This Has Everything To Do With Surfing

Illustration by Noa Emberson

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

Hi! I hope you two are doing well. I got your birthday check last week. I will buy some hard candy. Thanks!
So, I'm really writing to apologize for some of my generation's surf filmmakers and photographers. I can only imagine how much pain and confusion they cause you both. I know that when certain publications or marketing zines arrive at your doorstep you rub your eyes and clean your glasses, trying to find the image among the washed-out blur. It is not your glasses, Grandpa, and it is not your medication, Grandma. The images are shit. They are out of focus and snapped with a Holga. Yes, a Holga. The same toy camera you bought me for Christmas when I was 6.

I know that when you go to certain surf films you rub your eyes and clean your glasses, trying to find a human surfer form in the saturated color bleed. It is not your glaucoma, Grandpa, and it is not your low blood sugar, Grandma. The film is shit. It was made using a handheld Nizo Super 8 camera from the 1960s. The same camera with which you shot my parents' wedding.

I am so, so sorry. I know that you both suffered through the Great Depression eating shoe leather and sugar beets, dreaming of a future that might have flying cars and RED cameras. I know, Grandpa, that you fought in World War II, pounding the Germans and the Japanese and stealing their technology so your children and your children's children would not have to record their experience using antiquated black and white machines. I know, Grandma, that you put your hair up in a handkerchief and went into the factory and built airplanes that would help Grandpa pound the Germans and the Japanese so that we might someday have full 1080p high definition. You suffered. You won.

And after the Depression and after the War, you baby-boomed out children who created Apple and Microsoft. You gave them everything and they, in turn, invented magical IMAX and 3-D and digital gorgeousness of all sorts. Your children made Titanic and Avatar and Titanic 3-D. And you rubbed your wrinkled hands together with delight. The future had arrived! The future was here! You could go to the movies, you could read magazines, and life looked even better on screen and on the page than it did out your window.

But your children's children. Those rats. Those ingrates. Those ne'er-do-wells have taken a baseball bat to your vision of the future. They have forsaken all technological superiority and, instead, crawled back, visually, to 1973. They take snaps of seagulls in flight all blurry. They take snaps of indistinguishable surfers with long, 1973 mops for hair mowing down the line of a shoulder-high wave all blurry and not crisp. They make films of the same surfers and call it art but both of you know it is not art. Both of you know it is how the world looked before your baby-boomed children got smart. It is how the world looked before we advanced.

I know, Grandma and Grandpa, that you want to see the latest full-rotation spins, well above the lip, in HD. You want to see them in 3-D, even. You want to see every sun burst off every ripple of seawater and John John Florence smirking and spinning at 1,000,000 frames per second. But you get shit.

What are we to do? I know my apology does not make things better. I know my apology doesn't put the latest Cineflex camera into the hands of the hip young filmmaker. I know it doesn't suddenly clear up the zine page, clearing it even of 1973 chipped coffee mugs and knit beanies. It must pain you to know that your time spent eating shoe leather and bombing Germans and Japanese was all for naught. Know that someday we'll find our way back to super high-definition awesome, but until then, just close your eyes and drift away. Let the fuzzy blur or black and white mash recede and follow the light. There are probably RED EPICs in heaven.


Your grandson Chas