Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You could be surfing, yeah...

"So which do you like better, surfing or video games?"

He paused, lost in thought.  Seven years old and battered by the blizzard of distractions that make up 21st century life.  iPad games, desktop games, YouTube videos about games.  My nephew's attempts at conversation frequently start with elaborate stories about things that happen in virtual space, and I never have the slightest idea what he is talking about.

Earlier we had gotten a nice hour of ocean time, just down the block.  We had brought our $8 boogie boards and a surf mat.  The authoritative surf website called it flat.  But it wasn't.  We were getting sweet little early morning shorebreak, I was even getting some down the line rides.  I could see by the huge grin on his face that he wasn't thinking about video games.  After a good bit of this I noticed two friends were logging sweet lil peeling rights a little further out.  I couldn't take it any more.

I threw down the Chinese boogie and ran.  I ran across the street and hit up a neighbor for a log.  By the time I got back no one was out.  I must have caught 12 waves in less than 20 minutes.  My nephew, in between whitewater rides, watched.  On the way back the questions began.  This is more or less how the interview went.

When did you start surfing?  Oh, when I was 30.  If I start when I'm 10, do you think one day I'll be even better than you?  Most likely, yes.  Did you start stand up surfing first, or boogie boarding?  Stand up.  Do you like stand up surfing better?  I do, but the most important thing is the waves, what you use to enjoy them is up to you.

We get inside and have a bite to eat.  Sitting at the table, he blurts out: I feel like I'm still surfing. What do you mean?  It feels like I'm still on the waves.  Ah, I tell him, you know what that is, that's a sign you're a real surfer inside.

Later, when he starts in on the god damned computer game babble again, I pop the question.  He answers.  R and I look at each other.  I do a private little touchdown dance in my mind.  Maybe I haven't saved his soul, but now he knows.  I think.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Movie reviews: 1964 vs 2013

Ride the Wild Surf, 1964

I got a job last month shooting interviews for a film about one of the stars of this William Castle surf flick (Tab Hunter).  Though Tab's friends derided it as a low point in his career, I decided it was worth checking out, and actually found it a lot more fun than I expected.

If you can stomach a bunch of clunky scenes, you'll get a rare glimpse at some classic Hawaiian waveriding in the pre-thruster, pre-shortboard, pre-leash era.  See if you can pick out Miki Dora and Greg "da Bull" Noll among the stunt riders sticking heavy drops and getting pitted at legendary places like Pipeline, Makaha and Waimea.  I'm gonna warn ya - the good stuff is intercut with some fake "blue screen" surfing, but thanks to ample legit surfing footage on gorgeous and sizable North Shore waves, they pull it off.  (Available on Netflix)

Storm Surfers, 2013
Now, I confess to becoming a bit of an anti-3D curmudgeon for most movies, but for this big wave buddy surf doc (feat. chargers Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones) it totally works.  How better to display the insanity of the mutant Aussie wave, Shipsterns?  The quality of the 3D is variable (hey, a lot of this is GoPros) but the guys make the most of it by holding the stick-mounted camera behind their heads and mount it on their boards for some unprecedented POVs.  

The end is a bit of an anticlimax as they locate and surf an undiscovered wave somewhere in the Southern Ocean that while large and dangerous, doesn't compete with the earlier footage.  But the movie is full of eye-popping material, not least of which is a hilarious enactment of the happy place Ross Clarke-Jones professes to go in his imagination during heavy wipeouts.  

However, the ultimate shot in the movie for me is looking up from Ross Clarke-Jones' board-mounted camera at his face as he launches off the infamous Shippie's step, and get barreled under it as it in turn is barreled by a 25' wave.  "What could be heavier than [Teahupo'o]?" asks Matt Warshaw in Riding Giants.  If it's anything, it's this.