Dogtown And Z-Boys is one of my favorite documentaries. Please don’t confuse this with the absolutely horrible Hollywood movie it inspired starring Heath Ledger, “The Lords Of Dogtown.” As a documentary it’s fascinating, but it just doesn’t translate to a dramatic interpretation.
It’s old, I think it was released in 2001. Made by one of the Z-boys, Stacey Peralta, it’s the story of a group of teenage surfers/skateboarders/criminals from Venice Ca. in the 70’s, that pretty much started what today is known as “extreme.” Yes I hate “extreme” too, no worries, it’s not that kind of film. Jam packed with some awesome classic rock and incredible footage, even if you don’t have the slightest interest in skateboarding (like me) there’s still a great story here.
What’s known as “vert” skating today was started by this rag-tag group of juvenile delinquents when they broke into backyards to skate empty swimming pools during the California droughts.
While many of the kids who idolized these guys, like Tony Hawk (Peralta was his mentor) went on to make millions, these pioneers of modern day skateboarding mostly ended up in normal jobs, or in jail, or are just… missing.
I especially relate to this movie because I grew up in a similar neighborhood in the 70’s, and these guys were kind of the template for how we, as poor white dudes in a mostly black and Hispanic neighborhood, looked and dressed, to have our own identity. Skateboarding was never really big here in Vegas, but being only 250 miles away, we definitely felt their influence, not so much in skating, but in look and attitude.
It’s actually kind of funny, because the whole “Dogtown look” has been adopted by young skateboarders these days, the long hair, Vans, and jeans.
It’s on Netflix, and I think it won some Sundance awards, definitely worth a rental.