For a skateboarder growing up on the East Coast in the 80s and 90s, Huntington Beach seemed like ground zero. Christian Hosoi, the most stylish skater of all time lived there; Jason Lee, one of the biggest early innovators in street skating was there; even my favorite skater of all time, New Jersey’s Mike Vallely moved there and teamed up with fellow street legend Ed Templeton. And when the Flip team flew over from England with Geoff Rowley and Tom Penny, who would quickly take their places in the vanguard of new street rippers, I couldn’t help but believe that Huntington Beach was the greatest place on Earth.
Then I visited when I turned 18 and it was like Hitler won the war. Blonde and blue-eyed was the norm. Not one person of color to be seen anywhere. Nazi regalia was sold in Army/Navy stores alongside Dickies and bayonets. Then I started hearing stories of teenage skinheads lynching black people like it was Alabama in the 50s. One of skateboarding’s kindest, gentlest souls and my childhood idol, Ray Barbee, was chased by a rabid pack of skinheads and barely escaped with his life. Not trying to sound racist, but I hate white people. In the immortal words of Huntington Beach’s local pro skater Jason Dill, “I don’t want to be white as much as you don’t want to be white.” I vowed that day never to return to Huntington Beach.
This past weekend, nearly 20 years to the day, I found myself in Huntington for the US Open of Surf, which played host to the Van Doren Invitational Bowl contest, the preeminent skateboard bowl contest of our time. The neo-Nazi sentiment was still there, just a bit more subdued (I saw one yoked out, shirtless skinhead in the stands with a 10-inch snowflake on his chest, a poor attempt to cover up the Swazi over his heart). Of the daily 100,000 contest visitors I saw, all but two were blonde and blue-eyed, and neither of them were black. The only real noticeable change was that the scantily-clad girls I recall from two decades before hadn’t aged. In fact, they’d regressed to pre-pubescence and their bikinis had regressed with them. A man’s natural reaction is, “Hey! Wow! Tits! All right!” but once I realized very few kids were of age I began to get sick to my stomach.
I was working on a video project while in Huntington Beach, and when I began to search for boys and girls who were over the age of 18 I found it nearly impossible. Even the ones with very adult messages written on their bodies like “US Open your legs,” “free blow jobs,” “stick it here” (pointing to their ass), “rape me,” “free rim jobs,” etc., etc. told me they were only 15 or 16 (and I’m quite certain they were lying about their age). For the next four days I kept my head down and looked at the sand as if they were all Medusas. I’ve felt less creepy while on gang bang sets.
Naturally nine days of whipping children into a sexual frenzy could only end one way: a good old-fashion riot.
Luckily, I was long gone before the cops showed up. But Ed Templeton, skateboarding’s most prolific artist and Huntington Beach’s hometown hero/advocate was there capturing the entire week’s festivities. I rang him up to get his take on the HB scene.
VICE: What was Huntington Beach like when you were growing up? Ed: Downtown was surf shops, bars, and food. Quaint one- or two-story buildings. The locals ruled the place, and there were fights all the time. Skinheads hung out on one corner and said racist shit to everyone. Religious zealots would preach that we are all sinners. In many ways not much has changed.
How has it changed over the years? Now it’s Starbucks and Jamba Juice, microbreweries, and ice cream shops. There are still surf shops, but they are bigger and more corporate. The skeleton of the past is still there, but Main Street is bigger, louder, and more geared towards tourists. The skinheads have stopped hanging out on the corner—they are all grown up and breeding families. A few racist kids still hang out down there, but they’re more stealth about it. Fights happen at night now when the meatheads who all think they are MMA fighters get their liquid courage to the right level.
