The History of Surfing, Skateboarding & Snowboar…

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We meet Jim almost exactly forty years after his fateful bone break on a gorgeous sunny evening in Long Beach. He’s still at it, shooting photos with a group of young skaters. Despite his legendary reputation he’s very approachable, full of encouragement for his subjects and happy to chat. Once the sun dips below the horizon, bringing the golden hour and the session to an end, we retire to a nearby Mexican restaurant to pick his brains.

Why was it that skateboarding, previously an all-American sport, exploded here in LA rather than anywhere else? I ask as the burritos arrive. “Well the weather is key. We had a drought back in the 70s so a lot of swimming pools were empty, and ditches were dry,” Jim explains, “but the other part of it was that this was where Skateboarder magazine was. It’s like Hollywood. Hollywood became Hollywood because the studios opened here.”

Stacey Peralta rides the Willis pool in the San Fernando Valley. October 1977. Note the Skateboarder magazine sticker on his board. Photo: Jim Goodrich

The importance of the mag in spreading the word (and it was the magazine at the time, Thrasher wasn’t founded until 1981) certainly can’t be overstated. In Warren Bolster’s LA Times obituary Tony Hawk is quoted as saying: “If it weren’t for Skateboarder, I would have never realized what was really possible on my four-wheeled plank”. And years before Peralta’s excellent documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys made them famous outside of skateboarding, the Dogtowners reputation was made by a series of groundbreaking articles by the writer Craig Stecyk. As Stacey puts it: “Where most skate journalists wrote about skateboarding as a sport, Craig wrote about it as a renegade subculture.”

This, of course, was a fundamental part of the appeal of this second wave of skating. Riding pools for the most part involved trespassing. “We were really outlaws, the cops hated us,” says Jim Goodrich. “I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been arrested.” Alva, Adams and Peralta were great skaters, but as the pictures of them spread it was the attitude they conveyed as much as the moves they were pulling that got kids into it.

“There’s this famous shot of Tony Alva doing a carve in Gonzales bowl, which is like my most iconic shot,” says Jim. “On the nose of his board he has a sticker, which says: ‘If you value your life as much as I value my board, don’t fuck with it.’ I just love it, it was so Tony.”

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