Calvin “Tulie” Clark rode a horse to school. He was born halfway through World War I, and grew up in Palos Verdes. Learned to surf on an ironing board. He wasn’t a founding member of the Palos Verdes Surf Club, as is usually reported, but got voted in just a few months later, and was a club standout....


I’m thrilled to bring History of Surfing online, and so honored to again be working with these two guys—same fellas who designed and engineered Encyclopedia of Surfing. Ryan Mahar, in the shades, gave History its look. The only directive I gave him was to make it look like the Encyclopedia’s big sister. He knocked it...


In 2010, when the original print edition of History of Surfing was published, Nathan Myers and I did this Q&A for Surfing magazine.  *  *  *   Do you object to the term “surf nerd? Hardly. I embrace it with pencil-thin arms and fogged-up glasses. Have you ever been in a proper fistfight? In 4th...


Smugger than Justin Bieber on a nude Instagram tear. That’s how I felt a few months ago when I dropped a “10 Most Glamorous Surfers” list, mostly just to get one over on dandy Chas Smith, arbiter of all things fashionable in surf. But oh how embarrassed I am today, after discovering that I completely, shamefully, overlooked the […]


I spend my days on the riverbanks of surf history, hunkered down on my thin old-man shanks, panning through silt and stones. It is tedious but satisfying labor. Meditative, almost. The job is not so important in the grand scale of things. I will not solve cold fusion by scanning photos of beaver-tailed surfers at Hermosa Pier from my collected volumes of Surf […]


Backdoor. Gotta be wrong on this one, but at the moment I can’t think of another break where the right off the peak has a different name than the left. Pipeline, Backdoor. Sometimes Backdoor Pipe, but usually just Backdoor. Same break, two names, and it occurs to me that this is odd, possibly unique. Two of the best […]


I don’t actually know for sure if Pop Proctor, vagabond surfer, heart and soul of Doheny State Beach, died that way. But I have a Life magazine article on geezer surfers that says Proctor, in 1979, age 97, finally lost his driver’s license, after which “he spent most of his time in the bathtub” until he died two years later. Proctor […]


It still happens, on occasion, that I find myself on a beach somewhere, board in hand, trunks or wetsuit put on front-side facing front, looking out to some shapely not-too-crowded waves. My focus at this point goes full laser. I will perhaps respond to questions, but otherwise not talk. Wife and child are G6-ed off to a […]


The “bad element” was scolded on the regular in American surf mags during early ’60s. Editors spooned out the pontification like castor oil. Open wide and swallow—it’s for your own good. And it wasn’t just the hooligans getting lectured; the rest of us were on the hook too. “It is your responsibility,” a 1961 SURFER editorial said, “to continue the ‘clean-up’ campaign […]


Jay Adams and his mom Philaine spent the summer of 1973 in a funky one-bedroom Waikiki apartment a block or so behind International Marketplace, just off Ala Wai Boulevard. Might have been his present for graduating Anchorage Elementary School. My parents separated earlier that year, and possibly in an effort to divert my attention from that Category One domestic shitstorm—pain […]


Geoff McCoy’s Lazor Zap surfboard design—generically called the “no-nose—looked incredibly sexy and futuristic, but was skittish and high-floating and drive-free and more or less impossible to ride unless you were Cheyne Horan. Harder to surf than a twin-fin? Difficult to say. Pick your poison. The twin-fin was like riding a bar of soap; the Lazor Zap was like riding an air-mattress pumped up to 75 […]


The magic boards I had in the ’70s and ’80s and much of the ’90s all sprang from the hands of good shapers, great shapers even, but each board was still a unicorn. Place your order and cross your fingers. I was a “team rider” from way back, and got boards cheap, or free, which was nice, but really […]


“Terry’s done a runner!” Ewan McGregor, playing a third-string London pill dealer on surfing holiday in Cornwall, gleefully shouts that line in Blue Juice, which I watched day before yesterday, and the words have been rattling around in my head ever since. Of all the small pleasures to be had from Juice, a barely-seen 1995 Brit-made romcom surf movie, the tangy UK verbage is at the top […]


