The Roundup: Literary Legends Edition

29 01 2010

Two classic books. Rest in peace J.D. and Howard.

The Roundup is a compilation of recommended clicks this week in the world of surfing and beyond. If you have any suggestions, links, tips or want to donate product to support a hungry blogger email me at I take gov’ment cheese and American Express. 

“That was the biggest thing I’ve seen anyone paddle into, ever.” – Nathan Fletcher on Sion Milosky’s bomb. Daniel Russo was there.

Why don’t we get drunk and blog? “All these Top 44 sickos do mad shit that is kept behind the scenes and it shouldn’t be.” Dion Agius tells it like it is.

Bruce Irons is going to surf the Snapper contest and he might just be my hero after reading this Charlie Smith profile. Excerpt: “Bells? It’s a fucking novelty wave that was ok back in the ’70s on those shitty boards.”
(Stab Magazine

A fantastic interview with a true legend of surfing…David Nuuhiwa.
(Liquid Salt

Remember when Tracks Magazine had balls? Kirk Owers thinks 2010 will be the best ASP World Tour ever. After last year it couldn’t be any worse.

Kelly Slaters’s newest board design is inspired by racing boats?
(Surfer’s Village

Does this look like wild parsley to you? 
(Sanford and Son)


Video Time Machine: Searching for Tom Curren

28 01 2010

The following video is from the Sonny Miller’s classic Searching for Tom Curren. In this particular section, shot in Bawa, Sumatra, Curren ditches the gun for a 5’7″. As far as I know this video is not available on DVD. If you own a VHS copy consider yourself lucky. Enjoy.

Full Circle: The Taylor Steele Interview

26 01 2010

My first job in high school was at a little surf forecasting/reporting outfit in Orange County called 976-Surf. This was before the Internet boom and surf cams were just being introduced. My job was simple. I’d check conditions and relay them back the office by telephone. They’d then transcribe the conditions into pre-recorded messages. Surfers could call in (for a few dollars a minute) for the report.  That was long time ago. Things have changed quite a bit since then.

It appears I’ve come full circle. That company is now called Surfline.

Recently, I was able to track down filmmaker Taylor Steele and interview him about his user-generated video project titled Innersection.

You can read the interview here.

Food for the Soul

25 01 2010

It’s no secret President Obama is an avid bodysurfer and grew up in Hawaii. Unless you are one of those brainwashed Fox News watchers, then you most likely believe he’s not an American citizen and spends his free time burning Old Glory and wiping his ass with the Constitution. But President Obama was not the first president to enjoy the sea. Many of them did. For instance, President John F. Kennedy was a sailor and spent much of his free time on boats on the Eastern seaboard. Well, when he had the time in between bagging Marilyn Monroe and trying to keep the Soviets from annihilating us.

I enjoy the fact that arguably the most powerful man in the world is a surfer. I am of the opinion you have to be an inherently corrupt person to be elected to high office in this country. Or at the very least, your soul is swallowed by a tapeworm along the way to the top. It’s the way politics work in America. But, at least we know, because he’s a surfer, his soul is not completely tarnished by the Washington political machine. And I sleep much better at night because of it. Surfing is food for the soul. And she has a healthy appetite.

H/T to

Three’s Company

21 01 2010

For the greater part of three decades three surf companies have dominated professional surfing in terms of event sponsorship money and world titles. Nugable takes a closer look at the situation.

Most sports have Nike and Reebok. Surfing has Quiksilver, Billabong and Rip Curl. Since 1982 only four surfers have won the ASP World Championship without one of the Big 3’s stickers on their board (Barton Lynch/Instinct, Derek Ho/Gotcha, Martin Potter/Gotcha and CJ Hobgood/Globe). Since 1990 it has essentially happened twice.

It leads one to wonder if there’s a conspiracy and whether or not a surfer not sponsored by Rip Curl, Quiksilver or Billabong will ever win a world title again?

“I think the answer is yes,” says veteran Australian journalist Tim Baker. “I don’t think there is a conspiracy. Have a look at event winners over the past few years and there is not a high incidence of surfers winning their own sponsor’s events. It happens here or there, Parko at J-Bay, Mick (Fanning) in Portugal, but not enough to suggest a conspiracy, and there was nothing contentious about those wins. It would be a bit too obvious anyway and I think ASP head judge Perry Hatchett is a man of enormous integrity.”

The last time a surfer not sponsored by the Big 3 won the title was in 2001 when Florida’s CJ Hobgood took home the crown in a season cut short by the tragedy and uncertainty of the events surrounding 9/11.

“I was the last one to do it, but mine doesn’t count,” said former ASP world champion CJ Hobgood. “Look at any sport…golf, tennis, etc.  I mean when was the last time a world number one in golf or tennis wasn’t sponsored by Nike or maybe Adidas? (When) you have the most money it’s pretty easy to get the best athletes.”

Looking back, 2002 was the turning point for the ASP when the majority of the events (8/12) main sponsors were one of the Big 3. Since then the Big 3 have essentially controlled the ASP’s World Championship Tour. In 2010 they account for 8 of the 10 events.

An oligarchy is a form of power that effectively rests with a small, elite group of inside individuals. It can be argued that the ASP operates as a corporate oligarchy. Behind the scenes there are always people who complain about surfers getting “pushed” in heats.

Transworld Surf editor-in-chief Chris Cote suggests there is a morsel of truth to that argument. “I don’t think it happens often, but I think the judges, just like the media, get caught up in the hype and push the ‘it’ guys through sometimes.”

Let’s face it, today there are only a handful of surfers with a realistic chance at a title—Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Bede Durbidge and Taj Burrow. All except Durbidge ride for the Big 3. The current number-three in the world was recently picked up by Fox when his primary sponsor, Mada, went belly up.

There is no question the large surf companies do a fantastic job of signing, finding and nurturing talent. Just look at the junior’s scene today. Owen Wright, a 2010 WCT rookie, is a Rip Curl Team rider, as is 16-year-old Brazilian phenom Gabriel Medina.

“The big companies have the resources to get the best guys,” says Cote. “It used to be kids would come up riding for smaller companies, and then get snatched by the bigger companies. Now you see big companies like Target and Nike snatching up kids from the biggest surf companies.”

A perfect example is the recent signing of 9-time NSSA national champ Kolohe Andino by Nike. He bolsters an already impressive lineup of young Nike surfers that includes Dusty Payne, Nat Young, Kai Barger and Michel Bourez. Yesterday, Target also signed the up-and-coming San Clemente teenager. He joins Carissa Moore on team Target and more surfers will surely follow.

Baker suggests subtler forces may also play a role. “Yes, these companies do a good job of picking up the cream of the talent pool, but they also do a really good job of marketing those guys and showcasing their surfing in video and photos, so that we all get a slightly elevated view of their prowess compared to their less-well sponsored peers. If, say, Tom Whittaker was sponsored by one of the Big 3 he would be a lot more visible and we would all be more firmly convinced of how hard he rips. I think this even unconsciously can rub off on the judges at times and get the high-profile guys through tight heats. But I think all concerned know if it became a case of obvious bias pro surfing would quickly lose whatever legitimacy it has.”

If you aspire to be a world champ someday, just to be safe, you’d better make sure you sign on the dotted line with one of these three companies. Or at least until Nike and Target take over.

Kampion, Hynd, Warshaw and…Patterson? The Joel Patterson Interview

20 01 2010

There is a column in Surfer called the Hot Seat. I believe Derek Rielly does it now. Well, guess what? It’s your turn now. I’m going to pull out some of those old questions from memory. Give me five people living or dead you’d most like to have at your dinner table?
Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dylan Thomas and Bob Simmons. What a strange night that would be.

Last book you read?
I’m currently creeping through The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer. Not trying to sound erudite or something, just wanted to read a modern classic. It’s lop-siding my night stand as we speak.

Favorite Film?
Lately, Modern Collective. What a film!

Shit. That’s all I can remember. Ok, time for the real questions. How long have you been the editor-in-chief at Surfer and what is your background?
I got the job in September 2008, so just shy of a year and a half. I’ve worked for surf and skate mags most my adult life. I grew up in Newport Beach, where my brother Matt and I surfed and skated. In 1994 I was hired as an assistant editor at TransWorld SKATEboading, where I was lucky enough to get to work with legendary editors and photographers like Grant Brittain, Dave Swift, Aaron Regan, Atiba and Ako Jefferson, Skin Phillips, Kevin Wilkins, Ted Newsome and others.

