Loveletters Season 10: Venice | Jeff Grosso’s Loveletters to Skateboarding | VANS
– Welcome back to the Letters I’m your host, Jeff Grosso, and this is all about the original Venice street scene This is Venice Hope you enjoy! (static and beeping) ♪ Now that was old and ugly ♪ ♪ We’re middle-aged and hurting ♪ ♪ Love Letters with Jeff Grosso ♪ ♪ Remind you of the solid days ♪ ♪ The best of days ♪ – I bought it It’s the best one Oh, well you know 10 years is coming up that I’ve been doing this now You know, like a whole decade of cleaning this park I’m gettin’ tired (blower revving) I was born and raised in Venice, California here, and I’ve been part of the skate so-called culture here, Dogtown, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now You know, I’ve got a long history of skateboarding here I got paid for skating in the 80’s a bunch I’m no pro I just skate I don’t know how I get the money, a miracle Back in our days, literally this was the hangout The Damson Oil Refinery was right behind us There was a giant yellow wall right here, with two downward ramps that led to the showers and the breakwater, and we’d all hang out right here, and that’s all the famous pictures you see of the ramps up against that yellow wall from high to low, and this was literally the spot where so much was created (upbeat groovy music) – This kind of represents what the boardwalk was all about This is the boardwalk here The pavilion is right over here, and this was the main skate spot This was our skate park in the 80’s You know, there aren’t a lot of people that have photos from this era – My name was Chuck Katz, and in the 80’s, I was a staff photographer for Trasher Magazine I grew up in Venice, California, and because of my access in Venice, they invited me to become a staff (upbeat groovy music) So that’s a shot I took of Eric D This is at a pool in Beverly Hills Yeah, I shot this one of Scott Oster Oh, my hack-it shot I like this image because the color Clearly, it has the local representatives right there, Venice Shoreline Crips Tim Jackson, he’s kind of the master of the wall, and one of my favorite shots, but this is Eric D This is Eric D. just doin’ a wall ride Hack-it, snap-it, Gonzo Bowl Goff’s Ramp, this is a ramp that we all built Every bit of this is stolen wood Now this is Sosadio here, and this is the MSA, Mexican Surf and Skate Association This was an association that Sosadio started These people, all their brothers or family members were in gangs They decided not to be in gangs, and start an association to keep the younger generation out of games by inspiring to skate or surf Jesse Martinez, you can see his V13 on the board One of my favorite shots I shot of Hosoi Christian took care of everybody during this time He was making a lot of money He would buy dinner for everyone Christian was a master of this area He never lived in Venice, but you know, everyone considers him like a brother, so he could come down and do whatever he wanted – A big part of what made their scene so cool back then, they didn’t have shit You know? They didn’t have ramps They didn’t have, like they had to hustle and like make the best of what they had, and you know, they turned that pavilion into you know, a totally lawless like little skate world ♪ That’s what I’m gonna do there ♪ ♪ That’s what I’m gonna do there ♪ ♪ That’s what I’m gonna do there ♪ – But they all came down Like Venice, there was nothin’ there, so we just made somethin’ out of nothin’ – [Jeff] Yeah – And even though we didn’t have the ramps and this and that, when we did skate somebody else’s, we ripped on everybody Guaranteed, you know? (laughs) (wheels revving) – Since it is my show and I am the biggest narcissist in the room,
(laughs loudly) I will say, a little fun fact about thrashin’, you did ride my model – Oh really? – Yes – Did I really? – Yep, you’re standing on the poster It’s my skateboard They painted my graphics off and put some sort of spider – [Josh] No shit – And wrote, you had your like Corey Webster name on there – Yeah, the spider I remember that was there I don’t know who? – It was a Jeff Grosso model – That’s a trip That’s a trip – Swelling, a source of pride for me – Honor, that was a real honor – Yes – Well right on Thank you for the board, bro – Venice in the early mid 80’s, it was like a ghetto on the beach You know, a lot of kids were just rough around the edges, or whatever it was, and there was a certain hardness to Venice during that time I mean people just didn’t take shit, and then people that were enforcers, and Jesse was one of those people that enforced the boardwalk, and he was also killing it, busting the biggest method airs out of anybody, and at the same time, at the drop of a dime will just slap you up the side of the head if you step out of line (upbeat groovy music) – When Jesse showed up and skated, you knew that he meant it You know, like I said, he wasn’t just playing He wasn’t just having fun He was fuckin’, it’s like I’m doin’ this I’m fuckin’ getting gnarly It’s like yeah, you are, dude (upbeat groovy music) – He was just always the dude that you knew not to fuck with You knew he was like, had some serious tie-downs to Venice I mean the dude is dedicated to keepin’ the skate scene alive over here, so I mean, just that alone is respectable (upbeat groovy music) Carey and Skip Engblom says that I was drinkin’ Silver