August 20, 2014

Jay Adams 1961-2014

VCR_dogtown cover

100 Percent Skateboarder (forever)

Last week, while doing my morning social media rounds,  I noticed a photo posted on  Facebook by actor and punk singer Brandon Cruz of himself with legendary skater Jay Adams. I didn’t think twice.  Adams has been on my friends list for years and tends to either post or get tagged in photos on a regular basis. Soon enough, though, I found out it wasn’t a normal day. At least not on Facebook, not in Southern California, probably not in Hawaii and definitely not in skating circles.  Adams had passed away from a heart attack. He was only 53.

Only 53. The same age as my mom when she died. The same age I will be in two years. The older you get, the more death you encounter. The more death you encounter, the more you tend to think about your own mortality.

In 2002, I wrote an article for VCReporter about some discord among the ranks involved with Stacy Peralta’s documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys.  It was a complicated situation involving big money, old wounds and differing opinions.  I had exclusive access, and three days to get it to press.

Intense as it was,  the story remains a career highlight for me. Of all the people I spoke with at length (I imagine I logged at least 20 hours of interview time), Jay Adams was by far my favorite. He was working at Black Flys  in Hawaii, , and had to periodically put me on hold to help customers. What struck me most about him was his authenticity which was immediately noticeable. He really didn’t want to talk to me, but he knew his input was important. He was probably the only one who DIDN’T have an agenda.  His humility and candor were refreshing. There was no bullshit with him. No ulterior motive.

I was not a stranger to skating culture and had spent a good amount of time with some of the old school pioneers, most notably Tony Alva (after the story published and went viral, Thrasher magazine incorrectly referred to me as an “Alva confidante”), but for some reason I’d never met Jay, so it was especially exciting to have a chance to speak to the enigmatic, notorious and baddest of the Dogtown bad boys. For all his woes, his battles with drugs, time spent in prison, broken relationships, etc., there was an innocence about  him. He was a good man dealing with the consequences of bad decisions and hard living. He didn’t have the best start in life, but he became a champion and a hero—on and off the pavement, in and out of the water.

I can’t claim to have really known Jay Adams, yet I miss him. He was a one in a million man in a world that needs a new kind of math. But, for all the tragedy he endured (and some that he undoubtedly caused), his death is not tragic. Granted, he was relatively young, but life was really, really good. He was sober, he was strong in his faith, he was deeply in love with his wife, solid with his kids and riding the best waves of his entire life in Mexico. It’s all any of us can hope for in the end.

Nearly a week later, stories, condolences, photos and memories continue to flood his Facebook page, and when I see the updates in my feed, it seems like he’s still here posting messages of hope and candid pics of his lovely wife. Then I remember.

There might not ever be another Jay Adams, but there is plenty of room for more champions and heroes.

To quote the many who knew and loved him: “Rip in peace, Jay boy.”

 

 

July 20, 2014

THIS.

March 7, 2014

It’s Women’s History Month… again

I’m not really a feminist but for some reason I get fired up during Women’s History Month. I can’t think of many things more empowering than this young lady who has found her voice at the tender age of 6.

February 20, 2014

Thank you, Robert Crumb

r crumb

February 20, 2014

the modern court of popular opinion

I’ve been getting quite a lot of traffic for the past two weeks. Here’s why:

  • gracie gold bullshit
  • gracie gold bitch
  • ashely wagner slut
  • ashley wagner bitch face
  • gracie gold annoying
  • ashley wagner had a snotty face
  • gracie gold snobby interview

These are the most commonly used search phrases to land people on my humble blog recently. I agree with most of them.

 

 

February 15, 2014

The color of money

Before last night I was mildly obsessed with women’s figure skating and declared no interest whatsoever in men’s. That’s all changed. Besides all the delicious drama (someone quit, someone fell hard etc.), one of the skaters, Jason Brown, used music by Prince for his short program, a bold move to be sure. Upping the ante on the risk factor (no, I’m not talking about personal injury, though there may be lawyers involved) was the rather large Prince logo on his back.

Assuming he didn’t get the green light from the great purple one, would anyone be surprised if repercussions were in his future? The famously litigious Artist Recently Known as Asshole is beginning to rival another musician (who shall remain nameless seeing as I once had to endure a lengthy deposition at his lawyers’ behest. Hint: his band is usually associated with sunny California and mental illness ) and apparently fans are no more immune to the wrath of his ego than corporations. Shameful behavior.

On the other hand,  Brown’s performance, was anything but shameful and altogether stunning. Flamboyant, creative and technically near-perfect, it turned me into an instant fan of men in tights on ice. Yet, inexplicably, earned him no better than 9th place. NINTH PLACE.  I could go on about the injustice but I’d really like to know what you think.

February 11, 2014

Ashley Wagner, what do you meme this is bullshit?

