modern surf culture has become a bunch of flabby desk jockeys bitcching on a internet surf forecast website about "what modern surf culture is" and how much better it was in the past. look in the mirror.
It seems that "surf culture" is becoming more like "urban culture." In the Northeast, and in some places in California, modern surf culture and modern urban culture have a lot in common. It used to be that surf culture was totally unique, having it's own vernacular, attitude, appeal... Now it seems like surf culture shares a lot of it's language and lifestyle with urban culture.
It it just my perception, or is this reality?
If it is a reality, why has this happened?
Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
to answer your question..
urban culture is responsible for the development of gangster rap. Keith Urban is a country music star, but he is from Australia, which is a country known for having pro surfers, beautiful women, and fantastic waves. Taj burrow is also from Australia and people who are familiar with him will usually refer to him just as Taj. This is not meant to be confused with Taz, which is the name for the Tasmanian devil in the warner brothers looney toons cartoon. The actual tasmanian devil is very similar to the new jersey devil, except that he originated from a freak birth in the pine barrens of tasmania; he drinks boags and is a big fan of rugby league. the new jersey devil, on the other hand, prefers to drink keystone light and gamble. Using the fortunes he acquired in atlantic city he purchased the nhl team that now bears his name. In the same way that a hockey player skates over frozen water, a surfer rides over liquid water. Furthermore, in many urban areas of New Jersey, the youngins have no access to a skating rink and neither do they know how to swim. The great corporate giants like quiksilver and billabong, out of the benevolence of their hearts, decided to market hip urban clothing so young ghetto children could feel like the surfers and hockey players that theyve always wanted to be. The corporates used marketing techniques and radical surf movies to promote the surf/hockey player lifestyle. They also contracted tank top and boardshort wearing neo-goons (robots that look like rich white teenagers with tan skin, blonde hair, and zero surfing ability) to drive around in jeep wranglers with boards on the roof blasting reggae music. they did this so the ghetto kids could be assured that it is ok "cool" to wear surf clothes even though not knowing how to surf. in the end, everyone is happy except the old hardcore surf dogs from the internet surf forums, because the forecast for hide was off by fifteen minutes and it totally ruined their sesh bro
I think in the 60's (ish) era when surf culture was being born around the world, there was a more easily defined stereotypical culture that was being developed. But even then, I think, it was very counter culture, not wanting to be locked down by rules and so called cultural norms. Now, the popularity has spread so far that it becomes harder to define, because it has reached such diverse populations. Anyone who has traveled to surf in a different state, let alone a different country, will recognize how each surf vibe in and out of the water is a little different.
Two observations about the convergence of urban and surf culture. 1. I went to the premier of a surf video in Brooklyn--Brooklyn!--which in itself is kind of strange. But the people there were Brooklyn-hipster-surfers. I didn't know there was such a thing. The other thing is that there are surf shops in Manhattan. The Quiksilver in Times Square is not really a surf shop, which I guess is telling. Its a clothes store that plays surf and snowboard videos. But in soho, theres a shop that's more of an actual surf shop. It's bizarre. I don't really know what to make of these things, I'm just passing them on....
does the sale of t shirts and surfing kitch help fund and elevate better gear for us to use in the water? if more kids in utah wearing oneal t shirts help fund better wetsuits i am all for it. interest is a good thing. without it the craftsmen that make boards would be doing other work having nothing to do with surfing. if that happens real talent would be wasted somewhere else. the sport needs to be funded to exist.
I have seen what the lack of interest can do to a group. classical painting and sculpture has suffered because of the lack of painting and sculpture commissions in the past 20 years. things like lead white paint, soap tincture, and quality materials are disappearing making my life as a artist more difficult.
that could happen in surfing if you get rid of all of the urban, hipster elements that keep some interested in surfing as a style sense. in no way am i being a contrarian. i completly understand all of your sentiments.
I'm more confused now than before this thread started... is there no surf culture, as some have said, or multiple surf cultures?
I am interested by what somebody said (at least this is my interpretation) about there being a sort of "media culture," created for normal people to relate to, and a far less appealing "core culture," for lack of a better term. Attached to the media-created form of surf culture are expensive, stylish clothes, movies and tv shows that target general audiences, music (although not so much anymore... think Beach Boys), and the good ol' "surfer dude" image and lingo. This culture is good for the economy, and makes people feel good about what they wear, how they look, and makes them feel like they're part of something "cool." In this culture, styles change... fads come and go... and the endless cycle of creating, producing, buying and selling is perpetuated. Many in this group surf. Many do not.
Then there's the much smaller core surf culture... nothing new there... it's the same as it's always been, deeply rooted in the simple act of riding waves. People in this culture may or may not "rock the same gear," use the same vernacular, and go see the same movies (it is, after all, created in their image), but have a love-hate relationship with all of it. They might even feel confused and conflicted by the powerful messages created by the media culture about what to look like and be like, and their own natural inclination to position themselves outside of it.... "I'm supposed to be different... but in a certain way." This group may be more interested in videos of pro-level surfing over major motion pictures (Blue Crush), may subscribe to magazines (mostly _ing and _er), probably cares more about what others within this culture think about them than what others outside the culture think of them, is willing to make sacrifices in work and relationships for regular access to waves (especially when it's good), and may have a slightly unhealthy or antisocial attitude attitude toward unfamiliar faces in their local lineups. Many of this group are quick to judge others, fearing others may be more talented or "core" than them (or at least wear cooler clothes) again causing them to question their own identity or ability. Their passion for surfing might make them, consciously or subconsciously, constantly compare themselves to others within the cultural group. Surfing for them is not only a physical activity, but can also influence their emotions... they can get depressed when they miss a good swell or haven't surfed in a while, get angry when they blow a wave or have a confrontation with another surfer, and get an emotional "high" for sometimes days after an exceptional session. Some even call it a "religious experience," or have some other spiritual connection to surfing. the cultural norms of this group are different than the media culture... in fact, the media culture group might not even be able to read the same cues as the core group... and visa versa - Hollister has different meaning to one group than the other. Google it... see what comes. Add "ranch" and see what you get.
Yes... the question I can't find an answer to is are they becoming the same? The SURF fashion industry is promoting the urban image more and more these days. Is this in response to the culture of surfing changing and becoming more "urban" in image, or is the promotion of the urban image by surf companies just reaching out into a new demographic and culture to make more money, and changing surf culture?
IMO, it’s the latter, its just the shameless commerce division of the corpo’s at work. As Deepthroat said, “follow the money”. Quiksilver and Billabong make money selling tees, shorts and bikinis, not wetsuits. They’re attempting to cash in on the increased popularity of surfing as any good capitalist would, trying to push their brand as far as they can………..all the way to Manhattan.
It’s interesting to hear Quiksilver has a store in Times Sq, although I’m not surprised being that the Quiksilver Pro was held in Long Beach NY a few months ago, a chip shot from Times Sq, and had a record $1MM prize purse, and Kelly is being talked about for the cover of SI. I can hear the Ad mills of Madison Ave from here: surfing is cool! skateboarding is cool! you too can be cool even if you can’t surf or skate, all you have to do is wear one of our tee shirts, etc.
I think the surfing fad of recent years (and I think it is a fad) has peaked. As someone pointed out down thread, there is a lot less surf programming on FuelTV than there was a couple of years ago. It may be that the surf co’s already recognize this, hence the urban move. One of the old sayings on Wall $t is: when its on the cover of Time magazine, its time to sell. If I were long shares of Quiksilver or Billabong, I’d be thinking about selling.