Erik Logan Emerges From Exile
Inshore sand is not the only thing being dislodged under the swell currently bombing Australia’s East Coast. Erik “ELO” Logan has emerged from an extended period of solitude in the National Park coastal stretch to the north of Toonalook, Ding Alley can report.
Logan, who had embedded himself in the Toonalook community unsuccessfully scouting content for the WSL Studios’ clutch of productions, was last seen a week and a half ago headed for the remote coastal stretch armed with a swag, basic essentials, a 6’2”, plus a carton of Toona Bitter longnecks and a generous bag of locally grown bush buds sold to him by local soul guy Shane Reid.
Ding Alley was able to secure an exclusive interview with the Head of the WSL over breakfast at Toona’s popular Aqualuna Café, and found Mr Logan in what could be described as a vulnerable yet expansive mood.
“Geez. It’s falling outta the sky, eh?” Logan told your reporter as they settled in to the first of several flat whites.
Following is an unedited transcript of the conversation.
Ding Alley (DA): So mate, where you been this last week or so?
Erik Logan (EL): Ahhh, not sure if it’s right to tell you exactly where, but a bit north of here, just hanging round some of the bays and ledges in the National Park. Few setups in there, eh? Be interesting to see what they’re like after this swell.
DA: Cooking up ideas for a WSL Studios Survivor-style surf based reality show?
EL: Well, I was thinking a lot about the WSL – or 'The Woz' as you fuckers put it – but to be honest the idea of generating ‘content’ or ‘material’ doesn’t have the same appeal it did for me as, say, a fortnight ago.
DA: How so? Wasn’t the point of coming to Toona to scout content for the Woz’s lineup of shows? Brilliant Corners? Lawn Patrol? Transformed? Etcetera?
EL: (wincing) Jeez, it hurts to even hear those things being named out loud (pause). To be honest, I’m just trying to figure things out and I’m not too sure about anything right now.
DA: That’s cool. Mate you look a bit shattered – we can talk later if you…
EL: (interrupting) No, no, no, no, no. Haven’t spoken to a soul – well, not another human at least – for ages. Good to talk. Just tuckered out. Didn’t sleep much last night, just hearing the ocean turn into a totally different beast! Can I ask a favour? Can I just tell ya about the last week or so?
DA: Sure, tell us anything you want.
EL: Well, it’s hard to explain, and almost impossible to describe any of this stuff without sounding like a total cock – but I think I may have gotten a glimpse of what surfing might actually BE, and it’s … well, it’s been pretty confronting to realise just how off the mark the Woz’s representation of it has…
(At this point noted Toona enforcer Barry 'Baz' Cornell rides past on his pushy and greets Logan with a typical salutation “What're YOU still doin’ here?! Ya farken seppo blow-in caaarrnt!”)
EL: (responding warmly and waving) Hey Baz! How you doin’ Man? It’s pumping, eh?
Baz: (puzzled by EL’s genuine delight at seeing him) Ah, yeah, good? … (then uncertainly as he rides off) …ya caaarrnt…
DA: Ah, Baz, he’s a character eh?
EL: Yeah, I fully get why he’s narky most of the time though, I reckon I’d be a million times worse if I was in his shoes. Anyway, where were we?
DA: You were about to tell us, ahhh, maybe you had some epiphanies about this whole surfing thing?
EL: Like I say, it’s gonna be hard not to sound like a wanker here… but pretty much my whole short surfing life so far has been based on some kind of agenda, surrounded by people with motives, ideas about ‘pushing surfing forward’: development, growth, eyeballs, new markets, deals. Surfing, for me, has been almost totally about turning its unspecified potential into some kind of currency.
Maybe that’s the price I’ve paid coming to surfing as an adult instead of as a kid. Every wave I’d ever surfed, I‘ve ridden with some kind of adult motive tagging along with me, rather than just innocent abandon, and as a result, it’s like I’d never actually surfed a wave where it was just me surfing it.
DA: Until this last week, eh?
EL: Yep. No agenda where I’ve been! Well, maybe a different agenda. Roll out of the swag, get a fire going, cuppa tea, see what the ocean’s doing and just…
EL: (with faraway look in eyes) I dunno what to call it or how to describe it: just lose yourself and plug in, I suppose. Plug in to the cycles of it all. The sand, the tides, the wind ‘n’ swell direction, the birds… even the light… and then, fuck… this swell! (trails off)
DA: Mate, this is sounding dangerously like hippy talk here…
EL: I know, right? But that’s the thing: like, tuning into the frequency of a coast and having fun surfs when you place yourself at the intersection of the elements … there’s actually nothing spiritual or cosmic about it – in truth it’s about as basic and terrestrial as you can get.
