IT’S ONLY SURFING
Luckily for us, surfing isn’t an organized sport. It’s actually a quite disorganized one — and whether it’s even a sport at all is a whole different catfight. But that’s surfing’s single biggest selling point, like random violence is to ice hockey. We have no mandatory practice, no coach calling plays, no ref blowing whistles. Not much structure at all. Just try some radical shit in the ocean, hope your friends see it, and go about your day much happier. That’s our lifestyle. Beautiful chaos, mostly.
Mostly. Still, we’d be remiss to say there’s no wrong way to be a surfer. It’s obvious when someone has his shit together, and it’s more painfully clear when he doesn’t. From lineup etiquette to board knowledge to style, there’s a code to carrying yourself that shouldn’t be ignored. Know the rules before you try to break ‘em.
But then, for God’s sake, break ‘em. In spectacular fashion. That’s how this whole party got started and that’s the only thing that’ll keep it from turning lame. From turning into Little League.
Just look around the parking lot for evidence that we’re not a damn Ocean Pacific ad anymore. Tight-denim modsters, dreadlocked carvers, trained competitors, soloists who wander alone, flannel-clad grizzly bears that love the cold, sandy groms, ex-cons, teachers, chicks. We’re Nathan Fletcher, making 12-foot guns one day and launching 12-foot airs the next [pg. 84]. We’re Tanner Rozunko, stomping ollies in the morning and stomping his boots in the mosh pit at night [pg. 50]. We’re Courtney Conlogue, on academic scholarship and the World Tour [pg. 64]. We’re John Florence, with two Pipeline wins (in January alone) and a part in Kai Neville’s ModColl follow-up. We’re…you, whatever the hell you are. Better make it awesome.
Which is why I find it so disheartening to hear from critics who’re trying to decide for you what surfing is and isn’t. They say it’s not art, not music, not girls in bikinis, not fashion, not not anything off-color or subversive or slightly left of center. It’s a white boy on a white board in a blue tube and hellfire to the punkass kids who’d say otherwise. Which brings us to this issue.
We wanted something to remind our readers just how loose and diverse surfing should be. Ever seen The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun? Or maybe more recently Thrills, Spills and Whatnot? Despite efforts at chaotic, groovy nothingness, both movies speak volumes to what surfing really is. (It’s nothing! Or everything! Sport, lifestyle, hobby, a selfish pursuit of fun that keeps us out of gyms and cubicles and in the ocean!) And if you still don’t get it, pop in What’s Really Goin’ Wrong! or Voluptuous for a refresher course in our magnificent dysfunction.
As we planned this issue, we came to the conclusion that surfing is and always should be an abstract sort of pursuit, with fun being the only defining factor. Nothing more. That’s what’s missed in attempts to rein it in, tame it, put it in a user-friendly package for widespread appeal. Surfing is that thing you ditched real obligations for. The thing that pissed off at least one of your parents. The thing the mainstream STILL doesn’t get right, and probably can’t for these very reasons. The thing that resists its own legitimacy.
Hopefully, in our quest for a refresh, this issue hits you a little differently. It stems from how we imagined John Severson and the boys putting together a surf mag back in the day, typewriter to lap, right there on the picnic benches at San-O in between sessions. This is a month of surfers talking to surfers about surfing. I’m quite sure we contradict ourselves several times by the end. I suspect I’ve contradicted myself already on this very page. Oh well. It’s only surfing, dude. —Travis Ferré