Thursday, 21 August 2014

100% Skate Boarder

The week before Jay Adams passed away, I watched Dogtown and Z Boys for the umpteenth time. K, my partner always gets sad at the Jay Adams section, and as always I assured her that he is actually doing okay. In that I have seen photos of him surfing, gouging big turns, skating with style and absolute gusto, as well as clips of him being interviewed in which he is looking really healthy and well.  All in all he always seemed to a doing lot better than at the time when the Z-Boys film was shot in 2001. So we watched the film and K did not get sad at the Jay part.

Some six days after this latest viewing of the film, I heard the sad news that he had died.

So many people have said so much in honour of him already, there is a lot of love for him, that's for sure. For one individual guy to connect to so many people the world over, is a real accomplishment, I did not know him as a person, and yet he touched my life to such a degree that I felt as though a friend had died last week.  I feel that this is down to something considerably more than Jay's skateboarding ability.  While the entire Dog Town and Zephyr crew can take credit for the advent of modern skateboarding, it is Jay Adams that I feel is most deserved of the title.  He obviously lived a tough life, but despite everything he stayed true to skating and surfing right up to the time of his death, which happened in Mexico while on a surf trip with his wife, Tracy.  He epitomised skateboarding for the sheer fun of it, not for the contest scene, the money and the kudos, but rather the simple act of having fun, doing something you love.  For these things I have the utmost respect for this true legend.

The surf and skate world has to a degree crossed over in to the corporate arena, as such there isn't a whole lot of room for characters and individuals.  More often than not the pros have to fit in with the image as defined by their sponsors, so I don't think that it is likely that we will see another Jay Adams, or anyone with like him anytime soon. He gave so much to the culture, that I think we are all indebted to him. For these reasons, he will never be forgotten.  

RIP Jay Adams.
February 3rd 1961 - August 14th 2014. 

Surfing history, brought alive.

I have had a deep fascination with surf photography for a number of years. A really great shot which captures a moment perfectly will spark my imagination and take me to a different place, or an entirely different time.

There are a number of photographers, past and present, who's work I really admire and never tire of looking at.  But I thought I would note my appreciation of the photography of Ron Stoner, Ron Church and Leroy GrannisEach of these guys were responsible for capturing the surfing experience so perfectly, both in and out of the water.

Many of their photographs are so incredibly simple and yet they manage to portray surf culture in such a way that it is if the photographs were staged. Although, on close inspection you can see that this was not the case, rather they all had an incredible eye for photography, knew surfing, had a deep understanding of the ocean, and a love for all of these things.  These incredible attributes ensured that they could perfectly encapsulate a moment in time that would otherwise have been missed, thus preserving these nuggets of surf culture for people like me to appreciate all these years later.

These guys were at the top of their game during the era before the surfing boom, that very small window of time before things went bananas and surfing became an industry and everyone wanted to be a 'surfer'.  The simplicity and purity of the scene at this time is visible throughout their body of work.  Capturing some of the most legendary surfers from an age that has long gone, these guys have provided the surfing world with some of the most iconic images that there are.

Fortunately for me, my partner and friends know what I like and get good gifts, as a result I have obtained quite a collection of books that are dedicated to the work of Mr.Stoner, Mr.Church and Mr.Grannis. Whenever my stoke flags a little bit and I become disillusioned with surfing and I need some real inspiration, I reach for one of these books. On doing so I immediately become retuned with what surfing is all about, the beauty, the fun and the lifestyle that I really relate to and connect with in a big way.

Photos: Surfer Magazine

Ron Stoner, self portrait
Phil Edwards, by Ron Church

Ron Church

Leroy Grannis

This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I'll get back to you.

In light of the sad news of James Garner's recent death, I thought I would write a few words on The Rockford Files, and how this seventies show provided me one of my first tastes of California.  I believe it was this show, and others like it from the same era that instilled the fascination with California which has remained with me for all these years.

To begin with, the show was shot in such a way that it created a kind of sun drenched effect, everything was bathed in this orange glow, the sea shimmered with a gold sparkle, the beaches were pure white stretches of sand and palm trees grew everywhere. The whole show pretty much summed up the quintessential California experience.  LA itself was depicted in a manner that really struck a chord with me.  On the one hand it was a wash with criminals and low life hoods, but looking past these elements, as I did, I became enchanted with it from a very young age.

But a large part of the fascination with this world was derived from the cars, the trucks and the super wide highways that carried them.  As a young boy, I loved pretty much anything that had wheels, be it cars, or trucks, but the American variants were my real favourites.  Watching a show like the Rockford Files was a veritable car fest, Jim Rockford's gold Pontiac Firebird is every bit as as awesome now as it was then, added to which the show ostensibly revolved around a city in which car culture is unrivalled. Therefore, the street, road and highway based scenes provided a snapshot of the cars from the era, which was great then, but watching it now is akin to opening a time capsule, such is the array of cars on view.

Cars of every description are depicted in their element and in every day use, spotting even the most everyday of vehicles offers a level of excitement with every episode. In fact I am pretty certain that every such scene featured a VW Golf (Rabbit), or a Merc of some description and of course the ubiquitous Californian Beetle or Combi, invariably these were in a funky 70's colour, but always featuring the US DOT spec bumpers and lights, making them far more appealing than their British and European counterparts.  Although, now I realise that these features kind of detract from the aesthetic, and people in the US go to great lengths to get such cars looking more European.

I know that James Garner had a long and successful career in film and television, he was a great actor, a truly colourful character and a real icon, these things are a given.  But it was the Rockford Files that had a really profound and long lasting effect on me.

It's been a while, soI I am going to make sure that I watch at least some of the shows again, I feel it will have aged well.