Category Archives: Historical

PHOTO DISPATCH: TEEN CHOICE AWARD BOARDS

As the naughties grind towards their inevitable close, the time has come to take stock of the decade and consider the progression of surfing since 2000.

Surf Culture has blossomed and grown strong since the millennium.  What better way to chart this development than through the progression of Teen Choice Award board design?

2000

2000: The stock-standard thruster has been finely-tuned into a high performance machine via two decades of collaboration between Al Merrick and the world's best surfers: Tom Curren and Kelly Slater.  Hardcore surfers like Britney Spears are ordering their Teen Choice Award boards at 6'0" x 18.25" x 2.25".  Not visible: Britney's soon-to-develop cheeto-rich hips, and the vestigial Merrick hip present in the back third of this high- performance template.

Stefani, Gwen

2001: The Teen Choice Awards soldier on, despite the recent tragedies of Septemeber 11th.  Event promoters are rumored to remark, "The Teen Choice Awards are America: and like our great nation, they are worth dying for."  Driven by nostalgia, award board design alludes to the halcyon days of 1980s, when Curren was king and Ronald Reagen benevolently watched over us all.  Gwen Stefani invokes the flag of our great nation in her choice of bikini top and belt; her award board features a flatter rocker, fuller rail, and slight swallow tail.

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2002: Influenced by the recent dominance of blond Hawaiian powerhouse Andy Irons, Britney Spears' award board features a Hawaiian flower print, an Eric Arakawa inspired single-to-double concave and a slightly gunnier outline, with less volume present in the nose.  Still recovering from her devastating break-up with Justin Timberlake, Britney adds two inches to her standard award board to help with paddling and stability through backside bottom turns.

2003

2003: As Kelly Slater returns to form and challenges Andy Irons for the world title, Hollywood is once again smitten with low-volume rocker chips.  Dominant douche-riders like Ashton Kutcher go as small as 5'9" x 17" x 1.75" in an attempt to slipstream a little of Kelly's magic slipper mojo.  By all accounts, the lack of volume in award board equipment challenges most top Teen Choice Award recepients.

2004

2004: Thin is in.  Influenced by celebutards Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, thickness stays under 2 inches on most award boards, but length is increased by at least 4 inches on average.  Swallow tails make a comeback, as Ms. Hilton notes that the term "swallowtail" sounds "so hot," as opposed to the term "square tail."  Their lifelong friendship strained by working relations on The Simple Life, Ms. Ritchie is rumored to in fact call Ms. Hilton "a dirty swallowtail" in the wake of Ms. Hilton's sex tape.

2005

2005: In the wake of the shut-down of Clark Foam, many core celebrities begin experimenting with alternative epoxy construction in their award boards.  Rachel McAdams finds success via a stringerless, parabolic-railed epoxy composite with FCS fin system.  Due to security concerns, fins are not included in Teen Choice Award boards.

2006

2006: In a return to the elegance and restraint of old-Hollywood, key new performers such as Rihanna opt to leave swallowtails behind and embrace square tails.  Computer-shaping machines allow celebrities like Rihanna to duplicate magic boards, like the Tex-Mex 6'1" pictured above.  After a flood of complaints, fins are again included on award boards.  Little does Rihanna know... finless will be hip soon enough.

2007

2007: The green trend begins in earnest, spurring environmentally conscious young celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron to change the design of their award boards.  Both Ms. Hudgens and Mr. Efron choose to ride highly toxic polyurethane-based equipment.  However, they note that inspired by "An Inconvenient Truth," they have opted to use green rails on their award boards.

2008

2008: As surf culture becomes ever-more environmentally conscious, core performers like The Jonas Brothers opt for wood-based award boards.  The Jonas Brothers, inspired by craftsman/shaper Danny Hess, rely on perimeter-framed cork and poplar with wood-skinned decks.  In a tip of the hat to Tom Curren and Tom Carroll, award boards feature the acronym TC instead of Teen Choice.

