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!
"Do you remember when you were a kid playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft."
I am what they call an "old school skater". I was born in 1971 so you can do the math and for some reason I cannot stop skating. As the title suggests my brother is a pro skateboarder so I wanted to write about it. I figured the next best thing to being an actual pro is to have one as a brother. My brother and I are really close and I like to believe that I got him started in skateboarding. So this is my attempt to live an old dream through him and to have fun doing it. I also wanted to show everyone that you can live your life doing something you love to do. I hope you enjoy this on-going story because I know I will!