete skate park.  Lucky we were early enough that it was not that crowded, the bad thing was I pulled my back a couple of days ago skating and I hoped it wasn’t going to bother me.  I didn’t care though because we were in Venice and I was going to skate through it.

My first run was on the snake run which I was excited to try—I saw it on You Tube and hoped it was as fun as I imagined.  I guess as you get older you appreciate long fast carves around the bowl; I could do them all day and not get bored with it.  I checked out the big bowl which was kind of intimidating to me but I dropped in anyways, it was fun but I think I want to come back and bring my pads so I feel a little more comfortable in it.  The street course looked cool but it really isn’t my thing—I liked the mini bowl in the middle better.  Jeff and I skated that to warm up a little.  We also played skate on the little wavy quarter pipes which Jeff won, but I will get him back.  All in all this is one great park.  It is not only the park it is the whole vibe: the beach, the waves, the weather and the people. If you are a skateboarder Venice skate park is one of the places you have to skate before you die.

One of the best things about skateboarding is the people you meet.  You meet the coolest people when skateboarding and they come from all walks of life.  For example, I met Eric Andersen, better known as “Froggy”.  He is an old-school skater who skates with the Z-Boys.  It was hard not to notice him because he was carving up the snake run liked he owned it and did I mention he was 42!  We did a couple of doubles in the snake run, talked about skating and talked about the Venice scene.  He said he was planning on doing a documentary on the Venice Skate scene with some friends, which I think will be very cool.  I will keep in touch with him so I can update everyone on it.  I think it will be very interesting.  I also met Adrian Cefay, another local ripper from Portland. Adrian is just a guy that loves skateboarding and also likes to help others.  He is kind of an unofficial skate instructor for kids at the park, which he usually does on Sunday, so if you have kids that want to learn some basics check him out or you can email me for his info.  Another reason why I know he likes to help people is because I saw him help out a kid that needed new wheels.  He had some that he wasn’t using so he gave them to this kid who needed them; how cool is that!

So after a couple good slams on the concrete and an aching back we decided to go check out the mini ramp at Venice United Methodist Church on Lincoln and Venice Blvd. Jeff said he had been there before and it was a cool ramp.  Adrian decided he wanted to come with us.  Jeff was right it was a cool ramp and even though my back was aching I proceeded to skate.  I wanted to hopefully get back at Jeff so I got him to play a game of skate with me.  We have this on-going battle of playing skate where we mainly do simple tricks and this time I got the better of him!  After that my back was hurting a lot and I started to cramp up so I decided to get some footage of Jeff skating with my little canon camera, it is not the best thing to film but it works.  I am planning on upgrading soon. Also while we were there I met another guy, Jay St. Germain.  He is from New York and moved here with his actress girlfriend to try out the LA scene.  He just started skating again after not skating for 10 years which I thought was really cool.  I notice that there are a lot of people that used to skate and are starting to skate again.  I don’t know if it is the surge of all the new skate parks opening up or if it’s just something that sticks with you.

I asked Jay why he started skating again and I loved his answer which was one word: “Freedom!”  I think Jay summed up skateboarding great.  If you think about it skateboarding gives you the freedom to express your self, there are no boundaries, you can skate pretty much anywhere, there is no barrier of race, religion, politics, country or age.  It is an art form where the world is your canvass and if you don’t keep your eyes open you might miss its beauty.  I like the fact that one of the first places I wrote about is Venice because most will agree like Froggy, Adrian, and Jay that it all started in Venice!

DJ TimTim

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Once a Skater, Always a Skater

This is my first blog entry ever in my life. I really never thought I would ever blog but here I am. I suppose I can blame it on my girlfriend. She wanted me to help her set up a blog and figure out how to do it even though I didn’t know how to either. After researching it I also found my creative juices and wanted to write too. If you have read this far then it is safe to assume you liked the title and would like to know more. Well about a month ago I started skating again thanks to my brother Chad TimTim. If you do not know who that is, he is a pro skateboarder who rides for Element skateboards (If you like to follow the Element team check out this site . Chad is the youngest of our dad’s 3 sons, Andre being the middle son, and I am the oldest. I just have to say that I am not writing this blog to brag about my brother (maybe just a little) but seriously I am just proud of him. I am proud that he can make a living doing something he truly loves, not everybody can say that, and I am lucky to have him as my brother. It is kind of a weird thing to have your brother as a pro skater because when I mention his name to people they will say things like “wow!”, “he rips!”, and look at me with awe. I think to myself, “come on, that’s just my brother” but I have to admit it is kind of cool. I love you bro! I really do understand how people feel because when I get a chance to skate with some of the pros my brother skates with I think I look at them with awe too. I guess you can’t help it.

