[Spending more time in front of the screen than usual? More YouTubes than tubes? We’ve compiled a half dozen surf flicks you can watch online free while the world has a little collective think about its behaviour, you can find em all here.
Eyeballs hurt? No worries, check out the Lockdown Special episode of our podcast.]
Bruce Brown’s follow up to 1965’s Endless Summer was a reassuring three decades in the making, coming out in the mid-nineties just as the surf biz was on an exponential growth curve.
With a broad remit of bringing surf culture to the masses via access to the sport’s leading characters, the style of storytelling is about as far as you can get from today’s fixation with curated candour, this being a few years before reality TV and its self-publishing progeny, social media.
For all the appetite for core output at the time, from Taylor Steele to …Lost vids, ES2 was at the opposite extreme; big budget, high production values bringing a polished, a middle class take on a sport that comes over much more country club than boardriders.
The performative, slapstick narrative seems both innocent and contrived, you can’t help but think Brown had an audience of Midwest goldfish in mind that would zone out unless delivered a dad joke every 30 seconds.
But rather than that be a particular barrier at the time, as surfers, you were more or less contracted to take any and everything in; there was no luxury of choice between which videos to watch; you watched them all.
“From France era Curren surfing les Bourdaines, J-Bay with Shaun Tomson, Oz with Nat and Beau Young to Cloudbreak with Slater, Carroll and Jeff Booth, as well as crackling Pipeline, there’s plenty of core lord presence to make ES2 stand up”
The story of Pat and Wingnut’s travels around the world from Costa Rica to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, France, Indo and Alaska somehow seems more dated compared with today than the original longboard era Endless Summer did when ES2 came out, yet still delivers some fascinating vignettes of some of the wave riding’s grand high priests regaling in their elements.
Brown’s narrative is easy listenin’, reassuring and cosy if cheesy; if you happened to be suffering vicious anxiety dream insomnia during these troubling times, I can think of few better ways to stave off two hours of small hour discombobulation than letting Brown’s warm baritone soothe you to a happy place, beautifully filmed mid 90’s surf nostalgia delivering a familiar, quasi-opiate glow.
By day, ES2 is ideal for those long lockdown afternoons when a non-shred enlightened brother-in-law, nan, great uncle, etc demands, ‘What’s that surfing about, then?’
Either way, from France era Curren surfing les Bourdaines (Brown calling bare French breasts ‘zoomers’), J-Bay with Shaun Tomson, Oz with Nat and Beau Young to Cloudbreak with Slater, Carroll and Jeff Booth, as well as crackling Pipe, there’s plenty of core lord presence to make ES2 stand up.
“Laird is deeply unlikeable both untangibly (persona, voice, face, vibe) and tangibly (stance), while Gerry, statesmanlike, knowledgable, likeable, legendary, feels like he just should be President of the World”
Meanwhile, G-Land with Gerry & Laird feels like finding historic evidence to confirm your contemporary suspicions; that Laird is deeply unlikeable both untangibly (persona, voice, face, vibe) and tangibly (stance), while Gerry, statesmanlike, knowledgable, likeable, legendary, feels like he just should be President of the World, particularly since surfing’s one only other historic candidate, Curren, has long since proven himself way too whacky for consideration.
The best online comment I found for ES2 was: “One of those rare bits of movie marginalia that are entirely without merit and, still, a pleasure to sit through” by Hal Hinson of the Washington Post (although thanks to Trump we now all know of course, The Post is fake news).
I met Bruce Brown in San Sebastian a few years back, he reminded me in some ways of a longboarding Duke of Edinburgh. Cantankerous, funny, non PC. I said, “What’s it like, looking at surfing today after all these…” he cut me off with a raised leathery hand.
“I’m so old, I pee my pants.”
RIP Bruce Brown.