DA: So… what you’re saying is that surfing actually ISN’T the otherworldy elixir of life your Brilliant Corners or Transformed or Rising Tides make it out to be?
EL: Pretty much. I mean, it’s SO easy to get confused though, ‘cos the optics are amazing.
Like the other day I was watching these gannets dive bombing this bait ball. I saw a gannet come into the bay from the north, ride the first swell of a set, like, literally wingtip an inch off the face, when it was just about to pitch, old mate used the updraft to launch fifty feet into the sky to get a fix on the fish, dipped down, rode the next swell, did the same again, launched back up vertically, dive bombed the ball, popped up and had a second to spare before the third wave of the set bore down on it, just got clear of the whitewater, made it out to the shoulder and used the updraft to wheelie it out of the south end of the bay and cruise around for the next set. Like it literally rode three waves and linked ‘em together with the biggest airs.
Even if I wasn’t halfway through a five-papery of Reidy’s finest buds at the time, I still woulda lost my shit when I realised surfing – whether you’re surfing solo with dolphins or scrapping for insiders at the Point – it’s one of the most natural, connected-to-nature things a human can possibly do.
Hey do you think they’d mind if I sparked one up here?
DA: Ah, maybe we’ll just step out across the road:
(interviewer and subject relocate to a nearby paperbark tree)
EL: (expertly rolling a discreet number) But here’s what’s really blowing me away…. Like I said, surfing’s fucking incredible: it’s the greatest, best, most beautiful thing ever.
(lights and inhales) But that doesn’t make surfers in any way special.
(exhales) It just makes us lucky. That’s all. And when you see the ocean just macking like it is right now, well, you realise your place in in the scheme of things.
And I’m thinking we should honour our good fortune by not demeaning ourselves or the sport with bullshit relentless hyperbole or some absurd desire to use the packaged promise of its appeal to reach a massive mainstream market.
I mean, what the actual FUCK are we aiming for? Why in FUCK’S NAME are we trying to push it all so hard to the masses? What, precisely, would the definition of success be here anyway? I’m not saying hide surfing under a rock, but…
(pause, Logan looks pale, ashen)
DA: Go on…
EL: (quietly) I said before how I’d always had an agenda, but it just dawned on me that I never really knew what that agenda ever fucking WAS.
(bottom lip imperceptibly quivers)
DA: It’s OK fella, here, bring it in.
DA: (gently) So basically you’re saying the Woz hasn’t actually, specifically known what it’s been aiming for? Other than some vague notion of ‘growth’ and ‘reach’? So… how will you reconcile this insight with the Woz-as-media-monopoly-for-as-much-of-surfing’s-global-narrative-as-it-can-get-its-rapacious-but-unguided-hands-on?
EL: I have absolutely no idea. All I DO know is that competition surfing CAN be fantastic and engaging.
DA: Agreed. And the Woz does an epic job running those comps, and the webcasts, broadly speaking.
EL: Maybe if we can – when this COVID thing lets up – just smash it on the competition side of things, let the bullshit go, stop this deranged hunt for middle America or whatever. I think also we need some kind of effective bullshit detector / filter that everything has to pass through. If there’s more than five percent bullshit involved it gets killed.
DA: Could be a role for Baz!
EL: (Delighted) Haha, could be!
DA: So, what now?
EL: They’ll call me back to Santa Monica at some stage. Shit! Maybe they have already! My phone’s been dead for a week…but I’ll hang out camping for a bit longer I reckon. My gear’s stashed in the park. I’m just in town to stock up. Go see if Toonastix have any second hand step ups for the other side of this swell.
EL: (fishes list out from pocket, mumbles to self, looks up) Hey when’s the bait shop open? I swapped my Rolex for a bunch of gear off this fisho who hiked in the other day, classic old Alvey sidecaster ‘n’ that. Gotta buy a bunch of lures – soft plastics – this swell’s gonna tear open a big Jewy hole off the coffee rock. (excited) Oh man, I’m so gonna get me one!
// DING ALLEY