Z-Boys.com archive: Sequential Overdrive "Original Dogtown Article"


SkateBoarder Magazine
Vol 3. No.5
June 1977
By John Smythe
photos by C.R. Stecyk III

It was 11:45 on a hot Tuesday night. I sat in my office, hunched over my typewriter, chain-smoking and sipping stale coffee. Suddenly the phone rang. I answered. "Hello, Mr. Smythe, my name is Marilyn Nicholsberg, and I'm writing an article on skateboarding for a women's skin magazine…" The crackling voice on the other end of the phone went on to explain that Adams, Mad Dog and Constantineau had given her my number. It all seemed so innocent. The Writer asked all of the typical questions, said all of the usual things. . ."Why do they call it "Dogtown?". . ."You know, they really seem to be outlaw types," etc., etc. She casually mentioned that 'Alva had recommended Bad H. and Fats as possible models. I concurred, "they'd make great beefcake; I think they're just what your magazine needs. "Finally she goes: "let me level with you. . .it's about this 'skate nazi' thing. How serious is it. . .I mean they all do have blond hair and blue eyes. They are all so Germanic." I thought it over and realized that she'd really got a wrong number. I hung up. A baby's crying shattered the stillness of the night. Somewhere a dog circled a fire hydrant.

Pool riding's parameters are ever expanding, and pool sessions are starting to draw interesting cross-sections of the non-skating public. A recent afternoon at the Dog Bowl drew a varied crowd including:
Tom Waits, whose 1955 Cadillac was parked at the curb.

Doug Moench, artist extraordinaire from the Marvel group, who was making action sketches for the Concrete Crusader. (The Crusader promises to be the first skating super hero in comicland.)

A three-hundred-pound gentleman with the handle, "Big Daddy," who picked up on the melee listening to his Hy-Gain C.B. radio.

A group of forty-five interested neighbors.

Two LAPD squad cars. One of the uniformed occupants stated. "We're just watching-it's always a good show."

The leggy blonde chaufeurette, who had driven Mad Dog from the movie set in her tan Mercedes.

A channel 4 news mini-cam unit with assorted personnel.

Foster Dupont, bay millionaire, who was encased in his headphones, listening to Furry Lewis on a portable cassette.

And an anonymous looking photographer who was filming the festivities at somewhere past 500 shots per second, with an extremely odd looking camera.

The skaters included everyone who was anyone in Dogtown, and a few who were not. The talk centered around looking for Brucie. Everyone's waitin' on him to come up and lay down some lines so that they can settle it like men.

The equipment employed offered radical departures from the mass-production line technologies. Jay Adams has his well-advertised fiberglass chassis approach. James Muir and Wes Humpston are riding their handhoned hardwood rise tails, with sophisticated rocker-edge contours and fully transitional volume. Tony Alva features a multiple laminate design with a layered wood core that has a drilled-out center, and is surfaced with fiberglass skins. The entire unit is heat and pressure bonded. Among the boys, three-quarter-pound blanks are the new rule.

"Dead weight is lost energy."- Jim Muir
"The lighter, the livelier."- Paul Constantineau
"Keep your heights heavy and your skates light."- Wentzle Ruml

To realize what it all means to performance, weigh your current blank.
The skating is reality therapy, with each move surpassing all previous ones. Biniak head-checks a newsreel cameraman, and Palfreyman asks if he got the shot. Tropical madness overcomes all. It's total dementia in the deep end, ranging from complete upside down aerial assaults to four-walled off the lips. The crowd is going through the changes as they strain their necks trying to follow the action. The skate troopers continually put the heads of the watchers in new places. Most of the beholders wear the look of someone trying to understand something they've never seen before.

On the vertical lip, Alva and Muir are hitting airborne frontsides, and making them, while their anonymous looking camera accomplice records the act at 500 plus frames. The newscaster comes up and attempts to talk to the photographer, who remains silent behind the high-pitched shrill whine of his mechanized camera. The work done, Alva comes up, and the news guy begins to interview him. Eventually he indicates to the mute high-speed man, and tentatively utters, "Tony, I don't think I caught your friend's name." Alva replies, "that's probably because he didn't give it." The news gatherer again approaches the photographer and inquires. "That is a very interesting device there; just what exactly are you doing?" The speed cameraman wearily replies, "We have divided the peak of action plane into 12 cubic sectors, and are using this machine to analyze each of these in terms of speed, velocity, depth and distance traveled. "The photographer stalks off, leaving the commentator, who blankly gazes at Alva. Tony now offers in clarification, "That camera is 100 times faster than a typical motor drive. . .it's the only one fast enough. "Alva departs, leaving the newscaster standing alone with the look of someone trying to understand something that he cannot see on his face.

The boys were dealing with things too rapid to be observed, the kind that are so quick that they are felt rather than seen. The documentation must be done in sequential overdrive. . .faster than the speed of life, it's the dog's eye view. "You should have been here yesterday" has become "you ought to be here tomorrow."

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