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By Deborah Burstyn
Photograph by Alex Farnum
Dressed head-to-toe in punk metal regalia, Duffel is digging a hole for a Japanese maple,
which he’s planting in the backyard of his new four-bedroom home in north Walnut Creek.
The East Bay native happily steered a chunk of the earnings from his skateboard
sponsorships toward buying himself a piece of his hometown.
“Other skaters laugh when I tell them I not only live in the suburbs but on a cul-de-sac, but
Walnut Creek is great,” says Duffel, who sometimes practices at the Walnut Creek Skate
Park. quot;It’s important to me when I’m not on the road to be with the people I love—my
parents and two brothers.”Skateboarding has been good to Duffel, who honed his moves
around the streets of Walnut Creek before he started winning competitions around the
world. Now, he’s following the example of legends like Tony Hawk, who elevated a sport
with a slacker reputation into a mainstream, multimillion-dollar sports industry. Duffel has
already designed boards for Foundation Skateboards and recently released eponymous lines
of shoes for skateboard brand Osiris and clothing for Split.
Photograph by Alex Farnum
He’s put his celebrity toward good causes, working with the Music Is Revolution
Foundation to raise money to support music education in public schools. Duffel even
created a skateboard to benefit one of his heroes, psychedelic music pioneer Roky
Erickson, who had fallen on hard times. And, when he’s not helping lesser-known rockers,
he’s schmoozing with the big boys.
“I knew I had made it last year when I had dinner with the Rolling Stones. They were
complimenting my look, especially my hair,” says Duffel. “That was funny to me because
my hair is like a blend of Keith Richards' and Ronnie Wood’s styles. I told them, if I look
good, it is because I learned from guys like you.”
This article appears in the August 2008 issue of Diablo Magazine