Draining.

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I found this pool on a stormy Sunday morning. The rain was falling in cold, wet sheets and driving was horrendous. I saw the estate and palm trees over to my left, as I slowed to loop around and check another smaller house that was ‘For Sale’. The black wrought iron fence at the estate was spiked. Rusting. The palm trees  that circled a walled- in area beside the house, were heavy with old fronds, and dried husks littered the yard. It looked terribly promising to my experienced eye. With a house and yard this large, it probably had a pool. My pulse quickened.

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I checked the driveway. I saw an unused car. Flat tire. I walked slowly in the rain, looking for signs of dogs and habitation. My eyes missed nothing. No mail in the mailbox, trash cans without trash, three month old disintegrating newspapers in the driveway… dried leaves and debris. So far, so good. I slid up onto a stucco retaining wall and lay flat on top. I raked my eyes over the yard. I saw the pool. It was aesthetically perfect. Dozens of huge palm trees encircled the left hand kidney. The pool was four foot deep in black water and palm debris. It looked magical.

My heart raced as I completed my recon. I kept it under wraps for a few months until I showed it to Salba. He told me that he recognized it as a pool he rode with John Nakama in 1990. Salba recalled, “It was gnarly on the right wall as it had palm trees growing flush with the coping. It made the wall belly out a bit.” He remembered it being alright, but nothing to get excited about. I liked the look of it, so I periodically checked on it for close to a year. Samwise and I decided to go drain it recently.

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The house was empty and abandoned. Personal furniture, clothing, dried plants and photographs were littered about the decks and yard. Vines crawled up the railings of the porches and everything was overgrown. Rank with weeds. The pool stank from fifteen feet away. Rotting palm debris & stagnant water made our job.. indecent. It took us hours to remove the debris, drain it, rinse and clean it thoroughly.

We went home. We changed clothing. We stank so badly, that we immediately washed our clothing. We drove back later that day with a crew of crushers. Ray Zimmerman, Josh Borden, Salba, Adam 12, Billy, Samwise, Scott and I. We took as much fun as we could from her. It was worth every stinking second.

Samwise- First grind

Samwise- First grind

Adam 12

Adam 12

Josh Borden

Josh Borden

Me

Me

Epilogue- We rode it the first weekend for a sum total of forty-five minutes. This week, we drove over and each took about ten runs in her then proceeded to get out as we saw a neighbor scoping us through some hedges. After we were outside by the car,  a police cruiser pulled up. The officer came up to me and asked me if I was inside skating the pool. Being as I was holding a board and a broom and he was grinning wryly at me, I said, “Of course. But, we are leaving now.” He smiled and said, “Don’t ever let me see you again.” We headed out into the afternoon sunlight, happy with our good fortune. I found it, sat on it, checked it and dreamed of it. We drained it, cleaned it, skated it, killed it and lost it… all in seven days. You want to know something? It was worth it and it always will be! Thank you to Samwise for being a pool pal of the highest order and MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Dallas

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A friend messaged me. “Huge pool.”  He told me of its location. Veiled language. Subtleties. It seemed worth a look. Dusk was closing in on me.  The house was less than fifteen minutes away. Rolling hills spread out beneath the dwindling daylight. The sun would soon be lost to me…  “Old friend. Give me just a little more time.” The only reply was a red tinge on the clouds. The air chilled as the sun shrugged. The wants of a puny man mattered little… I quickly found the place. A gravel lane split the fields that loomed in front of the huge home. Palm trees stalked like giant soldiers down the long lane and around the property.  It looked like something out of a Dallas, Texas television show. Cattle ranch. Horse fences and corrals. Another world. I pulled to a stop under a huge stand of trees just off the road. There was very little traffic. I slipped behind the fence and squatted there. Listen. Look. I made my way quickly towards the house and soon was over the rear fence. Cold abandon. The life that the home once had was long gone. The property was a remnant of a by-gone era.

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A huge square pool sat in the rear of the property. I ran an experienced eye over it. Pretty good transitions were marred by the fact that the surface was completely made up of one inch by one inch ceramic green tiles. It was pretty…  but that was a small consolation. Tile pools are generally slippery and this one was no exception. The light was fading fast. I slipped off the property and drove home. Phone calls. Plans.

