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Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Under The Sun

November 29, 2013

To review Under the Sun as a surf film wouldnt give the movie its due credit. The film by the young director of Stoked & Broke and Riding Waves needs to be viewed as a documentary that enlightens and informs. In Suttons film he discusses the contrast between Australias Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Under the Sun continues to illuminate Sutton as an artist but more importantly we see Sutton growing as a filmmaker who asks his viewers to rethink the conventional ideals of the surfing community.

Juxtaposing Australias Gold Coast and Byron Bay, Sutton creates a wide crevasse with the contrasting images of Competition Surfer and Soul Surfer poised on each divided precipice. First Sutton gives a detailed history and emergence of each group: the greedy commercial industry sprouting from Gold Coast competition surfing and the bongo-drumming hippie pushing organic marmalade from the Byron Bay. Although I use these generalizations and stereotypes, Sutton does a great job of remaining passive and nonjudgmental. These two surfer types are then taken through their evolution into the 21st century. Gold Coast competition surfing grows into a cold and mechanical shit show in which the surfing industry sees an opportunity on which to fully capitalize. And then, surprisingly, Sutton shows the Soul Surfer for his/her true self. A point is made that Soul Surfers cannot live or surf without the aid of sponsors and all the free boards and accessories that arrive at their La Jolla bungalow free of charge. I think this is a truth we tend to disregard due to the free-spirited persona of the Soul Surfer, which we envy. Sutton illustrates soul surfing as something attained by money and commercialism ? the very evil for which the Gold Coast competitive surfer is so harshly judged. So what is Cyrus saying? What wisdom is this film trying to impart?

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I believe Under the Sun is a film of middle grounds. Even though surf competitions have devolved into events as vapid as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, they still maintain some importance. In the film we hear that surfing competitions are places where young kids can focus their energy and learn social interaction and friendly competition (to say life is void of competition would be foolish). These are valuable skills for the young surfer, and the sport (depending if you ascribe to the idea) keeps the youngsters out of trouble. Also, as is stated throughout the film, surfing competitions allowed surfing to become visible to the outside world and therefore disseminate. Right now next to Lake Erie there is a group of friends shivering around a campfire, drinking seasonal beer, and recapping their days session ? to me that is a pretty awesome thing. Stoke is meant to be shared and competition surfing did exactly that. And, even though the Soul Surfer jet sets around the world on someone elses dime and poses nonchalantly, yet consciously, in a dangling palm branch for a photo-op, surfing is still the better because the soul surfer acts as evidence that a greedless, nature-oriented life of surfing is possible. It is a job just like anything else.

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There is no need to demonize these two groups, which is why Suttons passivity is so important. Even though Sutton lightly brushes on environmentalism and population growth I believe Under the Suns true goal is to reveal the whole reality of both the competition surfer and the soul surfer. We tend to lump judgments into categories of right or wrong, black or white but there is a mammoth grey which is inherent in everything. The waves we ride are not concrete and rigid – why should our perceptions of our fellow surfers be? The surfing community has learned and will continue to learn a great deal from both of these groups. Commercialism and shitI dont knowġHippism? Beardism? Machado-ism? Either way we are all surfers under the sun.

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Glove Review: Patagonia R3 Gloves

October 23, 2013

To be honest, I hate gloves. Cumbersome comes to mind. Disconnected. Uncomfortable. For years I refused. And when I did wear them, the only thing I wanted to do was shake my hands feverishly like some kind of inspired spirit fingers performance – trying desperately to free myself from them. Oh, and did I mention that getting them on was no easier than getting them off? A real pain those goddamn gloves were. But when you start surfing in the winter, or the fall for that matter, they become more important. Because unless you’re some sort of Ice Man, like Arnold in that shitty Batman movie, your fingers are gonna freeze. So I caved and bought a pair, some 3mm gloves made by Matuse, or maybe they were made by O’neil. Anyhow. They kept my fingers from freezeing. For awhile. Then everything went to shit. The seams split and I wore a hole right through the palm, and they eventually let so much water in that I may as well have not beer wearing them.

