I went full Hamilton last week, posting both the “Laird Means Lord” and “Tahitian Scream” chapters in History of Surfing. I realized that a lot of you have reached what could kindly be termed the Laird saturation point. Maybe it happened when he gave a hearty “athletes need the fuel they need” defense of doping king Lance Armstrong. Maybe it was when he offered that two-for-one piece of hoohaw, insulting woman and science at the same time, claiming that menstruation is the leading cause of shark attacks. I could fill a whole Joint with similar Lairdisms, any one of which would leave you merely scratching your head, but in aggregate can actually fog your memory of Hamilton’s unmatched surfing talent, drive, and range, and the unparalleled degree to which he changed the big-wave riding. I spent most of last week hip-deep into Hamilton’s many and varied surfing ventures from 1986 to the early ’00s, and while I wasn’t moved enough to create a Laird Superfood account and take advantage of the sale-priced XXL Optimized Fuel Pack Hydration and Creamer Bundle, my sense of awe at what this man accomplished during that period was fully restored. We’ve never seen the like. We likely never will again.
Dan Duane’s 2004 profile on Hamilton is, for my money, the hands-down best piece ever written on the man and is posted here. Duane gets into the psychology behind what Laird does, and it’s pretty dark in there. “The grinding stone only knows how to do one thing,” Hamilton tells Duane, acknowledging that living in his own skin is as much a burden as it is a blessing. “To grind.”
You’ll want to lighten up after that one, so click here and read Peter Van Dyke’s classic 1965 surf-machismo takedown: “Big-Wave Danger: A Hoax!” Younger brother to Fred Van Dyke, Peter himself was an able big-wave hand—although he’s better known for throwing the big rafter-shaking Maria Callas drop-knee cutback, as seen below.
Finally, a big thanks to Don Meek and the gang at Surfing Heritage and Culture Center, for hosting the SURFER reunion party last night. Steve Pezman moistened our eyes with a speech about how much the magazine has meant to the sport over the years, Drew Kampion threw comic daggers in a video cameo, and Sam George again would have won Best Hair if they’d been giving out awards. In the pic below, left to right, that’s Jim Kempton, Paul Holmes, Johnny Wadd, Steve Hawk, Evan Slater, Sam George, Chris Mauro, Brendon Thomas, and Todd Prodanovich. Jeff Divine, crouching in front, was able to return to a fully upright position with just a minimal amount of help. Great night all the way around.
Thanks for reading, everybody, and see you next week.
[Laird photo by Darrell Wong]