December 1990
North Shore of Oahu


The year 1990 is the official zenith of Back When Shit Was Cool. In 1969 shit was weird and finding its cool. In 1994 shit was cool but heating up. In 2000 shit had become almost boiling and we were maybe going to be destroyed by the Y2K bug. 1990, though, was it. The clear high-water mark. A fresh start to a decade. George Herbert Walker Bush was in the White House. The Soviet Union was ending perestroika. Sonny Bono was mayor of Palm Springs and surf kids had the longest blonde hair ever. They didn't try to fit in with society, man, or be respectable. No! They listened to jangling punk rock and drew pictures of ex-President Ronald Reagan with red Ghostbusters signs right over him. Yeah! And they let their hair grow past their shoulders and they practiced dead-eyed, thousand-yard stares. The Fletchers were a perfect creation of 1990 and Christian gets most of the praise, what with his black Mohawk and DayGlo. But young Nathan, just look at him here, on the North Shore perched atop a Volkswagen, white board on his knees and a black Astrodeck tail patch on his white board. Nathan would become a big-wave legend but here he is only potential. He is only perfect. He is only cool.

Kids, pin this picture up on your wall. Study it every morning before school and meditate beneath it every night before bed. Light candles below it, if your moms allow you to burn candles in your rooms. And if your mom doesn't -- then f–k it -- light candles below it even if they are expressly forbidden. Nathan Fletcher would do it. --Chas Smith