Editor’s Note: The following piece was written for Likebitchin.com. Stab Magazine founder and gentleman of leisure Derek Rielly was kind enough to let me share my thoughts on the sport’s Bible.
Surfer turned 50 this year. It seems like just yesterday when they were celebrating 40 years. Who could forget number 40? Remember forty guys? Remember the time when you forgot how to spell forty and splashed the bottom of each page with “Surfer Magazine–Fourty Years.” And, you think the readers didn’t notice did you? Well, we did. But we didn’t care. We forgave you. Just like we forgave you when you sold out, went corporate, and teamed up with sworn enemy Surfing. But, that’s the past.
The cover shot of the September 09 issue pleases. The colors are vibrant. Red juxtaposed with burnt sienna and palm trees in the background. Imagine a smog-laced California sunset, the sky on fire. The reader can make out no less than seven prominently placed logos on Dusty Payne’s Merrick. But, you can’t judge a surf mag by the cover alone.
Let’s start with Curious Gabe. It’s the longest-running feature in the magazine (as far as I can tell), but does anyone really care that Sam George rides an SUP or that some cat named Nole rides an Alaia? If you are going to ask Sam George a question it should be one of two choices. 1) Will feathered-hair mullets ever go out of style? And, 2) Is your brother finished with the script for In God’s Hands II yet? Fuck, let me put down my soy-milk frapp and slip off my Birkenstocks because I don’t want to miss what a 56-year-old PT is riding. I’ll tell you what’s curious — that Surfer dedicates a page of each issue for a feature titled Curious Gabe. I’d rather see anything but a Curious Gabe. And, this includes another Pull In underwear ad or a Scott Bass think piece where he instructs readers on proper ball-shaving technique.
Charlie Smith makes an appearance in the September issue. Sounds promising? The concept is fine. Dangerous surf destinations like North Korea, Pakistan and Somali. Has top billing on the cover too. But, I begin reading and realize this 300-word piece must have been cut with a corporate editor’s axe. Reads like a Penthouse Forum piece edited by a bible-thumping Disney intern. To think Mr. Smith almost made it out of all these war-torn countries unscathed, but it appears Surfer slipped an IED under his bicycle and didn’t even have the courtesy to provide a prosthetic. Hopefully his baguette survived.
The profile of Joel Parkinson penned by former Tracks editor Sean Doherty is pleasant enough, but Parko isn’t the most interesting Australian surfer on the planet. Sure, Parko is well on his way to his first world title, but I nodded off after the third paragraph. I have paper cuts on my forehead and fingers to prove it due to the thinner-than-Shane-Dorian’s-hairline semi-glossy paper stock.
I grew up reading Surfer and I miss her. I miss her dearly. Where have you gone my old friend? When will I see you again? Like Santa Claus riding his sleigh, disappearing into the blistery winter nigh. On! Severson On! Marcus On! Parmenter and Hynd. Never shall we meet again.