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log 06.29.17

Brooklyn


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Venice


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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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Meet John and Rikki Balk, a couple of born and raised South Bay natives who call Manhattan Beach home with their two kids Koa and Ruby, and dog Hoale. Just a stone’s throw to the Pacific Ocean at El Porto, their two story townhouse sits up on the hill with a perfect view of the surf lineup and sunsets every evening over the water. Rikki has designed and decorated the beautiful surf-inspired house herself from top to bottom and her paintings even adorn the walls throughout. John is a local ripper who started Auctiv, an all natural sunscreen brand with his friends. A couple years ago, the Balk’s world was turned upside down when John was diagnosed with brain cancer. After undergoing brain surgery, he had a seizure that left half of his body paralyzed and since then he’s been on an intense road to recovery learning how to talk, read, walk, and eventually surf again. Hearing both John and Rikki talk in a positive tone about everything they’ve been through with two young kids at their side is nothing short of inspiring. Their story teaches us that every day is truly a gift and we must live each day like it is our last.

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On assignment in Morocco, Alex Wilson read an email from Scott Hulet about possibly joining the team at The Surfer’s Journal. Wilson booked a flight to California as fast as he possibly could to sit down with Hulet, the pen and paper left in Morocco. Two and a half years later, Wilson says it’s the best job he’s ever had. Wilson’s a writer of fiction and non-fiction, East-Coaster, literary nerd, and one of the most thoughtful, generous, and helpful editors that I have had the pleasure to work with. For a long time, Wilson worked at SURFER magazine as an editor before joining TSJ as their deputy editor. In between, he moved back East for his MFA at the New School in New York City. Then, he’d push back and forth from the east end of Long Island to the city, surfing here and there, wandering the city at night, and reading and writing like all hell. Now, he lives up in the hollows of Central California with his wife, daughter, and gang of animals. He’s currently churning out stories for TSJ, honing the work of others, working on a collection of short stories, and a novel. We don’t have enough real estate to list his accolades, but you can find his fiction in Story Quarterly, the Southwest Review, and the anthology, New Stories from the Southwest from the University of New Mexico; and look for his non-fiction in Byliner, Surfer, Surfing, TSJ, and the San Diego Union Tribune among others. Recently, Wilson received honorable mention from The Best American Travel Writing series.

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A rich tale of a young indigenous scientist’s struggle for truth between science and tradition as he enters an industry that many feel is threatening his homeland. His complex journey through the inner workings of GMO chemical companies and traditional Hawaiian elders reveals ancient values that can save our future.

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The day before this interview I told Julien we should make the three hour trip from New York City to Montauk to catch the tail end of a juicy swell. For one reason or another we didn’t, but when we arrived Tony made us pay. “Yesterday was unbelievable,” he said. “Seriously, as good as Ditch Plains gets.” Then he really cranked it up. “It was breaking from the trailer park all the way through the jetty, glassy, 10 people in the water, unreal. It was spectacular – it looked like somewhere else.” After recovering from a nauseating bout of envy, we settled in to ask Tony about his life as a pro longboarder and his enduring love for his home town, Montauk.

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