“It’s Still Finite Resources, Man”
Letter From The Editor: The Problem With Surfing, Finite Resources at the Surf Ranch, and the week that was.
For the first time in years I’m enjoying the sun rising softly over the Atlantic, bleary-eyed and beat from a midnight flight out of LAX, home in Florida for a few days to see old friends, and ailing family. A quick stop in Cocoa Beach to shape a board or two with East Coast Undergrounder Larry Mayo, and then a few days back on the Gulf, before bolting back west.
Man, Florida’s a trip.
Anyhow. Have you enjoyed our newest Australian voice? Young Jake Embrey came to us from Disqus. He caught our eye with his sharp tongue and quick jabs under the nom de plume of Noa’s Last Dart.
And jab away he has this last week, writing circles around each and every one of us as our youngest Staff Writer, stealing everyone’s attention with his first two installments in our new takedown series, inspired by Maximum Rock & Roll and The Baffler,
When legendary producer, musician, and writer Steve Albini set out to diagnose the sickness plaguing the the music industry, in his ‘90s Culture War classic, “The Problem With Music,” he imagined “a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit… Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end.”
The piece went on the skewer his generation of independent musicians, not for selling out to major labels, but for buying into the raw deals those labels were selling—exploiting, undercutting, holding hostage, and squandering young talent, oft negotiated by likable, veteran scenesters from some of punk rock’s most beloved acts.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first salvos in our new series, The Problem With Surfing, our chance for Stab’s mongrel pack of cultural bloodhounds to sniff out the rott. If we are to be humble shepherds of surfing’s most ragged, raucous, subculturally aware flock, then let us dive into the mess with our Bullshit Meters held high.
While it ain’t quite a stinking cesspool, surfing as a culture has reached a rather odious crossroads. Our beloved is deep in the throes of an identity crisis. Mob mentality mass-market consumerism, widespread environmental damage, and systemic racial, class, and gender gaps continue to plague surfing’s social core, as big-brand resentment and lukewarm, timid small-brand support has kept the industry largely on its knees for the last decade. Meanwhile, the soft focus on the largely mechanized, digitized techno-dystopia has suddenly become crystal fucking clear.
By now you’ve read all about our adventures in Lemoore, fortunate sons each and every one of us. It’s been two months since Captain McIntosh, Mike Ciaramella, Morgan Williamson were joined by our esteemed Creative Director, Shinya Dalbee—who flew in from Sydney for the single-day affair—and descended on the Tachi Casino, nerves jangling the night prior, bellies full of decent Mexican food, considering the locale, and unsure whether it smart to throw back a few whiskeys and try our luck on the blackjack table the night before living out childhood fantasies. Morgan went ahead and drank himself to 45 degree angle while losing $200 dollars in less than 45 minutes.
For weeks leading up to The Day, the four of us independently and separately had done more research than we’d probably admit to each other, triangulating numbered poles with pit sections, speed runs, flat spots for a half-hearted hack. It’s nervewracking, watching the calendar countdown to a dream.
A few days after getting the invite, I called up Lewis Samuels, who I knew had been trying to scam his way into Kelly’s Wave since the day it was unveiled. I’d hit Dave Prodan about whether there was a spot for ol’ Louie, and Dave informed me that Lewis had actually just been, slipped in a few weeks prior on a friends and family day, proceeded to bleed the place dry, picking off each leftover scrap that fell through, capitalizing on every blown left drainer, doing laps on the inside tube section until someone—possibly Kaiborg—had to come out on the Jet Ski and say, more or less: enough.
I called Lewis immediately.
More than Lewis’ remarkably detailed, obsessive appraisal of and instructional on the wave, what I was most surprised by was that familiar, fierce hunger in his voice, as he spoke of his desire for more, more, more of the man-made cylinders.
“It’s still finite resources, man,” Lewis concluded. “I couldn’t help myself.”
The comment recalled a favorite passage from the great dystopian cautionary tale of our time, Infinite Jest: Are we not all of us fanatics? Choose your attachments carefully. Choose your temple of fanaticism with great care. What you wish to sing of as tragic love is an attachment not carefully chosen.
Driving out of Lemoore, lit up bright from the day spent slack-jawed or smiling, shouting at the top of my lungs to fucking goooo, goooo, goooo, I felt a low gloom settle in, a sudden endorphin crash. The come down from Kelly’s wave has not been easy for many who have tasted its delicious-yet-somehow-unfilling simulacra. It has left me starving.
Mikey C. looked pretty good on his Holy Grail at Kelly’s Wave; he and Dooma were both very surprised by Haydenshapes’ new whip (and everyone had something to say about it). Meanwhile, many a well-deserving Central Californian was surprised with a fun few days at The Queen, a much-needed rinse for the area which as taken a thorough beating the last month and a half, the 101 north of Ventura opening up only late last week.
Matt Bromley blew our minds with his regular helping of massive pits, while The Other Guys entertained during the first day of the Volcom Pipe Pro, which John Florence was lucky not to miss, testing 16 new Pyzels six weeks early at Snapper.
Kelly Slater loves beer, Laura E looks marvelous in Louis V., while Jules is looking down for the count at Snapper.
This week, our thoughts are with those close to Pierre Agnes and his family, and to those still dealing with the fall out of the Thomas Fire and mudslides in Ventura and Santa Barbara. Times like these are stark reminders of the thoroughly interconnected web we’re all wrapped up in, here in this little world of surf.
I hope you’ve all been getting in the brine. Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab.
*My, and Morgan’s experience at Kelly’s Wave may have enjoyed a slight psilocybin sparkle to compound psychological confusion, and added a certain surreal, slow-motion quality to the whole affair.
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