By Christian Beamish
It's a delicate matter, approaching the doorman at the theater with the line stretching around the corner, and trying to explain that you're a friend of the filmmaker's and that you're "supposed" to be there, without resorting to saying "I'm in this flick, let me in," and sounding like a big jerk. Such were my thoughts on the long drive to Santa Cruz to see the premiere of Patrick Trefz' latest offering, Idiosyncrasies. But the man at the door, a cool, laid-back Santa Cruzan, heard my explanation of a connection to the project, told me that I looked like an honest guy, and let me in. See, this is the problem (if you can call it that) of having some level of a public persona via magazine articles and a few pictures here and there, when for the most part, you are an anonymous traveler—because when you do finally surface in the social realm there is a sense that you had better be "worth" the recognition.
Derek Hynd recently wrote [Surfer Magazine "Big Issue," Summer 2010]: "Physiology and sociology will collide in a sport/lifestyle that gifts fame to the bearer like a poisoned chalice." Although DH was writing about Dane Reynolds, who dwells in an entirely different surfing galaxy than me (one that is light years ahead), I nevertheless taste something bitter when I think about the self-promotion that is essential to the writing trade. It is possible, I suppose, that I think too much about these things…
Anyway, Idiosyncrasies lives up to its title with a cast of surfers who definitely carve to the beat of their own drum. From Richard Kenvin who, for all his articulate musings on Simmons-design and contemporary culture, remains as enigmatic as Simmons himself, to Andrew Kidman, who rocks out on stage (both liquid and dry) in an almost perfect synthesis of progressive surfing from 1974 single fin roots to the haunted mysticism of the approach he highlighted in the still-never-bettered Litmus of the mid-1990s. As for Kenvin, perhaps his surfing on all manner of craft, from alias (with supreme panache on feathering point walls that make you want to travel) to 9-foot Simmons balsa replicas in thick winter surf at Simmons' Reef in La Jolla, is his most profound expression.
This film represents a maturing in Trefz' artistry. There is cohesion here, with the unique quality of Patrick's photography presented in the moving format. The thought occurs that Idiosyncrasies might well serve as a template for other surf films—not so much to copy what Trefz has done, but to utilize his model to showcase other, off-center characters in our surfing life.
The Rio Theater in Santa Cruz was sold out for the show, and the after-party at the Crepe Place across the street made for a neat counter-weight to the film, the spectrum of Santa Cruz lifestyles represented from the girl dancing to the jazzy-reggae riffs in a sundress and Doc Martin boots, to a few snarling locals in the corner who seemed to want fight. In the middle grooving to the music and talking amongst themselves, the rest of the crowd took-in the rich splendor of it all. And the guy who threw his beach cruiser through the window of the fitness club down the street from the film premier—no connection at all to this undertaking… just another anonymous traveler in the Santa Cruz night.