"I was wrong," says Chas Smith. "I mocked Vissla but it is flying out of shops! And they just signed Eric Geiselman."
I was in college, I think, when I first got on the Internet. Having grown up in rural, coastal Oregon “technology” consisted of quality mud flaps and the local 7-11’s big gulp machine.
My guide, sitting at our shared prefab desk in a cement block dorm cell, poked some keys on his Mac and there we were. Online.
“Look. I can chat with girls…” He said with a smug mouth.
“I chat with girls in person, you fucken nerd.” I responded with a smugger one. This internet ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of socially inept turds.
Years later, I remember when people started whispering about online shopping. I was online too, at this point, reading the news and buying airplane tickets but real shopping? Like buying denim? No way! “I buy denim in person, you. This internet shopping ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of people whose clothes don’t fit and who also shop at Costco.”
Years later, Vissla came out. I mocked its prefab hipster marketing but apparently it’s flying out of the shops, helping bouy mom and pops and, recently, they signed Eric older brother of Evan Geiselman. Eric totally rips. He is really good and fun to watch but no one ever sponsored him because maybe he was from Smyrna Beach? Or because maybe he didn’t smoke cigarettes and look all cool an industry insider told me. Whatever the case, the kid, who is no longer a kid, went sponsorless.
Like about the Internet, in general, and online shopping I was wrong!
God bless you, Vissla. But your sister D’Blanc is still a piece of shit.
From the northern lights to warm-water tubs in the Caribbean, Chris Burkard sure do know how to steal a photo…
How about we bring it back a little to the ol school. When photographers epitomised the rugged individualist ideal, wrapped in bandanas and flack jackets loaded with Nikon cameras and wide-angle lens, and traipsed through snow and dirt and scum, cutting through barbed wire with pliers, to steal photos that made y’wanna throw your trunks in a bag and find an adventure.
Chris Burkard knows travel. He searches the constellations for waves. Where the air is cold and pure and remote. He lived for six months in a Kombi, driving from Oregon to Tijuana for his book The California Surf Project.
Nat Geo features his work, of surfers standing beneath aurora borealis in Iceland and water shots with snow draping the mountains behind, begging for the technical details of his images.
His movie and book with Ben Weiland, Russia: The Outpost, follows Cyrus Sutton, the eldest Gudauskas bro and some extra pals camping on the very exotic Kamchatka Peninsula. Google Earth! It’s rad!
But it ain’t all cold water. His book Come Hell or High Water – The Plight of the Torpedo People is a treatise on bodysurfing featuring his and others photo essays on the purist craft.
Now let’s catch some of his advice, from this wild creature who floats upon any tide and on any wind…
First big adventure: My first trip was one of the scariest. It was the first time I left the country. I went to Dubai/Oman/Yemen. My passport was brand new. First stamp. My parents thought I was going to die and yet I I met some of the nicest people I’d ever encounter. It really opened my eyes
The difficulty of adjusting back to normal life after a stint in the wilderness: Oh, that is tough. I hate the feeling. Turning your cell on. Hearing buzzing and whistles and just the idea of knowing you have to respond to all these people about stupid things when you’ve been immersed in nature’s glory. The worst part is getting back to sleeping in a bed. It just makes you lazy. When you camp, you’re up with the sun. You’re in the cycle with nature’s time clock.
Preferred method of travel: By car. I like road trips. The idea of seeing it all and being able to jump and photograph something. Boats and planes are way too confining for me.
Rules for packing: I break all the rules and always bring too much. My rule is to pack a week before and think about everything you’re bringing and slowly unpacking the crap you don’t need. There’s a few things I always take and if I’m not taking ’em, I usually question if the trip is gong to be super soft and that maybe I shouldn’t even be going. I take: Water purifier, Gerber Multi-tool, a Goal Zero solar charger, a down jacket, a tent and sleeping bag.
Best trip: Norway for a month was unreal. We took snowmobiles to surf in the north next to the Russian border. And we took a three-day ferry ride to these remote islands in the south. Scored incredible waves. Ate whale. Got frozen. got snowed on. And saw the northern lights almost every night.
The worst:I did a trip with a bunch of groms to Oz a coupla years back. It was sorta like a big advertising trip and I basically to babysit while they got wasted and tried to pick up chicks for a week. Not to mention the strong onshores brought bluebottles into the lineup every day and the waves sucked.
