A Primer
The skateparks from yester-year are what set us apart from all the other skaters going along for the magic carpet ride. Sure we were the pros who set the standards for alot of stuff and empty backyard pools really got us all going but, the parks allowed us to practice our craft in a no-bust environment.

This set us up for practicing every day and learning stuff for the early contests that really inspired millions in the days to come. Remember the A.S.P.O. series turned us on to each other's abilities and these contests brought all of us together in the first place.

I met Brad Bowman this way along with Shreddie Repas at Skatercross in Reseda. I met Pineapple and Dave Andrecht in Spring Valley during one of our first trips there to ride a real pool made for skating. I saw Steve Olson , Arnie Hogue, and others at Skatopia in Buena Park.

Give Till it Hurts
The parks made terrain just to skate in, and on, but the really good parks offered empty swimming pools built just for skating. Spring Valley built the first skatepark bowl shaped like a peanut or figure 8. Newark was also one of the first parks to build a bowl/pool with coping that stuck out (before this it was always rounded or squarish lips that worked but was not particularly suited to a skaters wants and needs). That is why all the locals at Upland's original Pipeline skatepark repeatedly asked for a real pool with tile and coping! We were so into that we actually gave money to the Hoffman family to get the ball rolling. I personally gave 1,000 U.S. dollars along with my brother, Strople, Wally Inoyue, and assorted others.

The Pipeline also offered "Gold Cards" so that rich parents of skaters near the park could pay up to $500 bucks to get their kids the first rides in the combi before us pros who donated even more money. This also allowed them unlimited access day or night to skate anywhere or anytime at the park.

That kinda rubbed me the wrong way for sure but it helped raise the $ 30,000 dollars to build the original combi-bowl (which still is way better than the new one Vans built).

I was always pissed that the Damico brothers got the first rides at the combi before us. So a lot parks followed suit in building crazier and crazier pools to bring in the masses and attract the pros in order to get magazine coverage to give props to their parks!

A Breakdown of My Favorites
Almost every contest held at the original 70's parks had their contests "in the pool area." The better ones had more money and locations to bring in the kiddies. The best ones I rode were Big-O, Lakewood, Whittier, Pipeline of course (which separated the men form the boys), Winchester, Oasis, La Mesa, Vista, Marina, Milpitas, Del Mar, Boulder in Colorado, Cherry Hill in Jersey, Skate in the shade in Tempe, Colton, and Surf and Turf in Wisconsin.

Spring Valley
Spring Vallley was cool cuz' it was the first pool to have tile and coping. It was big with lots of flatbottom which was unheard of in those days (with kinda of pointy hips and a shitty shallow end). The deep was decent but had a slight kink on the right wall if I remember right. I did take the cake there during a contest. My mom told me not to expect anything and just try my best (I came back with a $1,000 check for 1st place).

Newark was built up north and had no tile or plaster finish but offered coping. It was a round keyhole that had deep trannies but little vert so it was kinda hard to ride "the pit." Blackhart brought forth the dreaded frontside roll-in at that contest and made the famous Indy ad from that event. I sucked there and fell but found Mr.V and Eric Swenson there asking me to try some new trucks. Things have never been the same since!

Big-O was pretty much the first super park that offered sooooo much terrain from the small keyhole, the capsule pool complete with a channel, the first real clover pool combo with 3 bowls, the holiday bowl , and two 3/4 pipe deals that were pretty insane for back then. We were all excited to ride that place which was prime property right along the 55 freeway and Chapman. Big-O was sick as shit and that's where I met Duane and guys like Freddie Desoto along with Bob Sarafin and Eddie Meeks. The first contest was killer and super hot with a heatwave from outta nowhere but alas I won again and proved to the skate world that I was a true Badlander to be dealt with. Death to Dogtown was always our motto in the Badlands then!

Whittier was king of the lowriders then but their park was the next super park. Built after Big-O, I think it was built by the same people. It offered a huge keyhole with a roll in channel, a better clover bowl/pool set-up than Big -O's, a fullpipe complete with a metal top that swayed slightly when bigger guys rode it like Scott Dunlop and various lil' pools and bowls in the back of the park that were real fun. This park ruled and the big pool was super fun with a good amount of vert.

