Alcohol. I always tell people the same joke, “I’m allergic to alcohol. I break out in handcuffs.” This story really begins with the search for an AA meeting in San Diego. If you’ve been living under a rock, I’m in recovery. I became a sober, functioning participant on the planet and rejoined the human race in February of 2008. Before that, I wouldn’t have been useful as toilet paper for someone’s backside… Yeah, it was that bad. I was now living in San Diego and was looking for a Friday night AA meeting to go to. Once I found one, I searched on Google maps and checked the route to the meeting hall. It was back through an area I had never been before. I did what I always do. I searched for pools directly around the route I’d be traveling. I was pretty amped to see this lonely farm sitting by itself in the country with an empty pool behind it. I marked its location and the next day, I drove by. I pulled up and I could see no cars. There were chickens and all sorts of animal pens. There was a huge turkey. There were cows in the field behind the place. I knew that the pool was behind a fence but I didn’t want to go inside the fenced property. I left a note. Eventually, the owners called and they seemed pretty cool with the idea of us riding the pool. I asked to come by and soon met them face to face. They were a surfing couple and they told me that they once watched Tony Hawk ride at Del Mar Skate Ranch back in the 1980’s. “Do you think he would be interested in skating the pool?” I shrugged and pulled my phone from my pocket. I text Tony and then went to look at the empty pool. Coming through the gate, I was crestfallen. Swimmer. “Damn!” Under my breath. I looked it over and figured it wouldn’t happen. To drain a full swimmer during a drought is questionable. I thanked them and said I’d be in touch.
On the way out to my truck, I was stopped by a huge turkey. He blocked my path and just looked at me. “This is Napoleon.” The owner informed me. I let it strut into the yard and said goodbye. Six months went by before I called them again. The owners said we could drain it if Tony refilled the pool after. Texts flew back and forth. “Can we film? How many weekends can it stay empty? How many riders can come?” I set the machinery in motion and pretty soon, I found myself poolside with MRZ and Shawn. The time had come. On satellite, the transitions looked pretty great but — if you’ve been doing this for awhile — one never knows how a pool will be until its empty and you roll in it. I was nervous. Tony was paying this guys water bill, a video crew and a bunch of heavies were lined up and I wasn’t sure if the thing was going to be any good or not. I hoped… The pump started and it all began.
The owner had turned off the filter so the pool had turned green fairly quickly. No matter. I like them that way. I ran the hoses and soon the cows came home. Nervously, I stick tested the transitions… “They seem good, dude!” I told MRZ. He laughed at my apprehensions as did Shawn. They both knew the deal. Only time would tell. I knew that Tony was going to be riding it and filming. I hoped it would be good for airs and inverts. Seeing Tony ride a backyard pool is always radical. I was hopeful.
My best friend Jim Howell and his son Clayton were coming into town on the very day we drained the pool. Talk about timing! They arrived just as it was drying. We rolled through the pool. It was slippery and Lance soon came by with muriatic acid. Quickly, it was washed, dried and the initial session began. The shallow was small and difficult to use for speed. The deep end bowl was pretty fantastic. Grinds and airs soon followed. It was good.
The next morning, we went back over to the pool that we were now calling Napoleon. We washed it out with acid again as it had really helped. Alex Perelson, Jonathan Spooner, Lance, MRZ, Jim and Clayton grabbed some early runs. Tony and the crew were soon enroute. When they did arrive, Lance and I were sitting on the shallow stairs talking about the historic figure of Napoleon, his stature, the pools small shallow end, the turkey and how it was all fitting together. When all of the crew came walking in, Lance looked at me and jokingly quipped, “Napoleon Blownapart.” We laughed so hard… perfection. The backyard was quickly full of people and things grew heated.
Tony took a few runs and then put on his kneepads. It was a big pool. He then started pulling rocks, airs and whatever else went through his mind. It was brilliant. Everyone was in a good mood. Laughing. Fun. Backyard pool. The good stuff. Alex Perelson put a sweeper across the deck and stood on some long grinds.
The session went well. The owners were pretty damned stoked about the whole thing. MRZ was shooting photographs of everything and Napoleon the turkey would sometimes lurk up behind people… When MRZ decided to shoot a photo of the resident badass bird, Napoleon jumped up on his leg and lit him up. MRZ retreated quickly, leg bleeding superficially… I think I heard him mutter something about a turkey sandwich. After that, Napoleon was kept under careful scrutiny. We watched him watch us. Mutual admiration? We hoped. A week went by quickly. We all had such a great time and we had only one more weekend to skate the pool before it was filled again. I talked with Arto. Rune Glifberg was in town and wanted to come. “Of course… let’s do it.” The owners were happy to have us and I set up another session. They invited friends of theirs to watch. It was a cool afternoon of skating. Rune Glifberg, Sam Beckett, Brad McClain, Alex Perelson and Zach Miller came by. These guys are sledgehammers and the pool was quickly punished. I sat to one side and smiled to myself, content in what was transpiring. The stoke and the session shared. I love watching people destroy. It made me wish I was a better skater, but I knew my place, my abilities and watching people do the impossible made me shake my head in wonder. The guys were ripping.
In the end, there would be one more session. Peacock and the crew would stop by and tear into Napoleon. Brian Fick, Steve Caballero, Lance, Shawn Ross, CJ Collins and others would skate, film and leave only wheel marks to trace their passing. But, I think that’ll be another story for later. Thank you to MRZ, Arto Saari and Katy Spooner for the images. Thank you to the owners. That was super cool of you. Thank you to Tony Hawk for putting his money where it matters most… back into skateboarding. Love it! Skate – Ozzie