Cluster is full of sound, fury and signifies nothing. And it depresses me because this is the best surf class ever.
Kai Neville’s special gift, as a filmmaker, is that the coolest of the cool shine for him and, moreover, want to shine for him. They trust him to depict them properly and they feel comfortable and happy with his depiction, which is rare, because cool is like an exotic flower that wilts as soon as gazed upon. The coolest of the cool know this, intimately, and usually guard their blessing under armors of irony, social awkwardness, self-deprecation etc. But Kai is trusted and they allow him to show them as they are and, moreover, how they truly feel about themselves.
Cluster, then, is a pure, unfiltered snapshot of cool right now. It is stylish. It is beautiful boys throwing hammers while wearing unbuttoned button-ups. It is hands-free rotors. It is high production with a low production gloss. It is exotic locales. It is David Bowie and Hole and NWA. It is gorgeous but missing something.
And that something is exemplified by Noa Deane’s “Fuck Cops” scrawled in black marker across the bottom of his white board. And the “Fuck the WSL” chant that went up before the film turned on, led by Austyn Gillette (which I didn’t actually catch because I was feasting on the most divine bouillabaisse three blocks away).
And by the cavalcade of cigarettes and middle fingers. It seems that the coolest of the cool are very angry but angry at what? The WSL? Cops? The systemic devaluation of black urban youth? An unpegged Swiss Franc that will make visiting Zurich next year a virtual impossibility? Great. There is much to be angry about in this day and age but the coolest of the cool are not doing a goddamn thing with their rage because they are frozen between 1990’s bellicose ambivalence and 2015’s millennial over-achieving and in their frozenness they are not leaving a mark. Their lives are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And it depresses me because this class is the best surf class ever. More beautiful, more aware, more intelligent.
“But they are simply surfers…” you shout at me while imploring that I dismount from my high horse. “EXACTLY!” I shout back, refusing to budge because my saddle is Hermes. They should be rebranding surfing in their image and, therefore, rebranding popular culture. They should be figuring out what 2020 looks like but instead they lilt through the world, half-drunk with a slightly bent middle finger held about as high as they can muster.
If the coolest of the cool don’t actually want to “fuck” anything, they should stop pretending and order another round of fancy cocktails. Ineffectual, toothless aggressive posturing never looks good. But if they do? More fun! Gang paddle out at Snapper for the Quiksilver Pro and dare Graham Stapelberg to arrest you! Start riots in Hossegor in honor of free speech. Surf naked and when the arresting police officers come slap them on behalf of your subjugated inner-city brethren.
Either way it is wonderful. Fancy cocktails are wonderful. Wild in the streets is wonderful. Just fucking decide.