The ...Lost Generation: Cautionary Tales And The Supporting Cast
Matt Biolos on the "varied misfits, madmen and monsters that made up the seminal days of …Lost."
Without the varied misfits, madmen and monsters that made up the seminal days of …Lost, we would have never had a chance in hell at making any sort of impact or headway into the bro brah, too cool world of the surf industry.
Mike Reola and I were both outsiders and we knew we had to really cause a scene. The cast of characters is long. Surfers like Chris Ward, Strider, The Fletcher family, Archy, The Irons and Lopez Brothers, Beschen and Dino.
Friends like Timmy Patterson, Mark Gabriel, Joe "jim" Rich, Jason Kenworthy, Dicko and the Eichsteadt brothers to name a few.
Then there were the radical bunch: Flip, Volland, Trip, Barry TommyNig and LSDave, Gilligan, Vince, Chris Orr, D-Ray, Kawika Urso and others who added rowdy, compelling edge to our antics. In later years Mason Ho almost single handily brought back the fun, and our return to form.
Stab tossed a few key names at me and asked for my immediate thoughts/responses, and took the time to cut some of our film’s most memorable moments.
Cory and Shea Lopez
Cory and Shea grew up on the Gulf of Florida, along with Reola. Mike knew
them from all the East Coast contests, etc.
Once we had the …Lost house established, they were always surfing Lowers, and it was kind natural they started hanging around. I think Taylor Steele was not interested in them for some reason, and we would film them.
Shea knew we could do something together. He saw ...Lost’s potential, early. He was a big part of our early strategic late-night talks. He also helped me learn to surf. I clearly remember him saying to me "Now that you're making boards for, and surfing with guys like us, you need to learn how to surf."
"I do know how to surf!"
"No," he said, "I mean learn how to surf!"
It was condescending and arrogant, but true. I needed it.
Cory just wanted to hang out and surf with Wardo. He knew Ward was special. He pegged himself to Chris and he knew if the two of them surfed together, they would push each other and achieve what they wanted. Chris is not the easiest guy to hang with. I give Cory a lot of credit for putting up with plenty of Chris' antics. It all came together though.
The Lopez brothers were, and are, really smart guys. I have a lot of loyalty and respect for them.
Both are still good friends of mine; Shea is shaping boards now; Cory is still ripping, and raising little rippers. Our kids are friends, and life is good.
In the late 80's, Randall was a functioning homeless. He worked at the 7-11, across the street from Herbie Fletcher’s (Now Catalyst). We all knew him, from going in there for food and beer, etc. He lived in the "tomato fields" behind the factory, which is now an outlet mall.
No one really engaged him until one night I was working late, painting a big batch of surfboards, and I bought a couple of those little canned cocktails at 7-11. He was getting off work. I invited him to hang out while I painted. I would have been 20, at most. He might have been 30.
He kept me company. He started hanging out, and next thing you know he ends up fired from 7-11, and we had him living in the cab of Jim Nudos’ broken down truck, in our parking lot.
He became the factory mascot. Doing all the clean up and odd jobs, and basically keeping Nudo, the shop/factory owner at the time, entertained. When Reola and I rented the infamous "…Lost House" where we filmed all the antics and ran the business, we moved him into our backyard, and made him "The Butler.”
He had a long run with us. All The movies. We took him to all the trade shows. Got him hotel rooms. In the heyday, we even paid him a solid salary, to essentially do nothing. We took pretty good care of him—tried to get all his teeth fixed, kept him healthy; tried to train him to do real work, etc... But the outside influences and hangers on from the dark alleys of surf culture, they all grabbed onto him. Everyone wanted to "party with Randal."
But he ended up going dark. I have not seen or heard from him in years.
John "Robo" Robertson
Robo was also a great kid. Great demeanor, when he was young. He's witty, funny. Once again, he was easy on the eyes, but didn’t draw attention from the big companies, and Reola knew he could make good content with him.
