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Wednesday, Mar 9 2011
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The typical take on surfing in surf films usually concerns how idyllic the whole thing is — call it the “cowabunga” narrative. This year’s San Francisco Ocean Film Festival has a nice short about monks who surf, for example, and one about a guy who likes small, terrible waves in Europe. But both these films screen right before an angle you rarely see onscreen, though it exists everywhere in the water: the dark surfing narrative. Drug use, broken homes, localism, and violence — this is Santa Cruz surfing, or it was when local stars Daryl “Flea” Virostko, Shawn “Barney” Barron, and Jason “Ratboy” Collins began to dominate the Steamer Lane lineup, which was patrolled by bad-ass enforcer Vince Collier. You might recognize some of these names: Flea, for example, won the Mavericks contest three times in a row before imploding from meth and vodka (he has since become sober), while Ratboy was one of the sport’s early aerial masters. A childhood friend of all these guys, Josh Pomer, has been filming them and the lineup for the past 20 years, and he’s chronicled their lives in the The Westsiders (screening March 11), named after the Steamer Lane local crew. It’s an essential portrait of the dark side of the fabled “Surf City” and of localism itself, through the large and very scary Collier. The film, which has been picking up awards on the festival circuit, is among the more than 50 feature and shorts that make up this year’s Ocean Film Fest lineup.
March 9-13, 2011

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Michael Leaverton

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