Confessions of an Angeleno

The iconic Malibu-second point during a recent swell.

The iconic Malibu-second point during a recent swell.

Words and Photos By: David “Crappy” Campbell 

The City of Trashy Angels…The Big Smoke that can’t hide it’s big city lights or the fake tits bolted on to even more fake plastic people who’s inflated egos hide smashed dreams. Los Angeles is a one-of-a-kind gem.  Not for everyone, to say the least. You have to possess a certain mindset in this city to deal with some of the bull.

The sometimes amazing surf helps, tho.

The Los Angeles surf scene is very different from Ventura County to it’s north and Orange County to it’s south. It’s rich surf history only rivals Hawaii and Australia’s Gold Coast expelling much of the early surf stardom icons that brought forth a rash of Gidget and Moondoggie wannabe’s.

Love it, hate it, either way,  surely you have some kind of opinion to share, whether asked or not–regardless of your local surf scene knowledge.  You probably have something to say about it. This city isn’t exactly known for being hush-hush.

I CONFESS: I’ve been around a few parts of our small circuit of surf towns across the globe–I’m not gloating, but feel it necessary to lay out a statement: L.A. is actually a nice place for a surfer to live.

If you defend your town, which happens to be Los Angeles, you better be prepared to have your credentials looked over. A dark cloud hovers over the Los Angeles County surf scene when viewed from the eyes’ of strangers. Sure, everyone knows about the famous spots, but it feels like whenever other Californians talk about Los Angeles, they always have some kind of ignorant look on their face. All they know is that it can get good, but it’s crowded as hell and it’s not that consistent.

If you had to use one word that separates L.A. from neighboring Orange County and Ventura, it would be “diversity.”  From the Palos Verdes cliffs and north to County Line–wait, is that a Beach Boys line? It almost is, actually– you can find your hollow A-frame beach breaks, mushy longboard waves, even some select slabs and a very secretive big wave spot. The Big Smoke has something for everyone.

Glassy, clean and not empty.

Glassy, clean and not empty at Manhattan Beach.

That’s right: As in everyone and their red-headed step-cousin from Oklahoma.

Diversity brings some pretty kooky shit to the lineup and it might have something to do with that giant white sign that use to say “Hollywoodland.”  This particular surf culture crosses paths with the affluent Hollywood scene and sometimes that path gets blurred, which has propelled this sport into the mainstream media–some say for better, others say for worse.

Stories of Daniel Tosh regulating line ups…the local crew smashing paparazzi’s cameras while they attempt to troll for Matthew McConaughey…apparently, Rob Lowe sharing his gear from his fully stocked shed.

The L.A. surf scene is more than often a ZOO, especially in the summer. A giant zoo fuckfest, actually.  But you gotta do your homework here, put in your time, have the right mindset, right amount of free time and a good set of wheels.  Doesn’t hurt to have  some friends, the right friends. Not A-list or D-list friends, but the kind  that follow sand and are willing to share their personal surf reports with you as opposed to five thousand of their closest friends on Instagram.

You like right points and boardshorts? Summer time in North L.A. has that for you.  You like big hollow kegs? Look up some YouTube videos of Alex Gray surfing the South Bay last fall.  The obvious variables (weather, tide, swell angle) offer all types of waves which is the key to this abundant and vibrant surf scene.

Ever hung around L.A. on Christmas Day? Looks like the set of a zombie apocalypse film minus our flesh-craving buddies. Empty parking lots, no one around, no traffic…it’s fantastically amazing! A ghost town of grand proportions!

Traffic is the real big mother of L.A. and can be the deciding factor for your sunset session. Everyone knows traffic is the work of the devil and represents everything that is soulless. Everyone loves to complain about it, too. My advice? Get over it, shut up and figure it out. Get your routes down.  Plan accordingly. You wanna go east on the ten after 7 a.m.–Are you out of your freakin’ mind? Even when I get caught up in gridlock, I always like to take Dillion Perrilo’s advice on traffic, as said in a recent interview:

“Just realize that you are the traffic.”

Whoa, pretty deep there Dillion, but spot on.

So minus the traffic shit show, you got swells from both directions at different times of the year.

During the winter, head towards South Bay and find your sandbar, or go north. Oxnard and Ventura are easy drives and you can find empty peaks, if you know where to look. In the Summertime, you have the sweet points of Malibu and 27 miles of coastline options. The obvious ones are Topanga, the ‘Bu and County Line, (not gonna offer anything more than that).  With well-known spots comes a fun crowd, which is why Angelenos hold their cards so closely to their chest. And the crowds here can get real interesting.