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The next morning at dawn, my friends met me at the appointed place. We triumphed. We carved. It was unbelievably loud in the early morning light. The nearest property was about a mile away but… Within thirty minutes, we were gone. It was rough and slippery. What had to be done, was done. Thank you to Lorrie Palmos for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Fifty One

Nope

Nope

Skateboarding. The clock becomes an enemy. Injuries and physical decline another foe. Bills, obligations, responsibilities… the list goes on. “I can’t find time. I can’t get hurt. I can’t do what I once did. I can’t…”  Eventually, skateboarding takes a back seat. Then it goes into the trunk. Then it goes into the garage. Then it goes away forever. I’m turning fifty one tomorrow. I run, lift weights, eat well and still… I feel my years every morning. I hurt. Always. This past week, I went to Kelly Belmar’s house as I wanted to give the eight foot channel a try. I don’t know about you, but I still dream about doing stuff on my skateboard. I’m realistic. I know my limitations. Yet, I still daydream about pushing past them. There is no glory for me. There never was. I got into the wrong line during the glory years.  It’s okay. I know exactly what and who I am. I’m proud of the person I have become since I gained sobriety. One day at a time baby…

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I looked at the channel at Belmar’s last Friday night. First of all, it’s a big one. Eight feet. Secondly, the corners are terribly close. I stretched a bit and skated the pool. It is big and fast. I have been riding Belmar’s since Andy Macdonald took me there in 1993. I like its size and scariness. Belmar’s is no joke. I was just considering the channel. It was considering me. I thought, “The hell with it.” I pushed hard and rolled into the channel. I carved just under tiles and aimed for the corner of the channel. Momentary fear. Flight. Board tumbling away. Kneeslide. I did this about a dozen times and was rapidly running out of day light. I decided that it might be possible to air the channel. I carried my board across with me on my last few tries. I phoned MRZ. He said that he’d shoot it and we set it up for Sunday. I pictured it in my mind. Positive imaging. Resolute. Determined. Sunday came and in I went. Twenty to thirty tries.  I was a sweat-soaked mess. I wore my Superman shirt. I wanted to fly but I couldn’t do it. The times I had control of it and I thought I could make it, I came up short. The times I sailed over, I didn’t have control of it… I wanted to be Superman and I realized that I’m only Clark Kent after all. You want to know something? I’m cool with that. I didn’t fail. I think that failure would have been sitting around and talking about it. As long as I try…  I’ll be fine. Besides, there is always tomorrow. Thank you to Kelly Belmar for the session and MRZ for the images. Skate – Ozzie

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Daight Street

DWP House 1

 

Daight Street. Hot and hateful. The sun an enemy. It hurt our eyes and our skin. Steve Alba located this one portion of Hell that had previously been overlooked. The art of Recon. He had developed his craft well. Decades of pool searching. We went to this one and Steve told us about the neighborhood. Dope houses. Homicides. Squatters and pathogens. Disease is shared in all its sordid forms. Crime oozes like a contagion. I was told that when a person leaves prison, they are given a bus pass that can take them anywhere in the county. The county ends about a tenth of a mile away. This friend told me that there are more convicted rapists, murderers and felons per square mile right here than anywhere else. Last house on the block. Watch your back. We cleaned up motor oil, glass and trash from the pools bottom. We commenced a heavy pounding.

cleaning out the date pool to be skated

Scott Ward and I

 

Salba, Scott Ward and me

Salba, Scott Ward and me

Steve Alba

Steve Alba

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Michael Serna Jr.

 

Scott Ward

Scott Ward

Me

Me

In the end, the pool wouldn’t last. They rarely do. I find it interesting to watch guys like Steve Alba, Tony Farmer, John Zask and numerous others as they ride a new pool. They get into it, figure it out and handle their business. They know from experience that this might be all there is… Thank you to Zach Petschek for the images. Skate- Ozzie

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Why?

Tom Groholski

For those of you completely in the dark and new, here you go. BS and FS Ollies were done at different places in history and were called different things. Jeff Tatum: JT Air (BS Ollie), Alan Gelfand: FS Ollie. Frontside airs were done in different places and in a totally different fashion : TA & George Orton.  Who was first? Hmmm… Rock-n-Rolls were first done by Tim Marting but Steve Olson supposedly received the first photograph in the magazine. Hence, people think Steve Olson was the first to do them. It is also rumored that Chris Strople–the inventer of the Alley-oop air–did Rock-n-Rolls at this early stage. The Smith grind. Was it done by Alan Losi or Pat Ngoho or Mike Smith first? There are photographs and accounts that support all three. Gunnar Haugo did the Gunnair which is Duane Peter’s Indy air a few years before the fact. Documented. History.  Questions. Questions. To my thinking, there was a huge period of discovery and possibly even these facts are not all together factual. Maybe there was a guy somewhere in Nebraska hucking frontside airs before others! Who really knows!? Does it all really matter?  Credit has gone to others. A place in the sun denied. Some people have knocked back that bitter pill. Sadness. I feel for them.

