SUNDAY JOINT, 12-2-2018: GOTCHA, “COCAINE & SURFING,” PETER COLE

Hey All,

“Terminally Hip” is the title of last week’s History of Surfing chapter, which is an extension of the previous week’s offering, “Surf Boom Redux,” except focused mostly on Quiksilver and Gotcha. I was working at SURFER during Gotcha’s heyday, and each month at blueline stage (the loose-page printout of the magazine, used for making corrections) we’d all look forward to seeing what their red-hot ad team had come up with.

Some of those now-30-year-old Gotcha campaigns hold up great—especially compared with other ads of the period, which mostly ranged from hack to forgettable. But I recall being really disappointed with the “If You Don’t Surf, Don’t Start” campaign, which wasn’t just mean and smug, but incredibly cynical, given that the Gotcha empire was of course built on selling gear to non-surfers. (If you haven’t already checked it out, Chas Smith’s book Cocaine + Surfing has a great take on Michael Tomson and Gotcha’s spectacular rise and more-spectacular fall. Full disclosure: I wrote the Cocaine introduction, and am very much biased in its favor.)

I posted a new Peter Cole video last week. I don’t know if it’s because he looks a little like my dad or because his humanity is just as upfront as his intelligence—or maybe it’s just the glasses—but Cole has for decades been a ranking member of my personal surf pantheon. I love the opening shot in this clip where he’s driving to the beach, lost in thought, then a wistful little smile crosses his face. Cole’s stoke has always been of a quieter variety than that which afflicts most of us, but it runs as deep, or deeper. He makes impeccably good choices. If you want to go long in surfing, you have to go wide in life. Cole seemed to know that before the rest of us. It would warm my heart to find out that Peter, who is either 88 or 89, is still getting in the water. Does anybody know?

I hope your December is off to a good start. If the water is getting colder where you are, watch this clip and count your blessings.

See you next week!

Matt