Lewis Samuels Speaks

posted by / interview / September 9, 2009

lewis-samuels

Industry-flogging shock-blogger calls it quits — SURFING finds out why.

Interview by: Nathan Myers


SURFING MAGAZINE: What prompted you to call it quits on PostSurf.com? Your final blog says there’s “more to this decision than revealed.” Reveal it.
LEWIS SAMUELS: There’s always going to be more to the decision than I can reveal, and it’s best not to go into all the details.  People aren’t stupid – they will draw their own conclusions.  I think that’s fitting, in a way – PostSurf was all about getting a reaction out of people; making them think.  The site never revealed much about me.  It wasn’t an introspective, meandering blog – it was a consciously finite project, which had much more to do with my perspective on surf culture than it had to do with my life.


I started PostSurf in order to rearrange the playing field a bit.  I wanted to see if I could change the rules of the game when it came to the surf industry’s culture.  It was something between a crusade and an art project. I wanted to hold up a mirror to surf culture, and show people what’s actually there — instead of showing people what the surf industry wants us to think is there.


The picture that emerged looks something like this: at the top, driving the culture, are conformists — conservative, capitalistic people.  They’re running the show, and below them are writhing masses of angry consumers.


The industry is selling this image of surfing – a sanitized, marketable, sunny, fun, happy picture: “Surfing: The new golf- Something you can do with the whole family AND discuss with your boss at work!”


The truth is, surfing is often a dark, anarchic, angry act.  It’s a selfish pursuit swarmed by a menagerie of morons.  And that’s the picture that emerged as PostSurf developed.  From the masses, these comments bubbled up under each article. Some of it was genius, and some of it was just trash. It turned into this brilliant hateful anarchy that was truly a train wreck – fascinating and completely depressing at the same time.


I created a lawless state, a room full of rioting chimpanzees, and I did it simply by taking the piss out of industry people.


Some people understood what was going on, and some were completely horrified.  I became this de facto martyr.  People expected me to live my whole life for this cause – I’d lost a job, I’d lost friends, been threatened, marginalized – and these anonymous readers expected me to keep doing it forever, for free, as some kind of community service.  PostSurf was never meant to last forever.  It was a self-destructive act.

What was the oddest result of writing your blog?
One of the funniest things was running into Drew Courtney (Top 45 surfer) in Australia.  It was a completely bizarre coincidence. I’d been pretty hard on Drew on PostSurf.  After seeing his headshot, I commented, “That is some Benjamin Button shit right there! I hope for Drew’s sake he’s aging in reverse, cause he’s a rookie and he already looks past retirement age.” So Stab Mag called him up and read him some of what I’d said, and Drew responded with “I’d love to meet him face to face. It wouldn’t go real good.”


Literally a week later, I was in Australia, in the middle of fucking nowhere, some rural town hundreds of miles away from the city or Drew’s hometown.  I’d mostly been surfing alone, and then Drew “Ben Button” Courtney pulls up and parks right next to me. It was ridiculous. Naturally, I went over and introduced myself.  Both of us just kind of eyed each other the whole time, thinking, “What are the fucking odds?”  He must have been wondered if I was stalking him, and at the same time I was trying to figure out if he was stalking me. We were both so perplexed by the randomness of it all that we simply had a pleasant conversation and then went on with our days.
(post here: http://postsurf.com/2009/06/01/magical-realism-with-ben-button/)

Is it true that you an [enthusiastic commentor] Blasphemy Rottmouth are starting your own line of Pro Surfer-inspired “Power Rankings” Action Figures?
Well… no, that’s not true. But I reckon action figures would be at least as profitable as anything else I’ve ever done in surfing. I never made a dime off PostSurf because I never put ads up. I approached it like a piece of art. I turned a lot of offers down.  It seemed like an odd way to earn a few dollars, especially considering I have a real job. Some websites make money — PostSurf mostly made enemies. Hopefully I also loosened things up a bit, at least expanded the boundaries of what surf writers can and cannot say.  Now other writers are following suit, probably figuring that if I got away with it, they can too.  So the landscape has changed, at least a bit…that was more important to me than money.  At the end of the day I just love surfing, and I’m happy to go back to being a normal surfer again, instead of whatever the hell it was that I became.

