“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.” – Napoleon Hill
I could say I remember it like it was yesterday but that would be a lie – in fact it seems like a lifetime ago. No smartphones, no email, weed was illegal no matter what your doctor cared to write, and the strippers had zits on their asses in Portland. Looking back it seems like 1995 was a completely different world than what exists today. I mean shit was real seedy back then and modern day terms like gentrify just weren’t in the average American’s vernacular. But even without the aid of booking flights and hotels online and the fantasy of transporting legal weed we somehow still made it to Burnside that summer because we fucking had to. “Build it and they will come” may be a corny ass line from a Kevin Costner movie but in the case of the granddaddy of DIY, it’s pretty much the way it was.
You may be asking what this cute little tale has to do with Nor Cal DIY, the subject of this fine article, but it has everything to do with it. Burnside blew it’s proverbial load over the collective conscious of skateboarders world wide and not only holds the title of (maybe not the first) but being ground zero of what DIY can be. While sure, there would be spots getting built by skateboarders for skateboarders even if Burnside was never created, but the DIY scene here in Northern California and worldwide would not be where it’s at today – that’s just a fact. My momma always told me to show respect to our elders and heads like Red, Sage, Monk, Chris Bredesen, Osage Buffalo and Bret Taylor etc… paved the way for this recent explosion in Northern California whether you know it or not. Props fellas, thanks for laying down the tracks.
Filmed / edited by Bruce Rodela
Now to the killer builds getting laid down in this sweet patch of California. Shit’s going off to say the least, with earlier builds like the Bird Bath, the Flower Shop and Bordertown laying the roots down, it’s shown the kids in Nor Cal that there is no reason to wait for someone else to do it for you – the time to build is now. From the SF bay to the stoney region of Willits, over to the Truckee mountains up the 99 to Visalia, and Bakersfield, cross over to the coast through the 101 and back to Oakland – you’re going to find insanely good shit to skate built by skateboarders. As you know though, an unfortunate reality of a lot of these spots is their tight shelf life – here today, gone tomorrow is just the way some of these renegade builds go. With that in mind, I decided to get the usual suspects together and do what we do best – hit an insane amount spots in a tight amount of time and document a definitive list of what’s out there in our northern region of California. The boys usually only have the weekend off with maybe an extra day thrown in so we cut Northern California up in six sections and mapped out our routes. With the car packed we mixed up our ritual faux meth truck stop recipe of gummy worms, high voltage cup’s of coffee and some questionable high energy pills and hit the road. And hot damn did we ever hit some killer shit and meet some bad ass people. From Gene’s pool, to Beeble’s bowl to the legendary Lower Bob’s the terrain getting raised in Nor Cal is nothing short of amazing! This is the best time for skateboarding ever and these builds have a huge part to do with it. So not only do I raise a toast to the legendary forefathers that got this movement going but a huge salute goes out to these modern day builders that are taking it to the next level here in Northern California! When the next big asteroid hits the earth and we are all but extinct, the few survivors will stumble upon these builds like the great pyramids and will be just as baffled as to how and why they were built. Until then, let’s keep the stoke going and get out there and build more!!!!
Words & Photography: Bruce Rodela
Special thanks to the Rippers that got in the car: Ryan Carpenter, Popcorn, Kerry The bag, Hot Cheese, Big Butt Blake, Ryan Johnson, John Worthington Jr.
Unfortunately I didn’t hit all the spots in Nor Cal, a more complete list will be hitting the interwebs soon. If you have a spot that wasn’t included hit me up through instagram.com/4wbs
San Francisco Spots, SF CA
More spots per capita than anywhere in Nor Cal, SF is home to a thriving DIY scene. The Sunset bowls are insanely fun, the Flower Shop is legendary, the secret Tadashi spot is rad as fuck and even the Pink Taco is fun as shit to roll around for a hour or two (and a beer or 6). Combine all the DIY spots with all the rest of the terrain SF has to offer and the city by the bay is still the #1 destination in skateboarding. What are you waiting for, the time is now!
Flower Spot DIY
SF Jersey Barrier spots #1 and #2
Bird Bath DIY – San Francisco, CA
Builders: Too many to mention but here’s a few: Aaron Hazlewood, Iris George, Tadashi, Jason Klemoff, Neb, Kevin, Richie, Pablo and some help from Sage, Danger, Carl and Peter Gunn (at least at the flower shop)…
How to get in: Flower Shop and the Pink Taco are open to all, the Sunset bowls are invite only. Don’t worry about Tadashi’s secret spot
George’s Bowl aka Iris Bowl – San Francisco, CA
George’s Bowl aka Iris Bowl, San Francisco, CA