He really got our vibe and our story. Beautiful surfing technique—classic, relaxed, Californian, like Curren/Ward/Reynolds/Colapinto.
We have drifted apart and I think he could have made some better choices over the years, but I love him. Robo is also shaping boards now, although I think he’s slowed down a bit in the last year or two. A few years ago he was making a pretty good push. He can make something happen still.
Crimo. Poor guy. If Stab High was 25 years ago, he would have won!
Crimo could do everything that Noa did in that comp, but on real wave, and usually without his hands.
But really, after the videos with him and Matteson doing all those crazy airs and shuvits, he ended up down a dark rode.
Full face tattoos and even worse stuff. I did not talk to him for well over a decade. He’s since got most of the ink surgically removed from his face and I hear good things about him. In the early years he was always humble polite and thankful. He was really a sweetheart of a guy.
GILLIGAN: David Paul "Gilligan"Gilgen.
I showed up in 1987, and he was already the most spaced-out human I'd ever been exposed to.
Gilligan lived in an apartment in the low-rent, Northwest end of town, above 204 and Mariposa Beaches. You'd see him walking along, carrying an old, neon pink, early '80's TnC, back and forth to the beaches between Pier and 204's.
He was really fit, rarely wore a shirt (and never a wetsuit) even in winter. He was perma-tan, always stuck to himself and if you made idle chatter with him, it took only a moment to realize he was pretty far gone.
My first friend in San Clemente was Bill "WD" Woodcock. Bill was raised in the Northwest streets and knew more details than most of the various inhabitants. Bill says "Gilligan's mom was injured while working, and got taken care of by the State. Doctors had her pumped up on high level barbiturates, sleeping pills, and assorted other over prescribed painkillers. David would mix and match. and crush them up, making his own drug cocktails."
The result was some sort of hallucinogenic permanent brain damage. Evidentially, according to Woodcock, "He was "into Bathtub Meth, before most people even knew what that was".
I’ve also heard stores from older locals that David went to San Clemente High, and was a typical surfer. Brian Clark (older SC shaper and shop owner) showed us David’s SC High school photograph. He told us David went crazy eating "wildflowers" along the Trestles trail.
In the mid '90's, when we started filming the videos, he had gained a lot of weight and became this sort of Cro-Magnum man. He'd have these random, hopelessly too-small old boards, and walk all the way to Lowers, holding them with one hand, by the rail, shoeless, shirtless and hunched over like a caveman. He'd paddle out, catch a wave, paddle out…riding mainly white water waves to the beach.
Then he’d get out, bronze on the beach a bit and walk all the way home. At home, he'd cut them down, "re-shape" them (not so unlike Tom Curren) and do it all again the next day…day after day, until the board was a small as a hand plane.
It takes a good two hours to walk barefoot, along the train tracks, from 204 to Lowers. If you were on the beaches of SC during this era, there was a four-hour window to see him stomp by. Completely in his own world, but if you approached him you could get a few words out of him.
That’s exactly what Brian Meehan did one day. Brian was a good surfer from the area and a primary player in the surf video scene during the 90's and early 2000's. One fateful day, during the filming for What’s Really Goin' Wrong, Brian approached Gilligan, while bronzing after his one-wave Lowers session. The following interview (embedded above) is a thing of legend.
A few years later I rented an apartment right across the street from David and his mother. I'd see him daily at this time. He was grossly overweight, and no longer carrying fragments of a surfboard. He'd walk up to the grocery store and buy supplies for his mother with food stamps. I'd always wave and say Hi, but he wasn't really talking much any more. "Ok, I gotta go" he must have said every time I’d approach him.
During this time, a friend of mine, Tony Burton, told me and old story: "We were out fishing some kelp beds on our boat. At least 2 miles offshore, straight out from the Pier. It was getting late in the day and we see this big object moving towards us slowly.
As it gets closer, we realize: it’s Gilligan! He's completely naked, swimming, while pushing a surfboard along, in front of him. His board shorts were up on top of the board.
