SUNDAY JOINT, 1-23-2022: CECIL LEAR, RANDY RARICK, MIKI DORA, FABIAN

Hey All,

New Jersey surf-world godfather Cecil Lear died last month at 91. Lear cofounded the Eastern Surfing Association, which from the jump was a better-organized, more popular, higher-functioning version of the better-known Western Surfing Association—or any other surfing organization, pro or amateur, worldwide. This had a lot to do with Lear himself. He was a surfing late-comer (much to be said for not being wave-obsessed until early middle age, but we’ll save that topic for another day) with real-world sales and marketing experience. He worked inside and outside of surfing with equal skill, and his good cheer was matched by a no-bullshit efficiency. All that said, the part that jumped out at me when I read Lear’s obit was that he was married for 67 years. Same for my mom, but that was four marriages combined. Cecil was one and done.

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A recent Sunday Joint shot of Fabian (click here, scroll down) in those flawless two-tone trunks but paddling with all the grace and command of a Carly Rae Jepsen first pitch, prompted Randy Rarick to go deep into the memory hole. Long known as “Mr. Clean,” Rarick is congenitally incapable of real dickishness—but he is getting saltier as he ages, and I hope the trend continues. Here is the email Randy sent, in full:

You ran that shot of Fabian paddling out at Haleiwa. He was such a kook that they [the filmmakers] bolted a 4-by-4 steel plate to the bottom of his board, with a loop, to which they tied a rope with a weight at the other end, so that when they filmed the part where everyone’s sitting in the line-up, waiting for a set, he wouldn’t drift away. There is actually a split-second in the movie where you can see the plate in a frame grab. I know all this because I was the guy who fixed those boards for the film.

The other thing I remember is when Miki Dora came in to pick his board up after it went into the rocks at Waimea. I’d busted my ass to do the best repair possible, and of course I was in such awe of Dora; when I handed the board to him like it was passing Holy Grail back to its rightful owner. I said something like, “Here’s your board, Mr. Dora, all repaired and ready to ride.” He just grabbed it and said, “Fuck you, kid,” and walked out.

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Last week’s surf shop Joint was supposed to include a link to Surf Guide magazine’s incredible 1964 “Annual Buyer’s Guide,” which, in six finely-detailed tiny-type pages, as a service to a prospective surfboard customer, offers a shop-by-shop board comparison. The whole thing is bit of a conceptual suicide mission, and I’m guessing the editors knew this by the time the data-gathering was finished. The guide’s intro assures us that what we’re about to read is “self-explanatory.” But one sentence later we’re in back-pedal mode, as the magazine confesses to “problems in categorizing, objectifying and standardizing information.” Have a look anyway. Drag the pages off EOS and onto your computer for a magnified view, because the type is really small. I was especially taken by the section on glassing. The four standard choices for a glass job are: double 8-ounce, double 10, double 13, and single 20. The Australian Surf Shop, in Ventura, owned by Thomas H. Morey—yes, that Tom Morey—also offers a single 26-ounce option. For a few extra bucks, Flaherty Surfboards in Canoga Park will do a double 20-oz. Leedy Surfboards, in Costa Mesa, will slap on “any number of layers” of 10-ounce that you want.

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What can you do, performance-wise, on a 10-foot board sheathed in 40 resin-sucking ounces of cloth, apart from sending up prayers that the thing doesn’t Panzer-roll you during a wipeout? A spinner, maybe. Or a coffin. The coffin was always a joke move, almost sub-hot-dog, something your Hobie-skateboard-riding little brother did on the school playground to impress the girls. But even the silliest trick can be shaped into something beautiful—click here to watch John Severson recline like Burt Reynolds on bearskin as he glides across a beautiful T-Street left.

The spinner, meanwhile, on the trick-surfing curve, was located halfway between the coffin and hanging heels. Click here to see Fred Hemmings, Midget Farrelly, Corky Carroll, Johnny Fain, and others wind themselves up. Butch Van Artsdalen does a spinner at Pipeline, and if that wasn’t the flex move of the North Shore winter of ’64, I’d like to know what was.

Thanks for reading, everybody, and see you next week.

Matt

PS: Fabian in Ride the Wild Surf. The struggle was real.

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[Photo grid, clockwise from upper left: John Severson in coffin pose, Panzer tank, Randy Rarick by Rusty Miller, spinner shot by Bob Evans, Cecil Lear and friend on beach, unknown glasser. Dora board-dragging photo by Ron Church. Skate kid doing coffin, photog unknown.]