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Wes Humpston - The BullDog Story (unfortunately censored for certain words by Angelfire (hosting company) If we ever figure out how to do this on our own servers....until then, enjoy

The Bulldog Story

By Ozzie Ausband

Saturday morning was gray, the skies like lead, as winters storms hung an angry blanket of clouds that stretched as far as one could see. I could see far. I was peering out my window, cursing in three languages as I dialed Wes Humpston’s phone number and thought of the pools I wouldn’t be riding today! Piss and F*#&! There was little hope of the sun shining anytime soon as the rain fell in cold wet sheets, filling the gutters and snarling traffic. The phone was picked up on the fourth ring and the tone-of-voice in Wes’ "Hello" meant he was unhappy as well. "Basically", he said, "It doesn’t seem to make much sense in going out. Unless it stops, we can’t even drive the grids." Wes stated, referring to the Thomas Brothers map grids we drive while pool hunting. I grunted, and told him I’d be up to his house in a few hours. We’d decide from there.

Gathering my things, I put an extra pair of socks and shoes in my bag and turned the volume up on the stereo. Aerosmith "Seasons of Whither" F&$#ing A man! They were so good at one time. "Better to burn out, than fade away." I muttered. I smoked a joint and gathering my stuff, headed to Wes’ house. I drove the 5 North for awhile, pumping the brakes on my old Datsun as all the non-driving F&$#s in California jostled for position around me. I wished that I would’ve smoked more, looking around me at all the jerk-offs in their fancy cars. I grew up in Pennsylvania and had moved out to California when I was in the Marine Corps during the early 1980’s. I had it gnarly in the Corps and when I got out I returned to PA. I moved back out here in 1997 and immediately hooked up with some pool riding brothers and made up for lost time. There are those that criticize me for hanging with who I do and all that, but I really don’t care. I’ve skated 28 years already, when most faded out long ago. I can skate pools with whoever I want to. Fini!

Wes lives in a beautiful house off a cul-de-sac and after parking, I run to dodge the rain and get inside. The Bulldog’s studio is a blast from the past man! You want to get back into your roots? Picture this. I walk in and Wes sets me up with a cold brew. It’s a trip to see the photos, art and naked brutal history of my youth lining the walls. Wes has several dozen OG boards with original Bulldog art. I’m speaking about the old stuff here! 1975-1976. I look into a dusty corner as Wes speaks to someone on the phone. It’s a stack of old, hand-drawn planks. Most are no more than 30 inches long and all are different. There’s one with a fading swastika on the nose….."Baby Paul’s" I whisper, barely audibly under my breath….this is unreal. I think I remember him killing it at Manhole all those years ago. TA or Wes once told me that they were driving on a ridge one day and looking down, they saw "this little kid" just doing forevers in this pool with "stones along the lip." I smile and continue looking. Here’s a "Bigfoot" Wes Humpston, complete with the black Sharpie marking pen inscription, "Soy Bulldog" (I am Bulldog). There’s a fading Tracker sticker behind the back truck and wheel bite marks at each routed wheel well. I laugh to myself. "Someone was leaning hard on those Trackers…"I take my jacket off and sit down on the carpet. Wes's studio is cool. It’s well appointed, with two huge bookcases, plush rugs and soft light. The only bright spot is an enormous Drafting table tilted in the white light of Halogen illumination in the far left corner of the room. Books of art, sketching, painting and scrolls of parchment, canvas and papyrus bulge and spill from the shelves edges.

"Wes has himself some serious history here." I think to myself." Among the books, photo albums bulge and are separated by photographer-Glen E. Friedman’s "F&$# You Heroes" and "F&$# You Too." I quickly think back to the Old School Skate Jam from last year. Glen E. signed my copy of the first book and it remains thee number one coffee table book in the Ozzie household. I hear Wes barking at someone on the phone in the other room. " F&$# that! I heard him say, as he adds "I’ll kick your sorry a$$ for you." Wes is not to be trifled with and I feel sorry for the poor soul who is experiencing his wrath. Peering back at the stack of boards, I pull out an amazing Oak beauty. Wes walks in as I examine the cue. It’s a hand-drawn Dogtown cross and the board is graced with graffiti-like letters that spell out "Stinky Chinky del Pearl City" I peer over at Wes and find him chuckling under his breath. "You see, Darren Ho wanted me to do a board for him, and I had just finished it, was about to shoot the clear coat over it, when Jay Adams came to my house. Jay and I lived real close. We were living at Copeland Court off Ocean Park. Anyway, I ended up leaving Jay alone and when I returned I saw a Sharpie sitting on the board. I thought, Oh s#!t. It appeared that Jay had wanted to send a personal ‘Hello’ to Darren." I laughed at Wes’ story. Jay was something else wasn’t he? I asked. "Yeah! You can’t imagine." He returned.

