Published Sep 01, 2001"Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential." C.R. Stecyk
In what were the slums of Santa Monica, a generation of kids came of age in the mid to late 70. The kids who became the Z-Boys looked up to the older surfers who'd been surfing along the beach for years. It was a fiercely territorial area, and to be able to surf there they paid their dues by picking off intruders with slingshots and debris. Their second home became a local surfing shop called Zephyr. The surf would die around 10:30 in the morning, so the kids rediscovered the 60s fad of skateboarding, by building they're own boards, and ripping up the asphalt and cement schoolyards in the area. In the growing skateboarding revival, the style was still stuck in the 60s, with skaters standing stand up straight and doing tricks like handstands. The future Z-boys developed a ground hugging, low-down style based to a large degree on their Hawaiian surfing hero Larry Bertleman. The kids formed a team and were sponsored by Zephyr, hence the name "Z-boys." Their appearance at the 1975 Del Mar Nationals skate competition changed skating forever, it was like Black Sabbath showing up to play a squeaky-clean Beach Boys and Jan and Dean jamboree. People just had no idea what to make of them.
The Z-Boys spawned such legends as Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and the originator of the skate video, and director of this film, Stacy Peralta. Peralta does a great job of capturing the spirit and flavour of 70s Southern California, with a monster soundtrack featuring Sabbath, Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and tons more. The film is stylish, and chock full of footage (edited down from about 100 hours raw), some of which Peralta had to hire a private investigator to track down. The legend of the Z-Boys was built in part by Craig Stecyk's (who co-wrote the film) articles for "SkateBoarder" magazine, and his archives are also plundered expertly for the film. Peralta even got Jeff Spicoli, himself, Sean Penn to narrate "Dogtown." Apparently, Penn, who grew up close by and skated and surfed the area, was close to tears during an early screening.
Whether you've heard of Tony Alva or not, by the end of the film you'll be declaring all of the Z-boys living legends. How much more fun could a history lesson be?