We called him over to the boat, offered him food, water….a beer, and most importantly a ride in. He turned down everything. "No. Thank you. I gotta go now" and he swam off on his own."
In 1999, I left the apartments and bought my home where my family lives today. I can’t really remember seeing him again. We all heard about 10 years ago that he had a heart attack and died. No one that I know really knows much more about him, or even his mother.
Aaron Cormican, aka "Gorkin"
Reola found Gorkin through David Chambers and the New Smyrna crew. Gorkin has cat-like reflexes and was skilled like a Taj Burrow, and dare say a bit of Toledo.
Business-wise, for us, as one of the smaller brands, trying to compete for athletes (in apparel) he was a near world-class talent, for an affordable price. He was really part of our crew for a good run.
We traveled and had a lot of fun together. But in-spite of some thing like 4 ESSC wins, Gorkin didn’t have the mental game to travel the world and really cut it on the WQS.
While he might have been held back by other issues, one thing about Gorkin was he was intellectual on certain levels. He loves to read. Deep thinker. I like him a lot. He's building boards in NSB and still ripping.
Chicken was the Class Clown of Salt Creek. I met him in the early 90's nightlife scene, between San Clemente and Dana Point. He’d spend his days on the beach at Creek and nights at the bars and clubs. It was Mark "Scabs" Gabriel who really saw the beauty in him and brought him down to our place when our thing started happening.
So for the first two movies we made, I built a set, and lighting, and Reola filmed him doing all those ridiculous intros. He rode that "fame" for a decade. He was living on our couch when Bradley and the guys from Sublime started showing up. They fell in love with the buffoon, and took him in as a mascot of sorts.
Chicken and I wrote that "What’s Really Goin' On" song together. We used it for the intro of WRGO, then Sublime recorded it with Chicken and Bradley on vocals, changed it to “What’s Really Going Wrong" and we used it for the opening of that video.
After Brad OD'd, the record companies rushed out some posthumous releases. They put the song on Second Hand Smoke and it went Gold, then Platinum.
They gave us a Gold record. Like the ones you see all the Rock Stars have on the wall. We had it at the house. Someone in Chicken’s family, over in England died, and left him a modest estate. He took the Gold record and ran. Never seen him since.
DUSTIN RAY: "Central Coasts Finest"
Dustin Ray, aka "D-Ray", hailed from the wild Central CA Coast. He and his crew were a long-running, important part of our early days. Dustin himself was a living breathing cartoon. I met him surfing Shipwrecks, in Cabo San Lucas, in the summer of 1993. He was camping on the beach, for weeks on end, surfing all day. A raw and reckless mad man of a certain skill level in the water.
I fell love with him instantly. He was the first surfer who really inspired me as "surf/character," who fit the ..Lost mold—Surf All Day/Party All Night.
In Fall of 1993, we did our first couple attempts of trade shows. My buddy, Bill Woodcock had a gig working for Herbie Fletcher, editing his later period surf flicks. Herbie let Bill and I edit a short marketing video to play in our very first trade show booths. The stars: Strider "Raspberry Wasilewski (at Pipe no less) and D-Ray, in a hodgepodge of assorted sloppy clips that Dustin brought down of himself manhandling assorted waves up in Central CA.
I clearly remember Kelly Slater coming by the booth, to complain about a parody featuring him, that we ran in the surf tabloid, Beach Happy. As I talked Kelly out of his anger, he kept staring off to the video screen behind me, finally pointing up during the D-ray clips and asked "Who the heck is that guy?"
Dustin had arrived!
As time went on, Dustin and his cohorts were coming down each summer, grabbing boards, surfing warm South swells, partying and just being young and wild.
Over time Dustin disappeared and was not really around for a few years. Half a decade or so since we first linked up, he and a new, younger crew of Central CA sidekicks started coming around, again.
