Back When Shit Was Cool

SURFING Magazine
April 1989
volume 25, number4


There was once a time called the 1980s and all the men looked like women, all the women looked like transvestites, all the dogs were shar-peis. And cocaine. Everyone thought John Travolta was straight even though he clearly was not. What a time! And AIDS.

But what of the surf? What of the thing we all love the most? It was totally rad, that's what. The boards, Day-Glo'd nose to tail, thrashed and gouged in hideously crowded beachbreak. They never left the lip. They stayed planted in the water and the men who thrashed and gouged them had long bleachy blonde hair. And Peak wetsuits. The boards, thick enough to float a small village, would never ding or yellow because of their thick and Day-Glo. The 1980s were the future. It was Back to the Future. The traveling surfer only traveled to Huntington Beach, California. Surf City. And he would riot while listening to the Surf Punks. But sometimes he would travel to exotic, faraway Hawaii and even more faraway Brazil.

Brazil. Wow! Multiple Pan-Am flights away! And pegged pants. In Brazil he would marvel at the beautiful women on the beach and a sort of ladies' bathing suit not even imagined in America. It would travel so far up their bronzed legs, all the way to their middles. And in the back? Behind? It would disappear between two bronzed buttocks. Wicked! The traveling surfer would not even begin to know what to do with himself. He could not Instagram images to his friends back home. He could not blog. He could only sit and only stare. And Rubik's Cubes.

He would wish that his America was more like Brazil even though his president, Ronald Reagan, had taught him to fear communism. Brazil was not communist. It had, in fact, just emerged from a rightist totalitarian military government, but he didn't know the difference because his education was a rotten mess à la Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Brazil seemed perfect. Those buttocks seemed perfect. And that is all he knew. And Vuarnet sunglasses.

Time would pass and his surfboards would become potato-chip thin and white. They would break and yellow and all he would care about would be launching them off of the wave. His wetsuits would become all black. His hair would be cut short. His pager would turn into a cellphone. His fear of communism would turn into a fear of a coherent Islamic plot against the West. He would know, for a fact, that John Travolta was gay and Tom Cruise too. Everything would change except for one thing. That Brazilian ladies' bathing suit and what it does to a fine woman's back. Behind. It would not change. It would be his immovable center. The light that guides him along.

And Ray-Ban Wayfarers.
--Chas Smith