The Core is Dead

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / December 18, 2010

Baby, Take it Off! is Chas Smith’s column. “Surfing is so totally awesome sexy!” says Chas.


I’ve been meaning to say something for a hot little minute but I have been too busy shopping for French suits and French cuffed shirts and smoking. But what I’ve been meaning to say is this: The core is dead. Very dead. Cold.

There was a time, I was a young surflet then, when the core meant everything. Core shops. Core brands. Core vids. Core wax. Core core. The core was a rebellious teen with the best haircut ever. Cool and filled with élan. The core was a bootie-shaking glare given in the lineup (by a teen with the best haircut ever).

Then something happened. The internet or something. And the core got super old. It became 45 and angry. It sat at home punching out mostly retarded comments underneath online articles. It began to enjoy “reason” and “a well-formulated response.” It fell in love with anonymous faceless debate. Well that’s not cool at all, even at Brigham Young University, which is why it died. Cool was the lifeblood of the core. Its essence. Cool cool Miki Dora in 1965 Christian Fletcher in 1986 cool. Cooooooool.

Being cool is, in large part, about being an innovator. About ascending. It is about feeling something deeply and translating that feeling to an external vision. An inspirational, aspirational vision. But the core has become a follower. All fear and anger based. All fat and pale. The fear is that if surfing becomes commercialized/homogenized it loses the one thing the fat and pale hold on to. That they are special. The anger is that they were left behind. No athletic success. No work in the space that inspires them. No money from doing what they love. No innovation. Then they feel victimized. Then they seethe online in tres ugly ways. Victimized. Like chubs without big enough airplane seats. Like the elderly without enough Lawrence Welk in primetime. Super tres ugly!

So it died. And the angry 45-year-old doesn’t even know it. He (and they’re all hes) thinks it is alive and awesome. He thinks he is dead center in a thriving community of rad when logging on to his slightly worn Mac. Or penning Open Letters to Surf Editors of the World. Or drinking half-caff lattes at Starbucks.

The core doesn’t grease the wheels of capitalism and loves to claim it is “canceling its subscription.” The core doesn’t look sweet any more at all. The core is dead. And gone. —Chas Smith

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  • jayonetooth

    I disagree.

    Walk into any surf shop, east coast or west coast and 80% of the time, you are treated like garbage if you are older than 25.

    20% of the time, you will find excellent service and care. Two shops come to mind for the 20% – sweetwater in wilmington, nc and frog house in newport, ca.

    The mindset at 80% of the places I have been too is junior high playground mental skill set or too cool for school.

  • Dennis

    Wanna know what’s even more dead? The argument that internet anonymity invalidates internet discussion. If I tell you my full name, age and hometown, would you believe me when I say you’re a hack writer with a tired premise and clunky metaphors? Because, if so, my name is Dennis Yago, I’m 28 years old and I live in Seal Beach.

  • bj

    I get the nostalgia for a more centered and less mainstream surf culture but I can’t see how that can remain unchanged with the broader interest and increase in $$$ that surfing now gets.

    I’ve been surfing since the seventies so I guess here comes a retarded comment except that right now I live and surf in India and I’m not that fat.

    Anyway ever since I can remember surfing has had a pretty conservative vibe in it’s culture, for example, excepting for a short time towards the end of 70’s when california punk was co-opted into the surf culture your wetsuit have had to be black or real dark or else you get called out.

    I agree the wholesale commercialisation of surfing has given it a fat underbelly and disconnected some of the key brands with the sport/lifestyle. I see 50 y.o local guys walking around Madras wearing Ripcurl etc tshirts and scratch my head. But there’s nothing like big piles of cash to help you lose your focus and at the end of the day did those brands have stay true to someone else’s idea of what they should do?
    Plus it’s exactly that expansion and “selling out” that lets younger more connected companies build a niche.

    It’s pretty difficult to be counter culture and mass market at the same time. I’m sure there’s lots of “Cool” guys out there but primetime don’t like em. How about JOB who despite loads of talent has been largely ignored for some time due to his shockjock style. He seems to be towing the line a bit more lately, maybe to try and salvage a career and avoid getting a real job, I have no real idea, I’ve never met the guy but I did see what he “tweeted” for god sake.

