Ruben Orkin but most of us just called him “Rube”. To get right down to it, he died 20 years ago today, at the age of 29 of lung cancer. Rube was the shit. He could get along with practically anybody, and if you were a skateboarder there were no questions asked, you were part of his family.
The east bay skate scene of the late 80’s was pretty rad, You had the Berkeley tennis courts, the Chavez brothers had the ramp up against their house, the East Oakland hills had the blood bowl and there was also the 0-9 ramp, Along with various hills, street spots, and even an abandoned mini golf course. It was not uncommon to see a gaggle of bleached haired skate rats piled into a dented four door 1960’s gas guzzler screech up to any of these spots. With Mickeys 40’s in paper bags and a pair of men’s slacks tapered to 6 1/4, the Berkeley/Oakland crew would spill out of the vehicle and what happened next……?? Shit, possibly Cutis might contort himself into some sketchy frontside grind on the worst part of whatever you were skating, Spock might of broke his femur, Blake would scare the shit out of you just by pure sketch, and Rube……
Well he probably just finished eating a burrito, because he thought he skated better on a full stomach, which has always confused me…. Would continue to shred and grind every nook and cranny of whatever it was you were skating. Completely unconventional style, Slightly knock kneed, Always laughing and saying something loudly in his strange nasally voice that came out of the back of his throat.
The objective of course was friendship, destruction, hi-jinx, thrashing, and a good amount of cheering for your buddy but clowning him at the same time. I looked up to all of these guys, any of the younger skaters that were around wanted to grow up to be like them. I had already witnessed the suburban backyard ramp scene, which was stale and required an absurd amount of permission. These guys would skate anything and everything and have just as much fun on the shitty curb as a perfect pool. Ruben was one of those people that just made things better if he was around. When he wasn’t at the session, it just wasn’t the same. And life without him for the last 20 years, has felt the same way.
He went on to become Spitfire and the Thunder team manager. He connected with a lot of skaters, and if you were part of his team he fucking loved you. I remember he would just get so stoked saying the name Peter Hewitt. Rube loved those all around rippers, but he loved the Vert Dogs like Frazier, and was so hyped on the Philly scene like Matt Reason, Ricky Oyola, and Fred Gall. His love for Curtis and Royce was deep! His last year’s spent in San Francisco he found his final crew, they were like brothers Julien, Andy, Joey and Jake….. Look out!
Ruben is a champion. Forever. 20 years gone but still with all of us he touched. Keeping his fire lit. Miss you man.