Bruce Brown dead
Bruce Brown was the creator of the seminal movies The Endless Summer (surfing) and On Any Sunday (motorcycles). A gorgeous warmed-up hero for us all! | Photo: Bruce Brown Films

Warshaw on Bruce Brown: “No drugs, no booze, no pussy!”

Creator of The Endless Summer, dead at eighty… 

Last night, the creator of the seminal surf film The Endless Summer, Bruce Brown, died at his home in Santa Babs. Bruce was eighty, so it ain’t a surprise, but it does evaporate the owner of an important part of surf history.

Earlier today, Matt Warshaw and I back and forthed on Bruce’s legacy.

BeachGrit: Old man Bruce Brown, dead, eighty. Endless Summer clips filling our screens. How did he do what he did, anyway?

Warshaw: The four or five movies Bruce did before Endless Summer were warm-ups, kind of. He wouldn’t have viewed it that way at the time, but when you watch ES, then go back and look at the old stuff, you see him working out favorite camera angles, getting his voiceover schtick down, all of that. In 1966, newspapers and magazine reviewers all thought Endless Summer was some kind of freak home-run from this beachfront hayseed. But Bruce was so ready to make that movie. He’d been practicing for years.

Tell me about the next one he did, On Any Sunday.

It was the motorcycle version of The Endless Summer. I think it pulled in an documentary Oscar nomination! I hate motorcycles, but love that movie. There must be a half-million sixty-something motorcycle freaks out there who starting riding after seeing On Any Sunday.

What’s your learned opinion of The Endless Summer?

The Endless Summer proves that surf contests have nothing to do with how you’d present surfing to the rest of the world. Sure, you could hire Bruce to work your contest. He did color for the Duke event for two or three years in the mid-sixties. But when it came down to his own movies, he didn’t give a shit about contests. He stayed away. Never showed them. Surfing, for Bruce, meant chasing waves, and if you didn’t find waves, you had a good time anyway. The Endless Summer showed what it’s like to be a surfer on the hunt — or the family-friendly version, anyway; no drugs, no drinking, no pussy — and to me it still feels really true. Bruce and The Endless Summer are still in the back of our minds when we pack the boards and chase waves. You want Cape St. Francis, first of all. But you also, as your bumping along looking for it, you want to have as much fun as Bruce and his crew did.

Bruce didn’t give a shit about contests. He stayed away. Never showed them. Surfing, for Bruce, meant chasing waves, and if you didn’t find waves, you had a good time anyway.

Describe your relationship with Bruce?

I met Bruce Brown at the 1985 SURFER Poll. Him and Dana Brown both. Dana and I had just started working together, he wrote some articles for SURFER when I was there, and the two of them walked into the Poll, we met, then Bruce led us back to the limo he had in the parking lot. We had beers and shit-talked the Poll. Bruce was way saltier than he comes off in his movies.

He made the two movies he wanted to make, made his bundle, and quit. Went fishing, went surfing, played the stock market, collected cars. He only came out of retirement for ES II to get Dana started. Which makes him a great father, on top of everything else.

What happened to Bruce between Endless Summer and On Any Sunday and…Endless Summer II?

This is maybe what I love about Bruce most. He made the two movies he wanted to make, made his bundle, and quit. Went fishing, went surfing, played the stock market, collected cars. He only came out of retirement for ES II to get Dana started. Which makes him a great father, on top of everything else.

How’d you feel when ESII landed, and the buildup to it all?

Let down. His heart wasn’t in it.

Did you feel sad when y’heard Bruce had died? What sorta hole does he leave, if any?

Jack O’Neill, then Severson, now Bruce. Maybe I’m not processing right now, but my first thought when I heard that Bruce died was, 2017 has just been fucking brutal for surf legends.

(Editor’s note: Warshaw just told me he’d hit his thirty k. The Encylopedia of Surfing lives!)

Politics: John John seeks to MNSGA!

The North Shore's favorite son delivers a bold message!

Even the most blithely unaware know how fraught with tension our current political climate is. Facebook friends unfriending. Rants from across the spectrum. Build the wall. Lock her up. Pussy grabs back. Even the most subtle advertising of a position along the spectrum can set off peals of debate, wailing and gnashing of teeth. An avatar that looks like an AR-15. An avatar that says ITMFA.

And it is into this milieu that John John Florence boldly strode back home to his North Shore home, ready to take the crown, borrowing the same powerful hat that President Donald J. Trump made famous. Red. White lettering. The most divisive symbol of all. Trump’s hat, of course, reads Make America Great Again. John Johns reads Go John John but the messaging might be similar. There is no such thing as a design accident, you know, and I feel John John is exclaiming, “I am from here. This is my home. I, alone, will make the North Shore great again.”

What do you think he is exclaiming?

The action starts in just 30 mins. Watch here.

Does the surf industry hate Matt Warshaw?

Donors to Save-the-Encyclopedia-of-surfing drive revealed here!

Almost two weeks ago now, the surf historian Matt Warshaw threatened to pull his entire archive offline (The Encyclopedia of Surfing , History of Surfing, Above the Roar) unless thirty thousand dollars was donated immediately.

As it transpired, Warshaw’s wife Jodi, who is gainfully employed at Amazon, had given him a deadline to either make thirty k this year, a five-year extension on an earlier ultimatum, or face the capitalist reality – that he’d failed.

“It’s just kind of humiliating, to be 57 and making what I make,” Warshaw told BeachGrit. “It feels like a judgement. EOS, I think, does a such a good job at showing the world of surf in full. Look at us, maybe the most fucked-up wonderful interesting thing on the planet, it’s all here on the three sites I’ve made, in photos, video, and words — and for building that I get less than I did as a SURFER intern in 1985. It’s humbling. When I step away from the computer a few hours and think about it, I can get depressed.”

