Pandora’s Box: Is river surfing surfing?

Our brave new world scares me!

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch has really thrown my whole world off kilter. I think about it every day, pondering its broader meaning, wondering how it will change our future, examining each new clip to see if each new invited star surfs it better/differently than the stars that preceded him or her. Like, did you see Shane Dorian’s latest? I think his is the best yet but do  you think this is peak pool performance right here? PPP?

Also is river surfing now surfing? It all used to be so easy to define. Surfing was done in the ocean. Everything else was funny and maybe fun but not surfing.

But now we have surfing 100 miles from the beach and does this mean it’s all surfing? One big weird tent featuring this:

And this:

And even this:

Please tell me no. But also please tell me how I can continue to exclude everyone. Give me the secret to opening Pandora’s Box and shoving Zach Weisberg (pictured) back in.

Protest: The culture wars come to surf!

Our way of life is under attack!

Today, fellow surfers, our culture is coming under attack. Our values that have been passed down from generation to generation to us. Our code and our way of life. The lamestream media has criticized our “localism” for years, branding us ruffians and thugs for simply reminding the valley to go home. For smashing cameras, throwing rocks, waxing windshields and yelling loudly but we know that if we don’t make interlopers feel unwelcome then the surf will become dangerously crowded.

We, each of us, are quiet heroes.

But a new brand seeks to challenge our history. Let’s read about “Localish.”

Localish was born out of a desire to foster a sense of belonging in the wonderful, but sometimes-territorial, surf community. Co-founders Jenn Biestman and Greg Coffin believe everyone should feel a sense of belonging wherever they are, whether you’re a native, part-time resident, or visitor passing by. Inspired by this philosophy, Localish Apparel is made with original designs created somewhere between Hawaii and California.

“Surf culture can sometimes come with territorial attitudes. We believe the ‘locals only’ notion is not only prohibitive and unwelcoming, it’s outdated,” said Jenn Biestman. “This attitude certainly isn’t limited to the surfing community, which drove us to create Localish, a brand that is for everyone.”

“To be ‘local’ is truly a state of mind, rather than a point of origin,” added co-founder Greg Coffin. “This is why we are thrilled to bring the Localish philosophy and products to the public. It’s time to change the way we think about what being a ‘local’ means.”

Hell. What are we going to do about this? How are we going to remind everyone they don’t belong?

Should we start a brand?

What should we call it?

Let’s get inspired!

Malia Manuel at Candyland!

How to: Build your own Surf Ranch!

All secrets revealed!

Once, when I was a little boy, I came to southern California to visit my cousins and it was my birthday. My uncle took me to a surf shop, mystical in my young Oregonian eyes, and said, “Pick whatever you want.” I picked a Surfer magazine (because it must have been assumed that surfboards, wetsuits, etc. were not included in his generous offer). And now I sometimes write for Surfer magazine under The Weekly Grit! moniker.

The latest?

Would you permit me to be honest with you for just one moment? A little real talk? I am neither a scientist nor mathematically inclined. If doctors were allowed to study my brain they would discover synapses coated with bourbon firing vague memories borrowed from Sex and the City episodes (Chas Smith playing the role of Carrie Bradshaw, of course). If they peered deeper, they would stumble upon an above average Mark-Occhilupo-singing-karaoke impression. Nowhere would they find “science” or “math.”

And then guess what? I totally reveal the entire patent to Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

Read here!

After that I basically describe the mechanics of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch because a magical being sent me the ENTIRE patent for the thing. And also come over to my house and help me dig the Wave Corral. The commenters at Surfer think I’ve helped lead to the demise of that proud title and tell me my brain is full of used condoms so I don’t think they’re coming.

My uncle would be most upset.

Blood feud: The War for Malibu!

It's the rich versus... the rich!

Did you, like me, think that Malibu was a mostly exclusive Los Angeles beach enclave where starlets ran away from sexually menacing producers whilst trying to find valet tickets in Hermes birkins? Where money managers and Russian oligarchs winked at each other over well-manicured hedges, the money managers sipping 30 year old Scotches and the Russian oligarchs half-watch two 30 year old Scotsmen perform a Braveheart themed sex fetish show?