A great spot called 'None of your business.'

A great spot called ‘None of your business.’

Seen some heavy shit here. Someone got the barrel of a lifetime and was about to make a clean exit into glory, but upon a lovely exit, someone else thought that wave was actually THEIR wave of the day. The drop-in game was strong with this barney as homeboy deep in tube gets crushed by said barney directly on top of the head. It was disgusting enough for everyone to wanna exit the water in shame.  Or how about the stories of people getting cut off at Topanga? When they raise their voice against this injustice, instead of getting an apology, they get a good slapping. As your surfing ability progresses, crowd navigation becomes a major part of your routine.  L.A. kicks it up a notch by constantly testing your patience.

If you don’t follow @kook_of_the_day on Instagram, stop reading this right now and make that follow.  Most of those posts come from somewhere in Los Angeles as well as Main Street in Huntington Beach. Kooky people are plentiful and L.A. county has about 10 million options among it’s dudes and dudettes hanging around. It seems they all wanna surf right where you wanna surf, or at least get in your way while you surf.

The surf world is expanding and crowds are just another factor you have to deal with. Do your homework, follow swell directions, follow the sand and you can score L.A.’s fun waves with minimal folk.  It’s not as simple as parking your car and walking out to T-street. Surfing and city life is a hassle at times and you will get frustrated. But nothing worthwhile in life comes easy, just ask any intern on a Hollywood film set.

Crappy Campbell confesses...

Crappy Campbell confesses…

David Campbell lives in Los Angeles, is a surfer, world traveler and an old pal. Also known as “Crappy Campbell,” he is regular contributor for  Australia’s Surfing Life Magazine.

9 Simple Rules for Dating a Surfer

When it comes to the dating world, surfers can be a “special” bunch. One minute you think you’re going for a nice romantic walk on the beach, the next thing you know, you’ve got a DSLR in tow, no idea how to use it and your guy (or gal) is saying “Ok, babe! Just remember to hold down the button when you see me on a wave!”

Good thing for that  tan chiseled bod, right?

Sure.

If feelings progress from “eye candy” status and you do not partake in the salty agua pleasures, here are some pointers you might consider while dating your little surfer girl or boy. RESULTS MAY VARY.

How many fins do you think he's got on the face?   Always a crowd pleaser, Wedge can produce one heart-stopping drop after the next.

How many fins do you think he’s got on the face? Always a crowd pleaser, Wedge can produce one heart-stopping drop after the next.

    1.) Waves, baby…

It’s all about those bumps in the ocean. And he or she will probably want you to watch them surf, too. Don’t try to understand the obsession, just go with it. The more your significant other tries to explain their love for surfing, the crazier they might sound. Just keep in mind this is a part of their life that keeps them connected/sane/calm, so don’t try to take it away—or consider your relationship done-zo.

   2.) Expect global maps and charts to be part of your internet browser favorites/wall decor.

Don’t be surprised if  your browser’s homepage is NOAA, Surfline, The Inertia…A typical surfer loves to travel in search of the endless break, the endless summer, the endless beer bottle/coconut farm/smoothie…whatever “endless” journey they have in mind, know that there will be a map or chart on the wall depicting this journey…or a dream scene from it.

"Look at that huge trench off the coast of..." (expect that to be your next vacay spot.

“Look at that huge trench off the coast of…” (expect that to be your next vacay spot.)

3.) You will always know what the weather’s doing

You’re the first one who knew it was going to be 85 degrees in the middle of February and you dressed approps…that’s a plus, right? You’ve got your surfer to thank for that.

4.) Your dates will be based around the tide schedule

Let’s just hope your surfer significant other understands that meeting the parents is not as “tide-friendly.”

5.) Expect sand in the bed

Unless your surfer significant other is OCD, know that your bed sheets will inherit the beach. If sand critters are beginning to establish colonies and form hierarchies under the sheets, that’s when you might want to establish boundaries…and a terrific outside shower system.

Clearly you do not want this in your bed...unless you like overnight exfoliation.

Clearly you do not want this in your bed…unless you like overnight exfoliation.

 6.) You may travel to locales you didn’t know existed. Bring a hat, sunscreen and distractions.

Where the heck is Lombok? Don’t see a Groupon travel special for that one. FYI: Most surfers base their travel  around maps, charts (see ‘Wall Decor’), last minute web rates and friends with standby hook ups… The words “all-inclusive” don’t register to the briny haired.

7.) You like talking on the phone or texting for long periods of time?

TOO BAD. Those charted journeys often require several days with no cell service or if your surfer is still local, they might just be in the water–of course: the day I see someone chatting away on their phone in the lineup is the day I quit– This is a reality you will have to face. If your surfer has a travel bug, investigate your phone’s international coverage and remember apps like “What’s App,” “Viber” and Skype. It’s important to chime in while they’re submerged in a foreign country and possibly surrounded by dangerous happenings…like other half-naked, tanned and chiseled bods.

Feeling a little lost in translation? Don't fret.

Feeling a little lost in translation? Don’t fret.

8.) Do not attempt to decode surfer jargon.

Whenever he or she is around fellow surfers, it’s as if they speak another language, right? Don’t stress. This is what surfers like to refer to as “frothing” and it’s completely normal. Surfer Today has a decent basic surf speak guide.

Your first test: “Bro, did you see that perfect A-frame peak I scored on the outside?! Dude, that set was macking!! My alaia launched an air on the inside right over the kook chillin’ on that airplane wing!”

Tales can become as tall as the barrel they chat about...unless the have a camera.

Tales can become as tall as the barrel they chat about…unless they have a camera.

9.) Listen to their stories

So you’ve heard about how a shark fin surfaced three feet in front of them after their skag gashed their leg open for the ten millionth time… or that time they caught a “30 second barrel” at Huntington Pier…or the double over head wave they scored at Trestles with no one out. It’s always good to just smile and listen, even if the tales grow taller by the day.

Disclaimer: This is based on no sociological or anthropological research other being a surfer girl for the past 11 years. There are many surfers out there who do not adhere to the stereotype, these are known as your “gems.” GO FOR IT…dude.

Patrolling the Dawn

So worth it.

So worth it.

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a morning person.

I never have been and never will be. You know that classical music song by Rossini? Of course ya do! Well, as beautiful as the song is, it will never be taken seriously by myself.

<Insert savvy pun about men my age here>

I CONFESS: I would just as soon as throw a brick through a window hoping to nail the rising sun that mocks my eyes than to be pried out of the comfort of my warm cozy bed.

The only sound that miraculously pulls me from my slumber: THIS.

Well hello there, feet.

Well hello there, feet.

Bleary eyed and cantankerous, my wetsuit-ed body pulls itself down the cold street by my bare feet, my mind counting my blessings in bittersweet fashion.

Is there some bump in the water? Don’t know until I get there, but I sure hope so!

Any tiny piece of gravel under my feet turns me into a moping baby in whine mode, the sand’s chilly temperature imitates grainy snow piling between my toes. The crisp air coupled with the first touch of the semi-cool Pacific finally wake my senses and, yes, I can do this.

With the lineup count at two, I slide into whatever choice glassy peak I want, sans hoots, aggro-ness and other alpha ape-like behaviors.

Alarms, cold neoprene, annoying gravel and a semi-lucid morning walk –worth every last frigid second.

As for the rest of the day, well…

Ok, I'm awake now.

Ok, I’m awake now.

Tales of a Back Paddling Player

My new 'home' break.

My new ‘home’ break.

Last night my precious evening sessions commenced in front of my newly established home in San Clemente.  As soon as I parked my car, with one eye on the sunset, I pulled on my wetsuit, grabbed my board and booked it down the street as fast as my legs could carry me.

 My first evening session–at home.
That’s right…I walked down the street to surf last night and couldn’t be more thankful.
 For once I can literally call a spot “my home break” and mean almost all aspects of it…except…it doesn’t really feel like “home” just yet.
While bobbing around the lineup waiting for a wave, the break seemed unusually crowded for a Monday evening.
Combine the time change, northwest swell and people who live in the general area who had the same idea as me while twiddling their thumbs at 4:59 p.m. and you must get:
The Locals, I thought.
And it should be noted these locals have definitely been here for a while, as they knew every ebb and flow of this shifty beach break barrel and rode every wave like a seasoned pro.
I CONFESS…while paddling out, I lost my board and kooked out in front of the lineup.
Yay, score: me: 0 locals: 1
IMG_1484
Praying that no one saw that blunder, I made it out to a lineup of 10 guys.
Aggro guys.
Strangers with whom I have yet to be acquainted.
Well, I thought, I’m a friendly gal, surely these guys will welcome—
Ah shit, one just back paddled me.
Again, maybe they’re just warming up to—
Damnit $%#@er dropped in on me!
<Repeat this cycle four more times before I paddled to a different peak>
Ugh.
Nevermind, I thought as I peered at the setting sun shining over the worn-out butterflies painted on my board.
Hmmm…on my next board, I think I will have one of my artist friends paint a flaming skull or…a pirate with a knife it his mouth…dolphins with mohawks…or maybe an overly busty mermaid?
Can you spot the fin in this picture?