Lakewood was a cool place to go by the Del Amo mall. They had two little keyholes side by side which was kinda of a nightmare cuz' if somebody lost their board it would roll into the other and kill you. The halfpipe was really fun slightly downhill that gradually got bigger and deeper that lead into a huge bowl at least 13-14 feet deep. I was like the only guy who could carve around the thing and come back up the halfpipe very salmon like swimming upstream. The park also had the hugest pool built at that time. It was a big huge peanut shaped thing with the raddest shallow end plus kill hips. Totally fun. A little later they built the clamshell that inspired Kelly Bellmar to build his pool.

The Pipeline
CombiThe Pipeline was hella rad because they built the first fullpipe in the U.S.of A. They also built the 15 ft. bowl after the Hoffman's saw us riding over the coping at the L-Pool on 4 x 8 pieces of plywood and refigerators getting out of the pool 4-5 feet past the coping! The park was rad cuz' it was my home and playground for 12.5 years. The thing that was really rad was the combi-pool. It was super sick and super vert (3 feet of vert all over ). If you did good there in a contest you were considered by many to have conquered all of skateboarding. It was that important. If you proved yourself there you were rad. Cab ripped that place as did Duane Peters who did acid drops in the square. Tony Hawk did crazy shit there also but the guys who ripped it the most in my opinion was my brother Micke and Chris Miller with Eric Jueden and Chris Robison following a close 2nd! The combi was by far the craziest and raddest place to skate period!

Colton was cool and the Losi family ran it. Al Losi and Eddie Elguera skated there alot with Sausage man coaching their every move. It has a cool capsulish pool with a kink on the bottom of the left wall. The pool was really fun with rounded corners in the shallow end. They also had a halfpipe that had extensions on it and a huge capsule like Big-O. This place was definite Varibot territory.

Winchester had the sickest pool out of them all as far as I am concerned. Perfect is all I can say. Perfect finish work, perfect coping, and a sweet scene where I met all the up North guys guys like Mofo, K.T., the Buck Brothers, Kevin Reed, Eric Halverson, Scotty Parsons (saw Cab for the first time), and Scott Foss. They had the washboard and a little pink egg where everybody learned tricks.

Cherry Hill
Cherry Hill was the east coast version of a superpark. The raddest deepest 12-13 ft. egg was perfect with kill plaster and coping. The 3/4 halfpipe deal was hella fun and if you rock-n-rolled that thing you were friggin' hella rad! They also had other pools like kidneys and keyholes . Super sick scene for sure. Scope this site.

Marina was rad also and had the Dogbowl which was alright but had a couple of super kinked walls near the hip. It was big so it was fun and cool to carve. The brown bowl up top offered stuff to learn in and the deep capsule bowl was where Stacy Peralta did 540 slides. The top keyhole was super fun and better than the Dogbowl. It's also where we filmed Devo's "Freedom of Choice" video. They also had a deep keyhole near the Dogbowl that nobody ever rode but us. The one thing I really liked about Marina was in all the pools where the light should of been was clear plexi glass drilled with holes to allow the speakers underneath them to project music through to pump up the skaters! The Circle Jerks played there and the cover for the Group Sex album was shot there!

Oasis was alright and had a teardrop pool with really weird uplifted coping near the lip which made roll-ins tough. They also had a halfpipe deal that was fun but really rough on the bottom that would eat your skin up!

La Mesa
La Mesa was the place where Pineapple had an ad with avaitor glasses on in the big capsule like thing that did not have a shallow end. It just faded into vert. It was fun but weird! I don't recall anything else because I never rode anything but the pool!

Vista was the same way. It had a weird halfpipe in the back but the peanut shaped pool was kill with a good shallow end to carve and get speed plus kill hips to do airs over into the shallow. This place was the famous Shogo Kubo bail shot of him hanging up on a frontside grind and rolloing out of it karate style. The pool was fun at least!

Boulder, CO.
Boulder was in Colorado and not much of a park exceot for the snake runs, reservoir bowl, and the bowl /pool thing they made. No tile but good coping, the Boulder pool was wide open and had good shallow hips and shallow end for gaining speed and the deep end was very good but alittle bumpy here and there. It was the Kryptonic testing grounds cuz' they were based there too. I have really fond memories of that place and hanging out with George, James and Dunlop and my lil brother there. I am sure MICKE remembers that place too! Drunken debauchery! The contests there were fun and me and Olson took the rental car and got severly rad in it by jumping it in a field next door to the park and spinning 360° donuts on the freeway!