In Jeff Grosso’s Love Letters,  Jeff Tatum posed the question perfectly: “Who really invents anything?” I have to agree with him. They say that history is written by the victors and that half the world believes what the other half invents. Well… that might be so. The truth is the truth. There are no versions of the truth. Will we ever know? Will the Indy Air  become the Gunnair? Will the BS Ollie become the JT Air? I don’t know. I think that they’ve become ingrained into the collective skateboarding consciousness as what they are. A BS Ollie and an Indy Air. It might be a shame, it might be untrue but its the way things are. I think it is amazing that these things were invented and passed on at all. I think that we are supremely lucky that Gunnar Haugo did the Gunnair. We are blessed that Jeff Tatum did the JT Air. I think we are fortunate that Ngoho, Losi and Smith were ripping and inventing things simultaneously. I think we were privileged to see Tim Marting, Chris Strople and Bulky Olson doing Rock-n-Rolls! I’m happy that Duane did his version of the Gunnair & named it an Indy. This is only my opinion and  I hold the skaters that I’ve named in the highest regard and they should know it. I intend absolutely no disrespect. That being said, I simply thought that some of this should be illuminated.  I may catch a bunch of angst for this. It matters not. One salient fact. The most important thing is that ALL of these guys  collectively pushed skateboarding ahead to new uncharted territory for a billion of us to follow!   Without each and every one of them… things might not be. Here is an epic Love Letters episode on Tom Groholski. He rules…  and you can take my word on that one!  If not, click the flick. Skate- Ozzie

http://offthewall.tv/video/tom_groholski

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Escondido

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Escondido. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego. I’ve heard that it means ‘Hidden Treasure’.  I’m unsure. I know that Escondido is about forty square miles of rolling, sparsely populated countryside. Horse farms. Avocado trees. Palm tree growers prosper here. Ripperside Shawn and I decided to take a scenic tour today. We were looking for hidden treasure ourselves. Ripperside Shawn had completed some homework and we left the KRSNA farm with some definite destinations in mind.

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We spun a lazy arc through the countryside. Our boards were tucked away in the truck behind us and Ripperside Shawn told me about the possibilities today. There were several large Christian retreats that were now defunct. They needed looked into. Shawn smiled at me, “These places were built mostly in the 1950’s and had massive plunge pools to provide refreshing summer destination places for families to visit.”  I grinned. “… massive plunge pools”   I loved the sound of that. Horse corrals ran off into the distance. Old tractors lay abandoned in the dirty fields. It was like the owners ran them until they stopped and left them to deteriorate in the angry sunlight.

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We pulled over behind an older neighborhood. Shawn pointed. Walking along a pathway, we eyed up a gate that loomed on our left. “There is a pretty big pool at this place.” He said.  We climbed a fence and stepped down into a golf course pool. Abandoned. Belly up. The pool was long and had a beautiful surface. However, it was a pit. It wouldn’t be worth the arrest to ride it. We moved on. Our next stop was a hillside fire home. In the last decade, fires had ravaged certain parts of the area. It was a wise move to investigate the hillsides in the burn zone. Even after years, some people never rebuilt.

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We drove to an egg shaped pool that looked amazing on satellite. We located the property and pulled in to speak with the owners. A huge white dog greeted us hungrily. There appeared to be no one home. As the pool sat far away from the house, I got out of the truck and slid between the fences. I walked up to the pool and heard dogs (plural) barking. I realized two things. The pool had no deep end and there were two huge dogs lunging across the yard towards me. I’m fairly fleet-footed and quickly made a safe exit…

IMG_6545We spotted two on a hillside and spoke with the owners. “No can do. Liabilities man…” We smiled and thanked them for their time. We made our way through the hot afternoon. We knew that such searches are often bound to failure. It didn’t deter us. It is the hunt for pools that makes the entire thing so interesting. We live and let live. Guys are going to the skateparks or the same old, same old and that is cool with us. At least those guys are still tearing it up and not waiting for old age and infirmity to remove any hope of stoke to survive. We understand. We know. Ripperside Shawn and I talk about getting older. Pools are hard to skate and harder on the body. But to us, it would be harder living without them. If I had to give up pool skating, I’m not sure I would want to survive such a thing…

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We cruised by the old Pala pool area and stopped for a quick rip. Ripperside Shawn swept it out as I looked around. I had ridden both of the Pala pools back in 2002. Matt Moffett took me over after they were found. I have photographs stashed away. Both pools were pristine and barely ridden. That was no longer the case.

