What the Fuck Is a 4 Wheel Backscratcher?
Updated: Mar 26
Baby Brodela Cultivating Deep Roots at the Blood bowl in Oakland – circa 1978
About The Mighty 4 Wheel Backscratcher
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…………. You guessed it, we smoked a lot of weed back then.
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 it’s death.
"You guessed it, we smoked a lot of weed back then"
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 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 shutter bugging and verbal diarrhea would never be taken to a “serious” place. My journalistic pursuits were a fun part of skateboarding but the act of riding my 4 wheel backscratcher during this period just took precedence over everything else. During this time though I did end up doing ad work for a few different companies and a few freelance articles for most of the major mags and ended compiling a shit load of photos during this era. Eventually I put the camera down all together and the work I gathered over these years just sat in negative and slide boxes (a killer time period in skateboarding by the way). 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, the internet and instagram came to be and my old battered body started to fail me. At some point you have to pay the piper and the physical karma that is skateboarding has come full circle. Fun and excitement in my youth has turned to pain and misery in these golden years. I can’t skate anymore……. well i'm no where near the skills of the old days. Combine the failing body with ease of modern day digital photography and my passion has grown immensely over the past few years to accept the inevitable role of skateboard documentarian (At least with my crew of friends here in the Bay Area)
A huge kick flap from one of the best to ever roll!
Adam Emery somewhere across stem bay
Then A couple years ago while on a trip to the famous Mushroom Mountain near Shasta California – a vision came 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 skateboard history and our bright future chalked fresh with articles, videos, photo galleries, the latest news, some shit talking and top notch skateboards for you to ride. So with much delight I present to you the modern day evolution of a stoned kids lofty ideas...... the Mighty 4 Wheel Backscratcher is reborn!!
Yours (Mostly) Truly
Bruce Rodela • The 4 Wheel Backscratcher