2009

2009: Green and Retro are in.  Despite their glamor and beauty, core "it" girls like Megan Fox choose down-to-earth user-friendly designs. Ms. Fox's award board features a traditional fish template inspired by the work of Skip Frye.  For the first time in Teen Choice history, twin fins push aside thrusters as the fin set-up of choice.  In order to preserve the environment for future generations, all award boards are painted green.

PHOTO DISPATCH: John S. Callahan

Tom Curren.  Sunset.  Photo: JS CALLAHAN / TROPICALPIX.COM

Tom Curren. Sunset. Photo: JS CALLAHAN / TROPICALPIX.COM

JS Callahan was kind enough to share with PostSurf these iconic photographs from an era passed, along with his recollections:

"15 images of Olde School North Shore Power Surfing.

Men were men, waves were big and mean, and turns were done with the rail buried. Nary a little kid, an air nor a tailslide to be seen.

Lunatics like Marvin Foster went left at Waimea for attention and photos.

Promotional video was in its infancy, auteurs sweated and toiled with cumbersome 16mm film cameras, cursing sun-blocking overcast and clouds; blown tube rides that wasted precious film stock were roundly cursed."

Bragging rights go to the reader who first identifies all surfers below.

For more of Callahan's work, check out tropicalpix.com and jscfoto.com .

Speaking of eras passed: The ASP Brazil event kicked off this morning.  So far, it smells like a musty 80s grovel throwback.  Retro is in.  Live feed here.

Tom Carroll, Pipeline.  Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Dane Kealoha. Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com

Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com

Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com

Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com

Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com http://www.tropicalpix.com/fotoshowpro/ Photo: JS Callahan / Tropicalpix.com

ECHO BEACH: Revisionist History

As Winston Churchill reportedly said, "History is written by the victors."

Such is the case with Echo Beach, a seemingly self-congratulatory documentary in which a group of ex-pro surfers, turned surf industry insiders, give themselves a pat on the back for being tremendously cool and good-looking rippers back in the 80s.

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Surfermag just ran an article by Matt Patterson about the premiere of Echo Beach:

"The original sense of entrepreneurship and high-performance surfing that was happening at that time was thoroughly embodied in four central characters—Danny Kwock, Preston Murray, John Gothard, and Echo Beach creator Jeff Parker all were off-beat pro surfers who never surfed contests but blazed the trail that we all know now as the life of a “photo pro.” These early pioneers struck gold by expressing the creativity through bright wetsuits, loud music, and punk rock attitude in the face of the black-wetsuit-clear-board surf establishment of the time. All four members eventually graced the cover of the magazines, and they all went on to make profound marks on the surf industry."

Compare the 2009 interpretation above to Matt George's 1989 SurferMag take on the Echo Beach crew:

"1980... With neon-airbrushed boards and matching trunks, Locals Danny Kwock, Preston Murray, Jeff Parker and others are wildly touted as the next wave to bust down the door.  Fat chance, as it turns out. Basically, everyone's act fell apart anywhere outside Newport.  Preston Murray, looking back: 'Free Ride had a major influence in the whole thing. We wanted to be surf stars. We were just kids...all the hype was just a spontaneous reaction by the media.'"

Argh! So confused - who should I believe? Should I still credit MR, Curren, Carrol and Occy as being the best 80s surfers?

Or should I listen to the narrator of Echo Beach (Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray) and worship Jeff Parker and John Gothard instead?

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Honestly, I haven't seen Echo Beach, so I'm still trying to figure out whether these guys are worth celebrating.  Jeff Parker, who directed this documentary about himself and his friends, explained his own importance as follows:

"Our relationship to Quiksilver built the foundation for what has become the relationship between most all of the sponsored surfers out there and the companies. We showed Quik how to use influential young kids in the magazines and they showed everyone else. It’s still happening all over the world today, and it’s a big business."

OK, I'm sort of getting it now.  The Echo Beach crew taught the brands that they didn't need to sponsor and support the best surfers on earth.  Instead, they could simply sponsor and support the best groms in Newport.  Or, more specifically, the "most influential" groms within a 100-yard stretch of Newport.

