Flower arrangements, banners and memorial surfboards made the occasion clear, and hundreds of people filled the sand and lined the pier to pay their respects to one of the men who not only helped keep skateboarding alive, but changed it forever with his smooth, surf style.
It really was amazing, as after a bit of eulogizing by pro skater, Christian Hosoi ("A perfect day, Jay would be so stoked .... Let's all get together, not just at memorials, but to celebrate us being alive and being together ... Amen?!" Amen.), everyone paddled out into the ocean north of the Venice Pier, where even the lifeguard boat paid their respects with a giant spout of water and horns blaring.
Flower petals were scattered down into the water as all the surfers shouted and slapped the water, bringing both chills and tears to the eyes. Adams was again eulogized by friends in the water and by his Pastor from Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana ("Welcome to Venice, Pastor!"), where his memorial service had been held the day before. It wasn't easy to hear from up above on the pier, but I could make out a guy in the middle yelling, "Jay was 100%! 100% Skater, 100% Surfer, 100% Man of God, 100% Inspiration!" and everyone yelled and splashed the water some more.
A giant circle formed, and symbolically brought everyone together again.
As we were watching (and a drone was filming it all from above!), rock star and Adams' friend, Perry Farrell, told me, "He had a ton of energy, total fearlessness and courage. Men aspire to be courageous, and Jay was. There was no one like him."
There was such a large turnout that there was a police presence, of course. I heard one guy say, "Jay ain't even here and the cops came!" People laughed about stories with Jay all day, with Martinez adding, "You always had the best and craziest times with Jay ... like all people growing up in Venice, we all had shady pasts, but then you evolve." Seven Adams added to that, "He grew up a punk - but the most loved punk ever - and died a man of God." Tracy Adams reiterated that, "He overcame so much, and became a man of integrity, 100% living and loving life."
Carter Slade, a longtime friend of Adams, said, "The only thing you need to remember about Jay Boy is how big his heart was," and went on to share wild stories about Jay, like the time he surprised a friend that needed one with a car, keys just left under the mat. According to everyone there, he did stuff like that all the time. Tracy Adams told me that he'd just spent the recent Go Skateboarding Day in Mexico, giving little kids all his clothes and teaching them tricks.
When the paddle out was completed with a chant of "Live Like Jay!", everyone caught a big party wave back in, and spent the rest of the day catching up, partying around town, and then re-convening for a skate session over at the Venice Skatepark in the evening.
There, pro skate luminaries like Hosoi, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Lance Mountain eulogized Adams again through their tricks inspired by him, and an Adams mural was unveiled in the bowl.
Adams, like the Venice he came from, was creative, unique, fun-loving, tough as nails, and very much beloved. It was a special day in Venice, for sure. Another Venice original, another piece of Venice history, is gone, but never forgotten. It's events like this that let you know how very special and precious it all is, and reminds you to hold it all dear. To Jay Adams for the reminder and the inspiration, to the spirit of Venice, and to the people who keep it alive every day ... To you all, thank you.
Jay Adams 1961-2014 ... Rest in peace.