An Ideological journey

Having been around the surf industry for much of my life one of the intriguing things to me has always been how the next thing is created. Lets face it, much of the industry is not based on true innovation or function, but advertising and nostagia.

Certainly there have been some breakthroughs in surfboard design and even in accessories like boardshorts and wetsuits. However; the vast majority of so called new designs or new accessories are nothing more than gobbly gook designed for the brainless masses of kids and adults who have no identity of their own and want to take on a surfing identity. Usually the identity they take on is not a surfing identity at all, but simply some clever marketer’s creation or a certain magazine’s opinion of how things used to be or are.

Truly one of the best things about the surfboard building end of the surf industry is the mix of characters within it and one of the beauties of this mix was the fact that few of it’s best innovators could care less about getting rich off the boards they build. Not that some of them have not become rich nor that others would not like to be rich, but the majority of the true masters I know build boards because they take pride in their work and enjoy seeing others appreciate it. Each board is it’s own unique creation and those boards seem to have a life all their own to us surfers.

I look at the threads here on swaylocks with pictures of old boards and see the amount of stoke people still have for old designs. It makes you wonder who first ordered the board or how many places the old board was used. Old hanshaped surfboards seem to breath a certain type of magic and my personal opinion is that part of it, is the fact that someone put their own life experience and energy into it. They are created for a purpose, not something to be looked at or hung on a wall. Kind of like an old blacksmith who made handtools. Those old tools even seem to have a magic about them, when compared to the modern popped off machine mass production.

The innovators as mentioned above are the ones that truly stand out and in many cases continue to drive the product forward, but in this age of market share and creating the next new gimick I fear the magic of the old board builder is being turned into simply another marketing tool for some to get rich from at the expense of those being used to market.

The waves upon which we surf and dedicate much of our free time to pursuing will always be there and their magic really comes from above, but this human creation we call surfing that began as a sport of kings and whose boardbuilders were revered has in my opinion been turned into (at least from the industry side) a sport of punks and bubble headed twappies (this term came from a legedary boardbuilder and swaylock member)

The builders who have created this culture with their designs must now fight the machine of industry and the false wave of progress. Taken over by clothing companies that have nothing to do with surfing and surf shop owners who don’t shape peddling their own names on surfboard designs created by masters as if the designs were their own. Made in countries by people who don’t surf, with little regard for the shaper who may have actually created the design they are copying. Functional? Maybe. Magical? Not on your life.

It reminds me of the movie " The decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." At the end of the movie the generals who had taken over Rome because of the corruption, were auctioning to the rich masses the position of Roman Emporer.

It had become something of little value, because there was not longer anything worthwhile to back it up…

alas its all true.

but beyond the quagmire a blossom will occasionally burst from a hidden bud

and spring lithly across the surfaces privy to the concernd and attentive…

there is life beyond the market place… and dandelions in the sidewalk cracks… that bloom and seed when left to their own devices…ambrose… let Velzy have some balsa…please

Meanwhile , in other areas of the world than media land, [Sung to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ ] …

Now a jolly shaper, not sponsored by Billabong , under the shade of his tarpaulin bay ,

sang as he planed, and laboured on his favourite shape ,

"who’ll come a surfing their next board with me " ?


