Archives:

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Singlefin Yellow

August 23, 2013

Every surfboard has a story. I bought my first surfboard for $10 from a teenager on my block who my friends and I thought was the second coming of Kelly Slater, but more than likely he was a punk kid who dealt shit weed to middle schoolers. Anyway, the board was twelve inches thick, every neon color the 80s SoCal trend could conjure and sank even before it got into the water, but I cherished the thing. I rode it every weekend. Around thirteen or fourteen years old, I pestered my mom into buying me a new 5’8” …Lost and I never looked back.

After watching Singlefin Yellow by Jason Baffa I began to wonder who owned that $10 board before my gnarly neighbor. Secondly, what became of it after it was so quickly discarded? Is it in pieces scattered amongst garbage in a landfill or is it propped up in the “used” section of Dockside Surf Shop (my favorite surf shop growing up) awaiting another novice? Though I will never be able to answer these questions about my old friend, watching Baffa’s 2005 film allows me some closure by seeing the life of a Tyler made 9’6” yellow single fin as it passes beneath the feet of six surfers and then into the wild.

Single-fin-yellow-movie

Shot in 16mm film, Singlefin Yellow is sincere in its goal to follow the life and journey of a surfboard that was shaped in El Segundo, CA. The film shows a 1960s style yellow single fin longboard as it jet sets across the world and acquires stoke. Each surfer personally, and with warmth, narrates his or her portion of the film giving the entire movie an intimate feel. Singlefin Yellow gives insight to the connection between surfers but more importantly illustrates how surfboards are necessary conduits between riders.

Accepting the chain letter of dings and wax, each surfer in Singlefin Yellow slightly alters the board by surfing a certain break, trimming a certain way, or, like Bonga Perkins, thrashing the poor thing at the North Shore. Passed on, the longboard gives the next rider a sense of authenticity and soul that acts as a tie to the previous riders, the previous countries and the previous waves. None of us can deny that surfing is a sport of emotional connections and that these emotional connections change the feel of our tool – the surfboard. Changing hands over time the aura, for lack of a better word, of these boards shifts in small, minute ways. Singlefin Yellow is a 110-minute snapshot of this process.

Single-fin-yellow-movie

Lastly, I want to stress how much these simple planks of foam and fiberglass are similar to tools with which we create and Singlefin Yellow makes this apparent. Many will liken surfboards to art, but beneath the pretty, glassy exterior they are utensils and objects – tools with which we work. Even the surfing vernacular reflects our subconscious utilitarian perspective of the surfboard: we carve a wave and we trim a wave. Therefore, working with these tools in our salty mitts makes us the craftsman, the artisan working in conjunction with the surfboard. These tools are in our presence the very moment we are in the act of an extremely human process – creation. Later, as workers do, we exchange these tools; pass them amongst ourselves possibly because we need a new tool that will suit our current project. But, undoubtedly, impressions of ourselves remain with our past chisels and then are passed along to a new surfsmith – and this process, my friends, is the art and the beauty.

– Patrick

Pick up your own copy of Singlefin: Yellow

Film, Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: WAR(d) STORIES

July 12, 2013

In the digital age of information it is difficult to track every movie release, every album “drop”, every Buzzfeed list and every Onion article – or at least this is my excuse for sleeping on …Lost.tv’s web series: Ward Stories.

I have followed and admired Chris Ward’s career since I was a kid surfing Bob Hall Pier in Corpus Christi, TX. Even in my first review for Stoke Harvester I reference how What’s Really Goin’ Wrong, a …Lost film featuring Ward, was my absolute favorite surf flick as a grom. Even though I was a little late, I was stoked to learn about …lost.tv’s web series focusing on the outlandish life of “Wardo”. I was even more stoked to learn that …Lost had compiled these episodes and placed all four hours and twenty minutes onto a DVD. AND I was doubly stoked when that DVD arrived at my doorstep care of Stoke Harvester!

More of a quasi-documentary, Ward Stories tracks Wardo’s wake from young, aggressive Texas surfer to World Tour competitor. Comprehensive and organized …Lost does a terrific job of injecting Ward stories – both positive and negative – into blistering surf segments that reflect Ward’s aggressive surf style. Told by family and friends, the film shares tales from Ward’s past as a father, a surfer and a lunatic.

