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      Skater Peggy Oki. in Dogtown and Z-Boys
      Skater Peggy Oki.
    Elder Skatesmen

    Fast-paced and intoxicating, "Dogtown and Z-Boys" tells how a small group of maverick surfer boys — and one girl — reinvented skateboarding before anyone dreamed of the X-Games.


    Sometimes a spoonful of taurine-charged irreverence is all you need to push through the webwork of a nerve-trodden week. So take some advice — if you need a fix, go check out "Dogtown & Z-Boys." Even if you're not interested in the history of extreme skateboarding per se, you're almost guaranteed to come away seeing the world through fresh eyes.

    Directed by: Stay Peralta.
    Written by: Craig Stecyk and Stacy Peralta.
    Featuring: Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Jim Muir, Peggy Oki, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml, Allen Sarlo..
    Narrator: Sean Penn.

    Related links: Official site
    This isn't the result of Sean Penn's earnest narration, nor is it thanks to a novel topic, fascinating though insider views on sport tend to be in their revelations about human resolve. Instead, it's the film's wholesale abandonment of talking suits and dramatization: "Dogtown" pioneers a form, cleverly packing a historical documentary with something unprecedented. Movement.

    Fancy skateboarding — replete with tricks — emerged from more than one part of the country in the mid- to late-1970s, but according to the film, vertical skateboarding — the kind that utilizes half-pipes and eye-popping hairpin maneuvers — owes its origins to a maverick group of surfers from a dogged scrap of civilization in lower Santa Monica named accordingly — Dogtown. The inventors, teenage miscreants with a singular passion for surfing, spent every truant moment surfing boards custom-created by the owners of the Zephyr Surf Shop. Like the obstacle course of surf that these riders hoarded — outlined by the decrepit remains of a roller coaster park that had constituted the "Coney Island of the West" — the surfer's lives were dotted with structural catastrophe, but they buried themselves in their sport and bombarded intruders with the vengeance reserved for the society that had cast them as outsiders.

      "Dogtown" pioneers a form, cleverly packing a historical documentary with something unprecedented. Movement.
    These pioneers — among them Tony Alva (often credited with the singlehanded invention of vertical skating), Jay Adams (teenage sensation), and Stacy Peralta (the maker of this documentary) — rode their surfboards smooth and low. But the Zephyr, or "Z-Boys" (including one woman, Peggy Oki), wanted to practice riding when the waves "weren't good."

    By then, skateboarding had already come and gone. Manufacturers stopped putting out the boards, which were stiff and dangerous without shock absorption. So the Z-Boys got creative, sawing off roller skates for wheels. A 1972 innovation — polyurethane rollers — changed everything. The Z-Boys soon laid siege to the concrete waves inherent in empty pools and playgrounds, skating the way they surfed, so one served the other and vice versa. Eventually, the mavericks grabbed the spotlight and the attention of a skating community, placing at the national skating competition in Del Mar.

    "Dogtown" has the usual elements of historical documentary — archival footage, interviews, narration, old stills, a satisfying dramatic arc. But like its characters and the spirit of the sport it highlights, it applies to these elements a soaring, derelict verve: 5-second interviews, jump cuts amounting to a kaleidoscope of media images, some of which run playfully backward. At one point, the film even stops dead in its tracks to deliver an excerpt from an episode of "Charlie's Angels," and at another, a Sean Penn narrative error is left in there like a piece of iceberg lettuce in a pretty mesclun.

    The visual equivalent of a DJ scratch, the response of an MTV generation to a diet of good-for-you PBS, it's nice to know it's possible to find adrenaline at the movies.

    MAY 7, 2002

    Reader comments on Dogtown and Z-Boys:

  • Tough kids   from Cristina, Jul 8, 2002
  • quality.   from GRW, Nov 4, 2002
  • Re: quality.   from LARY, Nov 2, 2003
  • want list of songs   from the lass, Jan 15, 2003
  • Re: want list of songs   from lara, Mar 21, 2003
  • Re: want list of songs   from sab, May 27, 2003
  • Re: want list of songs   from Aaron, Feb 9, 2008
  • Re: want list of songs   from Kennedy, Sep 11, 2009
  • real trooth   from nevermind, Feb 21, 2003
  • Re: real trooth   from Stonerose, Mar 21, 2003
  • hi   from Jame, Apr 7, 2003
  • Movie and Sound Track Available?   from Robert Festa, Apr 27, 2003
  • Re: Movie and Sound Track Available?   from artemis, Nov 23, 2003
  • Re: Movie and Sound Track Available?   from Jones, Jan 18, 2004
  • [no subject]   from , Apr 28, 2003
  • Z Boys   from lola, Aug 11, 2004
  • dogtown skaters   from @#$* !#@$%^&^&, May 15, 2005
  • Re: dogtown skaters   from Lynne, Dec 24, 2005
  • jay adams   from valarie sawyer, May 16, 2005
  • Re: jay adams   from patrick, Aug 21, 2006
  • girl skating   from jenn, May 24, 2005
  • HOTTNESS   from dakota kollar, Jun 5, 2005
  • Re: HOTTNESS   from aaronb, Jun 6, 2005
  • Re: HOTTNESS   from kiki, Mar 15, 2006
  • Re: HOTTNESS   from kiki, Mar 16, 2006
  • tricks   from joey, Jun 12, 2005
  • film   from martina...italian girl, Jul 17, 2005
  • Jay, Stacy, Tony   from Zack, Dec 31, 2005
  • ryan schkler   from julie, Oct 5, 2005
  • RYAN SHECKLER blah blah blah blah   from Tyler Donahoo, Jun 16, 2006
  • [no subject]   from POLLY, Jan 14, 2006
  • dogtown and z-boys   from J-Boy, Feb 28, 2006
  • Peggy Oki   from Tai, May 6, 2006
  • [no subject]   from jasmine, Jul 10, 2006
  • [no subject]   from FEEGEE, Aug 2, 2006
  • dogtown   from monika rozycka, Nov 2, 2006
  • Jay Adams   from Jay Pawelec, Nov 2, 2006
  • lords of dogtown   from elijah, Dec 16, 2006
  • love it   from josh, Feb 15, 2007
  • skate@surf   from jay, Mar 3, 2007
  • was it fun being a z boy   from kevin, Mar 3, 2007
  • LOVE SKATING!!!!   from Jordan , May 2, 2010

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