IMG_6600We rode for an hour or so. The square pool is a bit of a challenge. It is kinked and lumpy. There are coping blocks missing and we both carved and kickturned around. It was fun. The weight of the world slipped away. We were both young again. We felt like we did when anything was possible… still.

Ripperside Shawn

Ripperside Shawn

Me

Me

Driving back to the KRSNA farm, we grabbed his son Gopa and headed down to a hidden treasure. It is a ditch tucked away in the countryside. I took a cool shot of Ripperside Shawn and Gopa taking a run together… I ended the day on that. Nothing could be better. Skate- Ozzie

Ripperside Shawn and Gopa

Ripperside Shawn and Gopa

 

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Pepper Reflections

I was visiting California from Pennsylvania’s Woodward skate camp in 1994. It was cold at the airport in Philadelphia. Snow was falling and they kept de-icing the huge jet wings, while I sat there and watched. I idly wondered in my own macabre way, if I was going to crash on the way up or once aloft. Somehow, the thought of hurtling at 300+ MPH into the earth…. kinda felt nice.

Anyway, we finally arrived and Andy Macdonald picked me up in San Diego. The next morning, Andy, Jon ‘Bacon’ Hobbs, Rhino, Preston and I, drove up to Salbaland to ride backyard pools. Salba met us outside his garage. We loaded up, buckets, pumps, brooms and a turkey baster. I looked sideways at Rhino and he quickly informed me that, ”…the turkey baster gets the water out of the drain hole, when you cannot remove the drain cover”. “Oh…..” I mumbled. It was the start of a brave new world for me.

Andy Macdonald

We went to numerous pools that day. It was a blur of dirt, graffiti, broken beer bottles, refuse, human decadence, poverty and filth. It was also one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I had found exactly what I had been looking for all my life. That may sound odd.  I love pool skating. When I rode with these guys and carved over the light– grinding– it was epic. I felt the speed and knew I needed more.

I remember that I didn’t do well that day. I rode vert often, my trucks were too tight and I kept kickturning…a ‘no-no’ in pool riding, because you lose ALL of your speed. They were patient, probably because of my enthusiasm. The final pool of the day was one that Salba found. He called it ‘Pepper’. It was a Master pool by Jim Hendricks. Pepper was a right-hand kidney with smooth, shiny bullnose coping, a deathbox left of the light and steep side hip stairs. The surface was fast and smooth. Palm trees hung in the sky overhead. It was an image straight out of ‘Skateboarder’ magazine.

Steve Alba

Steve Alba

Salba told us the crazy story of finding and draining it the first time. “When we found out and bailed it for the first time, I was scared shitless because wasps were using the water for their wasp nests. There were hundreds –if not thousands– of wasps. I am allergic to bee stings…’epi-pen’ bad! Anyhow, Slide 540 was just laughing at me and swatting those wasps away with his hands. It got so bad that I jumped back over the brick wall, until Slide got the rest of the water out. Pepper lasted for about a year and a half, just sitting there ‘H.U.D. house’ style….then this Mexican family moved in and we thought it was finished. But much to our amazement, they let us ride, for a case of beer. After that, I got to know them real good…in fact I took my boys there often and they played with the kids there………mind you– my kid Jesse was like two to three years old at the time. He would sit there, playing in the dirt with his cars and motorcycles when we rode the pool………epic!” Salba had us laughing with his memories of the pool.

Kale Sandridge with Dave Reul and Salba looking on.

540 Slide

540 Slide

On my visit, we rode there until dark that night. I saw things that defied logic. I saw Andy Mac pull waist high FS nosebones. I saw Salba roll-in, then fly through the pool, going over every obstacle. I saw standup 5-0 grinds on the shallow end coping. I saw Bacon pull FS boneless & FS airs. I was drop-jawed in amazement! These guys destroyed that pool. On the long ride home, in the dark stuffy confines of Andy’s Honda Civic, I made up my mind to move to California. I knew I would live here and ride pools. Visiting ‘Pepper’ pool was a turning point for me. I will never forget it. Thank you to Tom Groholski for the images. Skate-Ozzie

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