Jay Adams and Shogo Kubo Tribute

A TRIBUTE TO JAY ADAMS & SHOGO KUBO BY STEVE OLSON:

This is hard… “Why?” always comes to mind… At least we were lucky enough to know both of these guys… Or at least to be aware and influenced by both of them. Where does one start? Here’s my opinion…Like it or not… Take some style, maybe a lot of it… that sounds much more like it… Then some passion and pure energy… Add a lil skill, my bad, a lot of skill… mix a lil craziness, again, my bad, a lot of craziness… Add a humble approach… Humility… that’s a big word…that some don’t quite understand… Then put in a lot of Soul, and you have Jay Adams and Shogo Kubo… From start to finish, they created what they did… Skating like there was no tomorrow… I miss both of them, and so does the world… I feel the need to celebrate their existence and how amazing they were… Just saying…

– WORDS BY STEVE OLSON

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THE SOUL OF SKATEBOARDING BY JAY ADAMS

“If you asked me to explain the soul of skateboarding… I’d say it’s not about getting paid to be a pro or getting next month’s cover. It’s about skateboarding because it’s so fun. Skating pools is a high that can’t be beat. To me, a soul skater is someone you run into skating a ditch at eight in the morning, all by himself or cruising down a hill, throwing down turns just because it feels good. You don’t have to be the raddest guy in your neighborhood to have soul; just have the desire to skate. Most soul skaters are old school guys cruising through the sessions, but there are plenty of kids with plenty of soul. They are usually the kids who can’t concentrate on their school work, because all they can think about is getting out of school and back on their skateboard. Even though most modern skaters want to be the next Tony Hawk, there is still plenty of soul left in skateboarding. Skateboarding should be about having fun, hanging out with your bros, getting crazy, traveling around to new spots, even meeting new friends from places far away. (They might even have a hot sister.) Skateboarding will give you memories you’ll never get in any other part of your life; some of the best, for sure. I know, because my life is filled with them. Take advantage of all the new terrain, jump in a car with some friends and do a little traveling. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Skateboarding rules. Take advantage of all it has to offer.

– JAY ADAMS 100% SKATEBOARDER FOR LIFE.

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JAY ADAMS & SHOGO KUBO TRIBUTE

Jay Adams and Shogo Kubo packed lifetimes worth of living into every second of the day. Their skating was unexpected and unpredictable all the while engaging and explosive and their impact on skateboarding was felt throughout our community and beyond. Skateboarding at its most pure form is a perfect duality between pleasure and pain and this is the blessing and curse we carry into our lives, something Jay and Shogo experienced on all levels. We will dearly miss our two fallen heroes and architects of modern day skateboarding and we will celebrate their lives through generations to come. This interview with Shogo and Jay is a fantastic reminder of what good friends they were and how much fun they had.

– WORDS BY DAN LEVY

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SHOGO KUBO & JAY ADAMS INTERVIEW

Imagine Elvis Presley coming back. Well, that’s what Shogo Kubo did. Shogo was one of the original Zephyr team members. I met him at judo school when we were both in our early teens. Shogo and I became close a few years later when he called about a surfboard that my mom and I were trying to sell in the local paper. Shogo and I were like brothers, hanging out, surfing, skating and terrorizing all the little neighborhood girls. Shogo had a really good surfing style on the banks, which he later perfected in backyard swimming pools and skateparks. He did well in contests, but preferred to skate with his bros. I remember skating plenty of skateparks with him in the early days, where most of the kids would stop skating and just watch. Shogo preferred pools and that’s the area where he excelled the most. Shogo, Stacy, Alva and I were the four guys out of the original Zephyr team, who actually stuck it out the longest. In the early ‘80s, Shogo went to Cherry Hill, NJ and that’s the last I saw of him. I think he came back to DogTown, but I wasn’t skating as much at the time, so we weren’t hanging out. After that he was gone! No, really gone. Nobody, and I mean, nobody, knew where to find him. As it turned out, he was over in Hawaii, getting married and starting a family. He gives full credit to his wife for saving his life and now he has two beautiful children. I’m really surprised the DogTown movie didn’t have more about him because he was one of the best, but Shogo has always been super humble and never craved the attention he deserves. I’ve got so much respect for Shogo I can’t even put it on paper. Guys like him are what skating is all about. He helped pave the road all you kids are skating down. His style will never be touched. Shogo Kubo is one of the greatest skateboarders of all time. Just don’t ask him because he probably won’t give you an answer. ‘Mr Humble’ all the way. . .

