Surf City, UK

July 19th, 2009

I had no idea that Britain's first surfers were pygmies.

Seriously, was the use of grotesquely oversized surfboards a British thing, or was everyone in the 1950s using boards big enough to accommodate a promenade for first class passengers and a full complement of lifeboats?

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Gidget on the Couch

June 8th, 2008

Gidget on the Couch: Freud, Dora (no, not that Dora), and surfing's secret Austro-Hungarian roots.

While sports, life, and style have been around for a while, the "sports lifestyle" as a distinct market is a mere half-century old. Like much else of cultural import in the years since World War II, this niche is the product of the human laboratory we call California, and specifically of its coastline. Surfing is enjoying (or despising, depending on your perspective) one of its periodic peaks in the general consciousness, which makes it appropriate to look back the five decades to the moment when the sport broke free of its cult status and became the urtext of athletic sports retailing. The publication of Gidget in 1957 did not just introduce us to the barely fictionalized account of a girl’s summer in Malibu; it started a chain reaction that introduced surfing to the rest of the country and spread it to the world at large. The novel was licensed for three hit movies, and later made into numerous television shows. Within a few years, the Beach Boys, woodies, hangin’ ten, and board shorts were as popular in Kansas City as Santa Cruz.

[...]

Before Gidget, however, there was a real girl named Kathy Kohner who learned to surf Malibu in the summer of 1956. [...]

[Via The Morning News]

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