I drove out of Hollywood this morning and headed north into the San Fernando Valley. I had targeted a few areas out there and I wanted to drive a systematic search grid. It was hot by 10:00 am, though not nearly as hot as it could be. Temperatures soar. Heat. Pools. Simple. Some of the OG Valley guys had told me about the legendary Devonshire pool. A map was provided and although I knew it was long gone, I drove the route anyway. Sometimes, I just need to get back to the beginning. Driving the unending neighborhoods and cities that make up the San Fernando Valley, I was quickly made aware of a few things that I hadn’t really encountered before while pool searching.
First of all, dead lawns and sagging plants won’t necessarily ensure that a property is not lived in or being attended to. In parts of the Valley, people don’t really seem to care about that sort of thing. Duly noted. Next, some of the surface streets that run through the San Fernando Valley are a no parking or stopping zone. Houses have huge front yards with gated driveways. If I did spot a house that appeared promising or unoccupied, I couldn’t pull over or loop around. There was no place to park. The properties are large…
Some of the areas spoke of affluence. An old language. Money. Good cigars and wines. A smug sense of family pride and a continuing legacy. Walls of ivy-spangled privacy. Homes that loom amid dark lowering trees. Glimmering automobiles lined up like chrome toys… Fifteen minutes later and fifteen streets further east, a different legacy is littering the sidewalks. The destitute and dangerous. Bars cover these windows. At dusk, people lock the world away with beer and foreboding. Police helicopters will circle, searchlights violating the darkness below. The differences in the two worlds is remarkable. I rolled through it all. Locating several pools, I knocked on doors, left notes and spoke to the residents. All life moved with me. Ebb and flow.
I met up with Lance. We drove through the dirty afternoon and into a desperate part of town. Trash stood in filthy clumps at the freeway entrance. Graffiti spelled out cryptic messages that I couldn’t decipher. At a stop sign, a greasy man stood in front of a store and I heard him talking to the TV in the window. His eyes were raised as if he were seeking the promise of a better life. He was speaking to the wrong God. We drove on. We pulled to a stop and Lance pointed to my left. He raised an eyebrow. “Are you going?” I stepped out and walked up to a house. Clutter was everywhere. It was like they never threw anything away and if a neighbor did, they rescued it and kept it as well. It was a maze to find the front door. She came out. Questions. I showed her photographs… “Ah, piscina.” She showed us into the backyard. A Los Angeles pit greeted our eyes.
We drove into another area of town. Lance had been here once before. “It’s worth a few grinds. Let’s just go ask…” We found the house after a few wrong turns. SWAT teams had barricaded the street on Lance’s last visit. I suppose they were looking for the destitute and dangerous. “Take your pick!” I thought. We knocked and received permission. As the sun dwindled, Lance and I rode this little firecracker whipper snapper and we laughed like little kids. Skateboarding is the coolest thing ever. We didn’t need to do airs and tricks. We simply rolled around. It was enough.
Thank you to the people that let me into their yards and put up with all my questions. Thanks to the people that let us skate. Thanks to Lance for the fun and good company and thank you all for reading. Skate- Ozzie