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The High Life of Jeff Spicoli

Sean Penn’s stoner from ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ is a quintessential teen movie character—and not just because of the copious amounts of pot he smoked.

On October 12, 2011, James Van Doren, the designer of the first Vans sneakers, died at the age of 72. A month later, a teen movie found its way into the opening paragraph of his New York Times obituary. Tracing the popularity of Van Doren’s flagship shoe, the newspaper concluded that the fad started in 1982, “after Sean Penn wore a black-and-white-checkered pair in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

At one point in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, after taking a giant bong hit in his Playboy centerfold–covered bedroom, Penn’s character lifts one of his Vans out of its blue box, smacks himself in the forehead with its rubber sole four times, and shouts, “That was my skull! I’m so wasted!” Later, while he sings “Wooly Bully” on stage at the year-end school dance, the camera briefly lingers on his tap-dancing kicks. It’s the most joyful shot in Amy Heckerling’s often emotional film… read more >

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