Over the course of the next six plus years, I rose through the editorial ranks at TWSkate, though I was mostly its managing editor. In December 2000, I became the editor in chief of TransWorld SURF. The publisher at the time wanted someone with skate background who grew up surfing, and I guess I fit that bill. At TWSurf, I worked with Chris Cote, who was a natural talent—funny, smart, creative—Marc Hostetter, Aaron Checkwood, and Steve Sherman, who I think is one of the most important photographers in our little world. We hired Chris’ brother Justin, Casey Koteen, and Pete Taras—all were great hires, and have since made such awesome contributions to the surf community. We did what I called “activist journalism,” meaning we tried to push an agenda—airs, youth, Ozzie Wright, grainy black and white, night fill flash, and generally the ushering in of a new generation of surfers. We felt like the established mags looked down at young people, and it was our goal to push those kids into the limelight because we thought they should be there.

I was fired in July 2006. I had lost the passion for it. I found myself coming up with editorial ideas, and the staff would look at me and say, “Dude, you don’t work at SURFER Magazine, this is TransWorld.” I’m paraphrasing, but it was clear I’d burned out, and though they gave me a graceful exit, it hurt. TransWorld was my grad degree, my family, and finally, my lesson in humility. It gave me a passion for working with groups of young creatives, and building community amongst editors. After that, I spent a year in my sweatpants, doing freelance writing, but feeling rudderless.

Then Dave Gilovich, Jonno Wells, Sean Collins, Marcus Sanders, and everyone over at Surfline gave me new lease by hiring me to be the editor of Water Magazine, which they’d recently acquired. Water was short lived, but getting to be inside the Surfline organization was eye-opening. It’s an impressive business with lots of competent people, and I was in awe of the speed with which their business model evolved, but I didn’t really fit. They worked mostly from home, and the community feel that was so important to me was just not really there. So when Jason Kenworthy whispered in my ear that Chris Mauro was planning on vacating the ed in chief office at SURFER, I made myself a candidate by the end of that day. After about five interviews with Rick Irons, I was hired. That was in September 2008. Since then, I’ve rediscovered that editorial community. I’m once again in the company of several young, smart, cool editors and I love it. To me, it’s all about the people you work with.

Surfer recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Is it a challenge to edit what many consider the most well known and respected surf publication in the world and is it a daunting task to sit in the same desk, so to speak, as Drew Kampion, Jim Kempton, Steve Pezman and Steve Hawk?
It’s a huge challenge, and I came into the job in a much different mindset than I did at TWSurf. SURFER is an institution. It has subscribers who haven’t missed an issue since Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President. Think about that for second. In my mind, it’s one of America’s great magazines—it’s participated in the community of surfing as much as just about any other single entity by telling stories that make the experience multi-dimensional. When I got the job, I didn’t know much about the past editors, but the 50th anniversary was a crash course. Now I see that all of us are shadows of John Severson, the founder. He was smart and liked beautiful photos, and we aspire to that. He’s been gone from the magazine for nearly four decades (he moved to Maui in the early ’70s to escape deadlines and his next-door neighbor Richard Nixon), and a dozen men have done the job since, but his energy is in the DNA of the brand.

Australia’s Tracks Magazine claims to be the “Surfer’s Bible” and Surfer is the so-called “Bible of the Sport.” What gives? There can only be one holy book right?
Those are just words. We don’t sit around in the office and call it “The Bible,” and I’ll bet my saving’s account that Luke Kennedy and the guys at Tracks don’t either. It does bare some resemblance to a holy book, though—it’s old, it’s followed devoutly, and it’s frequently misunderstood. But, come to think of it, there isn’t just one holy book. What of the Koran or the Torah? Different strokes, right?

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
The people I work with. I would say the travel, the time spent with legendary surfers, or the fact that this is the only job I can think of where a two-hour lunch-time surf is smiled upon by management, but really it’s Grant Ellis, Brendon Thomas, Mike Noe, Janna Irons, JP VanSwae, Zach Weisberg, Cody Iddings, Todd Glaser, Kimball Taylor, Jason Kenworthy, Jason Childs, Brad Melekian, Jeff Mull, Sean Doherty, Tom Servais, Christian Beamish, Chris Burkard, Patrick Trefz, Art Brewer, and on and on.

Least enjoyable?
Relentless deadlines. We make 1,000 plus editorial pages per year, and we run four Web sites, not to mention making world tour programs, calendars, a little get-together called Surfer Poll, and lots more. We do a lot of late nights.

Are there any particular stories you’re proud of?
I’m so proud of our August 2009 issue (it’s SURFER’s “Big Issue”), and the cover package we did “The Fifty Greatest Surfers of All Time.” Also, Kimball Taylor’s Flea profile was fantastic and meaningful. My job is to facilitate others’ pride.

