Skateboarding, what does it bring to mind when you think of it? For us, it's about good times, feeling good even if it means slamming hard...it also brings the memories of days past, of old friends, of when anything was possible.
The story of skateboarding has as many intriguing characters as it is long, and to many of us, no matter where we grew up, whether it be on the Pacific Coast or in New York City, we feel as if our own history is somehow tied to that 3 mile stretch of beach running from South Santa Monica through Ocean Park and into Venice; a stretch of coastline where almost mythical figures like Jeff Ho, Craig Stecyk, and Skip Engblom were the master craftsmen, shaping foam into pieces of art which would carve the faces of wintry, hollow sets of Aleutian juice plowing through the pylons of the POP Pier. A place where a handful of kids with names like Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Jim "Red Dog" Muir, Stacy Peralta, Dennis "Polar Bear" Agnew, Marty Grimes, Peggy Oki and Shogo Kubo unleashed a new aggressive style that would captivate the imaginations of kids the world over. Zephyr, Z-Flex, and later, Santa Monica Airlines, Dogtown Skates were DIY companies which opened our minds to new possibilities, by introducing us to riders who seemingly had no barriers; who could forget the first time they saw a picture of Natas? If you've been around awhile, it was probably in a SMA ad.
In time, we witnessed epic sessions go down at the Venice Pavilion with the likes of Christian Hosoi, Aaron "Fingers" Murray, Scott Oster, among so many, and of course the kid who grew up surfing and skating this area, Jesse Martinez.
Jesse is as much a part of south Santa Monica/Dogtown/Venice beach folklore as any of them, a true local who, not only managed to survive the craziness of the scene and the foolishness of youth, but become, as some would say, the guardian of Dogtown's heritage, an elder, the one of only a few left who passes along the tales to the new generation of rippers.
The face of Venice, as is the case of many of the neighborhoods we grew up in all across America, is changing due to gentrification. But, it is because of those who love that place, its history, its people, that Venice still retains a vibrant sense of community. It is because of these very same people, with Jesse and others fighting for the creation of the Dennis "Polar Bear" Agnew Memorial Skatepark, that Venice has a new center for that community to go to, a place where history and tradition can be kept alive.
As a child, Jesse was there to see the the birth of modern skateboarding, as a young man he played a role in moving skating into an entirely new direction, he helped Rocco and Mullen build a company which would change the face of an industry forever, and yet, he is still all about the average person, listening to and sharing with all those who cross his path. He doesn't consider himself a "legend", even though he is rightfully so, he isn't jaded or pretentious, he doesn't waste his time with pride, he is a humble man who still comes down to Venice every morning to sweep away the refuse and scrub the graffiti so that you and I, our families, can come have fun and perhaps even pause for a moment to feel the ocean breeze on our faces, hear the laughter and whirl of bearings and sense the presence of all those who made this stretch of beach not only unique, but an integral part of skateboarding history.
To say we are extremely honored to be putting out this board, a collaboration between Jesse's 100% Skateboarder Sk8 Club and Positive Charge, with graphics done by the renowned illustrator Dan Styles, is an understatement! It is not only meant to pay tribute to the community of Venice, to a dream which became reality, as well as to Jesse Martinez, the guardian of Dogtown, but also help the most vulnerable in need; a portion of the proceeds from all our board sales go to feed and clothe the less fortunate this holiday season.