Friday, 1 July 2011


My obit of Eric Swenson, founder of both Independent Trucks and Thrasher magazine, and a key figure in the resurgence of skateboarding in the late 1970s, is in today's Guardian; you can link to it here.

Swenson was a fascinating figure--his love of street art led to the founding of Juxtapoz, which is now America's biggest-selling art magazine, and he and Fausto Vitello made a true counter-cultural ying and yang, yet were astute businessmen who were successful in the commercial culture as well.

The obit ran as written, except for the last graf, which was lost for space. The obit ends saying Swenson took his own life and his survived by his wife. I thought the circumstances of his suicide, and the speculation about the reasons behind it, told us much about his life. Here's what I wrote:

Early in the morning of 20 June 2011, Swenson sat down in front of the police station in San Francisco's Mission district, put a gun in his mouth, and killed himself. Gwynn Vitello speculated he may have chosen a police station to spare family and friends the trauma of finding him. She said he was 'one of the most independent persons I've ever known. He was like John Wayne. He kept everything close to the vest.' Swenson is survived by his wife, who believes he killed himself because he thought he was becoming a burden to her.And, as professional skateboarder Tommy Guerrero explained, Swenson was 'a doer from the old school. He was the guy who would pull out a wrench and fix it ...this was his whole approach to everything.'

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