It’s confusing when something abruptly goes from funny to serious. Richard Pryor pulled this trick all the time in his standup act; you’re zinging along with some delirious gutter-mouthed riff on relationship hassles or the jerk neighbor next door, then Pryor changes direction and you’re dealing with something else entirely—divorce, say, or racial injustice—and basically feeling dizzy at how sudden […]


This post is mostly for myself, in hopes that I don’t get too excited over this week’s world title showdown, which in all likelihood will come up well short of expectations. I am of course thrilled there is a showdown of any kind in the offing. Way too often the deal is done days, weeks, even months before […]


Amateur competitive surfing may have gotten its shit together over the past ten or 12 years. This is something I probably ought to know, being an encyclopedia-brandishing surf authority and all. But the thought of sending even a simple email query into the vast international chamber of bickering that constitutes amateur surfing to check on the welfare of […]


In the Surf Journalism Hall of Fame of my imagination there is a special room, gilt-trimmed and hallowed, for Stab magazine’s 2007 “King of Queens” feature on Matt Branson. Pedestals for everybody involved with this amazing piece of work: Stab editor Derek Rielly for chasing and massaging the story (no other media outlet at the […]


New Year’s Resolution, 2016: Stop making lists. Like this one. Or this. And especially this! Silly little look-at-me clickbait trifles. But to give up listing will take grit and discipline and resolve. I know this because, for the past week, since making the the Roger Erickson clip you see above, I’ve felt compelled, nay, obligated to draw up a “10 Coolest Surfers” list […]


Eddie Aikau made his mark at Sunset Beach before Waimea, so maybe there’s a kind of poetic justice in that the first and totally unremembered Eddie Aikau Invitational, sponsored by Quiksilver, was held at Sunset. The waves were okay, not great. Northwest swell, dropping throughout the day, some funky tradewind bump in the afternoon. In the final, local boy Denton Miyamura took out […]


David Eggers died on Monday, at age 45, probably of a heart attack. In 1986, Eggers was a white-hot 16-year-old world tour rookie destined for a mantelpiece-full of world title trophies. Eighteen months later he was off the tour, living with his folks, cradling a freebase pipe and tearing up the streets of La Jolla. “Yesterday was gone,” Eggers later said, […]


Forty-something years ago, after dinner, sitting around waiting for Laugh In and puberty to begin, I paged through a back issue of SURFER and landed on Drew Kampion’s gimlet-eyed coverage of the 1968 World Surfing Championships. I didn’t know it was gimlet-eyed at the moment, of course. I was nine. I looked at the surf pix. And after […]


“Outraging the Code of Cool” is the well-chosen title of Warren Bolster’s 1992 Surfer’s Journal article on Alec Cooke—Warren, on principal, refuses to call him Ace Cool. Bolster and Cooke were partners in two of Cooke’s most memorable big-wave adventures. There was the 1984 “Kanea Point Challenge,” when Cooke, looking New Wave regal in a bright orange shorty and a […]


“War is not healthy for children and other living things.” All you retired hippies, remember that poster? Antiwar chic, circa 1970. Thick rough-hewn type and a napalmed-black flower, set against a bright yellow background. One-third cheerful, two-thirds Grim Reaper.  Half the kids I knew in Venice had that poster on their bedroom wall; mine was slotted between an Evolution handbill […]


Mick Lowe was a world tour surfer from the ’90s and ’00s. Smart and funny and always smiling beneath the clumsiest, most endearing do-it-yourself haircut ever seen outside a Dumb and Dumber movie. Loads of talent. Occy-level power. Beat Andy Irons in the finals at Snapper one year, and came within an ace of taking out a Pipe Masters. Mick was […]


Finally got around to watching “Beware of Mr. Baker,” a 2012 documentary of Cream drummer Ginger Baker. What an opening scene! Baker, the craziest motherfucker to ever pick up a pair of sticks—Keith Moon at his looniest was a church deacon by comparison—is offscreen ranting about who does and does not get to be in his movie, and ends […]