You mentioned that racist element—I remember Clyde Singleton getting chased by skinheads with bottles, and Ray Barbee being as well on a seperate occassion. More recently, I saw a lot of Swazi tattoos this weekend. Why has that sentiment been so big in HB? Orange County has the highest concentration of Nazi skinheads outside of Cologne, Germany. I’m not sure how old that fun fact is. But the gangs were here; there are remnants of it. Just today Deanna shot a photo of a guy with a white power tattoo on his chest walking shirtless down Main Street. It’s out there. The Ray Barbee story is the worst. I remember Jamie Hart and his friends beating up skinheads when I was younger. I see the Swazi tats, but those fucktards and their way of thinking is on the way out. Or so I like to think.
You and Deanna are both born and raised in Huntington, but I always felt you outgrew it. Why stay? Deanna was born here in HB; I was born in Garden Grove—still the OC. I started skating in HB, and that’s where my life began. At the moment when I would have normally said, “Lets get the fuck outta here!” I was doing Toy Machine, and it was before the internet got so fast. I still had to Fed-Ex zip drives down to the magazines with Toy ads, and drive down often to arrange graphic stuff. I felt tied to being at least within driving distance from where Toy Machine was being made, which is San Diego. So the company kept me from moving. Now with the speed of the interwebs I could live anywhere, but again, when you get older you gain more perspective. And after traveling the world, which I continue to do, I realize that everyone in the world would kill to live where I do. It’s paradise. Yeah there are douchbags, but there are douchebags everywhere. The weather is perfect, the beach is close, LA is a short drive away with all of its culture and art, but I’m not in the middle of that. I’m here in a quiet suburbia where I can drop out and get work done.
This past weekend, I went on an organized club crawl of Hollywood, California. I’d never been to “the club” before. Or any club, actually. Something you probably gathered from the fact that I just referred to “the club” as “the club.”
Hollywood is—suspend your disbelief—lookist. Nowhere is this sad, solemn truth more evident than in “the club.”
Harris, the amiable young man who runs the club crawl I went on, explained to me, “If you’re a pretty girl in Hollywood, people just give you stuff. This is a way for, if you go with your friends and maybe all of them aren’t the hottest, you can still have a good time.” The “this” he’s referring to is the Hollywood Club Crawl, of which he’s a co-owner and organizer.
For a nominal fee, the Crawl offers plebes like you and I a “legendary night out in Hollywood,” providing unfettered access to four different clubs without the indignity of additional cover charges, waiting in line, or being judged for one’s appearance (or lack thereof). As Harris spoke, I looked around. No one in my periphery was “the hottest,” but they sure as shit weren’t uggos. I quickly realized, however, than in the context of where we were headed (a “fashion” themed nightclub one block away from Hollywood Boulevard), they may as well all be the Elephant Man.
Want to get into “the club” without the assistance of a man like Harris? Prepare yourself for a thoroughly debasing experience. Booking a reservation for a Hollywood club online, generally, entails sending them a link to your Facebook profile. If you’re “hot,” you’re on the list. If you’re “not,” you’re, uh, not.
This Slaughterhouse Mural Is Really, Really Creepy
Photos by Nate Miller
Some tours of L.A. stop in a sketchy industrial area called Vernon to show people the bucolic murals on the walls of a Farmer John pork processing compound called Clougherty Packing Co. This is where the famousDodger Dogs come from. They also convert pigs into stuff like morning sausage and sliced ham for various West Coast grocery store chains.
When you see it from your car, the mural is a shock to the system. It’s clearly a slaughterhouse and covered with artwork that looks like the painted backgrounds from Hee Haw. Which is partly because the piece is an incomplete work called “Hog Heaven” by the TV set painter Les Grimes, who died in a fall while finishing it in the 1960s. It has since been completed and retouched by painter Arno Jordan and other visionaries through the years at the request of Hormel Foods Corporation. It has also gone off the rails, sanity-wise.
These cartoony pigs are pretty close together, as I assume they really are on the other side of that wall. Though I’d imagine the seven thousand real pigs inside that building are probably smiling a lot less.
One of the many painters who’ve taken a crack at the mural over the years had a tendency to make their faces much too human. Like this terrifying lil’ guy.