Satin and Kool Aid with him on the bus bench in 1965 or four or whatever it is, and I said, it’s a dog’s life in a Dogtown, and he goes, that’s good, Dogtown The Dogtown thing seemed to me really easy to do, ’cause he said, yeah, that’s funny, Dogtown, so he started drawing, doing an over under kind of crossword puzzle kind of thing, and it came to me from there was a church in Venice that was New Bethel N-E-W-B-E, same E, T-H-E-L Was I the first person to do it on a skateboard mirror says yeah (upbeat groovy music) – My name is Elijah Berle, and I’m from Santa Monica, California (upbeat groovy music) People claim like Venice, but then they claim Dogtown, but the Dogtown Shop was in Santa Monica Most of those dudes are like from Santa Monica, but it’s just like a weird line that I don’t know what the line is, but like if you’re on that side of the tracks, then you’re a pussy, and if not, you’re not – Jim Muir, Wes Humpston, you know, all the Dogtowner’s, of course, the king of ’em all, Jay Adams, they were all from Santa Monica People think they’re from Venice What happened was the rents go too high in Santa Monica, so we all had to move to Venice, so we kind of brought Dogtown with us to Venice from Santa Monica – [Anchorman] Three members of the Dogtown Tribe, Eli Euron, Paul Constantineau, and Tony Mad Dog Alva skate through the streets of Venice, California to the beach, stretching from here to Malibu to perform their daily ritual As Tony Alva, World Champion Skateboarder explaims, every morning it’s usually habit that we just go down to the beach and check out the waves, and if the surf’s good, we’ll good surfing, and then go skateboarding later, but if it’s no good, we usually always go skateboarding – I mean, the surf date style’s been definitely debated throughout all the years, and I believe surfing and skating are connected – We were almost surfers before we were skaters, so everything that we did on a skateboard was kind of an interpretation of being on a wave Jay Adams was a huge influence He really more than anyone really maybe connected to it – Anybody even nowadays that’s never seen pool skating, you take ’em to a pool, and you just go, this is the closest thing to surfing, that it’s obvious dude – I think growing up in Venice in the 80’s or what style was important, like if you did a Stinkbug Frontside Air, it was just you know, people were like laughin’ at ya (upbeat groovy music) – We never even did Stinkbug Air’s and shit even back in the day, dude It was all about style, you know?
You had to look good doin’ it (blues rock music) – You know, his name’s Aaron “Fingers” Murray, and here on the board itself, we’ve incorporated his nickname, and that’s where it was, good finger, missing tip, good finger, missing pinky – [Man] What happened with his fingers? What’s the official story? – As I know it, the one finger, the tip was a woodshop accident, but the actual pinky finger was a skating accident He was riding a ramp, and he had a ring on his pinky finger There was a screw sticking up He went up to do a sess slide, as he slid he put his hand on, and it hooked on the screw He kept goin’, and the ring of the finger stayed up there, pulled the tendon out all the way from his elbow, hence they couldn’t put the finger back on (upbeat groovy music) – My name is Josh Klassman AKA Bagel I’m from Venice I took a lot of photos back in the 80’s and 90’s of the scene I grew up in in Venice, down at the Venice breakwater and the Venice pavilion Textbook Jay, and textbook skating in Venice You have like Venice Punx between his legs, and like all the graffiti hit up, and the diversity of the kids in the background, and all that kind of stuff I had just took these for fun, and was just documenting my friends, and it got a couple photos in a mag here and there, you know what I mean? Hartsell, Oster, Eric Dressen, Pep, Pep Williams, and that’s just the boys hangin’, so they’re probably back there There’s Dressen This is like late-bloomer kind of stuff This almost started getting shown later in life, and people took to it because they saw it more on a historical way, and that’s how I always looked at it too That’s why I never got rid of this stuff I’m all, one day, someone will probably be like, wow, that’s when it was like 30 years ago? Julien Stranger of Venice High killin’ it – [Announcer] Here we have Natas and Julian taking their talents to the hilt at Venice High (upbeat groovy music) – You know, just like right where that trash can is literally was probably the first time we ever put a jump ramp up here You know, me and a couple of other guys We got one in the early 80’s, and we were like, hey man, let’s try to jump off one, so we brought it out here When we first started bringin’ the jump ramp out here, we actually didn’t have a clue of how to do it, but besides watching the BMXer’s jump off ramps We all did that What kid didn’t ride a bike and jump off a piece of wood? It’s human nature We brought this out We really didn’t know what to do, so we just started jumpin’ off it, and it started evolving ♪ The street’s been waitin’ in the night ♪ – [Man] The ramp literally lets you fly! It’s a great feeling just pushing off into space, and sail off the lift at high speed and just float A weightless feeling that’s impossible to describe, and at the bottom, there’s no water, no sand, no mat, no net Just your