After one trip to San Diego with Greg Janess, EMB was in my rearview mirror. San Francisco was 4 hours closer to Reno and was incredibly beautiful and grimy. The EMB locals were changing skateboarding forever. It was after Greg came back from a San Diego that I was persuaded to take the next trip with him. I had $50 to get a new pair of shoes, or I could hop in the Geo Metro and make the 8 hour trip. San Diego it was and off we went.
Not soon after visiting SD on repeat, we ended up moving there and I was exposed to Mission Beach. The big wooden roller coaster, the spot where Matt Hensley skated, and Luigi’s Pizza was my new EMB. You could go there on any given day and see any number of Pros skating the planters in front of Hamels. We had also befriended a local Pro named Ozzy Alvarez, he was from Tennessee, collected toys, loved Metal and Classic Rock, and liked to party. It was like looking in the mirror, we bonded immediately. We lived with Ozzy and his girlfriend in a tiny studio type apartment packed with dirty ass skaters. No money, no food, and hustle mode was in full effect for other necessities like fuel. It was great.
Eventually I landed a filming position at Gull Wing and money was coming in. I spent countless hours at Mission Beach and met the AF Crew. “Always Faded” was a tight crew of really good skaters that tried to get and remain very fucked up. That was their deal and unfortunately it had some appeal to me. The beach was all new to a small town white boy like me. There were lots of homeless folks, gang bangers, jock fucks, Marines, tweekers, hustlers, and more importantly tourists. Many a girl from Arizona ended up “sponsoring” me and my friends. I saw a few friends run the tightest game of getting free skateboards and Luigi’s from tourist girls on the regular.
Mission Beach was also the first place I was ever maced. Not a fun experience and there is a huge difference from pepper spray and mace. Mace is the real deal. There had always been a thick nervous tension between the Marines and all us skaters on Mission Beach. The problem being the more they drank, the more shit would come out of their mouths. Understand this was 1993-94 when people still hated skaters. It was fucking glorious and I miss those days. Greasers vs Socs for life. On one particular night it escalated to the point of a massive street fight. It was so violent and brutal, I’d only seen shit like that in movies at the time.
Take 20 + drunk Marines and one brave skate rat and that’s how it started. Long story short, words were exchanged and a Marine executed some form of Cobra Kai stance and this young kid kicked his ass real bad. Our group pulled off the kid and the it took one comment for things to blow up. “Hows it feel to get your ass kicked by a 15 year old?” started the biggest street fight I’ve ever been in and ever seen. The end result for me was pulling off a Marine from this big corn fed bastard named Butch. He was this big monster white boy and kicked a Marine off his rice rocket and was jumped. I heard “FREEZE!” and saw a what I thought was a Cop pointing a gun at me. I saw a thin v shaped spray coming out of his gun, which was actually mace. Blind, eyes on fire, mouth and arm pits burning, lungs locked up, these two of the AF kids ran me to the surf showers.
Maybe a month or so later I was wearing the long sleeve Spitfire tee just like the one Barker is wearing in the photo. Butch saw my shirt and by all means thought it was a flag. “You need to help me clean up this beach brother” “This beach isn’t pure” and “We need to keep this beach white only brother” were the words Butch was spitting at me. The Flames on the sleeves of my shirt apparently made Butch think I was some racist prick. In all of 15 seconds I explained he had the wrong idea. Butch puffed up, took off his shirt, and waved it around as he shouted ignorant racial rants around the beach. That was that. Butch wasn’t all that bad. After all, he did kick Dirty Kyle off the beach permanently. Also, ask Spencer about the AF kids. Hey Spencer, welcome to San Diego. The picture of Barker Barrett wearing the same Spitfire shirt reminded me of this whole rant. Barker rules, look him up kids. ATV ruler.