– INTRODUCTION BY JAY ADAMS

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SHOGO KUBO INTERVIEW BY JAY ADAMS JAY ADAMS: 

JAY ADAMS: It’s Sunday, April 21, 2002. Shogo and I are overlooking Diamond Head. He thinks it’s kind of romantic, but I don’t think so.

SHOGO KUBO: [laughs.]

JAY: What are your first memories of skateboarding?

SHOGO: The very first time I rode a skateboard was in Japan when I was about six. I rode one of those Black Knight boards, with no grip tape, and metal wheels. I ate shit, so I didn’t skate after that for a while. Then, after I saw you skating at our judo class one day, I took a couple of runs. That was when I was around 12 years old.

JAY: Who were the first guys you saw ripping?

SHOGO: I skated with friends, like Bob and Steve Ogan. We started making our own skateboards. We went to the lumberyard, cut out pieces of wood, made our own shapes, and then started skating on the sidewalks. After that, we started going to the schools and that’s when I saw you and Tony Alva. You guys were ripping. That’s what motivated me a lot.

JAY: How did you get involved with the Zephyr team?

SHOGO: We skated Bay Street and Bicknell Hill after surfing.

JAY: I remember. You were some rich kid and you gave me money, so I let you hang out. [laughs] Nah! Come on, man. What about the first skatepark you went to?

SHOGO: Montebello Skatepark.

JAY: What about the surf movies at the Santa Monica Civic?

SHOGO: Yeah, everybody was there, hollering, and getting stoked. That’s where we saw Larry Bertlemann doing his thing. That’s where most of us got the influence for our style of skating. The Civic was a lot of fun.

JAY: Was it all copying surfing when you were skating?

SHOGO: When I couldn’t go surfing, I did it on a skateboard. Larry Bertlemann was an inspiration to my skating and surfing as well.

JAY: What did it mean to get accepted to the Zephyr team?

SHOGO: In our neighborhood, being on the Zephyr team was the shit. All of the other guys in the neighborhood just used to tell me, “Man, you’re lucky you’re on the team.” It was the ultimate honor.

JAY: How would you describe Wentzle Ruml?

SHOGO: Wentzle was one of my best friends. We skated streets in Santa Monica together. He was stylish and graceful. He skated back in the bank days, but he wasn’t really around when the pools came around.

JAY: What about Bob Biniak?

SHOGO: Biniak was just full speed and powerful. He was the strongest guy on our team and, of course, he was stylish. He was definitely the fastest. He was gnarly.

JAY: What about Nathan Pratt?

SHOGO: Nathan was a good surfer, but he didn’t really skate much. He was a really good surfer. He used to rip Bay Street.

JAY: What about Stacy Peralta?

SHOGO: Stacy was always a good surfer and skater, but he was different from us. Some people say he was softer, but I give him a lot of respect, because he never tried to be someone that he wasn’t. He was brought up better than most of us, and it showed.

JAY: What about Tony Alva?

SHOGO: [laughs] T.A. is probably the most self-confident person that I’ve ever met in my life. He rips whatever he does. He rips surfing and skating. He was just very aggressive and he had a big ass ego. He still does, but it’s all good. That’s Tony. He hasn’t changed a bit.

JAY: When you were looking in the magazines and you saw guys like Wally Inouye, did you ever think, “That guy is Japanese, but I could rip on him?” [laughs]

SHOGO: [laughs] Although I’m Japanese, I never thought of it like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m Japanese.’ Wally skated good. Of course, I thought I could shred on him, but he got in really good with Skateboarder. He got all kinds of shots. He had two covers in three months. I was like, ‘Damn’.

JAY: What did you think of Marty Grimes?

SHOGO: I skated with Marty, Chucky, Clyde, his brother, and Jerry Miller. They were always at Kenter. Those guys ripped, especially Marty. He’d be out of control, but so in control. He had such good style. He skated gnarly!