skill and four little urethane wheels, and it’s all that concrete Most times you win, but sometimes, it’s the pavement (upbeat pop rock music) – I believe San Francisco did it first, if you gotta ask Chris Cook, Devil’s Pit, all that stuff back in the early 80’s Tommy Guerrero, Mike Archimedes, we’re talkin’ these guys are legends I think we took it to the next level That led to the wall ride That jump ramp, we put it against the wall one day, and went, hey, we’re goin’ up and down like we’ve seen in the old mags (upbeat groovy music) I almost wanna blame Aaron Murray for that, ’cause we were all doin’ the jump ramp thing right here and stuff, and I think Aaron Murray was the first dude to go, hey man, let’s put this thing against the wall, and slid it against the wall, and I think that’s how that all started (upbeat groovy music) And then one day, I was like, huh? I wonder if you can come down you know? I think Natas’ confidence was there that day, and his mind was twirling, so about a week-and-a-half later, I’m right over here We didn’t have cell phones, so he had to skate and find me Earlier in the morning, he knew I’d be here I was sittin’ right here, and he’s all, Jess, come here, I wanna show you somethin’ He goes, watch this Natas takes off running, and he jumps and lands on his board on the wall and comes off, just mind boggling (upbeat groovy music)
I was pissed off I was like, fuck, that was rad I go, I’ve never seen that, but him doing that made me think, well, if you can come down, you can go up So for a week I was in the back of the pavilion here bashing my board, and then one day it just happened Ah, I made it! Ran to the phone, ’cause there were no cell phones I put a quarter in, sorry, a dime Called Natas, hey, come to the beach, I want to show you somethin’ So he came down He said, pa pa pa pow, and that was just the beginning of it To this day, you know, I see wall tricks done in magazines in whole different forms now You know, and the way they get to it, it’s just so rad to see, oh, I made that fuckin’ lame trick up Now look at it (rock music) – You think about the actual invention of the wall ride Like, you gotta be kind of pissed Like you know what I mean, like do do (rock music) Well I’ve tried wall rides before, but it was like a joke you know? It was like, you can’t ride up a wall, until these guys actually did (rock music) – Three weeks later, fuckin’ Tim Jackson’s doin’ like 15 different tricks now He made this unique style, and way he skated this Dogtown All his own, which is so unique that nobody duplicates It’s fuckin’ badass the shit he does, but you just really can’t It just so happens it’s Tim Jackson Dogtown Boy who created an image off it, you know? (rock music) – When I grew up, the dudes that always were like ripping, and the kind you would sit down and watch ’em skate were like Tuma Tuma was like a huge influence on me Pat Ngoho was always insane to watch The first time where I saw something in skating where I like didn’t realize it was possible, was his longboard slide, rock and roll sides around both corners, Bennett Harada was always everywhere just ripping, so yeah, those guys were always around ripping, and definitely the first like professionals that I ever witnessed as a kid, and then Blake too, like Blake grew up here, and Blake was the kid growin’ up that you were like, dude, don’t fuck with that kid, like he will knock you out – You know, if you were from Venice, you ripped that shit pretty hard usually, especially if you skate too I mean, for me, like that was always something that motivated me a lot Like being from Venice I always, like you know, every kid usually has a dream of becoming a pro skateboarder or whatever, but it was a big motivation for me because nobody came out of Venice in so long, and this is you know, where it all started (psychedelic rock music) You’re taking after some of the first people that you know paved the way for everybody in skateboarding You know, names like Jesse Martinez, Eric Dressen, going as far back as Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Stacy Peralta, all kinds of dudes, you know? And you got all these names that you’re basically kind of like in a way taking a torch from them you know, by keeping the Venice skateboarding scene alive You know, motivate the younger kids to keep doing the same thing, you know? Because it’s only gonna keep growing more and more – [Narrator] You’ll find some of the top skaters in the world just gliding through the crowd in places like this, Venice Beach, California – That was fuckin’ Venice skateboarding (laughs) Hope you enjoyed it You can see where the wall ride is, and now you know who Tim Jackson is, which is wonderful, so I’ve been your host
Thanks for watchin’ Tune in next time where we talk about some other outlandish shit This has been the Letters, thanks Go skate Turn it off, go home Get out, go You are already home – ‘Cause even though I skated down there all the time, I didn’t have a pass to go surfing The dudes were like, they were super territorial about their surf – Yep, the pavilion right here, and I skated over a dead guy one day for an hour, and then finally I realized he was dead I’m like, hey man, you’re dead I’m like, ah fuck! ♪ Who’s under ♪ ♪ Can I get up ♪ ♪ To get down ♪ ♪ So I’ll kiss the carpet ♪ ♪ With my face ♪ ♪ Enjoy Love Letters ♪ ♪ With Jeff Grosso ♪