Under the paving stones, the beach! —Graffiti, Paris, May 1968
What, you thought that was it? No encore? No more overly romantic ranting about surf culture? No more aerial hipsters? No more flopping around on the deck of a boat like a fish that refuses to be caught? Truthfully, I considered retiring to an apple orchard and a lonely wave in Northern California that I grew fond of last year. But I couldn’t stay away. My mind was always here. I need to wonder and create within the surf community. I want to debate and do no-look-paddle-outs at shitty beach breaks and snarl and bang my fists in mutiny on the bar in frustration with the way things are and reinvigorate the whole damn thing. Solitude is a wonderful place to visit, but it’s not where I want to live. Which is why I’m introducing you to our new communal spider web: Inherent Bummer. Let’s call it a new project. A place for us all to hangout, read, and tell stories that leave us feeling a little bit better.
I’ve learned a lot about the word “bummer” recently. It’s a word we slip into daily conversation and onto which most of us attach a negative connotation. I’ve learned better. Our surf lives are riddled with bummers — bad winds, broken boards, sandy feet, fat tides, missed flights, lost bags, crowds, flat spells, parking lots, wipeouts and countless strikeouts. We forget that those little bummers are actually what make the surfing experience so unique, so impossible to replicate. And those little bummers are an integral part of the reason why gliding on a wave is so indefinably awesome. They teach us to shift the rudders slightly, alter our direction and make another move. It’s those adjustments that create lifelong friendships, memories and late-night tales. Our lives are made better, more enriched through bummers. As we enter a world of algorithms and A.I. designed to satisfy our every desire for dopamine and consumer products, it’s our surfing bummers that will save us.
My return finds surfing seeking validation from the strangest places, infatuated as ever with wave pool perfection and stricken with a debilitating case of self-consciousness. More conservative and enamored with the dollar, with getting everything just right, selling a drowsy, sterilized version of our lifestyle so it’s palatable, catering to the demands of the masses — and we’re doing it all divided up amongst ourselves. Comp guy, freesurf, fish, longboard, big-wave, grom, dad and irritable local. It’s time we reassemble, together, and remind the world why they came knocking: because we didn’t give a shit about their world to begin with!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a soft top adult learner or grizzled lot lizard who intrinsically knows the back roads of Baja and its offshore bathymetry, whether surfing is habitual, meditative, athletic, euphoric, competitive, therapeutic, rebellious, or a way to hang and talk shit with your best friends — if you recognize it as a culture full of strange and subtle nuances, I’m talking to you. Surfing is designed to weather this whole mad world, together. It transcends the rush of the scroll and it can’t be artificially replicated because the only way to experience it properly is to have the audacity to join the club and let it consume you. Surfing is our very own unique and inherent bummer. It’s right there in front of you, right beneath all the paving stones on planet earth. To the beach! — Travis Ferré