×
Login

Blog


8/26/17

I interviewed Corky Carroll in 1996 about the origins of professional surfing, and at one point our conversation veered off down this little alley. I recalled seeing a photo of Corky and his Batman board in an old issue of SURFER as a kid (I was born in 1960; Batman—1966 to 1968—was must-see TV), and...

8/23/17

The article below was published in a 1961 Sunday edition of the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, four columns wide, above the Berlin refugee crisis story, above the upcoming Virgil Grissom spaceflight piece, above the Press-Telegram banner, even. Other news outlets picked it up—the Pasadena Star-News titled the article “Cult of the Surf: Beatniks Trouble the Waters.”...

8/23/17

You know who led the way on tobacco research and anti-smoking regulation? Nazis. The fucking Nazis. Richard Spencer will back me on this. No lighting up on buses or trains throughout the Fatherland, a wallet-biting cigarette tax, hardcore anti-smoking indoctrination for the Hitler Youth, government-issued warnings against cigarettes for pregnant women—the Third Reich was on...

8/22/17

NBC’s Dr. Kildare ran from 1961 to 1966, and is headwaters from which every TV medical drama since has flowed. I’ve never seen it. Too young. I don’t get a chance much these days to say that, it’s nice! This week I finally watched the two-part 1964 Kildare surf-themed episode called “Tyger, Tyger,” and it was...

8/17/17

You loved those 35mm-quality surf clips from Ride the Wild Surf, but high-quality film also does wonder for all those beach reactions as Steamer, Jodi and Chase climb their way up the North Shore pecking order. Let’s watch them watch!...

8/16/17

Ride the Wild Surf isn’t a “beach movie,” like the Frankie-and-Annette Beach Party franchise. It’s legit. Wild Surf was made by Columbia Pictures, not AIP, who were purveyors of not just beach movies, but Girls in Prison and Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow and other low-budget semi-grindhouse teen flicks. Beach Party cost less than $500,000, and was...

8/15/17

“Those Swinging Beach Movies,” by Richard Warren Lewis, ran in the July 31, 1965, issue of the Saturday Evening Post. I present it here in full. It’s going to eat 15 or 20 minutes of your day, but if you appreciate vintage East Coast shade-throwing, this is a Hollywood motherlode. Lewis skillfully puts the blade to...

7/24/17

Bruce Brown had a laugh at Conrad Canha’s expense in Endless Summer, calling him “Willy Willhold,” and mentioning that Canha weighed 200-pounds. (No way was it that much, maybe 180; Conrad was portly but short.) But everybody, Bruce included, loved and respected Canha, who died over the weekend at age 85. He is remembered both...

7/18/17

The World Championship Tour, along with hundreds of lesser surf tours and events, have made the standard 1-to-10 subjective scoring system appear to be nearly organically attached to competitive surfing. But the sport’s history is filled with alternative methods for separating winners from losers. Here are a few.  *  *  *  ANCIENT HAWAII: WIN OR...

7/14/17

I picked 1982 as the second-worst year in surf fashion, only because of the photo you see above. The Offshore surf team—heavy-hitters one and all. Starting from the left, that’s two-time Pipe Masters champ Larry Blair, US pro tour champ Mike Benavidez, North Shore legend Michael Ho, and Pipe Masters finalist Chris Barela. Profiling Offshore’s...

7/14/17

One comment (the only comment, actually) on my SURFER Q&A yesterday about the origins of surf fashion was from Orange Raindrop, who wrote: “The problem with Californians is their femininish concern for fashion. Just go surf like no one is watching and you don’t have Instagram you fucking self-righteous clowns.” The second sentence I agree...

7/13/17

Kanvas by Katin was mainland America’s first go-to surf trunk brand. The store, located in Surfside, California, opened in 1956 and was owned and operated by Nancy Katin and her husband, Walter. They began making trunks in 1959—heavy-duty, rip-proof trunks that, when new, could stand upright on the floor after you took them off. “They...

6/30/17

Got a rousing response to that Foss Foam post earlier this week. No surprise. A plume-helmeted knight holding a blank on a beach in Santa Monica with what appears to be a Grecian hooker at his feet? Surf history clickbait does not get better than that. Former Surf Guide writer and Topanga Beach legend Bob...

6/28/17

My fall into the chemical-scented poly-foam hole continues. I seemed to recall that, even in 1960, with Hobie Alter pushing hard for polyurethane, there was still a market for balsa. Pulled down my funky SURFER Vol. 1 Issue 1 reprint (which itself is ancient; the reprint is now 32 years old), and looked at all...

6/27/17

Yesterday I reread William Finnegan’s 2006 “Blank Monday” article for the New Yorker, all about Grubby Clark and the fabled Clark Foam implosion. So good. I’d nearly forgotten about the “Blank Monday” piece; it was like finding a 7,000-word chunk of Pulitzer under the couch cushion. One of the things Finnegan does incredibly well is illustrate,...

6/14/17

Encyclopedia of Surfing, here on the site itself but also on Facebook, has attracted some whip-smart and wicked funny commentators, and none more so than a California woman named Aviva Rosenthal. She’s got an amazing range of knowledge, high to low, and 10 fingers that are as quick as they are sharp on the keyboard. Doesn’t...

6/09/17

This was filmed on the beach at Malibu in 1986, by Ira Opper. Not a good decade for Mike Hynson. There are those among us, however, who can wake up in the gutter, step to the sidewalk, throw on a pair of shades, and start beaming out charisma in a 15-mile radius. Hynson’s one of those guys. Keith Richards...

6/08/17

Just posted the Perfect Wave page on Encyclopedia, which was really just an excuse to get back to Final Cut Pro. And oh this clip was so much fun to make. Magic in fact. Thank you Bruce Brown. Thank you First Point. Thank you rivermouths and sandbars and reefs and coastal geology in general....

6/05/17

This article is excerpted from “Still Reno After All These Years,” by Phil Jarratt, which run in the April 1979 issue of SURFER.  *  *  *  At 28, Reno Abellira is physically much the same as the serious teenager who crouched low and drew long lines off the bottom in 1968, at the World Contest...

6/02/17

The man knew how to have a good time. I appreciate the wetsuits, but right now I’m warmed up just watching Jack enjoying himself so completely. A long, exciting, creative life. Raise your glass to Jack O’Neill....

6/02/17

I arrived in San  Francisco in early 1991 and didn’t know a soul except Mark Renneker, aka Jesus of Taraval, and a nice but droning surfboard fetishist named George Orbelian, neither of whom were going to take me to the clubs, get me drunk, get me laid. Fortunately, a pal of a pal introduced me to a trio of...

5/28/17

The story I heard about Pacific Vibrations goes like this. John Severson wanted to make one last magnum opus surf movie, then tap out. Sell SURFER, train his replacement, pack his boards and family, and move to Maui. And that’s exactly how it happened. Incredible career, profitable as well as creative, not overly long, capped off...

5/24/17

Above the Roar is up, and dammit that is the last one. For those keeping score, we’re now at three: Encyclopedia of Surfing, History of Surfing, Above the Roar. I will craft and sculpt this trio of websites till Saint Peter Ubers me up to the pearly gates, hopefully after one last good beachbreak session with my as-yet-unborn...

5/19/17

To the best of my knowledge, this is the complete eight-man list of the surfers who rode Waimea on November 5 or 7 (the exact date is unclear), 1957. In no particular order . . . GREG NOLL Mea culpa #1. Noll was 20 the day Waimea was busted, not 19, as I reported earlier this week....

5/18/17

Two weeks ago I gushed forth on how Riding Giants tweaked my whole understanding about how to present surf history. Dress it up, I said. Make it dance and sparkle—history need not be as dull and lifeless as a Mike Pence tailgate party. On the other hand, a little sparkle goes a long way. Dance with the...

1 of 18

Blog