I've never been very patriotic.
Once I could travel alone, I actually spent more time trying to flee this country than I did enjoying it. I always associated America less with myself, more with frat dudes who used to play quarterback but now slug Budweisers in Lake Havasu. I hate fireworks and apple pie, etc. Needless to say, I never got too into waving Old Glory (I did, however, watch it like a f–king Peregrine falcon come fifth period to gauge the wind for my after-school surf).
But before you call to have me assassinated, please do not think I'm not appreciative of where I'm from. I'm very lucky and all that. I love the open road; deserts; a good, firm handshake; and the '50s -- all very American, right? And having an American accent has gotten me several makeout sessions in foreign lands. Once my friend got a kiss from a girl in an Australian bar just by flashing his American passport on the dance floor. What a foreign policy! But aside from that, I'd just as soon be Californian, French or maybe Chilean. I like Chile a lot. Barbados too. Australia ain't bad either.
See, it's just that I love so many places...so why this America Issue?
The moment I showed up to escort seven of America's most promising young pros to our photo shoot in downtown Los Angeles for this magazine, I realized we were witnessing the metamorphosis of modern American surf culture right before our eyes. In one end of the parking lot where we met up, Santa Cruz's Nat Young, New York's Balaram Stack and Florida's Evan Geiselman were deep in a serious game of pickup basketball. A few of them can shoot! Then, I saw Andrew Doheny, comfortably sitting in the shade, leaning out an open car door, staring at a music magazine. "Travis, I'll be right here," he called out. "I'm just sitting in the car listening to music." He was alone. Across the street, Kolohe Andino, Luke Davis and Conner Coffin were shopping -- yes, shopping: pants for Kolohe, a Hustler for Luke (great jokes, he swears), and Conner was looking to find a nice girl (L.A. not being short on pretty females). Right there I saw something in American surfing that may not have been there a mere five years ago: diversity in the youth. And I'd like to thank a few people for helping this evolution along.
The first is obvious: Dane Reynolds. His curious approach to a career has given a whole generation the option to be themselves. To make weird choices and succeed or fail on their own account. Which is going to be important for this group, as they've been spoiled by us and the surf industry from an unprecedentedly primitive age (think 10). Most were weaned on sponsor clothes and custom 5'0"s through elementary and middle school, so it will be interesting to watch how this group grows up -- or perhaps in some cases, how they can't.
The second crew I'd like to thank for fueling this fire would be the Australians. Aside from Dane and Kelly, they've collectively trumped us in competition and freesurfing for the past five years. But not to fret; I truly believe that reign will end with the Adolescents we feature this month. They're going to change the culture for good, I predict. And if not, well…world, it's still fun to kiss your girls when we visit. --Travis Ferré