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What Is a 4 Wheel Backscratcher?

Baby Bruce, Blood Bowl 1977

Baby Brodela Cultivating Deep Roots at the Blood bowl in Oakland – circa 1978


About The Mighty 4 Wheel Backscratcher

What the hell is a 4 Wheel Backscratcher? In the practical sense It’s when you have a itchy back and your skateboard doubles for a back scratcher. However in relation to 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 nude 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. As long as the photo on the cover always had a image of a nude person scratching their back with a skateboard we were going to be super successful publishers of the worlds hottest skate zine………….

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.

"every cover had a nude person scratching their

back with a skateboard."

My Early Family Life 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 actually riding my board 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 boat 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. As the years went by there was a growing want to put these photos on my own site but it never materialized due to one excuse or another.....

Big BROdela Can Hit The Coping Now! Smith Grind 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 now come full circle. Fun and excitement in my youth has turned to recurring injuries and pain in these golden years. While my endurance is still at a high level I just can’t skate like I used to……. my skills are just not at the level of the old days and it can be quite discouraging.

A huge kick flap from one of the best to ever roll!

Adam Emery somewhere across the bay

Combine the aging 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. While creating content doesn't fully take the place of a good sesh it does keep me close to the culture and is most definitely the best placebo for skateboarding proper. It was now time to create something like that first ill fated zine of my youth but with a modern day crew of rippers and ease of digital publishing. A website built on a little skateboard history and our future chalked fresh with articles, videos, photo galleries, the latest news and some smack talking to keep you honest.

So with much delight I present to you the modern day evolution of a kids lofty ideas...... the Mighty 4 Wheel Backscratcher is back!!

Yours (Mostly) Truly

Bruce Rodela • The 4 Wheel Backscratcher

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