CSOV is more of an art zine than a surf mag and has virtually nothing intrinsically to do with the act of surfing itself or the “sport.” It’s more a mirror reflection and by-product of surf culture and Venice Beach, with endearing surf illustrations and photos and a brief Q&A with former surf-pro and Venice resident Brad Gerlach.
It has no real articles or substantive text in the usual sense, but instead relies more on images and artwork. The overall effect is one of an aesthetic and a vibe, which makes its title all the more apt.
“Can’t Steal Our Vibe” comes off as a vapid, hasty and lazy throw-away of a magazine produced with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, great if inscrutable style, and zero fucks given. Its got the intellectual nutrition value of a Twizzler. But it’s a Twizzler we want to keep chewing over and over and over again.
Sooooooo … Spanto is a Kook. “Who is Spanto? Why is he a kook?” you ask, savvy reader. These are fair questions. We want to know who Spanto is, too! Spanto’s identity is an esoteric, hyper-local mystery, which makes the graffiti on this condemned house in Venice, in Los Angeles, all the more intriguing.
A kook, on the other hand, is less a mystery. The word is not obscure. But it’s not used as often in general discourse as it may have been several generations ago. “Kook” in the pictured graffiti is not being used in way that it might be generally understood as synonymous with “crazy person” or “weirdo.” There is another altogether different meaning here.
This other meaning may be more obscure to most people. “Kook” is surfer jargon. Though slangy, the term is not new. It’s been hurled as an insult by surfers for many decades. In short, for surfers “kook” means an inexperienced, often poorly-skilled surfer who’s surfing style and manner reveal a naivete or ignorance of surfing rules, etiquette, techniques and customs.
Venice being a beach town and a surfers town with a strong surfer identity and a gritty surfing heritage, no doubt Spanto — whoever he (or she) is — is being slurred with a surfer’s invocation of “kook.”
The answer, savvy reader, is “No, no it won’t.” Whatever level of individual street cred one has will not be intrinsically changed by watching an awesome, super cool, retro-style surf video. But if there is a surf video that might move the needle slightly to and fro for a hot nano-second before it goes back to its original compass position, it would be this one. “Free Jazz Vein” is the second feature surf film by Argentine filmmaker-surfer Tin Ojeda. (His first was titled “Expencive Porno Movie” (sic), and it’s a classic for the ages.) It’s as beautiful as his first film. We love it.
We stumbled upon this this first-edition copy of the long and precisely titled “Surf Photographs from the Eighties Taken by Jeff Divine.” Published in 2011, this art-coffee-table book presents hundreds of images by prolific and influential surf photographer Jeff Divine that document surfing in the 1980s, a more visually vibrant and colorful decade in surfing history in terms of style, design, fashion and surf culture. The edition pictured here is the house copy at Sandbox Coffee, a cafe popular with surfers in Ventura, California. The book is so well worn that its binding is held together by duct tape.
We stumbled upon this “I Take Care of My Beaches” message on a sticker-bombed pole at the Rincon Beach parking lot near Santa Barbara, California. The sticker’s message is positive and encourage visitors to keep the the coast clean. The message itself can be read as a bit of a cheeky pun, playing off hip-hop culture’s lyrical tropes where usually the word “beaches” would be “bitches.”
This beautifully evocative mural of a beach scene filled with surfers is by artist Shawn David Baker. The artwork was created in 2012 on the exterior wall of a liquor store in the Village of Carlsbad in San Diego County, California.
We spotted these espadrilles with embroidered images of surfers in the display window at Cote A Coast, a small clothing shop on Mulberry Street in Nolita, in downtown New York City. The linen footwear is by Denim Sky.
We love this … The Lone Wolfs (sic) surf shop on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice, in Los Angeles, was recently robbed. The perpetrators smashed one of the shop’s glass doors. The Lone Wolfs responded with this witty, spray-painted message on the plywood they put up to cover the broken door: “Can’t steal our vibe.”
“Expencive Porno Movie” (sic) is not your ordinary surf film. Directed by Argentine surfer and filmmaker Tin Ojeda and released in 2014, the movie features the to-be-expected great surf sequences by great surfers (the very talented Alex Knost making a couple of lengthy appearances in the flick) and highly original, arty interludes.
But what is so special about this surf film is that it was all shot on actual 16mm film in an experimental retro-style that celebrates — almost to the point of fetish — the low-fi, rough-hewn early 1970’s-era filmmaking style common to low-budget, independent American Blaxploitation, sexploitation and X-rated “adult” films of the period. All sorts of happy accidents that come with using celluloid — light leaks, dust, scratches and other flaws — can be seen in the footage. And the soundtrack is a beautifully curated set of organ-laden R&B, Afro-pop, funk, jazz, and jazz-rock from the era that perfectly matches the film’s aesthetic.
Surfing aside, the movie is a beauty, a true original that has raised the aesthetic bar for the genre. Check out the trailer below and this Wax magazine interview with Ojeda.
A sweet mural by St. John with support and in collaboration with Vans and Pilgrim at Pilgrim Surf Supply in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We thought this was an image of a whale smoking a cigarette, but actually maybe it’s just a very large fish … smoking a cigarette. In any case, it’s a beautiful piece of commissioned artwork. We really like the aesthetic and color palette. It’s a nice, warm spot of brightness on yet another dreary, frigid winter afternoon in New York.
Issue No. 3 of our favorite Euro-centric, global, artsy, small-format indie surf magazine has just arrived. We love Acid magazine, and this issue is a keeper (but aren’t they all? Yes, they are.) Lots of beautiful photography, essays and art in this one.
Usually we keep our surfboards stored in a board bag somewhere more sensible and indoors, but after a recent DIY fiberglass repair of some dings, we planted our surfboard outside to dry out on the fire escape turned balcony of our NYC Chinatown apartment.
Surfer wetsuits hanging out to dry on a sidewalk clothes rack on Orchard Street in front of Lost Weekend NYC, a surfing-themed cafe and shop in New York’s “Below Delancey” neighborhood of the Lower East Side (LES). The small cafe is a magnet for neighborhood regulars, surfers, and art-fashion-media and other creative folks living and working in the LES.
We spent part of our weekend surfing (and checking out a lot of art and drinking a lot espresso, too, of course) at New York City’s Far Rockaway Beach. Some friends invited us too an après-surf Korean BBQ B-day party at a condo across from the beach, where a group of people have rented the condo exclusively for the purposes of storing their surfboards so they don’t have to schlep them from Manhattan and Brooklyn. The living room has been turned into essentially a very large and comfortable closet to keep a quiver of some twenty boards. Clever. Love it.
The 2004 film “Riding Giants” introduced the rarefied world of big-wave surfing to the wider public. Nearly a decade later, some of these famous big-wave surf spots have become very crowded and thus even more dangerous. Teahupoo in Tahiti is one such spot where the growing number of surfers has drawn ever larger hordes of spectators, filmmakers, photographers and thus more boats and jetskis and inexperienced thrill seekers. This short film from France’s TV1 titled “Inside the Monster” (French, subtitled in English) is absolutely gorgeous, but highlights the problems of a crowded and dangerous surf spot.
Reid van Renesse’s art photography of skaters, surfers and life in New York City’s Rockaway Beach captures the playful, urban beach subculture of this gritty, singular Queen’s neighborhood. The artwork shown here was recently exhibited and for sale as part of a local fundraising event at Rockaway Beach Surf Club to raise money for rebuilding a skate park destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.