Can you spot the fin in this picture?

Overheard in the Lineup: “Dude, how’s that chick…was Katie her name?”
“Oh yea, yea, she’s good, I guess. Hey! Did I tell you about Maria?! We were at this party and this other chick bee-lines it for me! I was like woa…then she said ‘How come you never call me?’ I’m like ‘Uhhh…blahblahblah'”
I tried to not listen, but one can’t help to overhear the conversations these guys were putting out in the otherwise silent and peaceful evening. And I couldn’t help but grimace at the thought of two poor girls getting played by some guy sporting a Captain America wetsuit who constantly back-paddled me.
Maybe I will keep those butterflies on my board. In fact maybe my next board should be all pink with some form of glitter and unicorns with which I can scout out the back paddling player and take his waves, too. Regardless if I make the waves, he will remember my board like I remember his conversations: loud and annoying. :)
Despite conversations and aggressive testosterone behavior, I know I belong out there just as much as Capt. America and his clan.
For now I’ve found myself in the middle of a testosterone pit …a minority ..a newcomer.
…Is there a term for the guy version of a “sewing circle?”

Stay Classy, U.S. Open

 

The surf industry has its ups and downs, peaks and valleys…and of course, where would an extreme sport be without an extreme competition followed by extreme behavior?

While we can probe into the psychological aspects of an adrenaline junkie and how it relates to the surf culture’s constant need to usher in self-proclaimed machismo behavior, I don’t think I will waste your time.

Nope, I’m just going to bitch.

The 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing brought to the lime light two amazingly talented athletes naming Brazilian Alejo Muniz as the men’s champ and (my favorited) Hawaiian Carissa Moore as the women’s champ (Yay, Carissa!). However, among the week-long HB “dustbowl,” a recipe for a prime time donkey show ensued: Combine alcohol with an already dehydrated sun scorched local and non-local crowd, near-naked bods, free live music -Trust me! It was SO hard to avoid the Modest Mouse show-and mix equal parts of the over-sexed sport of surfing, top with some testosterone and cops and, my friends, you’ve got yourself a shameless shit show.

Gross.

Gross.

Over-turning port-a-potties? Gross.

Fights? Expected.

Throwing a stop sign into a store and then looting the store? Wrong. Lame. Stupid.

On Aug. 31 1986, the OP Pro broke out with a rash of fires, vandalism and riots.

On Aug. 31 1986, the OP Pro broke out with a rash of fires, vandalism and riots.

I hope you enjoy the drunk tank as much as I enjoyed my Monday morning YouTube catch-up watching the exact reason why sponsors are so easily scared away from our sport.

Thanks for throwing our surf culture back to the 80’s.

Stay classy, U.S. Open.

*It should be noted: a correction was made to the title of this entry. While it originally stated ‘Stay Classy, Huntington Beach,’ it was my own conclusion the more accurate origin of the craziness was the U.S. Open.*

Beach Creepers Beware

Girls just wanna have fun..without being creeped.

Girls just wanna have fun..without being creeped.

Beach season will soon be alive and well! Bikinis and boardshorts of all shapes, sizes and colors will grace our beaches like newly designed couture on a New York runway.

As much as I love a cute colorful bikini, sometimes I sketch about the attention it attracts:

The Creeper.

You know him…or her, even. They blatantly stare at you, jaw agape, while you change and check the surf. Even though you pull your wetsuit on as fast as you can, they slowly inch their way towards you, eyes not moving from your bod. They’re usually just hanging out by a trash can or a lifeguard tower, a place where you have to cross paths on your way to the water. Though you don’t make eye contact, their stare burns your skull as you calmly make your way to the safety of the water’s edge. For your sake, let’s just hope it’s high tide.

Wonka likes the surfers.

Wonka likes the surfers.

