A sick ass amoeba shaped pool across the street from the world famous 1980′s skate spot known as “Sadlands.” It was sandwiched between two apartment complexes in the middle of a neighborhood of apartment complexes. A hug open bowl with a great surface and friendly grindable baby “Anthony coping” and a nice shallow/mid wall pocket and a steep shallow hip.
More on this later, got some skateboarding to do first.
Mike’s pool was the longest running permission pool in Orange County skateboarding history. For almost 20 years this magical place was host to so many sessions, parties and who knows what else it became legend. True pool parties with punk bands and slam pits and hot chicks and skateboarding in all its glory. With its proximity to skate industry, many of the areas best skaters, company owners, legends and whatnot would end up here sooner or later.
The pool was 9 feet deep, had 4-5 inches of over vertical in the deep end on top of no more than 3-4 foot transitions or less in some places. For years the gnarliest sessions went down on a regular weekly basis. Most were scared to return after visiting because it was gnarly. At one point, I was going between the Jungle Bowl and Mike’s for my basic pool skateboarding needs and riding everything under the sun in between.
Footage was shot, music was played and recorded, pictures were taken and documentaries were made both in print and in video. This is only the beginning of the afterlife of Mike’s Pool aka the Paka Bowl aka the Seehusen Bowl. She was located in the Garden Grove/Santa Ana part of Orange County, a stones throw from “The Block” where the Combi Pool replica lies in waiting.
Steve Alba skates more pools than anybody I know. He skates more pools than most people I know combined. Why is that? Its because he spends his time looking, investigating and researching. He spends more time looking and draining than anybody ever has. Most people, skateboarders or not, could learn from his single minded dedication to something he loves: skateboarding and the culture and history behind it. Never one to shy away from an adventure, Salba is always down unless Julie says no.
Is open for business. The rains have finally stopped at least for now. Skaters have begun the task of draining all the scum/rain water from all the pools that dot our collective landscapes in order for us to ride or worship if you will, the round walls of freedom. The weather is heating up here with this last weekend being the first beach days of the 2010 year with bikinis and surfboards is full force.
Surfing is skateboarding’s cultural history. Over the past year, I’ve been getting closer to skateboarding’s roots by learning how to surf along with a few good friends. Going from skateboarding to surfing has been a challenge but I’m glad it seems to be working. A board with motion: skating, snowboarding and surfing, its all the same right? Not really. In skating the ground doesn’t move, in snowboarding you are attached to your board, in surfing the floor moves and the board is unattached. Totally insane!
Its good to do it all: skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding for a balanced diet of radness and gnar. It all seems to make more sense now. The complexity of all the cultures mixed together makes for a tasty stew or hearty brew depending on how you look at it. Skateboarding is the thread that connects modern day with ancient times by way of cultural exchange through surfing. With that we can trace our history back way before the saw and roller skate debacle that was born more out of adventure or lack of, than anything else.
Jungle Bowl: Pool Skateboarding Los Angeles, photo:64mm
One of the craziest skateboarding spots to happen in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 21st century. It was a monster of a right hand kidney with steep and deep walls that eat up and spit out more skaters than any other pool I’ve ever seen. It was about 9feet deep with 3-4 feet of vertical all the way around with a 3-4 foot transition and a hip with like 6 feet of vertical and 1 or 2 feet of transition and a tall 4 foot shallow end. The coping originally was sandstone slate which hung over the edge of the pool. That didn’t grind so well and was eventually replaced with bullnose coping taken from the now defunct Tahitian Village pool (showcased in the Fruit of the Vine documentary). I mixed the concrete with a plastic spatula that I still have till this day. The addition of coping added another 4-5 inches but made grinds so much easier or tougher depending on how you looked at it. The shallow was so buttery but never had any coping put on it, just the bare tile that served us well for boardslides and grinds but had a sharp edge to it. The shallow stairs were monstrous and were fun to carve over if you could get to them.
This pool was located on top of a scenic ridge overlooking the San Gabriel Valley high above the helicopters in a community of million dollar homes on a road that was steep treacherous to walk down let alone drive. Giant pine trees throughout the area shaded the dozen or so Cockatoos you would hear and see in and around the landscape, sometimes leaving feathers in the pool area. The pool was rumored to have been occupied by the Nixon family, so tricky dick may have dipped his stick in that pool. Only the foundation remains after a fire that ravaged the canyon so 20 or so years ago, many of the areas residents decided not to rebuild and further construction was halted due to inaccessible terrain for fire safety equipment.
The Jungle Bowl was also known as the Rash Bowl because the area was surrounded by poison oak. On one occasion Che Hernandez ran through the brush to avoid detection by the cops who were occasionally dispatched to quell our presence, only to find himself neck deep in poison oak. It also played a part in the progression of pool skateboarding by being one of the first locations where big airs where blasted using the ollie grab technique not commonly used in pools at the time, but common place now. It’s relative inaccessibility and remoteness was part of the success and failure of this beautiful location that was completely overgrown with surrounding vegetation. The place had been jack hammered and buried to keep people outta there to avoid the obvious fire danger many of the homeowners of that area are facing. One of the great skateboarding spots of Los Angeles at the beginning of the 21st century and built in the middle of the 20th century, it stood the test of time longer than its builder’s envisioned or intended.
