Industry-flogging shock-blogger calls it quits — SURFING finds out why.
Interview by: Nathan Myers
SURFING MAGAZINE: What prompted you to call it quits on PostSurf.com? Your final blog says there's "more to this decision than revealed." Reveal it.
LEWIS SAMUELS: There's always going to be more to the decision than I can reveal, and it's best not to go into all the details. People aren't stupid – they will draw their own conclusions. I think that's fitting, in a way – PostSurf was all about getting a reaction out of people; making them think. The site never revealed much about me. It wasn't an introspective, meandering blog – it was a consciously finite project, which had much more to do with my perspective on surf culture than it had to do with my life.
I started PostSurf in order to rearrange the playing field a bit. I wanted to see if I could change the rules of the game when it came to the surf industry's culture. It was something between a crusade and an art project. I wanted to hold up a mirror to surf culture, and show people what's actually there — instead of showing people what the surf industry wants us to think is there.
The picture that emerged looks something like this: at the top, driving the culture, are conformists — conservative, capitalistic people. They're running the show, and below them are writhing masses of angry consumers.
The industry is selling this image of surfing – a sanitized, marketable, sunny, fun, happy picture: "Surfing: The new golf- Something you can do with the whole family AND discuss with your boss at work!"
The truth is, surfing is often a dark, anarchic, angry act. It's a selfish pursuit swarmed by a menagerie of morons. And that's the picture that emerged as PostSurf developed. From the masses, these comments bubbled up under each article. Some of it was genius, and some of it was just trash. It turned into this brilliant hateful anarchy that was truly a train wreck – fascinating and completely depressing at the same time.
I created a lawless state, a room full of rioting chimpanzees, and I did it simply by taking the piss out of industry people.
Some people understood what was going on, and some were completely horrified. I became this de facto martyr. People expected me to live my whole life for this cause – I'd lost a job, I'd lost friends, been threatened, marginalized – and these anonymous readers expected me to keep doing it forever, for free, as some kind of community service. PostSurf was never meant to last forever. It was a self-destructive act.
What was the oddest result of writing your blog?
One of the funniest things was running into Drew Courtney (Top 45 surfer) in Australia. It was a completely bizarre coincidence. I'd been pretty hard on Drew on PostSurf. After seeing his headshot, I commented, "That is some Benjamin Button shit right there! I hope for Drew's sake he's aging in reverse, cause he's a rookie and he already looks past retirement age." So Stab Mag called him up and read him some of what I'd said, and Drew responded with "I'd love to meet him face to face. It wouldn't go real good."
Literally a week later, I was in Australia, in the middle of fucking nowhere, some rural town hundreds of miles away from the city or Drew's hometown. I'd mostly been surfing alone, and then Drew "Ben Button" Courtney pulls up and parks right next to me. It was ridiculous. Naturally, I went over and introduced myself. Both of us just kind of eyed each other the whole time, thinking, "What are the fucking odds?" He must have been wondered if I was stalking him, and at the same time I was trying to figure out if he was stalking me. We were both so perplexed by the randomness of it all that we simply had a pleasant conversation and then went on with our days.
(post here: http://postsurf.com/2009/06/01/magical-realism-with-ben-button/)
Is it true that you an [enthusiastic commentor] Blasphemy Rottmouth are starting your own line of Pro Surfer-inspired "Power Rankings" Action Figures?
Well… no, that's not true. But I reckon action figures would be at least as profitable as anything else I've ever done in surfing. I never made a dime off PostSurf because I never put ads up. I approached it like a piece of art. I turned a lot of offers down. It seemed like an odd way to earn a few dollars, especially considering I have a real job. Some websites make money — PostSurf mostly made enemies. Hopefully I also loosened things up a bit, at least expanded the boundaries of what surf writers can and cannot say. Now other writers are following suit, probably figuring that if I got away with it, they can too. So the landscape has changed, at least a bit…that was more important to me than money. At the end of the day I just love surfing, and I'm happy to go back to being a normal surfer again, instead of whatever the hell it was that I became.