Our friend, Massa Tom from Costa Mesa, has been a staple on the California longboard scene for the last decade. Never afraid to share his opinion, he offers insight into the subculture that he grew up a part of. Massa Tom is a regular contributor Svrfandestroy blog.
No they don’t. We all know they don’t. Even the dude who has the bumper sticker, shirt, hat or coffee mug knows. Longboards have not “ruled” since they were just called surfboards. Unfortunately no one told me this when I was young. All I knew about surfing came from my dad and Bruce Brown.
My dad said shortboarders were “butt- wigglers” and The Endless Summer came out before the shortboard revolution. I think I was in fourth or fifth grade when I saw The Endless Summer II. That shit changed my life. Don’t get me wrong, Pat OConnell was very impressive, but Wingnut stole the show. He was so stylish and smooth. At some point in the film he pulls off a couple of helicopters. I had never seen something like that.
With further encouragement from my dad I got totally into longboarding. I then saw On Safari To Stay starring Wingnut and Joel Tudor. Wow. What a great little film. This was my first introduction to Joel Tudor. Needless to say I was very intrigued. Shortly after I begged my dad to take me down to Kanvas by Katin surf shop in Surfside. I asked the guy working what he would recommend as a good longboard flick. After some brief chuckling from the peanut gallery he referred me to Adrift by J. Brother.
To this day Adrift is my favorite longboard film. It is badass to say the least. There are like five Joel sections in it and the music is refreshing and groovy. By this time middle school was in full effect and no one really surfed. All my friends were boogey boarders. We were unknowingly in the same boat. There was a bodyboard craze going on around the same time as the longboard thing in the early and mid 90s.
In eighth grade I started to progress in my surfing and was getting pretty good at noseriding. Then I was smacked in the face with reality. Surfing is a strange activity done by strange people. I thought I understood the rules but I was wrong. As soon as I got a little better on my longboard I was the center of negative attention. I got flack from shortboarders, old longboarders, bodyboarders, etc. I was fair game for everyone. This was a frustrating time.
I was getting better at surfing and everyone else was bummed. I have to admit that I owned some “Longboards Rule!!!” paraphernalia and if I had some foresight I would have burned that shit then and there. But I didn’t. I continued on the competitive longboard path and had a pretty good time doing it. I rode a lot of more high performance longboards during this time. Riding high performance longboards is fun every once in a while. However, at the end of the day they really just made me want to ride a shortboard.
Why do shortboard tricks on a longboard? Sure, it’s a little challenging at first. But then it just gets boring. Joel’s “ride everything” mentality totally influenced me and I began to shortboard a lot. Virtually all young, modern loggers also shortboard. There is no way around it. Shorter boards are the future. Longboards do NOT rule. Shortboards do. There will always be a place for longer boards. Like Sano, Blackies or Malibu.
No one told me longboarding wasn’t cool. I heard some friends complaining about the competitive longboard scene recently. They were unsatisfied with the prize money in a contest. Why? Of coarse the shortboarders are going to get more money. Competitive longboarding is a joke. Who wants to give their money away to a guy who just pulled a one foot air on a log? Not me. The only thing I would give is a quick chuckle. Phil Edwards, Miki Dora, David Nuuhiwa, and Nat Young!!! These guys ruled. They knew how to ride a log. Re-watch all those old flicks. Those guys were cool. No doubt about it. Dudes doing shortboard maneuvers on longboards, not so much.