For anyone who knew Joe Lopes, hearing the words "Joe Lopes is manning the barbecue" was always a good thing. Joe's passion for skateboarding, for getting together to have a good time with your friends, made a great big dent in the collective cool armor of skateboarding at a time when contest results and magazine coverage were the measures of how good a pro you were. Indeed, the very first time the words "Ramp Jam" were used was for a contest at Joe Lopes' house. Joe was one of the first pros to ever say "I don't wanna enter that contest." And they were probably followed by a variation of "but I'll cook for everyone."
Joe Lopes holds a place in my heart. Not only were we teammates on Circle-A Skateboards about 20 years ago, but Joe was the first pro I ever met who welcomed me to his house, let me skate his ramp, and generally treated me, as a 17-year old kid, hungry for all things skateboarding, in a way that meant something to me.
These photos were taken in 1988 or 1989 at the Visalia YMCA, and Joe, with a beer in one hand, the tongs in the other, after a session and with a great view of the ramp, was in his element. Joe died in 2002 in a car accident. This is from my blog in 2002 when we threw a benefit contest in my backyard. And this is from my blog in 2003 after I got a letter about Joe from a reader.
Joe's Ramp Jam: