Editor’s Note: Chas Smith is SURFING’s roving reporter on things in and around and sometimes unrelated to the world of surfing. We don’t ask questions.
The flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles passes quickly. In a haze of poorly mixed White Russians and Steve Carrell comedy. I nap, some. Shift around in seat, more. There is nothing to look at. No striking beauties. Too many iPads. My mind, usually filled with delirious nonsense on international legs, is dormant. I am returning to Southern California to direct Jamie O’Brien’s film.
Los Angeles. It feels cold as I pick up a rental car. It feels…not summer. I was in Australia for their whole winter. I am accidentally chasing short days and less than pleasant light. Fog. My rental is a Jeep Patriot.
I drive to the Roosevelt, Hollywood. Jamie is staying here for a few days before the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach. We meet. Talk strategy. Plan. Organize. I go down to the pool for a cocktail. The X-Games is in town and poolside is full of Fox Racing and Red Bull. The women have large fake tits. Spilling out of Fox garments. My own shirt is buttoned at a wrong angle. Missing buttons. Fun and life and DJs bouncing to their own spin everywhere but I am not feeling it. Action sports seem tired. I am too. I sleep.
And it is time for The U.S. Open of Surfing. The Roosevelt is abandoned for The Shorebreak. Poolside large fake tits exchanged for beachside ones — or, I can’t tell if they are fake anymore.
Huntington Beach is a decadent surf carnival. Underage girls in the smallest of bikinis line up to be spray-painted by overage men in the wildest of lust. Midwestern families shuffle through silicone clouds with mouths agape. It is Vanity Fair. The surf isn’t bad. It is entertaining, and nightly sessions at Zimzala pop. The surf world feels fresher than the X world. Cleaner on the surface but also dirtier underneath. White smiles, tanned skin, progressive airs, and naughty things behind closed blond maple doors.
The crescendo is Julian Wilson’s Scratching the Surface premier. It is the event. Everyone is here and it crackles. Something is happening. Something must happen. I feel it but I don’t know what. Red Bull has hired girls to mingle. They are of the oddest and most spectacular ethnic mix. Bosnian Serbs. A Kuwaiti. Surfers climb into a photo booth and make out with Orange County’s finest. Industry folk mingle and laugh.
The movie is a success because the party is a success. Afterward, draining into a Costa Mesa night, surfers and industry and ethnic girls and blond girls laugh and plan rendezvous. Double-decker party buses and stretch Hummers and vans ready themselves for spilled booze and shouts and and and life. Where is this surf world going? It is the best party in town right now. It is new. It is shaking off economic depression and lower than pleasant price to earning ratios. The Juniors are sticking every air they throw up. The Seniors are sticking back-flips and partying all night and still surfing all day. But it might also be spinning out of control. The surface too clean. Progressive, athletic, and clean. The innards so Rome toward the end. Awesomely savagely wantonly debauched. Something is happening. A change. But to what? Who will lead? Who is the face of the brand? Who is…?
Then I see her. She is across the Orange County Performing Arts patio and looking like power and sex and smoldering and trouble. Pink glistens from her nails. Red from her lips. She is being pulled many directions by many young men. She is cavalier but controlled. She is wearing Chanel heels. And those legs…I want her. I want to make her mine.