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My second set was similar. They might have lasted a little longer, or perhaps I just didn’t care about cold fingers that fall. But they fell apart, and so did my third and fourth pair of paw warmers. Disgruntled I was. “Why the hell can’t someone make a pair of mitts that won’t fall apart so fast?!” “Dude,” a friend replied, “gloves are only good for three months, tops!” Bullshit! I’ve owned wetsuits for longer than I’ve owned cars, longer than I dated my high school girlfriend. So if that shit can stick together so well, why can’t they get their glove glue together?!

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Enter the R3. Now you gotta know I was skeptical of these gloves – with that fuzzy white wool on the inside and the rubber cement covered seams. Karissa had owned an earlier iteration of the R3 and they had, like my friend suggested, lasted her just two or three months… tops. But these looked better, well built if you will. And so here I sit, some six months into ownership, wearing a pair of gloves which appear entirely unaffected by the use and abuse they’ve received. They’ve survived sunset sessions in spring, early mornings in May, evenings in August and now October, which is all kinds of cold. And the entire time these gloves have not only kept my fingers from freezing, but provided additional grabability and are easier to get on and off than anything else I’ve owned. 4/5 as far as I’m concerned. We’ll see how the work this winter!

You can pick up your own pair of Patagonia R3 Gloves, here.

Justin Coffey is known to enjoy small waves, strong drinks, motorcycles and misbehaving. He’s also the guy that runs Peanut Butter Coast.

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Surprise Excitement Party

September 13, 2013

“What the fuck are you watching? Surf porn?” That is what my wife asked after discovering me on the couch in boxers and 3D glasses watching our T.V. screen flash between boobs and breaks. This sounds, and to my wife looked, perversely incriminating but I had a good explanation for my compromising situation: I was watching and reviewing Transworld Surf’s “Surprise Excitement Party”. Though, I can’t understand why she was concerned, it isn’t that different from my normal boxers, Star Wars-watching position.

Possibly the reason she used the term “surf porn” (trademark pending) is because Surprise Excitement Party is the DVD equivalent of a man cave. While producing this film the folks at Transworld were obviously trying to appeal to the manly sentimentalities of their, sadly, predominately male audience: girls in bikinis, 3D footage, skydiving shots using GoPro cams, etc. But this hyper-manly, overtly sexual footage isn’t the main course.

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Surprise Excitement Party has some absolutely amazing and jaw dropping surfing. Deep barrels and acrobatic airs, normally absent from fashionable contemporary surf films, permeate Transworld’s film illustrating competition surf style rather than the current trend of “soul surfing”. Sorry, no longboards here folks. Regardless of style, all films should follow Surprise Excitement Party’s lead by filming in HD. The stunning HD footage is vivid and crisp; one can almost feel the wind blowing through Slater’s locks. Ironically, contrary to the vogue of current surf films, Transworld Surf is being more pure in its footage by actually 86ing the filters and projecting the most accurate vision, via HD footage, of what it is like to be in the water, on a surfboard.

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Surprise Excitement Party is Surf Porn indeed – it is pleasurable and easy. The film may not be a work of artistic visionary, which has to be analyzed and scrupulously picked apart, but it is entertaining. Surprise Excitement Party houses all the elements of a simple good time. The 3D scenes are childishly fun, the wipe out sequence is painfully hilarious and the GoPro shots are easy summed up as, “gnarly bro” (I can hear Jeff A. saying it now). The whole film is light. I mean, who wants Martin Scorsese directing their porno? If so, you may be at the wrong site.

So, for a good time grab a bottle of suntan lotion, lock the door and pop in a little surf porn.

– Patrick

Pick up your own copy of Surprise Excitement Party

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.

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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.

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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

Gear, Reviews

Gear Review: TOPO Designs Hip Pack

July 26, 2013

When Topo Designs unveiled their Hip Pack, I got all sorts of excited. I’ve never been a fan of the traditional fanny pack, but this thing was different. I saw photos of people wandering the world with the bag slung over their shoulder, and I imagined what my life might be like if I had one as well. I began to think of all the things this bag could do… hold my jacket so I didn’t have to, secure my belongings when I run out the door; rushing off to my next adventure. I was tired of losing my cell phone, keys or my favorite chapstick when I tossed my other bags on the floor of the van and this seemed like the solution.

