Ed Templeton once pulled a bug out of my ear. True story. I think it was at a Europe contest back in the late ‘90s. It wasn’t anything too dramatic, not one of those cases where the bug was burrowing its way into my brain or anything like that. As I remember it I was talking to someone when I felt a finger going into my ear, I sort of jumped and turned to see what was happening, and it was Ed. “A bug was in your ear,” he said, holding it up for me to see. The interesting part about it is that it’s not like we were close friends or anything. I barely knew him. Looking back I realize I should have asked for the bug, kept it, pinned it to some sort of mount and put a note on it:
BUG REMOVED FROM EAR BY ED TEMPLETON
That story has nothing to do with anything other than my attempt to demonstrate that Ed is a unique, one of a kind, hard to pin down, stand up individual, etc. You already know that though.
I’ve always been an Ed fan. And honestly I don’t think this can be said about too many pros in the world, but EVERYBODY loves him don’t they? Like Leo but for real. He’s come a long way since the Ed Haters Club. He was cutting edge in the 90s, doing one footers to back boards on kinked rails, helping usher in frontside feeble grinds, mastering the frontside noseblunt slide, and of course the ollie impossible, grabbing tail and whatnot. His initial forays into the art world were met with a shrug by a lot of us but 25 years later we all can pretty much agree that we love Ed’s art as much as we love Ed, and I’m happy to report that as I type this I have an original Ed piece (Thanks to Josh Stewart) hanging on a wall in my house. Although it’s unsigned so hopefully it’s not a fake.
All of this brings me to the reason I’m even bringing any of it up. In January at the TWS Awards, Ed was the recipient of the Legend Award. Other, lesser legends might have shown up like it was no big deal, gave a quick shout out to their bros, said how someone else deserves it more or whatever, and that would be the end of it.
But not Ed.
Ed came on stage dressed like a college professor from some bygone era, and with an earnestness unmatched by anything I’ve witnessed in skateboarding, delivered the best speech I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Page after page, and most of it was just him thanking the people that helped him along the way. I’ve gotta assume he probably worried that he’d bore us with it, but I was enthralled, and it was rad. I won’t lie, I got choked up hearing it, as did he reading it. I filmed the first minute of it…I probably should have filmed the whole thing but I wanted to actually live it, not just watch it later.
After the Awards were over, Schaefer and I chased Ed and Deanna down the street and asked for some photos, fanning out hard. We told him he was the best and all of that. We asked to get some shots of him and Deanna, and him with the speech, he humored us. He promised he’d send the transcript to us. And he did. If you’re interested, you can read the unedited version of it below. This wraps up my tribute, and thank you Ed for all of your contributions to skateboarding throughout the years, and thanks for digging in my ear and giving me stuff to write about.
One more thing, the video that Joe Pease made about Ed for the awards is incredible, a must see, and here it is:
"It’s tough being a legend. — So much pressure…
So far being a skate legend means no kids recognize me at the skatepark anymore and any time I land a trick it’s a surprise.
Can I put this on my business card now? “Ed Templeton: Skateboard Legend”
Maybe under that is says in super small type: “Google it.”
I’m nervous. They told me to just imagine that the audience is naked. Which is only fair because you’ve all seen me naked through the years.
First off I’d like to thank Jamie Owens and the Transworld staff for this great honor. I have great memories working with Transworld on my first pro spotlight in 1990. Shooting photos with O, doing the layout with GSD. My friend Christian Kline did the interview under the fake name “Josh Money” since he worked for Poweredge, a rival magazine. I’m not sure I ever told you guys that, but I figured 25 years have gone by, so we’ve passed the statute of limitations on that one.
Lately I have had some people coming up to me and saying “Thank you for what you’ve done for skateboarding.” A compliment so intense that I don’t know how to handle it or what to say. (Aside from Thank You in a Garth Algar style - “Thank You”) ——I think, “I’m in the same boat you’re in! This is OUR thing!” I don’t feel like I did anything different than any of you would do. I got my chances, I ran with them. I’m just happy to have been a contributor in this thing WE created. Us in this room, the kids digging out a ditch to skate in the middle of nowhere who could care less about “The industry” — All of us.
You don’t find yourself in a situation like this without a lot of HELP along the way.
To these people I’d like to give Thanks:
To Don Brown and Hans Lindgren for being nice to a 13-year-old grommet coming to their doors asking for stickers back in 1985.
To the HB crew I grew up skating with: Eric Estrada, Jake Burns, Justen and Mike Fink, Omar Hassan, Bill King, Dean Yoshihara, Skip Pronier, Aaron Devine, Jose Cerda, Jason Dill, Justin Regan, Jamie Hart, Jason Lee, and all the guys hanging around Gremic Skate shop. And also to the skaters that gathered at Pay & Play on the weekends, if you were there, you know how rad that was.
Thanks to Jay Lee, Skating with Jason Lee at that time is what really pushed me to try to become a good skater.
To Bob Schmeltzer for giving me that first sponsorship and my first ad, regardless if my name was on it or not. I was so amped to be in a magazine.
To Nick Umbenhower who I believe told Paul Schmitt about me - helping me get onto Schmitt Stix, my favorite company. It’s those little things that happened that if they didn’t I wonder what my path might have been.
