“Houses of the Holy” was last week’s History of Surfing chapter, on surf shops, and while I think it’s a passably clever title, my own relationship with shops has always been kinda ambivalent. God knows my younger self spent weeks, months, years in shops, either buying stuff or hanging out as a kid, then later as a frequently-hungover employee, first at Unity Surfboards, then ET Surfboards, both in Hermosa. ET was amazing, unlike any shop I’ve been in, big and overflowing, endlessly busy, and everyone who worked there fell over themselves helping customers. That’s how owner Eddie Talbot (ET) himself did it, and the rest of us followed suit, and the place was a goldmine because we treated people well. That experience, on the other hand, led me to fully understand just how hit-or-miss customer service was at all other shops. More misses than hits, in fact. Lots of surfers behind the counter basically didn’t like other surfers and felt superior to non-surfers. Like Jack Black in High Fidelity, except not funny. If you worked at ET, you just felt sorry (and superior) to other surf shop workers. Ah well. No matter now. For better or worse, the indy surf shop has gone the way of Waxmate and the $5.00 logo T-shirt.
Wait a second. What the hell am I saying? ET is alive and well, and has probably moved a $1,000 worth of merch since I opened this page!
Speaking of hangovers, my interview with Gary Green posted on Above the Roar, and re-reading that 30-year-old conversation put me right back in the room with Gary, who was (and remains) one of surfing’s most funniest, naughtiest, most upbeat personalities.
Renny Yater’s Above the Roar page went up as well; I think it’s the longest item I’ve yet posted, almost 8,000 words (thank you Michael Kew!), but just a wonderful and richly-detailed look at surfing and boardmaking in the sport’s pre-revolution age.
As seems to happen every week, once a Roar piece goes up, I rush straight to the digital embrace of Final Cut Pro and do my best to make a worthwhile companion vid for that particular Roar surfer. The clip doesn’t post on his or her Roar page (it goes on their EOS page), which is a little confusing, but I can’t slow down, people, I’m just along for the ride myself! So here’s a new clip for Yater, and here’s one for Gary. Go on, waste a little more time. . . .
I had lunch yesterday with Nat Young, who is back in the water after total knee replacement surgery. Nat turns 70 next month but he’s as trim and stoked and handsome as ever. Stay tuned, I'll have an announcement about Nat in a day or two.
Thanks, and see you next week!