Stacy Peralta's documentary, DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS, chronicles "the beginning
of the revolution." The birth of this revolution happened not in Red Square
but on asphalt playgrounds and in drained swimming pools, where a bunch of
outlaw skaters brought their skateboards to mimic their surfing moves on
The energetic and fun film follows the punk rockers of the 1970's skateboard
movement, a group called the Zephyr team or Z-Boys for short. Rather like a
street gang, these surfers came together to surf around the dangerous
abandoned piers in the rough Dogtown area of Santa Monica. They describe
this area as "the last great seaside swamp." They all got a huge adrenaline
rush from the danger of almost dying as they crashed into visible and
invisible pilings that dotted their surfing area. Seeing themselves as the
local Mafia, they threw rocks and glass at outsiders who dared try to surf
In order to keep busy during the day when the waves were down, these surfers
started skateboarding, a sport that had flourished briefly and then died in
1965, much like the Hula-Hoop's rapid demise.
With fast cut editing, the movie uses both archival footage and contemporary
interviews. One of the skaters, Skip Engblom, perhaps best describes the
Z-boys influence. He says that they were like the pirates, and he was
Captain Hook. In this version of Peter Pan, however, they won and converted
the lost boys to pirates.
The spirited film has music from classic rock tunes like "Wake Up Maggie" to
the theme music from THE GODFATHER. Perhaps the funniest part comes when
they interrupt the story for part of an episode of "Charlie's Angels" in
which Peralta's skateboarding gets in the way during a crime.
Although the most memorable parts of the movie are all of the editing tricks
that Paul Crowder comes up with, the movie's success stems from a bit of
good luck. You might never expect it, but the skateboard bad boys have
turned into extremely articulate adults. Only a few of them appear to have
crashed their heads into a few too many concrete walls. Most of the old
skaters weave mesmerizing stories of their youthful passion, the art of
"surfing the asphalt."
DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS runs 1:29. It is rated PG-13 for "language and some drug
references" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes