Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

If you’ve followed this blog or known me, you know I’m an advocate for social justice.  I have long wondered if I should talk about racism in action sports, but that’s a tricky one because some sports are more diverse than others.  There are programs like Burton’s Chill Foundation and Black Girls Surf addressing the inequality, but the industry as a whole, like the majority of America and the rest of the world, has remained mum about systemic racism, notably the unjust killing of Black individuals by police.  Until now.

Even though #BlackoutTuesday was mostly an act of performative allyship, it’s a step.  Non-Black athletes who have never brought up race posted a black square in solidarity.  The message did get lost when Black athletes posted the square too.  We should be hearing from them.

X Games recognized this need to amplify Black voices, and they doubled down on Instagram after getting criticisms for their support of the Black Lives Matter movement with quotes from their Black competitors.  The boldest was this quote from skater Ishod Wair:

This country is so disgustingly and blatantly racist. The vale [sic] has been pulled for the world to see once again that the system never meant to protect us. Failing to put rules in place to stop the madness not even acknowledging the serious issue at hand. If we don’t come together things won’t change.”

X Games have since gone back to their regular programming, but maybe we’ll see a bit more diversity in the athletes featured and invited.

Another skater they quoted was Nyjah Huston, who went out to protest.

 

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WE WONT BE UNHEARD!! JUSTICE IS A MUST😤

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Nyjah has also talked about being 1/4 Black yet raised in a Rastafarian household and what that has meant in terms of identity. (more…)

I’ve debated whether I wanted to bring up COVID-19 on this blog.  However, I am connected to the medical community (I’m just on the non-human side of things), and I felt it would be irresponsible not to speak up.  I have been disappointed in the lackadaisical response to the pandemic by some members’ of the action sports community in the U.S.

Although local governments have started reopening measures, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to grow.  If you look at the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, which compares cases within the U.S. and with other countries, the U.S.’s number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people (dark green) is still trending upwards.  We have yet to truly “flatten the curve”.

Even though most action sports athletes are young and healthy, there are those who have survived battles against severe illnesses and may not have as strong of an immune system.  Heck, asthma will increase your chances of being more affected by COVID-19 since it attacks the respiratory systems.  Then there’s the older legends of the sports, and family members who may not be as healthy.  Over 1.5 million people have died from the virus in the U.S.  We don’t need to lose more.

I recognize that the spirit of action sports revolves around risk taking, but as many professionals will maintain, it’s a calculated risk.  It’s fine to go surf, skate, or ride, but it’s unwise to hang out with your crew afterwards. Surfline did a feature about how some areas were more successful in maintaining social distance and how closing beaches didn’t solve the issue. A lot of it is personal responsibility.

 

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Cody Thompson offers great advice for anyone catching waves.

This weekend, my Instagram has been filled with announcements of skatepark opening and videos of private gatherings.  I know parks can insist on temperature checks and reduced capacity like my workplace, but I worry about how these rules are going to be enforced. That’s been hard to do at my job, which is an essential operation (in terms of how we have very expensive things and organisms that need to be maintained). Conversely, this may reduce the crowding on sidewalks and in neighborhoods because everyone wanted to get a bit of fresh air while sheltering in place.

I take issues with private gatherings when pros start coming and going to each other’s houses. That defeats the purpose of the quarantine. You don’t know if your friends have COVID-19 unless y’all were tested so y’all may be spreading it. As I mentioned above, just because our local governments have started to relax certain rules doesn’t mean the virus has started to go away. Think about why events are still being cancelled rather than operating with 25% the amount of people (or doing what my mom suggested and filming without an audience for TV).  There’s a risk with gathering in groups, and corporations don’t want that burden. We as individuals should consider the same.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, especially since action sports athletes have done a lot of good in raising money or handing out masks for those in need. I know the culture likes to rebel and reject authority, but this virus has had devastating effects. Our sessions and parties can wait, and we can get creative with on-line content. Please stay safe and do the right thing.

One of my friends Julia, who photographs skaters in addition to pin-up models, shared a couple of really cool articles that give us a peek back into what surfing and skateboarding looked like in the 70s.  The two subcultures thrived in that decade, and it’s interesting to see what has evolved through the years.

The Digital Trends article outlines how film editor Doug Walker got his hands on boxes of discarded negatives from Surfing Magazine and began to piece together the stories behind each photo, which were taken by some of the most well-known surf photographers in the 70s.  He’s compiled them in the book The Lost & Found Collection: Volume one and made a documentary.  Now he’s working on a second volume while continuing to share some of the tales on-line.

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Big Honolua Bay by Shirley Rogers (thelostandfoundcollection.com)

i-D talks to a photographer from the 70s for their piece on the skate scene.   From 1975-1978, Hugh Holland followed young skateboarders as they traversed the growing competition scene and started getting sponsorships.  The result is a documentary of how the sport was beginning to evolve from a casual hobby of surfers to the Olympics-bound discipline it is today.

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By Hugh Holland/ M+B Gallery (i-d.vice.com)

I’m a big fan of honoring our roots, and both articles provided a great link to the past.  It makes me wonder what skateboarding and surfing will look like 40 years from now.  We gotta hang onto our photos so that we can find out in the future.

A while back, I promised more about female Iranian motocross riders Noora Naraghi and Behnaz Shafiei.  Today I’m delivering with some bonus information about women learning to surf there.  The action sports scene is going strong, and these women are not letting patriarchal rules hold them back.

In 2009, along with eight other women (including her mother), Noora Naraghi competed with the men and rode out in front for the women. She competed against her mom, seven other women, and men in the MX2 division.  Her entire family rides, and her husband is stoked about the achievements she has made.  Noora set her sights on the U.S., and in 2010, she got her AMA license (the first Iranian to do so) and competed races stateside.  She worked with top female racers Stefy Bau and Ashley Fiolek while here and has taken the new knowledge to coach more women in Iran.

By Caren Firouz/Reuters

Behnaz Shafiei‘s career is full of firsts as well.  This year, she hosted and won Iran’s first female-only race.  She has also received support from family and strangers alike.  As evident with the New York Times article my friend showed me, Behnaz is gaining a lot of attention worldwide.  She even has a commercial for Georg Jensen.  Her trip to the U.S., however, taught her the need for sponsorships and licensing to compete abroad, and she is currently raising money through a gofundme to pursue her dreams.

Going from the desert to the ocean, French surfer and filmmaker Marion Poizeau introduced the sport to Iranian women four years ago.  The idea was somewhat of a coincidence, as it was a male friend who wanted to explore the untouched surf of Iran.  He missed his flight, and Marion and the third member of their party decided to make it a girls’ trip.  The locals became interested.  When she returned in 2013, she connected with two female Iranian athletes, Mona Seraji and Shalha Yasini, thus beginning “We surf in Iran” classes.

By Marion Poizeau

Coming full circle, Noora posted on her Instagram about a surfing instructor course.  Iranian women are probably embracing other action sports, as evident with Ana Lily Amirpour’s vampire skater girl protagonist in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.  Let’s hope these women keep ripping and pushing for more freedom, just like their American counterparts.

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!  Now although I’ve already covered how action sports has crossed into the fandom, I can’t help but add this little tidbit on.  It seems that X Games Austin has decided to celebrate May 4 with photos of a Stormtrooper doing some BMX flatland tricks.
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By Sandy Carson (X Games)

Who’s the rider underneath the helmet?  Why it’s Brian Tunney!  Click here to see more fun photos of him in costume.

Moving onto another corner of geekdom, I happened to catch “Assemble”, a mini movie by Samsung and Marvel and guess who’s assumed Thor’s mantle?  John John Florence!  I can’t think of a better candidate with aerials so high he may as well look like he’s flying, a chill attitude, and yes, “godly hair”.  It’s also quite fitting that the man who plays the Asgardian is an avid surfer himself.

While John John is the only action sports pro in the team, the movie also features mechanical engineer Sasha Blanc working on and riding a motorcycle and the adorable Bobby Martinez getting to the rendezvous point on a skateboard.  I think it’s safe to say that action sports and Avengers go pretty well together… though if we were to assemble a super hero team made up of action sports pro, who would be in it?

I originally had two features for this post, but I decided to turn one into a future Science Lesson and elaborate on the other.  My friend Kyatto posted an Indiegogo for a documentary called Popoto: The Race to Save a Species.  It’s about the efforts to keep the world’s smallest dolphin, the Maui’s dolphin, from becoming extinct. There are only three days left to donate! 

One of the key players featured in the film is Peggy Oki, one of the original Zephyr skateboard team members. Her involvement in cetacean rights is not limited to Popoto.  She has founded the Origami Whales Project and is coordinating the “Let’s Face It” visual petition.  The latter focuses on raising awareness of the dire circumstances surrounding the survival of the Maui’s and Hector’s dolphin.  You can contribute a photo to the visual petition on the website (it’s not compatible with Mozilla Firefox though).  Here’s my picture:
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The site features Peggy alongside some of her fellow Z-Boys and celebrities like Slash and Juliette Lewis. Dave “Rasta” Rastovich, co-founder of Surfers for Cetaceans, is also in the gallery.  He and Peggy have teamed up to talk about the Maui’s dolphin.

Ever since I visited the New England Aquarium over Labor Day weekend, I’ve been even more obsessed with seals. C’mon, look at how adorable they are.
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That’s why I have to share this cute GoPro video that popped up on my Facebook feed.  Live Science guesses that it was a grey seal that crashed this surf session.  It’s very cool to see human and animals interact in never-before-seen ways.

Another friend recently shared a video that seemed very familiar to me.  There’s one very famous wheelchair stunt athlete, and sure enough it was Aaron “Wheelz” Fothingham.  He’s doing what he does best: busting out sick tricks on his wheelchair.

As I was writing my posts about the need for more feminism in action sports, I realized that I could do something about it. Even though I am just a fan, I can use this blog as a platform to promote female athletes who get ignored by big events and to provide resources to girls like me when I started watching the X Games. I decided to kick this new series off with MAHFIA TV not only because I was inspired after featuring Kim Woozy’s TEDTalk, but also because the site is a perfect example of how we can make action sports more feminist.

