WORDS BY DAVE REUL
The California Dream gone bad. An arid wasteland. Only the strong survive. Words don’t mean much in these parts. Attitude speaks, the desert devours. Nature consumes man’s dwellings, as man himself battles for possession of the neighborhoods. Gangsters, rednecks and tweekers drive out the common folk, leaving houses no one will buy, hotels no one will rent. A path of destruction has been cut. Anarchy and lawlessness prevail. Outlaws roam the streets, feeding on the decay of society.
For some, the nightmare is a dream come true. A place to seek refuge from an overpopulated community; an oasis, a mecca, a place to feed your soul. The Badlands has been host to many of the greatest, cement skate-spots, including the Upland Pipeline, the Baldy Pipe, thousands of backyard pools and miles of ditches. What sets The Badlands apart, besides the harsh environment is the dedication of its forefathers to keep the concrete dream alive.
Salba has done more than his share to put the Badlands on the map, and I don’t know of anyone anywhere who has found and annihilated so many quality pools. In fact, the city council is considering changing the name of Upland officially to Salbaland. Admission to the Badlands usually begins with our fearless leader Screaming Lord Salba calling early to heckle you out of lag mode. When we arrive, Steve is playing the guitar while Jesse and Riley, his sons, are playing the drums and skateboarding in the garage. The pool list is discussed, we argue about which pools to hit. I want to go to the easier, good pools while Salba usually chooses the gnarlier, bigger and potentially deadlier options. The trucks are loaded: pumps, buckets, generator, broom, spray (Salba’s secret sauce), drain covers, ice chest and assorted tools. We gather the troops and plan the first ambush.
Images of missions to the Badlands blur together, so many memories and experiences. The best of friends pushing each other, pushing yourself, laughing at each other, having fun and making fun. Tricks aren’t as important as lines and speed. Overexertion, be ready to clean. Make anything for a big fun gulp. A feeling at the end of the day that I survived and I’m more alive than ever.
A photograph can’t explain how gnarly it is in the Badlands. Heavy desert winds sandblast the barren landscape. The heat alone can kill you. The high altitude and smog leave you breathless. The terrain was not meant for skateboarding. A good round pool is hard to find. For some reason, pool designers shy away from the exotic shapes of yesteryear making square boxes with no transition. A good pool is sacred and won’t last forever. Respect your spots and they will last.
The Badlands have played a core role in shaping the past and paving the way for the future of skateboarding. The Upland Pipeline’s famous Combi-pool has been rebuilt at the Van’s Skatepark in Orange, allowing skaters of all ages to experience the wonders of pool skating. Simi Valley Skatelab has a great wooden pool and one of the best designed terrain parks around. Go now into your neighborhood, find a pool, build a ramp or drain your parents’ pool. Seek out and support your local skatepark. Keep the dream alive.
Clockwise from top:
Triple Bubble trouble. Shaggy’s cruising Indy in one of the more unique-shaped pools in Salbaland.
Matt Moffett stretches a Smith grind at the Char bowl with only one truck.
As the sun sets in the West, Lord Salba cruises a frontside corner in the land of fast cars, loose women and dry pools. Ho-Jo-a-go-go.
Background: Dave Reul has been drawing pipe lines with the best of them. Viva la Baldy. Reuler skates this pipe with authority.
Opposite : One alternative to jumping the gap over to the Baldy pipe is roping yourself down to the Pipeline corridor. Just be careful to not fall into the 15-foot deep pit. Happy trails.
PHOTOS BY PAT MYERS