Did you, like me, think it was for the rich and the very rich?

Oh, I’m no Malibu virgin. I have spent nights among the rich and very rich at Little Dume (before I became one of the people of course). I have dined at Nobu and celebrated art in architectural masterpieces nestled in Malibu’s bucolic hills but apparently I missed the gritty war between rough n tumble locals and the wealthy blow-ins.

And let’s turn to Money Week Magazine for the rest of the story!

The wealthy newcomers to the sport are not, however, content with taking over a pastime that has long been the preserve of hippies – they’re also taking over their homes in Malibu, says Alix Sharkey in Condé Nast Traveller.

The “Bu” – to use its old surfer nick-name – still has that “unreal” quality: “nothing can match that moment when you stand at the ocean’s edge, cool spume rushing up the hot sand and over your toes, the roar of surf pierced by crying gulls, Catalina Island shimmering in the haze [as] you spot a pod of gleaming dolphins… [cresting] the waves”. But the California surfing spot is also increasingly becoming “a byword for moneyed privilege, home to single-name A-listers such as Streisand, Dylan, Hanks and Gaga”.

The locals aren’t taking this lying down, says Skylar Peak, Malibu’s 33-year-old mayor and a passionate surfer. “It’s not this ‘Hollywood on the Ocean’ that people imagine,” he says. “There’s a rawness to the culture, a true sense of community, and a deep love of nature.” Fleeing the wealthy hordes, “the cool people” moved to Point Dume, Khalil Rafati, founder of fashionable smoothie outlets SunLife Organics, tells Sharkey. “It still has that laid back, old Malibu vibe. Meaning, the more dressed up you are, the less money you really have.”

Ok. I’m can’t joke around anymore. I can’t believe that Malibu has a mayor named “Skylar” and that he’s a man. Hahaha! And the “fashionable smoothie outlet!” Hahahahaha! I’m dying!

That place is seriously retarded.

The author illustrates how it's possible for a lousy surfer to get a semi-non embarrassing surf shot.

Quiz: Will you be an “intermediate” surfer forever?

And is it possible to ever break through and become… a good surfer? If so, how?

Many years ago, the pioneering pro surfer Mark Warren admitted that he was “a kook forever.” He wasn’t even close to being a kook, at least beyond his teenage years, but his admission revealed the fear that stalks us all.

I know it and it tears me in two.

Despite everything, despite years of pouring blood and tears into the game, despite the best surfboards, front-row seats to the best surfing and endless counsel I have never been able to progress beyond “intermediate” surfer.

I can fake it a little.

I know how to make a photo work. Arms in the air, twisting of torso etc. But I ain’t no better than “intermediate.”

The truth is, unless you hit contests early, or grew up by the beach, you never developed the muscle memory that shows in the good, instinctive surfer.

A kick in the head? Yeah it is.

The whole you’ll-never-be-better-than-an-intermediate-surfer theory comes from Chas Smith and David Lee Scales’ podcast series on Surf Splendor’s The Weekly Grit, and which was posted here under the headline “I’m Having An Existential Crisis!”

I didn’t listen to the damn thing until yesterday and my blood ran cold. Chas spoke about a depression that came from the futility of persisting with a sport he’ll never get any better at.

Should a man continue to waste his time operating at such an emotionally ruinous level?

Then came the question, Is it better to look good on a wave or feel good on a wave?

Who even needs to think about such a thing? Of course, you want to look good. Feeling good, while looking horrible, is a night terror.

Questions: Do you agree with the hypothesis? Are we, as average men, doomed to be “intermediates” forever?

And what range of “intermediate” surfers are there? Low-level intermediate, good-intermediate, advanced-intermediate, and what separates us?

I think,

Low-level: can paddle into a wave, race along, do a cutback, maybe stay on his board during a floater and a close-out re-entry.

Good: The above, with the added bonus of frontside tubes, floaters made, with the occasional lip hit.

Advanced: The above, but has landed a few airs, ridden out of a reverse, can backside tube ride.

And tell me: is it possible to ever break through and become… good?

If so, how?