×
Login

Blog


2/13/17

Writer and former SURFER Magazine senior editor Ben Marcus interviewed Terry Tracy in 2003 and 2004. Portions of those interviews ran in Surfer’s Journal and Marcus’ book “Surfing USA.” It is true you lived in a shack on Malibu for a couple summers? I did. Not a myth. Nope. Where was it, exactly? Halfway between...

2/13/17

Part Three of a three-piece article published by SURFER in November, 1969. John Scott, a Santa Cruz surfer and photographer, wrote in opposition to professional surfing. And threw in a protest poem for good measure. See also “Pro Surfing is White!” by Fred Hemmings, and “Pro Surfing is Gray!” by Jock Sutherland.  *  *  * By now,...

2/13/17

Part Two of a three-piece article published by SURFER in November, 1969. Jock Sutherland, that year’s SURFER Poll winner, had some doubts about how professional surfing might affect the nature of the sport, but ultimately decided it was worth pursing. See also “Pro Surfing is White!” by Fred Hemmings, and “Pro Surfing is Black!” by John Scott.  *...

2/13/17

Part One of a three-piece article published by SURFER in November, 1969. Fred Hemmings, reigning world champion and soon-to-be founder of the world tour, wrote in support of professional surfing. See also “Pro Surfing is Black!” by John Scott, and “Pro Surfing is Gray!” by Jock Sutherland.  *  *  * Surfing needs professionalism! The most important...

2/09/17

I was a good swimmer as a kid, but small and skinny, and I went from alert to panicky in a flash. Couple times a year somebody would have to pull me from the ocean. I got rescued on the north side of Santa Monica Pier once, which isn’t quite the same as getting rescued from a wading...

2/06/17

Dewey Weber is remembered and loved, and rightly so, as surfing’s original high-performance boy wonder, the hotdogging messiah. But what really fascinates me about Weber is the crazy drive and ambition. The white-hot coals, so to speak, beneath the hotdog. The will to achieve, to focus, to defeat, build, create, rise. I’m fascinated because I run on...

2/02/17

Bill “Flea” Shaw’s page just posted. If you’re an old ASP fan, you’ll remember Flea as the intense, arm-waving, extravagantly mustachioed coach and husband of four-time world champ Frieda Zamba. If you’re really old, you might recall Flea from a star-making cameo in Greg MacGillivray’s 1965 movie The Performers. Ten-year-old kid gets his own segment! What an honor! Or wait, was it? Listen...

1/29/17

I am grateful, almost daily, for Dale Velzy. Not so much because of what he did for board design, although that too. Mostly for the style, the grin, the flask in his back pocket, and the fact that he was one-third cowboy and didn’t give a rat’s ass if that wasn’t “surf.” I am also deeply grateful for writer...

1/25/17

This article below is excerpted from a much longer piece I wrote titled “Articles of Faith: 35 Years of Surf Magazines.” It ran in the Spring, 1996, issue of Surfer’s Journal.  *  *  * John Severson and SURFER rolled through the early- and mid-’60s and took rear-guard action as needed, as a dozen or so American upstarts...

1/23/17

I tried to steer this post away from the sentimental, but it’s no use. Unless you’re bitching about the crowd, it’s almost impossible to talk about Malibu without going misty-eyed with appreciation.   *  *  * SAM REID, 1965 Visualize a beautiful Fall day in California, September, 1927. Coast Highway was a two-lane road, dirt most of...

1/20/17

This article was published in the December, 1982, issue of New York magazine. Writer Michael Daly originally wrote for the Village Voice, and was a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his Daily News columns on life in New York following the 9/11 attacks. Daly now writes for the Daily Beast.   *  *  * A pistol fired once, and...

1/19/17

Rick Rasmussen won the 1974 United States Surfing Championships at more or less the exact moment Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal went to the front of my small but not-unworthy record collection, and I’ve come to believe that the two men, together, planted a seed from which my fascination and love for New York would sprout, grow, and blossom....

1/17/17

Bob Simmons, Joe Quigg, and Matt Kivlin overhauled surfboard design after World War II. Reasonable people may disagree, but by my reckoning what these three guys collectively did from 1945 to 1952 was a greater leap forward than the shortboard revolution. Kivlin, younger than the other two, was also the hottest surfer on the coast—tucked his back...

1/11/17

Bob Simmons died while surfing Windansea sometime around noon, on September 26, 1954. He was 35. Simmons was the first name surfer to go down in the water, and along with all the crucial surfboard design work he did, his on-stage death created a legend. This account of Simmon’s final wave is pulled from people who know Simmons, plus...

1/10/17

We love the shortboard revolution because it radically, wonderfully, and forever changed board design. We also love it because it’s so well documented. Photos, movies, articles—the whole shebang is there, in primary sources galore, for us to examine and exalt and argue over. But surfboard evolution actually made a greater leap right after World War II. In 1940 we’re on...

1/03/17

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....

1/02/17

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...

1/01/17

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...

12/20/16

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...

12/12/16

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...

12/06/16

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...

11/30/16

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...

11/17/16

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...

11/10/16

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...

10/31/16

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...

1 of 16

Blog