04 May 2009

The Pool

Photo Taro Hirano

Much of Foulweather #2 was based around the thesis that The Beach, being the meeting ground of wild nature and civilization, is an obvious arena for the pursuit of leisure and liberation. I also wrote about how this sense of liberation offered by The Beach has been packaged and commodified in various forms. (For a blatant example see Japan's Seagaia.) What I did not cover is the symbolic nature of the private swimming pool, which I believe is an effort towards the same end.

When I was about seven or eight, my grandmother and my parents pooled (excuse the unintentional pun) their resources to purchase a home with a swimming pool. It was a huge deal to us, a massive status symbol and one of my father's life long dreams. However, in an ironic twist of fate, we had to leave the country to better economic circumstances to pay for the damn thing. Meanwhile, the people we rented it out to, trashed it.

We moved to Bahrain, which means Two-Seas but perhaps, should mean thousands of pools. Pools were everywhere, at least in the expatriate and wealthier communities. Of course being a skateboarder, I was always on the look out for empty ones. Occasionally I'd find one but most of the time it had zero transition. In other words there was a right-angle where the wall met the floor making it completely unskatebale. If you do get a pool built, remember nature is full of curves and at least have the common courtesy to think out your trannies. For, one day you might have to face the possibility that you have bitten off more than you can chew, the house will be foreclosed, the pool will need to be drained, and we'll be waiting to put it to proper use.

Obviously as a skateboarder, my heart starts to flutter and my mind races with the possibilities at the site of an empty pool but despite Skater's Eye, I like to think I have a general appreciation for these monuments to people's crushed dreams. Private Paradise Lost. Decay and the triumph of nature over our hell-bent efforts to control it. Therefore, I was incredibly pleased to stumble on Issue #1 of the arty Selector Magazine the other day. The cover immediately caught my eye when I walked over to the free-shelf in Reading Frenzy. A graffiti-laden amphitheater, a chain link fence with a drooping palm tree, leaning over the curves of a beautifully empty and neglected blue-as-the-ocean pool. It is one of many photographs of empty pools taken by Japanese photographer Taro Hirano.

I've been criticized for being cynical, depressing, and pessimistic many times but I like to think, it is because I'm looking for some hope in the despair. A new way forward from rock bottom. Re-birth in the decay. Beauty in the filth. And I suppose an empty pool inspires this in me, skateboard or not.

While I'm on the subject, here's a friend's under-construction back-yard "koi pond." I've got a crail-tap for that sucker...

And one of my dreams being crushed. Photo by Patrick.

And, lastly the fully realized glory of manipulating the tight transitional curves of an artificial swimming facility is almost as good as a day at the beach. Photo, also Patrick.