Watch: TSJ Documentaries // Larry Bertlemann
Have I told you how much I loathe social media?
This isn't just an old-person-who-cant-hashtag rant, it runs deeper than that. As a means of mass communication, social media is devastatingly efficient. I'll give it that. Instagram, FB, et al are instantaneous, unencumbered by gatekeepers, and utterly democratic, yet it's a medium that has no memory. It's ephemeral. And the victim of its immediacy is history - it cares not for what happened, only what's happening.
As social media has laid waste to passed mediums, splintering some, making obsolete others, the users of social media - particulary young crew who use it exclusively - are less informed about history.
It's a big topic to tackle, including how universities are abolishing history departments, but my concern here is limited to surfing. Profiles of older surfers used to appear in print mags, providing continuity and context, how influential surfers arose from various regions and how they changed the culture. It's a rich and nuanced story.
Though websites aren't as geared towards history, at Swellnet we've tried to keep an eye on the rearview mirror.
But as our attention shifts wholesale to social media, the scope for continuity and context reduces. A couple of old surf mag Instagram accounts constitute 'history', though I'll give a big nod to Matt Warshaw's who's pushing back in his own way, as are the archivist's over at The Surfer's Journal.
The latter has my attention right now becase they're just begun digitising their biography series. The TSJ's docos were created by Ira Opper, the same guy who made the recent 'Secrets of Desert Point', and the series includes Terry Fitz, Lopez, Horan, Hakman, Tom Carroll and many more.
The first doco is now freely available and it's on Larry Bertlemann, arguably the most influential surfer of the modern era. Lynch and Young might have taken surfing vertical, but Bertlemann went beyond, into loops, over the wave ('Larry-als' - the first aerials), he switched feet, he was an acrobat, he was confident and colourful when surfing was still in its Earthtone era. Bertlemann brought a showman's act to the nascent professional scene.
The doco itself is kinda subdued but features great interviews with Ben Aipa and Rabbit, plus period footage of LB at V'Land and South Shore reefs.
It's just twenty minutes long - get into it.