Endless winter: The breaks of the game, rookie

Entry 8, riding into the whitewash:


The book: “The Surfing Handbook: Mastering the Waves for Beginning and Amateur Surfers”

The author: Ben Marcus

The vital info:strong> MVP books, 260 pages, $19.95 (released in June):

The curl: Before you get out there and try it, at least read what you should be doing. Like, for starters: How big is your board? The bigger, thicker and wider, the better for a beginner because it has more flotation — “which is like training wheels for a beginner,” Marcus writes. Even better, try a softoard, or a foamie. From there, it’s all about walking the novice through wetsuits, dry runs on the sand, how to duck under a wave, etiquette, and being safe. It helps if you know the lingo, too.

The excerpts: Page 10: “I repeat: Learning to surf is not easy. The equipment is confusing, the ocean is scary and even experienced athletes must learn to use new muscles, new balance points, new skills. Learning to surf is complicated … (it is) a matter of knowing yourself, learning the secrets of the sea and making the two come together.”

Page 24: The Hollywood factor: “‘Movies like ‘Blue Crush’ and the numerous other Hollywood surf films over the years have a huge influence on novice surfers’ visions of the gear they need to surf like the stars. At Zuma Jay’s surf shop, he gets many men and women who walk through the front door with no experience who want to do what they saw in the movie, he way they saw it in the movies. ‘The biggest travesty in surfing are the ‘Blue Crush Babes,’ Zuma Jay says. ‘These are people who saw the movie and think, ‘I’m doing that. I’m ready to go. I want a board just like she had.’ And I say, ‘Well, that was Pipe. She was surfing Pipeline (in Hawaii).’ And they don’t understand that the filmmakers used special effects to put Kate Bosworth’s face on other stunt surfers. .. You aren’t going to surf like her, you aren’t even going to paddle like her until you get some muscles going and time going in the water. The skills they saw in an hour-and-a-half movie — it takes years to get to that level.’”

Page 25: “The best move for a beginner buying a first board is akin to someone going tin Victoria’s Secret and walking out with new woolen underwear: Use common sense.”

Page 121: “First Point Malibu is quite possibly the most crowded, least polite, most chaotic surf spot in the world. Some say that Australia’s Super Bank is worse for surfers taking off in front of each other and competing for waves. But the surfers at Super Bank are experienced … The problem with First Point is that it’s only 20 minutes from the huddled millions of Southern California, adn in this age of surf forecasts that predicts swells two weeks in advance and surf cameras that scan the sacred surf zone like a prison yard and can effectively beam surfers into the lineup, First Point doesn’t have a chance. … For the most part, Point Break is a zoo — a free-fire zoo that brings together longtime locals and clueless visitors in swift collision.”

Find it: On Amazon and Powells.

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Endless winter: Come on in, the water’s Great (Lakes)

Photo credit: Mike Lee, Out East Adventures (linked here):


Entry 7 in our surf search wipeout:

The book: “Some Like It Cold: A Sheboygan Surfin’ Safari”

The author: William Povletich

The vital info:strong> Clerisy Press, 198 pages, $14.95 (released in June).

The curl: When we last saw Lee and Larry Williams, in the 2003 Dana Brown documentary “Step Into Liquid,” the novelty of surfing the Great Lakes and seeing something called the Dairyland Surf Classic wasn’t so much amusing as it was inspiring. When you’re 2,000 miles from any ocean, and you’ve got the urge, you’re as welcome to try it out as much as those who surf the waves in the Gulf of Mexico behind tankers that create the ripples. It even got a mention in the animated “Surf’s Up” movie about the surfing penguins. Povletich, whose previous books were about the Milwaukee Breaves and Green Bay Packers, now lives in L.A. hasn’t forgotten the tale of these brothers and wanted to make sure their story had been fully told here.

The excerpts: From page 180-182: “Since ‘Step Into Liquid’ had made them the new face of freshwater surfing, Lee and Larry .. (had) an invitation to surf several of Southern California’s breaks. (With lifelong friend Kevin Groh, who had never been farther west than the Dakotas, they flew to California and started surfing early one morning in San Clemente). They headed out to catch the ten-foot surf. Not long after they were in the ocean, they noticed schools of fish jumping out of the water all around Kevin. As seagulls swooped down, attacking the airborne fish, Kevin looked in awe at the wildlife bursting around him. The Williams brothers realized something more sinister was brewing underneath their friend.
“‘Gripper!’ they called out to him. ‘Get out of the water!’
“Kevin didn’t hear them, consumed by the arcing fish and the seagulls snapping them up.
“‘Kevin!’ Larry finally blasted at the top of his lungs.
“Kevin looked over at him. ‘What?’ he shouted back.
“‘SHARK!’ Lee screamed. ‘They’re eating the fish below you. That’s why they’re jumping. Get out of there!’
“Startled, as if out of a trance, Kevin paddled toward Lee and Larry, who stood closer to shore.
“Reaching the brothers, Kevin finally realized what he had just witnessed.
” ‘We ain’t in Sheboygan anymore,’ Lee said.”