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41 Responses to “Lewis Samuels Speaks”

  1. Perez says:

    Really its over?Well i really never read it much but at it’s early stage it had its moments for sure. I will say i wish i would have never even seen this blog as i can not stop saying fuckery every time some one or somthing is just not right.

  2. wooster says:

    i enjoyed reading the power rankings more when lewis wrote them , a bit more personality and entertaining for the reader without regard for advertising dollars.

  3. C.John says:

    So what will the next blog be that calls out the Surf Industry?

  4. Chris Jones says:

    Wow – I never took Lewis or Post Surf seriously even though I did enjoy his Power Rankings when he was on Surfline but after that he became this self-righteous bullshit shock blogger that never resinated. After reading this interview I can see I was right on the fact that he is full of himself. What has Lewis Samuels ever done besides state a few opinions via the Power Rankings on Surfline? He’s contributed nothing to the surfing world as a whole and as far as I’m concerned is a bitter Nor-Cal battery chucker that will never be heard from again!

  5. The One Son says:

    I think he should start a new blog and call it wannabe who wears glasses to look intelligent post.

    http://www.wannabewhowearsglassestolookintelligentpost.gay

  6. Faber says:

    “Fuckery” is a good word!

  7. Bones says:

    He’s absolutely right about the people running the Surf Industry.

  8. ME says:

    Yes I do get the sense that Lewis is a little self righteous however he is hands down the best surfing writer/journalist in the game. People that make negative comments are probably people that have been called out by Lewis, people that have no brain, or people that have never read his work. I love surfing but am completely bored with the surf media. The articles in all of the major mags are just crap. Lewis gave me hope that surf writing would be interesting again. In other sports athletes are called out for being idiots why not in surfing? Are surfers really just sheep? By the look of lineups everywhere I think the answer is yes.

  9. Ben says:

    I think Lewis gives himself a little too much credit. A couple of the Power Rankings and a handful of the PostSurf postings were golden, but most was absolute garbage.

  10. North Shore says:

    His Power Rankings were/are far better than the existing ones.

    Industry/players can’t handle the truth.

    Not understanding the personal attacks on him…..

  11. Robert's Your Mother's Brother says:

    “The industry is selling this image of surfing – a sanitized, marketable, sunny, fun, happy picture: “Surfing: The new golf – Something you can do with the whole family AND discuss with your boss at work!”

    The truth is, surfing is often a dark, anarchic, angry act. It’s a selfish pursuit swarmed by a menagerie of morons.”

    Amen.

    Lewis: Get on with your life. Go to the beach. Go out for a meal. Enjoy yourself. Thanks for the effort.

    PS – Shave the moustache

  12. Nathan Myers says:

    I think Lewis showed good judgment in calling it quits when he did. The PostSurf voice was a refreshing corpo call out, but all that negativity becomes like an escalating arms-race after a while, where each post tries to out-nego and out-shock the last until it starts to consume its master alive. Sure, surfing can be “a dark, anarchic, chaotic act” (maybe more-so if you live near SF’s Ocean Beach), but it’s also fun, adventurous and medatitive (more-so if you live in Indo) — it’s one of those things that can be everything at once, like music or dance or most other art forms. Surfing is what you make it. And when you try to make it too much of one thing, well, it’s good to push the limits for a while…but only for a while.

    If you hate surfing, don’t do it. And please stop complaining about it to us. Just go away. I think Lewis realized he didn’t hate surfing so much after all. And we can respect him for that. We’ll be interested to see if his voice continues on in the sport (TW is looking to hire a new “bro-isms” writer, and Curious Gabe isn’t really that curious anymore now that he knows everything the world’s models have to teach)…I know people are keen to hear it, but Lewis declined response in that department (Uh, we were joking about the action figures, Lewis — why so serious?). In the meantime, SURFING will try to hate surfing a little bit more for all his adoring forum-monkeys. We’ll try…but we’re not very good at it. It’s just too much fun.

