“Twin Peaks was a place for him to hang out,” said Loren Michelle, mother of Pablo Ramirez, the 26-year-old skateboarder whose life ended in a collision with a dump truck on Seventh Street on April 23.
“I was scared to go there as a parent … see the signs and the shrine … is it real?” said Michelle, a Brooklyn-based chef and catering and events business owner.
“When I got up there, it was magical. It’s birds, it’s clouds, it’s wind, you can see the sky, the ocean. You feel calm You feel alive, ”she said.
Michelle buried her son in her hometown of New York, and then traveled west with her family, including Ramirez’s father Carlos, stepfather, and friends to hold a second service here last Sunday, attended by around 350 locals in baggy pants, hoodies, and vans in standard edition participated the church of St. John Coltrane, in which Ramirez was known as an accomplished drummer. Over four hours of speech and music, his embodiment of the classic San Francisco lifestyle was celebrated, from his belief in peace and love to his practice of living freely and simply (his nickname was PSpliff).
SEE RELATED: Mother, friends of the fallen skateboarder gather to skate in his memory
“One of the things Pablo always said was when he came to San Francisco, he was born again, it was the beginning of his new life,” said Michelle. In a city of one-way streets that some confuse and others take for granted, Ramirez took every direction at once, one foot affecting the lives of those he touched while the other tested the limits of skateboarding for itself.
“Very few skateboarders change the way we see skateboarding. Pablo did just that, ”said Tony Vitello, editor of Thrasher, the authority on skateboarding and the father of Vitello magazine, which was co-founded here in 1981. Thrasher hosted the block party after the memorial for Ramirez, while his community continued to mourn the loss of another skate attorney, Thrasher longtime editor, Jake Phelps, who died suddenly in March (his memorial is this weekend). Phelps and Thrasher promoted the consistent rise and recognition of street skating in the hills of San Francisco, but Ramirez and the GX1000 crew he rode with made street skating legendary here with their signature bombing raids.
“He studied the hills, he knew the math, the speed,” said Michelle. “You can’t go down these hills if you don’t have faith. You know you have to do it. “
A former triathlete, hockey player and cyclist: “I ride my bike all over town. Like Pablo, I don’t wear a helmet. I think I’m the female version of Pablo, but a little more mature, ”she smiled. The appearance of her on a board at Twin Peaks drew cheers from Ramirez’s friends. “It flies,” said a border, “it’s in the blood.”
Ramirez grew up as a musician, attended the conservatory and played with ensembles. “I bought him a drum kit when he was eight years old,” said the then single mother. “He had a sophisticated understanding of music because he studied, read and played it. We went to amazing clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn to see the big guys play, ”said Michelle.
When Ramirez came of age, he decided to feed himself. She provided him with a cell phone, largely because he wanted to go on a 1000-mile solo bike ride from Manhattan to Maine and back.
“Pablo lived this pure and free life without thinking about money, without thinking about logistics. He had these ideas, like drinking more water, eating fruit, ”said Michelle. He wrote a poem, an ode to breathing and planting seeds that were circulated and used as a kind of blueprint for life on ice skates. His sketches and sayings appear on T-shirts, water bottles, and labels: Life is Beautiful, Gone, and Plant Seeds (his work can also be seen at the Pentacle Coffee Company on Sixth Street).
“There are about 10 people who got tattoos for Pablo. Pablo never had a tattoo, ”she added.
“I think the scars are her tattoos,” said Antonia Perez, a friend Ramirez talked to a year ago about his near-death experience after falling from a coconut tree on a remote beach in Mexico.
“He understood deep gratitude especially after the accident,” said Perez. “He cherished his life. He thanked life. “
Michelle has heard from hundreds of people that Pablo’s death served as a catalyst for friends and family who changed their lives.
“When do you cut the tie? When do you have the courage to say, I don’t live this way, I live this way? I think this is the lesson Pablo taught me and many of us, ”she said. The Pablo Ramirez Foundation was founded on pabloramirez.org. It is also hoped that The City will work together to create a more lasting memory of the skater’s legacy.
“My dream would be that they would build a skate park up there,” said Michelle of Twin Peaks Road, which served as Pablo’s spot. There is talk of a statue or a mural. Maybe a garden.
Thrashers Vitello told a personal story about the native plants that line Upper Market, Portola and Twin Peaks Road: the abundant lupine, now in high season, is home to the Mission’s endangered blue butterfly that may be reborn, when enough seeds are sown.
“In a strange way, Pablo is almost seen as a prophet to these guys,” said Michelle of the skaters. “Listen, you won’t hear punk rock up here,” she said, pointing to the sky. Between the wind, the birds, the sound of wheels on concrete, “Greensleeves” by John Coltrane’s classic quartet could actually be heard.
Denise Sullivan is a writer, cultural worker, and editor of “Your Golden Sun Still Shines: Personal Stories and Little Fictions in San Francisco”. She is a guest columnist and her point of view is not necessarily that of the reviewer. Follow her on www.denisesullivan.com and on Twitter @ 4DeniseSullivan.
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Loren Michelle, mother of the skateboarder Pablo “P-Spliff” Ramirez, will be standing over a huge mural on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 to honor her son along with 50 skaters and friends of his in Twin Peaks. (Kevin N. Hume / SF Examiner)
Skateboarder Pablo Ramirez. (Courtesy of the Pablo Ramirez Foundation)