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log 08.16.17

Brooklyn


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Venice


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Jim Olarte is an artist in every sense of the word, from his unique found object works to the way he lives his life. Stepping into his beach bungalow in Laguna Beach is like walking onto another planet — or a scene out of movie mashup of Avatar meets Pirates of the Caribbean. Upon arrival, you are led down a rickety outdoor staircase lined with a yellow, braided snake of nautical rope that stretches almost thirty yards. At the base of the stairs, you are greeted with a scene that is truly out of this world: long tangles of rope braids hang beneath deck ceiling above like colorful jungle vines, found seashells and beach detritus dangle in the form of intricate, hand-made mobiles room dividers and blinds. Then there are tables with his prized beach-combing finds all laid out and organized neatly, like some pirate treasure room of sorts. Jim is a simple and humble man, but like any true artist, he is also a character layered with complexities and eccentricities that are both charming and intriguing. If you are already looking for Jim on Instagram, don’t bother, he’s still rocking a clamshell flip phone. Old school; just what you would expect from a guy who ran one of the hottest and most influential vintage stores in Southern California for decades. After meeting him, I have so many more questions for Jim, but we’ll just start with this interview for now.

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Mia and Jasson are a beautiful and talented creative couple who both hail from the northern beaches of Sydney. Mia is an artist who creates lively paintings that embody elements of magic, mysticism and spirituality in fine lines and expansive color. She also has an organic linen and bedding brand called Taninaka. Jasson on the other hand, is a stylish, professional free surfer who rides for Banks brand. He is also an teacher of Vedic Meditation, an ancient and practical technique that anyone can learn and easily integrate into daily life. After living in Bali for some time, Jasson and Mia moved back to Australia to plant roots and start a family with their two young boys. They now live in an awesome ‘treehouse’ near Byron Bay. This is a couple who I have always admired from afar, so it was a pleasure to finally meet them in person, get a glimpse into their daily routine at home, and to also hear how these traveling free spirits have adapted to parenthood.

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Meet Jamie Smallwood, a man of simple tastes and pleasures who lives completely off the grid in the secluded mountain rainforest area overlooking Byron Bay and all of its glory. Jamie is an architect by trade who focuses on sustainability in his design projects whenever he can. His own home is a shining example of this; everything is recycled in some way. From the stacked, used shipping container structure, to the well-designed out house made of leftover materials, the palette wood patio, beer keg sauna, hempcrete walls, to even his own DIY surfboard quiver (by fashioning odd shortboard shapes out of broken longboards), Jamie “lets none of the beast go to waste” so to speak. I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie at his very own Fortress of Solitude on a recent trip to Australia where we discussed design / build challenges, the changing hippy culture of Byron Bay, and the pros & cons of an off-the-grid lifestyle.

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Born somewhere in the Canal Zone’s lush understory, Karina Petroni was born traveling. As an activist, traveler, and professional surfer, Petroni has garnered a number of accolades to demonstrate her time in and out of the water. In 2008, she was the top surfer on the World Championship Tour, still the last woman to join the ranks from the East Coast. She’s acted, served as a conservation ambassador, modeled, taken up public speaking, among operating sea planes. Today, Petroni finds herself out in the Central Exumas of the Bahamas, often taking off on trips with her husband David. We pinned Petroni down for a quick run-down of her take on surfing with all this in mind.

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Surfing is lucky to have characters like Peter Schroff. Eccentric, complex, artistic, bold, and most importantly; different. In the surf world, the name Schroff is synonymous with the Echo Beach movement in the 80s. His colorful shortboards were a must have for any high performance surfer during that period. Everything from the board graphics to the print ads for the Schroff brand were drastically different from anything else in surfing at the time. Flash forward to present day; Peter is still marching to the beat of his own drum and very much an enigma. He moved from Newport Beach to Venice 31 years ago and works as a professional set designer and installation artist operating under his design studio, Superlove, but still finds time to create new unique board designs in his home shaping bay. Upon meeting this tall, quirky, sixty-something-year-old figure, you would never assume that he shaped some of the most iconic, progressive boards in modern surfing. His home is more like an art piece – or art exhibit (depending on your interpretation of the a-word). Each room in his front house has a different theme ranging from a medieval breakfast nook with antlers covering the ceiling, to a vibrant Hawaiiana dojo, to a Japanese geisha-like living room. Then in stark contrast, there’s his back house, a prototype of futuristic minimalism. Lengthy novels could be written about this man and even just his home, but for now we must settle on this brief interview.

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Chas Smith is a luminous figure in surfing, an adept journalist, and author. Born in San Jose, California in 1976, Smith’s family uprooted and landed in Coos Bay, Oregon where he learned to surf. After studying intercultural studies in undergrad, Smith graduated with a master’s in linguistics, going on to study in Egypt and at Oxford. Following a story he published in Australia Surfing Life about surfing in Yemen in the wake of 9/11, Smith went on to report in Lebanon, Somalia, Israel-Palestine, and wound up a captive of Hezbollah reporting for Current TV. In the early-aughts, Smith worked for Vice. Soon, he joined Stab magazine at the behest of Derek Rielly, then editor-in-chief, and they set in on an unparalleled era in surf journalism. Some of Stab’s more controversial content garnered unsavory public spats that earned Smith some anti-Semitic epithets, and then in 2014, Smith and Reilly began Beach Grit—a deep well of incendiary, tongue-in-cheek honesty drenched in satire, sans filter. He’s now a regular contributor to The Surfer’s Journal, with bylines at Esquire and Playboy, and the author of Paradise, Now Go to Hell, a cultural vignette of Oahu’s North Shore, which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award for Nonfiction.

