There’s a Reason

My loss so paled in comparison to the loss of life and tragedy suffered by others, I never felt justified in feeling sorry for myself.

Some stories are hard to tell. In the case of Gator, it took me the better part of 15 years to spit out how it felt to lose it all just when I thought we had it made. The thing is, my loss so paled in comparison to the loss of life and tragedy suffered by others, I never felt justified in feeling sorry for myself. How could I?

In the spring of 1991, I signed an endorsement deal with the legendary pro skateboarder Mark ‘Gator’ Rogowski for my burgeoning skateboard company, Fishlips Skateboards. Fishlips was a little-known Canadian brand and Gator a former international star so, regardless of the fact Gator’s career was fading, signing him was a big deal both for the business and me personally.

When my fiance Tina and I dropped by his condo to sign the papers, Gator answered the door in his underwear. What little furniture he had was pushed onto a small tiled area beside the kitchen. “I just had the carpets steam-cleaned”, he called bounding upstairs to retrieve a bathrobe, “hope you don’t mind sitting on the floor!” The condo was strangely empty. Aside from a framed selfie on the mantelpiece of him skydiving there was nothing personal in sight. A few minutes later Gator, robe splayed open but still thankfully in his underwear, joined me where I sat on the damp living room carpet. Tina retreated to the door and refused to come in.

The contract enabled me to get our first financial backer and we swung into action. The largest production run I’d ever ordered. Full page ads. Tina and I hit the road to get pre-orders from distributors across the country. We went back to Canada to get married. Life was good.

Meanwhile, back in California Gator was acting strange. He had discovered religion. A peripatetic preacher. He brought his bible to the skatepark.

We were in Canada when the calls started pouring in. Newspapers, radio, television. Gator had turned himself in for the murder of a missing young woman. She had been beaten, raped and strangled. In his house. Most likely the night before Tina and I had been there. Carpets damp. Gator took the police to the location in the desert where he had buried the body.

He called every week from jail. “I’m innocent”, he told me. “You’ll see at the trial. It will be ok”. He wanted me to do a ‘Free James Brown’ style campaign to help pay for legal fees. I went to the initial hearing and listened to the testimony of the boy that found the body and, like the boy, left crying.

There’s more to the story but it’s not important. It was the end of someone’s life and the beginning of the end for me in skateboarding. I lost my heart for it and a year later Tina and I left California, returned to Toronto and moved on with our lives. At least she did anyway.

In 2013 I wrote a song to finally exorcise the feelings I had buried for so long. Admittedly the lines have blurred over 26 years but the ominous start, Gator’s fall and my own loss both personal and in business remain palpable after all this time.

Here’s the track. Lyrics are below.

There’s a Reason

 Mantelpiece, picture, a man in flight 

 Living room empty not a thing in sight- nowhere to sit 

 Carpet damp, moisture, like a field at night 

 At the door my lady paralyzed with fright- she wouldn’t come in 

 

 Overhead the clouds come rolling in 

 Run for cover it goes from thick to thin- I’m getting wet 

 Final chapter is full of fear and sin 

 Final tally there’s nothing left to win- nothing to loose 

 

 Time runs through 

 There’s a reason she knew 

 Trouble comes 

 There’s a season, there’s a story 

 That I just can’t tell 

 

 Now and then were all just a little mad 

 Running fast with scissors can you feel the jab- a poke in the gut 

 Standing here, platform on the edge of fact 

 If I take one step will it fade to black?- No more to know 

 

 Time runs through 

 There’s a reason she knew 

 Trouble comes 

 There’s a season, there’s a story 

 That I just can’t tell 

 

 Got a reason for time, to go on through 

 There was a season when it was me and you- not anymore 

 There’s a story that I have got to tell 

 The mantle’s empty and your stuck in jail- you’ll never get out 

 

 Time runs through 

 There’s a reason she knew 

 Trouble comes 

 There’s a story, that’s a reason 

 That I’ve got to tell.

(© 2013 Gladstone /Girio)