Justin Poston, driving for home. Photo: Gilley

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

The only thing more surprising than finding myself surfing Mission Beach recently was that the waves were actually good. I mean really good: slightly overhead, super-rippable lefts and rights with some peaks even barreling on the take-off.

It was barely believable.

My disbelief alludes to the fact that Mission Beach suffers from a common San Diego beach break curse: it picks up a lot of swell, but not a lot of shape.

On fairly rare occasions, however—usually at extreme high tides or super peaky wind-swells or a combination thereof—Mission Beach can produce super-fun conditions similar to the day to which I refer.

Once recovered from the initial wave-quality shock on the day in question, I found myself consumed by something else. About looking for an old friend.

About looking for Justin Poston.

Some of you might remember Justin from early Taylor Steele videos. An amazingly talented young San Diego surfer with shoulder length hair and a snappy, radical style. But you also might remember him for another on-screen characteristic: his sense of humor.

Even within a large contingent of late century class clowns—guys like Gerlach, Dorian, King, Boucher, and Weatherley—Poston stands out. His under-stated comedic ways and especially his pranksterism has endeared him to all who know him.

Some examples of his humor:

—One of his favorite pastimes is to cut out nude pictures from magazines and then fill his friend's pockets with them when they're not looking, so the next time they go to pay for something, the photos fall out of their pocket on to the counter.

—Justin is also versed in the subtle art of toxic hot boxing. On one occasion he saved, time-released, and then trapped some of the most noxious, eye-stinging, colonic gas of his young life in a friend's truck. He then cranked the interior heater, and subsequently convinced an unsuspecting mechanic to go inside for a vehicle inspection. From a safe distance, Justin then simply watched as the mechanic then made a panicked, desperate attempt to exit said vehicle.

—On a surf trip to Scotland, Justin and his trusty sidekick, Joe Curren, once offered me some gum to freshen my breath before talking to one of the locals—a seemingly gracious offer that I gladly accepted. What I didn't know was that Justin and Joe had bought trick gum at a local magic store. Gum, that when chewed, would explode with a staining blue dye. So as this local Scottish dude stared at my frothing blue mouth, Justin and Joe watched from the car, laughing their guts out.

Perhaps even more than his humor, Justin is known for something else. For his love of Mission Beach. For his love of where he lives. For his love of home.

While most of us were completely consumed by the lure of exotic surf travel, Justin always seemed to find more comfort than anyone in staying at home. He seemed perfectly content to surf Mission Beach, and if he had a hankering for more quality he could always go down to the jetty or the Cliffs or the reefs.

But mostly he just liked to surf out front.

Long before any of us understood the simple satisfaction of a just-get-wet, down-the-street surf, or the Zen of not having to go anywhere, Justin knew how good he actually had it.

A while back Justin kind of fell off the radar, and disappeared from the surf scene. As it turned out, Justin had sustained a fairly serious neck injury, and had to quit surfing for a while. But he didn't really tell anybody, because that's the type of surfer he is—private, humble, and always trying to divert the attention away from himself.

A little while ago I heard that Justin was back in the water, and that's why I was scanning the lineup. With the waves that good, I knew Justin had to be out there somewhere.

He wouldn't miss a day like this at home.

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley