Film Of The Week: A Life Outside

‘A Life Outside’ is a heartfelt, story driven documentary by director Catherine Brabec set in the town of Seaside Heights in New Jersey, the film is about six men from Seaside now in their 50’s and 60′ that all found a passion in surfing and pioneered the surf culture in New Jersey in 60 and 70s. Greg Mesanko, Chris Mesanko, Kevin Casey, Jim Purpuri, Richard Luthringer and Bucky Walters were the dogtown crew of Jersey, punk rock, not give a shit attitudes, living the renegade surfers life of sex, drugs, rock and roll, your stereotypical surfers of that era.

This band of brothers found a special place in their hometown which changed their lives, the Casino Pier – A 100 metre boardwalk composed of 38 amusment park rides in total, ranging from family rides to roller coasters, rooftop miniature golf course, Go-Kart track, and numerous concession stands – your typical American fun park.

But it wasn’t the boardwalk itself that attracted these surf crazed kids, it was the waves the man made structure formed off the pier, the sand bank built up around the piling of the pier and formed a renowned left and right hander on either side. Rebelling against the laws set by the local council and surfing right up next to it where the best waves were, paved the way for the N.J surf culture and a second home for the kids of Jersey which they’d protect with their lives from rival surfers in surrounding neighbourhoods.

The documentary highlights the effects that the 60’s and 70’s had on Seaside Heights and the surfers of that era that chose the path of a family life and career to those that fell into the over indulgent party lifestyle and some even losing their lives. The 6 men reminisce on the good old days and how they overcome it.

Surf icons Corky Carroll, Gerry Lopez and Shaun Thomson, give in-depth interviews into the N.J surf scene, but a clear perspective on the role that the locale and resident surfers played in the broader popularization of surfing on the East Coast.

The disastrous impact of 2012’s infamous Hurricane Sandy, is the pinnacle topic in the film, the surfers speak first hand of their experiences and tragically losing their homes to the storm, including the home they grew up protecting, The Casino Pier. Childhood memories were literally swept away as the demolished pier and amusement park littered their surf break.

The main characters of the film speak with heartbreak for their town and the impact Hurricane Sandy had on them as individuals and how the storm permanently changed the community as a whole and the younger generations to come that may never experience what they did as kids growing up in Seaside Heights

Summer 2013, the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey was rebuilt and opened for business. What remains of the Casino Pier will be demolished with the intention of rebuilding, no one can predict if the banks will reform and the waves will return. Local New Jersey surfers did a paddle out In memory of the Casino Pier and bond together to help rebuild their town. 

‘A Life Outside’ is an award winning documentary and film of the week on Garage Entertainment, stream it now: