Wrestling Elephants is a blog, a podcast, and a forum for the exchange of ideas.
This is the fifth in a series of interviews I’m doing for Pilgrim Radio. This conversation is with Steve Pezman, co-founder and publisher of The Surfer’s Journal. Steve was also the publisher of Surfer. He’s seen a lot of surf culture over the years. — Jamie Brisick
And as a bonus, a list of Steve Pezman’s most stylish surfers:
Phil Edwards: Not for power which he had at his beck and call, but for intuitive rides, radical precise edge turns in surprising wave parts (like middle rather than top or bottom turns, way more difficult cause there’s no bottom to bounce off and it’s all about radical direction change mid-face, edge carving with little surface to hold to, on the vertical portion of the face you usually move through rather than use) his body language identifiable from far away, his overall esthetic, so far ahead of everyone else in his day that surfers went in to watch when he paddled out.
Matt Kivlin: Post war originator of the contemporary California point style, featuring upright stance and torso, a bend-zee-knees and-zee-ankles snow skiing style, arms and hands spread low and used elegantly, riding deep/trimming from way back—Mickey copied him.
Miki Dora: Smooth and snarly under pressure, rakish, dark and attractive, climb and drop nose riding flow master, his beach style might mix a bare-chested thrift store tweed with leather elbow patches, worn over low slung indolence. Formal wear? Tux sans socks. Skilled at all the moneyed games: tennis and golf, knew wine from his (birth) father, trusted no one, rude, self-centered brat on both land and sea, the most imitated surfer of his time.
Renny Yater: His arched silhouette at Rincon was the Surfer magazine logo, the ultimate smooth trimmer with a uniquely elegant physical language described by Bob Cooper as, “Gave me chicken skin just watching him walk down the street and turn a corner!”
David Nuuhiwa: Lanky, loose, gorgeous in motion, weightless, both facing or back-to, hung heels, tens, tip-wrapped one-legged fives, beautiful inbreed Hawaiian flow, the nose riding and otherwise surfing genius in his prime. Or... a moke who realized there was more to life but had no clue what it was—never should have left Waikiki.
Tom Curren: When style disappeared, having been exchanged for feet-planted short-board-wrenching power moves, he kept the power but retrieved a natural style from California’s waste bin.
Barry Kanaiaupuni scenario: This was like ’69, when “short”, minimalist, “how much less can I ride?” was being answered by BK on a 7ft, seventeen-inch-wide spear, attempting a late takeoff at the top of a concave Sunset face, hanging there for an instant, then air-dropping to the bottom in an upright stance, slightly separating from the deck below him then reconnecting as it lands, into a leaned over, rock solid swoop buried to the stringer, squirts up face, body leading, into a snap-down at the top, and then the whole deal over again, twice more, each bottom and top turn slightly more radical than the last, until he flies over the back, all with a bit of swagger. Shit!
Jackie Baxter: Hot shit 15-year-old from Santa Monica, blond, beautiful, dark tan, totally unpredictable on a wave. A swank flow-master who flashed radical in any circumstance. Girls ate him up.
Buddy Boy: A sun-darkened body and face contrasted his white smile. Hot snow skier. Surfed beautiful slack-key style, off-balance, hugely improvisational, seemingly about to lose it but rarely did. On shore, he was such a fuck-up that although one of the very best, rarely on anyone’s list.
Greg Tucker: Cute handsome, surfed like Baxter but being taller, with more body leverage to gracefully fling around. Always off-balance, never over his board, more often leaning out ahead of it. Died young in a head-on with a taxi in the mountains above Acapulco.
– Photos by Jamie Brisick
Intro Song: Dirty Three – “It Happened”
Outro Song: Gabor Szabo - "Gypsy Jam"