It’s no secret print has been in a steady decline for years. In terms of Internet surf-centric sites it seems there’s Surfline and everyone else. It doesn’t seem like the print mags are really making a concerted effort to capitalize on the Internet. Do you think that is a true statement? And if so is it a mistake?
Great question. At SURFER, we do a respectable amount of online traffic (I think we did about 50-million page views in 2009, making us far and away the #2 surf site), and we do it on a limited budget. I could go deep into this topic, but I’ll sum it up by saying that you’ll see Surfline’s unchallenged reign challenged quickly in the coming months. With advertising down, we have our eyes on digital. Look for a sea change in the future.

If you told your high school career counselor you’d be editing a surf mag when you were 38 years old what would he/she say to you?
Well, I grew up in a surf-centric community, so they would probably say, “Can you get me a free subscription?”

It seems Surfer has ran the photo of founder Jon Severson pecking away on the typewriter at San Onofre hundreds of times. Will that photo ever be on the cover?
I don’t know what future generations will do with it. Under my administration we won’t put it on the cover because we just used it in the 50th anniversary issue. I think it appeals more to writer-surfers, because it so beautifully embodies what the job should be. Young man, VW bus, typewriter, shirtless, tan, facing the lineup, board nearby. If you look at that photo and it doesn’t stir something in you, don’t apply for a surf mag editor job…I think it’s a litmus test of sorts.

Every year Surfer has a guest editor issue (which is genius by the way because you can essentially take the month off). If you could choose one person to guest edit Surfer, who would it be?
Well, actually, choosing who that will be IS my job. And to dispel any rumors, we do just as much work on the guest editor issue, sometimes more. Pro surfers aren’t used to the pace and fury of a monthly deadline. Joel Tudor was my choice, and I’m damn proud of his issue. He really brought his world into the magazine. Some people loved it, others hated it, but just about everyone had an opinion…and that’s the goal.

As much as I enjoyed the 50th anniversary issue, I couldn’t help but to notice the similarities between that cover and Playboy’s 50th anniversary cover. Did you realize it’s almost identical?
Yeah, we aren’t claiming originality on that one. Here’s the deal: with all the iconic images SURFER’s run through the decades, how could you boil it down to just one? It’s impossible…we tried. Our goal was to celebrate an important milestone, so why not simply run that?

In the aforementioned issue you stated the current generation of surfers are “the most eclectic group ever.” And you “have Dane Reynolds in his prime.” Twenty years from now do you think Reynolds will be as prominent as say Curren or Dora?
That’s a tough one. I was looking at Dane’s blog ( today and it featured a video of him and his friends surfing near home up in Ventura. His friends are good surfers, but Dane is surfing on another plane than they are. His gift is Curren-esque, and he makes me proud to be a Californian surfer. I think his legacy will depend on his understanding of media, and if that turns out to be the case, I think he’ll find a place with the greats.

After your “tour of duty” at Surfer is over what are you more likely to do and why?
a) Move to France, become a novelist and begin working on a screenplay
b) Work for the Surfer’s Journal
c) Ease into a marketing position at a major surf company
d) Have a three-way with the George brothers
e) All of the above
What’s next is still unclear to me. Right now I’m using all my available energy, brain cells and waking hours to give SURFER’s readers the great magazine they’ve become used to. In a few years, I hope to leave tired and proud. I doubt I’ll leave rich, but that’s not why I took the job.

This Post May Contain Adult Themes, Drug References and Sex

19 01 2010

Tim Baker wants you to help him find the Flow. Pic: Peter Eastway/Surfing World

Veteran Australian surf journalist Tim Baker is writing a novel and he wants you to be a part of it. According to Tim, he’ll be posting his “great unfinished novel” in short installments and he wants the public to help him with comments and suggestions.  

“Hopefully, you might feel compelled to follow, comment or even pass it on to others. I kinda like the idea of having a bit of a conversation about it as I go, like you would about your favourite soap opera. I mean, I have a pretty clear idea where it is going but I’ll take your ideas/suggestions/criticisms onboard as I go.”  

The first installment or chapter of  Flow  chronicles the adventures of  “Camel,” a fictitious head of a major surfwear company who, interestingly enough, likes to “swill huge quantities of piss, take drugs, frequent strip clubs, hire hookers, (and) wallow in this decadent haze into the wee hours.”  

Like any good novelist, it appears Tim has loosely based the story on elements of the truth and his own experiences writing about the surf industry for more than 25 years. But I’m fairly certain the old disclaimer that states “any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental” applies.  

Take a look for yourself and tell him what you think.