Kim, a snowboarder, founded MAHFIA TV with video producer Jonathan Villegas after she and some fellow female athletes noticed the lack of media outlets promoting what they do. With the mantra “killin’ it softly”, the site features photos and videos of ladies shredding from Spain to Korea, South Africa to Austin, Texas during the X Games.

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Vanessa Torres. By Nam-Chi Van and Kim Woozy

As a truly comprehensive platform for women in the action sports community, MAHFIA TV brings in other elements of the industry, like music and marketing. Through her MAHFIA SESSIONS series, Kim continues to the conversation on the need for more brands for women, by women in action sports with an emphasis on action (as opposed to posing) and camaraderie.

Check out these interviews with Kim about MAHFIA TV:
GrindTV – “Kim Woozy changing the game for girls in action sports”
Cooler – “This Is Me: Kim Woozy”

It’s been a while since I’ve come across random action sports posts on my Facebook feed, but these are two interesting stories that make up for the huge break I took since my last Facebook Findings post.  The first comes from  my tattooed burlesque dancer friend Honey Hula-la.  She linked an article about a DIY tattoo parlor in Colorado run by skater Jesse Brocado called No Class.  I’m not going to share the VICE article because I have issues with that magazine and their bigotry.  Instead I’ll link to Peter Garritano’s photos of No Class tattoos and skaters.  I don’t approve of what No Class does mainly because they admit to not sterilizing and the drunkenness plus lack of experience can do a lot of damage.  However, in today’s world of consumerism, we could use some hardcore DIY.

My friend Canon recently promoted the second finding, a video fro the project “Through the Surface”.  Created by Clinton Edward and Clifford Kapono, the project mixes surfing, science, and saving the ocean.  They’ve submitted it on National Geographic’s Expedition Granted competition.  I’m passionate about conservation and science education (and of course, action sports) so you can bet that they’ve got my vote.  Click here to vote. You can do so everyday until September 29.

I used to think that being an action sports fan would put me at odds with being a lifetime environmentalist.  It was so hard to engage in a proper dialogue with my fellow FMX lovers because they only ever saw environmentalists as “the enemy” trying to deprive them of the opportunity to ride; it was equally difficult to bring up dirt bikes in a conversation about protecting the earth.  Once I asked my ecology teacher whether dirt bikes were really that bad, and she said the damage was in going off-course into protected land, not in pollution.

These days, I see a step forward with the shift to cleaner four-stroke engines, but motocross needs to catch up with the rest of the action sports community in embracing a greener lifestyle.  Enough about the negatives though.  Let’s properly celebrate Earth Day by focusing on how action sports enthusiasts are also environmentalists.

Surfrider Foundation began with three Malibu surfers trying to save First Point.  Now the organization works to protect coastal and ocean ecosystems in eighteen countries through research, education, and activism.  Their programs are proof that everybody who loves water can co-exist as they promote sustainable living, public beach access, gardening methods that reduce run-off pollution, and ways to improve water quality.

The Surfrider Foundation's publication

The Surfrider Foundation’s publication

This past weekend, surfers in Bali got together for the final Beach Clean Up event.  Staff members from Quiksilver, Surfer Girl, Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, and other organizations worked with locals, journalists, and surfers to pick up over three thousand kilograms of trash over the course of the four events.

Snowboarders have shown just as much initiative with Marie-France Roy making a movie about her environmentally conscious peers and Jamie Anderson and Elena Hight promoting eco-friendly clothing.

The X Games also took to promoting REPREVE’s water bottle-made beanies.

I was a bit worried over the environmental impact of Red Bull Supernatural, but I should have known better.  Travis Rice and Red Bull actually brought in a forester and a biologist to make sure the event wouldn’t do any harm.  When concerns were raised about the local pine population, the builders made sure not to cut down any.  This is a perfect example of how to build a course without negatively impacting natural habitats.

In reaction to the impact of climate change on winter sports, Jeremy Jones, one of the riders featured in Roy’s film, created Protect Our Winters (POW).  Last year, the non-profit petition for President Obama to abandon the Keystone XL pipeline in favor of more renewable energy sources.  Various winter sports athletes banned together via POW to form the Riders Alliance, and their activism caught the attention of The Sierra Club, just in time for the Olympics.  POW actually utilized the publicity generated by the Olympics to raise awareness on climate change, and they’ve partnered with North Face to educate students.

Also featured in Sierra Club publications is Bob Burnquist.  He’s the co-founder of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, which played a role in the X Games’ early efforts to go green.  He has worked with Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Oakley to promote sustainable living.

The ASEC site hadn’t been updated in a couple of years, but I hope they’re still active.  Regardless of where you choose to practice your sport, it’s important to consider the environment and protect the earth.  If even it’s something small like picking up after ourselves (and our friends) and not using plastic bottles, we as a community can help make a difference.  Happy Earth Day!