By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
We get back to the dance floor in time for the encore ("Bigmouth Strikes Again"). Boys with huge pompadours jump on stage to grope the Moz stand-in. Pretty soon there are a dozen kids with him, singing along arm in arm, and the most genial mosh pit I've ever seen has formed on the floor. Pairs of smooth-faced boys, their arms around each other's shoulders, playfully prance and slam. The lights go up, then down again, and the DJ starts to spin. Most Smiths' songs lack an identifiable bass line, so dancing is a stretch. We do our best, though, and stick it out until the end of "Everyday Is Like Sunday." As we leave, a couple hundred earnest faces glow in the joy of this transient togetherness. And they sing, their voices louder than the music itself: "Come Armageddon, come Armageddon, come . . ."
"I JUST SHOOK HIS HAND!"
"Goddamn!" And with that, the dude in white shorts and a horrible plaid peach shirt dashes away, presumably to get a handshake of his own.
"Where can we party?" The Adolescents' lumpy Rikk Agnew hollers. It's a good question. The scene at the premiere party for the skateboard documentary Dogtown and Z-Boysfalls short of O.C. kegger and way short of premiere glitz. Thirty- and 40-somethings mill about the Vans Skatepark at "The Block" Mall in Orange as if they're at a neighborhood barbecue, munching on chicken wings and occasionally looking around to make sure their floppy-haired munchkin hasn't fallen into a half-pipe.
I look around, and the answer seems to be, "No, not right now, thanks anyway." Except for the requisite crew of shirtless skinheads (just bald, not Nazi) who will start a mosh pit if you turn the radio up too loud, the crowd seems content to perch on the ramps and pretend it's punk rock at the Hollywood Bowl.
"S! T! S! T! S! T!" the bands hollers, unabashedly trying to coerce the audience into chanting their initials. It's the kind of fanatical brand-name support that Vans hopes to drum up for its new Dogtown merchandise line.
Skating, of course, is a corporate world. Every shirt, beanie or shoe in the park is tagged: Hurley, Quiksilver, Vans. Same goes for the people. "I work for Vans. Graphic design," a guy tells me.
"Me? Yeah, Vans," another tells me.
Poolside, a pack of skaters, pro and amateur alike, takes turns dropping into the Skatepark's replica pool. A ruddy-faced middle-aged woman intently shoots the skaters with her wide-angle DV cam. She's in tacky white sneakers, Adidas trainer pants and a black Dogtown windbreaker.
"I've known these guys since they were kids," she says proudly.
I ask her how she got involved.
"I was a skater!" she sounds offended. "Haven't you ever heard of the Skate Mom?"
"I've been in this world for a long time," she says. "Yeah, I've been working for Vans for 25 years!"
A heavily tattooed, bare-chested skater in snow-camo shorts eats it hard on a grind, but rouses a loud cheer.
Sideline commentary: "Yowwww! Dwayne Peters! The Master of Disaster. That guy is about as O.G. as it gets. Look how flexible that fucker is at his age."
It's hard for me to spot things like flexibility, but I can't help but gasp when Brain Patch grabs frontside air two inches in front of my nose, lands it and inverts on the far lip. The crowd is appreciative, but the single most amped group of people are the skaters themselves. Their eyes are glued to the action, shouting and clapping at every move; the really outrageous stuff gets boards banging on the pool rim. Watching the sweaty glow on their faces, it's suddenly easy to forget the branding, the aging punk rock, and remember, for a second, the fundamental joy of rolling around on a piece of wood with wheels.
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