Of all the infinite possibilities...
The great Jamie Brisick asked me this one question a few weeks ago for a writing corner he does in collaboration with Birdwell Beach Britches that is worth visiting often. It is a wonderful pairing, the iconic trunk and the iconic surf journalist/writer. Understated, thoughtful, quality. He just released a book of short stories (buy here) which had William Finnegan swooning. I’ve watched their chat (below) three times now, savoring it like a crystal tumbler of fine Siberian vodka with just a twist of citrus.
I’m agnostic when it comes to lemon or lime.
In any case, I spent a fantastic afternoon with Jamie before the summer but we didn’t get around to interview-ish questions as I hogged all the time picking his brain about writing. So he called me, asked me that one question and I rambled like a illiterate fool. Would you like a taste?
I recently spoke with him on the day that he was finishing his forthcoming book, “Some of My Best Friends are Terrorists,” to be released in spring of 2020 on Rare Bird Books. He was stoked to be at the end of a truckload of writing. I had but one question for him: What most interests you in the surf world today? He paused for a second, took a sip of something that might have been vodka, and said this:
“The most interesting thing in the surfing world to me is what surfing is going to become, and is it going to maintain any kind of rebelliousness? Because surfing for me has always been a rebellion against either the culture that I was brought up in, like redneck culture in Oregon was so awful and terrible and I hate it so bad. And my way to rebel against that was just to go surfing everyday, even in Oregon’s hell water. And then down here, it’s always been rebellion— rebellion from all of the Middle Eastern travels, like bringing surfboards to Yemen, Lebanon, even Syria, Somalia, all those bad places. Bringing surfboards felt rebellious. When we were there I think people really wanted some kind of scholastic or scholarly take on the Middle East at that time, and we were like, ‘Fuck this, we’re surfing,’ which felt like a rebellion against academia and against the way people kind of put things in boxes. And then today, surfing is a rebellion against writing or a rebellion against my duties. I have such little time that to pick up the board and go surfing feels rebellious… And then I just see the World Surf League, and the surf media, and all these companies, it feels like a tipping point’s come where now surfing, they can push it into this weird, I don’t even know what it is, it’s a safe space. It’s goobery, mushy, soft, just dumb. Which just drives me crazy. And if we’ve come to the tipping point and that’s what surfing’s going to be, then it just makes me want to kick it in the balls as hard as I can. And so long, long answer, but that’s what interests me in surfing. Can the grumpy local, can the rebel, can the person who feels just that kind of angst that I think we all used to feel and what all pushed us into surfing, will that guy or girl be able to kick what surfing is becoming in the balls hard enough to where we kick it back to be, yeah, just weird again?”
Oh that’s just plain garrulous but true. That’s what most interests me in the surf world today. Can we dig our heels in and stop its gooey slide toward the grand utopian VAL paradise where everyone is equal and all boards are 7’3?
More importantly, though, what most interests you in the surf world today? While you’re thinking, savor this…