Find it: On Amazon and Powells.

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Endless winter: Conquering boardom


Entry 6 in our self-surving surf book search:


The book: “The Surfboard: Art, Style, Stoke”

The author: Ben Marcus, photography by Juliana Moras and Jeff Devine.

The vital info:strong> MVP Books, 256 pages, $21.99 (paperback version released in April)

The curl: The original hardback version from Voyager Press ran $35 three years ago (with a white cover), so this softbound edition (with a blue cover), which loses nothing in context or picture quality, may be more user-friendly. Starting with the koa wood of Polynesia and the redwood planks used in Hawaii through the evolution of balsa, agave, plastics, foam and fins, this is more than a visual, portable museum. You can run your fingers across the pages and almost feel the different textures used in experimental shapes and sizes.

The excerpts: Page 93: “Polyurethane foam began to bubble and pop as the ideal replacement for redwood and balsa in the period between the fall of Hitler and the rise of Gidget. With the advent of foam, suddenly all other surfboard technology was history. The modern surfboard was the product of the Petrochemical Age and the miracles of fiberglass, polyester resin and foam, all of which had their beginnings in wartime technological advances. Now, foam ruled …

“The earliest claim to experimenting with foam surfboards was made by Dave Sweet … (who said) he began playing with polystyrene foam in 1945 — what was known as Styrofoam. A Los Angeles native, Sweet grew up surfing from his family’s beach cottage at Topanga Canyon. As he got older, Sweet moved up to Malibu. ‘Back then, if the surf was six feet, you’d get in your car and go to Malibu and there’d be maybe Buzzy, Rochlen and Timmy Lyons … And that was it! That was crowded.’”


Page 242: “Looking out over Malibu on a good day — and it is one of the prettiest, most beguiling waves in the wolrd when it wants to be — you have to wonder about the native Chumash teenagers, hundreds and even thousands of years ago. What did they do when confronted by a perfect southern swell unloading from Third Point to First Point? A wave is a wave and a human is a human and a thrill is a thrill … something in the human psyche just likes to ride waves.”

Find it: On Amazon and Powells.

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Endless winter: Giant rides, waves of glory


Entry 5 in our surf-book self-journey:


The book: “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean”

The author: Susan Casey

The vital info: Doubleday, 352 pages, $27.95 (released Sept. 14).

The curl: Compelling enough for a Sports Illustrated excerpt a few months ago, Casey’s wave-chasing adventure spends much of her time focused on the surf subculture that seeks out 100-foot-type waves, just for the heck of it. The laws of physics say these waves don’t exist. Laird Hamilton begs to differ, so he takes her for a ride, to see things that have caused dozens of large ships to suddenly disappear over time.
She trips to Haiku, Hawaii; Papeete, Tahiti; Kahuku, Oahu; Paia, Maui; London (to visit Lloyds, the biggest insurer of global fishing fleet); Half Moon Bay, Calif.; Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska (to research the 1958 megatsunami that struck Lituya Bay, Alaska — after a 7.9 earthquake, a reported 1,720-foot wave came); Todos Santos Island in Mexico; Southampton, England; Haiku, Maui; Anaheim (for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards at the Grove) and Cape Town, South Africa.
It’s a travelogue that turns into a real mystery thriller.

The excerpts: From page 10: “The first time I saw a truely big wave was in December, 1989. I happened to be in Hawaii and my trip coincided with the Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu’s north shore. … I watched through binoculars as the waves began to build, ominous lumps in the ocean … Whenver a wave broke, the beach shook with a little hum of violence. Standing on shore, I was scared. I’d witnessed avalanches, explosions, tornadoes, wildfires and monsoons, and I’d never seen anything as intimidating as those waves. … One surf expert described this break as ‘the entire Pacific Ocean rearing up to unload on your head.’ … As I watched the surfers launch themselves into the churning ocean and paddle toward the break, I worried for each of them. Their sport seemed more gladiatorial than athletic, like showing up for work each day to grapple with bull elephants.”

Page 19: “What kind of person drops into Mother Nature’s biggest tantrums for fun? What drives him? And since he has gone into that dark heart of the ocean and felt its beat in a way that sets him apart, what does he know about this place that the rest of us don’t? I knew one thing for sure: If you followed the wave experts into the waves, you would have an interesting — and turbulent — time.”


Page 71: “One French scientist put it to me bluntly: ‘People have been studying waves for so many years, and we’re still struggling to understand how they work.’”

Page 231: “After a moment, he inhaled brisky and continued: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The whole reef drained! And the energy that the wave had taken to jack itself up created this trough. It was like … the bottom of the wave was ten feet below sea level! And Laird’s on the face and the reef is drained off and there’s this THING behind him. And I saw it! I saw it. I saw the Big Mother.’”

Page 290, after she experienced a ride with Hamilton on his home turf –Jaws break, Pe’ahi, off the coast of Maui: “Every cell in my body vibrated. Did I want another wave? I wanted another ten, and then another ten after that. Though it would be weeks before I finally processed the feeling of riding Jaws, nothing I had ever done or seen or been through had made me feel so alive. Intellectually, I had always known that big-wave surfers were addictedt to their pursuit. Now I knew why.”

Find it: At Amazon and Powells.

== Susan Casey’s website (linked here).

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Susan Casey
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Endless winter: A journey into unexpected lands

Entry No. 4 in our sandy journal of surf books released in the last few months, and why we’ve got them on the shelf:


The book: “Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, with Some Unexpected Results”

The author: Michael Scott Moore

The vital info: Rodale Books, 336 pages, $25.99 (released May 25).

The curl: Not just a surf tourist, but Moore (another graduate of Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach) is a story teller who finds so much context and contacts from just hopping around from Indonesia, Germany, Morocco, England, Cuba, Israel’s Gaza Strip, Sao Tome and Japan and beyond to uncover (and cynically examine) some of the myths and unclaimed stories that have been circulating since the sport’s invention.

Matt Warshaw gives it this back-of-the-cover blurb: “Warm, smart, funny and beautifully written … (it) goes off the beaten surf-path to give us a bigger, more interesting surf world.”

The excerpts: Right away, in Chapter 1, anyone who knows about South Bay surf history is hooked, and are reintroduced to local legend Mike Purpus:
Page 1: “When i was young, the George Freeth memorial in Redondo Beach, California, was a salt-bitten bust of a lifeguard who gazed with the stoicism you’d expect from an early surf hero into the deep mysteries of a concrete parking garage. His back was to the Redondo Pier. Most locals jogged or skated past the sculpture without examining the plaque, which read, disingenuously, FIRST SURFER IN THE UNITED STATES, then related the story of how Freeth was paid by the Los Angeles real estate and streetcar magnant Henry Huntington in 1907 to lure people to ride the Red LIne tram to Redondo Beach on sunny afternoons and watch the new kind of athlete trim the waves. …How come it took until 1907 to reach America? My teenage skepticism was justified. Freeth was only the first celebrity surfer in California. The first men on record to surf North America were three Hawaiian princes who noticed that waves at the San Lorenzo River mouth in Santa Cruz were up to snuff….

“Freeth helped rescue stand-up surfing from the Christianized sickness of ninetheenth-century Hawaiian culture and brought it to Redondo Beach. Like African music that crossed in ships to America and became the blues, and then jazz, and then rock, surfing would merge with the American landscape and become something new … I’d been vaguely aware of the sport’s imperial march in the years since I took it up, when stickers for Body Glove wetsuits and Quicksilver board shorts plastered on road signs and schools desks were part of the provincial mood of Redondo, Manhattan and Hermosa Beach … but it wasn’t until I saw a Quicksilver store in Paris and watche surfers in Munich, where people surf Isar River canals, that I noticed with a measure of dread that ‘surfing’ is a big-business American export, up there with cowboys and Hollywood.”


Find it: On Amazon and Powells.

== A review in the Easy Reader (linked here) that starts: “Moore has written the book every writer who surfs wishes he had written, and every surfer who writes wishes he could have written.”

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SCSB makes Rich Marotta a Hall of Famer


Rich Marotta, right, speaks at the Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony for local radio personality Bill Handel in 2009.

Rich Marotta, who has gone from Bob Miller’s colorman on Kings’ games, Bill King’s analyst on Raiders’ games and Ralph Lawler’s sidekick on Clippers games, will be the 26th person inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame at their awards luncheon on Jan. 25, it was announced today.


“Rich is perhaps best known today as boxing’s pre-eminent sportscaster but in his 34 years covering Southern California sports, he is the only sportscaster to be part of the regular broadcast teams of three major league franchises,” said SCSB president Miller, who teammed with Marotta from 1976-78 (as Marotta looked here).