    But for your average surfing joe what does cool and core mean? I reckon there’s loads of both core and cool guys at every beach and they’re just being themselves like it’s always been. Except before when the crews were smaller and tighter you could be more out there. More people surf and want to know about surfing than ever so those local guys become less the main story and more just part of the larger fabric. That means those core guys have to be louder and more outrageous to be make a stand and that gets tired and uncool quick.

    I don’t get your lack of innovation angle, right now there’s more innovation in surfing than I’ve seen for ages. all the different types of boards being ridden and the niches forming. Maybe that also part of it. Like music has done it’s fragmenting into little tribes rather than the one true way that used to be the case.
    I guess I have more questions than answers to your article. So this is probably a retarded response but maybe it takes recognising the difference between your own disconnection form the core and that of surfing itself and deciding how you want to play that hand.
    I’m australian so excuse the s’s instead of z’s. I also reckon I’ve probably had too many stimulants tonight.

  • dennis is a retard

    Hi Dennis Yago. The point of this post, I believe, is not that anonymous internet discussion is lame but that all internet discussion is lame. I am lame and so are you.

  • Terry Fogs

    This is what happens when people confuse choppy bursts of pop-cultural blather with actual talent and a worthy point-of-view. Painfully, transparently crafted to buck convention, and does everything but. Self-satisfied, unchecked and murky. It’s possible he makes a point, but his (aspirations of) style clobbered it to death. Neither school – new or old – should tolerate this kind of aimless, mindlessness. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

    HOWEVER, Mr.Smith is fully forgiven for these transgressions of prose if he is sophomore in college. Everyone does this kind of thing when they’re 19 and that’s cool.

  • The bodie zaffa

    Hmm..Chassy back on it once again. The article above is a random, somewhat boring topic, but I like to think of Chas writing it while he’s yacked out of his mind on the white lady. You know he’s just another pro bro yes man who skiis the slopes a tad bit too regular. He then parlayed his synchophant ways into a scribe job with Stab and then ING.

    His last line about how people love to claim they are canceling thier subscriptions is true, because surf mags, and by mags I mean the advertisement mags arent worth the paper they are printed on. Nothing like seeing 5 ads with Fanning for five different sponsors, with five different angles of the same turn at Kirra. Readers want “content” which is why people go online, read the same ol “dream trip indo story” and then swallow a watered down version of a pro surfer profile which leads everyone to believe that his live isnt unraveling when in fact it just might be. No negative lights here folks, just keep feeding the machine, sweep the addictions under the table and put a smile on for the camera.

  • The Man

    Chas is sooooo core!!!!!

  • Jerry Curl

    I really did cancel my subscription, and I can’t believe I even read this shit for free. I want those 2 minutes back…

  • Totes McGoats

    Burn. (That’s a compliment, not vitriol.)

  • Totes McGoats

    Forget all these core dorks, bro. I just got a new leash and my sister is gonna video this wknd-awesome. My high school has a surf team and we rip the shred out of your tube and blow you out of the water (hooting right here, bro).

  • Ben

    The core is dead cause Chas Smith says so? Based on what? Motherfucker, you need to use complete sentences before making style decrees.

  • yeah guy

    you know what i love about these online articles? how i dont even have to read the articles, just the comments. far more entertaining and insightful. anything with 6+ comments and its generally worth a look.

    i love the way that people sink their hearts and souls into picking apart a small and horribly written essay about nothing. in fact, i love it so much, i needed to get in on the action.

    cheers to chas smith for tricking editors into hiring him, he must have a way with people. although you wont know it if you read one of his interviews. did anyway else catch his dusty payne interview in transworld awhile back? it was such a let down. i was pretty pumped to read that thing and to learn a bit about the kid. a quarter of the way in and i thought dusty was being interviewed by a high school girl (not that there would be anything wrong with that, just not sure as to why transworld would run an interview in which 1 man tells another man how attractive he is). no insight, nothing substantial, just a bunch of nothing, such a bummer. but what do i know, i spent that last 5 years living provo, ut.

    lastly, i would cancel my subscriptions, but at $10/yr, it is great fun to thumb through and most of the pictures are pretty good. plus i do get a laugh out of reading the poor quality of writing. the more we complain, the worse it gets. i am just happy that the mags appear to be spending their $$$ on photos and not writers.

    when looking for a well written read, does anyone really turn to a surf mag? i dont, i turn to the surf mags for the pictures.

  • Nug

    This ain’t core.

  • Benji

    The core’s not dead, it’s just not here. (And BTW, judging by your examples, Chaz have no idea where to start looking.)