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After four years of documenting creative surfers and their homes in our Surf Shacks series, we finally made a book of the project, published by Gestalten. This called for a celebration in our own back yard. We could think of no better way to celebrate a book about “surf shacks” than to create an installation of one ourselves at the party. So we partnered with our friends at Red Dot Goods to help bring the vision to life with a curated selection of their vintage surf culture relics in the entryway of General Admission. There were street tacos, plenty of free beer from Sapporo, Tequila drinks from Jose Cuervo and refreshing coconut water thanks to Zico. And like any good party in Venice these days, there was an eclectic mix of hipsters, surfers, hipster surfers, vagrants, creative professionals, models, legends, skate rats, socialites, freeloaders, the cops (of course), nobodies, somebodies and everything in between drinking and having a good time together. Big thanks to everyone who made it out to celebrate with us, and especially those who contributed to the book in some way.

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As cliche’ as it may sound, Linn Lundgren and Petter Toremalm are living the dream. For real. They reside in a turn-of-the-century villa tucked amidst the jungle, less than a kilometer from the balmy Indian ocean in southern Sri Lanka. They’ve got an antique Land Rover, a dozen dogs, and unlimited coconuts. But more importantly, they’ve got a speed that the lifestyle of Sri Lanka allows. At a pace that is steady and relaxed, the young founders of Sunshine Stories surf and yoga retreat busy their days with work and pleasure, but most impressively, blur that line making both one-in-the-same.  I was welcomed into their home with great hospitality and thoroughly enjoyed the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. Their design aesthetic is a breezy mix of Scandinavian design (they are Swedish ex-pats) with obvious influence from tropics; native banana plants in concrete pots, white-washed stucco interior, big windows with great afternoon light. Their property is impressive, but cozy and of course close to the beach. I thank them for allowing me to pay a visit, try the homemade dhal, and borrow a few Bing Surfboards.

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Kassia Meador’s knee-knocking cool has come to define a generation of surfing. Deemed the “queen of noseriding” by the New York Times, her poised form floating through the pocket of a first point runner is seared in the minds of anybody who has seen her surf. Born in 1982, Meador grew up a short drive from Malibu up through the serpentine canyons that lead to Westlake Village. In 2011, she’d take second place on the ASP Women’s Longboard Tour. Two years before, her surfing featured prominently in Thomas Campbell’s film The Present. Aside from her Tudor-esque style that’s hard to forget, her exuberance in and out of the water is unmistakable. You’d be hard pressed to find photographs of Meador without a gleaming grin stretched across her face. In the past few years, Meador has gone on to build and grow her own company, KASSIA+SURF, which makes wetsuits and gear for women spanning tops, long-janes, spring suits, and full suits in countless variations of color and design.

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In the gray and sludge-trodden depths of New York’s winter, a glimmer of hope flashed into a long-quiet Whatsapp thread on my phone: two friends would be available for a surf trip in May.

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Born in 1957 in Newport, Australia, Derek Hynd joined the world tour in 1979—a year after graduating college—and retired from competition at twenty-five in 1982. Hynd had gone blind in his right eye after being struck by his board in 1980, but he continued to compete and turned a few heads finishing seventh on the tour in 1981, his best result. Afterward, Hynd became a coach to the Rip Curl surf team, coaching up-starts like Jamie Brisick and went on to become a writer and remains a standout surf journalist. But Hynd’s most well known feat might be becoming analogous to “free fiction” surfing as he calls it. He has undoubtedly come to be known as a pioneer in how one can draw a line along a wave’s face. Many refer to it as finless surfing. But whatever you call it, Hynd remains paramount to the pursuit, developing boards and approaches in a milieu of their own. Since the ‘80s, Hynd has appeared in countless surf films such as Litmus (where his signature highline arch came to pass as the visual signifier of the film 20 years from its outset), and his byline has appeared again and again in places like The Surfer’s Journal and Surfer among others. If you need a reminder of how beautiful surfing can be, take a look at videos of Hynd out at his home away from home in Jeffrey’s Bay or revisit Litmus. Some of my fondest memories of spending time in Jeffrey’s Bay were checking the waves at dawn to find Hynd out at the top of Supers and to see him out there as the sun ebbed each day.

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Leila Hurst is a professional surfer darting around the world as a freesurfer. She lives in California and grew up in Kauai. At 23 years old, she’s a bright flare in professional surfing, abstaining from the competitive bric-a-brac, although she laid claim to the 2011 World Junior Championships flexing her competitive prowess. This regular foot’s strengths really shine at groomed right points, arcs and wraps punctuated with poised head dips and sharp lines which have made her the only woman on the Vans surf team. Take a look at what she had to say about the pursuit that became a living.

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