Most amazing place: Iceland. I’ve been 10 times and I can’t wait to go back. There’s nowhere on earth I have felt as close to nature. It sounds funny but you feel like the country is forming around you. Geologically it’s just… active. It feels alive.
Most scared: When I was locked in a jail cell in Russia in 2009.
Moments of utter surrender: When the jailer escorted me to my cell in Vladivostock, Russia, and locked the door.
Most extreme poverty you’ve seen: A woman lying face down on the ground in India with vomit coming out of her mouth. I couldn’t even take a picture because I didn’t think I could live with myself documenting that kind of poverty without being able to help in some way. I also did a trip to Nicaragua and visited La Churecha which is a trash dump that families live in. Lots of disease and girls driven to prostitution. It was wretched.
Most extreme wealth you’ve seen:Dubai. There are people you cannot, literally, even look at. These guards will shut you down. They close off freeways to escort through rich sheiks. I’d never been anywhere where the white man didn’t reign supreme. They have license plates that indicate their class and if it’s high enough they can drive as fast as they want.
Craziest thang you’ve seen: Flying over Norway on our way to a small fishing village. We were in a light plane and the pilot let me come up front and watch the northern lights from the cockpit. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. The sky didn’t seem real. I almost question my existence, if I was still on earth. We flew right through strips of green, red and blue.
Where could you live apart from home: Iceland. And, yeah, I’ve already looked into it.
A litany of wisdom about the burden of pulling back, to swearing (it ain't cool) to being godly without becoming a stiff.
What would I do if it was the last event of the year, me and CJ were equal in the ratings and we had a heat against each other and CJ didn’t have a good board? I’d loan him one of mine. No question. I want to beat someone at their best.
And, I’d do the same if the same situation went down with say, Bruce Irons. With Bruce though, we’d agree the first wave would be mine. A board for priority, that works.
When you slaughter someone in a heat, it does nothing for your confidence. There’s no sense of accomplishment. You watch a neck-and-neck heat, when two surfers elevate their game, and you see that winning surfer grow.
Swearing doesn’t add meaning to anything, especially nowadays because it’s used so much. I remember being in senior high thinking it was cool to swear and was laying it on thick. I snapped out of it. I’m from the south and was brought up to believe it’s a sign of disrespect and I wouldn’t want to swear at someone and have em be all bummed at me.
Everyone is scared of big waves. But it’s an addiction you can’t fight. The first time I went to Hawaii I was 15 and out at a typical eight-to-10 foot day at Pipe. I went on some waves but I remember one wave in particular that I pulled back on. Sitting on the plane heading home I could hardly live with myself. I got a chance to got to Hawaii, I might never come here again and I kept playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda over in my head. That’s a hard feeling for some people to deal with and that’s why they always go.
Dorian is the worst for that syndrome. The guy cannot say no. I bet when he looks at his photos he’s like, “Gosh, why did I do that” But in the moment when he sees that wall or that horizon go black, the only thing he knows to do is go. He’s definitely the extreme of that scale.
I don’t care what legacy my surfing leaves behind but I want people to know that because I have a relationship with god that I’m not a stiff. People from the outside think you’ve got rules and bibles and you’re a perfect person but, dude, ask anyone we hang with who’s not a Christian or whatever I’m having a real good time.
It’s hard for me to look at that wave of CJ’s at Teahupoo. I was on the inside of him and when you look at the video you can see me paddle up and there’s a little wedge I couldn’t get over. Well, that’s my reasoning. The thing stretched all the way to the channel and I’d never seen one like that before. CJ looked at me and we didn’t talk but my eyes said, I think it’s gonna close and he had these big eyes that said, like, “Dude, are you goin?” I bet me paddling and thinking about going made him want that wave more. When he got spat into the channel, I was, like, I shoulda gone that wave, I was in the perfect spot.
Once he was over the ledge, I was like, “Okay, now…don’t…close…out…
Filmmaker Bruno Zanin remembers his close pal Ricardo Dos Santos…
Two days before the Brazilian big-wave surfer Ricardo Dos Santos was shot to death, his best pal and filmmaker Bruno Zanin was lighting him up on whatsapp for a beer.
Ricardo wasn’t down that time, he needed sleep, but they were going to catch up real soon. On the day he was shot, Bruno was sleeping and a mutual pal from Rio called him. Said he’d seen something on Facebook and called to check if it was true.