Marotta, who also did Clippers play-by-play and was a sportscaster at KCBS-Channel 2, writes and produces seven radio weekday sportscasts for KFI-AM (640). He most recently had a 10-plus-year run hosting a boxing weekend radio show on KLAC-AM (570), having worked as a TV analyst on Fox Sports Net’s “Top Rank Live,” and doing boxing shows on KCAL Channel 9 and Prime Ticket.

The Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High grad got a degree in radio and television from Cal State Northridge in 1972.

The previous 25 winners of the SCSB Hall of Fame: Tom Harmon (1992), Fred Hessler and Bob Kelley (1993), Sam Balter (1994), Bill Brundige (1995), Jerry Doggett (1996), Vin Scully and Jim Healy (1997), Dick Enberg Gil Stratton and Don Drysdale (1998), Chick Hearn (1999), Keith Jackson (2000), Stu Nahan, Bob Starr and Bill Welsh (2001), Bob Miller (2002), Mike Walden (2003), Jaime Jarrin (2004), Ross Porter and Tom Kelley (2005), Ralph Lawler (2006), Rick Monday (2008), Nick Nickson (2009) and Jim Hill (2010).

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Endless winter: A Grannis picture-perfect product, for the common man


Entry 3 from our search of the perfect surf book that’s come out in the last few months:


The book: “LeRoy Grannis: Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s, 25th Anniversary Edition”

The authors: Essay by Steve Barilotti, edited by Jim Heimann.

The vital info: Taschen Books (taschen.com), 256 pages, $19.95. (Released Oct. 1).

The curl: No matter what the language — it’s in English, Spanish and German — this common-man reproduction of a rare collectors’ book released in the 1980s to chronicle the photographic career of Hermosa Beach native Grannis is as much about a snapshot of the sport at an iconic peroid as it is about a man who captured it. Grannis was a surfer himself, part of a group of guys who started the Palos Verdes Surfing Club in the late ’30s. The PV cove was, according to Barilotti, “second home to a zealous crew of dedicated surfers, mostly jobgless young men in their 20s who were waiting out the Depression in grand low-budget style.” Thus, Grannis knew the soul of what he was shooting. His full page shots blow up on the pages, saturated in real color and sharp black and white.


Our favorites: From the first couple of pages, two blond surfers are on a dirt path heading to the Palos Verdes cove, shielding their eyes from the afternoon sun to see who’s in the water; on page 28, the legendary Dewey Weber with a bright red board and flipped-up hair, and all the shots of the stores now long gone that once housed the surf shops of Weber and Greg Noll.

The excerpt: From page 19: “LeRoy Grannis came to surf photography in late 1959, not as a professional or an artist, but as a middle-aged family man looking for a hobby to reduce the stress of his job. Luckily, he happened to pick up his camera at a pivitol time in surfing history …”
And page 25: “Today, as endless images from professional surf photographers flood the market, the elegant simplicity of Grannis’ photos and the period he captured provide a critical window into the birth of a culture.”

Find it: At Amazon and Powells.

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ESPN Sunday night baseball: Shulman, Hershiser, Valentine


ESPN officially announced this afternoon that Dan Shulman will be paired with former Dodgers players Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine as the new “Sunday Night Baseball” booth, replacing Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, who did the first 21 seasons together for the franchise.

Shulman has been on ESPN’s Monday and Wednesday games, as well as post-season radio and continues to be mentioned as a prime candidate to step in for Vin Scully when he decides he no longer wants to do Dodgers games.

Hershiser joined the Miller-Morgan team last season, and Valentine has been a “Baseball Tonight” analyst.

When Miller turned down the ESPN Radio gig, it was then offered and taken by play-by-play man Jon Sciambi, who’ll do the games with Chris Singleton instead of Dave Campbell.

Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president of production, said Miller will be missed, but “as properties change, the demands of consumers change and it’s incumbent on oneself to innovate the product. If you do it the same way now as five or 10 years ago, you’re not doing justice and offering consumers and viewers the evolution of the product.”

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Endless Winter: What the Inca fishermen started, Warshaw finishes up

Entry 2 in our journal of surf book reviews:


The book: “The History of Surfing”

The author: Matt Warshaw

The vital info: Chronicle Books, 495 pages, $50 (released Sept. 1):

The curl: In his 2003 book, “The Encyclopedia of Surfing,” Warshaw (Manhattan Beach’s Mira Costa High Class of ’78) spent just 9 1/2 pages at the top writing what he called “A Brief History of Surfing.” The former editor of Surfer magazine wasn’t satisfied. Thankfully. Spending four years to write and research, he cranked out a 250,000-word, 245-picture production that’s nearly the size and weight of a small surfboard — with nine pages of references, plus an index.

