It’s the last Thursday of November, which means it’s time to make time for all those family members you happily avoid the rest of the year. We’ll dine on the flesh of 45 million turkeys (according to PETA) and a near equal amount of college freshman will come home for break, ready to regale all and sundry with their first semester brilliance. Because Thanksgiving is all about celebrating the genocide of the native Americans, and, anyway, Americans should be ashamed of themselves for stuffing their gullets while the rest of the world starves.
But, as surfers, we have things for which we should be truly thankful. So be sure and grab a morning session to whet that appetite, and while you’re sitting around struggling to digest that mass of meat and starch slowly making its way through your colon, give these things a little reflection.
1. Surfing is HARD. There aren’t many pursuits that truly take the type of single minded dedication required to become a competent surfer. Sure, you can fuck around on the weekends and stop trying once you can stand and trim consistently, but you’ve gotta admit, you’ll still suck. Surfing takes a lifetime of sacrifice and struggle and become truly proficient, and that’s just great. Because if it were as easy as, say, snowboarding, your local closeout beach break would be an even bigger clusterfuck each weekend than it already is.
2. High Coastal Rent. If you’re willing to give up the finer things in life and put up with the insane cost of living near the ocean anywhere in the United States you’ve no doubt bitched and moaned about it. And that’s okay, because your landlord is a greedy prick and we all can’t wait for the baby boomers to drop dead so their kids can put some of that property back on the market.
For now, though, it’s worth every scrimped penny and foregone luxury. Because even though your neighborhood gets invaded every single weekend, and despite the fact that there isn’t a free parking space within a mile of your run down overpriced little shitbox, you’re on the scene – when it’s working. Every time it glasses off right before sundown, each time you spot a fun little wind swell wedge when most of the coast is garbage, you can head right on out, rather than packing your gear and fighting traffic for 45 minutes only to find that Surfline is full of shit, and it’s overcast, onshore, and not even rideable.
3. Hawaiians. They invented the sport and their stolen homeland provided a verdant landscape in which our sport could progress. Sure, we killed most of them off with disease and forced their descendants into poverty, but that’s all the more reason we should show some appreciation. Without the Hawaiian people not a single one of us would be living a life that resembles the ones we do now. So give thanks, and if you managed to scrape together enough money this year to take a pilgrimage to Oahu: smile, don’t drop in, and, if someone calls you out, keep your haole fish belly pale head down and your mainland mouth shut.
4. Leashes. Because the vast majority of surfers are out of shape piles of shit who couldn’t spend a session chasing their board to the beach if their life depended on it. Which it kind of would.
In the pre-leash era committed surfers were carved from mahogany, now we’re sculpted from pudding. And, as much as I’d love to resemble a marble masterpiece carved by some Italian pervert, I’m married, so it doesn’t much matter what I look like anymore. And all that swimming is entirely too much work anyway. So thank you, Jack O’Neill!
5. Randy French. Sure, other board builders had tried to offshore production in order to lower costs and increase profits, but Randy French did it best. By hammering out durable, reasonably priced pop outs for the masses in a country where surfing doesn’t really exist he led the way in free market surfboard entrepreneurship. Without his foresight and guidance we wouldn’t live in a world where every shopped is packed to the rafters with low cost imports, and would instead be forced to patronize the fume addled degenerate known as the “local shaper.” Sure, the boards sucked at first, but every year we see the countries that excel most in the exploitation of human capital creeping ever closer to getting it right.
6. The Internet. Yeah, it killed the magazines, and that’s a bummer. But if you lived in a pre-Internet world you’ll remember the lack of content and delay in news that came with using dinosaur blood to print pictures on dead trees. You’d learn who won Pipe sometime in February, and only know about huge swells if you lived near enough to see them break. And forget videos, a handful a year would trickle out and you’d be forced to make time to go see it at the local high school when it came to town. Now we’ve got a virtual glut of content at our fingertips. Check the swell, have a wank, then watch your favorite pros get shacked in real time without ever needing to leave your bedroom. Maybe it took away a little of the sports “soul,” but that’s a small price to pay if you never again need to spend all day driving the coast hoping to stumble onto the one spot that’s picking up enough swell to make pulling on a damp wetsuit worth the hassle.
7. Being raised in a surfing family. While the preceding are meant to be things that we all should be thankful for, this one is personal. Being raised in and around the ocean has made it possible to lead a life the likes of which most other people can only dream. Instead of working some shitty cubicle job, or, just as likely, pumping poison into my veins in some inner city shooting gallery, I’m writing this from the confines of my awesome house in the mountains on the unbelievably gorgeous island of Kauai. Without surfing, without all the frigid mornings my father forced a shivering and terrified little grommet out on overhead days in middle of the LA Winter, I’d most likely be a fat and miserable waste of space just going through the motions every day until I was finally embraced by the void that surrounds us all. Instead of, you know, being a fat and happy waste of space who writes stupid surfing shit on the internet and is going to crack a cold beer the moment he finishes this sentence.