Ah the vagaries of uninhibited and unbridled youth. Those that nurture will always keep the signal fire lit, that is what separates the masters from the elders, but there will always be those that stoke the fire with what is that I smell? Gasoline? Herb? (the man OR pot works in this instance) OR methane straight from the arse, cyber-terrorists “dirty bomb” of choice. Those cyber squirts are just too pumped up, we could light the city for weeks, maybe months. Me, me, me… Those that see what is happening won’t be able to put out the flames with their meager amount of tears, and as soon as we start talking about the “good old days” woah, pull-out, shut down all systems save for the life-support circuits, morning alarm bell rings I’m out of here, “It’s all about surfing, old-timer.” Just start up the thruster machine and have that order ready in one week or else I’m going overseas with my order, bro. Twitch, twitch, muscle reflex long gone before thought process spins-up the old turbine blades. Or is that grinding sound a few missed gears in that standard issue sports utility gas guzzler? Why call Velzy back, or condescending Jim Phillips to show how balsa really works? Those hand-do guys should just relax and enjoy their milk and cookies or scotch and soda or beer and doobies (or wife and kids) These know-it-all warrior-kings will duke it out and self exhaust in short order, drive through style, yap zoo? Is that light at yonder cave orifice, or is that the girl-band version, kilts for everyone, speed thread rehash circa ought four? I’m just so impatient to hook-up my vacuum pump so I can spin down the rabbit hole, max out the credit card and watch as we push Bert up to the position of I’m so far ahead of you cats, sandwich king. If only he lived here in Newport Beach, not so I could send my “crack” industrial spy team over to steal his booty, but so HE could see what all the first wave Gidget, I’m surfing in my own excrement, gotta have the latest thing, Malibu Barbie, I’m busy at work Ken - me and Monica are designing some suction device thingies - got to work late, Hillary. Kiss the kids for me, love ya. Who’s left to turn in your absence excuse to? Everybody has gone surfing waiting for the loudspeaker announcement about the next magic board that will save their consumer/consumed soul, can I get a freakin anything? Afraid of being labeled? Stick your head in the sea and you’ll see that there are other fishes to be eaten and driven to extinction. Where is the Whale Rider now? At the local store available in DVD. Watch it ya kooks. Hold your tears as tightly as your popcorn box. Marvel at how those fiberglass behemoths are so much like properly plucked heart-strings, only could have been made by a woman film maker, otherwise those whales would be harpooned and measured and carved with initials - Joe Sapien Erectus, Roman Emperor by order of the American Express Visa card - was here… I’m sorry solo but this argument is starting to get old and weathered and unable to paddle out in the winter cold so well, maybe my Tony Horton Beachbody tape will bring me back around with a new shapelier/shaper self-identity.

and the chorus

we’ll go a surfin .wee’l go a surfin, we all’ll go surfin on a new stick today.

aye thet matilda cartoon of the fifties with the follow the bouncing ball format on family night at the AVENUE theatre on San Bruno avenus in the portola district deeply imprinted in my mind makes me want to call up the whole hundred an’ fifty verses and rewrite em one by one to the surfing perspective then mebe I could be adopted by the australian parlimentand forgiven me roots …ambrose…waltzing matilda with you…

"1973: Think of your breath.You inhale atmosphere so thoroughly mixed and rapidly recycled that the next breath you inhale will contain atoms exhaled by Jesus in Palestine, by Ford in Detroit, and by Goebells in Munich. Add various molecules of Strontium 90 from bomb tests and the gasses from chimneys and exhaust pipes. All this enters your lungs and helps your brain think: “How much energy that runs the biosphere can be diverted to the support of a single species: man?”

The question can no longer be treated as out-there in the biosphere separate from everyday habits of Mind. Because we breathe, the question is not a debate between your expanding “inner” consciousness and “outer” awareness of the Earth. Mind process and Planet process have become too close, too inter-mixed, too woven to separate thought and atmosphere, action and ocean, attitude and Earth. - Peter Warshall"

(Penthouse Magazine) - “We’re being deprived, then, of useful and labour-saving inventions?”

(William Burroughs) - "Oh, my God, yes. I was brought up to believe in the tradition that the good products would always find a market. But it’s not in industry’s interest to put out a pair of socks that won’t wear out. The original nylon socks would not wear out…

Industry and government don’t want these products because they would disrupt a very creaky social system. In other words, scientists are producting new inventions much quicker than the social systems can possibly absorb them without great disruption."


Just out of curiousity, is the rumor true that “State of S” and “Dolphin Glide” are not being shown in the U.S. because a potential corporate sponsor wanted to impose computer-generated logos on the sides of dolphins?

Yes folks, another rainy Saturday in southern California.

(Edited for typos)