Am I an "addicted derelict obsessing over appearances while harassing those unlike me?"
Almost every single morning I wake and chuckle at the surf world around me. It is all so marvelously absurd, so wonderfully silly, marked by moments of profound connection with you my brothers and sister (hi, Jen See) and such a pleasure to wade through. I wonder what adventures will present themselves. What storylines will unfold. What funny jokes will appear and turn my chuckle into a rolling laugh. Usually I look toward Venice-adjacent, home to The Inertia and Stab, for the funny jokes.
And this morning I stumbled upon a film review The Inertia’s Arianna Huffington, Zach Weisberg, wrote titled, The Tribes of Palos Verdes Eviscerates Southern California’s Entitled, Xenophobic Surf Culture. Such a mouthful and sure to hold bountiful treasure so I dove in headfirst. Would you like to read some snippets?
“Medina (the main character) never self-identifies as a surfer, which makes her observations more honest and interesting. She loves the act of riding waves. That’s it. Not the bullshit trappings of surf identity marked by understatement, fashion, and exclusivity.”
“In fact, the only characters that identify as surfers are, unreservedly, pieces of shit.”
“While Medina humors the Bay Boys by adopting some of their behaviors for the express purpose of increasing her wave count, she never converts to become a tattooed member of “the tribe,” so to speak. She’s too curious about the world around her for that. The self-proclaimed surfers in the film are uncurious assholes.”
“We can only hope that she doesn’t turn into a xenophobic, sexual predator like all the surfers she met at home. We can only hope that she doesn’t become the self-destructive, entitled virus colonizing Southern California’s most breathtaking coastal real estate. We can only hope she doesn’t become the addicted derelict obsessing over appearances while harassing those unlike her. For her sake, we can only hope she doesn’t become the thing so many of those shitty people who caused her misery proudly call themselves: a surfer.”
Oh the chuckles dried right up. I couldn’t help but think that dear little Zach saw himself as “Medina” and I was one of the “Bay Boys.” A “shitty person causing misery proudly calling myself: a surfer.” An “uncurious asshole.” A “self-destructive, entitled virus.” And it made me wonder, is he right?
When I started in surf journalism, almost a decade ago now, it felt to me the same as it does now. Marvelously absurd, wonderfully silly, marked by moments of profound connection with you and I thought we were all in on the same joke, to some extent. I thought insults/fun-making/cajoling were all part of this good-natured dance. When surf magazines very first moved online, many years ago, I loved going to see to my little stories and read the accurately brutal assessments of my skill in the comments below. It was fun and fun is what this is all about, no?
But maybe I am wrong. Maybe time has marched on and what used to be fun is now just mean and unredeemable. Maybe it looks just plain bad. Maybe I am the only one laughing and Stab and The Inertia and Paul Speaker and Graham Stapelberg and Oakley Razorblades and Rip-Current Rory and the cameraman in Oregon and the People’s Republic of China and the city of Lemoore and Mick Fanning’s beer sandal, etc. are all just shaking their collective head at my pathetic lonely display.
So I turn to you, my brothers and sister, for advice. Is it not funny anymore? Was it ever? Should I just stop with the fun-making once and for all and focus on… ummm… just BeachGrit?