Jim Gray, Philosopher King of Skateboarding
I’ve known Jim Gray for something like seven years. He was this guy that I met at the Oregon Trifecta. I saw him ripping up Lincoln City and talking the whole time he skated. Then, I ran into him at a restaurant and we had this really wonderful conversation about skatepark design. After that, I’ve always thought of Jim as a kindred soul and there are a lot of folks who do.
Jim has theories. At first, you tend to be skeptical, but the more he talks and the more you think about it. You end up figuring that “Jim Gray guy” has really got something there.
Jim was a pro skater in the 80’s. We saw a picture of him at the original Upland skatepark in the pipe past three quarters, that kind of skater. And then he ran Acme and Scarecrow skateboards for years, really legendary wood. They’re great decks if you ever chance to find one. My friend, Amelia Brodka, rode for Scarecrow for a few years. Now, he runs Inkgenda, making stickers for just about everyone.
On our most recent visit to see Jim, Amelia and I talked about where we’d just skated which included the Berrics and Baldy Pipeline. We talked about skateboard wheels and the Orange County Skateboard League, an organization that Jim helped to start.
Jim had a couple friends hanging out, skating. They were from Texas, Jake Kirby and Heath Cherryhomes. They told great stories about where they’d skated. And when we mentioned that we’d been skated with a guy from Houston, where Heath is from, he asked who it was. And, of course, Heath had skated with our young friend. Sometimes everything comes around like that.
The thing about Jim is that he’s a great guy. Being around him makes you feel better about life and always makes you want to head out skateboarding again. I guess everyone needs someone like Jim who finds the light in everything and most everyone.