THETDWS: Surfers And The Art Of Complex Personality

posted by / Magazine / May 15, 2012

This Has Everything To Do With Surfing

THETDWS
Illustration by Noa Emberson

I woke up yesterday morning well before sunrise. I gathered my things in the dark, drove in the dark, and parked outside a small but well-kept house next to a park in Kaneohe, on Oahu’s east side. The sun came up, beautifully. I met Mike Malone, a legendary MMA fighter/business owner originally from the mainland but Hawaiian in his core. And we packed up his dogs, met two of his friends and went pig hunting. I had never been pig hunting and it was thrilling. We hiked, climbed, listened for the dogs and climbed some more. They pinned a pig at the top of a ridge and we climbed up, gutted it and I carried the pig down on my back. At the bottom, my shirt was pure blood. Thrilling.

And I realized, on the climb down, that Hawaiian surfers probably pig hunt all the time. And they fish, spearfish, freedive, race outriggers. They do what Hawaiians do. Australian surfers drink beer, cheer their footy team, stay out very late at night and sing drunken songs with their mates. Brazilian surfers dance the samba, go crazy for soccer, eat many different kinds of beef cut from long skewers and dance more samba at Carnival. Mainland surfers lease cars, plan for the house they will buy, go to the bar for their friends’ 21st birthdays and go to Las Vegas. Each group does the things they do.

Since surfers do not attend college they are firmly locked into their own cultural narrative. College is the time to broaden horizons, to take classes about transgender issues in Samoa. To study abroad in Colombia. To date a girl from Colombia, or maybe even a transgendered Samoan. But surfers do not go to college and so their personalities become fossilized and, quite frankly, boring. Surfers are boring.

But there is a solution! And it is called The Chas Smith Foundation for the Creation of Robust Surf Personality. It is an exchange program of sorts. Surfers, of course, travel the world more than almost anyone, but since their personalities are fossilized they learn very little and do not change. The Foundation changes this paradigm.

Kolohe Andino will be shipped off to Brazil for one year. He will live in Rio, in a very fine Oscar Niemeyer apartment building, soaking in the wonderful ambiance of international modern. He will stay out very late in the bohemian neighborhoods and not eat his dinner until midnight. He will dance samba and learn Portuguese. He will come to appreciate socialist rhetoric. And, at the end of his time, he will write, direct and produce a short absurdist black and white art film called Loneliness and Violence. He will have a robust personality.

Gabriel Medina will be shipped off to Australia for one year. He will live in Bondi, in an older home with wood floors and a high ceiling. He will listen to obscure independent rock and roll and wear very, very low v-neck T-shirts and very, very skinny jeans. He will go to music festivals and eat organic, farm-raised everything exclusively, in North Bondi. He will be the definition of hipster and star in Kai Neville’s next great surf film Leave Me Alone, I’m Writing Poetry Now.

Julian Wilson will be shipped off to Hawaii for one year. He will hunt pigs and get bloody. When not hunting pigs he will train to fight MMA. When not training to fight MMA he will wash his gigantic pickup truck. When not washing his gigantic pickup truck he will be at the famous strip club, Femme Nu, fighting. He will not direct a film, or star in a film. Rather, he will kick Taj Burrow’s ass at the next Surfer Poll, choking him out at the end.

Kai Barger will be shipped off to Newport Beach, California, for one year. He will live in a boxy little tract home and drive a sensible pickup, not the gigantic sort from his homeland. He will go to sleep early and wake up early and train, not to fight MMA, but yoga and core strength and things. He will learn how the surf industry makes its money, start a small brand and write a book titled Money, Money, Money.

Each surfer will be brilliantly better off for their time absorbing another culture. Women will swoon when Kolohe speaks Portuguese and cries about the beauty of things, when Gabriel says that he is gluten free, when Julian pounds Joel Parkinson into the ground after a losing heat, when Kai sells his small brand for $10 million. The mixing of cultures is brilliant and their personalities will become fluid, no longer fossilized. And we will all be entertained once again.

Apparently, Nike is the main sponsor for the Chas Smith Foundation for the Creation of Robust Surf Personality. Thank you. —Chas Smith

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