Posted by lewis on February 8, 2009 at 8:09 am.

I have a tendency to anger people.

Case in point:  The 40-Year-Old Barrel Virgin, a piece I wrote for Surfline last summer.

Illustration: Sandow Birk

Illustration: Sandow Birk

The ensuing shitstorm included the following email exchange with an owner of Mollusk in NYC.

----- Original Message -----
From: Mollusk NYC
To: Lewis Samuels
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 2:16 PM
Subject: blame it on??

Should they blame it on "Mullosk" or Mollusk?
If we're going to be accused of something the least you could do is spell the second largest animal phylum correctly.  Thanks for stirring the turd. Always gets the kids excited to have their slim slacks poked fun of...then again I've never seen a pair a jeans fit as tight as a wetsuit.

For what ever its worth,


My Response:

--- Original Message -----
From: Lewis Samuels
To: Mollusk NYC
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: blame it on??

Thanks for the email.
In regards to the misspelling of Mollusk in The 40-Year-Old Barrel Virgin, I'd refer you to the concept of an unreliable narrator.  Think Nabokov's Pale Fire, Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, or Twain's Huck Finn.  The term unreliable narrator can be defined as "a narrating character who provides inaccurate, misleading, conflicting, or otherwise questionable information to the reader."

By using the incorrectly spelled "Mullosk" I both alert the reader to the presence of an unreliable narrator and avoid any ill-will that might result from slandering the good name of an existing business (such as Mollusk Surf Shop.)  Killing two birds with one stone, if you will.

A careful reader might spot other signs of irony in the article, such as the character "Donny's Brother," who detests the retro fad despite primarily communicating through Chuck Norris Facts.  (Chuck Norris Facts can be considered both retro and a fad, having swept the internet in early 2005.) Incidentally, Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

Also incidentally, Surfline is planning a rebuttal article to provide readers with a contrasting perspective to the somewhat biased original article. Naturally I'll be writing this rebuttal. As part of the research, I'd be interested in having the SF Mollusk crew introduce me to the joys of retro boards and skinny jeans. Kind of a "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" type of piece.  Maybe we could spin-off a short video.

Any interest?


Lewis Samuels
Senior Editor - Surfline / Water

Needless to say, I never heard back from the Mullosk crew.

Here's some photos of my old friend, the actual 40-Year Old Barrel Virgin, getting his first shacks on the trip which inspired the article.

Barrel Virgn

Barrel Virgn

Barrel Virgin Sticks it in for the First Time

Barrel Virgin Sticks it in for the First Time


  • busycorner says:

    its never to late to start getting barreled.

  • Brian says:

    You always remember your first time.

  • Kaiser says:

    ZING - nice email banter. In fact, I might recognize it as the highlight of my internet meanderings come the end of day.

    Solid rebuttal.

  • live2surf4ever says:

    If you haven’t been barreled by age 40 you are a below average surfer.

  • Justin says:

    Isn’t he getting barreled on a retro board in that bottom picture?
    Wouldn’t that make your whole story a lie?

  • Beavertails Smell says:

    I bet the beavertail crowd at mollusk is losing it

  • Ash-Hole says:

    Wow. You are an idiot. How have you read such wonderful pieces of literature, such enlightening books, and not absorbed any of the material? You want an education? Read “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” by David Foster Wallace, stop being an ironic, disingenuous dick. Take another look at the authors you so arrogantly quote, recognize what they were doing: Actually saying something.

  • Gina Ny says:

    I was pleased to read this article, keep up the good work.

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