To Paul Schmitt for taking a chance on turning me pro to help start The New Deal and so much more.
To Mike Vallely for taking me on my first skate tour across the USA in 1990, 30 demos in 30 days, along with Felix Arguelles and Chris Pastras. I was on New Deal and they brought me on a World Industries tour helping put me on the map. Mike and I saw a lot of road together over the years, and had some bumpy times but always came out the other side as friends. I wouldn’t change anything.
To Ann Vallely who introduced me to the love of my life Deanna.
I was gonna thank God, like most pro athletes, but Koston convinced me to become a Scientologist, so “Thanks Zenu!”
To Brad Dorfman for helping me start Toy Machine and especially to Tod Swank who I’ve been doing Toy Machine with for 22 years now on a handshake deal. He’s been the backbone of a lot of what I have been able to do in this world. And Matt Barker, who keeps that place running.
To Christian Kline, O, Thomas Campbell, Miki Vuckovich, and Tobin Yelland. These are the photographers I was surrounded by in my early years who’s job it was to shoot me for the mags, but it never once felt like a job, it was these guys who inspired me to pick up a camera and taught me how to use it and encouraged me. I can never thank them enough. And over the years I feel fortunate to have had similar experiences with Rick Kosick, Chris Ortiz, Mike O’Meally, Atiba Jefferson, Spike Jones, Jon Humphries, and Mike Burnett.
To the artists who sparked my young imagination: GSD, Chris Miller, Neil Blender, Craig Stecyk, Lance Mountain and Mark Gonzales. These guys exude creativity in everything they do, and it was my aspiration to follow in their footsteps.
To Ron Cameron who taught me how to use a computer, your design philosophies I still follow to this day.
To Shrewgy and Jim Theibaud for putting me on Thunder Trucks, the only trucks I have ever rode and will ever ride.
To Pat Tenore and Casey Holland at RVCA for continued support in both skating and art. It’s not every company that’ll let you model clothing when you’re shaped like a yam.
To Jamie Hart for being my skate bud and bonding over our white trash credentials.
To Justin Regan, who I skated with through high school and beyond and was lucky enough to have as my boss at Emerica for so long. He was a groomsmen in my wedding even.
To his successors Timothy Nickloff and Jeff Henderson, and to Pierre Andre and Don Brown at Sole Tech for making that possible and for supporting me and letting me make vegan skate shoes all these years.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to ride mostly for companies owned and run by actual skaters.
To Geoff Rowley for being a dear friend all these years - I feel like I got a second wind when you guys came over to the U.S.
To Arto Saari, Tosh Townend, Alex Olson and Cyril Mountain Jr., who I watched grow up into fine young men. Being around you guys extended my youth a little bit.
To all the people who ever rode for Toy Machine, especially Jerry Fowler, Jamal Williams, Ethan Fowler, Panama Dan from the early days — Brian Anderson, Brad Staba, Elissa Steamer, Kerry Getz, Mike Maldonado, Bam Margera, Satva Leung, Donny Barley, Chris Senn and Chad THE Muska from the middle ages — and Austin Stephens, Josh Harmony, Diego Bucchieri, Johnny Layton, Billy Marks, Matt Bennett, Jeremy Leabres, Blake Carpenter, Daniel Lutheran, Leo Romero and Collin Provost from the modern times.
With extra thanks to Jamie Thomas who was instrumental in shaping Toy Machine into what it became and for being the mastermind behind Welcome to Hell, the video I still hear about the most to this day.
To Kevin Barnett who made most of ToY Machine’s videos in this recent era — He was my right hand man helping me do Toy Machine for the last 14 years.
I’d also like to thank: Marty Jimenez, Steve Douglas, Jeremy Klein, Steve Rocco, John Lucero, Jake Phelps, French Fred, Jeff Tremaine, Sean Cliver, Grant Brittain, Dave Swift, Skin Philips, The Deadbeat Club, Mike Sinclair, Mark Waters, Wing Ko, Ted Newsome, Griffin Collins, Don and Danielle Bostick, Harry Paratesteze, Ian Deacon, Alex Moul, Jeremy Fox, Ewan Bowman, Jim Greco, Andrew Reynolds, Dave Hoang, Jon Miner and Jimmy Arrighi.
I’ve had some serious life experiences with all of the people I’ve mentioned today — too many stories to tell now. But I do have photographic evidence to share later.
To my late grandparents, Connie and Will who at 94 years of age were still stopping random skaters on the streets asking if they knew who I was.
To My mother Susie who wrote out in huge letters “My Son is World Champion” and taped it to the inside of her rear window after I won the contest in Germany.
To my wife Deanna who has been with me through every triumph and disaster.
All of these people and many more have helped me along the way, and I thank them for coming along with me for the ride or letting me hop on their ride.
Skateboarding has been my dysfunctional family. It adopted me into this community of amazing creative people who have raised me and shaped me into who I am. It has loved me and hated me - it has beat me up and then nursed me back to health. There never was a goal to strive towards or a level to reach. The journey itself, every era, every road trip, the good and the bad leading up to this very moment IS the goal. The journey itself is the destination, lets keep going.
I’m honored and humbled by this gesture,
Thank you very much."
- Paul Zitzer