From Stab issue 72: What I Really Think About, with Balaram Stack, 22, Point Lookout, NY.
Words by Mimi Lamontagne | Photos by Tom Carey
Throw the morsel of New York into conversation and it isn’t Point Lookout on the eastern end of Long Beach Island that hits the tongue. It’s Manhattan, baby, the unsleeping concrete jungle that gets even Jay Z shuffling his Nike Air Revs.
Balaram Stack’s New York is 45 minutes from the city, if you’re jamming in the subway, but a million miles culturally. Breezy little surf shack-ville versus dolled-up gals and glass towers shearing vertically into the Manhattan sky. Balaram is New York’s best-ever surfer and, after our latest cull, among Stab’s top dozen favs. Let’s hear what percolates his artisan-roasted beans…
Manhattan: It’s my favourite part of New York. This past year I’ve spent so much time there, partying and having the best fucking time. It’s basically the best of both worlds, you’ve got every type of bar, every type of culture, of food. Anyone can find their own spot because there’s so much of a variety of people and places to go. It’s the kind of place you go out dressed to impress, as they say. There’s a lot of talk about Brooklyn, but I think it’s pretty hipstered out.
Montauk hipsters: I’m not about it. A lot of the people from the city go out there and act all yuppy. I have some friends who live out there that are from Montauk and they aren’t even close to hipsters. It’s funny the town gets that rep because people that are really from there aren’t anywhere near that stereotype. It’s right next to the Hamptons and people come act all ritzy, when really they’re just walking around in wetsuit pants.
Jay-Z: I think Jay Z is one of the smartest businessmen of all time and one of my favourite rappers. I really like his new song with Drake called Pound Cake. Empire State of Mind was played on repeat in NY when it first came out, over and over and over again, so it kind of got played out for me. But I do like the idea of it. I definitely can remember some moments from a few parties where it was the soundtrack.
City folk: I was born in Florida, moved when I was almost five, and pretty much grew up surfing in New York. You can get the impression in the city that people are on a mission, going to do what they do or whatever. But if you compare it to California I think that you meet a lot more genuine, down-to-earth people, at least where I live in Long Beach. Everyone is just a bit more up front. I mean, this past year I went into the city almost every weekend and I would love to get a place downtown as long as I could still have my place by the coast.
Fame in the Bagel: I’m not really famous in the city, only in Long Beach where I live. If I was, it would be fucking great. Being able to go to any club you want, bottle service, no lines. The celebrities in this city are living the dream.
Art shows: I like to go drink at art shows but I’d never go to one without complementary beverages. Not my scene, too many hipsters.
The surf media: It’s ok. They’re doing good for the sport, promoting it and stuff, but I think it’s kind of cheesy. It takes away from the sincerity and is getting more and more corporate. That’s better money-wise, but it’s taking away from what the sport is meant to be. Companies like Nike, it’s just corporate money coming into surfing. It might be building the sport but it’s selling it out at the same time.
Mick Fanning: He’s one of my favourite surfers. Growing up, I loved watching his movies just because of how fast he surfs and how fast he goes down the line. A lot of people say he doesn’t have style but I say he has his own style. It’s power, speed and doing those crazy wrap turns.
Localism: It’s good. It keeps your spots to yourselves, just you and your friends, and it doesn’t get out of control where things could get dangerous and you could potentially hurt someone. For the most part, not too many people surf at my break, it’s just a good little crew that we have, so there’s no need to be localised. I don’t really enjoy people coming from the city to surf where we surf so I wouldn’t say I’m the friendliest person to meet when you’re not from town.
Australia: It’s fucking awesome. One of my favourite places to go. I went to West Oz this year for the first time, Margaret River, and it was the coolest place ever. The people were so nice and chilled out, especially compared to somewhere like the Gold Coast where everyone has to go for Snapper every year.
Marriage: I try not to think about it. I mean, if two people are together than they’re together. But as the saying goes, the biggest cause of divorce is marriage. It’s cool, and definitely something I’ll want to do someday, but not even close to anytime soon.
Girls: In general, they’re all fucking crazy. I guess guys are too, but girls over-think the world. Cougars, on the other hand, know exactly what they want, how they want it, and they’ll show you. Take a lesson, girls.
Prescription drugs: They keep me healthy? I only take Xanax to fall asleep on flights. I’ve never done it to get fucked up because every time I take them I just pass out. The people that do use them like that, I don’t know, I guess they just have a lot of energy.
69ing: It’s best to do whatever the hell you want and not hold back. At all.