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Episode 2 of the Ripple Effect, this time the two generations of Cooly Kids 30 years apart who have shaped modern surfing.

Posted on Saturday, July 12th 2014

The Ripple Effect: The Brothers Witzig

Posted on Saturday, July 5th 2014

Just came across this review of Surfari from the Surfers Path, while trawling through my iPhoto library looking for something else. Was sad to hear of the demise of the Path - it was a fresh and pure voice in the surf media. Thanks for the kind words and clean pages ADR.

Just came across this review of Surfari from the Surfers Path, while trawling through my iPhoto library looking for something else. Was sad to hear of the demise of the Path - it was a fresh and pure voice in the surf media. Thanks for the kind words and clean pages ADR.

Posted on Sunday, March 2nd 2014

Talking Century of Surf with Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National

Talking surf history with Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National. Listen while you can before the Mad Monk pulls the plug. Click on the header to download the audio.

Posted on Saturday, February 1st 2014

RE: Dream up stupid shit now, the stupider the better

An anonymous source has passed on what purports to be an internal memo from a major developer to its staff. We cannot verify its authenticity but present it here in the interests of promoting calm and rational discussion about various developers’ plans for the Gold Coast foreshore.

 

INTERNAL MEMO

 

DATE: January 17, 2014

 

FROM: Boss man

 

TO: All Minions

 

RE: Dream up stupid shit now, the stupider the better

 

Right, some of you may have read reports in the meedja that the visionary plans for a cruise ship terminal at Bilinga by our good friends over at the Leda Group have been torpedoed by Can-Do Campbell, a stinking joke of a nickname if you ask me. During his election campaign Can-Do assured me that any crazy development plans put forward would get the nod, no matter how outlandish, as long as there’d be a photo op for him turning the first sod and some impressive figures to spout about job creation and economic outcomes. Can-do had promised us under his watch DA’s would come in rolls like toilet paper and we’d simply pull off as much as we needed. Apparently not. And why not? Because of the shrill bleating of a bunch of drug smoking, good for nothing, lay about, surfie scum. Unfuckingbelievable. But we will not be so easily vanquished. We will stand by our spurned comrades at Leda and will keep hurling ridiculous development applications and artists’ impression and CGI architects’ models over the parapets and have those surfies squealing like pigs and dancing like monkeys for fucking years if we have to. An offshore casino? I love it. When Bob first put that one forward even I was skeptical. But when I saw the drawings -  all those cute  little palm trees and sun lounges and gleaming high rise towers and massive rock wall sitting just off the coast in the perfect position to send backwash directly into the Coolangatta pointbreaks and royally fuck them forever - I knew he was onto something. So I want you all to get the message loud and fucking clear. Nothing is out of bounds. A casino on the top of Mount Lamington? Go for it. A golf course through Springbrook? Love it. A big game park for high rolling hunters to slaughter endangered species throughout National Parks? Go for your fucking lives. The more outlandish the better. We’ll get those greenie, pinko, druggie, bludger scum so tied up in knots protesting one preposterous DA after another, they’ll barely notice when we slip into the Broadwater with our new Chinese pals and whack up an entire city and start flying in planeloads of clueless cash cows to stuff the tills and line the crap tables. I have this mate in Dubai, Mohammed, who has promised to send me computer models of their most outlandish proposals (and they know a bit about outlandish proposals over there) and we need only transpose them to the Gold Coast foreshore in photo shop and, whammo! Bob is your fucking uncle. It costs peanuts so we can keep lobbing these grenades until the beach huggers’ eyes are bleeding and brains explode. This is going to be a golden age of greenie, surfie, druggie scum torment so buckle up for the ride minions. This’ll be fun. A week in Vegas for the dumbest idea. Anyway, excuse me, I have some mudcrabs to suck, which I had better get straight on to because Lord knows there’ll be precious few mud crabs left when we’re fucking done.

 

 

Posted on Thursday, January 30th 2014

I’M YOUR PUSHER

 

So, I’ve spent a good chunk of the Summer pushing my kids into waves. And I have to say it is pretty much more fun than going for a surf myself these days. Every wave is a milestone. Every session some new high point is reached. My 8-year-old paddled back out the other day buzzing. “I just dragged my hand on the wave and all this spray came off,” he marveled.

 

It ‘s an instant time-travel trip back to your own grommet-hood and all those little moments that etched themselves on your consciousness, all those new sensations zinging through your nervous system.

 

I see a lot of the same crew most days, eager dads bobbing out the back, craning their necks to get a glimpse of their offsprings’ rides. Mature age learners  floundering around on longboards. Surf schoolers. Eager micro-groms who’ve already graduated past the dad-pushing-them-into-waves stage.

 

One mature lady I see most mornings is getting tutored by a bloke I know and I saw her in the car park after witnessing my mate push her into a few sweet rides.

 

“You had a good session,” I commented.

 

 “I need my pusher,” she replied. “I’m no good without my pusher.”

 

Which got me thinking - we have become our kids’ pushers, foisting surfing upon them rather  than letting them discover it for themselves. Kids are getting into surfing today with almost the polar opposite parental dynamic to the one a lot of us grew up with. That is, their parents are pushing them into surfing, literally and figuratively, when for many of us our parents did their level best to discourage it.

