“A Monster in Half Moon Bay” and “Mark Foo’s Last Ride,” both on Mavericks, are the latest chapters to go up on History of Surfing, and I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t pimp either one on Facebook. I still enjoy and use FB enough that it’d be hypocritical to dump on the platform itself—although I can’t be the only EOS enthusiast who lays awake at night thinking of Mark Zuckerberg’s pale soft hands choking the life out of democracy.
No, I didn’t post last week because I get the sense that everybody is a little weary of Mavs. Especially me. I wrote about the place right after Mark Foo died there, did a whole book on Mavericks, knocked out a long EOS entry on it, then revisited all that material while working on the print version of History of Surfing. So yeah I’m a little burned out on the topic. But I had enough left in the tank to make this Mavs ’94 video, which, I won't lie, is fucking fire. (To wrap Mavs up, Here’s Tom Brokaw reporting on Foo’s death, and here’s same-day coverage from KPIX Channel 5. If, like me, you take your humor where you find it, even in tragedy, wait for the moment at 3:15 where the KPIX beat reporter explains why surfers ride Mavericks. His description has been stuck in my head all week.)
Baddy Treloar became a minor surf icon after his long, lovely section in Alby Falzon’s Morning of the Earth. You know the bit, even if you never knew who the surfer was: Baddy’s the guy who shapes and glasses a new stick in his very rural backyard, then runs down a trail to test-ride it in gorgeous sparkling-blue waves at Angourie. It is Country Soul’s defining moment. (Here’s a slightly remixed version.) Baddy stayed true to that way of life—surfing, fishing, shaping, city-avoiding—right up to the moment last week when he died of a massive heart attack on the beach at—Angourie, of course. Too young at 68, but a fitting way to go. I wanted to give you guys a different look at Baddy’s surfing, so here’s a clip of him from 1969, shot by Bob Evans.
Lack of context vexes me on a regular basis. Watch Baddy’s clip, for example, and you can’t help but set it against a 2019 standard, and by doing so the surfing comes up short. Of course it does, it was filmed 50 years ago. To explain why Baddy meant something in ’69 I’d have to show you what surfing looked like two years earlier (prehistoric by comparison), but that doesn’t work either, because all I want to do here is salute the man and send him on his way, not give a history lesson. Vexing, like I say.
This new Dru Harrison clip works a lot better because we see him at the very end of the longboard era, then jump ahead to ’69–’70, and there’s the difference in performance surfing laid bare. Dru is a particularly interesting case. As a longboarder he was tricky and hot-doggy. On the new shortboards, and you can count the number of surfers who did this on one hand, Dru was smoother and more refined. This was during surfing’s great Nixon-Age Style Crisis, and yet here’s our man Harrison, on a Honolua peeler beginning at 1:32, finding a line that is beautiful, flowing, and very Zen.
On that note, I bow and say goodbye until next week.
[Photos: Doug Acton, Bob Evans, Rich Wilkin]