They came with two fists loaded with impressive Central Coast video antics, which ended up making strong segments in our videos like LAA-V1 and LAA V2...THE DECLINE. At this time Dustin even moved into the …Lost House for a stint.
Mike spent a lot of time pulling some beautiful interviews, which showcase Dustin’s natural, humble innocent naivety, and just enough ripping to put together presentable clips.
The thing was, there was already damage done. Dustin was, for the most part, subservient to alcohol, and I suspect hard drugs, by then. He and Mike made a couple epic sections which we tracked to some hilarious songs, like "Goin' to Rehab" by Z-Man and Corn Doggy Dog. I remember Dustin ended up with a significant other and had a couple kids. He was working to support them, but the demons had set in.
In the end, he too succumbed to addiction and was found dead of an overdose. I don't even recall what drugs got him. This one was really sad, as Dustin was a humble, loving, friendly and gorgeously animated human, who I never once saw angry or bitter.
He was a father and a friend, and pretty damn good surfer, as well.
I met Kasey surfing at Creek, and building boards for all his buddies who were not quite good enough to get good deals from a real board brand.
Kasey rode for Channel Islands, and was part of our crew, but after a few years of injuries, he was no longer on the path of a surf star, so he came to the Dark Side.
We became really good friends for a lot of years. I would stay with him in Hawaii, in the mid to late '90s. Hell of a power surfer. Ripped the North Shore for a good stint. Could nail sections in our videos and nailed the covers of mags.
When he moved back to CA, he lived with us, in an apartment below my house. He has a wife and kids and makes a living as a rep. He should be proud of what he pulled off, as a surfer, in spite of overwhelming injuries.
LS-DAVE: "An Environmental Message from…Lost"
Most all of this is from the very vivid memory of Mike Reola.
"LS was from Austin, Texas—moved to Indialantic, Florida and hung out with Trip Freeman, Barry P. and the Spectrum Surfboards crew.
He stands about 6'4, rail thin and speaks like like a soothing, Southern Baptist cult leader. He could talk Eskimos to pay for snow.
He'd stroll the beaches of Central Florida and tell people he was hired to beautify beaches by picking up trash for Wendy's, just to break the ice with girls.
When we met him, he was living in a broken down motorhome on the side of Spectrum Surf Shop, with his supermodel girlfriend and a garden hose for running water.
He moved to Hawaii, hung with Pete Matthews and Trip, in some apts by Waimea. At this time, we barely knew him, other than he was from Mars—it’s what everyone said. LSDave says it all.
He'd be at the Surf Expo, in Orlando, and sit in the women's bathroom posing as the attendant, getting girls to come to our after parties somehow. He came to San Clemente with a female mutt (dog) that he forced to surf, and a brand new Radio Shack cell phone, announcing "International Majica Day.”
Our home/offices/warehouse (1523 Calle Valle) became his World Headquarters. We were faxing a loop of 20 taped together propaganda pages, to places ranging from local news stations to the White House to the Tokyo Tennis Club.
"Bigger news than the Kennedy assassination" he would say. We were making the calls and having fun with it. Malia Majica Mohammad Budweiser IV. The baddest surfing dog this side of Hawaii. Malia cuz she's Hawaiian. Pronounced Majeeca or Majica/Magica depending on if Spielberg or Disney got the rights. Mohammad to satisfy the Turkish investor interest. Budweiser cuz she loves beer. IV cuz she's royalty.
Interestingly Dave had met and gotten Adam Masuda, a Japanese/American Businessman, to sponsor Majica, complete with her own limo, ticket to Puerto Escondido and clothing line. (There was actually a full color catalog of the clothing line).
Dave came to us and said he had someone interested in acquiring our Japan clothing business. We were sitting there wondering what to ask for, and called Alistair, from Santa Monica Airlines, for some advice. He said to "get guaranteed minimums and deposits.”
We thought it was likely a total joke, as LSDave had brought them to us. So we said what the heck, and made a ridiculous list of demands, chuckling as each got more and more ludicrous:
-10 grand? No, make it 50 grand security deposit, quarter million dollar minimum... per year.