  • hemingway

    would be very disaponted…

  • Dora Would Blog

    I think I get it. Being a crusty old local is not core but blogging about French suits and boys with nice haircuts is core.

    I’ll accept this little bit of logic if Chas promises to do the following on the next swell. Show up at Silver Strand wearing your french suit, smoking ciggies, and tell the boys in the parking lot they are not core. If they don’t agree just tell them you’ve blogged about it so it must be true. Make sure to share the pics of the aftermath with us here at Surfing.

  • Nick

    None of you guys really get it, because there is nothing to get. Chas just writes this stuff to piss all you grumpy people off. And it works. It gets more comments than a lightbox with pretty pictures.

  • Barry

    Yes thanks Nick although I don’t get it, I did notice that the light box has attracted your moth like comments as well.. 😛

    I guess to a lot of people the idea of a ‘core’ surfer, never was much more than a marketing technique designed to sell to impressionable kids or an image of a “rebellious teen with the best haircut ever. Cool and filled with élan”, give me a break. Even when you liked ‘core’ you were a sell out glamor hack, which assumes you actually had some ‘core’ to sell out in the first place.
    Mickey Dora, pfft, he’d turn over in his grave reading this endorsement of a prepackaged, homogeneous yet somehow ‘cool’ model a of a modern major surf phenomenon. The title of this article should read “Mickey Dora is dead. Who ever really listened to him anyway?”.

    If there’s really anything ‘cool’ about being ‘Core'( though I only really define myself as ‘Core’ in comparison with day-glo stoke wannabe guardians of surfing’s soul such as yourself Chas) it’s knowing that idiots like you are always pissing with the ‘élan’ you borrowed from a double page spread surf ad and sooner or later some of it will blow back on you.

  • bj

    @Nick, you seem grumpy too buddy. And maybe you don’t really get it. I don’t a F!@#k about Chas. It was great that bunch of real people cared enough about their ideas of surfing, core, cool or whatever to share some thoughts.

    And detached potshots are less value than Chas’ effort.

  • EC Charger

    “waaahhhh” …. Maybe the “core” is lost in France or wherever, but come surf NJ with 6-8′ spitting, board breaking dredgers in 5mil with snow coming down and you will be smacked right in your naive, out-of-touch face with 110% “core”.

  • Mitch Cumstein

    Fuck Core.

  • REAL Left Coaster

    “EC Charger”…puh-leeze. I saw you wuss out on 20 waves at 4 foot Manasquan last winter. Why don’t you come up north where there’s REAL juice and charge like a man. You’re soft.

  • EC Charger

    @REAL Left Coaster: hahaaa funny! #1) No such thing as wussing out on 4′ waves here, not even kooks do. #2) I didn’t even surf in Manasquan last winter so you must mean one of your own friends #3) Unless you are talking PNW (which is not the point here) Straight north of me on the right coast does NOT, repeat NOT have more juice than in NJ. Check Surfline for the photographic and video evidence from this Nov/Dec. The proof is in the pudding clueless dolt. Enjoy! 😉

  • m

    THE NUG!!!!!!

  • REAL Left Coaster

    @ EC – As if I have any idea who you are. Responding to anonymous haters is SUPER not core.

  • sam

    Is a guy with a fancy name like Chas core? I don’t really know.

  • sam

    can a guy who knows the UCLA 8-clap be core (Morrison excluded, of course)?

  • sam

    is thinking you’re smarter than your readers core?

  • sam

    are repeated passive-aggressive blurbs on the internet aimed at your detractors core?

  • sam

    Is a sleeve of tats still core?

  • sam

    is surfing mag core?

  • sam

    is saying sorry to Bobby core?

  • Barry M

    Is Sam core? He sounds like a kook to me.

  • Sammy

    If anyone hasn’t figured out that “sam” is Chas Smith himself…I have grave worries for that person’s progeny.

  • sam

    is a white sandle/shoe combo core?

  • Pingback: So Hard "Core" |


    dudeeeeeee i’m so fucking core just can’t help myself

  • chris colachis

    HAHAH Yes, chaz may not be the best writer, but everyone who just commented here, is one of two things. the brunt of the joke, or too stupid to get it. or both.

    chaz, charlie, chuck, chuckie, whoever you are. stop giving, even the slightest bit of attention, to the core, they arent worth the time. But i agree, the core is super sexy.