The 4 Wheel BackScratcher
Baby Brodela Cultivating Deep Roots at the Blood bowl in Oakland – circa 1978
What the fuck is a 4 wheel backscratcher? In the practical sense It’s when you have a itchy back and your skateboard doubles for a sweet backscratcher. However in the case of this website the answer would be that it was the name of the first and only zine I did in my younger years. My late buddy Tim Mulgrew and I had the brilliant idea to create a skate zine where every cover had a naked person scratching their back with a skateboard. In our youthful exuberance we decided the content of the zine didn’t matter as much as the photo on the cover – and as long as the photo on the cover always had a interesting image of a someone scratching their back with a skateboard we were going to be super successful publishers of the worlds hottest skate zine………….
"Almost as quickly as our wonderful plan was hatched it was brought to its death."
Our venture into the zine world was much easier said than done though. Whether 4WBS would have gone on to be a smash hit or not would ultimately never be fully realized because after our initial offering we called it quits and sadly 4WBS never made it to round 2. Making zines back in the late 80’s was a whole hell’uva a lot of work that we weren’t prepared for and our true passions were better served shredding on a skateboard than writing and taking photos of other people doing it. Almost as quickly as our wonderful plan was hatched it was brought to its death.
My Early Family Life: Shit Was a Bit Weird At Times
As the years advanced though I developed "somewhat" of a yearning to be a skateboard photojournalist and I embarked on what would ultimately be a half hearted attempt for about a decade. I eventually was truthful with myself though and admitted dealing with editors wasn’t my strong suit so a career at a “real” skate mag never quite fully materialized for me either. I guess handling creative differences wasn’t my strong suit during this period in my life. Also in the back of my mind I always knew that as long as I could still skate at a certain level my hobby of "somewhat" shutter bugging and verbal diarrhea would never be taken to a serious place. My journalistic pursuits were a fun and creative part of skateboarding but the act of riding my skateboard during this period just took precedence over everything else. Strike 2 for my 2nd journey into a life as a photojournalist!
"the act of riding my skateboard during this period just took
precedence over everything else"
Phil Shao: Thinks Skateboards AD sometime in the late 90's
During this second run I did do quite a bit of ad work for various Nor Cal companies and produced freelance articles for most of the major mags. I ended compiling a shit load of photos during this era that I still consider some of my best work to date. Eventually though I put the camera down all together and the work I gathered over these years just sat in negative and slide boxes collecting dust. As the years went by and the internet developed there was a growing want to put this stuff on my own site but it always seemed somewhat self masturbatory.
"As the years went by there was a growing want to put this stuff on my own site but it always seemed somewhat self masturbatory."
Big BROdela Can Hit The Coping Now! Smithgrind at St Helena circa 2011
Then a few significant things happened as more years flew by - digital photography advanced dramatically and instagram
came to be......... and lastly my skate worn body started to fail me. At some point you have to pay the piper and the physical karma that is skateboarding had come full circle to defeat my abilities.
"my passion grew immensely over the past few years to accept the
inevitable role of skateboard documentarian"
Fun and excitement in my youth has turned to pain and misery in these golden years. I can’t skate like baby BROdela anymore……. I have no where near the skills or resilience of the old days. Combine the failing body with ease of modern day photography and my passion grew immensely over the past few years to accept the inevitable role of skateboard documentarian (At least with our Bay Area friends) ............. but what to do in this new space and time was still a unanswered question.
My partner in crime (Hot Cheese ) rips a modified Jersey barrier before it becomes extinct
Then it came to me while on a road trip to the famous Mushroom Mountain near Shasta California – a vision was sent to me not unlike the burning bush in the days of Moses - It was time to create something like that first ill fated zine but with a modern day crew of rippers and updated technology. A site built on a little Bay Area skateboard history and our ever so bright future! Chalked fresh with visual love, campfire stories and top notch skateboards for you to scratch your very own back with. So with much delight and passion I present to you the modern day evolution of a stoned kids lofty ideas...... the 3rd incarnation of creativity known as the Mighty 4 Wheel Backscratcher!!!!
Yours (Mostly) Truly
Bruce Rodela • The 4 Wheel Backscratcher