I don’t identify myself as a “bohemian type,” that dirty word denoting free-flowing ideals with the world’s most regimented eating plans. While I respect vegabs, I do not sympathize with them. I look to yoga as a fitness last resort since it consistently feels like a church service I’m thrown into against my will. The closest I come to meditating is when my non-English-speaking hairdresser trims my bangs, and I can feel her many rings trace my forehead and for a moment I forget how alarmingly short she’s cutting my hair, and I am at peace.
Living adjacent to Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood, you face-off against some dream-catchers, a.k.a. men and women who claim the world’s defeat will be at the hand of misaligned chakras. I’ve never been one to be swayed by their passion, but I found myself curious. It’s the same curiosity that makes a Los Angelino take pause before the grandiosity of the Church of Scientology Museum Tour. This past week I followed that desire for peeking over “the spiritual fence” so to speak, and took part in a “sound bath.”
Yep, a “sound bath.” The name alone baffles people with its ambiguity. Who could possibly attempt to define it without having experienced it first themselves? I imagined a vacuous room with several people laying down, experiencing sound waves that feel like Mother Nature orgasming through your eardrums.
I recently visited your Los Angeles location and was exceptionally disappointed with what I saw.
Upon entering, I was greeted by your Tom Hanks in Castaway waxwork. It was not very good. Scary, even.
I have never seen Castaway, so there may actually be a scene in which Tom Hanks becomes blind in one eye, but I doubt that is the case.
But it wasn’t just your Tom Hanks that was awful. It was all of your waxworks. They look like something from the nightmares of a person who has been blind since birth and has no real concept of what human beings look like.
Some time ago, I watched a documentary about a ship that sank in the Baltic Sea. There was this one shot that has haunted me since, where they showed the beautiful, blond wife of one of the people who had gone down with the ship. She was standing on the shoreline, looking out into the Baltic Sea as it slowly dawned on her that she would never be seeing her husband again. There was a sadness in her eyes that haunts me to this day.
Your Cameron Diaz looks identical to how that looks in my head. I am genuinely surprised she hasn’t yet sued for defamation.
Some of your waxworks are so bad that I would never have had even the slightest of clues who they were if I hadn’t been explicitly told. Like this beautiful goth woman who, apparently, is meant to be Hugh Jackman.
However, credit where it’s due: your Steve Jobs waxwork was actually very good. I’m not entirely sure why you decided to suspend him from the ceiling on wires, though, but bravo.
Beyond just looking really, really, really, really shitty, your waxworks have a larger issue: you have, without exception, managed to depict each celebrity as a character in their least memorable movie.
For instance, you chose to depict Adam Sandler, star of The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore, and dozens of other films that people have actually seen (or heard of) as his character from the movie where it rains gumballs. Google tells me, it is called Bedtime Stories.
Pierce Brosnan, who has played James Bond multiple times, is shown as his character in The Thomas Crown Affair. (For a millionaire art thief, he is wearing a VERY cheap suit.)
You put Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, who, again, have both played James Bond, as their characters in The Hunt for Red October and Cowboys & Aliens, respectively.
My co-workers are always going to exotic places, doing dangerous things. I, on the other hand, rarely leave my desk. I don’t like heights, going swimming makes me immediately imagine drowning, and having to drive a car down a windy road makes my crotch sweat. My three biggest fears are impotence, accidentally eating mold, and Nazis. So, when approached to scope out a purported Nazi hideout in Los Angeles’s Rustic Canyon, I jumped at the opportunity to do something crazy for once.
After driving to the end of a residential street, we reached the entrance to Camp Josepho, the current name for the recreational area where the ranch resides. A barrier stands guard to keep unauthorized vehicles off the camp’s trail. We ditched our car and began the hike into the canyon. We hit a fork in the road, and I left our bag of empty beer bottles on the ground as a marker in case we got completely lost, which I was sure we would.
