This Has Everything To Do With Surfing
There are whispers within the surf industry that the party is going to end. Or has ended. That the economy, as it is, is not in a good place. That manufacturing, as it is, has changed with the Chinese equation. That the margins on boards and T-shirts, as they are, just don’t exist anymore. The sun is rising, the booze has run dry. Turn off the music and send the revelers into the streets to find their fun elsewhere.
The whispers are everywhere, even on Wikipedia, about our biggest companies shedding employees and brands. About the possibility of a contracted World Tour. About bankruptcy. About no more party.
Well, dear partygoers, I am here to silence these very whispers! I am here to pour another round and put on Rihanna’s awesome, feel-good anthem “Cheers (Drink to That)!” So, cheers to the freaking weekend, drink to that, yeah, yeah. Sure, the economy may be shit and may have been shit for, like, ever. But since when did we care about the economy? Since when did we crunch numbers and worry about future viability and earnings and portfolios? We are surfers! Simple and cute and so, so fun! The cynic may answer, “Since we sold our soul to corporate America, good sir, and took our companies public and now answer to shareholders and private equity firms. And don’t call me simple and cute and fun. I work for a non profit law firm.” Have another drink, cynic! Nobody knows what shareholders do or what private equity firms are. Nobody especially knows what a non profit lawyer does. So relax!
The fact that even one of us gets paid to paddle out to sea and ride a surfboard is confounding at any level, from pro to team manager to shaper. Even more confounding that someone gets paid to take that surfer’s picture. Even most confounding that someone gets paid to write about that surfer. He is simple! Cute! So, so fun! We have been pulling the wool over the eyes of convention since the first pair of boardshorts sold for real money. Since the first magazine sold for real money. We are not bound by natural law, you see. Oh let the Jameson sink in, yeah, yeah.
“Bull roar,” the cynic responds. “I don’t think I can refer to you as ‘good sir’ any longer. First, you do a disservice to surfers by not promoting the truth. The truth that the ‘industry’ and ‘surfers’ are not one in the same. The industry has taken the greatest thing on earth and monetized it and spoiled it for the rest of us. Now our lineups are crowded, our oceans polluted with toxins. Our soul — gone.” Find a babe and dance it out, cynic! No matter what you think, the surf industry and surfers are one and the same. Every surf industry man, or woman, I know, surfs. They love it. They do it on their lunch breaks and after work is over. And our lineups are not any more crowded. It is an inconvenient truth that the actively participating surf public numbers have stayed the same for many years. I have scientific data to back this up. And the toxins are not our fault, they are China’s fault, so whatever. China goes its own way. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Turn it around with another round, yeah, yeah.
“Well, there you have it,” the cynic responds. “If the actively participating surf public has stayed the same for many years then the surf industry has expanded as far as it can and the only option is to retract. And I don’t like you minimizing the environmental impact. I am a nonprofit lawyer for Greenpeace.” Put a lampshade over your head, cynic! Why do you think Iowa exists? And Austria? And every landlocked state/country on earth? They exist to buy our T-shirts and feel our cool, by osmosis. They never have to go to a beach. They can wear their new boardies to the swimming pool and score. Win-win. It might take our beloved industry a minute to tap all these markets properly but in the meantime, Brazil has a burgeoning middle class and China, however much it pollutes, is holding surf contests. There’s a party at the bar everybody put your glasses up and I’ll drink to that, yeah, yeah.
“You win,” the cynic responds. And I know I do. Because I have my Oakley Frogskins, Raens, Spys, etc., etc. on and I’m feeling hella cool tonight. Yeah! Yeah! —Chas Smith