Bruno woke up and “freaked.” He drove the six clicks to the hospital and spent two days there, among the 50 family and friends who’d swarmed the hospital. There for the surgery, there for the hope as Ricardo’s godfather relayed whatever news the doctor’s had, and there when his best friend died.
“Why should we not believe that he’d survive? He was too strong,” says Bruno. “He got the biggest and scariest waves in life and we were praying al the time and thinking about him and making plans to do when he came out of hospital”
Fifteen hours after the shooting, they were told that the situation was critical and that “they should have faith and pray.” After 38 hours, Ricardo died.
“It was the most horrible day of my life,” says Bruno. “I can’t describe the feelings. I’m still really sad and tired.”
But Ricardo had a certain something about him. “He would want to be remembered as getting barrelled and coming out in a spray with a big smile on his face,” says Bruno.
And, yeah, he could drive you crazy. Like the time the pair travelled to Uruguay and Argentina. Twenty-three days, five thousand clicks, in a car together, Ricardo punching repeat on Chromeo’s Sexy Socialite, like, a million times, leaving the verses alone and jamming loudly in the chorus.
“Women are eyeing me
Their men are buying me
Drinks at the bar
You can’t go far
In this society
So why you coming at me, homie
With so much acrimony?
Your testimony’s phony
And the truth is you don’t know me
You’re a sexy socialite
(No I’m not, no I’m not)”
“He was a horrible singer,” says Bruno.
The pair had known each since they were kids. Ricardo lived on the beach where Bruno learned to surf but, in the past two years, they’d become really tight.
“I always like film surf, but as a hobby,” says Bruno. “And one day he invited me to start film him surfing, training and I did. He motivated me to be a filmmaker, to be a professional. He told me I should believe in myself and work.. and thats what ! As we travelled we became better friends. We fight, we laugh and we enjoy so much together.”
A little quirk of Ricardo was the nicknames he liked to attach to people. Bruno remembers Ricardo laughing as he announced each nickname. Some of the surfers he knew well, others he wasn’t quite as close to.
“Adriano told us he used to call him Minério, with a really fucking strange accent, Gabriel he called him Medal, Filipe was Filipinho and Miguel was Miguelito.”
As for Bruno, he’d been living in Australia for two years and had slugged on 24kg. “I came home like a bear,” says Bruno. “And in my first day back in brazil.. another friend when he saw me really fat called me Batavo and unhappily rRcardo heard about this history and said… ‘WHATTTT??? BATAVO??? FUCKING BATAVO!!! FROM NOW I WILL JUST CALL YOU BATAVO, BATAVO IS YOUR NEW ARTISTIC NAME.. LITTLE BATAVO!! BATAVEX!”
It's like choking down a handful of mystery pills with no clue where you'll end up…
I have no idea how everyone else gets through the day. For me, it’s a toss up. Happy, sad, raging, mellow, so angry I can taste it because of the smallest of trespasses. I know I’m fucked.
If you’re like me, check this stuff out. They’re, one and all, like choking down a handful of mystery pills, no clue where you’ll end up.
The Royal Tenenbaums. If you were ever the smart kid, the one who struggled fitting in but were assured that things would get better, then you know what I mean. Life never gets easier, simpler… the struggle remains, and sometimes you’re gonna feel like you’re the only one who takes part.
I Dreamed a Dream. Anne Hathway. Jesus Christ, Les Miserables was such a shit movie, Russell Crowe stomping out a beat like a drunk uncle who no one wants around but insists upon participating. Then Anne Hathaway hammers out the most soul crushing song you’ve ever heard. Tragic, gorgeous, straight to the heart.
Ernest Goes to Camp. Poor retard. Guy only wants to help run a Summer Camp, then the rich man’s running dog beats him limp. This was important to me, I learned a lesson. A series of lessons. 1. You can’t cry during an Ernest movie without being mocked. 2. You’ll take a beating for standing up for what you believe in. Be strong enough to hand out that beating.
Ziggy Stardust. Best rock album ever made. The pure beauty that emotes from it is beyond anything else. Get drunk, get maudlin, put it on and take the ride.
Bojack Horseman. Have you seen this show on Netflix? Why the fuck not? From a stupid dumb sitcom, to one of the the deepest, hardest, most soul crushingly insightful cartoons ever made. The finale is one of the saddest things ever set to film, even if it stars a 1200 pound horseman struggling to deal with the consequences of his own quest for redemption.