  13. Platonic Irony says:

    I think the comments here reflect the difference in the two websites… and other surf blogs in general.

    Drivel elsewhere… PostSurf = Interesting and Entertaining.

  14. HuckSD says:

    I enjoy the writings but this cracks me up.. “A pretty girl told me once that nostalgia can be a fatal disease.”

    How about the mustache? Both nostalgic and a fatal disease!

  15. ME says:

    @ Nathan Myers

    Dude I think you missed the point. Lewis doesn’t hate surfing he hates what the surf industry is doing to surfing.

  16. tcakes says:

    I always anticipated reading anything from Lewis. He tells it how it is, no strings attached. You either hate what he’s saying or you love it, either way it was unique and fearless and now I have no choice but to continue reading uninteresting opinions and articles from writers who are being paid for what they discuss. Take care Lewis

  17. old surf mag fart with a ( manual ) camera up his arse says:

    lewis samuels? one of the best writers in surf journalism??
    nikka, PUH-leeze…
    granted ‘surf journalist’ has never been more of an oxymoron but this guy is not even near great status.
    he’s just floating around good to middlin’ at best to occasionally sucky-ish.
    warshaw, marcus, hawk, witzig, walker, pruett just to name a few old blood / new blood surf journos( and i left more than a few others out and you should know who you are ) blow this guy A-WAY just with their caption prowess let alone a real piece of writing.
    no offense lewis, u have along way to go buddy….

  18. Steve says:

    Yeah, if “interesting and entertaining” is a bunch of pantysniffers calling each other names from behind anonymous screennames.

  19. I disappointed he quit before I could publicly come out of the closet.

  20. Lewis completely avoids the question as to why he quit here (and elsewhere), but I suspect that he simply got tired of doing it every day (for free). By avoiding the question, he wants us to assume that The Man made him do it or something, but I don’t think The Man even knew or cared about little ol’ Lewis and his 100-user blog trashtalking each other (and Chris Cote).

    Giving himself too much credit is what LS does best.

    So why did he quit? Laziness.

    Blog about that, mr. rottmouth.

  21. shacky says:

    Lewis Samuels, the Sarah Palin of surf bloggers. Quitter.

  22. White toast and bacon says:

    Derek Hynd, Steve Barilotti, Steve Hawk, Ben Marcus, Nick Carroll, Evan Slater, Matt Walker, Drew Kampion, Matt Warshaw… Ask any of these men how true journalistic respect is earned…

  23. Robert's Your Mother's Brother says:

    Nathan:

    We ‘forum-monkeys’ love surfing. That’s what you don’t get. What we hate is what YOU and your ilk think surfing is. What you are trying to ‘make’ it.

    You cater to the “menagerie of morons” to pay your rent. We started surfing to escape them.

    Your smugness belies your lack of insight. Go figure.

  24. Ian says:

    Let’s not confuse surfing with the surf industry Nathan. I think Lewis provided a great service in forcing the industry to view itself with a little perspective. It would be refreshing to see some form of media service surfers first and foremost. How about reporting on the quality issues Xcel has had since it was bought by Billibong or more articles like an amazing profile I read on Flea lately that fully discussed the relationship between meth and pro surfers in Santa Cruz? Real and candid wetsuit reviews by people living in cold climates alone would be revolutionary.

  25. Bolt Thrower says:

    Lewis is a genius for telling us information that we already know about the industry. The surf industry is run by a bunch of kooks…No shit!

  26. Evil Genius says:

    He (Lewis) is a bit self righteous, but creative people have their problems. The fact is he did a brilliant job with the Power Ranking while at Surfline. It was one of the only experiences in surfing “media” that I treasured. I would cozy up to my computer when that thing hit the net and get lost in the whole thing. The whole thing brightened up my day. Well done Sir, well done.

  27. I back it says:

    ignoring trash tossed, feelings hurt and ego’s bashed, those who don’t appreciate Mr. Lewis’s literary competency are straight up idiots. Why hate the dispatcher when the messages are true.

