Jim Howell and I skated in the freezing cold all day. It was December 1990. Pennsylvania can be raw at this time of year… We felt it all day long. We rode the Reading skatepark. Asphalt. Both of us were amping on overload. We were skating all day and then headed to see Megadeth and Testament open for Judas Priest that night. A day of days. That night, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth introduced the band members in between songs. Drummer Nick Menza raised his sticks in the air as he was introduced and at that, Dave Mustaine stated unequivecally, “…and you all better know who the fuck I am!” At that, Megadeth launched into new songs off the Rust In Peace album that had just been released. As I worked myself into a thrash metal, sweat-soaked heap, I would’ve never believed that about twenty five years later, I’d be standing in Nick Menza’s backyard in California, he’d be gone from us and we’d be skating his empty swimming pool.
Nick Menza played drums with Megadeth for four albums and on solo projects after. Nick tragically passed away May 21, 2016 while playing drums with his band in Los Angeles. His home in Los Angeles, which he moved into in 1995, sat on a quiet street. The ivy grew over the fences, the trees sagged in the hot sun. His sister Donia started cleaning things up and going through Nick’s belongings. It was all terribly daunting and sad.
Rick Stine was driving through an alley in the San Fernando Valley, when his phone began vibrating. He stopped at the next corner and checked it. His friend Phil had text him a photograph of an empty pool: “Look at what I found” Rick went back and forth and learned the news of Nick Menza’s passing and that Phil was helping Donia clean up the place. The pool sat empty and — delicately — Rick asked about permission to skate it.
After a month or so, Donia gave Rick permission to come by. The house was being sold and was empty. Rick and I drove over one morning. We weren’t expecting too much. On satellite it seemed really narrow in the deep end. Usually, a narrow deep end can make a pool difficult in some ways. When we arrived, there was a small amount of construction debris in the bottom but little else. The facewall transitions were amazing and the sidewalls pillowed. We were immediately stoked. Rick and I took first grinds and the following weekend, we came back with Chris Livingston, MRZ and Corey Philips.
The Santa Clarita fires were burning and the sky was orange and smoky. It was a strange thing to look up and see the entire sky in such a way. It seemed like the whole world was burning. La fin du monde. This was to be the first real session and we did it right. I put on Megadeth and played Rust In Peace. While Nick Menza hammered away on the drums as only he could, we hammered away at the coping on his pool. We knew that Nick was smiling down on us. Good friends, a great pool, Megadeth and the sky on fire… A proper tribute to the greatness of Nick Menza. Recently, Rick had shown me a photograph Donia had sent him of Nick Menza skating his own pool! We were so stoked. It seems that he had ridden his own pool back in 2014.
He was a multi-faceted guy and very talented. It is a tragedy that he is gone. We hope that in some way, we gave him a proper tribute. His life. His music. His skateboarding and legacy. Thank you Nick. Rest In Peace. Thank you to MRZ for the images and Donia for the session. Thanks Rick. Skate- Ozzie