Del Mar
Del Mar was the down south super park with a halfpipe, a small backyard kidney, a square nitemare with round corners (that only me, Micke and Gator could ride), a reservoir banked deal and the famous Del Mar keyhole. I always dreaded going there cuz' it was soooo mellow compared to Pipeline with little or no vert. It was hard to keep speed and do airs for me but this allowed tricksters like Mr.Hawk and Kevin Staab to create the future of skating. So many people came out of that scene it was ridiculous. Swifto, Grant Brittian, Gator, Duncan, Gino Tusso, Billy Ruff, etc. It lasted almost as long as Pipeline.

Milpitas was fun and had lil' bowls like a clover thang with rounded lips, another washboard deal (Winchester's was better), a crazy double bowl/pool thing (where I got 2nd or 3rd in the contest there). It was tight but had a good finish and nice coping. A fun little park for sure.

Skate in the Shade, AZ.
Skate in the shade was made by Bigilow who made the combi and Wally Holiday who has made parks forever got his start with this firm. The park was dinky and all I remeber was the rad deep keyhole. It was hot as shit and melted your brains out. The pool was good but the coping was home made like Pipelines' which was hand poured with a form. Severe 3 inch gnarly stuff. Where was the shade?

Surf and Turf
The Turf in Wisconsin was the midwest version of a super park. The clover pool was super fun and smooth. The capsule bowl with tall extension deep-end was challenging and the keyhole was kinda lumpy but cool to ride. If you could do the channel you were pretty rad because the channel walls did not meet. One stuck out more than the other. This place was hella fun though for sure and brought out many skaters from that area particularly Sam Hitts (quit spray painting all over pools and pipes! Enough is enough!) and Al Partenan (the ruler).

Keepers of The Torch
I thought I'd never see the day where skateparks would be built again 20 years after they first started. I truly believe the current phenomenon started in O.C. with Kelly Bellmar and Barret "Chicken" Deck. They built the first pools in some 20 odd years just for skating in their backyards while the scene was slowing down for vert skating during the street phase upheaval in the early 90's. Though certain people try to take credit for these pools I will set the record straight.

Kelly had Blue Haven build his pool while Rick Carge did make the brick walls there and pour the decks. Rick helped more with Chickens' and also did the retaining walls and decks. He and Buddy Carr and others helped dig and rebar the Clover Basic bowl in H.B. where Greg Basic once resided. Let's face it, Greg built his pool to be the cool guy where Kelly and Chicken did not becaue they both have a true passion for skateboarding plus they both skate, whereas Greg does not. If Greg cared he would not have let his pool pop out of the ground not once but twice! True lameness for sure. Passion over substance any day for me. If you build it take care of it like a brand new born baby! If you ask me Kelly's is the best for sure!

Now because these guys built these pools they can definitely take credit for saving pool /vert riding at this point in time and this indirectly lead to Carge building the upcoming Vans parks which have been and blessing and both a big pain in the ass.

Vans Skateparks-A Mixed Bag
The first Vans park was built in O.C. at the Block, a chain of malls across America. Dave Duncan got in there because of his wood expertise of building alot of the contest ramps for the ramp/vert series that the N.S.A. held in the mid to late 80's along with Tim Payne. But in my opinion he blew it slightly redesigning the new combi after the old combi pool from Uplands' Pipeline. I love D.D. but he did not ride that place as much as we did and I feel he should have gotten me involved in that project. I am not jealous at all I just think it could have turned out better.

Rick Carge built all the cement stuff like the street course and the San Juan bowl which Vans has taken out recently in order to create more street space to bring back more street kids. Marketing sucks because that bowl was really fun and had nice lines but again was nothing like the original San Juan pool it was modeled after.

Following this park opened up the floodgates of skateparkdom across California. Vans built another park in Bakersfield which also has bitten the dust due to low numbers of marketing strategy. They have built parks in Milpitas close to the original park from the 70's with a wheel barrelled shaped pool that is fun and kinda deep but hardly any vert with quick shallow corners that make shallow speed carves kinda hard cuz' again you have to hold back.

They also made a park near my house in Ontario at the Mills. It has a peanut/figure 8 smaller backyard style pool which is hella fun and fast but lumpy as shit. Plus the Vans parks are always very dusty and slippery due to the fact the crews working there do not skate and have no idea about the upkeep of a skatepark.

That is why the coping gets hammered and spraying the coping with sauce would not only make it last longer but prevent injuries from sticking and getting pitched on 50-50's and from letting B.M.X.ers' ruin the coping from their steel pegs and putting holes in the plaster from throwing their bikes down delivering bone shattering holes that tweak skaters.

