When asked how he’s doing these days, “Master of Disaster” Duane Peters answers with a dry rasp, “I’m alive. I’m breathing. Let’s go with that.” As one of professional skateboarding’s pioneers and singer for legendary punk act the U.S. Bombs, the Newport Beach native has done everything the hard way. A drunken fall in 1978 led to a broken elbow and a secondary infection that almost saw doctors amputating his arm. He escaped with his limb—and a taste for opiates. The ensuing decades would bring Peters three sons, as well as struggles with multiple addictions. During this time, he would invent some signature skate tricks, while still finding time to get involved with multiple music projects, ultimately recording more than 20 albums.
In 2007, his 20-year-old son Chelsea was killed in an auto accident in Westminster. Afterward, Peters fell into a deep depression and stopped skating. But, he says, during this time, he felt his son’s presence telling him to get back on a board. Recently, at age 49, Peters took a spill while skating in Colorado. His knee was shattered, and infection set in once again. Just before surgery, doctors asked Peters to sign a form allowing them to amputate his foot. Peters made one last appeal to the surgeon. “It’s too late in the game for me to start learning to skate with a prosthetic. I guarantee I’ll just get a peg leg and go back to drinking—and I’m going to die a pirate.”
For now, though he’s still recovering from the operation, Peters has two legs to stand on. And if life has handed him any overriding lesson, it’s that nothing is over until it’s over. With the exception of the medication he takes for his injuries, Peters says, he’s 10 months sober. An independent film based on a story he wrote titled Hostility Hotel is currently in post-production (check duanepeters.net for updates), and once he’s back up and running, the U.S. Bombs will hit the road. “Forty-nine’s the punk-rock old age,” Peters jokes. “It used to be 22.”
1. Keep Rocking.
“I still like Alex’s Bar. Just ’cause [Alex Hernandez] is a good guy, and I like what he does. I also like the Slidebar. They treat you really good. I like the House of Blues. I don’t like it as an audience, only as a musician, because I can smoke backstage, the sound is really good, and the people are really nice. TheJuke Joint’s a great little venue.” Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Slidebar, 122 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-7469; www.myspace.com/theslidebar. House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.houseofblues.com. The Juke Joint, 735 N. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 778-1397; www.myspace.com/thejukejoint.
2. Get Inked.
“I’m going to roll with HB Tattoo. The guys are just the coolest over there.” 20387 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-4948; www.hbtattoo.com.
3. Get Your Life Saved.
“Hoag Hospital has saved my life so many times.” 1 Hoag Dr., Newport Beach; www.hoag.org.
4. Eat Mexican Food.
“El Matador . . . just ’cause it’s my old hometown. You want to talk about good homestyle, just a good hot plate of Mexican food. Unreal. I’ve been going there since I was a kid.” 1768 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-0324; www.elmatadorcostamesa.com.
5. Go Skating With the Kids.
Peters recommends Costa Mesa City Park. “Right now, [my 5-year-old son] has the skateboarding bug.” 77 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa.
6. Go Skating By Yourself.
“I’m gonna be back in all the bowls that are in Huntington, they’re within 5 miles of one another. That and Costa Mesa City Park, but mostly the pools.” Sorry, these locations are classified.
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7. Hang Out at the Skate Shop.
“Jokers Skate Shop—there’s nothing better. It’s a mom and a pop, and the two sons both ride. They’re just on top of their game. They keep the prices low. Anything that comes out, they’ve got it first. “ 9606 Hamilton Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 962-8429; www.jokersskateshop.com.
8. Support Your Indie Record Store.
“Vinyl Solution is the oldest independent record store in Orange County. I used to work there in the early ‘90s. Everybody who works there has their own genre—there’s the rockabilly guy, the punk-rock guy. They’re all gnarly record collectors. and they’re very cool, but not too cool for school. I’ll always love [owner] Drak; he’s a true vinyl worshiper.” 18822 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 963-1819; www.myspace.com/vinylsolution.
9. Well . . . You Know.
“My girlfriend and I go to the beach and park the van. I’ve got this old van from ’79. and it’s got shag carpet. . . . If the van’s a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’!”
10. Remember the Place You Used to Go Drink.
“Amato’s [now closed] always ended up being my favorite bar, right by Vinyl Solution, because it was all record people. Anywhere that served an old-man drink it didn’t water down. If I went in there with a chick, and she went, ‘Ew, this is a little too strong,’ I’d take her outside and go, ‘Listen, don’t you ever fucking say that again.’ These were 80-year-old bartenders who had been serving since God knows when. Let them have their pride in serving you a good drink.”