Wes pulled a photo album off the shelf and quickly thumbed through it. I groaned as his fingers flew past photographs of Dogbowl, Fireman pool, the Keyhole and countless others. "Don’t worry bitch, I’ll let you see them all." He grinned. "Check out this photo of Jay at the Dogbowl" he said, thrusting the album into my hands. The photo is well known to me, typical old-school Jay Boy. Jay is frontside, inches below coping, his eyes glittering and a defiant sneer on his face. He’s riding what appears to be an old Z-flex. Its yellow and the red, green, yellow and black Powerflex # 5’s grip tight against the gunite while Jay hangs precariously low. "Jay may not have made all the s#!t he was pictured attempting, but he definantly pushed the boundaries each and every time he rode." Wes told me and I had to agree. Jay Adams was always a favorite of mine and his low-slung pool riding, one hand balled into a fist, and dripping with style, will always stay etched into my mind as the classic example of what we should all aspire to be. Wes grabbed some brew for us and we sat on his long, tan leather couch. The Verve’s "Urban Hymns" droned like a mantra in the background as Wes opened up and talked of his early days.

"I started drawing on belly boards and skateboards way back. Me and a guy named Kevin Kaiser would always try and ‘one-up’ each others artwork. It was a real garage type of scene. We weren’t nice though. We’d really rip into each other. It was amusing." Wes threw back his shaggy head and put down half a Heineken. "What was the origin of the Dogtown cross? I questioned, draining far less of my beer. "Actually, C. R. Stecyk III did that first. He shot a photo of Nathan Pratt who was all dressed up like a ‘Cholo’. The Dogtown cross was painted on the wall behind him. One day, we were driving out to the ‘Fireman’ pool and Stacy Peralta was driving. Myself and Jim Muir were in the back and I was drawing on Muirs board. Stecyk told me to do the Dogtown cross…sort of like - boards for ‘Dogtown skaters only.’ That’s where it all started." I looked at Wes and smiled. I remembered photographs of the early DT days. Wes told me how he and John Palfreyman would ride bikes with the Kaiser brothers to different schoolyards and pools. Schoolyards like, Bellagio, Revere, and Kenter Canyon, with their steep, banked asphalt walls which would help the boys simulate surfing waves…carving and flowing. I sat quietly while he told me of the first pools Tony Alva had taken them to, and the ones he’d found with others. "The first several-if I remember-were Barrington, Rabbit Hole, Canyon, and the Keyhole. ‘Rabbit-hole’ was strange. If you stood up on the ridge behind the house and looked down at it, you would see the shape of a rabbit. A magician lived at the house or something.

Pat Kaiser broke his ankle there and we had to ride him home on the handlebars of our F&$#ing bicycles." " His mother ended up taking him to the Emergency Room for a cast." "Damn!" I swore. "I saw him last week." Wes continued, and his ankle is still F&$#ed up, after all these years." "Gnarly" I muttered. "What about the company Dogtown?" I questioned. Wes sighed deeply and started telling me the story. "Well, Jim Muir signed a contract to start a company. Before this, He and I had worked at registering Dogtown together via the mail. Paul Constantineau, I believe, had the first model. He was signed with Rip City. This was much later dude. Like 1977. Muir was the athlete, the skater, and was notorious for frontside forevers.

He was so busy banging this super-hot girlfriend, and partying that he didn’t seem to give much of himself to the contest scene. The competition scene seemed less exciting I’d wager. Bob Biniak signed up, he was a bullet-the fastest guy-who could rip pools as well as downhill. He was good." I would draw on boards back in the day for the guys that could ride pools. Tom Lun, TA, Biniak, Palfreyman, Gary Rosa, it was just the hardcore guys in the circle. That is what the ‘Z-Cult’ meant." Wes went on. "Around 1977, I was continuing to draw these boards when Muir called me and we talked about the company ‘Dogtown.’ He wanted me to do all the artwork for the boards. I never really made much money, if you want to know the truth. We’d draw on boards and listen to Amboy Dukes, Black Sabbath, and Blue Oyster Cult. Muir turned me onto all of these. Around 1973, I started working at Jeff Ho’s Surf shop called ‘Zephyr’. The ‘Z-Boys’ came from this entire thing. The surf shop I started at would form the skate team through Skip Engblom and Ho that eventually became the Z-boys.I wasn’t really in that deal but I was in that circle. They kicked everyone’s a$$ at the early contests because they were riding banks and pools while all these other guys were doing freestyle and gymnastics tricks….it was ridiculous."

