What I Learned From 'Andy Irons and The Radicals' - Stab Mag
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Photo by Brian Bielmann

What I Learned From ‘Andy Irons and The Radicals’

A lesson on the most respected surfer from before my time.

cinema // Mar 22, 2021
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Watch chapter one of Andy Irons and The Radicals here.
Watch chapter two of Andy Irons and The Radicals here.
Watch chapter three of Andy Irons and The Radicals here.
Watch chapter four of Andy Irons and The Radicals here.

Truth be told, I never knew much about Andy Irons. My obsession with surfing didn’t kick in until 2012, about two years after Andy had passed. I’d always see the memorial posts in surf magazines and his birthday would bring somber posts into my Instagram feed, but I could never relate.

Andy Irons was before my time. The only thing I pieced together about AI was that he was well-respected, but beyond his surfing, I never cared enough to figure out why.

Some of the only Andy footage I can recall.

I was a teenager, obsessed with the present and focused on the next big thing. I didn’t care about grainy …Lost tapes from the 90s; I was more concerned with the release of films like Jordy Smith’s Bending Colours. Watching clips in anything less than 720p felt like a punishment for my prepubescent brain.

In college, I started to disconnect from the exhausting wheel of pop culture. Everything just started to feel forced— music, movies, etc. I started working my way backward for entertainment. My fascination with Young Thug shifted towards A Tribe Called Quest. I stopped watching Netflix’s latest original shows and found peace in old Tarantino movies. I found cultural contributions I could connect with, despite their age.

Still, however, I refused to connect with the 90s era of surfing. Why would I try to find a …Lost DVD with the entire internet at my fingertips? I haven’t had a CD drive on my laptop since middle school. I couldn’t even watch 5’5 x 19 1/4 if I wanted to. 

A bit of perspective. Photo by Brian Bielmann.

With the release of this Andy Irons and The Radicals film, I had no choice. My orders were to watch each episode of the film and write about what I learned (tough gig, I know). Like I mentioned earlier, I knew nothing; my input for this Stab homework assignment was as unbiased as possible.

For me, this film ignited a leap of faith into a youtube wormhole. My search history from the last few weeks is littered with previously foreign key terms such as “Chris Ward, …lost log cabins, and Cory Lopez Teahupoo.”

I knew of the …Lost crew (hard not to with every surfer over the age of 25 in the lineup flicking their bean to the nostalgia), but I had no narrative associated with the cause.

It was the minute details of Andy Irons and The Radicals that drew me in. I was intrigued by Andy’s struggle to find the right board, despite trying them all. Plus, the fact that he wasn’t tied down to one single shaper was astonishing; any CT surfer caught on the wrong board today is reprimanded accordingly. 

One of these has to work. Photo by Brian Bielmann.

I also enjoyed the bond over the Log Cabins house. Pat’s behind-the-scenes tapes are priceless. Alongside the mental surfing that occurred in the backyard, there was plenty of banter in-between sessions.

Competitive tensions, shit talk, and normal teenage debauchery. I never liked the false positivity in surf culture. The exaggerated levels of “stoke” feel forced.

There’s a camaraderie associated with absolutely shitting on your friends. If I’m giving someone an earful, it’s because I respect them, not because I actually mean what I’m saying. Andy, Bruce, and the rest of the crew seemed to do the same.

Can’t beat good company. Photo by Brian Bielmann.

It was these little snippets that I identified with—not the surfing. 

Andy Irons and The Radicals found the harmony between narrative and surfing, which is not easy to pull off; especially when dealing with high-def conditioned eyes like mine. 

I’m not kissing ass to get a promotion; I found all four episodes engaging and informative. Trust me, it is excruciatingly painful to admit that I have learned anything from Ashton Goggans, but it’s the truth. Well done on the film, fellas, when’s the next lesson? 

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