One evening before my usual surf sesh, some creeper stood directly in front of my peripheral, smiled and stared at me as if I was a juicy rib eye while I put on my wetsuit.

He stood there long enough to create an uncomfortable silence and I knew what was coming next.

“You come here often?” he said.

I rolled my eyes and breathed a heavy sigh while I zipped up my suit.

I could feel my face burn and my fists clenched as he continued on with his ‘overly-stoned surfer hippy’ facade.

“Nope,” I curtly stated.

<This is the only time I justify a lie.>

While his pathetic attempts to make conversation turned to more personal matters, I assumed an aloof disposition coupled with short answers and minimal eye contact in hopes to drive him away. Didn’t work. He was from L.A. Go figure.  Hmm, what to say, what to do…

I used to teach preschool and it was the most fun job I’ve ever had. However, establishing boundaries among the little ones is essential, unless you want to go crazy.  Like children, it seems the male-dominated surf culture needs a few boundaries.

Some guys think because women wear bikinis and/or revealing wetsuits, it gives them the ‘okay’ to make a pass or two…or three. Wetsuits, bikinis and the like are merely a preference in expressing how proud we are of our bodies we work so hard for..or simply because we want to minimize tan lines. Respect that.
However, I will say some of us wearing scantily clad items definitely ask for the unwanted attention.
Regardless of what we choose to wear in the agua, here are a few guidelines that either gender might consider when some hottie passes through their radar:

1.) STOP STARING!!
Didn’t your mamma ever tell you it’s rude?!  Just like pointing, in most cultures, it is rude to stare at someone while they are trying to change in their wetsuit…or walk down the beach…or paddle out..or duck dive a wave. If you think they’re hot stuff, perhaps leave it at that. If you stand a chance, decide your angle and make sure it’s AFTER their attire is on. Be respectful and avert your eyes. If you cross my path and stare while I struggle to get my wetsuit on, my glare will cut you like a katana blade.

Unless it's your good friends, this is the time to NOT take a picture. Dave gets ready to surf Hazards in San Louis Obispo, Calif.

Unless it’s your good friends, this is NOT the time to take a picture. Dave gets ready to surf Hazards in San Louis Obispo, Calif.

2.) Watch your mouth.
Really? You’re dropping one-liners? Dude, I left one-liners at the bar…three years ago…and even then, they were dumb. Their coolness factor died in middle school…circa 1998. How old are you, again?

3.) The wax on your deck is not for writing numbers on.
On more than one occasion, some guy thought it would be cute to write my number down in his wax via fingernail. Can it not wait ‘til I get to the beach? Most of the time, I don’t like giving my number out on the beach, much less in the water. I ain’t thinking about yo’ punk ass whilst I be throwin’ spray!

 

4.) Just because I’m being nice does not mean I want to share waves with you!
For every wave you decided to ‘share’ with me, you lose 30 minutes of my time. Several local guys will be dropping in on you shortly.

5.) Quit talking balls to me.
You’re so badass because you surfed Uluwatu, huh? How big was it, again? 14 feet or 4? The scar on your face ain’t from the reef, sweetie. I can tell a a bitch slap when I see one.  A very wise man once told me: “A musician never tells you how good he is, he shows ya how good he is.” Can we translate that into surfing? Hmm? Humbleness is waaaaay hotter.

6.) Unless you’re Dave or Chav, I don’t like being sprayed in the face by your cut-back.
Good for you, you can throw buckets! Now, can you aim it at the guy who was dishing out the one-liners?

At Lower Trestles, anything is possible.

At Lower Trestles, anything is possible.

 

 

7.) Gettin’ aggro does not make you cool.
While I’ll admit there is a time and place to be aggressive, unless you’re at Lowers and 10 people decide to ditch their boards while you paddle out, chillax. Yelling at groms does not get you brownie points, either…unless those groms have dirtier potty mouths than a 60-year old sailor…which is possible…at Lowers.

8.) Yes, I have been to the gun show…
…repeatedly, thanks to you and 20 other dudes.

9.) No, I don’t want you to shape me a board.
I just met you. Besides, I have a shaper…and he’s the jealous type.

10.) RESPECT
Not just me, but also yourself. …when you can’t respect yourself, who else will you respect?

 

Now go forth, former creepers!! Quickly become un-creepified before someone knocks your front teeth in!

We’ll all know you really didn’t hit the reef.

Reefs hurt more than bitch slaps.

Reefs trump bitch slaps.