Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

There is no disputing Ron Rosenbaum's bona fides when it comes to insight into Long Island culture, but he can be unnecessarily snide. It is also true that he is a man not above beating a dead joke past the point of endurance. Both of these qualities mar his otherwise excellent piece on surf culture this week. First things first: Ron, nobody ever called it "the Guyland", and even as a Tom Wolfe-esque attempt at emulating the accent it is a lame joke. It was a lame joke the first fifty thousand times you took a stab at it-- get over it. Second, what do you mean, "I’ve followed surf culture since high school, when—even on Long Island, of all places—there was an embryonic surf culture centered around the South Shore’s Gilgo Beach,"? Even on Long Island? Dude, The Rock has some of the best beaches in the world! To be sure, the surf isn't up to the Antipodes, or The Big Island, or wherever else people go to find the Perfect Wave, but c'mon, there is no reason that I can think of for you to feign surprise that people surf sixty miles from NYC. You evoke Gilgo, so I have to believe you've been on a board-- why disparage the experience?

That said, the remainder of the essay gets it right. "The casual, cheerful rejection by early surfers of conventional American life in almost all its aspects: ambition, career, conventionality. Theirs was a great “No” in a sunburnt California way. They lived a nomad life, without a roof over their heads much of the time, unconcerned with material possessions beyond their boards, living for the ever-receding dream of the Perfect Wave. What could be more Transcendental?" I might propose that what is really being described is Beach Culture, and that Surf Culture is merely a subset of the larger sun, salt and sand rejection of the nine to five world, but I think there is something happening here that is worthy of further investigation. I saw "Blue Crush" for the first time this past winter, and the glimpse into warm weather culture that my trip into the Confederacy just afforded makes me yearn for something other than the temperatures in the 30s with the prospect of flurries that are still my daily reality here in Buffalo. I'm going home and listening to Dick Dale tonight.

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