When I grew up, attending a surf movie was a rite of passage, with feral packs of monosyllabic surf hippies and radioactively tan grommets descending on unsuspecting single-screen theaters. The lights would go down, Balinese pipes would flare from the back, and a deafening "woooooo" would accompany the first feathering lip from some big-wave break in Hawaii. Thirty minutes later, all would be quiet -- frankly, those surf films sucked, each a weary parade of riders carving single fins in painful slow motion, sending most of the crowd into a hashish-induced (but admittedly very pleasant) slumber before the last audience member's hair had dried from that evening's session.
Now, surf movies have teeth, and the new Down the Line promises to be a fine addition to the list of Maverick's tribute films. But this big-wave exposé also contains something different: the untamed Ghost Tree, the latest "discovered" spot around these parts, where unpredictable waves pass over a treacherous reef as they attempt to kill people. Also on tap are 60-foot waves at Maui's Peahi, Oahu's Waimea Bay, and a somewhat odd tour of Chile. NorCal's Peter Mel and company, along with the Hawaiian tow-in contingent, star in the film, which starts Thursday at 7:15 p.m. (and continues through Saturday) at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com. -- Michael Leaverton
Kicking Back Writing up sports rebels
The wide world of sports coverage turns a lot of people off: It is locked to an intense drive to sell things, which can be boring at best. But not every sportswriter is a jar-headed mouth-breather covered in corporate logos; ditto athletes themselves. Find proof in What's My Name, Fool?, a new book by Edge of Sports columnist David Zirin. Taking Muhammad Ali as its touchstone, the volume looks into the careers of interesting professional competitors, including Etan Thomas, Mia Hamm, and Barry Bonds, as they struggle to tell the truth, get their fair due, and stay human in the face of a trillion-dollar industry. Hear Zirin read at 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.mtbs.com. -- Hiya Swanhuyser