By Chris Livingston
In the mid 1980s, I was in the military & had a friend that lived in Paradise Valley. We flew over to Phoenix periodically & stayed at his parents house. They had this really sweet little right-hand kidney in the backyard. It was really hot there and–unfortunately–the pool stayed full, but I always noticed that –virtually–every house seemed to have a pool. I met Chris Livingston in San Diego, when I lived down there with Andy Mac, Rhino & Preston. I was director at the Mission Valley YMCA skate park & ‘Livi’ would come over & ride the vert ramp. We had more than a few good sessions there. We lost track of each other but the other weekend, I saw him at the ‘Rumble in Ramona’. He had been living in Arizona & riding pools. He told me that pools were all he wanted to ride. I was stoked. It turns out that ‘Livi’ had been reading ‘Blue Tile’ & I asked him if he wanted to write up a ‘guest post’ on the Arizona pool scene. He agreed & this is the end product. This was originally posted in the fall of 2010. Since then, I visited Livi and Sean Mazza and the AZ crews. I got my first set of shallow stairs in AZ with Livi and Mazza looking on…. it was an epic day for this old man. Respect to my pool pals- Ozzie
Chris Livingston- crail
Arizona, the Wild West and the home of the burning sun. The state where in nature only snakes, scorpions, desert tortoises and other creatures with the spirit of a loner exist. The scorching heat forces animals underground where the temps are cooler than the searing 115+ degree temperatures outside. People retreat to their air conditioned nightmare of an existence or their swimming pools filled with chlorinated relief. Except for us. Skateboarders search endlessly through the foreclosed dreams of others to create our own dreams in these empty pits where animals fall in to be cooked to an early demise. Fueled by a desire to express and confront our own fear and limits, skaters risk heat stroke, melanomas and complete physical discomfort to ride the seemingly endless pits that abound.
AZ pools are known by outsiders as shitty, tight and kinky holes that are unfit for skating, but we do not know any better. We have learned to appreciate the challenge of these smaller pools available to not only the well-off, but the majority. This is why they are so challenging to ride, because even a small house on a small lot will squeeze one in the yard to help convince the inhabitants that living in the middle of the desert is not really so bad. Like the snakes who have adapted with scales and cold blood, we have learned to love these tight trannies and meatloaf lips as a means of LIVING, not merely surviving. Not to say that we do not find our desert gems. They are rare, but when they do pop up they are as cherished as a flawless diamond. Cared for and protected as our own.
Hoss Rogers- 1976
There have been numerous gems throughout the years. Back in the early ’80′s when I started skating, there was the notorious “Deadcat” pool which is now AZ skatelore. It was sessioned by AZ legends such as Brian Brannon, Sam Esmoer, Hoss Rogers and many more. These are some of our founding fathers, to which we all owe our appreciation for paving the way for later generations. Every town and city has had its share of classic pits, such as the Chandler bowl, the Airport pool, the Amoeba, the Veggie and on and on… One epic pool that stands out in my mind from the late ’80′s was the Eightball. In the beginning of Phoenix’s urban sprawl, State Route 51 was connecting central phoenix to what is now North Phoenix. The city bought whole neighborhoods in order to make way for the new highway. There were at least 25 skateable pools in this area, but the one gem was the eightball. It was shredded by many locals and traveling skaters including Salba (of course), Bill Danforth, Allen Midgett, Shag, Wrex, Colby, Colvin, Jimmy Moore and many more. The saga continues now as the economic downturn and the over speculation of this city’s growth has left over 200,000 homes foreclosed. This means our work is cut out for us to sift through all of the cancered, jacked pits to find the gems that are out there. Pools that would have sufficed at one time are sessioned once then its time to keep searching for Chin. They are out there and the AZ crews are working day and night to uncover these desert oases.
As with any city with a thriving skate scene and warm summers, AZ has its own crews of OG hardcore pool skaters who would rather search out possibilities on google earth or by scouring alleys and older neighborhoods than give in to the caged skateparks which are mere representations of the REAL thing oftentimes available across the street in the run down, stripped down dreams of yesteryear. These “private parks” allow sessions with just the homies without all of the kids at the local park. We can drink adult beverages and have the intimacy of an old school “private sesh”, where the energy culminates and hypes everyone up to push their limits. Mostly over 30 with full time jobs and families to take care of, these crews do not look for notoriety or any type of approval for what they do other than the intrinsic reward that is found with a light box, box light, shallow stair or any other of the endless potential possibilities available to them through their creative transformation of these previously mosquito infested wastelands. That is the spirit of skateboarders everywhere and this is Arizona’s manifestation. From the Pool Dust crew to the Scabs to the West Side Oilers and all the “Swiss” who remain neutral, there are many die hard rippers that make up the underground AZ pool scene and truly Skate to Live and Live to Skate. My respect goes out to you all. As skate legend Eddie Elguera once put it,”Carve, grind, slash – very good, have a drink.” Cheers! – Livi
Wez- taking Eddie Elgueras advice
.”Find your own and do your own thing. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” – Wez Lundry
Colby- BS D
“I’ve been skateboarding 27 years and have never seen a place where you can pick and choose from so many pools. Stoked to live in AZ!”- Chris Gobber
Hoss, Wez & Colby- Halloween 2009
Livi- FS 5-0 wedding cake
‘Dagger Shane’ passes the torch to his son ‘Rayce’
Photographs courtesy of the following:
Colby and Hoss (new) by Wez
Wez, Livi & Luis by Hammeke
Jesse, Dixon, Wolfie and Court by J. Baiz
Rob Locker by MRZ
Chris Kelley by Tom Conley
Wrex by Kelly Baker
” There are many other AZ pool rulers who I was unable to get photos of, but deserve a mention, as they have helped to create and make the AZ scene what it is – pure, raw skateboarding with no goals or agendas other than pushing themselves and each other to seek and destroy. Namely, Jimmy Moore, Shag, Colvin, Sam Esmoer, Gavin Troy, Cody Boat, Ben Wixon, Shawn Dutton(RIP), Punker Matt and all the others out there bailing sludge and grinding pits daily… “- Chris Livingston