Skyline June 13, 2017
Johnny Altieri at Skyline Summer 1976
June 12, 2017. Los Angeles. I left my place in West Hollywood and drove to work. Santa Monica isn’t that far away but it took a long time to get there. I drove across Sunset Boulevard into Beverly Hills. Cars cluttered the intersections and the sidewalks were full of people coming and going. The sun was white and the sky clear and blue. A day just like any other. This was Los Angeles. I worked at several properties on the west side and then worked my way back up into Bel Air. I decided to take a break and run up by Bruce Lee’s house where he once lived just off Mulholland Drive. I stretched out and put a few miles in, following the route Bruce would take. The huge pine trees wound up the hillsides and I ran in the shade, content with the strain on my body and the feeling of running in the footsteps of the Master. I love tradition but I’m not bound to it. I have been heavily influenced by Bruce Lee all of my life. From fitness and martial arts, nutrition and even my reading interests. Bruce was inspiring in many ways. I find it comforting to go back to where he once was… my soul connected in some way.
Driving back across the spine of Mulholland Drive, I stopped by Skyline to eat lunch. The rusting fence was overgrown with ivy and Bougainvillea. The gate hung slackly on one hinge. Others had been here recently and pulled it loose. Last time I had been to Skyline, I had to crawl over the top… I slipped inside and sat down. A thin rivulet of murky water ran down a concrete gash in the center and trickled into a storm pipe. I could hear it gurgling in the stillness. The concrete was rough. I mean, if any part of my skin touched this surface in any way, I was going to bleed. I sat and ate an apple. Ghosts spoke to me. They told me about the summer of 1976. Skyline. Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, UFO and Ted Nugent grooved from eight track tapes and huge speakers in the back of cars parked nearby. The sweet smell of Thai stick hung over head. Skaters sat along the top edge of the huge catch basin on its flat surface as they would take turns carving down and across its super steep surface to carve through the end corners…
The heavy players were there regularly. Tony Alva, Kent Senatore and his brother, Jerry Valdez, the Altieri brothers, Marc Smith and Dave Ferry put some serious lines in. The catch basins and reservoirs of the Hollywood hills were an early proving ground. Pools were already being regularly explored and new terrain was being conquered daily. As all things must, the Skyline is now in disrepair and mostly unusable. Many years ago –in late 1977– the city of Los Angeles Water Department put a three inch layer of black asphalt across the entire bottom of the place. It was rendered useless as a skate spot. I sit and think. In the same way I visited with Bruce Lee, I visit with these pioneers at Skyline. My soul reaches out and I left the place… connected and in gratitude. Thank you to William Sharp for the images. Skate - Ozzie