The US Open Of Surfing: An Epilogue to the Shit Storm

Monday, 22 July 2013

Words: David “Crappy” Campbell


It seems that our brave Orange County correspondent is being overwhelmed by something far greater than the sum of all of us.

By midday the show that wasn’t supposed to arrive, yet, has arrived. This event, this happening, is something. Chances are you have never seen something like this, not many people have, although you should. You should be here, engulfed in this massive dust storm, breathing in these toxins that I am breathing in, witnessing whatever the fuck it is that is happening here. We here don’t know what it is, but it seems like a mixture of July 4th pride, Spring Break sexiness, Mall of America consumerism, Vegas capitalism and a touch of Bud Light sleaziness. Just a touch.

I’ve come to believe that the crowd that I am a part of is either the heart, nucleus, or headquarters of this beast. The surfing, the skateboarding, the merchandising, the concerts – all are mere sideshows to the crowd. The crowd is the main event, especially on a day like today, when the waves are pumping yet only the juniors are surfing.

Bros talking about the expiration date on their gym memberships; chicks asking one another, “Do you think he saw us?”; 17 year-olds pushing their teenage breasts out while the pros walk by and guys who don’t know Sex Wax from sex lubricant throwing footballs, vying for their attention.


If someone, or something is in control, is steering this beast, then where are we going? Which road are we taking, what’s the destination? Surely it’s not just to increase consumerism, to make us buy more things, is it? Is this crowd the embodiment of surf-capitalism, taking the sacred art that we all hold so dear and close to our hearts and exploiting it to sell laceless sneakers? I know the bearded fucks in Oregon, surfing in those frigid conditions, with all those famous left points and cold water and no one around, are smirking at what’s going on here. But from which authority, I wonder. They’ve never been here, examined it, taken it head on. Their beards have never brushed the belly of this beast.

All the bad tattoos and piercings are congregating around something as loveable as riding waves. As the crowd/beast kicks up more toxic sand and my ears are filled with more, and more vacuous inanities, and I feel dizzy. I need a beer; I need to touch base with something real. A friend and I navigate the toxic cloud and find a barstool. It is with relief we lap up one bottle, then another. Conversation turns to our favourite barrels, best rides, and favourite surfs. The pall drains from our faces and is replaced by the glow of surfing, of stoke, of storytelling.

Maybe it’s just the beer, but the talking takes me back to why I love surfing so much, why I give a fuck about a spectacle such as this. The US Open needs this crowd, but it’s not the main event. The crowd only cares about itself, and when you’re out of it you remember the surfing, the performances that have gone down here over the years. Now, with Vans at the helm, the setup is exactly the same, but with an added element of coolness. We will see how it pans out. The main event starts tomorrow, the waves will deliver and the crowd will continue kicking up dust, oblivious to what’s happening in the water. And I’m just fine with that.




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