Salt Fish Surf Co is a surfy boutique in Venice, in Los Angeles, run by the effusive and friendly French surfer Romaine Goudinoux, who designs and sells branded t-shirts, caps, accessories, and leather-and-fabric surfboard bags hand-crafted in Mexico. But, to be clear, his small second-floor store is not a surf shop. In fact, Salt Fish hardly feels like retail space at all, but rather a beautiful shabby-chic, hipster-surfer living room (dubbed “La Casa Saltfish“). It’s fillwd with Mexican blankets and rugs and a few surfboards propped up amid a tiny selection of merch for sale. The space and vibe is so cozy and chill that you don’t ever want to leave.
“Can’t Steal Our Vibe” is a lo-fi, black-and-white ‘zine published by Lone Wolfs (sic) Objets de Surf, a surf brand and shop in Venice, Los Angeles, as well as a music production company and studio.
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.
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.
A few months ago we posted on the phenomena of shops and restaurants upgrading their space with the simple act of adding a surfboard as decorative object or artwork to that space. Many pix were included in the post as examples of this trend. This past weekend we discovered yet another example at a casual seafood restaurant in Newport Beach, California called Bear Flag (killer fish tacos, btw). There, mounted on the wall, is a beautiful, vintage single-fin longboard surfboard with the restaurant’s California-inspired Bear Flag logo laminated onto the bottom of the board.
There’s really no excuse for this. Unless it’s a college dormitory or your parents’ basement or the living room of a pro skater or the place of business for somebody connected to the skateboarding industry (and by extension the surf industry), skateboards as decorative wall art is no bueno, brah!
You see, savvy reader, once you’re past a certain age and a certain living circumstance (i.e., you’ve moved out of your college dorm room or parents’ basement into your own apartment or one-bedroom condo) your choice of decor and artwork should show that you’re adulting, and we mean adulting hard! Continue reading
Yes, it’s true, savvy reader. Sometimes we here at Global Graphica like to pick up a pen, pencil or, preferably, a Sharpie and make little drawings of things, everyday objects, people, faces, and so on. We have a habit of making sketches of surfboards and surfers riding waves, as in the example pictured here. And we do so in our Moleskine notebook or on any available paper surface. In the case of the surfer in the sketch above, we drew that on a paper tablecloth while dining out and killing time as we waited for post-dinner dessert to arrive.
It’s no secret that we here at Global Graphica are fond practitioners of surfing, the so-called Hawaiian “sport of kings.” After contemporary art and good espresso, surfing is our other true obsession.
So on our recent road trips up and down the SoCal coast in search of waves, we stopped in the seaside city of San Clemente, the self-proclaimed “Spanish village by the sea” and a hotbed of surfing and surf culture in south Orange County. There we popped into the Album surfboards shop for the first time to see for ourselves the brand’s famously beautiful and well-designed boards.
We didn’t expect that the shop itself would be as beautiful as those boards. In fact, as we approached the entrance to the minimalist storefront, we were in the hottest of a hot secs stopped in our tracks.
We stood, slacked-jawed and wondered, “Are we in the wrong place? This must be the office of an architecture firm, surely? Or perhaps a day spa designed for the publishers of Wallpaper magazine?”
It was none of those things, savvy reader! It was a surf shop. It was the Album surfboards shop.
We had found surfing’s Holy Grail: An aesthetically-pleasing retail experience ensconced in sophisticated, minimalist architectural design. Our hearts fluttered.
Most surf shops, ya see, they … well, they suck, aesthetically speaking. Most surfboard shapers and brands suck, aesthetically speaking. (As people, they’re awesome; They don’t suck.) But most of them have no taste.
And this bothers us, savvy reader. It tears at our souls. Album, however, has restored our faith.
… And it looked like this.
We’re back after a “few days” hiatus. The break was in part due to Columbus Day, a U.S. national holiday, that for many people, including us, is not a holiday at all. More on that later.
But first … Did you miss us? NO? Well, we missed YOU, savvy reader!
What with the Columbus Day non-holiday stuff and — more to the point — really good surf arriving these past couple of weeks in California after a month of no good surf, we took a few days off from posting.
And then those few days became a week. A week became weekS!
All that time, roaming up and down the SoCal coastline hunting waves AND trying to get work done. Emphasis on “trying.” We didn’t get a lot of work done, at least in terms of posting to this site.
But we did take lots and lots of pix for this site and saw a lot of art in the service of reporting it on this site.
So, Columbus Day non-holiday holiday.