Thee most famous of all west coast pools at the end of the 20th century was in the Southern California desert in a city near better known Palm Springs. It sat on plateau overlooking the City of Desert Hot Springs. The pool was a left hand kidney of epic proportions. A giant hip, big pockets in the deep, good mid section and a workable shallow with do-able shallow stairs made this place a blast to experience. The original coping was classic bullnose and has since been redone who knows how many times.
Having a very storied past, among other things as Dave Ruel’s birthday spot for over a decade, was eventually filled in with debris after a dispute with nearby property owners about rowdy partiers causing a ruckus, and that’s an understatement. It wasn’t necessarily skateboarders that wrecked the scene, but I’m sure it didn’t help. The pool proved to be too strong a lure until her ultimate demise some 10 years ago or so.
Legendary skating sessions went down at this location in the dark of night and into the wee hours of the mornings often up until sunrise. The reasons behind the evening assaults was because daytime temperatures reach unbearable levels and with no shade its a unbearable beyond 7am. Even at night the air temps are in the 80s. Once the sun comes up you wake up and leave or if you are smart you stayed sober and left before sunrise.
Literally in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest neighbor or even further to a gas station. About as remote as you’d want to get in the Southern California desert if you’re not prepared to brave some really tough heat, 100+ degrees daily with no shade or water.
The Vagabond is a shape we call a right hand kidney. When you are standing in the pool the deep end goes to the right, hence the name: right hand kidney. The shallow end was massive allowing for party style sessions but wasn’t as trick friendly as the deep end, although it did allow for some effective speed lines. The shallow stairs were massive as well and I’m not if very many people made it over them successfully. The hip was beautiful, a classic example of a fully functionable hip-available from all angles and dangles.
This one had some classic bull nose coping if I remember correctly or something very close to it, with a minimal lip on top, the variety that was easy to roll over when doing roll ins. And it stood the test of time. That coping was probable grinded more than almost any other pool with the exception of maybe the Van’s Combi in Orange. How it held up so long we may never know, but I’d say its due to the craftsmanship and effort by the builders or tenders of the property or a combination of both.
Part of what made this pool a standout was its longevity, skatability and location. At the time when this was discovered, there wasn’t much going on, the only other pool of this nature was the Nude Bowl in Palm Springs. Fresno is a lot closer to the Bay Area so for that reason, the town of Fresno took off and was occupied as a skateboard settlement based around the Vagabond and the potential the area held for pool skateboarding. Hard core shit. People started moving there specifically for the pools creating a haven for skateboarding’s lawless nature in the process. That influx and effort has led Fresno to be one of the top pool hunting and skating destinations the world over. The unique social-economics of the region has established a system that allows this type pf fringe activity to flourish at unprecedented levels. Sometimes too much for its own good.
Ridiculous was as skateboarding discovery turned opportunity in the most basic sense. Once an old folks home before being tapped for its skating potential. Later discovered by Salba then drained by Bad Billy and eventually acquired by Mr. Peter King who would turn this place into one of contemporary skateboarding’s premiere destinations for adventure minded elite and round wall enthusiasts. One of the most beautiful examples of a right hand kidney you will ever set your eyes or wheels upon. Firecracker coping Salba sauced to withstand the miles of grinds it gets on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. The original plaster surface was the best to ride and due to excessive cancer and plaster/patch dust it was decided to coat the surface with something protective and skate friendly. The new surface is a lot faster and is easier to clean.
Perfect transitions from deep to shallow allow for endless runs and trick combos unattainable in anything else but a backyard swimming pool. This pool could not have been designed better. Most made for skating bowls are not this fun to ride or this functional, maybe not in the sense of doing miniramp tricks in the shallow but the deep end is a different story.
The Ridiculous house is host to a regular dose of skateboarding pleasure and a hot bed of talent with visitors streaming through on a regular basis, many of whom in different stages of their own personal skating adventures. Its not uncommon to run into top skateboarding professionals, legends and producers enjoying the day or doing some type of shoot. Past and current residents have all been skaters who appreciate and contribute to the good will and generosity that skateboarding has provided us.
Immortalized in the video Welcome to Ridiculous, this pool continues to give back to us as much as we can take. With a session due there in a few hours it continuously lives up to its name “Ridiculous”.
