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Matt Warshaw


The best part of my week was making this video of Paul Strauch. In the end, though, it doesn’t fully do the man justice. Yes, you can see that he’s a master. But nothing here quite gets you to full-strengh, Grade-A Strauch. How good was he? Barry, you start.   *  *  * Paul Strauch was...

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John Severson’s 1963 movie The Angry Sea came to a shuddering close with the wipeout you see here. Tommy Lee, Waimea Bay. Big-wave ambitions were slaughtered coast to coast as the auditorium lights came up and the local grems shuffled out into the night, hollow-eyed at what they’d just witnessed onscreen.  Who was Tommy Lee?...

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Some days this is world’s most enjoyable job. Today was such a day. Ronnie Burns, take a bow....

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All I meant to do here was add a couple shots to a video I made four years ago. Then I found some footage I hadn’t yet seen, had a quick listen to this Dave Clark Five instrumental, and whoops! there went the day. Near the end of the clip, the stomp band in the...

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Midget Farrelly wrote about his 1964 World Championships victory in his 1967 book The Surfing Life. It’s an offbeat book, starting with the title page, which contains this single bleak line: “When you’re comfortable, you’re dead.” Midget then hopscotches his way across the sport, with chapters on surf history, waves and beaches, tips for beginners,...

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Dru Harrison was 19 when he wrote “Limbo,” a short 1969 SURFER Magazine essay on how to compete in surf contests and not hate yourself in the morning. Harrison’s words are nearly 50 years old, but sound as fresh—well, except for maybe the part about being “hung up between two bags”—as they did in ’69....

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“Evo: A Special Tribute,” Nat Young’s salute to Bob Evans, ran in Australian Surfing World’s 1987 Photo Annual. Click here to see Evans’ EOS page.   *  *  *  Bob Evans’ father was a dedicated fisherman, and took his two sons on countless trips to North Coast NSW, relentlessly searching for access to hidden points. It...

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“Flight of the Larrikin,” the History of Surfing section I posted earlier today, sets up Australia’s mid-’60s rise to surfing dominance. “Larrikin” is an Aussie word for a loud, rowdy person, usually but not always young, and fits perfectly around the neck of Down Under surfing in general during the post-Gidget boom. Manly Beach surfer...

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Brad Barrett is the unsung hero of SURFER Magazine’s Golden Age, 1968 to 1971. Severson, Kampion, Brewer, Divine, Stoner . . . household names, all of them (if your house happens to contain one or more surfers of a certain age). Barrett, not so much. He was a staff photographer, dark room ace, and de...

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For American surfers in the Vietnam War, an R&R pass to China Beach was your golden ticket to just about everything good in life—sun, trunks, down time, beer, parties, pickup football, and best of all a storage area filled with boards, plus lots of warm tropical-flavored beachbreak waves. The first section of this post is...

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I was 12 when Allston James’ “Waterbed” ran in Surfer. There are no actual battle scenes, but this short piece of fiction brought home the horrors of war to me in a way that M*A*S*H* and The Guns of Navarone didn’t. Fifteen years later, when I was at Surfer myself, I had the good fortune to work...

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We drove south out of Venice one overcast morning in 1970, heading for Encinitas, me and Jay Adams and Jay’s step-dad Kent Sherwood—easily the coolest adult I knew, Kent surfed, made boards, used to live in Hawaii—on our way to Donald Takayama’s house. A few weeks earlier Kent had taken us to meet Dave Sweet...

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Marge Calhoun died over the weekend, at age 91. Not many people under the age of 60 remember Marge, but she was the warmest, most cheerful figure in midcentury surfing—and when she wasn’t making you feel better about the world simply for being alive and part of it, she was charging the big ones alongside...

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Really thin surfers aren’t common, but they aren’t super-rare either. Jim Cartland of Florida, Kolohe Bloomfiend, Whitey Harrison, Nicky Wood, young Rory Russell, 1980s world tour backbencher Michael Burness, MP during his sad druggy decline. But there’s a level beyond thin—”frail” I guess is the only word for it. You don’t come across many frail-looking...

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Surfing boomed in the late ’50s and ’60s, and along with the boom came beachfront clashes with the law. It was inevitable. Surfers and swimmers don’t mix well, surfers weren’t especially welcome among coastal property owners, and it took years to figure out who was allowed in the water, and where, and when. Here is a...

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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...

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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.”...

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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 […]

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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 […]

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

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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...

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“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...

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

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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 DIE (From American...

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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. Working 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 […]

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