More than 30 years after Tony Alva defied the laws of gravity and personal property, destroying the rims of snuck-into swimming pools as he jettisoned from the earth to the sky, skateboarding is legal — a development some said would eviscerate skating’s rebellious soul. Yet consider the heart of the Venice Skatepark. Trapped between the final intercession of concrete — call it the boardwalk — and the sea, it is the sport’s last stand against commercialism. An unsponsored mecca of athleticism, innovation and art in an era in which corporations appropriate authenticity faster than taggers claim the ’hood. Instead, it’s all free: the ocean-meets-sky backdrop, the skaters swooping loosely into bowls, the original Dogtown skater who sets a tiny helmeted tot on his feet after a bad tumble, the sound of skaters hitting their decks against concrete — clapping for a good run. No wonder the faithful draw crowds to watch. Welcome to the Church of the Board. 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, beyond the boardwalk where Windward Avenue meets the beach. —Tibby Rothman

LA Weekly