Caught Clean – Jay Adams

First the good news: Before the Z-Boys carved a Dogtown legacy, there was just a skinny blonde kid named Jay Adams sidewalk-slashing along the Venice waterfront and hanging five in the Malibu surf. The California Kid magic of that singular time and place has been vividly resurrected in Jay Boy, a new hardback gathering of 82 color and black-and-white photographs taken during the late 60s and early 70s by Jay’s stepfather Kent Sherwood. Edited and designed with the perfectionist touch of veteran subculture photographer Glen E. Friedman-whose Burning Flags Press teamed up with Concrete Wave Editions and Pool King Publications-the book also glows with the imperfect humanity, insight, and humor of Jay’s captions, which appear in his own handwriting.
The images are hand-picked from several hundred shots Sherwood gave to Jay on his wedding day early last year. After flipping through the striking black-and-whites, many of which Sherwood shot with a medium-format Roloflex, Jay wanted to share the shots with others interested in the pre-Zephyr surf-skate scene. He threw the book idea at Friedman, who ran with it.
The cool part, Friedman said recently, is that everybody, from the associate publishers to the printer, was so stoked to be part of it that they provided their services at a cut rate while promising 100 percent of the profits to the Jay Adams Family Fund. That wellspring of support will go a long way in helping Jay’s wife, Alisha, and their baby daughter, Venice, born on May 6.

Now the bad news: Jay’s in jail, locked away on November 17, 2005 for playing the middleman on a big-time, hard-drug deal between California and Hawai’i. Jay hasn’t seen his baby girl except through a pane of jail-house Plexiglas. He hasn’t smelled her or held her or felt her tiny hand clutching his finger. But perhaps the biggest bummer is that he’s in the can for a crime he committed before meeting Alisha.
“(The crime) happened in June 2004,” Jay explained recently over the phone from Santa Ana Jail, in Southern California. “I was on parole. I had a relapse. I was . . . getting high and having bad judgment, that’s all. (But) when I first met (Alisha) I was getting off (that) drug addiction, and she stood behind me. She was a big help. I got myself clean, (got) married, and started going to church, and my whole life had turned around again.” But then the past came back to haunt him in the form of federal drug agents.
“Being away from my wife and new baby-that’s hard,” he continued. “Another thing that’s hard to deal with is that the time I’m doing now, I’m not sure what the final outcome will be until I’m sentenced.”
His sentencing is scheduled for early next year-Jay is facing time-served to life.-Keith Hamm