So without the Echo Beach Crew, I suppose Alex Knost would not be a surf star. Case closed.

Dave Eggers Wiki

Why is it that so many child surfing prodigies never realize their full potential?  Each year the magazines proclaim a handful of youngsters to be the next Kelly Slater.  In reality, these pint-sized surf stars are just as likely to reach rehab as they are the Top 10.

Today I'm highlighting the inspirational story of David Eggers -- perhaps the most dominant amateur surfer in history, who joined the World Tour, only to succumb to drug abuse and mental illness.  Eggers descended into a dark obscurity, forgotten by the industry that helped create his downfall.

Amazingly, Eggers overcame his addiction and reinvented himself, gaining worldwide literary fame as the author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."

Eggers' trophies circa '85. Photo: Chang /Swell

Eggers' trophies circa '85. Photo: Chang /Swell

Some highlights from Dave Eggers' Wiki entry:

David Eggers was born January 8, 1970, in Mountain View, CA (although it should be noted that in his purportedly autobiographical memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," Eggers claims to have been born in Lake Forest, a suburb of Chicago).

Eggers was raised in Clairemont, CA, and began surfing at the age of seven despite his father's prejudices - the patriarch of the Eggers clan believed all surfers to be derelicts and drug addicts.  By age 8, little David already possessed a turbo-charged, functional style that allowed him to do then-futuristic maneuvers such as backside 360s.

Eggers in La Jolla. Photo: Don Balch/Swell

Eggers in La Jolla. Photo: Don Balch/Swell

Surfing Career:

Eggers had a nearly-unbeatable aura as an amateur, winning 225 trophies and 4 U.S. National titles.  In 1985 Eggers dropped out of 10th grade, signed a lucrative pro contract with Gotcha, and set out on the raucous world tour, nearly unaccompanied.  Although he easily beat some of the top surfers in the world and rose to #34 in the ratings, Eggers was mercilessly hazed by older members of the surfing fraternity, and he quickly succumbed to the temptation of drugs.  By 1987 Eggers had quit the tour, lost his contracts, was nearly-homeless, and freebasing cocaine.

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Literary Work

Throughout the 1990's, Eggers struggled with addiction, turned in some legendary underground performances in La Jolla, and was finally diagnosed as a schizophrenic in 1997.  With the support of his family, Eggers received treatment for his addiction and mental illness.

Although never again a factor in professional surfing, Eggers amazingly channeled a previously unknown literary talent into the sensational 2000 book-debut "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," which masqueraded as a factual memoir of his parents deaths' due to cancer.  In the best-selling book, Eggers goes on to describe the challenges he faced in raising a 14-year-old younger brother, Toph, in Berkeley, California.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is usually classified as a memoir or autobiography, and its foundation is certainly laid in true events. However, Eggers takes great creative liberties. He often writes wild, tangential fantasy scenes (and makes no mention of his previous surfing career).  Thus, this influential work probably falls into the category of creative non-fiction.

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David Eggers Today

Eggers is married to the novelist Vendala Vida, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and continues to have great success as a writer, editor, publisher, and philanthropist.  He is a founder of McSweeney's a literary journal.  In addition to penning a number of novels, he helps run 826 Valencia, a non-profit writing center for low-income youths.

Although David's brother Scott is a fixture in the San Francisco surf community, David either surfs in seclusion or not at all, having focused his energies on literature.  Occasionally, he is rumored to be spotted surfing alone, at dusk or dawn, turning in mind-blowing performances in waves of heavy consequence.

Shards Still Falling: Part 3

I thought I'd close the loop with the final chapter of my revisit of Shards Still Falling, an article I wrote back in '03. (Part One Here and Part Two Here.)  It would be nice if I could spend my time researching in-depth, introspective pieces with gargantuan word-counts, like this one clumsily attempts to be.  But for the most part, editors at the majors pass on anything over 800 words, especially if it doesn't have a feel-good vibe.  Often, if an article doesn't sell trunks, it doesn't sell.