Wes went to the bathroom and I stepped outside to get some air. His house sits on a ridge and the backyard crouches over a huge gully. It had finally stopped raining. I walk the yard thinking; the images of Dogtown pounding in my temples. Going back inside Wes relates more of his strange tale. "Ozzie, you have to realize that not one person knew what skating pools even was! Skating pools did not exist. Nobody skated pools; what the F&$# was that!" We skated many pools before we started the company ‘Dogtown.’ It was absolutely a small, select group." Wes stopped his reverie as a telephone ring broke the stillness. It was Glen E. Friedman. They talked, bantering for a few minutes back-and-forth. I got on the phone and spoke with him myself. I will always consider it a privilege to know and converse with the forefathers of skateboarding.

After we ended our conversation with Glen E., I asked Wes about tricks in pools. TA, Muir and Biniak were doing one wheelers. Glen E. was shooting the photographs. Look at the pictures. What do you see?" He asked. "Power, style, the crew in the background." I answered. "No, the bottom of the board, you di#k." Wes corrected me. There could be no denying. ====================Wes graphic style of art was duplicated all over the world as photo after photo became published in the magazines. These –in turn-became pin-ups on the walls of skateboarders everywhere. Wes’ ‘Dogtown’ cross, ‘Z-Cult’ and his art originated as a plethora of music, surfing, skating and brotherhood. It became the icon of radical skateboarding worldwide. I asked him about the famous ‘ Gonzales’ pool. Wes told me the deal as I paged through an old ‘Skateboard World’ magazine that had a ‘Check-out’ on Wes. He’s depicted doing an excessive micro edger on Gonzo’s perfect hip. "Yeah, I actually would roll up onto my back wheel and hit my toe on the coping before edging back in; a bomb drop into the trannies below. Ray Flores actually found ‘Gonzales’ pool. We kept it to ourselves for awhile and then TA came over. After that…well, the cat was out of the bag." He’d show up and TA always traveled with a photographer, girls, the whole bit." That pool stayed private though.

Mr. Gonzales was an actor on the TV show ‘Bonanza.’ He did movies and stuff. He was always cool to us about skating. Back then it was so smooth." The magazine photographs of the pool reminded me of my 38th birthday party at ‘Gonzales’ two years ago. It was the best day of my life! The surface was much rougher now. You can see the ‘Bones Brigade’ skating that pool in their early videos. Wes began speaking of the original sessions in pools with TA. "Tony took us to Rabbit Hole. It was abandoned. I guess the magician had moved. Myself and Kevin Kaiser rode it daily." "Where’s Kaiser know?" I interjected. "He surfs, but doesn’t skate. Our main thing was surfing. If there were no waves at Oxnard, we’d skate banks and pools." Kevin's brother Pat broke his ankle and he was finished thereafter. That’s when Canyon pool came into the picture.

Canyon pool was not even a kidney. It was like a big, open bowl with the stairs out of the way. It was 10 feet deep. People were riding open-bearing wheels at the time. TA was always the guy. Muir and Kevin, TA and I rode there in Santa Monica canyon. It had orange trees and we’d climb up and revitalize ourselves, then go back and skate. Peter Graves (actor), he lived across the street. He got Kevin and I busted. That was once the pool started getting crowded." "Pool skating started to get coverage in the magazines. I never really paid any attention to the whole ‘Z-boys’ thing because half the team couldn’t skate pools at all! Tony was –totally- the guy back then.

The Canyon became so crowded that it turned into a bust situation. Ray Allen, and Hal Jepsen had shot photos along with Stecyk and his minute-by-minute Dogtown Tales. I hadn’t seen too much of Glenn E. yet. Anyway, the cops came and Kaiser and I bolted. We were behind these hedges and our toes must have been visible because Peter Graves says, "Excuse me officers, There’s two more hiding over there; pointing at us. He said it like a F&$#ing f****t." The cops stripped our s#!t; backpacks; all of it. We’d use our skate tool as a pipe with a little screen in it. It was funny because we were like, "I don’t know. We just found that wrench sir." The cops gave us hell. Every time after that, whenever Peter Graves was on TV, my dad would go, "Hey, there’s your friend.". I laughed.

"What type of stuff went down in the pools?" I asked. "Well, TA would draw these lines and then start doing ‘forevers’ after going over the light. He’d only hit tiles. I remember that all of us basically carved. There were no kickturns….just carves. At Rabbit hole, he’d be like –F&$#ing-upside down, legs higher than his head, like a Bertleman. It was surfing on cement. Insane! We’d push ourselves and have to make it. I recall being laid out for two weeks after hitting my hip on a frontside carve…just crushed it. That’s how it was." I sat back and pictured the scene. Small wooden boards, open bearing wheels, no pads. What they did was amazing. They would break barriers with each other. "We’d ride bicycles to Beverly Hills and go through the alleyways; searching." Wes went on with his memories.

