June- 1994. An airplane roared overhead waking me up. “Damn - that was loud!” It quickly came to me then, where I was. I was in San Diego visiting Andy Macdonald, Rhino and P-Stone. They had an apartment directly under the flight path of the San Diego airport. The other guys were sleeping. It was a bit after 7:00 am. I got up and headed out to Newbreak Coffee on Sunset Cliffs and grabbed some caffeine. When one visits California from the east coast, one doesn’t dally in bed. I am up and out the door! The sun was absent for now. June gloom. The sun would come out later.
The night before–after they picked me up at the airport–we all drove straight to the Human Skateboards warehouse with Jonathan Bacon Hobbs and had a vert session until late. I remarked that the weather was rather cool outside. Rhino answered - “Don’t worry Oz. It’ll be hot where we’re going tomorrow.” Badlands. I slowly drank my coffee and made my way back to Andy’s place. In awhile, they were up & we loaded the cars and headed up the 15 freeway towards the Badlands. Once there, Salba gave us direction and we helped load up his little blue Nissan truck. Buckets and brooms. Shovels. Gear. We rolled to a few pools. The houses were dumps. It seemed as though people were fleeing from Federal Warrants. They just left everything and vanished.
When we started riding the pools, I had a hard time. I rode vert ramps often – at that time – and struggled. My trucks were too tight. I wasn’t carving and was kick-turning far too much. I ran over a plastic drain cover and broke it. My wheel dug into the drain beneath. Green scum flew all over the pool. Salba scowled and said something unpleasant like - “Clean that shit up you Pennsylvania pussy!” So…. I cleaned it up. He finally took us to this pool that he called - Snowman. One look and you can see why. It resembles a snowman and the bowls are completely round. I recall doing better at this pool, probably because I was really trying and humbled by the previous few pools we had visited. I tell you now- it was a struggle just to get a face wall grind in those pools for me. The Snowman was big and round. Everyone else slaughtered the thing and I am still astounded at how well those guys rode. The pool would quickly be lost to the crew. Years came and went. A decade. I had – subsequently – moved to California and been here for a long time.
One day, I received a phone call. Salba - “Dude! The Snowman is going again.” We eventually met up with a crew on a gloomy weekend and cleaned it out. We rode. We laughed. Fun. We found an old trophy covered with pool scum in the bottom as we cleaned it out. Bad Billy was heckling everyone about - “… doing the deathbox.” We set the trophy up on the deck and the race for the deathbox commenced. Bad Billy won about as fast as it took me to write this. He received his trophy and we all were cracking up as he stood there proudly hoisting his trophy high.
Over the years since my first visit, the pool had become dirtier but the lines were cleaner. I had learned a few things. Everyone had. It was a rad day with cool dudes. The Snowman is gone again. Bright blue paint covers its surface. The house is refurbished. A small family lives inside probably trying to become a big family. Work. Eat. Sleep. Propagate. The endless cycle of human beings, concrete and the flow of life. All life is colors. Pain. Lessons learned. Thanks to BD Wong for the images. Skate- Ozzie