Chris-Ward-Surfer

Ward Stories reminded me of the sometimes forgotten teenage-like fun side of surfing. The side of surfing that doesn’t mingle art and surfing, environmental conservation and surfing or fashion and surfing. Though all these elements are aesthetically good and important to surfing culture, it is like a diet – let me digress. I am nearly 30. I am trying to watch what I eat, I try to hit the gym a couple of times a week and I try to cut back on my whisky intake. But every once in a while I pass a burger joint and I just can’t help myself. As I cram a double bacon cheeseburger into my greasy face my taste buds, which have survived the past month on all things green, scream: WHAT THE FUCK! I FORGOT ABOUT THIS SHIT! THIS IS AMAZING!!!! Ward Stories is kinda like that. It represents the unabashed and angsty kid who loves airs and who shotguns beers. Moreover, Ward Stories, and Wardo himself, is unpretentious. In one scene Chris is asked why he chose a specific board to take out that session to which he responds, “It is the only board I have fins for.” There is no worry about which board is right for that spot or what is the best fin placement for that day – it is only about getting into the water and shredding the fucking gnar.

– Patrick

Pick yourself up a copy of WAR(d) STORIES

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Secret Sound Underground

June 10, 2013

The surf video is a tricky art form. The subject matter – surfing – must constantly remain the main focus of the art which leaves little room for a filmmaker to be creative and contribute. Storyline, cut-aways, filters, editing and overall tone are the limited utensils that allow a film to stand out. In Secret Sound Underground, Jack Coleman is well aware that in order to make an impression and to project his art he must utilize the few film tricks allotted him.

Coleman’s Secret Sound Underground scraps storyline, taking an approach that is a collage of surfing from places like Indonesia and Mexico while being completely stamped with fucked-up b-roll footage likened to a methadone addict’s wonderful and terrifying dream. The film is abrupt and abrasive, breaking from normal surf film form. Though the film is reminiscent of Morning of the Earth and other psychlike 70s surf culture Coleman adds his own schizophrenic artistic voice making Secret Sound Underground unique. The dreamlike, removed aura of the film is partly attributed to the exotic Southeast Asian influence seen in the cut-away footage.

Like good art, this film is not easy. Secret Sound Underground is a piece of art that needs consideration; it is not a purely entertaining straightforward surf film nor is it a rhetoric film (which is so popular these days). Overall, Secret Sound Underground is a well scored, well edited meditation on drugged-out surf culture that is sure to weird out your parents.

Patrick

Get your own copy of Secret Sound Underground here.

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Stoked & Broke

April 11, 2013

I was blocks away from my house before my parents realized I was gone. It took less than half an hour for them to find me in a cul-de-sac carrying a backpack filled with cans of SpaghettiO’s and a Swiss Army knife. When you are 7 life is confusing. Sometimes you gotta take to the open road even if you only make it within earshot of home. The young guys from Stoked and Broke seemed to be going through the same motions. However there are a few major differences – Cyrus Sutton and Ryan Burch don’t believe that they are setting out on a journey that will last years, involving multiple pirate battles and concluding with the rescue of Kathy Ireland. But these differences are the aim of Stoked and Broke. The young gents of “Stoked and Broke” are being raised in the Red Bull generation where everything is FUCKING INTENSE!!!!!!; where bigger, faster, louder and richer are most desirable. This type of thinking is now part of the fabric of our society; so, unlike my younger, more imaginative self, Cyrus’ and Ryan’s concerns are legit.

Stoked-and-Broke-2

Herein lies a horrible problem, which I believe, Cyrus and Ryan are trying to cope with: what if you don’t want Vin Diesel to punch you in the face with a fist full of twenties, downing a Four Loko while being scored by the Harlem Shake? What does a 20-something (hell, a 30-something, 40-something…) do when he or she just wants to surf? Spend time with loved ones? Enjoy this fleck of time we call “existence”? Stoked and Broke looks at this question from multiple angles while under the guise of a tongue in cheek surf flick.

In La Jolla beach the boys meet Steve Ferguson, a knee boarder living in a rust eaten VW van. I am aware that that last sentence sounds adventurous and cool… and I am sure it is… until it isn’t. Mr. Ferguson seems to be on hard times – a cautionary tale to the stoked and broke. I am sure that thirty years ago Steve must have looked a lot like Ryan: blonde hair and blue eyes – a kid with a lot of promise. But somewhere in the miles on his VW’s odometer there was a disconnect, a reason for what he calls “not a good situation”. Perhaps he didn’t know how to balance his societal roles with his want of surfing and freedom, much like the Stoked and Broke bros. Of course life isn’t simple enough to link specific causes to specific life events, such as Ferguson’s hardships and his prior decisions, but it is difficult not to think that something similar might be in the future of all of us who would rather ditch our responsibilities and go to the beach.

