A lie but a beautiful lie!
I am very excited to watch the Momentum Generation, it’s true, though wasn’t always. When I very first heard of the concept I was dubious. It’s not like the stars of those Taylor Steele films, Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Benji Weatherly, Ross Williams, Shane Dorian, Kalani Robb, etc. had disappeared without a trace. They had each been fixtures in the surf industry, their stories well-known and well understood. What could a modern film about them teach us?
David Lee Scales watched the film at the Florida Surf Film Festival, though, and told me it was great featuring introspection and moments of beautiful tenderness. It won the best documentary feature there, will certainly win many more awards and will also play on HBO on Dec. 11. An early Christmas treat for all.
In any case, I have read a quote from Kelly Slater taken from the film many times now, most recently this morning in a Washington Post story about Stephanie Gilmore and equal pay.
“Surfing was not a career path,” Slater recalled of his youth, in the HBO surf documentary “Momentum Generation.” ‘’It was just something you enjoyed doing.”
The first time stumbling across it I wrinkled my nose. The second time I scratched my head. The third time I said, “Really?” but quietly in my mind. The fourth time I said, “Did Kelly confusingly think he was part of the Bustin’ Down the Door generation?” out loud and thought it very clever but no was around to hear it so I’m typing it and still think it very clever.
Because what the hell?
Kelly was born in 1972, winning every amateur competition at 11, turned pro at 18 and directly won the Body Glove Surf Bout at Trestles which boasted a purse of $100,000 after which he signed a six-figure deal with Quiksilver. Not only was there big money in that early 90s surf industry, it had ballooned in the generation proceeding Kelly’s with Tom Curren, Tom Carroll, ’89 World Champ Martin Potter, etc. each making a good living out of nothing but surfing.
It certainly was a career path and a well-established one at that.
Kelly’s revisionist history makes me smile, though, because it proves the “surfing as rebellion” narrative is still tucked somewhere in the folds. I don’t doubt that he really believes it wasn’t a career path for him because that makes surfing like accounting, computer programming, dentistry or any other career path.
Something you have to do.
No, surfing is a passion, man, a feeling that moms and dads and the system just don’t understand and I am very much looking forward to The Brother Movie airing on HBO in 2030 where a grey Kolohe Andino looks at the camera and says, “Surfing was not a career path… it was just something you enjoyed doing.”
Viva the rebellion!