RIP Mark Waters

So much love and sadness for Mark Waters, who died yesterday. Nearly 400,000 Americans have perished from COVID-19 so far but Mark is my first friend to be a casualty. He is about the same age as me and leaves behind a spouse and child. And although I would never compare whatever I’ve done to the body of work and legacy he leaves as an instigator, supporter, mentor, and creator of skateboarding culture and cool music, I also consider Mark a peer. I have a lot of fun sucking at skateboarding and have many buddies who do it for a living/for life but met him through art, music, and activism.

Mural painting in Paramount with O and Ben Clark (June 6, 2016)

For the last few years, we’ve been crossing paths out at Erik Caruso’s annual Operation: Creative Freedom art and music jams in support of public education and encouraging elementary school students to express themselves joyfully and fearlessly. For the kids, he donated his photography, played music and donated practice space, and recruited I don’t know how many big names to support the cause–even if the students had no idea who they were! At the last gathering that took place in person, he approached my daughter and told her he loved what her band was doing, to keep it up, and that he always tells girls who skateboard that they can do anything the guys can do. At a Dogtown-related event at Pizzanista, he gushed about The Linda Lindas to Glen E. Friedman!

With Tobin Yelland at Operation: Creative Freedom (June 2, 2018)

This summer I was honored to contribute photography to the online OCF art show alongside Mark’s shots of some of my favorite bands and skaters. And looking through my record collection, I have a stack of singles he helped release featuring many of my favorite bands: J Church, Fluf, Olive Lawn, Supernova, Three Mile Pilot… But when I think of Mark, I’ll always envision him having a blast playing music with friends for friends for the cause. Smiling nonstop and cracking up when his son runs up to play air guitar with them. Being on the side and out of the spotlight but doing what he loves with friends and family in support of others.

Action Now! at Operation: Creative Freedom (June 2, 2018)

Thanks to Mark’s wife Claudine for the difficult task of sharing updates on him with his network of friends and followers around the world for the last month or so, as well as always encouraging readers to wear masks and take COVID seriously. Our hearts break for her and Avery but they also burst from being the beneficiaries of the Waters family’s art, efforts, love, and PMA.

Action now! with Ray Barbee at Operation: Creative Freedom 2 (June 1, 2019)

Thank you for reading to the end. You can read Claudine’s posts about Mark and donate to help out the Waters family at

Action Now! with Tim Kerr at Operation: Creative Freedom 2 (June 1, 2019)

Author: martinkendallwong2014

Co-founder of Giant Robot magazine (RIP) and Save Music in Chinatown (since 2013)

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