JAY: What about John Palfreyman?

SHOGO: J.P. was crazy. You wouldn’t believe the things that he used to do on his bike and his skateboard. He would skate pools so aggro and gnarly out of control. As far as bikes, he jumped off that Bay Street cliff. He cleared probably 50 feet of bushes, before anybody did jumps. That was the gnarliest thing I had ever seen.

JAY: You skated a lot of contests. Do any stick out in your mind?

SHOGO: I never really liked contests, but I knew I had to skate in order to get exposure. The contest I really remember was the one in Oxnard, and the one in Milpitas. Those two contests I skated really well and I got fourth place at both of them. At Oxnard, a guy named Mike beat me, and that guy’s a kook. He skated good, but he had a goofy-ass style. I know I skated a lot better than a couple of those guys and I got fourth. Milpitas was the same way. I was ripping, but I got fourth.

JAY: Do you remember drinking free beer at Oxnard, after the contest?

SHOGO: Most of time we were at Oxnard, we were pretty beat down.

JAY: When did you start riding pools?

SHOGO: It was probably in ‘75.

JAY: Do you remember meeting Jerry Valdez?

SHOGO: Yeah, Jerry Valdez took us to a couple of good pools. They had plenty of pools in the valley.

JAY: What did you think about the DogTown vs. the down south thing?

SHOGO: That was just magazine hype. Dennis Martinez was one of my good friends. But a lot of us were really proud of where we were from, and the style of skating that we did. We always wanted to be the best at what we did. The way I was brought up, I never thought about not getting along with somebody because of where they were from. We were just skaters. We skated to have fun.

JAY: How did you like that Del Mar contest?

SHOGO: I remember these guys saying, “These Zephyr guys. What they’re doing isn’t skateboarding.” I remember you saying, “This is skateboarding. What are you talking about?” We were definitely different. We didn’t do any handstands or nosewheelies.

JAY: Did people think that Peggy Oki was your sister?

SHOGO: No. Nobody has ever asked me that.

JAY: Are you sure?

SHOGO: Maybe you, asshole.

JAY: How do you define style?

SHOGO: For me, style is everything. Style either makes you look good or bad. You can do the same trick on a skateboard or surfing, but if you’ve got style, you’re gonna look a whole hell of a lot better than the guy next to you who does not have style.

JAY: How would you rate Christian Hosoi’s style to Tony Hawk’s style in the early days?

SHOGO: Hawk rips. He’s my son’s favorite skater, but Christian looked five times better because of his style. I judged a few contests at Del Mar and they both ripped, but I gave Christian first. He just looked better.

JAY: Who were your all-time favorite style guys?

SHOGO: The stylish surf guys were Bertlemann and Buttons. As far as skating goes, my favorite skaters are all of my friends. You are included.

JAY: Oh. Thank you, honey. How about the original Dog Bowl?

SHOGO: The Dog Bowl was probably the best thing that ever happened to us, because we were always running from the cops, trying to skate pools. I used to hate that, because I could never really relax and get a good run. At the Dog Bowl, we didn’t have to worry about a damn thing. The only thing we had to worry about was who had the next joint or who had the beer. The owner would watch us skate, which was a good thing, because that just made us really relax and think of the skating.

JAY: Have you ever gotten busted for skating?

SHOGO: Hell, yeah. I got busted in Jacksonville, Florida for skating a shifty-ass pool. Mitch Kaufman, George Wilson, a few others and I were on an island that was connected to the mainland by one bridge. When we saw the cops coming, we ran by the water and went all the way around the island. Then this guy picked us up. We thought we had gotten away but, as we were going over the bridge, the cop was coming from the other side. Sure enough, we got busted. I remember George Wilson saying, “Oh, shit. We’re going downtown.” I was asking, “What is that? What do you mean downtown?” As we pulled in to the jail, all I could remember were these big letters saying ‘criminals only.’ I was thinking, “Oh, my God. We’re going to County Jail for skateboarding.” We were in there for eight hours. They wanted me to stay because I didn’t have a Green Card. That was pretty crazy.

