Beverly Hills. There are spacious yards and properties so vast and sprawling, you think that you are passing by a college campus. I recall one day a few years ago. Tony Alva and I were driving somewhere up in Beverly Hills. He pointed casually to his right and said, “Tom Cruise has a house right there.” I looked over. I saw huge trees, a high wall and beyond that, what looked like a hotel somewhere in Europe. I replied, “Really? He actually lives in that!? That’s where he lives?” We were driving about forty miles per hour, talking and we were still driving past his house… yeah, his property seemed that big. How much does one person need? Yesterday, I drove over to Los Angeles to see TA. We wanted to touch base, go over the William Sharp book material, skate and hang out. I hadn’t seen TA since our surf adventure to Scorpion Bay in Mexico back in May. He was busy. I was busy. Life on life’s terms. He wouldn’t be home until 3:30 pm. I drove over to Bel Air and into Studio City early in the day and prowled the hillsides looking for pools. I had to be careful. People gate everything and most homes are on video surveillance. If I got popped lurking in those neighborhoods, they would take me to the wall.
You better bring backup.
I drove up onto Mulholland Drive. Buildings towered downtown as Los Angeles floated like a million dreams in the distance. I pulled to the side of an overlook and checked my phone. Satellite. I saw Skyline and couldn’t believe it. “Damn. After all these years!?” I recalled photographs of TA, Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez, the Altieri brothers and a few other guys just tearing it up in the early skateboard magazines. I negotiated a few turns. The sun glimmered. I pulled over as I saw the rusting chain link fence looming to my left. My heart thumped.
It looked just like the photographs from my youth. Ivy and brush grew thick and lush against the fences. I approached the edge. I half expected to see Jerry Valdez or TA standing on the lip and pushing an old Logan Earth Ski or Z-Flex board, dropping down that steep face. Quiet met me at the gate. Nothing stirred. It was just me and my childish heart… I slipped over and walked around. It was so abrupt and steep at the bottom, I wondered how they didn’t tear their trucks off. The corners were rounded. I imagined them carving… Amazing.
I sat on the wall. I breathed it in. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m a dork. It was moving to be there. I remembered the photographs. I remember the snow in Pennsylvania piling up outside. I heard the snowplow rattle up the road in front of the house. I looked back down at the magazine again. Skyline… and here I was thirty-five years later. Full circle. It took me awhile to leave. Driving into Coldwater Canyon, I saw construction fences. I saw work crews. I ran my eyes over the homes. Nothing escaped me. Detail. Recon. I spotted something to my left. Next street-a quick turn around. Pulling into a small narrow lane, I stopped. Shade trees. Ivy covered walls. A dog barks. I stood in silence a few moments and then I peered over a crumbling wall.
The pool was a Paddock square. The shallow end was pushed in. Construction debris lay everywhere. I took a peek inside a window. Old chandeliers, furniture, dishes and rugs were piled against the walls. A bygone era. A better time. Fini. The pool sat neglected. Demolition time was on its horizon. I slipped out and headed to TA’s house. We had to return together.
At his house, we went over some photographs from the William Sharp book and we completed an interview. We sipped espresso and caught up on things. TA told me about his band GFP and his musical interests. He showed me his new Alva signature acoustic bass that Fender is making. It sounded so good as his fingers deftly moved up and down, playing GFP tunes.
The sun was waning as I told TA about the nearby pool. He grabbed his stuff, we threw a broom into the truck and left. “We definitely have to check it out.” Driving down, we parked and went inside. We swept the pool and quickly found ourselves carving, turning and riding over the light in the faltering afternoon sun. We were laughing. It was tiny and fairly tight. We didn’t care. TA smiled and pushed in. He said, “In the 1970’s, we’d ride anything.”
TA found a little whippy, side-bounce line that sent him over the light. He hit a quick grind and frontside snapped the shallow side wall. We slipped out as we had slipped in. We took nothing but the fun. Wheel marks on old faded plaster were the only thing that spoke of our passing… Thanks Tony. Epic. - Ozzie