Heroes and Villains

Athlete, adventurer, gigolo, hoodlum, dimwit—in terms of public image, the surfer could be seen in nearly any terms that suited the viewer.

“The medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan couldn’t have found Surf City if you dropped him off on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main, but his soon-to-be-famous 1964 dictum fit the sport like a glove during American surfing's boom years. As the surfer image filtered out across the cultural landscape, it shapeshifted from menace to sportsman to bohemian to fashion plate to object of ri...

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