Only a...gazelle...knows the feeling.
How Do You Classify Surfing?
"Is it an exercise? A sport? A social gathering? Good luck with that, governers. I hope they end up settling on a 'lifestyle' and all get sick dolphin tattoos."
Ed note: the following is the third installment of our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you're into it, subscribe here.
You don’t need to read this degenerate but thoughtful (but degenerate) newsletter to know that we’re living through strange times. But, if you’d like, you can read it for a little respite from that.
In the past few weeks, governments around the world have been trying to solve an existential crisis we’ve been grappling with for years: How do you classify surfing?
Is it an exercise? A sport? A social gathering? Good luck with that, governers. I hope they end up settling on a “lifestyle” and all get sick dolphin tattoos.
Just over a week into my region’s ban on surfing, I would do unspeakable things to be allowed just a twenty-minute session at a knee-high closeout right now. I would muster up pitiful windshield wiper turns and, for some reason, feel exponentially better upon coming in.
How do you classify that?
How does that even work?
Anyway, let’s get into it. As always, we’ll start with Stab’s most-read stories of the past week. Shockingly, they were related to COVID-19. But here’s the problem with that: I’m not having it.
One of these first three links will take you directly to the full story. One will take you to a pixelated image of Laird Hamilton wearing a helmet. One will take you to a three-minute film of penguins fornicating — which, to be honest, is an absolute thrill ride. A lot of tension. Many twists and turns.
I’m not joking. Good luck.
Social isolation, it appears, does not entail spending a day on the beach with 29,999 of your dearest friends. You asked for this one, Sydney.
Wondering how COVID-19 is affecting some of your favorite surfers? So were we. And so we decided to call them and roll our conversations out in a series of interviews. With major changes coming to the surf industry, these will be worth keeping an eye on.
Answer for (some) Californians: Nope. Much like our friends in Sydney, a loose interpretation of the term “shelter in place” brought surf-specific bans in some parts of the state.
Can we yell at each other now?
The most popular source of controversy lately has, of course, been this virus. But I understand you may need to get angry about something else. I recommend this article to anyone who’d like to take their mind off things by engaging in politically-charged arguments that lead nowhere with strangers.
What are we watching?
Want to see some surfing? Well, you came to the right week. Lap our site for everything worth viewing — like a few much-needed hits of John John or a short Imogen Caldwell film by Morgan Maassen, which was previously teased in this newsletter.
Beyond that, there’s been a trend of re-releasing old content to help people get through quarantine. If you’re reading this, you’ve already received a Stab email featuring some of our finest recent films (sent a few days ago). The WSL is airing archived events. Tanner Gudauskas should be considered a hero for his daily stream of core surf VHS tapes.
But there is one revisited piece that shines above the rest: The Decline Of Surfing Civilization from ...Lost.
From chop hops to drunk people tackling trash cans, this film is a true cultural experience.
What does it mean when someone says we’re all in this together?
In most cases, it means that a person or organization is performing the bare minimum to serve your interests but wants to make it seem like they care. Here, it means we can come together for a laugh or some entertainment.
Last week, I asked how people were spending their quarantine. My email ([email protected]) has been slid into by readers using their time to get creative. While I can tell you that surf journalism requires the very serious credentials of absolutely nothing, I encourage you to scratch the itch if you have it.
Get funny, get deep, do whatever. I’ll share it here unless you’re, like, horribly racist. This week, we’ve got:
Forgive the aesthetic displeasure of Google Drive — it seemed like the best option. And thanks, everyone. I truly appreciate it.
One last thing:
I hate running. Truly despise it. After decades spent trying to manipulate 6-or-so feet of encapsulated foam into departing from and landing back on waves, my knees and ankles do not approve of it.
I currently have to hand-write, date and sign a note each time I want to leave my house and going for a run is a legal excuse to do so. So I’ve been running. For the exercise. For the fresh air. And to be honest, in this bizarre circumstance, I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever have before. But at the same time, I’ve never felt more disconnected from it.
Can you imagine if that was your thing? The monotony of it appalls me — and makes me so grateful to be able to do what we do.
I love how complex surfing is, how the momentary junctions of wind, water, reef, sand, board, body, mind, etc produce a wild range of results that are invariably better than anything an algorithm is capable of throwing at us. Sure beats running.