Dogtown and Z-Boys more than exposes the roots of the skateboarding boom that would become “the punk kids’ revolution”—it mourns the dilapidated palaces of Dogtown’s past (its once-crowded boardwalks, its amusement parks) that would recycle themselves as playgrounds for the modern urban sportsman. “Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential,” said photojournalist Craig Stecyk, one of the co-founders of the Zephyr Skating Team. Craig, along with Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom, designed the Z-Boys aesthetic from the rubble of their impoverished Dogtown community. For director Stacy Peralta, Dogtown becomes the explosive geographical center between the sea and the luxurious houses past the Zephyr Surf Shop line of demarcation. The Z-Boys took surfing to the mainland with their skateboards, riding asphalt-banked school playgrounds and empty swimming pools like the rocky waves that crashed just outside their seaside slum. Not unlike the ‘80s break dancing craze and Harlem’s vogue houses (the ones built before Madonna), skateboarding became a bonding ritual for impoverished youth. Director Peralta’s use of archival footage evocatively renders the West Coast as a cyclically changing environment simultaneously resisting and embracing its cultural flux: the Venice heyday gives way to the Dogtown rambles, surfing opens the door for skateboarding and an intense drought paves the way for new kinds of land riding. Skating for the Z-Boys was as much about going against the mainstream as it was about forging a close-knit community and, well, just having fun. Dogtown and Z-Boys captures and worships those euphoric moments when barriers are broken and the ordinary gives way to something quite holy. These skater pimps tore away at the status quo by going places unimaginable; indeed, Dogtown‘s most potent moment is a teary-eyed remembrance of Tony Alva’s first full aerial. Peralta forces the spectator to acknowledge the importance of Alva’s latest move. Once born, the aerial pushed the limit and set the standard for newer generations that now take that aerial for granted. Dogtown takes us there with the help of punchy editing and snazzy, oft-cocky humor (a cutaway to a Charlie’s Angels clip is a riot). This awesome ride through skater history brims with such energetic, time-stood-still nostalgia it’s a shame the Z-Boys had to eventually come down.
- Stacy Perlata
- Stacy Perlata, Craig Stecyk
- Jay Adams, Tony Alya, Bob Biniak, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Jim Muir, Peggy Oki, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml, Allen Sarlo
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