"With the California drought and global climate change, it might be thought of as environmentally conscious, a recycling and repurposing of sorts."
- Jamie Brisick
There was a time when sneaking into a backyard to skate an empty pool was a criminal act. Today, what with the California drought and global climate change, it might be thought of as environmentally conscious, a recycling and repurposing of sorts. Tino Razo knows all about this. For the last couple of years, he and his skate buddies have been using online maps to locate abandoned or semi-abandoned swimming pools. They load up the car with boards, mops, and buckets, clean out whatever remaining detritus, and skate hard. And quick—these sessions don’t last long. It’s only a matter of time before the cops showed up.
All of the above is captured wonderfully in Razo’s new book of photographs, Party in the Back. “I think about the difference between authentic experiences and the other kind—spoon fed and fabricated by someone else selling something—and how the distinction between them can be muddy and what makes one more so than the other. It’s tricky,” writes uber-skater Julien Stranger in the introduction. “But I also think that once you find skating and dedicate some years of your life to it, you have no excuse to not be able to tell the difference. The real thing involves risk, physical and existential.”
Physical and existential risk is on view here. The photographs are raw and compelling. Ace skaters like Steve Alba, Chet Childress, and Kevin “Spanky” Long dance with coping. There’s dogs, dilapidation, industrious young men with buckets standing knee-deep in small polio ponds at the bottom of kidney shaped pools, and a lot of bounce and sparkle at play in Party in the Back.
---Jamie Brisick is a writer, photographer, and director. He surfed on the ASP world tour from 1986 to 1991. He has since documented surf culture extensively. His books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, Roman & Williams: Things We Made, We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, The New York Times, and The Guardian. He was the editor of Surfing magazine from 1998-2000, and is presently the global editor of Huck. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. He lives in Los Angeles. For more of his work check out jamiebrisick.com & @jamiebrisick