Elle Est Cool Ta Vie!

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / March 29, 2011

Uncool? Never. Robert August and Mike Hynson did not rollerblade.



Lewis Samuels is great at something maybe. Metaphors. Or connecting with an opaque online fan base. Or something. But he’s got our beloved pursuit all wrong. Like, totally. For instance, in the latest and very fine issue of SURFING Magazine he writes:


“I have this recurring fantasy. In the near future, surfing will become as uncool as rollerblading. If they find out you’re a surfer, the hip, with-it people of the world will literally laugh at you.”


And yuck! Why? Why does he say such things? He goes on to explain that, if surfing becomes uncool like rollerblading then,


“People will quit in droves. Lineups will be left empty. A few of us will keep surfing anyway — the ones who really loved surfing, or were used to being outcasts. You reckon that’s too much to hope for? It seems like we’re headed in that direction.”


All wrong. Cool is as essential to the DNA of surfing as three fins. As a tan. As the cutback. As bikini’d girls on a white sand beach. As salty hair. Surfing is cool, quintessentially cool, and it has always been thus. From the Hawaiian kings to the Duke to the Eddie to Matt Archbold to Kelly Slater to Luke Davis to Leonardo Fioravanti.

There is something both simple and gorgeous about being a surfer. Something that translates and inspires. Every New York scenester would trade Brooklyn for a Topanga Canyon bungalow, yellowed boards against shed, in a heartbeat. Every fashion designer, and I am talking high fashion here, has, at one time or another, looked at pictures of Miki Dora or Christian Fletcher for their inspiration. Every acclaimed filmmaker, writer, poet, artist, musician since 1950 has thought, “Yeah. Dig,” while soaking in the raison d’etre of surfing. Because surfing is cool. Simple. Gorgeous. Otherworldly.

And, certainly, the lineups get choked from time to time. And kooky mid-Westerners, thrilled by images in magazines, films, books throw shakas in ill-fitting boardshorts while ditching longboards in that choke. But still but still. Any attempt at stripping the cool from surfing is akin to changing the pursuit itself. It is the same as saying, “I wish I could surf without riding waves.”

And even beyond, wishing surfing to be uncool undermines the very concept of cool itself. Surfing and rock ‘n roll will always be cool and money, fame, power be damned, for the cool shall forever inherit our earth.

Lewis Samuels is not good at metaphors. —Chas Smith


Chas Smith is a writer and correspondent for SURFING, and this is his regular web column. He is right now in Palm Springs, CA finishing a novel. For reals.



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  • jay

    Surfers were viewed as outcast, now everyone in their mother thinks its cool to surf. Surfing lost its mystique. So, yes, chas the metaphor made sense…Just not for your feeble mind. I can see it “wait what? surfing not cool anymore! Fuck that then!” People like you need to be stripped of surfboards. You play advocate all too well. Its not cure anymore.

  • get a clue

    “From the Hawaiian kings to the Duke to the Eddie ”

    what you meant to say is ‘FROM HAWAIIAN KINGS LIKE DUKE AND EDDIE’ right????

  • Tom Pierce

    I don’t care if you are serious or being sarcastic; you’re an idiot either way, Chas. I can’t get more than a couple paragraphs in before I want to punch the computer. At least surfingmagazine.com got 1 page view out of me. I’m sure the advertisers will be so happy.

  • Outkast

    Still trying to figure when exactly Surfing was such an outcast thing. It was an exclusive, underground kinda thing, but the second it was noticed by the mob its has ALWAYS been cool. This bullshit about the good old days of punk rock, anti-culture, rejected by the main stream is nonsense. SURFING has always been and will always be cool, Nike, Patagonia, 3 fins, 4 fins, et al. It may have been rejected by prudes, but its always been in style. What isn’t cool anymore is black wetsuits and white 6’6+ Channel Islands MBB’s ridden by fat internet slobs who desperately attempt to remember the good ole days that never were.

    Nostalgia’s a bitch and she’s playing tricks on you again.