Warshaw says his goal, aside from tracing the sport’s roots to the Inca fishermen in Peru more than 3,000 years ago, was also to demythologize some of what’s out there. From Polynesia, Hawaii to Malibu and beyond, from Captain Cook to Duke Kahanamoku to George Freeth (and not to overlook the contributions of locals such as Dale Velzy, Dewey Weber, Greg Noll and Bob and Bill Meistrell of Dive ‘N’ Surf) Warshaw follows surfing’s high and low tides — and, most enlightening, coming to some conclusions along the way about what it all means.

The excerpt: From pages 11-13: “The mechanics of surfboard design, and all the attendant hydrodynamics, still bore me just as much as the forces behind the board changes — the rivalries, the spark of an idea, trial and error, dumb luck — still fascinate me … What really attracts me … is tracing and understanding the jagged fault line between surf culture and culture at large … (It’s) Hollywood, politics, music, fashion and the great digital vastness … it’s a sport (as well) as art, religion, philosophy, metaphysics … meditation … modern dance. … A mortal imitation of Jesus’ walk on water.”
And on pages 476-477: “There’s the perpetual urge to recontextualize the sport — to see waves in clouds, shrubbery, even the curled edge of a potato chip … Surfers invariably do whatever it takes to bring the sport ever more front and center in their lives. you see God in the hollow of a breaking wave. Surf lust, surf passion, surf fever … it never changes. … For a few seconds at a time, we get to ride that current. Surf history is so many banners and streamers waiving from that single, incredible fact.”

Find it: At Amazon and Powells, plus the publisher’s website.

== A review in the Nov. 17 Easy Reader (linked here)
== A Scripps News service Q-and-A with Warshaw (linked here)
== Nat Young’s History of Surfing book from the 1980s, updated in the 1990s (linked here and linked here)

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Endless winter: A kooky search through the perfect wave of surfing books


It only took a few months for summer to finally arrive in Southern California.

Seriously. Dude. Check it out.

In synch with the start of The Jay at Mavericks Big Wave Invitational as the watch begins today and goes through Feb. 28 (story linked here), we’ve put ourself on a 24-hour notice to catch up with the wave of surfing books that have been cresting on our desk over the last six months.

These are more than just suitable as flotation devices. They’ve captured some essence of the sport, lifestyle and soul of what it’s about.

For starters:


The book: “Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave”

The author: Peter Heller

The vital info: Free Press, 336 pages, $15 (released in paperback in July).

The curl: The 45-year-old, Denver-based Heller, an adventure writer whose stuff has been in Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure and Outside decides to take his own hell ride along the California coast down into Mexico with his girlfriend Kim and a VW bus called “The Beast” after his best friend has a mid-life crisis and his wife decides surfing may be the best way to cure it. In the process, Heller is hooked, after examining what he (and we) think we know about surfing, how it really exists, and then, what it really means.
And as for the term “kook,” what it really means is a beginning surfer, one who doesn’t know anything about territorial rights, how to avoid putting yourself between the board and the shore, and why taking lessons is essential.
Before digging into this, a good primer might be Steve Kotler’s 2006 “West of Jesus,” Jaimal Yogis’ 2009 “Saltwater Buddah” and Norman Ollestad’s 2009 New York Times bestseller “Crazy for the Storm.”

The excerpts: From page 21: “Surfing is one of the only pursuits on earth that can drub you into numb exhaustion and blunt trauma time and again and give you nothing in return; nothing but sand in your crotch, salt-stung eyes, banged temple, chipped tooth, screaming back and sunburned ears — gives you all of this and not a single stand-up ride. Time and again. Day after day. Gives you nothing back but tumbles, wipeouts, thumpings, scares. And you return. You are glad to do it. In fact, you can think of nothing you’d rather do.”
And on page 71: “I was beginning to understand that what I loved most about learning to surf was the sheer beauty of the wild ocean — turn from the shore, and it was wild — wild, capricious, untamed. It might be dying by degrees, but the pelicans still plunged, the sardines still skipped the surface in panic, the wind still blew the spume off the breaking waves. It thundered and heaved and shuddered. The immense geologic force of the sea was undiminished. Every morning that I waded into the heavy whitewash and jumped onto the board and paddled out into the waves, I felt honored and humbled to take my place among the fishes and the birds.”

Find it: On Amazon and Powells.


== More:
== A Washington Post review (linked here)
== Peter Heller’s website (linked here)

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