Back in my boyhood, skateboarding was often called “sidewalk surfing,” or “surfin’” for the Valley cowboys among us. I, like most kids at that time, took apart a pair of metal roller skates and hammered them onto a two-by-four. As you might imagine, skateboarding under these conditions was hazardous and not really that much fun. What it was, really, was an alternative to surfing, something to do when we couldn’t get to the beach, or when the surf blew out.Clay wheels made the ride smoother, and urethane wheels attached to a skateboard for the first time by Frank Nazworthy, would move skateboards into an arena of their own, where ramps and pools would soon replace flatland tricks, and skateboarding took to the air. Surfing soon followed, in a final repayment of a decades-old debt.
By now skateboarding is its own sport, where many of the world’s best don’t surf at all. They even have their own night to celebrate their own heroes. It’s called the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. The fourth annual Skateboarding Hall of Fame inducted new members on May 9. Among those inducted were Devo — yes, that Devo — represented by lead singer/songwriter Mark Mothersbaugh. Devo, according to skateboarding legend and emcee for the evening David Hackett, helped change skateboarding’s soundtrack years ago. Who could argue?
Other legendary skaters to receive awards were the late Warren Bolster, who documented much of the action in the ‘70s and ‘80s and was Skateboarding Magazine’s first editor; ‘60s legend and original member of the Makaha Skateboarding team, Woody Woodward; the one and always entertaining Steve Olson; the timelessly beautiful Laura Thornhill; Rodney Mullin; Allan “Ollie” Gefland; and Christian Hosoi.
Having both been members of the prestigious Logan Earth Ski Team back in the ‘70s, Woodward and Thornhill were accompanied by the Logan family, which include World Champions Bruce and Robin; company president and speed skate legend, Brian; and the amazingly talented Brad.
Gefland was inducted for the trick that changed everything, the Ollie, which, apparently was taken from the name of a hamburger he once enjoyed.
Everybody’s favorite street skater, the 46-year-old and still improving Rodney Mullen, blew the doors off the place with his acceptance speech, after he was introduced by his friend, two-time Grammy Award winner Ben Harper.
Harper, who commented that Rodney kept musicians’ hours and was the only person who would skate with him at four in the morning, said, “I’ve learned more from skateboarders than I have any musicians.” Harper, himself in his 40s, is learning a lot from Mullen, who mentors him in tricks which take as long as a year to learn.
Mullen, who commented that he really didn’t like awards because they kept him cemented in the past, made an exception this time and when Harper gave him one of his two Grammys. I regret not having recorded Rodney’s speech, as it conveyed a hope in being forever young by continuing to pursue dreams long after the competition have retired to the bar.
Adams introduced his lifelong friend Hosoi, revealing stories of the drug abuse that halted both of their careers and nearly their lives. Both now clean and sober, are a testament to living the good life, something that might not have been good for beer sales, but offered a lasting buzz to those who took heed.
Skateboarding is not a crime, at least not any longer, and the sport now has a history and a pulse that is kept alive by celebrating those who made it happen first, and, some would say, best.