Now, if you go to The Encylopedia of Surfing, you can see who’s donated.

Or pointedly, who hasn’t.

Come for a stroll down the donor list here.

Know what’s missing? (Apart from BeachGrit. We gave at the office.)

Surf industry money.

A few publishers, writers, editors, photographers and so on chipped in to keep Warshaw in the sort of dingy woollen outfits he wears to ward off the Seattle cold, but…

…where are the millionaires in this game?

Warshaw sent emails to everybody, the EOS drive was announced to the near and far ends of the surf world. And not one big player, not one big brand threw Warshaw so much as a bone.

Is their silence an explosive fuck off to Warshaw and his sites?

Or just further evidence, as if it was necessary, that surf co’s see their role merely to schlep crummy Bangladeshi-made t-shirts to the fashion illiterate?

Update: Warshaw is closing in on the thirty gees! Two days to go!

Controversy: WSL picks John John!

The WSL throws its hat into the ring and announces who it wants as champ!

You are a sport fan, of course, but are you a massive sport fan or a passive sport fan? Like, do you live for your various teams or do you watch the big games but mostly just to socialize? And what of the various leagues? Do you like one over another? I’m partial to Major League Baseball but that’s mostly just because I love baseball, mostly the Padres. I suppose the National Basketball Association is the best run and the National Football League is probably the worst.

The leagues don’t generally pick favorite teams of course. That would be very unfair and equally unseemly. What if the Australian Football League put out statements rooting for the Pies, for example? Oh I know Australian’s call “rooting” “barracking” when it comes to cheering a squad but what if? Do you think Essendon, Richmond and Carlton would think? I’d imagine not too happy.

And what if the World Surf League actively advocated for John John over Gabriel in this final push to the title? It would be strange, to be sure, but that is exactly what is happening. BeachGrit‘s on-the-ground network spied the WSL’s North Shore offices today and look at this photo here. What does it say in the window? Does it say “Go John John”?

Well it sure does.

And do you think Gabriel has an appeal on his hands if John John goes and wins?

I do. I think he has an appeal and a lawsuit. Go Lawsuit!

An early drawing by Greg Webber of his circular wave pool. Patient and fucking determined? Oh yes he is! | Photo: Greg Webber

Webber: “I’m patient and fucking determined!”

The noted Australian shaper on misery, Jesus and Muhammad and pools (of course)… 

Two months ago, I edited a print edition of the Australian magazine Surfing Life. It was called The Surfboard Issue and one of the features was a series of interviews, made in the Esquire What I’ve Learned style, of noted surfboard shapers.

Last week, I ran the interview with Maurice Cole on BeachGrit, although the story was quickly pulled down when I was reminded I’d sent a longer version to the The Surfers Journal.

Today, the man you know, the man you love, the divine delicacy Greg Webber, pioneer of concave and curve. Inventor of the banana board for Shane Herring in 1992 and Kelly Slater in 2016. Creator of Webber wavepools.

Come inhale those vapours.

I was shaping the nose of a board, deck up with the nose pointing towards my chest, and I had this incredible feeling that what I take off with this tool right now will influence how the board goes through the water. How could I not fall in love with shaping after that?

I’ve pushed the high performance side as far as I or it can go. My boards are already a touch too high performance for the top guys, so what’s the use in pushing even further out?

My strength as a shaper is that I see the surfboard as a unit and not a nose, a middle and a tail.

I don’t always do what pro surfers asks. Pro’s might know more than the average guy but they think they know, with certainty, how one part of the board works yet don’t recognise the three or four or five other areas that also influence it.

I’ll always do what a customer wants since they’ll listen to my points and engage in a meaningful back and forth.

My biggest fault as a designer, and as a man, is being shape and surface and function obsessed.

Shane Herring did the hardest, tightest fastest turns that anyone has ever done and now only Kelly has come close to doing the same. In fact, Kelly has explored the banana more than Shane ever had the chance to. I’m indebted to him for that.

Kelly and I have talked about pools for about 15 years and then boards a few years ago. He approached me after seeing Herring riding the most extreme banana in my brother Monty’s profile on Shane.

It’s what Kelly feels. It’s more than just a moment. He feels connected to the banana board from nose to tail. They’re more advanced than what he is. If the best surfer in the world does a turn on a board and it comes underneath his feet with grip and keeps going around in the same direction he was heading but his weight is now over the top of the board, because he’s expecting that turn to be finished but it’s not flattening off it’s still going, well, that’s a good thing. Because it means he’s got more to do!

How do you ride a banana? Forward. Don’t stand on the tail. Stand in the middle. You’re standing in the same place for your bottom turns as you are for most of your carve turns.

But guess what happens. People get on a banana and ride it like they riding a flatter rocker board. You’ve gotta forget about your manoeuvres and just get to know the board by feeling where it fits in the wave. It can ride higher. It can get to places you can’t normally.

Where have I been? The wave pool has been occupying my thoughts since 1999. The process of getting a prototype built is insanely difficult. It’s bizarre to have something you know will be by far the best, and that it will make huge amounts of money for brands and developers, yet the people with the big dollars seem to be doing everything in their power to not invest in my company. Maybe having Kelly as a rival has played a big part in that.

I’m patient and fucking determined.

Misery is letting subtle things get to you.

If I could shape boards for anyone in history, it would be Muhammad and Jesus. I’d make them two boards each, one which does nothing but cause issues like rail grabs and nose dives while another one that glides and carves so well you don’t even realise there was a board under your feet. Then I’d ask them to make sure the religions that they founded will be like the invisible magic board that lets you enjoy what you are doing without knowing why.

You can buy the magazine here, single issues, subscription, whatever y’hot for.