Posts tagged ‘skateboarding’

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.”



June 25, 2009

Bye, Farrah


I find myself resisting the urge to make inappropriate puns and rhymes with her name. Despite the apparent devolution of her persona in the last couple decades, there was always something endearing and certainly fascinating about her. Beneath the all-American, sparkly sun-bleached surface, it was dark and sad and a little bit creepy (especially where her relationship with Ryan O’Neal was concerned.) In other words there was much more to Farrah than big hair and a hot bod (there usually is) as the abyss behind those cavernous eyes revealed–not to mention the juicy bits in Tatum O’Neal’s memoir.

I remember Charlie’s Angels and the iconic poster my younger brother had on his bedroom wall. I remember loathing the girls at school who copied Farrah’s feathered hairstyle. I remember when feathered hair itself became loathsome. Farrah bravely endured possibly the most humiliating cancers of all: rectal cancer. She refused to let it mock her. This I find most memorable of all. Here are some of my other memories of the late great Farrah Fawcett:

Her first embarrassing appearance on Letterman

Farrah on a skateboard

Farrah the artist: using her painted naked body as the brush on canvas

Farrah the psychobiatch from Hell (again via Tatum O’Neal)

Farrah playing tennis

Farrah selling toothpaste or cosmetics or something

Her rightfully acclaimed performance as the victim of domestic abuse in The Burning Bed

/wave. We’ll miss you. xoxo.

November 15, 2008

Germs and antibiotics


These two things dominated my week as antibiotics did battle in my body against one germ and the majority of my conversations revolved around the GERMS.

A few years ago a good friend of mine became an extra in the indie film What We Do Is Secret. As a result, she became quite close to some people from the Germs camp, including Lorna Doom, Hellin Killer and actor Shane West who plays Darby Crash in the movie. During production and post, I heard stories almost daily about shenanigans on set and the fun she was having. It was pretty captivating stuff.

I came onto the L.A. punk rock scene immediately following the Germs era, but the mythology around the band, Darby and the Circle One gang was omnipresent in Hollywood and I couldn’t help be a little fascinated with the subject.

Last week I got hold of the What We Do Is Secret DVD, which was released earlier this month, with the intention to review it and maybe interview someone from the Germs

At the same time, I reconnected with a friend from my makeup artist days (Xavier Salon, 24 years ago) who coincidentally, (if you believe in such things, and I don’t) is producing a documentary about the Germs. I mean, holy crap. What are the odds?

So while we’re playing phone tag, I interview Rodger Grossman, the director of WWDIS and Lorna, with plans to talk to Don Bolles. (Shane is on location in Peru).

At this point I’m beginning to wonder about the two Germs films. Is there bad blood? I mean, certain key figures from the Germs’ history are missing from WWDIS and Grossman was a little too cheery about the documentary, Lexicon Devil (based on the book by Bolles and Brendan Mullen) when I asked him how he feels about it.

As it turns out my instincts were right. Hollywood is a vile place, more like an entity, that brings out the worst in people who are desperate for their moment in the sun, and the nature of filmmaking, the whorishness that becomes necessary to get a project off the ground is a necessary evil.

Unfortunately, I can’t go into detail, but suffice to say there is a story and it will get told by someone at some point.

It reminds me of when I broke the story of dissension in the Z-boys ranks just prior the release of the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys.

I plan to talk to Bolles next week and write something up about WWDIS for this week or next week’s issue of the Reporter.

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