I once heard a story about a burglar that sued the institution he was robbing. Around 1984 was when this all went down and as the story goes this burglar climbed up on the roof to steal a spot light, during his criminal adventure he fell through a skylight and injured himself severely. Good right? Karma's a bitch, but as the story goes it turns out this scum of the earth ended up suing the institution he was planning on robbing, and won a substantial amount of money.
So it leave's me to ask the question, are cases like this responsible for the decrease in localism in the lineup? After all, once news of these type of lawsuits got out it opened up the flood gates for people to start suing one another and this fast became the news that people outside of America heard about. Anyone living outside of America looking in, saw that it made Americans look like a bunch of sensitive babies. Hell, I even read in my local town's newspaper in South Africa about a surfer from Oxnard who got banned from the beach he grew up at because he hit someone, went to court and got sued. We read this and laughed. But in this day and age in Los Angeles you can't smack someone in the water anymore, regardless of their crimes. Hawaii excluded, because there they hit first, ask questions later and if you call the police they're likely to tell you that you deserved it. And what's happening in Palos Verdes at Lunada Bay is a far cry from localism, that's just a bunch of entitled brats showing how big their dicks are to the general public, none of these fools can surf or would dare step out of their comfort zone.
I had always heard stories about the locals in Venice Beach, if you weren't from Venice you didn't have a chance out in the lineup, it was fierce and seniority ruled. You fucked up and you got beat down, not to mention the board walk crawled with gangsters and heavy mother fuckers. Hardened dudes that people like me are too scared to look in the eyes.So what happened? gentrification bleed into the surf too?
About 4 years ago I packed up and moved to Venice on a whim. I was over Orange County and needed a change, what I had always heard about Venice made me fascinated by the place and the thought of living somewhere that was a bit unpredictable excited me and made me feel a little less homesick. My first morning after moving in I went down for a surf at the breakwater. To my surprise the waves were really fun but between the time of suiting up and getting into the water 30-40 people had paddled out and it was shit show. Kooks dropping in, getting in the way and absolutely no order. Some of the worst chaos I had ever seen in a lineup. It was like Brazil, maybe worse. Sure there was a few gents in the lineup taking any wave they wanted, making a few angry remarks but the rest of the surf, hopeless chaos. With gentrification in Venice, raised questions about what it means to have a 'local beach'. Did the influx of money ruin the lineup? Are we trying to blame gentrification for the chaos? Touch a Google employee and you'll be held up in court for the next year? Or are the waves just not good enough to fight over? Has the surf community evolved quicker than everyone else in the way of conflict resolution, I mean Trump is talking about killing families of anyone associated to terrorists, while the locals in the surf in Venice and LA just give a stern warning not to do it again. And I get it, 3 degrees of separation these days means being an asshole to someone could come back to bite you in the ass in your personal life or professional career but where's the fucking edge man?
All hope isn't lost though. The Washington Pier still holds it down. I was surfing there a few mornings ago and I was reminded about authority in the lineup. There's a ranking system there and if you fuck up you're going to hear about it. Oh and if you're on a SUP, good luck. Trying to do a surf lesson down there? Good fucking luck. Too many people sitting in the way, the boys here will tell everyone to get out or move down the beach. It's not strength in numbers, it's earned. They're down there hanging out or surfing come rain or shine. The lineup has a sense of camaraderie that's lost in surfing. There's banter amongst friends and if you're sensitive, you won't last a minute. The old boys watch over the local kids and it still has the environment of which surfing built it's reputation off. Do a good move or get a good wave, characters on the beach will be waiting for you with a cold beer. They spend the day down there enjoying each others company and no cellphones, actually leave them at home - NO SOCIAL MEDIA ON THE BEACH. Social interaction at it's finest. Don't believe me, take a walk down there and see for yourself.
*Kooks aren't people with poor surfing ability, I'm a firm believer of the person having the most fun is the best surfer in the lineup and we all started somewhere. Kooks are people with no etiquette or regard for anyone else in the surf. Also remember, a surfboard can be a deadly weapon and severely injure someone.
Opening image by: Brian Averill.