Honestly I think my husband was tired of me making a mess, because when I sent him a link to Topo’s teal and red Hip Pack, he immediately ordered me one! As soon as it arrived, I tested it’s ability to carry some of my stuff, the essentials first… my makeup bag, glasses, sunglasses, money clip, cell phone, keys, Moleskin, chapstick, Opinel picnic knife… and there was still room! So I added the book I’ve been trying to read, our waterproof camera, my extra pair of earrings (a girl can never have too many!), my flask (bourbon please!), and guess what? There was still room for more sutff! This bag is awesome!

 

I bring it to work and with me on the weekends, and have fallen in love with both its looks and utility. Hell, I’ve even started wearing it on my hip, not just slung over my shoulder! So if you’re looking for a bag that can carry all sorts of stuff, that is rough and tumble yet stylish and cute, pick up a Hip Pack!

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This review originally appeared on The Peanut Butter Coast

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.

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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

News, Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Brick + Mortar: Almond Surfboards & Designs

July 11, 2013

Surf shops are a dime a dozen in Southern California. Everything from wholesale warehouses to small, boutique businesses. Some are soulless, others are awe inspiring. Boards being built, shorts being sewn – the essence of 1960s surf culture still alive in some. Authenticity is important, though. The big brand stores selling so much of the same shit; shirts with swirly logos and crazy color combos. Apparel and accessories not made in America. Profit margins being of the utmost importance. Almond Surfboards and Designs was a different story, though. Founded in 2008 by Dave Allee and a handful of friends, Almond is “the premier lifestyle brand of the Surfer+Craftsman… a collaborative effort of friends who enjoy making things the old fashioned way.” I can get into that. So when we were in So-Cal a few weeks ago, we took some time to visit their new store in Newport Beach.

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It sits on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway, a rather infamous stretch of pavement that has transported surf seekers since the early 1940s. It’s unassuming from the outside. A grey(ish) blue building with a small sign in the window. But when you walk in, the tall ceilings and exposed air ducting, the assorted surfing shapes on one side, clothing and accoutrements on the other, you realize this isn’t going to be an ordinary experience. And then there’s Dave. A handsome young man in his late-twenties, Dave couldn’t have been more inviting. He showed us around the shop; boards and bikes and small wooden skateboards and all kinds of clothing. He talked about crafting things in California, his passion for producing. He smiled when we explained what it’s like to be a surfer from Seattle. Genuine is what I would say. A damn fine dude.

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We spent three or four hours inside their shop. Karissa found a few things she couldn’t live without, including a Pepto-Bismol pink Lumberjack that was hiding in the corner (unfortunately she couldn’t afford to keep it). We walked out with that warm fuzzy feeling you can acquire only when you surround yourself with the stoked. People that honestly appreciate our salty lifestyle. So-Cal or anywhere else. We seek the same thing. And the guys at Almond Surfboards and Designs are doing their part to keep people interested in our ideals.

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Justin Coffey is known to enjoy small waves, strong drinks, motorcycles and misbehaving. He’s also the guy that runs Peanut Butter Coast.

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

Book Review: The Plight of the Torpedo People

May 27, 2013

I buy a lot of books. My wife would tell you too many. A nasty habit I acquired from my old man. Buy three, read one. But coffee table books don’t count. Because you can’t really “read” them. You pick it up on occasion, peel through a few pages, ogle some images and then return it to its home on the hardwood (cause glass coffee tables should have stayed in the 80s). This book, however, is an exception, as it accompanies Come Hell or High Water, a body surfing film made by Keith Malloy. Now, to be completely honest, I didn’t watch the movie until after I’d already browsed through the book. Maybe a mistake. But the images inside The Plight of the Torpedo People are incredible, and as far as I’m concerned, they can be appreciated with or without an introduction to their importance. There are also screen grabs from the film, which offer the “reader” a window into the world of a surfer sans stuff. A poem by Mark Cunningham captures their connection – Torpedo People pulling to big peelers, falling down the face, escaping underwater. A connection us above water wave riders can’t have. It’s a beautiful book. One that’ll make you wanna pick up a pair of fins and swim out when it’s shitty. Or when it isn’t.

 

J.W.

Pick up your own copy of Plight of the Torpedo People

Justin Coffey is known to enjoy small waves, strong drinks, motorcycles and misbehaving. He’s also the guy that runs Peanut Butter Coast.