It was nearly Christmas. I walk outside with my hands buried deep in my pockets. I see a skinned sky. Blood red. I notice mountains that can’t be climbed and oceans that won’t be crossed. It seems like the whole world is losing. I spend the long night by myself. I read books and find it interesting that we were to mark the conclusion of a five-thousand year cycle in the Mayan calendar. Yet the world didn’t end… Oblivion? The edge of the world.
Every year during the holidays, Ripperside Shawn and I take a skate adventure somewhere. We were going to head to Phoenix this season but things didn’t work out. Shawn and I decided to scout the desert areas to the east. When I left Ridiculous that morning, it was pouring rain. It didn’t really matter and I didn’t really care. It was supposed to be the end of the world anyway… I drove to meet up with Shawn. I wondered at the behavior of people around me. Deceit. Indifference. It was probably for the better that the end was coming…
We scouted around randomly for awhile until we came upon this huge pool. It was at the very end of a long valley. There were dirt roads that drifted off into nothing. I saw sun-split boulders and burnt scrub brush from fires. Wind shrieked and moaned. We saw the pool through the trees and smiled thinly at each other. We had located a gem and it truly seemed like we were living at the edge of the world.
There was a good bit of water in the pool and we bucketed it out in silence. The wind kept us company… the ghosts of the desert spoke to us. They wondered, “Why are you here? This is a dead place and it belongs to us.” I knew that they couldn’t harm us and they would soon see why we had come. Inevitability. We dried the pool with towels and pushed in. It was with a sense of unreality that we rolled through the pool. We couldn’t believe the perfection. There was mutual agreement. It was truly the best backyard pool that we had ever skated.
I went to see Bucky Lasek at his house a few days later. We were talking about pool riding and he said that he wanted to come out again and ride some backyard plaster. I immediately thought of something that I could envision him riding. I showed him a photograph of the desert gem and he simply raised an eyebrow and asked, “Tomorrow?” I nodded my assent. I went about my business and prepared. I told him that few things are certain. Texting. Phone calls. Plans. We met up early. Paul Wisniewski, Owen Neider, Mike Napoli, Bucky, Scott Taylor, Aaron Astorga and Brian Fick. Looking around at the talented crew, I hoped we weren’t taking a long drive for nothing. I asked the Gods above for a glimmer of hope. “Please, shine a light on us today…” I really wanted to see what these guys could do in this pool. We drove east. The sky was ominous. Once in the mountains, it started snowing. Spirits sagged. We pushed on.
We drove for a few hours and talked about all of the things that skateboarders always talk about. Tricks, contests, style… there was a good bit of friendly crap talk and everyone was laughing at each other. Descending down out of Julian, the skies remained gloomy but the ground was dry. No snow. No rain. Hopeful, we soon arrived at the desert gem and saw that everything was perfect. Everyone had the same look on their faces. Awe!
Aaron Astorga is a joy to watch when he rides a skateboard. His first runs were fast and stylish. He did shallow end grinds right away and soon followed it up with Smiths and tailslides. Bucky had to backpedal from the huge transitions of his bowl and onto smaller ones. It took him only a few runs and he quickly lit the session up with inverts, airs and grinds. Bucky did trick to trick combinations with apparent ease. He pulled a huge boneless and I thought to myself, “Good Lord!” I was happy that I had witnessed that. I wondered if the old ghosts of the desert were watching. Mike Napoli put his trucks on the spit gutter and the look on his face was priceless.
Paul Wisniewski was on a mission. He pulled some insanity out, formed it with some soul searching and put it out into the universe. Frontside lipslides over the spit gutter and bullnose was an absurdity in my book. I never saw that one coming… Awesome! Owen Neider fought with his demons, Scott Taylor stood up the longest 5-0 grinds in between filming and I took to the sky on a tall wall. Everyone had a similar sense of disbelief going on within them. We couldn’t quite grasp how amazing this huge old pool was. It was a gift from the Gods. It was the end of the world and we had been given a temporary reprieve. Opportunity. Setting things right. I caught several of the guys looking around in wonder. Here at the tail end of a mountain pass, in a land of desolation and bleak wind, we had found a place to make a final stand.
The afternoon waned. The clouds started spilling over and a cold wind picked up. Rain rode down the hillsides. Everyone was tired, yet elated. It had almost been too much. We looked around at each other and smiled… If this was to be the end of the world then we were certainly going out in grand fashion. I peered up at the clouds as they shoved their way across the gaunt passes above me and wondered what the new year would bring.
Thank you to Shawn, the crew and KRSNA. Special thanks to Brian Fick and MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie