RIP "Baby Paul" Cullen: Dogtown, Z-Boy, youngest member of the original Zephyr skate team.

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Note: this blog post has been updated, and some material has been redacted at the request of the submitter.

Today on the way to my office in Venice Beach, I saw the following words spray-painted on the wall outside of a local skateboard shop: "RIP, Baby Paul."

Skate/punk/hip-hop photographer Glen E. Friedman last night posted the very sad news about the untimely passing of an early skateboard culture icon: Paul "Baby Paul" Cullen is reported by various sources who knew him to have died this week of causes related to a long struggle with drug addiction. His surviving family have not confirmed cause of death, but stated to Boing Boing that Cullen was in recovery at the time of his death. He leaves behind a child and a loving family.

He will long be remembered as an early pioneer in the art, culture, and sport of skateboarding, and his influence will long be felt in the music, the style, and the iconography rooted in "Dogtown."

His brother, Brian Cullen, sends word that those who mourn his death are invited to attend a memorial service at Saint Monica's Catholic Church in Santa Monica, CA, this Saturday at 1030am.

Friedman photographed "Baby Paul" in the 1970s as the young skater ascended to fame. He describes what it was like to see Paul in New York a few summers ago, some 25 years later. He was not well.

He was here for only a few days with his girlfriend and new baby, and he was in sad shape. [redacted] We spent less than 15 minutes talking on a street corner. When I got home, i told my wife that night i'd probably never hear from him ever again. I never did.

He was several years younger than me. He was like a mascot for the original Zephyr team, he was a shredder, the original mini-shredder (before Bella Horvath, before Eric Dressen, before "Mini-Shred"). Photogenic, energetic, and a pure menace to society (I say that in the most admiring way).

We talked off and on over the years, like you do with people you've known for a long time that you do remain in touch with even if it's only rare. Particularly after the DogTown documentary came out but also a lot since i included a photo of him across the title page in The Idealist. [redacted]
Read the [updated] blog post, with comments from friends and family, and view more early photos of Paul Cullen by Glen Friedman.

Related thread at surfermag here.