“A Webcam for Every Wave” is the new History of Surfing chapter, the posting of which took me back to my own slightly shameful first experience with cams, back in 1997 or thereabouts. The first cam in San Francisco, located at the corner of Taraval and Great Highway, was bolted to a flagpole atop the roof of a good friend’s house (he was renting, the owner lived on the top floor, I lived a mile or so up the hill), and aimed right out to a stretch of usually-crap beach that I nonetheless loved and felt territorial about. I never fought or vandalized or even shit-talked any of the unknown surfers who drifted into my little Taraval-fronted aquasphere. But I sighed loudly in displeasure and back-paddled the shit out of people, and in general played the aggrieved if not confrontational local prick. Obviously this new camera was going to increase the number of blow-ins, and thus force me to sigh even louder and more frequently.
So I went up to the roof and Vaselined the camera lens. I was fully 37 years old. I’m ashamed of that.
But here’s what I’m really ashamed about: a few weeks later, I was logging onto the Taraval cam two, or four, or ten times a day. It was great. I avoided hundreds of no-surf drives to the beach. I bolted down and picked the eyes out of it when the wind died for an hour or so on an otherwise shit day. It did get more crowded, but that as I could tell that was a general trend in the Bay Area and not Surfline’s fault. In other words, the cam improved my surfing life, and I digitally stalked Taraval for another 12 years, until we moved out of the city and my sighs were heard nevermore in San Francisco.
Last week was spent tweaking and calibrating and spit-polishing EOS 2.0, which God willing will go up in late April or early May. This new Ben Aipa clip is what I worked on in between to stay wet, as it were, and if you enjoy watching it half as much as I enjoyed piecing it together, then everyone’s a winner. Much to love here (I always forget how good Aipa was on a longboard), but my favorite part comes during the little interview with Bruce Brown at the ’66 Duke contest (go to 1:40), when Aipa tosses off a bit of pidgin and Brown responds in kind. The ease and grace and likability of Bruce Brown is forever. Even Ben Aipa, a heavy in every sense of the word, softens right up in the presence of Bruce the Great.
Thanks for reading, everybody, and see you next week.
[Ben Aipa surf photo by Art Brewer]