Animal Chin Has Finally Been Found (and it's Craig Stecyk)

Since 1987 there has been a search going on for the quasi-mythological godfather of skating, Won Ton 'Animal' Chin. It has become the stuff of skateboarding legend and inside jokes. As for Animal Chin himself, we are only given brief views of the shadowy figure of the mysterious patriarch rolling on his board  through the streets of San Francisco while the Bones Brigade explore every nook and cranny not only of San Francisco, but also the desert, the Pink Motel and the Wallows in Hawaii. 

In 2012 when the Stacy Peralta's group biopic, The Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, was released, we learned that the shadowy figure of Animal Chin that we saw in the filk was actually played by none other than Craig Stecyk himself -- a godfather in the skate community in his own right.

Given Stecyk's particularly important role in both the Dogtown skate scene of the 1970's and then, in the 1980's, his similarly important role in defining the Bones Brigade it certainly seems to overstate his overall influence and importance in defining the skate culture. Like the mythological Animal Chin, Stecyk seems to prefer to remain in the shadows. When he wrote his Dogtown chronicles back in the 1970's for Skateboarder magazines, he did so under pen names; when he came up with the name "Bones Brigade" for Stacy Peralta or defined the image of the Bones Brigade, that too he did from behind the scenes and in the shadows. 

If Animal Chin was a mysterious, allegorical type intended to represent the pure, innocent joy of the pursuit of skateboarding (which it surely was for let us recall the words of Johnny Rad: "If you look too hard for Animal Chin you're never going to find him. You gotta... relax... and enjoy your skating. Isn't that how it all started out?") then I can think of few better candidates for the title of "Chin" than Craig Stecyk himself who, in his creative work, his levity and in his passion, represents some of the very best of what skateboarding is about, and why we can truly say that skateboarding is not simply an "activity" but a culture.
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