Hey All,

Arne Wong emailed after last week's highly animated (haha) Sunday Joint, to say that Glenn Shot is the original surfer-animator, meaning the first animator who actually surfed, not the first person to animate surfing, and that the foundational clip in the genre is Glen's 1969 head-spinner Eternal Sea—which, incredibly, is the least-druggy part of Natural Art, the trippiest surf film ever made, hands down and nothing's even close. Wong adds: "Glen was officially the first one to authentically portray surfing from a surfer's perspective. Laird Hamilton later said that he was inspired by this cartoon to ride giant waves." (Laird's quote from his 2019 Master Class podcast: "There used to be these surf movies with cartoons in them. The waves were way too big and the guys were way too small, and maybe that was one of the seeds planted in my brain as a child." Which makes a lot of sense, we all fantasized about riding waves the way surfers did in those cartoons. Laird went out and did it.)

bondi beach, hollow surfboard, racing 16, racing sixteen surfboard, paddleboard

A few months ago, right before EOS 2.0 went up, I posted two clips from Bondi Beach, a newsreel for the 1920 Bondi Carnival, and another from 1925. I've talked before about how the sport took a wrong turn with the hollow surfboard and these two Bondi shorts help make the point, as the surfers featured here, raw as they may be, are more or less on the same progress track as California surfers from the period—but then, look out, here comes the hollow board and the Aussie lifeguards go nuts for the Freudian mine's-bigger-than-yours Racing 16, and basically what I'm saying is the hollow was bad news for everybody (Scooter Boy Kaopuiki excepted), but especially bad for the Aussies. We got them sorted in 1956, but spare a thought for the lost generation of Down Under surfers who thought a V-2-shaped hollow board was their rocket ride to surfing's future. 

north bondi beach, bondi mermaids

You're looking at the North Bondi Mermaids, in their short-lived prime, with a half-dozen game fellas cracking the corner and possibly the great Bluey Mayes himself out the back, helming the guard boat. We are off on a real tangent here, folks, surf-wise. In fact, there is no surfing involved whatsoever, but the Mermaids' tale is so bonkers—conceived in misdemeanor crime and folly yet begging to be spun into a fable or sea shanty or AI-created Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story—that it needs its own page, so here it is, ripped straight from the Sydney Morning Herald headlines. The surf angle here I guess is just that every Bondi Beach boardrider for 15 or so years, beginning in 1960, grommet to geezer, Robert Conneeley to Cheyne Horan, would have spent a few aggregate hours, minimum, gazing up at the Mermaids during lulls. Thinking—what? "Boobies," probably, at first. But as the Mermaids deteriorated and molted yet persevered, who knows, maybe Robert and Cheyne and the rest would look at the once-shiny-gold figures on the rock and mull the human condition, the ever-turning wheel of time, and are there are boobies in heaven? Which, mate, come on, of course there are.

surfer magazine, brooke shields, andy warhol, prince charles, tom wolfe

Finally, here is a surf media Rorschach test in two parts. In 1981, SURFER ran a full-page house ad where the theme was: Famous people read SURFER so you should as well. Copy-pasted into the ad are a breathless few paragraphs of text from the June issue of Los Angeles magazine, including this bit:

Otis Chandler, publisher of the LA Times, reads it religiously, as does Andy Warhol. Halston thinks the photography is superb. Brooke Shields insists that the bronzed young gods scattered throughout the pages are "dolls." Tom Wolf has written that it's not simply a magazine, but a work of art. What's all this high-toned commotion about? It's SURFER Magazine. Suddenly, SURFER has become très chic with the art-fashion-media crowd. "It's become an underground fashion magazine," explains Calvin Klein. "I even heard Jackie O reads it!"

So, did we actually do something cool here in 1981? Did we level up? Make an impression? That is the first question.

Second question: is SURFER eye-rolling the Los Angeles article? Or humblebragging it, but with very little humble? 

studio 54, andy warhold, bianca jagger, new york

The answer to Question #2 is easy. SURFER in 1981 would have been over the moon, giddy, skipping down the halls and who cares if the surf is six-foot and glassy, oh my God Brooke Shields likes us! Scraps like this from our cultural betters—or the people who the SURFER staff in 1981 revered as our cultural betters—were straight manna. If Warhol and Halston and Jackie O wanted to reach down with their flawlessly manicured fingers and give us belly scratches, SURFER would roll over on it's back and paw the air.

Question #1, though. This part is more interesting. I, for one, actually do appreciate that all those bicoastal trendsetters were throwing SURFER on their coffee tables, gaping at the action shots and lightly perving on Shaun and Buzzy and the other pre-moistened Reagan-era surf hunks. I like that they liked what they saw. The recently exiled Studio 54 gang were into SURFER because it was authentic; because we were authentic. But the thing to remember here is, they came to us. Not because we tried to get their attention. But because we surfed, and did so mostly to the exclusion of everything else. That's what made us attractive. That and the suntan and flared-out lats. 

Maybe, like me, you take some satisfaction from knowing that Andy and Brooke were checking us out. Be cool. Give 'em a little nod and keep moving, is the thing to do.

Don't take out an ad, for God's sake.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!


joey ramone, rockaway beach, new york, surfing

[Photos grid, clockwise from top left: North Bondi, 1956, photo Ray Leighton; Brooke Shields, early 1980s; Cheyne Horan photo by Dick Hoole; Bondi Mermaids, late 1960s; Bondi clubbies, 1930s; young Laird Hamilton. Bondi surfers and Racing 16 hollow boards, 1948. The Mermaids, around 1965. June 1981 issue of Los Angeles magazine, next to SURFER Magazine subscription ad. Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol at Studio 54. Joey Ramone, Rockaway Beach.]