  • Darren

    Lewis Samuels is a decent writer, but he is very wrong. Surfing is ALREADY uncool. You know who disagrees? Most surfers. In fact, most people who pursue anything (tennis, video games, fashion) can find a “cool” spin, but their opinions are irrelevant.

    Surfing ITSELF is cool – the act of riding a wave – but our subculture is helplessly lame, our role models mired in sameness and our “voices” (ie Chas Smith, that one guy who makes “classic” webclips about bikini chicks, etc.) have mistaken quirk, hype and reaction for talent and originality.

    Next time you’re in a parking lot checking the surf, nudge a few steps towards those guys gathered to your left (or right). Listen to what they are saying. Listen to the language they use. Listen to the topics. Listen to the inflection. That is us. Cool by contrast to the MMA? Probably. But ACTUALLY cool? Goodness no.

  • Wiggolly D.

    I think you meant to say that Lewis is not good at similes. Good luck with that novel.

  • jay

    I can tell you right now that surfing you were looked at by older people as an outcast and a bum. You weren’t respected and I can assure of this with the views of my elders in the family. You are also forgeting that until about the late 60s people were very close minded, there was one way of life and one way to live it. So that alternative lifestyle of surfing is gone long gone.

  • Al Baydough

    Surfing has a bad case of Syndrome.

    The only thing that has become more “cool” in surfing than insecurity is the intentional dumbing down of the industry drones who keep trying to define what they never created in the first place. You can keep the bling and homogenous cookie cutter tats.

  • johnny finbox

    theres nothing more simple or gorgeous that hanging ten

  • Not a Prosfessor of Liturature


    a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g., surfing will become as uncool as rollerblading ).

    or Chas Smith’s writing is unreadable as stereo instructions.

  • Not a Prosfessor of Liturature

    Editing the original piece won’t save your pseudo-intellectual article.

    Or something maybe.

  • Joey Stalin

    From the standpoint of someone that doesnt surf a lot, or has not been intertwined within the surf industry for years upon years, I could see how one would try to speak against Samuels’ claims. But, from someone who has, I can see the truth in Lewis words; not only are his words rays of truth, but I have seen this decline with my own eyes. In my town; we’ll call it doodieville; surfers used to be the alpha-males. Women flocked to the salty, sand ridden locks. Over the years there has been a change; no longer is the surfer the object of utmost desire. I have seen this change, and it is real. Surfing has lost its cool. The decline has been steadily eating away at the once-famed culture. Now one might ask; why is this so? Why are the women not flocking to my loins? Why can’t I obtain a tear of respect within other cultures? I don’t really know. Perhaps it is the over-saturation of postmodern advertising culture cliches. Perhaps it is the tiresome monotony that is the sport of surfing. Maybe people just don’t really care anymore. To me, it seems that there are too many surfers, and few really care to distinguish between the good and the bad; and if you dare claim yourself as “a good surfer”, you will simply be shunned or laughed at. Because really, being a good surfer is like being good at sex; sure its kindof fun to brag about, but it gets extremely tiresome, and (if youre lucky) only a few will ever really appreciate it. Goodnight.

  • mark cutback davis

    What has this guy done to all of you besides pen a few articles you don’t like. Can somebody please fill me in with some empirical evidence so I can jump on the hater band wagon. Something relating to this oh so prevalent Coke habit I keep reading about in theses comments. Shits fun, and so are hot chicks, porsches, nice clothes and other expensive shit. I mean come on…

  • toobazzo

    claiming how cool you are is the pretty fucking uncool

  • aaron

    chas do you even surf?

  • twists

    this might help you out, mark. 3:30 you get to see the fag.

  • munga barry

    lewis wants people to think surfing is uncool so that he will feel cool doing it…. but if people think its cool, he feels uncool… so how about not caring if its cool or not, and just doing it because you enjoy it. fuck cool. lets surf.

  • benj

    Chas stopped writing. Now he just blurts out things he doesn’t like. I DON’T LIKE THAT!

