Filters Magazine
pop/sub/fringe culture
Issue 3: Local edition!
Friday, 23-Feb-2024 09:07:19 PST
i'm about to get local on your lame ass.

it may sound a little Friscocentric, but contemporary skateboarding basically has its roots located in san francisco. this is my recollection of its growth in the '80's.

these banks are long gone now.
i had this hippy neighbor, Tim, where I grew up in the upper Haight. he was a complete stoner. him and his friends would ride their plastic banana boards around like miniature surf-boards, walking the plank and slaloming down the street. we'd borrow their planks and have butt-board races down the hill.

i wanted a board of my own and pestered my folks to get me one. to no avail. so, i saved up my allowances and bought a set of Independent trucks and some big, red city streets from the long-hair down the hill. i just needed to get a deck now. well, my dad took it upon himself to make me one himself. he figured he could make one "just as good as any store bought model." it was the biggest piece of shit imagineable: about an inch thick, 43 pounds, and no upturn on the tail. and, to top that off, it had that shitty gray stairway grip tape that didn't stick for shit. i was a fucking laughing stalk!

cops rolling on the peir
but at least i had my board, right? the coolest thing in skateboarding was doing powerslides. we'd get work gloves and shoe goo big metal washers on them. for those that don't know, a powerslide is when you get some speed, lean back and turn, put your hand on the ground, and slide to a stop. we practiced on our hill, which went from mid grade to steep as fuck. we usually stayed on the easier grade and would do a slide every 30 feet or so. there was this insane rocker in the neighborhood named Banda, and he pushed things to their limits. he went half-way up the steep incline and bombed all the way down to the intersection, probably hitting a good 25 miles per hour. his powerslide was so huge, he went back and forth four fucking times!

we started skating the avenues: 8th, 10th, 11th and so on. there we ran into the first organized group of skaters we had met. they called themselves the Bomb Bay Bombers, or BBB for short. they used to tag their name around the neighborhood.

the next challenge was twin peaks. we'd hike to the top and ride down. for a skater with really good abilities, it would take about six or so slides to get to the bottom. Banda, the rocker in him in full bloom, had to up the ante. he was determined to make it down in two. that was infuckingsane, but we were stupid kids and encouraged him to do it. and he did. we chased him down the hill buttboarding like an ambulance chasing the pack of horses around a track. his first slide was at the hairpin turn. that was the easy part. from there, it's about 3/4 mile to the bottom, and that's past two intersections and across some pretty rocky road. we were hauling ass down that hill right behind him, and a car right behind us, scared that he'd get uncontrollable speed wobbles and take a nasty spill. but the fucker made it, ending with the biggest powerslide in the history of skating. i'm pretty sure he coned 3 wheels instantly. the woman in the car behind us pulled up and stared at us in disbelief: "he was going 35 miles per hour!"


when we needed new equipment, there was only one place to go: Fogtown 'y que'. a little skate shop located on shrader at haight in the same spot that ftc and snowboard shop are now. it was a tiny little place filled with couches. Ron, the proprietor was a cool punk rocker, in the band MDC. he didn't mind that we would cut school and hang out on the couches smoking cigarettes. he was just doing it for fun. that was the spot to be, and no one, i mean NO one would dare shop around the corner at Lee's Skate's on Haight. he was a dick, total corporate greedhead. all he wanted was to make money and find himself by buying harley davidson's.

notice the editors' caddy in the background
so, when i needed my next board, it was a no-brainer: a Board to Death! that was the tank of skateboards, made for Fogtown, they were almost as fucking big as the one my dad made for me, but they had a cool skull and crossbones for graphics. while all the kids were still using nosebones and skid plates, that fucker made them obsolete. you could literally do a wheelie skid down complete hills without wearing through a ply.

skateboarding had become a legitimate sport now. the local boy's club in the haight put in a half-pipe on its roof. it was massive for us little kids, we just got on at the flatbottom and practiced our pumping back and forth. most of the time, we would just hang out and eat jojo potatos from the Cala. they built a smaller half-pipe behind the big one for us to learn on, and the very first time i tried to drop in, i launched my board and slammed on my back knocking the wind out of me.

the small ramp had one side directly on a wall of the building, and there was this one guy who could pump himself about 20 feet up the side of the wall. that was a fucking site.

We heard of this mythical half-pipe located in Hunter's Point out by the dish, a mini skate park. This is a sketch neighborhood, and when we decided to cut school one day and take the 44 out there to search for the ramp, we were asking for trouble. we got off the bus at the dish and skated around for a while, until a group of bigger kids came started hanging out at the edge looking shifty. we figured it was time to get out of there, so we buttboarded as fast as we could down the hill. about two blocks down we stopped and noticed a boarded up house. we ventrued down the alley between houses, and there it was, the HP ramp! no one had the guts to drop in on the monster, but that was still one of the best skate days ever.

suburban kids in the backyard
there's a rumor that the famous dirtbag Pierre lived for a little while under the HP ramp. he's definitely one of the more well-known san francisco characters. he's a tall, thin, happy-go lucky stoner that's just kind of driftin through life. he was always doing unusual tricks like rolling off of a ledge on his back onto his skateboard. simple and slow. after littering his under-the-ramp home with too many playboy's and piss bottles, he moved in to a large garage in the Polk area. one time they had a party. it's just a huge empty space with a toilet behind a curtain, and grafiti on the walls. they'd set up ramps and people were skating on the walls of the place. it was like the warehouse scene in 'the search for animal chin.' and get this, i spied him just yesterday walking up the street carrying a skateboard 14 years later! and he's not even sponsored like Tony Hawk...

at one point, they moved Fogtown around the corner onto waller. it was a little bit bigger and becoming more serious. now most apparent was Jake, a slimy dirtbag with big clunky glasses taped in the middle. he was a complete dick. and that made it kind of fun to go in there and bug the guy. about that time, Tommy Guerrero and Bryce Kanights started hanging around the shop. they skated with all the cool, sponsored guys, like Natas, Archimedes, Orb, Royce, Zeke. (more names!).

When Tommy got sponsored by Powell, we were all on his jock. Bryce was taking pictures all the time, and those guys started up Thrasher mag.

well, we kept on skating. That was the time that we started going down to the Embarcadero to ride. back when the concrete was still virgin and no one could ollie up the stage. soon masses would pile down there and skate all day long. everyone met at Embarcadero, and no one there called it EMB.

it seemed like there was this mission to find the newest and greatest skate spots, and then dub them with a name. then pass the name around, but not the location. this lent a lot of the famous spots an air of mystique. you'd hear about a legendary full pipe in a ditch somewhere, but never find it. one of the best places was fort miley, an abandoned military bunker on the edge of the bay. it was off the beaten path, so you could go out there and drink beers and bomb it with grafitti. that was one of the sketchiest places cause of all of the sheer ledges that one could fall over. not to mention how much broken glass there was everywhere. to this day, one of the sickest things i've ever seen done was the famous ollie from the top deck of fort mason down to the bottom. it's about fifteen feet tall, and this guy glue-footed an ollie about 20 feet out. sick. just plain fucking sick. i think there was a picture in Thrasher.

(This story will be continued in next issue. if you have any contributions for this story, send email to

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