G-Land. Photo: Dave Collyer/Sickshots.com

G-Land. Photo: Dave Collyer/Sickshots.com

The Aftermath of the Bali Bombings

As the one year anniversary of the Bali Bombings approached, Kuta Beach seemed to be trying to heal itself.  Most prominently, Kuta Karnival, "A Celebration of Life; A Remembrance of Love," was scheduled to run from September 11 to October 12.  Organized by local Balinese, expatriates, local businesses, and international sponsors, the Kuta Karnival aimed to bring visitors back to Kuta and act as a remembrance of the Bali Bombing.  As the promotional posters stated, "It's surf, skate, sounds, and sun... a fair, a festival, a fanfare of food, a fantasy of fun, and a free-for-all, for you - for the world..."  One morning in early October, after another night of liver abuse, I decided to walk my hangover down the sandy expanse of Kuta Beach. In the distance stood scaffolding and sponsor's tents; the tell-tale signs of a major surf contest.  I sat myself down in the sand, directly next to the judges tower, along with a handful of other quiet spectators.  Out in the water, six competitors half-heartedly slogged it out in boring two foot surf.  They all seemed to be on ancient equipment.  I sat there, perplexed for a moment, until the contest announcer cleared things up over the loudspeaker.  I was watching the Retro Division, in which Bali surfing pioneers squared off against present day local pros, with all competitors riding vintage boards from the 70's and 80's.  It looked like fun - a lighthearted event, bridging the gap between generations.  When surfing first came to Bali, the local people were terrified of it.  They lined the cliffs at Uluwatu, praying for the lives of the crazy foreigners, sure that the evil spirits of the sea would drag them to their deaths.  It took a number of years for the younger, more open-minded Balinese children to get over their cultural fear of the sea.  But it happened, and now Balinese surfers are some of the finest in the world.

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Starting a Magazine!!!

Hey Friends,

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately.  I don't think it's right for me to be so snarky and ironic and cynical all the time.  Too much negative energy.  I want to be earnest and heartfelt and optimistic again.  I'm returning to my first, innocent love.

I'm offering fellow devotees a reader-supported labor of love:

THE BOOGER'S JOURNAL

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That's right.  Enough of this corporate, rip-and-tear bullshit.  Remember back when surfing actually meant something?

I'll take you back to that time.

Remeber how good life was before you got married and had kids?  Spend 10 minutes in the bathroom pretending your life was like that again.

Ever wonder if someone out there has a treasure-trove of unpublished blurry photos of people sitting around Sandy Beach in '77, or Laguna in '82?  I'm gonna find those pictures and run 30 page articles with every one of them.

glorydays

Remember when fashion used to be cool?  Remember throwing peace signs while bottom-turning?

Remember when surf brands were so core that you wanted to personally allign yourself with them?

Remember those random pro boogie boarders for the 80s?  I'm going to spend two weeks living with each one, and then publish in-depth profile pieces.  Some of these old-timers might be really cool mellow family men now, and some might be misogynistic racists who beat their trailer trash wives and embezzle funds from the local Elk's Lodge.

Either way, you're gonna read 30 pages about each of these living legends who might as well be dead.  They were born before you kid, so their life experiences are inherently meaningful.

boogie

But wait!  There's more!

This isn't just some nostalgia trip.  I'm going to bring you action-packed surf trips articles, where old heroes team up with young rippers who got teased in high school because they sucked at shortboarding, so now they're soulful and artistic and have a deeper connection with nature than you because they hang out with living legends and surf shitty equipment on their bellies.

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I know there's people out there like me who care about the soul of surfing.  So please subsrcibe!  Send $150 dollars to PostSurf headquarters, and I'll send you your first issue in about a year and a half.

