What did you want to be when you grew up?
Our dear Michael Ciaramella posted a recent bit where he exhorted us all to Watch: Our Competitor’s Film! I wondered, when I read the headline who our competitor was, clicked on and saw that it was What Youth. “But oh!” I thought to myself. “What Youth is not our competition. We’re fellow travelers! Just like Milo Yiannopoulos and the alt-right!”
And it is true. What Youth and The Surfer’s Journal bookend all that is good in surfing. The boys stitch together brilliant magazines, each and every one a treasure and sometimes I get to come and play too. The below appears, in full, in What Youth issue 17 which feat. the beautiful Chippa Wilson on cover. It deals with career choices.
Buy the issue here! And read a little taste here!
I once dreamed of throwing off this empty yoke. Of finishing with surf and taking up only journalism and meaning something again. I went to Ukraine right after Kiev’s population burned the city center to the ground in protest of a government linked too closely to Russia. An angry mist hung in the air and angry Ukrainians manned make-shift bunkers, waiting to fight to the death for what they believed. It meant something. It meant life or death. It was important.
I chatted with Bernie Sander’s chief of staff as that movement was cranking to full volume last year. He spoke of the dreams, hopes, perils of America’s youth. He spoke of what could be done, politically, to create a bright future or at least a future the kids could be proud of. He spoke of fear, terror, health care, free university education, music, art, literature and it was important.
I interviewed with General David Petraeus on stage at a hedge fund conference in front of millionaires and billionaires waiting to invest trillions. He was once a general and once the director of the CIA and had a widely reported affair with a reporter. A journalist! And we went back and forth about China and Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden and ISIS and gas prices and security. The weight of the investing world hinged on our conversation. Whole markets ready to rise or fall. It was important.
And then I came back to surfing. To surfing journalism. I left Ukraine, I didn’t even write up the Bernie story and I laughed with David Petraeus. Why? To be honest I don’t really know. But what is knowledge? I gots none! I feel there is some magic in this absurd. In this surfing.
French Algerian author Albert Camus wrote so much about it. He was not a surf journalist but wrote the absurd is man’s great fight. That none of this means anything but it is our greatest struggle to make sense of it.
He wrote about pushing stones up hills that continue to roll down and we continue to push them back up. He wrote about the emptiness. The terrible feeling that nothing is actually important. He wrote, “At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.”
But do you know what he also wrote?
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Now that’s what I’m talking about. Surf journalism. The invincible summer.