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Dogtown East


Near the now-quiet spot of an old West Side ramp, Kessler’s cell phone chimes. Calling from his home in Hawaii is, of all people, Jay Adams, the baddest, fiercest, and most busted of the Dogtown crew. A casual friend of many years, Adams heard Kessler had taken a serious spill and was calling to hear all about it.

“Yo, Jay-Boy!” Kessler roars, and, beaming, fills in Adams on his injury. Kessler has admired the Dogtown riders since first reading about them in skate magazines 30 years ago, and even skated with them in 1978 at the legendary Cherry Hill skate park in New Jersey. “To me, Jay Adams was the shit, and Alva too. I ended up skating a kidney”—a swimming pool—“with Jay for an hour, just me and him, and everyone sitting and watching. The session of a lifetime for me because Jay was the skater I admired the most. That’s the stuff we dreamed about as kids, looking in the magazines, and there I was, skateboarding with him.” When the call ends, a smile breaks out over Kessler’s face, and the bitterness he still feels over his crew’s lack of recognition vanishes, at least for a while.

“So fucking rad,” he says, stabbing the ground with his crutches and pushing off into the park once more.

David Browne is music critic of Entertainment Weekly and author of Amped: How Big Air, Big Dollars, and a New Generation Took Sports to the Extreme.


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