Deathbowl to Downtown


Deathbowl to Downtown screened last night at the Castro Theater. Deathbowl is the latest film from Coan Nichols and Rick Charnoski, the team that produced Tent City, Fruit of the Vine, and many other skate related flicks.

The poster says that Deathbowl is about the evolution of skateboarding in New York City, but the filmmakers had something else to say at the opening. Basically they said that Deathbowl is really about every place that skateboarding evolved from sidewalk surfing to street shredding. It just happens to be set in New York.

I like that explanation better, because even though the film made me want to hop a plane for NYC to scout the Burroughs… (You hear me D?) it also made me nostalgic for my early skate days back home in Louisiana. Lake Charles isn’t comparable to NYC in any legitimate way, but like the skaters in the film my friends and I operated in an environment that was hostile to us and we made due with want we had. Like the skaters in the film we stayed out all night skating downtown, got hassled by cops, and looked west towards California. Unlike the skaters in the film, we dreamed about New York City also. My formative skate years were in the nineties when “street skating was skating” and it was all Wu-Tang and Zoo York for us.

Deathbowl to Downtown made me want to skate. I don’t know what bigger compliment a skater can give a movie. When I walked out of the Castro Theater I wanted to call my friends to get an all night sesh going… but I didn’t. I’m old and had to work in the morning. So instead I headed to Thee Parkside for the after party, Thrasher video, and whiskey. Then I headed home and went to bed. Lame.

Highlights from the film:

The portrait of New York in the seventies as a grimy post industrial wasteland and playground for graffiti writers, misfits, and skateboarders.

The evolution of street skating from jocking ramp tricks to stylish Mark Gonzales inspired street ripping that set the stage for modern skateboarding. For that matter all the scenes with Gonz were amazing.

Growing up street skating made me particularly biased to the street section with “plazas for days.” Nichols and Charnoski interviewed a Harvard professor who made note of New York City skateboarders in a study about the uses of urban architecture. They also interviewed the guy who designed the Brooklyn Banks, and he didn’t seem the least bit annoyed that his creation was one the most famous skate spots on the globe. The guy who designed EMB should hang out with him for a minute, maybe it will rub off.

I won’t spoil any more of the movie. Definitely check it out if it comes to a city near you. Screening dates are on the website. You can also preorder the DVD there.

Make It Happen angle. I have no idea how they funded it, but the sponsored by Mountain Due might have had a little something to do with it.

Also dig up Roller Slobs if you can find it. They opened the night with that short and it’s well worth tracking down.

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