I was an okay skier for a few years there, back when André the Giant was throwing heels into the front row and cooling down après-wrestle with a hundred beers and playing rhyming games with Mandy Patinkin in the third-best comedy ever made, but I was not good enough or stoked enough to ski into middle adulthood, and I went without schuss for 25 years and didn’t miss it a bit. I picked it back up when my son wanted to learn, dropped it at the start of Covid and, again, didn’t miss it a bit. Apparently I am once more coming out of ski retirement, tomorrow, at age 62 (I’m writing this on Friday) because my son is now 13 with three solid ski years behind him and rightly wants to show off for the old man. He thinks we’re leaving at 6:30 AM, but age and experience tell me it will be midmorning before I’ve pulled up the Yacht Rock playlist and we Ride Like the Wind out of Queen Anne, direct to the green run pleasures of Snoqualmie Summit. In reverse order of importance I’d like to: avoid injury, ride the chairlift without incident, and not embarrass my boy. Graceful aging starts with—nay, depends on—lowered expectations.
Point being, tomorrow is a ski day, Sunday is the Super Bowl, and the Joint below has been repurposed from early 2021.
Bob Purvey and his big beautiful Ugly stick, with all those sweet candy-colored “Follow Me” visuals, sent me back to this 2014 post in which I blew your minds with the never-before-told origin story of Nazaré as a surfing break. “Next stop, Nazaré!” the voice-over says, and there we are in Portugal, 1968, kids and goats on the high street, swarthy Portuguese fishermen mending nets on the beach, and some head-high wind-bitten sandbar waves calling Bob and his two surfing pals to action. “It looked pretty good,” the VO continues. “There was a definite lineup and you could count on waves breaking in one particular spot.” Off they go, and at the end of the high-performance session all three surfers return to the beach as the sun dips behind the famous Nazaré headland.
Old and New Worlds converge. A fine, mellow travelogue moment.
We have been gently hoaxed, though. The “Nazaré” surf shots were filmed at San Miguel, Baja. The sunset clip shows the headland just to the north, not far from a Mexico Federal Highway 1D toll booth. I emailed Bob to ask him about it. “We were told about ‘big waves at Nazaré’ before we arrived in Portugal,” he replied. “But we didn’t get around to the lighthouse point. Follow Me was directed by a one-time Hollywood wannabe, and the impression I got from him was that the audience wanted to see wipeouts mostly. I’ve always wondered, if we had gotten to the lighthouse and seen huge waves, if the director would have asked us to go out.”
My favorite surf hoax is, of course, the Laird Hamilton Millennium Wave, which as we later learned was filmed in a Woodland Hills backlot by Grandmaster Masons during the 13-hour Y2K time-space suspension.
My second favorite hoax is the famous sand dune march to Cape St. Francis, as seen in Bruce Brown’s Endless Summer (watch the EOS remix here), and decades later exposed as fraud by Mike Hynson himself. But was it fraud, really? Yes, if you’re going to be a facts-matter nudnik about it. No, if, like me, you feel Bruce was lying his way to a greater truth. Read here.
One more hoax for the road. In Scott Dittrich’s 1974 bootleg-music masterpiece Fluid Drive, we get a Rincon sequence where the slightly overhead waves go from fun and sectiony, to long sand-draining barrels. “Late in the afternoon, at low tide,” the narrator says, “Peter Townend is stoked,” and there goes our future world champ showing us Yanks how to properly spear a point-wave tube, and thus leaving us stoked, too, but also sad at the idea that even though we live right down the coast from Rincon we’ve never seen it that good. The high-volume cackling that PT laid on me when I later asked him about it still rings in my ears.
“Peter, I’ve never seen Rincon that good.”
“HAHAHA AND YA NEVER WILL! THAT’S BURLEIGH, MATE, NOT RINCON, HAHAHA!”
Dittrich guessed, correctly, that while we’d be happy to see Aussies riding Gold Coast waves, we’d be even happier to see Aussies riding our waves. He further guessed—and here is the real sleight-of-hand—that we’d be so awestruck by PT’s deft handling of “Rincon’s” midwinter tubes that we’d fail to notice he’s wearing nothing but trunks and a thin short-sleeve vest.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on . . . never mind. Keep fooling around, those were all great hoaxes!
Thanks for reading, everyone, and see you next week.
[Photos grid, clockwise from top left: ski ballet, 1978; frame-grab from “Follow Me”; Peter Townend, 1972; André the Giant; rough draft of new EOS logo; Big Foot. Bob Purvey, 1967. Con Surfboards’ Ugly model. Cape St. Francis, from Endless Summer, by Bruce Brown. Peter Townend at Burleigh/Rincon, from Fluid Drive, shot by Steve Core.]