  • Ben

    Lewis is not prescient, nor was he trying to be. He was joking. Lewis was being sarcastic. Was his intent so difficult to discern Chas?

    Lewis is the best surf writer today. Cormac McCarthy writes better, Zadie Smith writes better, but they don’t surf.

    Chas, do you surf? You don’t need to surf well, I certainly don’t, Kampion apparently didn’t etc., but you should really surf to write about it. Then again, I don’t see how a self-described pursuit of french cigarettes and french suits and Vegas and Manhattan and Palm Springs add up to even an attempt at surfing.

    Probably ain’t your fault Chas, after all, the magazine prints your copy.

  • chuck

    who cares if surfing is cool or not? if you surf, you surf, the rest is just nonsense.

  • mark cutback davis

    I’m so so confused. That collar pop? But like everyone knows that’s douche as hell. Is he being ironic? But why? With fashion at a JOB premier??? This man is one hell of a spracked out (and in that vid, he’s def spracked) enigma. I’m going to keep reading his articles, and enjoy them I will.
    I hate to say it and bum you all out, but the guy can probably surf half decent. I’m sure he’s got a crack to roundhouse combo that stands up to the rest of the industry goons surfing ability. They wouldn’t let him in the club if he couldnt surf at all. Jus sayin.

  • a fan

    Doesn’t everybody feel bad at the end of the day who posts negative weird shit online? Chas is creating something like it or not. He’s pretty much the only writer who means anything. He sparks debate and writes from a different perspective. The rest of you leeches just suck of the teet. Yum yum.

  • Charlie does Surf

    Ben, I think Chas is a bit sarcastic as well. I’m surprised no one ever gets that. Lewis is a bit redundant and moody though. I actually really liked the article in the mag, though like chas I don’t really get all of what Lewis believes.

    FYI. Go kick it in Cardiff for a few weeks and you’ll see Chas shredding. He actually surfs quite well.

  • Barry

    Reading this article is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling sorry for chas. It really hasn’t dawned on him that cool isn’t something you can contrive like a French attitude or a Lady Gaga song. What he has done is milk the offcuts from a sport that was built by giants like Greg Noll, Eddie and Miki Dora for all they are worth. People realize they are manipulated by goons like you and your crew Chas and that isn’t cool. It never will be.
    Surfings drifted in out of the limelight for quite a while now as a sport. But the waves keep rolling in don’t they.

  • sd, cali

    HAHA chas trying to belittle Lewis Samuels. Guess what chas, I stopped reading after his quotes ended. Thats how much you suck. You probably couldnt pass a junior college introductory writing class.

  • Lewis and Chas = Kook Poseurs

    If you are so insecure as to be concerned with the notion that surfing is “cool” or not than you are not a true surfer in the first place. Do you think Kelly Slater sits at home and ponders whether surfing is “cool” or not? Do you think Dane Reynolds, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Dion Agius, Jordy Smith sit at home and decide whether to keep surfing or not based on how “cool” it is?????? Anyone who has to question whether surfing is cool or not is no doubt insecure about their own ability and their place as a surfer. Who is to judge what is hip? Who are the hippest people in the world? Are basketball players more hip than baseball players? Are politicians more hip than bankers? Are hipsters more hip than scenesters? You are what you believe. Does Kelly Slater give a damn whether or not a million non surfers on this planet couldn’t care less about what he has accomplished? Did Jordan or Ali care whether people thought what they did was cool? Being cool is being what you were truly meant to be. Lewis and Chas are not cool because they were never meant to be surfers. They are simply poseurs who try and write about something they so desperately want to be a part of. And they are drowning in their own bullshit disguises.

