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History of Surfing Blog

JOHN SEVERSON INHALED, AND THANK GOD

May 28, 2017

This piece is also from History of Surfing. For my money, the single most amazing thing about John Severson was the turnaround he made in 1968. SURFER wasn’t in trouble at that point, exactly, but it was stagnating while John played golf and washing his Mercedes. New SURFER hire Drew Kampion I believe is one who got […]

JOHN SEVERSON IS “THE SURFER”

May 28, 2017

Surrounded by John Severson’s work today, looking at his movies and books, and of course for the millionth time paging through the magazine he created. Hope to have a video ready by tomorrow—John was a visual-first guy, and I’m following his lead. Meanwhile, I’ve got a pair of sections from History of Surfing that give the briefest outline […]

STAR-BULLETIN, 1954: “BAND OF CALIFORNIANS HERE TO RIDE 20-FOOT MAKAHA”

March 28, 2017

In early 1954, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin sent 26-year-old Korean-American reporter Sarah Park to do a human interest piece on a group California surfers who were wintering in a weather-beaten house in Makaha. Park was tough. She was just back from a year in-country covering the Korean War, where she did time in the trenches, came under fire, and earned bravery honors from the […]

BUZZY TRENT INTERVIEW: “I RESPECT YOUNGER SURFERS, ADMIRE OLDER ONES, AND AVOID KOOKS”

March 21, 2017

This interview ran in the September 1963 issue of Surf Guide, and was titled “Buzzy Trent: Power to Conquer the Giants.” The author is uncredited, but it was probably Surf Guide editor Bill Cleary. From the introduction: “Buzzy, 34, is married to Violet, a beautiful Hawaiian girl, who describes him thusly: ‘Six-feet tall, 190 pounds, square jaw, very big […]

WAVE SCIENTIST WILLARD BASCOM: MINING DIAMONDS, BEATING CANCER, DROPPING KNOWLEDGE

March 15, 2017

Big-wave pioneer Wally Froiseth knew better, but told this story anyway. “In the mid-’30s, when I was 15 years old, they were going to have a surf contest at Waikiki. The first day the waves were too small, so they brought a Kahuna down to the beach, right in front of the old Outrigger Canoe Club. I watched while he […]

TARZAN SMITH, THE FIGHT OF A LIFETIME

March 7, 2017

Gene “Tarzan” Smith spent most of the Depression in Hawaii or Southern California, surfing and lifeguarding. Smith was superhuman on a paddleboard, and in 1940 he became the first to cover the 90-mile rough-water gap between Oahu and Kauai. But to those who knew him personally, friend and foe alike, Smith was best remembered as a bull-sized, bloody-fisted, never-say-die street fighter. Laguna […]

“CATACLYSM” GRAPH BY MIKI DORA, 1969

February 21, 2017

The graph below ran in the September, 1969, issue of SURFER, as part of editor Drew Kampion’s interview with Miki Dora. I always thought this neatly-drafted illustration, in Dora’s own hand, was smart and funny and cool. Only now, in 2017, nearly 50 years after I first saw this bit of surfy-sociological handicraft, does it occur to me that it […]

“INTERVIEW: MICKEY DORA,” SURFER, 1969

February 20, 2017

“Interview: Mickey Dora” ran in the September, 1969, issue of SURFER. Dora himself continued to write the occasional article for the surf press, but this was his final Q&A. All photos: Craig Stecyk.  *  *  * What part does surfing play in your life today? When there’s surf, I’m totally committed; when there’s none, it doesn’t exist. […]

TUBESTEAK: “WE WEREN’T DIVERS OR FISHERMEN. WE WERE SURFERS!”

February 13, 2017

Writer and former SURFER Magazine senior editor Ben Marcus interviewed Terry Tracy in 2003 and 2004. Portions of those interviews ran in Surfer’s Journal and the book Surfing USA.   *  *  * It is true you lived in a shack on Malibu for a couple summers? I did. Not a myth. Nope. Where was it, […]

WHEELS ON FIRE: DEWEY WEBER’S DRIVE TO THE TOP

February 6, 2017

Dewey Weber is remembered and loved, and rightly so, as surfing’s original high-performance boy wonder, the hotdogging messiah. But what really fascinates me about Weber is the crazy drive and ambition. The white-hot coals, so to speak, beneath the hotdog. The will to achieve, to focus, to defeat, build, create, rise. I’m fascinated because I run on […]

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