[Three by Five].12 Blue Tile Obsession

Vertical skateboarding was borne of drought and creativity.

In 1976 and 1977, Southern California suffered an extreme drought.

The water shortages were so extreme that agricultural activities in some parts of the Central Valley were ceased.

Reservoirs ran dry.

Homeowners drained their swimming pools.

Fires raged. Homes were abandoned.

At the time, skateboarders had just started riding wooden boards with urethane wheels.

Those wheels were more forgiving on rough surfaces and allowed the flow-y carving turns that mimicked the motions that surfers make when riding waves.

Somewhere in Southern California, a group of kids looked at those pools and saw possibility.

C.R. Stecyk III, founder of Zephyr Surfboards and Skateboards, co-author of Dogtown and Z-boys, said:

“Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. but it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.”

 

When I want to look at skateboarders riding empty pools right now, I head over to Ozzie Ausband’s Blue Tile Obsession.

Ausband and his band of Southern California skateboarders (including legend, Tony Alva, one of the original pool riders) detail their exploits in words and high-resolution images.

Sometimes, they drive hours to find pools that were bulldozed.

Sometimes, they invest hours draining a pool, shoveling debris, sweeping and preparing the pool for riding.

The reward is the bowl, the experience, and the vicarious excitement you, as a visitor gets.