    Lewis Samuels no doubt is lost in his own insecurity and false pseudo surfer front. I always saw through his bullshit. Masquerading as a surfer with all his heavy hitting nonsense. Lewis started surfing to be cool. Surfing still is and always will be. The Ride is cool because there is no experience like it on Earth. All the bullshit that has grown around it is not cool. And it is that bullshit that swallows the fakes. True surfers dont’ let the bullshit blur their vision. Lewis is obviously concerned with everything in surfing that doesn’t matter. He could write for days about shit that has nothing to do with surfing but he thinks it does. Chas as well. Writing about surfing has absolutely nothing to do with surfing. You are already headed in the wrong fucking direction. There is no room to analyze surfing- that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the ride and it’s that fucking simple. And for everyone that has lost sight of that it’s truly sad. Surfing will be forever cool – to those who are truly meant to belong. There are thousands of fake surfers out there who were never meant to be surfers. If you have to question your “coolness” than that shows how “uncool” you really are in the first place. They will never know what it feels to be truly cool because they simply are not themselves. And they know it.

  • Taylor Paul

    Chas surfs.

  • sam

    Lewis surfs well. Chas doesn’t. What else matters?

  • Wiggolly D.

    Stylistically, Stuart Cornuelle is a much more talented writer than Lewis or really anyone at any surf magazine right now, which makes his case the most tragic. For now, it seems he’s content to wield a bit of editorial power at a surf mag and bury his head when it’s inconvenient, but I don’t know how long that will hold his attention. At some point, I hope he’ll choose to write about things that matter – it will be far more rewarding. I’m not sure what kind of insecurity possessed him to so vocally denounce his own ability or willingness to be a real writer, but I have a feeling that when he matures a bit, being a “writer/editor” for Surfing Magazine won’t be so important.

  • Barry

    chas surfs like politicians kiss babies, all smile – no heart.

  • Joey Stalin

    i write better

  • yeah guy

    of course Chas went to Palm Springs to “finish a novel”… i am sure he fits in well there.

  • Tom Pierce


    Please, God, tell me that’s all an act. That HAS to be an act.

  • Ben

    Hey Wiggolly, I don’t know what you’re basing your opinion on. Lewis has actually written documents, polemics, articles etc. which make people laugh and piss pros off, mostly for their veracity. Cornuelle does not. He publicly avoids controversy (see his opinion on AI, made all the more ridiculous by Surfing’s assertion that it covers ALL aspects of surfing). Of the current scribes, Lewis is easily king.

  • Barry

    @yeah guy – Ha Ha, don’t know much about palm springs. does this mean chas is in rehab?

    @Tom Pierce – Maybe Pol Pot was putting on an act too when he said, ‘Since he is of no use anymore, there is no gain if he lives and no loss if he dies.’ The point is – if you were Cambodian and he was talking about you, it really didn’t matter.
    OK you got me, this is an extreme example but since Chas has poked fun at the victims of totalitarian regimes simply to settle scores with other journalists i think maybe it’s appropriate.


    A lot of people seem to think the best thing we can do about this kind of sensationalism is to ignore it. Well what happens if other people don’t? What happens when the act becomes reality?
    Are questions like this too serious for a surf mag? Yeah Probably – Chas is counting on that. So we surfers just keep silent behind our good time smiles, right? Well not me.

  • twon

    Is this why every barney is sporting that same gay haircut!?

  • Wiggolly D.

    I’m basing my opinion on my opinion – and the same vat of documents/polemics/articles you are. And I was also referring to Cornuelle’s position on covering AI when – using it as proof proper that his writing skills are going to waste. Stylistically, when it comes to the form of writing, Cornuelle is more appealing than Samuels (to me).

    Samuels, content-wise, just says more provocative things – usually in language surfers understand, but that doesn’t make him a more gifted writer – it only makes him more willing to cover contentious issues – something I hope Studog will one day choose to do. It seems he just needs to grow up a little more first. But you don’t see either of these folks writing for publications where the writing matters. There actually are some “surf writers” doing real writing – of the younger ones Ted Endo comes to mind. Dude’s writing for Nat Geographic and NY Times. Brad Melekian – a bit older – is in the same boat.

  • Steve Shearer

    We remember fondly Chas’s journalism on the Pro tour, it is missed. And npw the long slow capitulation following the Fanning fiasco. Sensationalist, yes!, but the Chas rebuttal indicated a people’s champion.
    Oh, how wrong, how oh so sorrily wrong and wretched do people feel now who pinned their hopes on Chas.

