photos by Timo

Surfing lives, today, in the bright sunshine of choice. Choice, you see, is what capitalism fosters. Choice is the legacy of Vladimir Lenin’s epic failure. And, so, who do you choose? Do you choose Kelly? Kelly the bald. Kelly the beautiful. Kelly the eleven, and likely soon to be twelve, time world champion. Kelly rides each and every wave very well, almost perfectly. He can most often be seen in his natural environment, the competitive arena, and here he draws gasps from the spectators and here he vanquishes his foes and here is exceeds the laws of sport. Kelly is a dynamo. He is a winner. He is a guarantee and as he ages he even becomes a better story. He has dated models and movie stars. He is aging well.

Or do you choose Dane? Dane the shaggy and slouchy. Dane the patron saint of hipster slackers. Dane the perpetually tormented. Tormented by his art. The art of surfing. Dane approaches life so seemingly carefree. He punts and airs and kills it. He looks so wild, so fierce! Hey, he’s here for a good time not a long time. But the torment! It is around every corner just lurking and mocking him. He drinks his beer and strums his ukulele and tries to chase the blues but there they are! Tormenting! Dane is not as young as he once was, but his contempt for the traditional modes grows stronger with each passing year.

Kelly represents the traditional modes. He is the traditional modes but he is tormented too. Tormented by the need and desire to win and win and win but his torment is an accepted part of American culture. Who doesn’t want to win? Who doesn’t want to be better than everybody? Dane’s torment is an accepted part of American subculture. Oh the pain, the burden of being better than everybody! Oh the weight! The people watch Kelly in competition and they watch Dane in video and which is more important? Which is more beautiful? Competition or inspired video? Who is a greater hero, Superman or Jack Kerouac? The choice says more about the chooser but whichever way it goes, it is all bright sunshine. Capitalism!

- Chas Smith