The game is closer than you think…
Surfing is fucked! Doomed to become vanilla at one end (read WSL and Samsung’s little adds), and doomed to become far too abstract at the other (Globe/Los Angered). It’s an increasingly fragmented scene that sees the collective at one another’s throats across the internet’s many message boards.
In a most unfounded fashion, I blame both the internet and the increasingly popular nature of the past time. Do I want it to go back to a mongrelised, intolerant sub-culture on the fringes? Yeah, nah. Plus, I’m more than wary of the dubious talk of a surf culture. After all, like your nationality, it’s but an imagined community that we’ve all valorised to be real.
But imagined communities aside, surfing has at least one thing going for it – it presents itself better than fly-fishing.
I like fly-fishing, both salt water and fresh. It’s rewarding, it’s a challenge, it’s a game that is not too dissimilar to surfing. But fuck me, it doesn’t present itself well.
If you’ve ever tried to watch a fly-fishing video you’re likely to get bombarded by pretentious prattle about it being a ‘spiritual art’, or some bloke yahooing. You watch it with a permanent grimace, embarrassed that you let yourself be seen with a fly rod in hand. As a result, I hide my collection behind my surfboards.
Nor does fly-fishing lend itself to music. Most guys publishing footage put it to lo-fi country sounding guitars or obnoxious dance music. Tt doesn’t work. In fact, no music works. You’re better off to watch it muted.
Actually, you’re better off not watching it so that you don’t have to expose yourself to the fashion – it’s all fluoro Quiksilver/Jet board shorts, Patagonia wading boots, button-up shirts, patterned face buffs, hats, polaroid glasses and waders – terrible in the least.
Surfing has an edge in this respect. Surfing suits music much better, even if you hate that music. However, nothing suits lo-fi country sounding guitar. Similarly, if you’re watching surfing without music in it’s raw form, unless you’re watching some kook’s GoPro footage, one particular former WSL commentator, or some Mid-Western bible basher’s footage from their trip to Hawaii, you’re not going to get the same cheese.
Surf fashion? Pretty simple, not always functional, and fuck zinc! Wetsuits? Only in black please. Still, I’d rather be seen in the latest Globe Dion signature series clothes/shoes than a pair of waders, face buff and polaroids.
And all the prattle about the ‘spiritual art’? We left that in the 70’s and over at The Inertia. In more than one sense, surfing today is all about performance baby!
See, it’s not all doom and gloom, we still have an edge over fly-fishing. Then again, I’ve noted a lot of exceptions/contradictions. No, we’re not much better than fly-fishing at all.