Zephyr, Z Boys, Dogtown. You could write a book. Make a documentary! In 1994, Craig Stecyk III wrote the intro to F%@#% You Heroes, a collection of Glen Friedman’s rap, punk and skate photos from 1976 – 1991.
That book included a lot of photos of Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Stacy Peralta and a lot of other 70s, LA-area skaters, along with Darby Crash, Ted Nugent, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, and other skaters, punks and rappers from the LA scene.
F%@#% You Heroes gave a taste of another Friedman/Stecyk collaboration, Dogtown – The Legend of the Z-Boys published in 2000 which Amazon describes like this:
In the early 1970s, the sport of skateboarding had so waned from its popularity in the 1960s that it was virtually non-existent. In the Dogtown area of west Los Angeles, a group of young surfers known as the Zephyr Team (Z-Boys) was experimenting with new and radical moves and styles in the water which they translated to the street. When competition skateboarding returned in 1975, the Z-Boys turned the skating world on its head. . Dogtown The Legend of the Z-Boys is a truly fascinating case study of just how an underground sport ascended on the world. These are the stories and images of a time that not only inspired a generation but changed the face of sport forever. The Legend of the Z-Boys has been described as “The Dogtown text book” and an insightful companion piece to the movie: “DogTown and Z-Boys”. . Spanning 1975 – 1985, the first section of the 240 page book includes the best of the “DogTown” articles written by C.R. Stecyk III as they originally appeared in SkateBoarder Magazine. The second half compiles 100’s of never before seen skate images from the archive of Glen E. Friedman – many of which appear in the movie.
There have been books, but there also have been documentaries on the impact of these young LA-area skateboarders in the 1970s. Most famously, Stacy Peralta’s Dogtown and Z=Boys in 2001 was the darling of the Sundance Film Festival and might have been partially responsible – along with Michael Moore – for launching the tsunami of documentaries that have come sense. In 2008, Peralta admitted to Steve Olson in Juice Magazine that Dogtown had sold over one million DVD and over 700,000 VHS.
Those kind of numbers attract Hollywood and that lead to the movie version of the documentary, Legends of Dogtown, which was released in Dogtown did well enough to inspire the feature film Lords of Dogtown, written by Stacy Peralta, and featuring Emile Hirsch, Heath Ledger and Rebecca de Mornay. Roger Ebert loved the doco but the movie, not so much:
Now we have “Lords of Dogtown,” a fiction film based on the very same material and indeed written by Peralta. Not only is there no need for this movie, but its weaknesses underline the strength of the doc. How and why Peralta found so much old footage of skateboarding in 1975 is a mystery, but he was able to give us a good sense of those kids at that time. Although Catherine Hardwicke, the director of “Lords of Dogtown,” has a good sense for the period and does what she can with her actors, we’ve seen the originals, and these aren’t the originals. Nobody in the fiction film pulls off stunts as spectacular as those we see for real in the documentary.
Several books, a very successful documentary and a movie that Roger Ebert didn’t like so much because the skateboarding wasn’t so great, but still featured Heath Ledger doing a scary-good impersonation of Skip Engblom.
Much has been written, re-written, filmed and re-filmed about the time in the 1970s, when the Zephyr Surf Shop in Santa Monica sponsored a surf and skate team who came to be known as the Z Boys.
It all began with these three chaps, Craig Stecyk, Skip Engblom and Jeff Ho and the short version goes like this: In 1971, Ho, Stecyk and Engblom opened Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions in the Venice Beach area of Santa Monica. These guys were all surfers who were skateboarding out of the 1960s but at first it was all about surfing. Ho and Engblom formed the Zephyr Surf Team, made up of local surfers who had established themselves at the defunct Pacific Ocean Park. As the urethane revolution hit, the Zephyr Skate Team evolved and they became known as the Z-Boys. The original members were Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Chris Cahill, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Peggy Oki, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml IV and Allen Sarlo.
Later members included Paul Cullen, Cris Dawson, Jose Galan, Dennis Harney, Paul Hoffman, Donnie Ohem and Tommy Waller.
The team practiced around Jeff Ho’s surf shop and on the streets of Santa Monica and Venice, including the banked walls at Paul Revere and Kenter schools in the Santa Monica mountains and Bicknell Hill, which ran down to the ocean. Moving away from the nose wheelies and 360s and other freestyle moves of the 1960s, the Z-Boys found that urethane wheels and improved equipment allowed them to replicate the “anything is possible” surfing of Hawaiian surfers Larry Bertlemann and Buttons Kaluhiokalani.
The Z-Boys skated the banks at Paul Revere, Kenter and the geography-blessed schools of the Santa Monica mountains, they raided swimming pools all over Los Angeles during the drought years of the mid-1970s, and they ran wild in the streets of Venice and Santa Monica – an area dubbed Dogtown by Craig Stecyk.
They were just having fun and not trying to cause a big sensation, but the photography and journalism of Craig Stecyk, combined with their first public appearance at the 1975 Bahne-Cadillac National Championships at Del Mar – launched the Z-Boys into legend.
From: The Skateboard, The Good The Rad And The Gnarly
Written by Ben Marcus Photos by Lucia Griggi