The defining feature of the beavertail jacket was of course the beavertail itself. That piece of rubber dangling so actively, so rudely, from the jacket’s back hem was a signature surfer look in the 1960s and early ’70s. And hang me for fool, but I have no idea why. None. Part of me looks back […]


A couple years ago I copied down this quote from writer and surf-intellectual Ted Endo: “Wetsuits are the airplanes of the surfing world. They  allow us to do something miraculous (survive cold water for hours on end) and yet they are completely taken for granted.” I forget what article the quote came from, or where it was published. I’m certain that […]


Ninety-percent of American films made before 1930 no longer exist. Nine-freaking-zero. Gone forever. Why? Mostly just to clear the shelves. Nobody back then, or nobody in America anyway, thought of movies as art—or even something worth saving, like family photos or French postcards. Make ’em fast and cheap, get prints out to theaters on time, stick the originals in […]


I’m going to get some of the details wrong, but runner-up best prank, surf industry division, goes like this. Surfboard magnate Dewey Weber had a beloved dog, a German Shepherd mix, all white, named “Whitey.” Dewey would call Whitey into the Weber Surfboards team van and take him to Hermosa Pier, Malibu, Rincon. Back at […]


Off the top of my head I can’t think of a single Golden Age R&B heavyweight who didn’t get their start in the church. Little Richard, James Brown, Sam Cook, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Isaac Hayes—all raised their sweet young unchanged voices to God, most went on to gospel groups, and then they took up the Devil’s music to […]


Three new EOS pages. Dig in! Steve “Beaver” Massfeller. Not much online or elsewhere about this first-generation pro surfer and hardcore big-wave charger from Daytona Beach. Beaver’s pretty much known for one thing—coming within an ace of being the first person to die while wearing a world tour jersey. After head-butting the reef during a prelim heat in […]


Eve Babitz is the 20-year-old Los Angeles ingénue you see above, playing state-of-nature chess in 1963 with French artist Marcel Duchamp. Babitz was many things in the ’60s and ’70s. Hollywood High grad. Goddaughter to composer Igor Stravinsky. Laughing sexual adventuress. An artist who made gorgeous album covers for Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds. Most famously, Babitz was an “It” girl, one of the “It” girls, a […]


I sliced and diced the Teahupoo bits from 1997’s Quiksilver Country to make the edit you see here. Also sliced and diced “Devil’s Haircut,” by Beck, who build that monster truck of a song by slicing and dicing Van Morrison’s “I Can Only Give You Everything.” Steal from the best and your job is three-quarters finished. Been saying it for years. Teahupoo wasn’t […]


Midget Farrelly, world surfing champion, boardmaker, and iconoclast, died yesterday at age 71, from stomach cancer. He was a beautiful wave-rider, controlled and polished but with a dynamic bebopping flair. After making a close study of California power surfer Phil Edwards in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Farrelly trimmed away most of the Edwardian style flourishes and […]


Stingers. I loved ’em. And yes I know Ben Aipa called it a “sting,” and we’ve been saying it wrong for 40 years now, but that’s the wonderful thing about the English language—if it’s wrong for long enough, it’s right. I had five or six stingers, beginning around 1976, all shaped by Pat Ryan of ET Surfboards. One was magic, the best […]


Kelly Mahon was the funniest guy in my ninth-grade class at Mira Costa High, no contest. Loud, huge laugh, rubbery face, with a mind that pulled comedy out of any given situation like a magnet picking up metal filings. You’d just be realizing that there was maybe something humorous to be said about this guy’s folding bike, or a […]


Hit “play,” and freeze at 1:13. If you’re a wave rider of a certain age (old), you should experience a small thrill of horror. That’s Billy Hamilton, surfing’s own Jesus of Cool, feet up and auguring into the dusty French pavers during the 1968 Fetes De Bayonne bull run. I’m no spinal surgeon, but looks to me like Billy’s just a […]

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