Vans has made a whole bunch of parks in California, Jersey, Colorado, Washington D.C., and Houston, Texas. Most feature pools for the old schoolers and have vert ramps for the simulators and lots of street orientated stuff for the number crunchers of the corporate greed machine.

The ones I have been to have all been fun and are built pretty good. Carge controls his crews nicely and they build stuff from the ground up and do every aspect of the build and design phase except for the plaster work.

This in my opinion is where everything goes bad. His pools are not kinky but always lumpy and bumpy due to the hiring out of Mexican plaster crews who do not have the slightest idea of how important the finish work actually is. Skateboard wheels are relatively small and can feel the minutest flaw where as gaybladders and bikes have no problems overcoming the lumpy and bumpy surfaces due to their bigger wheel diameters.

Believe me I am not criticizing Carge at all, just stating facts becasue I know his hands are tied and his does the best that he can!

Vans worried about making deadlines and letting somebody like Neil Lyons run the show (who has been since fired for all of his lameness). What do you expect from a corporation who does not hire properly trained people like skaters who can do the job. That's why they originally hired Duncan and Carge to help them but they needed more expertise than just 2 guys. I will say that the Colorado park has one of the sickest clover pools I have ever rode in my 29/30 years of skating! It is super fun and has a nice amount of vert. It just sucks that you have to pay 15 bucks if your a normal joe for 2 hours when you go ride a real pool for free.

Grindline and Dreamland are building some of the best stuff ever with lines that flow from place to place and they are both getting better with each park and experience. Ballard is the funnest place because it is really backyard pool like and Ahsford and Talent are super fun. I have not been up there for awhile and craving to ride Lincoln City and Bainbridge and all the other rad stuff like Port Orford and Aumsville. But the fact is all of these are design / builds and free to the public! You can't beat that in a heartbeat. Plus Monk and Red are by far some of the raddest Hellbent skaters in the world today. Plus Burnside just set the tone for the DIY ethic of skaters prides and joys. Hats off to em'. They rule. Check out Monk's latest in Trinidad, Colorado and Red built a sicky in Austria if you're ever in Europe.

Team Pain
Team Pain has built most of Colorado's parks which are really nice and flowing such as Silverthorne, Salida, Crested Butte, Breckenridge, and a masterpiece in Aspen. If you are ever that way scope them for sure. Plus, they make all kinds of other parks like Nashua in New Hampshire, Ashville in North Carolina, and many others.

Based in Arizona SDG has made alot of kill parks too! Chandler, Gilbert, Paradise Valley, Taos and Albuquerque in New Mexico, and an upcoming one close to my house in Chino, California. They have good designs and nice finish work. Plus skaters run the show for them like Colby Carter.

Wally Holiday and Joe Ciaglia
Out of Upland, California comes California Skateparks (the brainchild of legendary skatepark maker Wally Holiday and Joe Ciaglia). Wally built a shitload of the 70's parks so he knows his stuff! They have made a whole slew of stuff for Purkiss-Rose in California and S.D.G. from Az. In the build phase currently is Monrovia, Westminster, Whittier, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, adn Borrego Springs. Also, they have been doing a lot of design/builds like Fontana, The Mission Valley YMCA pool, Charles, Maryland, the new Laguna park, and they built the Upland park (the first park in Cali in 25 years to build a fullpipe-which I had a hand in designing). Wally's finish work is the best in the business in my opinion.

The big difference betwen the old and new parks are the technolgy available and the fact now that stuff is mainly designed on computers before the work starts in the field.

There are alot of good free parks now with lights like in California, Arizona, New Mexico , Colorado and my personal favorite at the moment in Louisville, Kentucky! That place just rips with good trannies, smooth surface work, good 3 inch coping and a rad fullpipe though I have to say that Upland's fullpipe is far superior to Louisvilles' pipe.

Also high on my list is F.D.R. in Philly which is raw and super fun though I have not skated the latest phase there!

Denver Colorado's Dreampark also rules heavily and also has lights and is open until 10 or 11 p.m. in the summer. Aspen is killer too but it's hard to breath up there. I really wanna go back to Oregon and skate all the stuff I have not skated up there and Arizona is loaded with good parks and lots of pools.

Vegas has decent parks but lots of pools if you are willing to go look and hook up with the right people. Look up Manimal or Kirk if you are out there! So there you go. My run down on past and current parks that are my world of skating.


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