I like Ashley Wagner.
Not as much as I dislike Gracie Gold and not nearly as much as I love a good meme.  It was painful for me to see Gracie perform her free skate so beautifully this weekend, seeing as I can’t bear her personality, the way she glares at Wagner or the fact that she used Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” for her Olympic routine. (Syd Barrett was  mumbling in his grave.) But my woe turned to whoa when 15 -year old Julia Lipnitskaia, the Russian phenom who Gold says has no spine (she didn’t mean it metaphorically, or did she?) took to the ice and left everyone in the dust of her gold medal.
By the way, I’m bringing “you ignorant slut” back into the cultural lexicon during these winter Olympics and maybe until SNL gets funny again.

Ashley-Wagner-at-first

Ashley-Wagner-Bullshit

January 17, 2014

Hustle and blow

Since Jennifer Lawrence is now controlled by the Illuminati, it’s only a matter of time before her public descent into madness. You heard it here first. How else can you explain her Oscar nomination (and Golden Globe win) for truly terrible acting in that overblown movie American Hustle? I can’t even entertain the thought that Amy Adams could beat Cate Blanchett. Wait, I just did. 

January 15, 2014

I used to love J-Law. Now she annoys me.

You want her broken with her mouth wide open 'cause she's this year's girl.

You want her broken with her mouth wide open ’cause she’s this year’s girl.

See her picture in a thousand places
cause she’s this year’s girl.

You think you all own little pieces
of this year’s girl.

Forget your fancy manners,
forget your English grammar,
’cause you don’t really give a damn
about this year’s girl.

Still you’re hoping that she’s well spoken
’cause she’s this year’s girl.

Never knowing it’s a real attraction,
all these promises of satisfaction,
while she’s being bored to distraction
being this year’s girl.

Time’s running out. She’s not happy with the cost.
There’d be no doubt, only she’s forgotten
much more than she’s lost.

A bright spark might corner the market
in this year’s girl.
You see yourself rolling on the carpet
with this year’s girl.
Those disco synthesizers,
those daily tranquilizers,
those body building prizes,
those bedroom alibis,
all this, but no surprises for this year’s girl.

(This Year’s Girl by Elvis Costello)

January 12, 2014

Figure skating is a bitch

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Some of the year’s best  television (it’s quite early, I know) happened last night during the U.S. women’s figure skating nationals. There was comedy . . . albeit slapstick . . . and tragedy. Pretty girls doing astounding things and pretty girls being bitches. Not quite Real Housewives, but definitely on par with the best girl v girl reality scenarios. And this one was very real. There was the awkward young up and comer  with perfect form; the unpredictable artist type, clearly an outcast; the likable champion whose star seems to be falling and her rival the queen bitch cheerleader from your worst  high school nightmare.

At first my vote was for the underdog, the champion: Ashley Wagner who supposedly tweeted that she was applying her war paint hours before the competition; Her rival, Gracie Gold lost me when she said this in an interview: “Yeah, my name is like a double edged sword. (Had her hair not been in a tight bun, she would have flipped it here.) You know, Gracie, fall from grace and Gold, grab the gold.” The awkward girl with perfect technique was a bit controlled for my taste (which means absolutely nothing outside the confines of my living room). Commentators’ discussion about the artist type’s volatility/fragility intrigued me, but it was her choice of music that got my attention.

The nationals determine the figure skating champion, which is, all by itself, kind of a big deal. But it also plays a humongous role in choosing who will be on the Olympic team. Here’s how it went down:

Wagner: fell twice and stumbled. It wasn’t pretty. It was sort of poetic, though. Especially, since she could be seen hugging and comforting another young skater who took a few tumbles right before her.

Edmunds: Eh…..(Where’s my jar of Trader Joe’s cookie butter swirl?)

Nagasu: The artist. The Christian Hosoi of women’s figure skating. Her choice of music: James Bond scores. To my uneducated eye, her form was stunning. She wowed me and the audience. Of course the commentators had mostly snotty remarks about her. Rock star all the way.

Gold: Well I’ll be damned if she didn’t go out there and destroy it. She stumbled once but that didn’t seem to matter as her score was the single highest long form skate score ever. Ever.  Her face melting ego came dangerously close to annihilating everything in a ten mile radius, but she did manage to pull off those damn triples, or whatever. Predictably, she gloated.

Gold, of course took first, Polina Edmunds the awkward nubile took second, Nagasu took third and Wagner 4th. This morning I eagerly jumped online to see who was chosen for the team, and I was disappointed to find that Wagner was chosen over Nagasu. As much as I wanted Wagner to bury Gold, I will always cast the rock n roll vote.

Here’s how I’d like to see this reality show end:

Mirai marries a wealthy, sexy and totally faithful rock star, then goes on to win the next nationals.

Ashley shrinks away from the public eye, marries a contractor and lives happily ever after in a warm climate.

Polina becomes the first openly gay female in figure skating and eventually wins a gold medal.

Gracie marries a cheating NFL quarterback and becomes an alcoholic which makes her retain massive amounts of water in her extremities.

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