Glass crunched underneath the truck tires as Ripperside Shawn pulled to a stop and pointed behind us. “I think I saw a privacy fence back over there.” I craned my neck and saw what he was referring to. “Yeah… might be something.” I got out and walked over to a boarded up property. Shopping carts were overturned in the bushes. Trash and bottles. Old moldering shirts and socks. Discarded fast food wrappers. I checked for squatters and threats. Nothing. The air was hot and still. I heard trucks blast by on a nearby freeway overpass. Walking back along a sidewalk, I took in my surroundings. Old house. Probably 1940’s. This part of town was like an old prostitute. Tore up and played out. The fun had long since been tapped out of her… nothing left here. Nothing at all. I spotted tiles behind the fence. Heartbeat. Quickening. The pool lay abandoned. The remnant of a broken dream. No hope. Hope’s face had turned away a long, long time ago. It looked promising. We marked its location and maintained a systematic search pattern. Miles crawled by. Life moved in a dirty swirl around us. The people seemed weighed down. An air of expectancy loomed and it wasn’t one of wealth, joy or prosperity in any sense of the word. Liquor stores were busy and sales were brisk. I saw dark-eyed men selling escape in small plastic baggies. Hard eyes. Hunger. Pathology. We drove past. Three hours and six pools in, we stopped for gas and drinks. We reevaluated our location and the grid results thus far.
Every once in awhile, we feel the need to drive out and search for pools. After all, if you don’t look, you won’t find anything… Why do we do this? How do we explain ourselves to people when they ask us how we spend our free time? Can people actually comprehend what it’s like to drive around in the summer heat in the worst possible neighborhoods we can find to look at abandoned, decrepit and condemned properties in our search for pools? I’ve given up a long time ago in trying to explain myself. I don’t feel that I have to. Most people don’t share my predilection. Ripperside Shawn and I are kindred spirits. We do what we do because it is fun. Pure and soulful. It is skateboarding. To us–and other like-minded people–there is nothing better than finding a new backyard pool that has never been ridden, cleaning it out and skating in something that was never designed for such a purpose. Fun. It is the most fun ever…
We saw dirt and despair. We saw drugs and vice. We saw hookers and strippers of both sexes. We saw pimps and politicians… there was very little to tell them apart. We saw churches and food banks. We saw lines at the soup kitchen. We saw hope and all of the good things it can bring. We saw life in all of its seedy, spectacular, simple glory. We saw it all.
We rolled through an alley enroute to a neighborhood that we wanted to look at. I saw a dead lawn and thrashed property on my right. The trees sagged, the hedges were wilting and dead palm fronds littered the driveway. Old newspapers collected on the sidewalk out front like a welcome mat. “Enter” So we did. We found this tiny little blue pool with some junk and muck in the deep end. It had clearly never been skated. It looked tight but seemed like it might be fun. Ripperside Shawn and I nodded in unspoken agreement. Forty-five minutes later, we were carving over the light and grinding. It was tight and whippy… but it was so much fun. The neighbors were having a BBQ and Mariachi music was playing so loud that I don’t believe they ever even realized what was going on behind the concrete wall just twenty feet away. They didn’t know or they didn’t care. Pick one.
In the end, we went home happy. We have fun when we skate. This is why people skate with certain people and not with others. Some guys never bring anything to a session except endless chatter about how it was back in the old days. Others complain and gripe about nonsense. Some make excuses… “I’m hurt. I twisted my ankle jogging.” Still others make a session all about themselves and their ego. I like to have fun when I skate and it is the main reason that I have ridden my skateboard for over forty years. Fun. Pure and simple. Thank you Ripperside Shawn for the epic day. Love you bro- Ozzie