 

I wonder what this means for surfing. It’s a long time since it’s been any kind of rebellion. I read a skateboarder’s post on Facebook recently where he said, “Skating will never sell out. This cow’s far too wild for those trying to milk it.” I felt a pang of envy. How long since any surfer’s felt like that about their chosen past-time?

 

I wonder what it’s like for those kids getting pushed the hardest. I see dads growling at their kids like Little League coaches, demanding they leap to their feet, chastising them for every stumble, coaching them on correct technique and heat strategies from the moment they can clamber to their feet. Playing out their own unrealized dreams.

 

On the one hand, there are a lot of kids surfing at a remarkably high level at an incredibly early age, forming the muscle patterns  and neural pathways of wave-riding almost as soon as they can walk. There are going to be some little rippers emerge in the next few years.

 

But those being groomed for pro careers, coached, and filmed and splashed all over blogs and social media, famous by 12, image-conscious and sponsor-friendly before the onset of puberty. We’ve all seen the pitfalls of child stardom.  I fear some spectacular casualties among the extraordinary juvenile talents too, denied precious time to grow up, goof off,  find out who they are before their likeness is staring back at them through multiple media channels.

 

I’ve experienced few joys in life as sweet as watching my kids take their first steps on the wave riding journey, a joy made all the more precious by the knowledge that it will never be more pure than this. My instinct is to shield them, protect them from the early onset of self-consciousness, brand awareness, concerns over what is or isn’t cool, and the anxiety of comparing and competing. The longer I can hold that world at bay, the better off they’ll be I reckon. I’m not about to post any clips or pics here, that’s for sure.

 

Each to their own, and I’m sure no parents would knowingly sew the seeds of their kids’ future suffering. But I suspect we need to proceed with caution here. Ten years of having your surfing promoted to the public by the time you’re 15 could do weird things to your head, and send you screaming off in the opposite direction if dreams of pro careers and riches aren’t realised. That path is well-worn enough for us to understand the dangers.  I can’t help feeling like some surfing dads are looking at their talented offspring as a kind of surfing superannuation, foreseeing a future overseeing their grand sweep to glory. Good luck with that.

 

What I remember most about learning to surf was the intense feelings of freedom, just me and the ocean in our private reverie, endless new discoveries and no expectations about what it all might amount to or any potential  rewards other than the next wave,  or the next day’s waves or a new manoeuvre mastered.

Posted on Monday, January 27th 2014

What discerning folk are saying about Australia’s Century of Surf

“Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated.” Brisbane Courier-Mail.

 

“Just checked out Tim Baker’s ‘Australia’s Century of Surf’ and am speechless. A beautiful publication with really well chosen subject matter and topics and only the very best photos from the period. A better Christmas present for any Australian surfer I could not imagine. Deserves to be studied endlessly in school homes and libraries all over this great land just like ‘A Pictorial History of Surfing’ was when I was a kid. Loved Bob Pike and Ant Corrigan on the inner sleeve.”

Monty Webber, surfer, writer, film maker

 

“Tim Baker’s Australia’s Century of Surf is as much about story-telling as it is about documenting our rich history and there are some ripping yarns in this hardcover. Every page is warm with character and spilling over with unique personality. There’s no punches pulled either, it covers the drugs and the forgotten icons and challenges the history of surfing as it has been documented and taken for fact. Not something to sit around and look pretty, or to be stored for reference (although it can sufficiently serve those purposes too) this is a killer read for any Australian surfer.”

 Surfing World Magazine

 

“It’s unlikely any book will ever be able to tell the full history of surfing in Australia but this one goes further than any of its predecessors.”

John Morcombe, The Manly Daily

 

“You know that a culture has finally come of age when it no longer resorts to self-congratulatory myth-making. This alternative history of Australian surfing is an impressive and welcome milestone in surf culture’s maturation process, giving fresh emphasis to neglected elements of its history. Provocatively, Tim Baker argues that the most influential surfer in this history was Sir Adrian Curlewis, president of the Surf Life Saving Association for 40 years. Other revisions include crediting the shortboard and power surfing revolution to the ‘cruelly marginalised’ Peter Drouyn. Baker also dares to criticise the surf industry for doing ‘more harm than good’. However, while he acknowledges the gender bias of the surf media and the misogyny that has warped surf culture until recently, he does little to redress the imbalance. This said, there is much to relish in this bold and refreshing work.” Fiona Capp, the Melbourne Age

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Sunday, January 19th 2014

And a write up in the Courier-Mail about the recent spate of surf books. How sweet to see me and my dear chum Chas Smith their side by side.

And a write up in the Courier-Mail about the recent spate of surf books. How sweet to see me and my dear chum Chas Smith their side by side.

Posted on Sunday, January 19th 2014

Profile in this weekend’s Gold Coast Bulletin magazine revealing how I threw away a promising career as an AFL reporter at the Melbourne Sun to pursue the outlandish dream of surf writing. “When Tim accepted a job editing Tracks magazine in Sydney his colleagues wondered if he’d taken a knock to the head with a surfboard.”

Profile in this weekend’s Gold Coast Bulletin magazine revealing how I threw away a promising career as an AFL reporter at the Melbourne Sun to pursue the outlandish dream of surf writing. “When Tim accepted a job editing Tracks magazine in Sydney his colleagues wondered if he’d taken a knock to the head with a surfboard.”

Posted on Sunday, January 19th 2014