If it wasn’t bad enough that we were walking in 90-degree heat through a goddamn forest, we found our path down into Murphy Ranch. A seemingly endless series of 500 poorly fashioned stairs appeared to be our only means of accessing the Nazi campground.
There were no guardrails, and each step was about as wide as half my foot. In my mind, an elaborate scenario played out in which I would slip, fall 50 feet, bump my head on every step on the way down, then be Medivac-ed out via helicopter, and having to live the rest of my life inside an iron lung.
Nothing Is Less Funny Than Scientologists Doing Comedy
All the great men of history have had their escape valves, their private passions. Einstein played the violin. Disraeli wrote romantic novels. Napoleon used to rub two ferrets covered in sulphur together until one of them caught fire. So it is with the head of Narconon International, Scientology’s notorious drug-rehabiliation wing.
The guys and gals in Laughworks have been taking their laugh-an-hour routines around the Scientology world for the last decade, but of late they’ve gone quiet. Clark in particular has been busy defending his organization from charges that it routinely took out credit cards in the names of people it was supposed to be helping. All that changed last Tuesday, when Stand Up for Valley Org took to the stage in LA. As the name suggests, it was an entire evening of Scientologyl comedy devoted to raising money for the San Fernando Valley Scientologists’ plan to build an Ideal Org, which is a deluxe kind of church.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen that video that Los Angeles-based writer Greg Karber made where he hands out a buch of Abercrombie gear to homeless people. It’s embedded above if you haven’t.
Karber made the video in response to that stuff that Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries said about their “no women’s clothing above a size 10” policy. Essentially, Jefferies only wants “thin and beautiful people” shopping at his stores, because he doesn’t want the “cool kids” to have to endure the horror of seeing a fat person wearing the same outfit as them. I think we can all agree that the most shocking part of Mike’s statements is that they reveal there’s a person out there who thinks that the cool kids are wearing Abercrombie.
Karber handed out A&F clothing to, as far as I can tell from the video, a fairly bewildered homeless population on Los Angeles’s Skid Row. His goal was to “rebrand” Abercrombie & Fitch by putting their clothing not on the cool kids that Mike Jeffries so loves, but on the homeless, who, I guess, are the opposite of cool.
Now, if you only think about it for a few seconds, it would appear that this is a great campaign. Karber wanted to make a point about Abercrombie & Fitch and to “clothe the homeless,” in his words, while doing it. Unfortunately, “Fitch the Homeless,” as Karber dubbed his campaign, is fucking stupid. For one thing, Karber doesn’t appear to ask these people if they want Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, or if he did ask them, he cut those parts from the video for some reason. He just sort of dumps polo shirts and A&F brand tees onto the residents of Skid Row, as if they were pack mules and he were a sherpa venturing into the mountains to deliver striped rugby shirts to a monastery.
“If you wait until 4:08, you can get in for free,” the blatantly disinterested clerk at the entrance to Hollywood Park Racetrack and Casino informed me as I desperately tried to give her the $10 entry fee. It was 3:55 and I had already started to feel the effects of the weed chocolate I had eaten earlier, so I happily accepted her terms. I avoided making small talk with the clerk by feigning interest in my phone for 13 minutes. It’s surprising how little you can accomplish on a cell phone in 13 minutes. Finally, as the clock struck the “magic hour,” I sauntered through the gate with an extra $10 in my pocket, just ready to gamble it all away forever. There’s no such thing as a free ride, unless you’re high… or talking about the moribund sport of horse racing.
Much like the United States itself, horse racing culture can be divided into the camps of “have” and “have not.” The disparity between the gilded excesses of the Kentucky Derby and the barren wasteland of Hollywood Park is stark. Step-repeat lines, funny hats, and copious amounts of rich people materialize at Churchill Downs every year to see and be seen at what is an absurdly anachronistic, passé sport. The everyday reality of horse racing is that the stands are not even a third full, and instead of expensive suits and strange headgear, people wear varsity jackets with cougars embroidered on the back. Horse racing was and still is a pastime of our grandparents.