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Joe Donnelly
Journalist, author, editor, professor, dad, husband, impresario... not necessarily in that order.

Understanding Craig Stecyk

Photos by Susanne Melanie Berry

Joe Donnelly | L.A. Man | Rare Bird Books | April 2018 | 42 minutes (8,454 words)


Decades ago, Craig R. Stecyk III tagged the walls near his seedy surf spot at Pacific Ocean Park, then a crumbling pier of abandoned rides and amusement parlors straddling the Venice and Santa Monica border. Among the graffiti were the terms POP and DOGTOWN running horizontally and vertically in a cross, a rat’s head in the skull’s position over crossbones, with the warning, “death to invaders.” At first, these markings were little more -than youthful insolence, meant to stake territorial claim for his band of surfers and skateboarders, many of whom were recently glorified in the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. In the ’70s and ’80s, though, through enterprises like Jeff Ho’s Zephyr Surf Shop, Dogtown Skates and Powell Peralta skateboarding company, these images would become among the first widely disseminated skateboarder graphic art; the first icons of a radical, street-savvy youth culture that reflected the attitudes of Stecyk and his Dogtown peers. Meanwhile, in magazines like Skateboarder and Thrasher, Stecyk’s photos and essays about the scofflaw Z-Boys skateboarding team created and spread the Dogtown myth to eager adolescents across the country.

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