Film Review: Blood and Steel - Cedar Crest Country Club
BLOOD AND STEEL
No matter which suburban town you’re in these days, it’s a safe bet that a skatepark is nearby and some form of punk rock music is playing on speakers while the kids go zipping by. But it wasn’t always this way. While things like Warped Tour and the X-Games have made the fusion of skateboarding and punk rock an everyday thing, in the mid-1980’s the skateboarding community was in a lull.
Blood And Steel: Cedar Crest Country Club, the 2017 film that recently found its way to Amazon, tells the direct story of what many consider to be the “best ramp on the east coast,” but indirectly tells the tale of a skateboarding community persevering.
Told through archive footage, photographs, and the very people who lived it – including Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), the members of GWAR, Tony Hawk, Bucky Lasek, and the creators of the ramp themselves Mark Hooper, Mike Mapp, and his whole gang of friends who put in the work – we’re first weaved through the skater lifestyle, the battles they faced with the cops and the communities, and how they discovered the punk rock scene via the flyers posted all over the downtown DC area they skated.
The middle part of the film takes us through the demise of the skate scene in the early 1980’s, but more importantly, the resurgence of it that started through homemade zines connecting the core skaters state to state, and kids finding the ingenuity to build half pipes – albeit rickety ones that were built from wood they robbed construction sites of - all over suburban driveways, the middle of the woods, etc.
On the heels of this resurgence, Mark Hooper’s dad (the true unsung hero of this story), decided that if Mark and his friends were willing to put in the work, he would pay for the materials and they could build a ramp on the country club grounds he owned – he even allowed them the chance to work with his architect friend to make it right. And that’s just what they did!
They cleared out the woods with chainsaws and a ditch witch, used 11 gauge steel on the ramp to allow more speed to give skaters air that was much higher than anywhere else, and ultimately elevated everyone’s skating and ended up building a vast community of skaters and locals when they started hosting punk rock shows during the nighttime hours after skate sessions.
The ramp at Cedar Crest became the stuff of legend amongst the skating and music communities over the years, but as they say, all good things must end. In 1992, financial troubles overtook the country club and the loan sharks took it over – ultimately destroying this legendary piece of skateboarding history.
In the end, Blood And Steel: Cedar Crest Country Club isn’t so much a documentary film about skateboarding itself, but rather about the impact you can make when you’re willing to just go for it, be innovative, and be driven purely by your passion.