Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What does it take to become a legend?

So asks the promo for a new film about the Legendary Z-Boys of Dogtown, CA! But a gritty promo with a sexy soundtrack and some fine editing will not compare to the documentary directed by Stacey Peralta, a former Z-Boy! The movie has both distorted and oversimplified their story and its a diservice to the Legend that is The Z Boys! Skip the film, I have a better alternative.........

Several years ago, while attending Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, I watched the screening of a great documentary, Dogtown and the Z Boys "The Birth of Extreme", directed by Stacey Peralta, one of the Z Boys, which follows the "evolution of modern skateboarding through it's 70's heyday, its decline during the 80's, and its eventual (and highly lucrative) return in the 90's".The visual look is skate-punk aesthetic; edgy, fast, with a soundtrack that KILLS!

But Dogtown and The Z Boys is so much more than just a documentary about Skateboarding. It's a gritty, evocative, rags to riches joy ride filled with passion and some bittersweet moments, about teen age kids who shake up the old boring establishment and take the world by storm, creating what would become known as the Dogtown phenomenon.

Tony Alva, Jay Adams ('When God invented skateboarding, he said "Let there be Jay Adams".) Stacey Peralta, and 8 others, including one girl, mentored by the owners of the Zephyr board shop, Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom, transform skateboarding to an art form, a lifestyle, and a multimillion dollar industry, when they develop a radical new low-rider style, based on moves cut by their surfer heroes, and become the rockstars of the skateboarding world!

During one of the worst droughts SoCal would experience, the Z Boys turned to sneaking into backyards, draining swimming pools and riding in them, creating the first half pipe, and developing moves in the moment, that blew people away. The footage that Stacey has is awesome. I can only imagine how incredibly exciting, awesome, hell mindblowing, it must have been to witness first hand these young punks dripping with Dogtown "tude" creating these carves and cutbacks IN THE MOMENT....to quote Tony Alva, "imagining yourself doing something AS your doing it"

Craig Stecyk began documenting and packaging the Dogtown aesthetic: their look, blue shirts and Van sneakers, their moves, their lifestyle, their attitude, their fast journey from the 1975 Del Mar Nationals, where they caused a major sensation, to sponsorship deals, and the life of a rockstar. Suddenly EVERY GUY EVERYWHERE in the US wanted to be a Z Boy. Being a Z Boy wasn't jsut about skatingboard moves, it was about ATTITUDE! The Z Boys were counter culture, who changed an entire culture, and then became the culture!

While the ride was fast, furious and fun, it would soon implode on all of them, but none more so than Jay Adams. The most naturally talented of the ZBoys, blonde hair blue eyed, he exemplifies the spirit of the Z Boys, and California in the mid 70's, but sadly does not weather his success very well. He is interviewed as an adult from prison....drugs became his downfall. For Jay..it was all about the skate and not about the trappings of success...all he wanted to do was skate for the shear love of skating......but sadly the dream would fade and turn ugly.

Each of the ZBoys would move on, but their impact on the world of skateboarding is still being felt today!

The soundtrack includes: Seasons of Wither (Aerosmith), Hots On For Nowhere (Zepplin), Alladin Sane ( Bowie), Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult), Fast Cars (Buzzcocks), Gut Feeling (Devo), and One Way Out (Allman Brothers), Sidwalking Surfing (Jan & Dean), Sneaker Pimps, Hendrix, Easy Rider, Motor City Madhouse, Generation Landslide and Children of the Revolution by T Rex.


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