But back to the story about my brother getting me back into skating, I guess you can say I really quit skating about four years ago. The last time I rode a ramp was about two years ago and it has been an on-going thing with my brother teasing me, telling me I am not a skater anymore but then he would always ask me to go. Well, about a month ago I was hanging out at my brother’s house and I asked him what he was doing that evening. He said he was going to Santa Monica for an Element Video Premier and he asked if I wanted to go. He mentioned free beer so I reluctantly accepted. Later on that night Jeff from Podium picked us up from Chad’s house to go to the premier. On the way there Lance Mountain called him up asking if he wanted to go skate with him at Belvedere Skate Park the next day. Chad said yes and asked if I wanted to go. I reluctantly accepted even though I hadn’t skated in a couple years but I was seriously excited; with the mention of Lance Mountain my mind went back to when I was young and I thought of Animal Chin, Public Domain, and all the old skate videos I used to watch over and over again. I was starting to feel like I was 18 again. So, we get to the premier and get our free beer, thanks Ryan Dewitt and Element! It was a great night I got to meet a lot of the Element pros: Levi Brown, Darrell Stanton, and Mike Vallely. I actually had a good conversation with Mike—we reminisced about the old days of skating because I used to see him skating at the Hermosa Beach Pier. The video was great, it was a history of Element and it showed great clips of skaters past and present which I thought was really cool. Element knows how to throw a good party, thanks again Ryan!

The next day I woke up early with that feeling like when I was I kid and I knew I was going to Disneyland. I felt that way even though I was hung over, thanks again Element. Even with that I was excited to go skateboarding. I went to my brother’s house and met Jeff, Lance Jr. and his friend (I forgot his name) and we all caravanned to Belvedere. When we arrived we were the first guys there, I mean there was no one there. I guess it was too early for people to get up and skate, at that time I would have to agree because I was hung over. I was the first to roll into the park; I wanted to be the first to see how I felt on my board before anyone saw me. I took my first run and wow, what a feeling! That first backside carve around the corner of the bowl is so awesome, I guess you never lose that feeling. That’s why I believe you never stop being a skater, sorry bro I’m still a skater! As for Belvedere I must say it is a great spot. It is a good mix of transition and street and it has something for everyone from old school to new school. I would put it at the top of the list of one of the best skate parks in Southern California. Lance Mountain showed up and we all skated till about noon. Lance still rips; it was great to watch him. After that we decided to go check out Hollenbeck Skate Plaza since it just opened up. I didn’t skate it since I am not that good at street skating and I got a heel bruise at Belvedere, but it was great to watch my brother and the other guys skate. Chico Bernes was also there. They skated for about a half an hour and we all parted ways from there. A good time was had by all! After that day I have had the bug to go skate. Since then I have been to the Houghton Skate Park, Mike Black Park, the new Cherry Park, United, back to Belvedere, and Podium. I plan to go on more skate adventures and write about all of them. My next trip is going to be the new Venice Skate Park.

Since I plan on skating a lot more I wanted to use this forum to document my trips. Here are some of the topics and plans I have for this blog:

1) Talk about skateboarding and life in general
2) Give updates on skate spots, events, skaters, etc…
3) Promote “making a living at things you love to do” especially skateboarding
4) Have a forum for people past the age that you are not supposed to skate or want to start skating again to share information and get information they can really use
5) Do interviews with not only professional skaters but also skaters like me who just love to skate!

I think in a forum like this the possibilities are endless. Personally I want to be able to provide a good service to the skateboard community and at the same time if I can make a living at it I can gain the freedom to skate whenever I want. Once I figure out how to do that I want to share it with all of us so that we can all have the same freedom. I am looking forward to sharing with everyone and to all the great comments from you, please do not be shy. I will leave you with one of the things I have found out:

“Once a Skater, Always a Skater and if you are as old as me keep a big bottle of Tylenol handy!”
DJ TimTim