The U.S. government and its related entities, as well as all banks, take this day off. They shut their doors, let their calls go to voicemail, and fuck-off for a Monday.
In the process, they extend their weekend for additional and various weekendy non-work activities like …
- Day drinking
- Home improvement/DIY stuff
- Catching up on and binge-watching their favorite TV shows
- Epic shopping excursions to big-box retailers like Costco and WalMart.
- Road trips up the coast
- Road trips down the coast
- Road trips to the coast …
- Road trips away from the coast
- Supplemental day drinking
That kind of stuff.
Some public and private companies observe the holiday and give their employees the day off, too. But it’s kind of scattershot.
When we were working in the advertising and branding agency world in New York City, most of the companies gave us Columbus Day off.
Not so at our current company or most of the same kind of advertising and branding agencies here on the West Coast.
Columbus Day is kind of a bigger deal in NYC. There’s an annual Columbus Day parade there that celebrates the legacy of Italian Americans.
There are statues of Columbus, and in Midtown Manhattan especially, steps away from Central Park and the Trump International Tower and a Whole Foods, is a traffic circle (what Brits call a “roundabout”) named Columbus Circle. In middle of it is a tall column topped by a statue of Columbus. See photo above.
Columbus is a controversial figure as a symbol of historical celebration, which is understandable. The Italian navigator who sailed for Spain and discovered the “New World” is a symbol of imperialism, colonialism, and genocide for some. Increasingly, It seems the statue’s days may be numbered.
His legacy, however, can’t be denied, for good or ill. And one byproduct of his legacy, in the U.S., at least, is an annual national holiday that befuddles a nation of gainfully employed populaces who just want some clarity on whether they get the day off from work and can spend that day off to go day drinking, etc. (see bullet list above).
Another byproduct is the amazing on-site art installation by artist Tatsu Nishi in 2012 titled “Living Room,” wherein the Japanese artist constructed a temporary apartment living room around the that statue of Columbus atop the column in NYC’s Columbus Circle, making it the centerpiece of a living room.
Let’s be clear, we want the day off. So how about calling it “Controversial Historic Legacies Rememberances Day” or something like that? And then go day drinking? Or to WalMart.
Whatever it’s called, either everybody should get the day off or nobody should. Consistency, folks. Consistency! (Granted, unlike our posts … but we’re working on that.)
Want to add a bit of sexy, aspirational flair to your retail / dining / third-wave coffee establishment, something with a bit of totemic presence and cool-mystique lifestyle cachet?
You say “YES! Yes, I do!” In that case, here’s a tip: Add a surfboard.
That’s it. Just mount a bright colorful surfboard on the wall. Or tuck a couple of beat-up shortboards in the corner of otherwise dead interior space.
If the board still has wax on it, so much the better for authenticity. If it’s a dinged shortboard autographed by a pro surfer — say, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater — and covered in garish energy-drink sponsorship stickers, well, that’s just great. If it’s a pristine, glossy longboard in a bright, yummy candy color that makes you want to lick the board, that’s fantastic.
By doing so you’ll have added tremendous value to your business by improving the “customer experience,” and you’ll have instantly hipstafied your establishment by a solid 34%, minimum. We absolutely swear!
Many examples as follows …
From top to bottom: Sunny Days Cafe, Honolulu; Kono’s Restaurant, Haleiwa, Hawaii; G-Shock SoHo Store, New York; Louis Vuitton Store, Santa Monica, Los Angeles; Lost Weekend Cafe, Lower East Side, New York; Chanel surfboard signed by Gisele Bundchen at art gallery, Venice, Los Angeles.
The space at Daydream Coffee and Surf in Costa Mesa, California is great, but it’s missing a few things that would make it perfect: A bed, a TV, and a set of keys to the space with our name on it.
Mollusk is the wonderful name of a wonderful surf shop in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. It’s one of three such shops – the others are in San Francisco and the LA neighborhood of Silver Lake. These locations should tell you a lot about Mollusk. There’s a willfully underplayed and potent hipster factor at work here, and the shop has got a reputation for being intimidatingly cool for a certain subset of young adult and teenage surfers, who can sometimes be found lingering outside, tentative before entering this small but influential shrine of good-taste surf retail. (Clearly these kids have issues, but, hey, that’s on the kids, right?)
