Surfing, still, remains the best addiction to grow old with…
We’ve all seen Trainspotting, the 1996 Danny Doyle masterpiece which details the poetry, romance and degradation of a bunch of Scottish smack addicts.
Begby, Renton, Sick Boy, Choose Life, I chose something else and all that.
Classic, classic scenes which illustrated lyrics from Jarvis Cocker’s Common People about the underclass: “You will never live your life with no meaning or control and nowhere left to go.”
Danny’s 2017 sequel to Trainspotting, T2, looks at the logical conclusions of the drug addict life twenty years down the track.
It was not a pretty sight. Smack-addled Peter Pans do not a happy ending make.
It did make me think of the comparisons with the life committed to surfing and the whole emerging genre of Quit-Lit, which seems to slither out of the swamp of diminishing returns as one ages or becomes entwined in domestic concerns etc etc.
Trainspotting and T2 posit smack addiction as an alternate path to dreary consumer lifestyles, something which the mainstreaming of the opioid crisis has made impossible.
surfing, which walked hand-in-hand with the drug lifestyle for long periods of its history, is now dished up as meat and potatoes to the mainstream. It ain’t rebellion from anything, least of all the trappings of the post-modern capitalist surveillance state. Still, it remains a far better addiction to grow old with. The best ever.
Smack can’t be a rebellion anymore when they dish it out at every pharmacy. The melancholic consequences of that gig are still profound. Doyle said he wanted the film to smack people in the face with their life choices, or words to that effect.
Likewise surfing, which walked hand-in-hand with the drug lifestyle for long periods of its history, is now dished up as meat and potatoes to the mainstream. It ain’t rebellion from anything, least of all the trappings of the post-modern capitalist surveillance state.
Still, it remains a far better addiction to grow old with. The best ever. The consequences of the choice to give it a proper go, a minority of Californian media barons excepted, are mostly positive.
Let me get to the Point.
After consideration, I renounce quit lit. Quit-lit, quite properly belongs to the real drug takers. The smackies, the tweakers, the drunks and chronics. Our opportunity costs are much smaller, negligible even in the modern world.
Crowds are the great bugbear, at least in this part of the world, but my thinking has changed. I remember the day it did. I’d been contracted by Surfer to write a profile on Derek Hynd. They weren’t keen on me because I called them kooks in solidarity with Christian Fletcher over some insignificant matter.
Hynd advocated for me and I got the gig.
Which took me to Noosa Heads on a Saturday morning with head high surf at Tea Tree. Top five crowded wave in the world. I’d avoided crowds like that for twenty years.
First surf minus fins, a hundred people out. Sitting wide and down the line and the set of the day comes in. Took the drop, put the board into a flat spin and put a full body hit on a plumber from Coolum out enjoying a Saturday morning paddle.
If that was you, sorry pal.
A few fun peelers followed. Why should I avoid this, I thought, in favour of headbutting beachbreak closeouts? I went back to the crowds. The better waves. Began to rack them up again. My thinking now: why should we cede the space to the VAL hordes?
I know not everyone thinks that way. But you ain’t going to find solitude in the tub either, if that’s the escape plan.
I look around at the old guys, especially those who quit the gear and kept surfing. Jeff Hakman, Owl, Tommy Carroll; many others.
Those who never got on the gear. Hynd, Greenough, Rusty Miller. Even Old Baldy, despite the farcical displays of hubris. All still shredding.
In the face of that a defiant pessimism seems more anti-depressive, a more triumphant melancholy. And if you get on the end of one, like a little bump now and then, want to expand the horizon with some psychedelics, no judgement either. Thats what we do.
Am I saying quit-lit is dead? It is too me.
Am I saying being a lifelong surfer is a better choice than being a drug addict, even if the life of a drug addict, ipso facto makes for a more “interesting story”.
Why yes, I guess I am.