"What about Waldo Autry or Gregg Weaver?" I asked, throwing the first names that came to mind. Do you remember any of them?" "No way!" he retorted. " There were no others that we knew of at the beginning, just a few pictures in the magazine. Only awhile later, did the Valley open up and we’d see other people. Throughout that whole time I continued making boards and drawing for my friends….it was 1975 and 1976." Wes pulled a faded binder from a drawer and showed me a picture of John Palfreyman (JP). "JP would ride BMX bikes in the pools, even then. He rode his BMX bike in the Keyhole pool! He was a sponsored rider and could actually rip it up. He was the first guy that we ever saw ripping on a bike in backyards. After that, JP would tell his bike friends about his pools, they’d tell him about their pools. I skated so many pools in the Valley! So F&$#ing many! Big pools, all sorts of shapes. The Pink Motel." I was startled. "The Pink Motel?" I said incredulously. "Yeah, 20 years ago. We rode the Pink Motel a long time ago. How do you think Stacy Peralta knew about it when he filmed the ‘Bones Brigade’ #1 video?" Everyone rode that pool in the old days." We’d jump into some of these backyard pools in the valley and there would be 20 or 30 of these valley ’Kooks’ riding. This was directly the result of earlier published photos in the SkateBoarder Magazine" What Wes related to me was incredible! The Dogtown pool riders were on it from day one; no bulls#!t. "When we stepped into the backyard pool with our boards, people would s#!t. They were wider and all of us had hand-drawn boards that I’d made. This was when Kaiser and I began dueling with each other on the boards and artwork." He related.

Wes stood and stretched, then continued his story. "In about 1977, I began drawing the graphics and designs for Dogtown. We had a couple of models out. Constantineau, Bulldog, Muir’s ‘Red Dog’, and Biniak. We had financial backing and the whole nine yards. About a year or so later, Marina Del Rey skatepark opened up. We would all go over there and ride. Shogo Kubo came over to Dogtown and would ride with Ray Flores, TA, Polar Bear Agnew, George Wilson, Jimmy Plummer (from Florida), Wes Bennett, Moses Padilla and Chano. A bunch of people came because that park was so good. Biniak and I were really partying, but we’d run on the beach in the morning because our knees hurt. Then we’d go skate Marina before it opened. Dennis Ogden would let us in. Marina had become a skateboard circus. At the same time we were selling a great deal of boards. Soon after, skateboarding began its descent into nothingness.

Rollerskaters were everywhere….just stupid s#!t. The parks began to have financial difficulties because of insurance and people getting hurt. They’d simply sue the park." Wes spat these last words out of his mouth like they were leaving a bad taste. I- myself-recalled the days of Cherry Hill Skatepark in New Jersey and its subsequent demise. It was a sorry time. "We started losing money at Dogtown and someone eventually told me that they had seen stacks of Dogtown boards on sale at the Swap Meet. Skipper Engblom and George Otto told me the same thing, like-"Hey dude, they are selling your s#!t at a Long Beach swap meet.!" I grimaced and looked away. Wes had a strange look on his face recalling this-obviously-nasty memory. His eyes held a look of, what Bruce Lee called, ‘controlled cruelty’ He went on in a low voice. "We had this large warehouse somewhere around 500 feet long and it was stacked with boards and shirts, stickers…the whole thing. It just went out the window.

Ozzie, we had no idea how much money was coming in. We had these two guys running the deal and they were businessmen. They sold everything, owed everyone, and fled back to New York, from what people told me. We were getting too high…Hell, we were just kids! Biniak was getting 3,000 dollars a month back then! Through it all, even though I ended up with nothing financially, I still met great people, had fun, and started something really cool." I nodded in assent. I remember drawing my own Dogtown crosses on my old boards. Wes shifted in his seat and took a sip of beer. He related that- to this day- he continues to get emails and phone calls from people that are stoked for what he inspired in them. Wes has certainly inspired many. His art and spirit created a path in a dull landscape for future generations to enjoy and be a part of. My own memories are perfectly intertwined with all he and his friends created. C.R. Stecyk took the photographs and lent the wasteland of Venice and Santa Monica a cement heaven with words. He wrote the chapters that came before any of us. Glen E. trailed along and burned his photographic images into the minds and onto the walls of millions; the voice of a broken generation. Wes spilled the artwork that we carried like a flag of defiance and TA, Jay, Ray Flores, Biniak, Muir and all the others willingly and unknowingly thrust their middle fingers at the world, creating a signal that we would unerringly follow.

Dedicated to my heroes.

Ozzie Ausband

February 2002

Newport Beach, CA