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9/16/17

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...

9/14/17

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...

9/14/17

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...

9/08/17

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...

9/04/17

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...

8/31/17

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...

8/29/17

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...

8/26/17

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...

8/23/17

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.”...

8/23/17

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...

8/22/17

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...

8/17/17

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....

8/16/17

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...

8/15/17

“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...

7/24/17

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...

7/18/17

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...

7/14/17

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...

7/14/17

One comment (the only comment, actually) on my SURFER Q&A yesterday about the origins of surf fashion was from Orange Raindrop, who wrote: “The problem with Californians is their femininish concern for fashion. Just go surf like no one is watching and you don’t have Instagram you fucking self-righteous clowns.” The second sentence I agree...

7/13/17

Kanvas by Katin was mainland America’s first go-to surf trunk brand. The store, located in Surfside, California, opened in 1956, and was owned and operated by Nancy Katin and her husband, Walter. They began making trunks in 1959—heavy-duty, rip-proof trunks that, when new, could stand upright on the floor after you took them off. “They...

6/30/17

Got a rousing response to that Foss Foam post earlier this week. No surprise. A plume-helmeted knight holding a blank on a beach in Santa Monica with what appears to be a Grecian hooker at his feet? Surf history clickbait does not get better than that. Former Surf Guide writer and Topanga Beach four-striper Bob...

6/28/17

My fall into the chemical-scented poly-foam hole continues. I seemed to recall that, even in 1960, with Hobie Alter pushing hard for polyurethane, there was still a market for balsa. Pulled down my funky SURFER Vol. 1 Issue 1 reprint (which itself is ancient; the reprint is now 32 years old), and looked at all...

6/27/17

Yesterday I reread William Finnegan’s 2006 “Blank Monday” article for the New Yorker, all about Grubby Clark and the fabled Clark Foam implosion. So good. I’d nearly forgotten about the “Blank Monday” piece; it was like finding a 7,000-word chunk of Pulitzer under the couch cushion. One of the things Finnegan does incredibly well is illustrate,...

6/14/17

Encyclopedia of Surfing, here on the site itself but also on Facebook, has attracted some whip-smart and wicked funny commentators, and none more so than a California woman named Aviva Rosenthal. She’s got an amazing range of knowledge, high to low, and 10 fingers that are as quick as they are sharp on the keyboard. Doesn’t...

6/09/17

This was filmed on the beach at Malibu in 1986. Not a good decade for Mike Hynson. There are those among us, however, who can wake up in the gutter, step to the sidewalk, throw on a pair of shades, and start beaming out charisma in a 15-mile radius. Hynson’s one of those guys. Keith Richards meets Joe Namath...

6/08/17

Just posted the Perfect Wave page on Encyclopedia, which really was just an excuse to get back to video making. And oh this clip was so much fun to assemble. Magic in fact. Thank you Bruce Brown. Thank you First Point. Thank you rivermouths and sandbars and reefs and coastal geology in general....

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