Jay Adams, David Hackett and Christian Hosoi, three of skateboarding’s top legends, were in my backyard a few months ago. Initially the skaters had gathered to talk about the Hosoi biography that I was co-writing. Priorities quickly shifted, however, when they noticed that I had a swimming pool in my backyard. I think it was Adams who first commented that having water in a swimming pool was “a waste.” When they became quiet and huddled at the deep end, looking down, and speaking in hushed tones, I became concerned.I knew I couldn’t stop them, but I knew someone who could. I ran back inside and mentioned the plot to drain our pool to my wife, Tracy. Tracy, who a few decades ago would have helped, since she herself was a fanatical skateboarder, instead approached the crew and put a stop to everything.
“I don’t care who you are; you’re not draining our pool!” she snapped.
“Oh, we were just thinking of taking a swim,” quipped Hackett as Tracy stood, arms crossed and scowling as the retreat began to the kitchen. Mission accomplished. They don’t call her the General for nothing.
I had never really skateboarded much, finding concrete and asphalt a far more abrupt landing pad than water. In the past few years, however, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the top skaters in the world, including Dennis Martinez, the Logan brothers, Danny Way, , Steve Caballero, Tony Alva and Tony Hawk. While I had known the Logans for years through surfing, I didn’t meet most of the others until last year when I began co-writing the aforementioned memoir with Christian Hosoi.
I had never written a memoir before, and this one proved a baptism of fire. Not only was I dealing with skateboarders, who tend to be on their own schedules, but also many of those interviewed, including Hosoi, were born rebels who seemed to live in an alternate time zone. Maybe I should have drained that pool as insurance they’d be here on time. Actually, Hosoi himself was great to work with, driving down at noon some days and often not returning home to his Huntington Beach until well past midnight. Our coffee pot has never had so much use before or since.
Hosoi’s story begins with his father naively showing his son how to roll a joint when the boy was 8 years old. It proceeds into Hosoi’s rise in the skateboarding world, falls into a deep drug addiction and ends with Hosoi and his father converting to Christianity and him becoming a pastor.
There’s a lesson in there as all of Hosoi’s work is burned up in meth amphetamine addiction, something that eventually sent him to prison for five years.
Hollywood stories in the memoir roll out like feature film credits as Hosoi, a major player in the Hollywood club scene, lives the highest of high lives until addiction takes him from the brightest of bright lights, to the shadows of the streets of Orange County, where meth takes hold and becomes a cruel slave master.
Through it all, Hosoi continued skating, even while on the run from a stack of misdemeanors for minor drug possession charges. That life seems like a lifetime ago, as a clean and sober Hosoi is now a faithful husband and father of four. He still skates, however, and just last year won gold in the Master’s division at the X-Games. There are lessons strewn among the high wire act of a life lived beyond the edge.