Stoked-and-Broke

So where does a free spirited surfer find his or her place in this fickle world? A heartfelt interview with Richard, a legendary surfer and friend of Ryan and Cyrus, gives us some insight. Richard stresses responsibility and dedication as being the source of happiness and freedom: “Responsibility really gives you freedom in
the end. Irresponsibility puts you in a prison.” A life centered around surfing and happiness is possible as long as you have attainable and fulfilling goals that are achieved through dedication and work. Richard doesn’t seem to measure wealth in dollars but in family, relationships and surfing – a middle ground to the societal

highs and lows Cyrus and Ryan are trying to navigate. I think Richard’s argument is summed up in a quote from Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk: “What good is honor, my dear, if you have nothing to eat?” I believe Richard would say: “What good is freedom, my friend, if you have nothing to surf?“

stoked-n-broke(Adrian Knott)

These two detailed scenes from Stoked and Broke are just small portions of the film. There is some great surfing, some gnarly foam boards and hand planes but I found these scenes and themes to more thought provoking. I could easily have said “cool flick, great surfing” but isn’t our goal to act as a community of surfers? To look after each other and to aid one another in our journey? This is what Cyrus and Ryan are doing with Stoked and Broke – presenting their views of surfing and life to the world, offering their understanding to others. Think of it this way: would we have the thruster without the fish? The fish without the log? The log without the alaia? The knowledge of the old timers has been passed down through generations and then added to and reworked. This knowledge is not just about board shapes, it also includes surfing philosophy and ideology, surfing principles and ethics. Cyrus and Ryan are contributing to this tradition with Stoked and Broke.

O.k., Yankees game is on. Later.
Patrick

Get your copy of Stoked & Broke here.

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: White Caps

February 28, 2013

New York comedian Todd Barry has a dry wit. I love it. He is sarcastic, lethargic and fucking hilarious. Here is a transcribed version of one of my favorite jokes…I’m paraphrasing…

I like the Chipotle Mexican Grill. Every time I bring up the Chipotle Mexican Grill in conversation someone goes “Oh, Chipotle Mexican Grill is delicious. Can you believe it was started by McDonalds?” – I reply “uh, McDonalds is delicious… so, yes I can believe that”. It is the world’s greatest restaurant chain taking a stab at another kind of food and hitting it out of the park…”

This is my sentiment towards Almond’s recently released “Whitecaps”, filmed by Cam Oden and Jack Belli. Almond surfboards, the new name in quality surfboards (and a lasting one, I bet my Hobie on it), takes a stab at making a quality surf flick and hits it out of the park… solidly.

White-caps-surf-movie-almond

This isn’t surprising in the least – the film is a straight reflection of the quality of Almond Surfboards: classy, thoughtful, artistic, fashionable and playful. The film is pulled from the oven at the perfect time: no superfluous camera filters, no over production or design – just a well crafted playbook of non-surfing segments that hold your attention then break away before your gills dry out, great tunes, beautiful scenery and of course – gnarly surfing. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Almond.

White-caps-surf-movie-1

The unique color schemes of each segment are modest and extremely tasteful. Griffin Neumann-Kyle’s surfing segment is an overcast grey, adequately reflecting the accompanying slack key guitar, while Cyrus Sutton’s segment is a crisp blue, mirroring the glassy morning session that he is surfing. I am not sure if Almond anticipated these great color juxtapositions but either way I am going to credit ‘em. Very nice work.

Moreover, the film feels light and frisky. The surfing is fun: switching boards, slappin’ high fives. I mean, come on, who doesn’t get jazzed off a well-executed fiver? Whitecaps is the type of film that makes you want to paddle out with your friends, not because of deep green rooms or poised pigs on a planket (new term for “hanging-10”, maybe?) but because these gals and guys look like they are having a ball.

– Patrick

P.S.- Schuyler McFerran: Elle est très adorable.

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: The Heart & The Sea

February 17, 2013

So when I was 12 my all-time favorite surf flick was …Lost’s What’s Really Goin’ Wrong, a haphazard, wave & alcohol fueled hour of surf punk with an exorbitant amount of “airs.” Not much substance, not much artistry – just surfing. While watching Nathan Oldfield’s The Heart & The Sea, I couldn’t help thinking how polar opposite my old favorite film and Oldfield’s film are. The Heart & The Sea is so saturated with themes of surfing tradition, family, fashion, and community; it views like Citizen Kane compared to the Van Wilder that is What’s Really Goin’ Wrong (don’t get me wrong, I still love that movie.) Oldfield creates a mellow atmospheric vibe reminiscent of Picaresque but with a traditional and family focused rhetoric, a major shift from typical and straightforward surf flicks. TH&TS flows along easily from boogie boarding families to righteous old dudes shaping boards from scrap wood. The film is solid, the surfing is spectacular but most importantly, the themes of tradition and sustainability are thought provoking.