    When they lifted up the flouncing skirts of literary homage and stylistic tics and gyrations which seemed to entrance the people what did they find?

    Nothing but a company man, a Palin in drag, a Reagan post conversion(yes he was once a union leader, true!), a cheerleader for the rich and powerful. Prepared, above all, to stand with the captains of industry and fight to the last drop of blood against the recreational surfer who deems to revolt against corporate control.

    In the words of our beloved Solzhenitsyn (which could so easily be applied to the Chas question) : “A propaganda campaign should be launched at once and there should be articles in newspapers with headlines like ‘The Collective Farms must belong to the Younger Generation!’ or ‘A Vital Step in Transforming the Countryside!’- but, of course, Soviet journalists didn’t need telling how to phrase it”.

  • ray

    chas wears A.P.E.’s, not WEBS. nuff said.

  • ChassySmithy

    Chas is writing a novel? What is it about how to be a total douche? Or is it how to be a coked out kook?

  • Barry

    thanks steve, courtesy of polticos like you we’ll be looking up chas’ skirt for quite some time now. tres yuck. he must laugh himself silly.

  • Tom Pierce

    One of two things is happening regarding Surfing Magazine using Chas: 1.) They actually think he is a good writer, or 2.) They don’t really care as long he gets attention. Neither one is very honorable. Jerry Springer gets a lot of viewers, but I don’t anyone would accuse him of being a good journalist. People just can’t help but stop and look at a trainwreck. If Surfing Magazine wants to be known as the Trainwreck of Surf Magazines, they are well on their way. But I suspect they actually think they are cool, when in reality they are cheeeeeese.

  • GriDlok

    Take a look at the mindless spat that is cranked out of the widget temples of SoCal: LOST……. lost its edge, but appears as old losers on drugs.
    Volcom…. no longer “underground” …. but still trying to apear that way…
    RVCA….. an imprint on douchewads at bars….

    the industry: one big clusterfuck:

    homo lingo like “tail blow” and “backside rock and roll”

    Campaigns like I surf because… Because whenever I get out of the water… I feel tingly and special…

    I surf because….. Billabong is a joke. Fire the idiot who tried to build a philosophy, but demonstrated the incompetency of surfers thinking beyond a junior primary child
    The industry bros, … the industry.

  • RH

    I suspect Chas’s only literary influence is the children’s book character Eloise. That character really doesn’t work in an adult male surfer, though. Wouldn’t have worked even for Peter Drouyn, in writing… though it kinda did with his “effective and ineffective cheating”. So maybe Chas, instead of trying to write a novel, should come up with a revolutionary contest format, and then get around to going to a chop shop (if necessary).

  • Bushy

    If you don’t like the guy or his writing, don’t read his posts. Always seems to get the most responses, so you obviously are. Lot of denial happening here.

  • ancient

    Surfing – always cool.

    Surfers, sadly, today, mostly conformists in every respect, especially style. But what the hell, 90% of everything is shit.

  • Peter

    Surfing is not cool…it’s radical maaannnn. Cool is too “soft” of a word.

  • kadafi

    It’s interesting seeing the brain-washed rippers whose dads’ were drunks.

    I wonder what’s to become of them one day; never mind the genetic predisposition for alcoholism.

    mini time bombs: tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock……

  • Tony Carson big island

    Surfing may always be cool or not, but if you read Samuel’s article, his real issue seems to be with the surf industry and the surf industries prostitution of surfing to the masses, for their own personal gain. The surf industry could care less who wears one of their tees as long as they make a buck at the end of the day. Surfing may always be cool or not, but wearing a surf tee, (by quickdollar, billabog, or ‘hurley, owned by a shoe company’), probably won’t be. He encourages kids to give the finger to the surf industry, (not to surfing}. I know I did, quite a few years back, after seeing the continuing exploitation of surfing by the surf industry, I took all my surf tees, (quickdollar, rip cur, ect.}, poured some gas on them, and burnt them, (true story), and never looked back.