- 200 piece minimums per style
- a 50% deposit on all orders, COD upon delivery
- $ help with a …Lost team and marketing fund.
They agreed to everything and cut us a 50k check the next day.
We paid Dave and his buddy a 5k finder’s fee, and suddenly had the ability to finance our whole operation and satisfy our clothing factory minimums.
This summer, 20-something years later, he rolled up to the surfboard factory in the most obnoxious, hand spray-painted, barely street legal mini van, with Barry Pazonski in tow. Like a scene from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” they manically chatted and paced around for an hour or so, while I stood there, dumbfounded and covered in foam dust, before they sped off.
I shot a photo, and did an IG post, for posterity.
He was last seen with a modest sized Motor Sailer he named "The Liar", like in the old ...Lost Surf Camp cartoon poster, sailing from city to city on the East coast and married a hippie artist girl from Ohio.
CHRIS ORR: "Fuck you Timmy Curran"
In the early 90's there was two groms in SC that stood above the rest, one being Chris Ward, who went on to become internationally famous (and also infamous), and the second was Chris Orr (eerily close in pronunciation to Chris Ward).
Orr was the younger of two brothers growing up around the San Clemente Pier. By the time young Chris made my radar, his natural ability was already pushing him to the top of the grom crop. Smart, wickedly quick-witted and mentally open to his surroundings, he was beyond his age in intelligence and awareness of the world around him.
Well, before we managed to persuade Ward and his management team to come over to …Lost, Chris Orr was the hottest local kid I made boards for. It’s safe to say that he was raised by a hard-working, but low income, single mother, making all the things so common in the current grom surf world more difficult to attain.
We'd make him boards for whatever his mother could afford to pay, even if less than our cost. I'd take him up to surf Salt Creek and Strands and he would run around and hang out at my shaping room. He did the So Cal grom comps and placed well.
The thing is, San Clemente Pier, and SC in general, at that time was a lot different than today. The dark and seedy side side of things was right on the the surface. Of all the beaches in town, the Pier was where the freak flags flew. Although he was featured in the grom segment of Momentum-3, by the time we signed Ward, and began make the following videos, Orr had seemingly already burnt out and was no longer a consistent presence in the local comps or even on the beach surfing daily.
We heard he was "partying" more than anything. In those days, before the rampant gentrification of Southwest SC and influx of White bread (or should I say white-bred) Talega, transformed the town, it was much more common than now for kids to go astray.
Anyways, by the time we were two vids in, while filming for What’s Really Goin' Wrong, Orr had seen the rise to stardom that his old pal Ward was going through and something clicked in. He wanted to be a part of it. He'd been going really hard. Harder than anyone realized. When he came by and borrowed some boards he looked damn near a decade older than his actual age. The whispers were true.
Reola filmed his surfing a couple sessions at Lowers. He came and hung around the house a few times and Mike kept the camera on. Chris had long since had a passion for the all things punk rock and between that and my days supporting him as a contest kid, we had common ground enough for him to still be comfortable with us.
Between those couple Lowers surfs (resplendent in Liberty Spikes) and one raucous evening, Reola captured enough to create one of my favorite all time video "sections.” We took this one serious and actually studied episodes of "MTV-Sports" and in-depth mini docs, that they were airing in the same time. We tracked the section to the ultimate Orange Country tale of dejected suburban youth "Kids of The Black Hole" by Adolescents (a masterpiece of its own).
Afterwards, Chris sank deeper into addiction and intermittent homelessness. I do remember him coming around, high and trying to con my then girlfriend for a ride to score. I was so angry with him that I shoved him around and threatened to kick his ass. I should have hugged him instead.
I never saw him again. He did manage to hold a job for a while, at of all places, a TILLYs, up in Central Orange County. The next I heard he had OD'd on Heroin, in 2002, after a short stint of attempted sobriety.
His legacy is the segment above.