Oldfield focuses heavily on the idea of tradition through the use of alaia boards. Multiple segments of TH&TS are centered on these wooden gems that are so beautifully designed. Though I did notice the lack of actual surfing that was done with these traditional boards. This fact made me ask myself: when does tradition become outdated? Is swimming after a leash-less wooden board tradition or impractical? At a point in TH&TS a surfer describes his experience with the alaia boards while surfing his way across New Zealand: “People are happy to see that you’re doing something different and it seems to be kind of contagious…” He he continues by saying that people are open to new things in the line-up. But I still have to ask: wouldn’t we still want to apply “new” technologies, such as fins or leashes, and then have them evolve into better, more creative and sustainable boards? It is possible that it is a personal preference, a way to make someone feel like they are in touch with a distant, calmer time. I know that i would like to step out of the automobile laden, ill tempered, fast paced and oppressive city into a past of simplicity.

– Patrick

You can pick up your own copy of The Heart & The Sea, here.

Music, Surf

A Brief 3 Minutes and 31 Seconds

February 5, 2013

Briefly: Perhaps it was a subconscious effort to contort myself out of the pile of work sitting on my desk but I started to daydream. I was thinking about the box from Stoke Harvester headquarters that is currently making its way to my doorstep and of the surf videos within. Deciding to ride out the daydream I plopped some headphones on my head, propped my dogs up, cranked The Allah-Las and drew myself onto an 8-foot single-fin Almond straight cruisin’ down the line. So for those who would rather be out on the water or belly down in the sand getting their bronze on, I offer this tune and the opportunity to mentally slip away for a brief 3 minutes and 31 seconds.

Au Revoir,
Patrick

Film

East Coast: Rising

January 5, 2013

No one is going to be shocked when I write that natural disasters have increased dramatically in the past 50 years; roughly 40 natural disasters were reported each year in the 1950s but today the number is closer to 400. Greater communication to remote places allows for a more accurate number of reported events but it is undeniable that global warming is causing the increase and Hurricane Sandy is no exception. In East Coast Rising you see how Hurricane Sandy demolished many areas on the northeast coast and then the region’s ability to rebuild with the aid, determination and the steadfast spirit of local surfers.

The film depicts how surfers are so interwoven into the communities they live to the point of doing whatever possible to aid in the wake of a devastating event like Hurricane Sandy. Post-Hurricane Sandy local surfers of New York and New Jersey (some of the interviewed surfers have thick New Jersey and New York accents which is awesome) donated food and time in order to restore the demolished coast; it is heart warming to see this camaraderie. Maybe it is the 4/3 suits, the prevalence of bushy beards or the familiar stoked grins but the ties binding the surfers in this film are reminiscent of the bonds of the surfers of the Pacific Northwest.

East Coast Rising shows surfers at their best out of the water. The heart of East Coast Rising is that surfers are no longer lazy Spicoli-esque characters but environmentally- and community-conscious dudes and dudettes who are willing to lend a hand for the betterment of their ocean and their fellow being.

– Patrick

Music, Retro Stoke Harvester

Right Coast: Patrick Keenan

January 2, 2013

Well, I think an introduction may be in order. My name is Patrick, the newly appointed Stoke Harvester East Coast correspondent – yeah, Stoke Harvester is that popular now. For those of you familiar with the late, great Cheka Looka Surf Shop I was the nerdy kid restocking the surf wax, conspicuously checking out your girlfriend or writing down the receipt for your ding repair (if you haven’t gotten your board back, Jeff is still working on it). After what I can only describe as a “righteous time” working with Jeff and Shawn and babysitting Seth and Dug, I moved to Austin, then to Los Angeles, and now currently freezing in New York City. My travels have allowed me to cruise some gnarly waves, chill with some great tunes, down some torpedo juice and meet some great folk, all the while relaying my voyages back to my friends at Stoke Harvester.

So, one morning I received a text from Shawn asking if I would post on the SH blog to which I replied with an overly caffeinated but restrained, “That would be great.” So, here we go, you and your new pal Patrick. Let’s set the mood with some mid-winter longing for summer music.

Here let me light you up…

Mac DeMarco
“Annie”

“Ode To Viceroy”

If you are like me, and I assume you are, then you enjoy some positive mellow vibrations in your music. Well, Mac DeMarco has entered stage right and boy does he have a surprise for you. DeMarco’s album “2”, released in October, displays a more mature DeMarco from his previous and groovy, though overly Ariel Pink influenced, album: “Rock and Roll Night Club”. The album “2” contains a more funky and jazzy feel that seems to be missing in the tight pants community – come on, 7th chords aren’t that difficult, kids. Tracks like “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” and “Annie” illustrate DeMarco’s danceable yet mellow songwriting style full of clean guitars with extreme treble, funky but lax basslines and DeMarco’s easy lyrics. Rounding out the album DeMarco includes songs like “My Kind Of Woman” (a personal favorite) and “Ode to Viceroy” that are relaxed and that straddle the fence between a post surf session feel and a straight needle in the vain. The juxtaposition between these two mellow/fun and mellow…/mellow songs makes for a unique album. “2” closes with a lazy acoustic ditty titled “Still Together” that I am sure will get you laid.

– Patrick