Is Surfing Hip?

The further surfing trimmed into the mainstream, the less wild it became. Costco had its own line of boards. Chevron and Allstate produced surf-themed ads. People ran shots of akimbo-armed Hollywood stars gamely riding shoreward on their huge beginner boards, while AARP Magazine profiled leathery but spry senior surfers.

In the early 1990s, after a century-long journey, modern surfing’s historical arc began to split in two. By the mid-2000s, wave-riding appeared almost schizophrenic. At one extreme, everything was fast, loud, and shape-shifting, with millionaire professionals, surf-themed PlayStation video games, and live-streamed event coverage. Surfboards were computer designed, machine-crafted, and mass produce...

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