JAY: Let’s talk about Skatopia. The first time I went there, I stood in the bottom of that halfpipe and looked down it. It was the most amazing thing that I ever saw built for skating. What did you think of it?

SHOGO: That thing was perfect. We put so many hours in there. Skatopia was a lot of fun.

JAY: What were some of your favorite parks?

SHOGO: Marina was my favorite because it was right down the street from my father’s house. It was home. All of the boys were there skating.

JAY: Did you have guys trying to challenge you at the parks?

SHOGO: We all had to live up to the expectations of assholes that wanted to show you up, which was bullshit. We would go to a pool and there would always be a local ripper that skated good but, after 15 minutes or so of seeing us skate, they sat down the rest of the day.

JAY: Cherry Hill was one of the best parks I ever skated.

SHOGO: I loved Cherry Hill. I was there for three months. I had a good time. I owe a lot of thanks to Steve Durst, the owner. It was a great park. They had a gnarly-ass over-hanging 3/4 halfpipe that was crazy.

JAY: Were there a lot of drugs in skateboarding?

SHOGO: Not me, but I know you guys did a lot of drugs. [laughs] There were plenty. We were raised in the years where drugs were cool, but drugs aren’t cool.

JAY: What do you think about the DogTown documentary?

SHOGO: I think it’s kind of cool. At first, I was kind of skeptical. I was thinking that only the people related to skating and surfing would enjoy it, but Stacy proved me wrong. A lot of people are into it.

JAY: How about Friedman’s DogTown & Z-Boys book?

SHOGO: Man, that book is gnarly. I’m really, really stoked for Friedman and Stecyk. There are a lot of good shots in there but they should have put more of me in there. [laughs] One of my favorite shots in there is of George Wilson doing that backside carve with his hand on the wall. I think that’s probably the best shot in the whole book.

JAY: Which photo of yourself brings back the best memories?

SHOGO: I like the Krypto bowl shot where the coping was loose. We were hittin’ it so hard that the coping would just rise up. I like that one layback shot. Nobody had ever taken a shot of a layback from that angle.

JAY: What do you think is gonna happen after this “DogTown” movie? Do you think you’re gonna be famous again or something like that?

SHOGO: Yeah, right. Somebody give me money so I can quit working already. I didn’t think it would blow up to the size it is right now. I got to go to L. A. and see all my old friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.

JAY: Yeah, but Tony Hawk might ask you for your autograph.

SHOGO: I don’t think so, but he should give me his autograph for my boy. He should give me a skateboard, too.

JAY: What did Stecyk have to do with DogTown?

SHOGO: He was DogTown. He was always mysterious. You never knew what he was thinking. Stecyk created DogTown. He’s just a genius.

JAY: What’d you think of your part in the movie?

SHOGO: I wish I was in more of it, but it felt good. You have plenty of parts, which is good.

JAY: Who taught you how to do a layback?

SHOGO: Nobody taught me how to do a layback. It was ‘Bulky’, Steve Olson that I saw do them first. I used to call them sit backs. [Sorry, Bulky.] That’s when laybacks in surfing were starting to get popular. I started doing them in the shallow in the Dog Bowl. I couldn’t do them at first and then one night, I just did it. The next day, I went right up to the top keyhole.

JAY: I used to have a mirror in my room, and I’d see you lying there staring at yourself with your skateboard, practicing all of your little style moves. What was that all about?

SHOGO: You’re high. You must’ve been on a trip or something because I never did that in my life. [laughs]

JAY: Okay. Nathan said that Skip and Jeff used to yell at him to put his arms right. Remember you used to tell me that? “We’re not holding our arms right, Jay. We’ve got to do it like this.”

SHOGO: Yeah, I also told you that when you did 360s you had to let your hair spin more! [laughs] Nah! We did none of that shit. There were no planned moves, even in the contests. I just skated the way it came out.

JAY: What do you think of skateboarding now?

SHOGO: Skating now is really insane. There are many out there that rip.

JAY: Do you like to watch the street guys or ramp guys?

SHOGO: I like to watch people that skate fast. I like the guys doing the rails. I like the vert guys like Burnquist, Hawk, Sluggo, Lincoln, Patch, Vallely… there are so many. Those guys rip.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #73 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

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