In certain circles, Spike Jonze is crazy famous.
And for good reason – look at the attention Where The Wild Things Are has received. As a director, he's an Academy Award nominee, and he's won a fat fistful of national and international awards for Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. He has directed some of the coolest music videos and commercials you've ever seen. Go back a little further and you'll get to Dirt Magazine (brother publication of Sassy Magazine, masterminded by the Master Cluster of Andy Jenkins, Mark Lewman and Jonze), Blind's Video Days (arguably one of the best skateboarding videos ever made) and Freestylin' Magazine.
Imagine it's 1987. You're a high school kid in a small midwestern town who rides a skateboard religiously and dabbles in a little BMX freestyle on the side. There is no southern California skate/freestyle culture where you live, there is only farmland, football and frustration. Transworld Skateboarding and Freestylin' Magazine are your only lifelines to the outside world, and you pore over them like they're sacred texts promising a better life if only you believe.
When Jonze joined the Wizard Publications staff in the late 80s, shooting photos and writing the odd (odd) story here and there, I noticed... enough to write a few letters, call long-distance and bug him in the darkroom from time to time, and see if he was going to be at the AFA Masters Finals in Wichita, Kansas in the fall of 1988. When E. Heins and I found out he and writer Mark Lewman were going to be covering the event, we made plans to be there. Thankfully, our parents were receptive enough to our fervent teenaged pleas to agree to book a couple of hotel rooms across from the venue and chaperone us that weekend.
The highlight of the two days (and probably the highlight of my year) was skating downtown Wichita late that first night with Spike and Lew. Everything else was just a buzz and a blur.
One of my photos of Jonze from the AFA Masters Finals in November of '88 just ran in the UK skate/surf/snowboarding lifestyle magazine HUCK, along with three photos by Lew. It's good company to be in, and I am honored.