an ode to skate chauffeurs

While doing some "research" for this first fabled* drop of ours, I ran across something in a Shiloh Greathouse interview—posted on the great historical archive of skateboarding that is The Chrome Ball Incident—that sparked the memory of an article we'd always wanted to do in the infantile year of Big Brother.**

The idea itself was great—as were all of our ideas then, genious, really, every single one of them—but the reason it never came to published fruition was because no one who we considered a "skate chauffeur" wanted to participate or be interviewed for the proposed article. Apparently, the concept was rather offensive to them, or at least in the unintended sensitive way they took it: the notion that prominent young skaters could, quite possibly, be friends with people simply because they owned or had access to a car.*** 

I'll excerpt a quote from Shiloh's interview for the sake of an example:

"Honestly, and this sucks to say, but one of the main reasons Guy and I hung out with him is because he was old enough to drive and had a car."

The funny thing is, "him," the person Shiloh is referring to in this quote, is none other than Jed Walters, who to this day remains an enigma in skateboard lore—especially to those who remember his one and only ever part in World Industries' Love Child video (1992).

But more on that later.

For my part, I'll happily and wholeheartedly own up to the fact I was once a skate chauffeur to the future stars myself. Soon after meeting Guy Mariano, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Rudy Johnson in Spring of 1989, I acquired a 1987 Toyota Celica ST**** and would frequently shuttle them from their various homes in the greater Los Angeles area up to or back from the Powell-Peralta headquarters and its slap-dash outdoor "skate zone"—before it became the world famous indoor Skate Zone—and the La Colina schoolyard bank. If you're geographically deficient, LA to Santa Barbara is an approximate 90-minute drive each way, give or take traffic, but I'll never forget the one magical roundtrip I made in just over two hours time. On several other occasions I would simply drive down to LA on the weekends and take them around to various spots from Downtown LA, Los Feliz, and the Santa Monica beach curbs, all the way out to the Pioneer school banks in Upland.

Was I being "used" for my car services? Who gives a shit! I was just happy to finally be skating all the California hot spots. Well, that and being a firsthand witness to the new street skating regime that was about to radically knock the vert focal point of the industry askew. What a time! Or at least for the curb-hopping, ledge-sliding, one-footing me… maybe not so much for many ramp-inclined others. But yes, the revolution did, so to speak, put me in the driver's seat (said with a tip of the hat to Gil Scott-Heron).

With regard to the never realized article, though, I do remember one of the questions being something along the lines of "Who's the most famous skater you've ever had in your car?" Again, not cool, or so we were informed, but if I'd been asked that question at the height of my skate chauffeurery, I probably would have said Bucky Lasek. In 1990, I was down in team manager Todd Hasting's office at Powell when they were looking into getting Bucky, fresh off the plane from Baltimore, on an Amtrak down to Tony Hawk's house in Fallbrook. My friend John Pearson was out from Wisconsin visiting at the time, so I offered to drive Bucky down myself and show John some of the "high life" I was fortunate to sideswipe from time to time. As our luck would have it, Tony let us stay the night at his place, we farted around on the flat bottom of his backyard ramp/bowl construction, went to get pizza at the mall, and had a very surreal weekend overall. You have to understand: for two small-town shit-dicks who hailed from the skate-unfriendly sticks of Central Wisconsin with only the Bones Brigade videos to view as our Guiding Light through the Dark Ages, this was a very big deal (so much so I even italicized it for full big deal effect). In fact, John still has a masonite chip from Tony's bowl to this day!

But while I'm dropping names like a starstruck teenager in heat, I may as well go ahead and tack on this other associated skate chauffeur memory (not to mention an incredibly weird one in retrospect), where we had stayed the night in Oceanside at the house of former Tracker team manager Bryan Ridgeway before heading down to what would be a rather historical amateur contest in Linda Vista, circa 1990… or was it ’91? Anyway, it was at Bryan's house that we not only met two 12-year-old pipsqueaks by the names of Anthony Oglesby and Jason Dill, but then gave two peckins from the hinterlands of Middle America a ride to the contest, both of whom would shortly thereafter go pro for Alien Workshop: Duane Pitre and Rob Dyrdek. Four (or five) years later on the Big Brother Mardi Gras tour, I asked them if they remembered that day and Rob was like, "Dude. We were just talking about that!"

So yeah, there's no crime in skate chauffeuring, and I still think it would have made a damn fine article. Then again, my judgment skills, or lack thereof, have never been particularly on point. —Sean Cliver

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* I swear we're actually going to have boards available in the near future. Please stay tuned.

** Considering it's 2018, I may as well be referencing Action Now magazine.

*** This pre-dated the Great Honda Civic Craze of 1994, when pretty much every skater owned one, as meticulously documented in Issue 11 of Big Brother.

**** I initially tried to buy a 1985 Toyota MR2, which was basically a Matchbox car with a glovebox for a trunk and would have essentially nullified my skate chauffeur career.


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  • Kevin on

    Weird people would be bummed out on driving skaters around, especially if they’re “rockstar” at all- I’d liken it to bring a photog or team manager- just part of the support for the radical dudes, doesn’t mean you can’t skate or you’re a poseur.
    Your experiences were cool as heck, and like you said, being from BFE, you were living the skater dream in SoCal, man- how rad is that?!

    (Dug the Action Now reference, too- loved that rag back then ass well).

  • jarret on

    haha. i roadtripped in mayhew’s honda prelude!! 😁❤️


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