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COLUMN ONE : Skateboard Pros: Life on the Edge : Hard-core riders thrive on thrills and an increasingly rebellious lifestyle. Two recent murder cases make some skaters wonder if the rebellion has gone too far.

March 06, 1994|DAVID FERRELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Annie Swindell has a much different opinion. At the time of the Azusa party, her son was getting his life together, learning to face responsibility. He was probably trying to send Ogden away for his own good, she said. The arrest was just another act of bias against skateboarders.

"When Josh fought with the guy, the guy ran, literally stumbling across the street to get away from him," Annie Swindell said. "(That was) the last moment Josh saw him--alive."

In a visitor's booth at Los Angeles County Jail, where he talked on condition that the case not be discussed, the young skateboarder seemed in good spirits, glad for company. Boyish and glib, he chatted about "the nightmare" of Mexican jail, about allegedly bribing authorities there and about the enormous dedication that professional skateboarding requires.

A story came to mind--an incident that he said shows what a bad rap skateboarders get: Swindell remembered when a friend came out with a board design, a step-by-step graphic illustrating how to make a pipe bomb. One of the boards and some apparent bomb-making materials were confiscated from some teen-ager's locker, in New York or someplace.

"They were trying to blame (the skater) for it," Swindell said, incredulously, grinning as a guard arrived to reapply the handcuffs and lead him back to his isolation cell.

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