These Photos Perfectly Capture SoCal's Old School Skate & Punk Scene
Spot is a man of many talents. Besides serving as the album producer and sound engineer for punk bands like the Misfits and Black Flag, the photographer, who goes only by Spot, also snapped a treasure trove of photos that perfectly captured SoCal beach and punk rock life during the late 1960s to the early 1980s.
In his Sounds of Two Eyes Opening book, which was released by Sinecure Books last November, we get to see what life was like in places like Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach through Spot's eyes. Some of his old snapshots are of bikini-clad women in rollerskates, guys skateboarding in empty swimming pools, a former Black Flag band member in a dingy venue, and the Germs rocking out on stage at the Fleetwood club in Redondo Beach.
Spot, an L.A. native, tells LAist that he first moved to Hermosa Beach when he was 23 years old. "When I was homeless at one point I drove there one day with my last cup of gasoline and just said, 'Well, I'll see what happens.'"
And a lot happened during his years in Hermosa Beach. Spot kept busy by playing music (everything from drums to string instruments and woodwinds), working as a music engineer, and rollerskating by the beach.
He started taking photography seriously in 1969. Spot grew up with magazines like LIFE and was inspired by the black and white journalistic photos he saw, and when he got a Pentax, he was inseparable with his camera. He started writing music articles for a local newspaper, the Easy Reader, and began taking photos for the outlet as well.
In the early '70s, the punk scene hadn't rolled in yet, and there wasn't much of a music scene in the South Bay, save for jazz, Spot says. There was a bit of a beatnik culture there that had trickled down from the '50s. Spot remembers that over at the Lighthouse Cafe in Redondo Beach, hot jazz musicians like Sun Ra, Yuseef Lateef and Mose Allison would regularly stop by a nearby vegetarian restaurant where Spot used to work after shows.
"There were a few clubs but at that time in LA there was no real scene for people playing original music or balls out rock and roll, which was what I was kind of craving," Spot says.
Since there wasn't much to do in the South Bay at the time, Spot took up rollerskating at the Strand in Hermosa Beach, and found out that he had a talent for it. The rollerskating he and his friends did by the beach was much different from the disco skating that was popular in Venice at the time, according to Spot. They would go downhill and do freestyle skating. "[We were] just doing all kinds of ridiculous things where you can really hurt yourself," Spot says. "And we would hurt ourselves all the time."
In 1982, Spot lost access to the darkroom he had been using to develop his pictures, and along with being so busy recording at the time, he gave up photography.
He's long since moved out of SoCal, and spent some time in Austin, Texas before realizing he could be a lot more productive if he wasn't in a city that basically would have some sort of festival or late-night restaurant opening all the time, Spot says. Now, he's in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, retired and living the quiet life. While he won't say how old he is now, he says he's old enough to collect Social Security checks. And he's gone back to his first love—Spot's started to play music again.