Saturday, November 22, 2008

You Know What They Say About Idle Hands

It seems that with each new day, a new challenge comes with it. As I've mentioned, in my post-LBM days I've turned heavily to freelance work. It's a rather new venture for me. Yeah, I've been published a number of times, but for the most part they were full-time or regular gigs that gave me assignments rather than pursuits. So, now I'm trying put some of the relationships I've established in the surf industry to good use. I've talked to magazine editors from around the globe pitching ideas and offering my services for any SoCal coverage. I've been fortunate to find a number of projects to keep me occupied and moving in a positive direction. Managing it all, that's the tough part.

Managing Editor, managing myself, now managing a small business. That's the most recent update. I'm working with a local surfer/shaper to help him, hopefully, take his shaping biz to the next level. He's been a one-man show for quite some time and managed a fair amount of success. But handling it all while also maintaining side projects has been a lot to handle. Enter me. It's new territory to me, but with my experience managing the magazine, we're both hoping that will translate into some success with McKinnon Shapes & Designs. For the time-being its rather part-time, but it will hopefully pan out into something that will be an altogether valuable experience down the line.

The man behind McKinnon Shapes & Designs, Rocky.

On that note, I went by the guys' shaping stall at PureGlass off Placentia Ave. in Costa Mesa, and it was a pretty disturbing sight. No, not the guys doused in foam dust or the half-eaten pizza slices thrown back into the box, but the lack of work. Beyond the shaping and glassing, the site also hosts an air-sprayer, polishers, sanders, etc. — practically every level of the surfboard building process, and most the guys were talking about how little there was to be done. It's obvious that the situation is simply a reflection of the current economy crisis, but it's still something that you hate to see. Some really good shapers work out of the place and they're all buckling down for what they foresee to be dire times ahead. Once again, the issue of boards made domestically versus the ones being mass-produced overseas is reaching a breaking point. While the hand-crafted boards being made by the likes of Dano, JC and Rocky over at PureGlass need to be offered at a price at least 10-15 percent more than wholesale in order to remain competitive, the pop-out concoctions coming from China can put a 40-50 percent mark-up and still come in lower than the hand-shaped cost. It's business, but it's not right. There's no art in that. There's no soul. It's like telling a cigar aficionado to smoke the cheap crap you can buy at 7-Eleven instead of a genuine Cuban-rolled stoggie. It's the same thing, it's cheaper and they're easier to come by. Let me know when you have some success on that front. The only difference is that it's a bit more difficult for an Orange County shaper to make his mortage and feed his family compared to the guy living in Communist Cuba.

Dano hopes to keep his hands far from idle.

In the eyes of the purists, the art of surfing has always been just that, an art. It's not something that should be or needs to be splashed across billboards or viewed on television or a part of the Olympics. It's obviously already gone that way, but the commercialized side of the sport is not what should be why someone surfs. Surfing for the sake of "coolness" is part of what caused the current over-population and territorialism in the lineups. Surfing done right incorporates elements of respect, style, history, simplicity and community. When one part of the industry suffers, in this case the shapers, the entire sport suffers. The times are obviously changing, but moving forward at a rapid pace without any concern for the all-encompassing impact begs for a downfall. For the sake of the continued health of the fave recreational pursuit, let's hope that some sort of balance can come to pass between the traditionalists and the progressors. (Photos: Chasen Marshall)

Moments like these are a good reason to surf. Eric Vallely, committed.