This is "So-California"
The wind shows us how close to the edge we are. — Joan Didion, The Santa Ana
The first Inherent Bummer road trip happened last week, but until today I hadn’t been able to articulate its significance. Now that I’m sitting on the porch watching California’s first Santa Ana winds of the year blow, shaking the circulatory system of alleyway electrical wires, bending palm trees backwards, and grooming the Pacific with plumes of watery mist, I think I can do it.
Southern California might not seem like a mythological place because many of us are too close to see it, we forget how fucking weird it is. How “So-California” it is. To be sure, California is definitely not the birthplace of surfing, but it is the birthplace of surf culture, and the ensuing amalgamation of rich cultural significance that makes it simultaneously loveable and hateable. We have John Severson, Gidget, the Fletchers and Kolohe Andino. Volcom. Surfer Magazine. Surf City. The Wedge. Katin. The entire umbrella of weirdness that fits under Counter Culture. The Pumphouse Gang. Alleyways that stretch all the way to the water. Trestles. The South Bay. The wealthy and the blue collar mingling on the edge of America—together. Filtering into the water. Riding waves.
The past two days Los Angeles, and the rest of Southern California, was hungover with defeat. We watched a depressing Dodgers playoff loss, and it was a lazy week for waves. Power grids shut down in anticipation of these gusty and storied winds. Yesterday had an apocalyptic feeling. The desert inhaled before blowing dust our way. Lana Del Rey, an overly glamorized manifestation of this uniquely Californian culture, serenaded the Hollywood Bowl. The wind carried her voice through the city’s cracks. Last night felt like it could very well have been our last evening on earth as the winds marched in from the desert. But today the winds arrived, and there is a warm new hope in the streets. It’s Friday in October and chaotic optimism is thriving in this odd, dry air. The wind seems to have even drifted across the Atlantic, where Jeremy Flores won the Quik Pro, and nothing feels more Fall than that. The wind kicks up excitement, the unknown, and cultural shifts that can’t be predicted.
Last week, as we drove, we met a variety of characters. These characters that live along the western edge of America attract ogling, anthropological interest, even. The allegorical beach bums walk so we can run. In La Jolla, a local wild-eyed man named Max shook our hands with a bloody and bandaged fist and a gash in his head that he covered with gauze and then with a beanie. He’s a La Jolla native and he recognized one of our van occupants, Mauro Diaz, who is from Puerto Rico but spends a lot of time in Mexico charging Puerto Escondido. Because Mauro is a genuinely good-spirited guy that seems beloved by everyone he meets, Max was psyched to see the young Puerto Rican. And, thanks to Mauro’s reputation, Max instantly promised us all set waves in La Jolla if we wanted them — but as he said this, an off-duty paramedic decided it was time to inspect the gash in his head.
In Oceanside we saw summer unfold with overweight and leathered residents bronzing, while massive cranes gentrified the nearby downtown. In Laguna Beach we searched for girls that hadn’t gone back to college yet but found none — only beautifully deserted beaches and a wave-ruining north wind. In Huntington Beach we observed fighter jets warming their engines for a celebration of our military air defenses as 3-foot blue peaks rolled in between thick pods of dolphins. From there, we went north, to Los Angeles, because it was offshore when everywhere else was onshore. But it was small. We went all the way to Ventura after that and it ended up being the cherry on top a very Californian roadtrip. “This wind swell isn’t even on the buoys its so localized,” said Mini Blanchard, Dane’s life-long filmer between bites of a double double from In ‘n’ Out. “You guys lucked out.”
We had a night out with Dillon Perillo in LA and as is tradition, we chased our tail through Silver Lake. And onto Hollywood Blvd. We tried to attend a girl’s birthday party but didn’t get let in. Possibly because we were a group of nine men, in hoodies. We ended up back at the home where Curren Caples, Cam Richards and Noah Schweizer live, watching Smashing Pumpkins music videos on YouTube until dawn broke. None of it felt out of place. So-California. Though, it never made much sense why this seemingly routine march mattered.
As I considered our first trip, Nick Cave’s new, slow-burning and very ethereal record “Ghosteen” cascaded through my home. The lyrics, “We’re all so sick and tired of seeing things as they are” struck me as the wind gust down my alley, reminding me that all those insignificant moments, in a van full of our shit, add up to create something profound. Something meaningful. We are Southern Californians. We are the folklore. The smells of body odor, tobacco, wet-wetsuit, FU Wax and stale beer reinvigorate me to keep moving. Even if it’s in our own backyard. We surfed waves most of haven’t seen since we wore NSSA jerseys every weekend and realized we missed them all. We saw friends in every lineup and in every parking lot. And Max in La Jolla. It was good to see you all. In person. On the lot. And in the water. —Travis Ferré
Over the next few weeks we’ll roll out our new video over on Surfline and here at Inherent Bummer. We got to rent the van and enjoy frosty beers each night thanks to Saint Archer Brewery—truth be told, we put a solid dent in a crate of their ales as we made our way through California’s backyard.