Mimi Munro, today, is sweet and soft-voiced, kind of mousey, but tougher than woodpecker lips. She’s tiny . . .  five-feet tall, give or take, but has arms like a bantomweight Golden Gloves contender poking out from her sundress. Her 60-something-year old face is as lined and sun-damaged as it is beautiful. There’s a thin layer of gravel at the […]


If you’re a California-born surfer of a certain age, it’s almost impossible to think of Malibu without drifting away on a sage-scented dream-cloud of nostalgia. It’s just a question of how long and how far you allow yourself to float. Case in point. The issue of SURFER that landed in your mailbox this week has a short piece […]


Dale Velzy died of lung cancer, at 77, a little over ten years ago, and you have to marvel that he actually made it that far. Look at the last bit of footage in the clip above. The man’s got a Marlboro lit up in his surfboard factory; smoke dancing in and out of the benzoyl peroxide […]


Fred Van Dyke, who died this week at age 86, will rightly be remembered as a pioneering big-wave surfer. I’ll remember him for that as well, but more so for the way he set out to become a more evolved version of himself—a decades-long process that, among other things, saw him make a deliberate break from […]


Kelly Slater was down on the rocks at Lowers this morning, photo-bombing Fred P’s big moment as the Hawaiian tagged out with a perfect 10 during his Round One heat in the Hurley Pro. I watched and wondered—was Slater maybe just a tiny bit jealous? Was there perhaps a slightly mocking voice, somewhere in the back of that flawless chestnut-brown dome (Kelly’s, […]


Some myth-busting going on over at SURFER this week, as Ashtyn Douglas takes on the Miki Dora 1967 Malibu Invitational Flying Brown Eye episode. (Read here.) The legend, in short, is that everybody’s favorite anti-establishment hero entered the Malibu event “to shake things up,” as he liked to put it, and in this instance did so by […]


Barton Lynch and I met in early 1984. We were both staying at Mark Foo’s Home for Incurables, across from Waimea Bay. Barton, as I recall, was chaperoning a prepubescent Nicky Wood, who was already charging and shredding and acting mysterious, but went face-first into the reef at some point and flew home with his head […]


Martin Potter’s jaw-grinding voice sounds as if its been filtered through six espresso shots and a migraine headache. Ross Williams’ has me considering preemptive adenoidal surgery for my son. Todd Kline? Car saleman. Rosy Hodge? Who can hear her above the angel choir and softly strumming lutes? And then Joe Turpel. During a trifling Round Two heat at Teahupoo […]


It’s Larry Bertlemann’s birthday (60!), which gives me the opportunity for two huzzahs: to Bert himself, and to Phil Jarratt, the protean Aussie surf writer who, in his own field, was every bit as elastic and innovative as Larry. You will spend days looking through the near and far reaches of the SURFER catalog—hell, throw in Rolling Stone […]


Here are a few new, or relatively new EOS pages. NANCY NELSON. Three-time winner at Makaha, possibly the first woman to surf Pipe (first on film, anyway), and from what I can tell a sweet, fiery lil’ proto-feminist. For three years I’d been putting off Nancy’s page—didn’t have the photos, other pages to get to, etc etc. […]


The US Open is again upon us. We’re talking almost 60 years of tradition here, as the megaton surf competition, in one form or another, has been on the Huntington Pier summer calendar since Eisenhower threw his neck out looking for Sputnik 1. You have three choices. Ignore it. Embrace it. Bitch about it.  You chose to […]


It’s just over 40 years now since the surf world got its first look at Kevin Naughton and Craig Peterson, the lovable dirt-bag explorers who doubled-down on the Endless Summer notion of the Search for the Perfect Wave. Like Bruce Brown before them, the two Orange County boys went global. Literally and figuratively. The travel articles they produced for […]


The much-discussed but little-seen 1984 Country Feeling Surf Classic was an oasis in the longest, weirdest, most grueling world tour season on record. Twenty-four events over 11 months. A small-wave beachbreak opener in Japan, then, I kid you not, four straight comps in Florida, then up to Ocean City, Maryland, then off to Cape Town. […]

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