Joe Donnelly’s L.A. Man, An Excerpt

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Understanding Craig Stecyk

Author’s note: This is sort of the second part of an accidental ontology I began when I was researching and reporting the Dogtown story for the LA Weekly. While putting that story together, the enigmatic C. R. Stecyk III made quite an impression on me. The more I learned about Stecyk, the more I wanted to know and the more I knew, the more I came to understand how much he had shaped the West Coast aesthetic while remaining an underground figure. Stecyk spoke in riddles, wrote under a pseudonym, and left his art unsigned by the roadside or tacked to trees. He had hardearned trust issues and skirted along the edges of reclusion and asceticism, keeping company with a small inner circle. I thought he was a foundational figure, a confounding and unheralded genius, and I wanted to get his story out from the shadows.


The words are now accepted as fact, but when Stecyk wrote the “Dogtown Chronicles” and manifestos like “Skate and Destroy” for Thrasher magazine in 1980, they offered put-upon kids the oldest new way of looking at things in the book, which was basically, “Fuck you! You suck! We’re going do things our way!”

In the hands of the Z-Boys and the next-generation skaters like Mark Gonzales and Christian Hosoi whom they inspired, that attitude rapidly morphed skateboarding from a tame distraction for surfers caught on a day without waves into a subversive and rebellious lifestyle for kids everywhere. It was the official sport of punks. In retrospect, it’s not surprising that Craig Stecyk would be the one to sound the rebel yell. He was in the right place at the right time and had the right tools. If he will admit to anything, it’s that he’s a product of his environment, having come of age in a place and time when the extraordinary was everyday. Consider that he grew up next to a bust of Will Rogers and an attendant plaque that read: “The Main Street of America ends here.”

To read the rest of Donnelly’s chapter on Craig Stecyk, go to Riot Material magazine:

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RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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