This is very common is the Greater Los Angeles area of Southern California. From Riverside and San Bernardino to Long Beach, this is what many of our favorite spots turn into. They are gardens, fish ponds, lawns, eyesores and dumps. You never know. This was a found online image so I’m not sure where this is, but it reminds me of Riverside or Long Beach. Its an Anthony left hand kidney, one of thousands prevalent throughout the area. The Anthony signature 3″ inch coping is still visible in the photo. These are popular in poverty stricken areas that have lots of kids. The pools are often a health hazard and an unwanted expense the landlords unburden themselves with by filling in with anything but water. Sometimes the pool plates are still on. That by the way is the only time its ok to take a pool plate without grinding or riding the pool first.
The good news: pools like this are still in good shape under all that dirt. So it’s like having a bunch of sleepers in waiting for the future. Not bad, eh?
An interesting look into why we should feel honored to do the dirtiest of work for no monetary gain. Spiritual enlightenment? A frontside grind? Doable shallow stairs? Sk8 Gods? Pool Gods? Peer pressure?
What are the virtues of cleaning other people’s worst messes? And what in the hell are you talking about?
Sometimes you can’t see the bottom and is skateboarding the only reason?
Photography and video cameras were made for skateboarding. The two seem to fit well together at every stage of the game. One coming well before the other but entirely complimentary. The ability to make comparisons and document life validates their(cameras) existence beyond the obvious commercial value and appeal of entertainment based applications. Without cameras, skateboarding culture and history as we know it would not exist. It is through the advent of these mediums that has allowed skateboarding’s culture to progress and expand at the global pace its been on since the 1970′s when urethane wheels and sealed ball bearings took root amongst early enthusiasts and pioneers of the sport/art/discipline, many of whom still ride today. One could say technological advancement in general but, I would say it was the camera specifically that led to that advancement in skateboarding than anything else. It was the ability to document and compare or compile and compare the footage and add it to the historical record. That and timeless bravado. But that alone doesn’t constitute history unless its provable or documented in some tangible way shape or form.
The Sk8 Gods are making us earn it in 2010. Relentless rain storms in Southern California keep coming one after the other, filling every pool with probably 1-2 feet of water depending on where you live. Skaters out here have to be active if they want to skate. You want to ride that pool? Gotta drain it first! Can’t wait too long or its a missive job that quickly escalates beyond the scope of most people’s abilities. After a few rains, its not uncommon to have 3-4 feet or more of water. That amounts to a big mess if you don’t know what you’re doing. The rain water turns from clear to green relatively quickly once the temperature rises from the decaying plant matter and who knows what else is in there, so you have to be quick or you’re dealing with a potential health hazard. These rains will test your commitment. If you let others do all the dirty work, you are a pussy. Gotta put in your time and feel the rewards seep from you to the pool and back. Its good for the pool and its good for skating and skateboarding in general.
These are just a couple of the tunes that was in rotation during my early skating days. Death metal’s early appeal was the aggessivness combined with the technical drum beats, crazy guitar, dramatic piano/organ intros and most obviously the brutal vocalist. Double bass with pounding drums and cymbals just gets shit going, its like a tribal calling. Deicide was a big influence along with a lot of the early local punk bands. We’ll get into the punk bands later. Primus was another band on theother end of the musical spectrum the really had an impact on our sessions. It was this song in particular that was played repeatedly in between sessions in the car on the hot summer days as a teenager based in suburbia: Norwalk-California, Southern California-a small suburb in Los Angeles. There was no music scene there, just ranchero stuff from the local dive bars, so all we had from the outside world was a few Cd’s and a bunch of skateboarding videos, this was before the Internet and google and GPS, we actually had to drive around and look for skate spots. Those were some fun times. A few of that crew still skate, some don’t, some disappeared, some got strung out, but those that stuck to it are pretty fucking rad: Danny Highfill, Ron Ressurection, Toby Burger(myself), Raunchy Roy Starin and not too many others. Glad we all stuck with it. I went to skate camp with Dan and Ron in 1989 at Visalia and had a blast! Sk8 camp is where we heard the Meat Puppets for the first time from our counselor Joel. More on the music later.
Right now the greater Los Angeles area is a giant puddle of water, literally. Every sick pool you know of is getting filled as we speak, creating a bit of work for the anxious skater. That keeps everyone on their toes, as they should be. Don’t get too comfortable because that’s when you find out you’ve stayed too long. Ouch, see you at the next sick pit.
It looks like our plans to ride Saturday may have to wait until Sunday when the rain clouds leave, hopefully. That’s when we get a chance to drain, drain, drain-like its no tomorrow. That’s what it takes to skate the best pools. Its more rewarding that way anyhow. These rains will do some goods things: it washes my car for free and it rinses all the pools so everything is nice and sticky when we start skating. Don’t want dust in the eyes if I can avoid it. The rainy day blues…thinking of blue tiles and round corners….
Powerflex 5 Tonight @ The Continental in Downtown Fullerton-California 9:30pm.
This is the band that handles much of the soundtrack work for TBCMedia, including the upcoming and much anticipated “Fire Pools” documentary. Show support for these guys, a full length live DVD/CD is in the works for release later this year.