“12 O'Clock Boys”: City Life on One Wheel

Lotfy Nation's documentary 12 O'Clock Boys looks at Baltimore's notorious dirt-bike club of the same name. Well, sort of the same name; their preferred spelling is actually “boyz,” if their famous and oft-traded 12 O'Clock Boyz Inc. Presents The Official 12 O'Clock Boyz VHS tape and the subsequent WOWBoyz YouTube videos are any indication. Composed of young black men hailing from the most impoverished areas of Baltimore, the Boyz speed in and out of traffic while popping wheelies — hence the “12 o'clock,” because it's all about pointing straight up like high noon on an analog timepiece — while knowing the police won't chase them for fear of causing an accident. Many of the riding scenes are shot like an action movie and set to a pulsing score appropriately reminiscent of Drive, and we see much of it through the eyes of Pug, a startlingly intelligent and charismatic young boy. He could probably grow up to be an ace veterinarian were he given the opportunity, but Pug's dream is to join the Boyz. Seeing the beginning of what we may perceive as Pug's downward spiral into thug life is a little heartbreaking, but 12 O'Clock Boys offers hope that if anyone can escape the cycle of poverty while still popping wicked wheelies, it's Pug.

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