Of all the memories from my stint at @powellperalta, circa 1989-1991, those that remain the most intact relate to my experiences with the “LA Boys,” aka @gabrielrodriguez_sk8 @rudyjohnson @guymariano and Paolo Diaz. When they first arrived on the amateur team scene, I often skate chauffeured them back and forth from Santa Barbara and LA, letting them crash at my apartment to go skate the Powell parking lot ramps and La Colina schoolyard on the weekends, and was constantly dropped-in-jaw at how they were defining the next generation of street skating. It was all so pure at the time—living only to skate in that rare window where nothing else matters but skating—so I still vividly remember the night Gabriel called me to say that Guy and Rudy had been hanging out with Mark Gonzales and were going to quit to ride for Blind.
This was devastating to hear, because I knew it signaled the beginning of an end. Gabriel was conflicted, not wanting to disappoint Stacy, so he stayed on Powell for just a bit longer—or at least long enough for a knee-jerk reaction at the company with a rushed attempt at giving him a pro model. There was little thought put into a graphic… CR Stecyk basically ripped a panel off a cardboard box and had me copy the bar code and add Gabriel’s name and the requisite branding. A paper mock up of the graphic was then made on what was proposed to be a metallic gold board along with a few printed T-shirt samples (photo evidence above).
Ultimately, I think this all freaked out Gabriel, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he flew the corporate coop to join Natas’s fledgling 101 team under the same Rocco roof as his friends. Fortunately I was able to join them there as well in time, where I was honored to contribute a small piece to his graphic legacy in skateboarding. In a weird way this all still feels like yesterday to me, making today’s news of Gabriel’s passing all the more shocking and heartbreaking. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends. #ripgabrielrodriguezSean Cliver