Mollusk is no ordinary surf shop and thank god for that, because comparatively speaking most shops suck in their seen-one-you’ve-most-certainly-seen-them-all ordinariness. Mollusk has fucking style. The gang that run it have taste, grit, and a keenly curated collection of hand-shaped surfboards. This taste extends to the decor and the artwork of the shop, like the painting pictured below of an unbearably cute if freakish half-furry creature and half-neoprene-clad humanoid surfer smoking a pipe while cruising a wave. The artwork is in the surfboard loft of the Venice shop, and it speaks thick volumes about Mollusk’s style.
Last weekend, we stumbled upon this throw pillow with the words “Locals Only” embroidered on it at the Mollusk Surf Shop in Silver Lake in Los Angeles. The pillow is a funny, cute mash-up of old-school, cliched surf-culture sentiment and a folksy, homespun style more fitting in grandma’s living room than a surfer fort at Lunada Bay. It’s not the kind of item that the average surf shop would stock, but then Mollusk is not an average surf shop and Silver Lake is not your average surf shop locale. It’s not a laidback seaside surf haven. That there’s even a surf shop in Silver Lake at all is an anomaly.
Mollusk originated in San Francisco where it made a name for itself that traveled far beyond the Bay Area. It established a style and a reputation for great taste. And for selling interesting, quality surfboards from shapers who made their boards by hand and were influenced by retro designs. Whether it was a shortboard, longboard for a 1970s-inspired “mid-length” board with a single fin, by and large many of these surfboard makers themselves appreciated design and style and their aesthetic tastes were reflected in their boards. (And, by the way, yes, we surf and we enjoy nerding out on this stuff.)
Then Mollusk opened up branches in LA. One is in Venice, LA’s infamous and gritty (if now largely gentrified) beach town. It’s not a mecca of great surfing nor great waves. In fact, the surf at Venice Beach sucks most of the time. But it is a block from the beach and central for the greater LA metro area, and it’s a hub for a creative surfer community. Surfers still paddle out into the waves at the Venice breakwater most days in spite of the poor surf conditions.
Then there’s Silver Lake. It doesn’t have Venice’s location or vibe, but there’s a niche demographic overlap. SLake is home to a class of fashionable creative types (music, film, art, advertising, design), both the moneyed kind and the less-moneyed aspiring kind, and it’s a magnet for a generation of hipsters, some of whom surf or pretend to. Mollusk is right at home here and yet it’s also totally legit, albeit with those ironic, stylish “Locals Only” throw pillows strategically placed in the store.
“Locals Only” has come a long way. It was the kind of thing that one often encountered back in the ’70s and ’80s in the form of crudley spray-painted graffiti near remote or hardcore surf spots along Pacific Coast Highway or at a handlulf of certain “localised” beaches in the string of seaside communities up and down the California coast or in Hawaii. It was a warning to outsiders, one tinged with menace, not to surf that beach … or else. This localism was the harder-edged face of surf culture. So to see those words rendered on the kind of soft, cuddly pillow you might cozy up to on a sofa while sipping a cup of tea and savoring the prose of a Maya Angelou novel, well, it’s funny and brilliant. Its trick is how it both deflates the inherent threat and danger associated with those words while in another way making those words even scarier.
On a recent visit to the Arcana bookstore in Culver City, in Los Angeles, we checked out some beautiful coffee-table books on surfing and surf photography. Among these was a book titled “Surfing San Onofre to Point Dume: 1936-1942.” It’s a collection of sepia-toned photos by Don James documenting his surfing experience and his surfer friends and their lifestyle in Southern California during the pre-World War II era and early war years. The photos reveal what the surfing life was like in its first idyllic golden age when the Hawaiian “sport of kings” was still novel and taking root in California.
. . .
Last weekend we went to Mercado Sagrado, a two-day festival-like event showcasing music, fashion, food, art and surf films held amid the small Old West movie-set town at Paramount Ranch near Malibu, California. There we stumbled upon some beautiful surfboards shaped and designed by Australian label Dead Kooks. The boards were laid out on display at the vendor tent of super awesome surf brand Kassia, one of dozens upon dozens of mostly clothing, home and lifestyle goods makers set up on the sprawling ranch property. The longboard pictured here looks like one Dead Kooks “Nausea” single-fin logs, a fitting board for Malibu. As surfers, we’re kind of in love with Dead Kooks’ aesthetic, though we have yet to buy one of their boards. Eventually, when we’ve put aside enough scrilla to cover the costs and shipping fees from Down Under, we’ll order a board.
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’re fans of the photography of Leroy Grannis (we even have Taschen’s wonderful book on him) so it’s great to see this awesome mural by artist Gretta Kruesi based on a photo of Grannis himself in Venice, Los Angeles.