Maybe We Should’t Be So Quick to Idolize a Gay-Bashing Skateboarder
Jay Adams, a guy who had really good balance on his skateboard and, as a member of the Z-Boys, helped to define skating as we know it, died from a heart attack on Thursday while vacationing in Mexico. Although he lived most of his life outside the spotlight, he was brought into mainstream consciousness in 2001 thanks to the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and then again in 2005, when he was portrayed by Emile Hirsch in Lords of Dogtown. Adams’s death was picked up by most major news outlets, almost all of which used the words “legend” or “legendary” in their headlines and went on to describe him as a bad boy who pushed the sport away from dance-y, ballerina-style contests and into the more aggressive street and pool skating that birthed modern-day skateboarding. Less discussed was the gay-bashing Adams initiated in Los Angeles that left a man dead.
While I appreciate Adams’s contribution to skateboarding as much as the next guy, it seems odd that virtually every obituary published over the last four days has glossed over or completely failed to mention that one time in 1982 when he helped kill a guy. Adams, describing the incident toJuice magazine in 2000, said, “After a show at the Starwood we went to a place called the Okiedogs and two homosexual guys walked by and I started a fight.” One of those homosexuals was named Dan Bradbury, and, as mentioned above, was killed in the brawl. Although Adams was charged with murder, he claimed that he had left the fight by the time the man died, and was convicted of felony assault. He served just six months in prison.
Scanning through the barrage of celebratory obituaries, one could be forgiven for missing that rather large blemish on Adams’s resume.
The initial New York Times obituary on his death failed to mention that Adams, who, as their headline says, “changed skateboarding into something radical,” participated in what looks an awful lot like a hate crime a few decades ago. A more in-depth follow-up story published Sunday with the title “In Empty Pools, Sport’s Pioneer Found a Way to Make a Splash” devotes one sentence to it: “In 1982 he was convicted of felony assault for involvement in the stomping death of a gay man at a concert in Hollywood.” The Associated Press acknowledged the incident in which the “colorful rebel” started a fight and then helped beat a gay man to death by writing, “At the height of his fame in the early 1980s, Adams was convicted of felony assault, launching a string of prison stints over the next 24 years”—with no mention of the fact that the victim was a gay man, or that he died as a result. The Los Angeles Times, who called Adams “legendary” and “one of the edgy Z-boys of the sport,” devoted one sentence to the incident, also with no mention of the fact that Bradbury was gay, summing it up neatly: “He served six months for his involvement in a fight in Hollywood that resulted a man’s death.” [sic]
When dealing with idioms, you have to tread very carefully in regards to which ones you subscribe to, because you run the risk of inevitably being called out on your bullshit fortune-cookie rhetoric. For example, if you think you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but you also think a picture is worth a thousand words, you’re basically saying you’ve got a thousand-word assessment in your head, but you still have no idea what’s going on.
Luckily for you, the cover of our profile-themed May issue (shot by Nick Veasey) is so on-the-nose, that even if you have trouble molding your life to predictable parables and proverbs, you’ll get an idea of what’s in store. (Hint: It’s a picture of some anarcho punk decked to the nines in leather, studs, lapel flair, and cliche hair. It’s fitting because, deep down inside, he’s just another poor sap made out of the same meaty goo that makes up his mainsteam contemporaries.)
In the spirit of capturing one’s essence, here’s a glimpse of some of the other stuff in this issue:
VICE Senior Associate Editor Krishna Andavolu flew to Uruguay, ground-zero to the world’s first legal and regulated cannabis market, and profiled Jose Mujica, the country’s current president and one of the main proponents of decriminalization.
In “The Mayor Vs. the Ooze,” Sean Williams profiles another unsung hero, Toldi Tamas—the mayor of a small Hungarian town who saved his people from an environmental catastrophe.
Then, there’s Jon Taffer. While he might not be a hero or a champion of political reform per se, he’s reality TV’s necessary evil. “Dive Bard" tells the story of America’s greatest poet of drunkeness and failure.
VICE’s weekend editor, Mitchell Sunderland, temporarily embedded himself in the gay porn realm for Body of an American, the story of Michael Lucas, a Russian immigrant who conquered porn and became one of the most powerful gay men in New York City.
We know the print magazine lasts about 30 whole seconds at boutiques and stores before it sells out, so why aren’t you subscribed already? Do that right now right here. Got an iPad, fancy pants? Even better—download our FREE app, because then you get a whole bunch of extra stuff like extended interviews, more pictures, and all that jazz.
Harry Gould Harvey IV may sound like the name of an old sailboat pegged as an underdog in a gentleman’s race around the world, but in reality it’s what a family in Rhode Island has been naming their sons for generations. The fifth iteration of that series is a photographer who loves punk, making trap playlists, and playing pranks. Harry’s surreal twists on reality have been compiled in the fantastic books One, Mountain Pass,and Canadian Fruit,as well as in large commercial publications like the Fader, JUKE,and Bloomberg’s Business Week. At a time when it feels like everywhere you look one photo just indiscernibly scrolls into the next, we think his dreamy and ethereal pictures are worth a close read, so we wanted to ask him more about them, even if interviewing someone isn’t very punk.
Donut Friend is the longtime dream and pet project of Mark Trombino, the former drummer of Drive Like Jehu and producer of every pop punk record that you emoted to in the late 90s. For more than two decades, Trombino made his mark on an endless list of indie, pop punk, and post-hardcore bangers, but now he’s left the music world to fulfill his dream of upping the donut ante.
Donuts are like, a thing now? And it’s always sort of annoying when foods become a thing but at least donuts as a thing are infinitely less annoying than cupcakes or whatever other desserts (cr*nuts) have entered the zeitgeist recently.
Remembering Scott Asheton, Iggy Pop’s Brother in Noise
Scott Asheton was the greatest thug-rocker who ever lived. As the drummer for Iggy and the Stooges, Scott, who passed away just over a week ago, at age 64, was a third of the best punk band that ever existed (his brother Ron, who passed away in 2009, was its guitarist). As Iggy said of Scotty, “The record company must have thought, ‘These guys are maniacs: The singer attacks the audience. They’re all loaded. They don’t communicate nicely with us. The drummer won’t even talk to us; he won’t talk to the manager.’ [Scott would] grunt, say, ‘Uh-huh,’ like a juvenile-delinquent kid: ‘Don’t talk to me… grrr… grrr…’”
Scotty was the ultimate hoodlum, who stood outside Discount Records, in Ann Arbor, spitting on cars. When Gillian McCain and I conducted the interviews for Please Kill Me, we knew we had to include Scotty, since he was such an iconic figure in the history of punk. His brother Ron usually did the talking for the Stooges’ side of the story, and after we exhausted Ron, we set our sights on Scotty. This is one of the few times he ever sat down for such an extended interview. We were honored that he did.
Indonesia’s punk scene is one of the biggest and most vibrant in the world. It’s a place where the country’s silenced youth can revolt against endemic corruption, social conventions, and their strict families. But in the world’s largest Islamic nation, political authorities and religious fundamentalists persecute this rebellious youth movement.
Nowhere is the anti-punk sentiment stronger than in Aceh—Indonesia’s only Sharia province—where 65 punks were arrested and detained at an Islamic moral training camp in which they had their heads shaved and clothes burnt. We traveled to North Sumatra to track down the last punks in Aceh, who still live under constant threat from the Sharia police.