SHARDS STILL FALLING

This article is a reprint from 2003. I had more time on my hands then.  Time enough to spend a few months a year in Indo, time enough to write long, sprawling, vaguely earnest articles about things I cared about.  I had more time than money - especially since no one wanted to pay me for articles like this.  In life, as a rule of thumb, I've learned that the more you care about what you do, the less likely you are to be well-compensated for it.  Aid work?  Art?  Expect to live month to month.  A unexplainable position in finance making faceless old white men rich?  Expect to get rich yourself and forget what you even care about by the time you get there.

6 years ago, after writing "Shards Still Falling" I had coffee with Matt Warshaw and asked for advice concerning becoming a successful surf journalist.  Matt had just finished the Encyclopedia of Surfing, and I considered him to be at the top of the game.  "Is there anything else you can do to make money?" Warshaw asked me.  I told him there was - I had walked away from a career in usability consulting to travel and surf.  "Do that then.  Do anything but this.  Writing about surfing is no way to make a living.  If you want to write about surfing, do it because you enjoy it."

I more or less took Matt's advice to heart.  2009, and it's time for me to head to the 19th floor of an office building in my nice pants, to bill hours and invest time into something I don't care about.  I consider myself lucky to still be employed.  And this site?  It's something I do to entertain myself.  I do it the way most people watch TV.  An hour a day or so, a distraction from real life.  Lately I haven't even had that much time to spare.  Hence this flashback.

2002 bombing victims.  Photo: Lewis Samuels

2002 bombing victims. Photo: Lewis Samuels

The Aftermath of the Bali Bombings

I met Blaine Pecaut late in September of 2003, when he walked into a clearing in the dense foliage of the Plengkung Jungle in the Banyuwangi province of Eastern Java.  Blaine has wide child eyes, simple, honest eyes, and although there were hints of gray in the stubble on his face, there was something very young and new about him.  We both were there for the same reason, as were the other hundred or so travelers who slept there by the Indian Ocean.  A congregation of international travelers, all there to surf.  The name of the place was Grajagan, the name of the surf spot G-land - a shallow mile long stretch of reef that is widely regarded as one of the best waves in the world.  I had already been there for two weeks when Blaine walked into the Jungle Camp, fresh off a speed boat, the final leg in an eight hour trek from Bali's Kuta Beach.  Blaine showed all the signs of a G-land rookie.  He was a bit nervous, hesitant, seemingly unfamiliar with the camp set-up.  I introduced myself, and offered to walk down to the beach with him; explain a bit about the surf spot.  It was my eighth trip to Indonesia, my sixth trip to G-land.  We went through the usual introductions; Blaine told me he was from San Clemente, California.  One of only a handful of "yanks" that I had come across in Indonesia that season.  Blaine is an electrician, and a dedicated, skilled surfer.  He has a quiet voice and mellow, spacey demeanor.  We sat on a bamboo bench facing the surf.  The waves were good that day, as they often are at Grajagan.  Blaine and I discussed the surf - where to paddle out, which waves to avoid, how to read the barrel sections.  During our conversation, I got the impression that this was Blaine's first trip to Indonesia.  He didn't say directly whether he had been to Indonesia or not - yet something about Blaine's voice, the Southern California surfer patois, something about his openness, trepidation...  I just got the feeling that Blaine was seeing it all through new eyes.  I told him that I thought it was pretty cool, that he had decided to come to Bali, alone, with the negative press and all.  The travel advisories.  The newspaper articles.  The aftermath of the Bali Bombing, which destroyed two prominent Kuta clubs on October 12, 2002.  Blaine told me that he was "a little scared to travel to Bali, but that it was important to face his fears."  I nodded, and we walked back towards the camp, ready to go surfing.

It would be another week before I discovered that Blaine had been to Indonesia before, after all - five times in all.  In fact, he had been there last fall.  Blaine Pecaut had spent the night of October 12 pulling injured survivors and burnt bodies out of the wreckage of the Sari Club, searching for the friends that he was supposed to meet there that night.

Speed Reef during our stay.  Photo: Dave Collyer/Sickshots.com

Speed Reef during our stay. Photo: Dave Collyer/Sickshots.com

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