I kicked off Monday with “But Will it Play in New York?”, a History of Surfing chapter on the big East Coast surf boom. Sports Illustrated did a cover story on the subject in 1966. Here’s the opening paragraph, it’s a hoot.
Surfers are neat. Surfers are also cool, nervy, graceful, clear-eyed, four-square, uniformly lovely, thrifty, brave, reverent, kind, and only slightly crazy. Try to fix these labels in your mind immediately, because the last time you may have noticed surfers were a pretty scruffy lot. Most of that has changed. The new image has fallen upon them. Would you want your sister to marry one? May we see your sister first, please?
The article is by sportswriter Bob Ottum (he also ghosted Phil Edwards’ autobiography You Should Have Been Here an Hour Ago). Apart from the super-cringey “May we see your sister” line, what’s interesting here is how pro-surfer Ottum is. Like, over the top. I’m reading his list of descriptors, and I’ll go along with “graceful” and “nervy” and maybe “thrifty,” and twist my arm and I’ll even accept “cool.” The others range from debatable to laughable. “Uniformly lovely”? This makes me think Ottum never actually met any surfers except Edwards, and maybe Mike Hynson.
Speaking of “brave” and “slightly crazy,” here are the three latest Encyclopedia of Surfing pages: Martin Daly, Mark Renneker, and John Callahan. If you’re an Ocean Beach fan like me, have a look at the video clip on Renneker’s page.
I posted Above the Roar interviews with Paul Strauch and Mike Tabeling. Strauch’s EOS page, I realized, was in dire need of a new video clip, and oh what a joy it was to piece together. Have a look! (Note: none of my Strauch material touches on how good he still was right when the boards went short. I offer the photo below as evidence. I always thought this shot was misidentified as Barry K, but no, it’s Strauch—who, of course, was Barry’s hero.)
The Mike Tabeling Q&A was recorded in 2014, just a few weeks before he died of kidney cancer. At one point in our talk he got off the phone suddenly, then called back a few days later saying he’d gotten dizzy and was rushed to the hospital for some emergency procedure. He apologized and we carried on our talk, which I think you’ll agree is nervy, graceful, clear-eyed, four-square, thrifty, brave, reverent, kind, and only slightly crazy.
Tune in tomorrow, I’m loading up a nice History of Surfing bit on surf shops, called “Houses of the Holy.”
[Strauch photo by Art Brewer]