AN UNCONVENTIONAL JAY ADAMS TRIBUTE
“I have always admired the villain, the outlaw, the son of a bitch. I don’t like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways.”
~ Charles Bukowski
With the untimely loss of legendary skateboarding pioneer Jay Adams in August, I have come to ruminate on the nature of the outlaw in our modern society. Who is he? Where has he gone? And why are all these effeminate man-boys dominating the pages of my once-loved publications?
A pair of logger boots and a groomed beard will only take you so far today in terms of the ‘manhood’ factor. Whatever happened to the rebel coming from within? We all know the type, the take no prisoners, I fought the law attitude that could be seen a mile away flickering like wild fire in the eyes of those possessing that devil-may-care untamed mentality – Yet he seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole – and he’s taken his balls with him.
The target demographic for Black Flag merchandise is 13 year old girls – or is that a guy in those awfully tight jeans? – geez.
Long gone is the era of countercultural mutineers, rock-star agitators, literary insurgents, artistic anarchists and revolutionary renegades. No more Hunter S. Thompson’s, Bon Scott’s, Keith Moon’s, Norman Mailer’s, Dennis Hopper’s, Arthur Rimbaud’s or G.G Allin’s.
PUNK ROCK IS DEAD PEOPLE! And Jay Adams just received his last fatal warning.
It’s bizarre and incomprehensible that we market ‘manliness’ in the form of girly grooming products, ‘pre-aged/pre-washed’ pansy denim and hand-crafted leather goods…you heard me, leather goods!
What happened to wearing the ugliest trend-avoiding short-shorts imaginable, beat-up dog-shit trodden Vans and going to shred the absolute life out of an uncompromising concrete swimming pool, clinging to the board like some vagrant rat with bloodied knee pulp and pot-stained eyeballs?
The very core ideology behind Dogtown has now been completely lost. You see the name everywhere though; On those sad little cheap Chinese skateboards, the multi-million dollar movie and the clothing brands pushing every last skerrick of the DIY aesthetic that made the Z-Boys cool in the first place into an endless, pungent dumpster of advertising and shameless promotion.
Jay Adams personified the feral mentality that the act of skateboarding itself is defined by: You are forever transient, free to leave the ground, defy gravity, and go where you please. Your board is merely a vessel toward FREEDOM – Freedom, the American dream, that illusive little nugget of fantasy that can only be achieved by truly living in the moment. Approaching this Zen state of ‘presence’ seems impossible to most.
The great countercultural writer and psychologist Timothy Leary once compared surfers to ‘evolutionary beings’ who truly lived in the here and now because the ride meant everything. He stated that being on a wave was a symbol of the present, that the foot prints left in the sand and the disappearing crest of a tube is clearly finite, rendered to a single moment. I think of skateboarders in the same way, for one could be nothing but present when airborne over the gnarly lip of an emptied pool.
When I look at the famous Glen E. Friedman images of Adams, he seems hermetically sealed in the finite nature of the moment – Immortalized in those early photographs as a spirit beyond the realms of tangible time – A ghost not yet passed – until now.
The outlaws have all gone away and I’ve come to make no bones about it.
We render outlaws immortal because of their alluring nature. Everybody loves the element of danger and to me; the rebel spirit represents freedom, pure and simple.
I have never heard of an outlaw following the rules, though I do know of individuals in the true sense of the word trailblazing their way through life not giving a damn about the consequences.
Fearless, feral freaks in a society gone straight.
So stop worrying about your beard wax, your un-used Swiss army knife and your pristine motorcycle boots –Get the hell out there. Live and die doing what you love. I’m not saying go out and call cops ‘pigs’ or hold some poor dude up at your local 7/11 with a loaded shotgun – Just live your way, nobody else’s. NO F***S GIVEN.
Jay Adams died doing what he loved – surfing. He was on a surf trip in Mexico with his family and friends and tragically passed away of a heart attack at the age of 53.
Surfing and skateboarding were his two main passions in life and this speaks volumes:
That the ride is truly everything.
Here’s to the unhinged, the uncompromised and the unforgiving.
February 3, 1961 – August 15, 2014