  28. Terry says:

    Referring to his blog as an art piece is like the movie that ends in the cliche “it was all just a dream”, which seems like a way of distancing himself from his own opinions. Postsurf did demonstrate a lot of surfers out there are discontent with what commercialism has brought to surfing, but I would count Lewis himself in with the other “chimpanzees” who are often quick to judgment about anything perceived as a trend. If other writers follow suit, I fear we’ll be further into a world of non-objectivity in the surf media.

  29. Matt G says:

    I guess that certain personality types will be attracted to certain editorial styles. If I find Samuels work dark, scathing, vitriolic, and humorous, then who am I? I am not so concerned with the commercialism of surfing unless it breeds “bad surfing” which based on what I have seen in the water as of late, “bad surfing” seems to be in vogue. Now, I find myself surfing “badly” because subconsciously, I want to be a part of it. I am inspired by many of the pros surfing prowess but lets face it, they are easy marks for someone of Samuels wit and perspective. Maybe it’s time for Samuels to direct his energy to the NFL Power Rankings.

  30. Lewis Samuels Ween says:

    LS is a bad case of Herpes. Everytime you think you get rid of him, he keeps coming back….

    This guy thrives on mudslinging. Pushing the envelope? He could unearth news or call BS in more evasive ways if he truly believed in it, and stay in the industry. But he lost it and had to stir the pot, then justify his comments. Good spin…

    There’s also a shit load of dudes that fukn hate the industry broism, but work hard to grow the community so kids have free places to skate, free surf contests with free gear n food, and snow/well those kids are rich. They’re not afraid to call bullshit and they didn’t run home and get a job in the city and sling shit on a website behind a curtain.

    Lewis Samuels is an under-glorified version of the Wizard of Oz. Only, he probably wears the red shoes that Dorothy wears on the regular. Faygeleh!

    Can’t wait till he goes to Hawaii. He’ll have a good welcoming there. That’s why he surfs far off spots..

  31. Eric says:

    I think the counter-status quo theme was on the money, but maybe this should have been a team project, not a one-man egotistical show.

    There is a lot about the state of surfing that out to be brought out into the light, criticized, discussed. Being politic may be the way of capitalists, but it’s not really core to the surfing culture! When his counterpoint was on the money, it was worthy.

    I’d like to see a group of individuals pick up the cause.

    A lot of you folks either don’t know what you’ve been robbed of, or don’t want to think about what you’ve sold out for cheap.

    Kumbaya as the machine destroys everything you’ll find you actually care about. Just one thing:

    THINK!

  32. Fred says:

    Cheers Lewis,

    I especially liked your Power Rankings after Brazil. The Portuguese post and its translation were amazing, with some small brilliant comments!

  33. doug says:

    the clothing whores have turned surfing into aquatic fashion modeling, complete with catered
    carnivals and massage therapists. we are a long way from grimy road trips to mainland mex and visions of petacalco. for those of us over 40, the culture around the endeavor is hardly recognizable to what we encountered as teenagers. the media sold out to the corporate hucksters long ago, and their image making propaganda no longer reflects the core values of surfing handed down to us by pat curren, buzzy trent, eddie aikau etc. lewis is a hard shot of brains into this bleak, paris hilton surfscape, and his exit does not bode well for those of us that like to laugh at skinny jeans, drew courtney, luke steadman in girl glasses and french scarves,
    and massive brazo claims in waist high shorebreak. without the laughter, we have no escape from the horror.

  34. Stu says:

    I was one of Lewis’ first readers. What that means, I don’t know.

  35. Team Stiffy says:

    Lewis thnx 4 the laughs

  36. HogFarts says:

    Obviously Lewis was bought off by the very surf industry he rails against. That was his plan from the beginning. Embarrass them and throw a lot of mud, then get them to buy him out. Hah! Surf iconoclast indeed. He’s probably out surfing with Bob Hurley and his Asian clothing manufacturers and child exploiters right now! Then they’ll play golf together no doubt.

  37. Richard says:

    interesting!!!

  38. Mark says says:

    Whatever the complaints, his insights were generally right on.

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