Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Dane Reynolds vs Chris Mauro
Unsurprisingly, the Venturan's felt the heat of this situation and has responded via a letter on his website, Marine Layer Productions.
It's concise and, honestly, we enjoyed it.
First, the Chris Mauro piece that Dane references, and next, the letter from Dane.
Dane Reynolds' virulent strain by Chris Mauro
Given all the Dane Reynolds hype of late it's easy to understand how Daneofilia (DANE-oh-FEEL -yah) is now infecting a wide swath of today's young surfing prodigies. Some doctors describe the disease as a virulent strain of languorous behavior, others refer to it as syndrome more commonly known as the fuck-its.
Notable young talents (especially those residing along the surf-industry-laden California coast) run the highest risks of contracting this virus, but the symptoms typically flair up once they've left their comfy little pond for the bigger, badder world of global talent, where they soon discover winning isn't nearly as easy as they, their publicist, biographers, videographers, agents, managers, coaches, bloggers and astrologers, thought it would be.
Consumed by self doubt, they begin to question not just the nipple they've been sucking on since they got their first pair of free trunks, but the very body producing all the nourishment. And the fleeting nature of their most flavored surfer status hits hard. If things don't work out...they soon discover...they're replaceable. At the end of the day they're just tools. Marketing tools. Being exploited to sell wares. Oh the horror.
The lucky ones, like Dane Reynolds, seemingly have a choice in this matter. They can make a career out of being anti-pros, choosing to go down a "soul surfing" route filled with cameras and cameos. The vast majority of pros don't really have that luxury.
Take Adriano de Souza, who by most measuring sticks is the anti-Dane. They both love surfing, no doubt, but Adriano actually thrives in competition. That makes him incredibly uncool in hipster circles. After all, he always gives 100% (what a jock!) He loves to claim (kook!), and what's with that (fugly) wide stance? All that annoying hard work and touchdown dance behavior makes Adriano the tour's perfect villain.
But look deeper into his story and you might begin to see things differently. While growing up in a poor corner Sau Paulo Brazil there were years when his next meal wasn't guaranteed. He and his family fought hard for everything they had, and when the remote possibility of a surfing career first became possible he had to leave home for good to chase it.
Thanks to hard work and dedication he's succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today both his mother and brother are living in houses that Adriano provided with his winnings. Knowing all that, you might understand the passion behind the claims, and you may even start respecting some of his surfing strengths, like how he manages to put his board in all the right places with healthy dose of speed and power.
Adriano's path was undoubtedly a tough one. And it remains so in the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, as we learn in the new Surfer Magazine interview issue, Dane Reynolds road has been obstacle free, and he's essentially flying blind out there.
After all, he prefers to travel with six packs over exercise balls. He doesn't want to waste energy chasing a 5.5 to get through heats just to please sponsors. He finds his friends in Oxnard a lot more interesting than all the exotic people he ignores while traveling. And, oh yeah, Kelly Slater really hasn't done all that much for surfing. (Apparently Dane doesn't count the zeroes in his checks before depositing them.)
All this listlessness makes him a huge surfing hero.
Now he's searching for even less stress. He wants to ride ugly boards in mushy point waves and hang out with his friends scribbling on T-shirts, posting on his blog and making webisodes.
And not surprisingly a handful of younger "highly touted" Californians think the same path will work just as well for them. Incidental stardom is apparently just a cool little blog away.
Of course they'd kinda like to skip that part that Dane had to endure...y'know, the part where he actually earned all his value, the part where he made the tour and validated his hype with brilliant victories on a big stage.
Wait - victories?
Well yes and no. As Slater so aptly noted during his Surfer Poll speech last year, Dane Reynold's has never won anything. Not even the NSSA Nationals. But we needn't weep for him.
Fact is Dane's simply not cut from the same heat-winning cloth as most tour stars. Nevertheless the tour is filled with Daneophiles (DANE-oh-FILEs) for good reason: once he made the tour, he subsequently made more than a few dents with his freakish flying and carnivorous carves. Dane's biggest victories haven't been mathematical ones, they come in statement form - by how he wins heats, and sometimes by the way he loses them. Either way he's made more than a few boundary pushing proclamations in his contest jersey, and that's what's made him the A-lister he is. He's won hearts.
But whether Dane knows it or not, he won the majority of hearts up on the big stage, and his message resonates more from that platform than anywhere else. There's a simple reason for that. Performing on demand in front of hundreds of thousands without the safety net of Final Cut Pro is simply more difficult than posting on a blog, drawing up T-shirts, and shooting videos.
Nothing cheap and easy has value, which is why all that other stuff is considered just surf porn. It's great for a few seconds of fleeting pleasure. Given the choice, the majority of Dane's fans would rather see him keep pushing.
Of course, after years of grueling travel and that hefty work schedule they have on the ASP he's certainly earned the right to pursue what makes him truly happy, be it fashion and film or beer bongs and surf smut. If we've learned nothing else from the dearly departed Steve Jobs it's that loving what you do is the only way to do great work. And we love Dane's great work.
But history tells us that once surfers leave the tour behind a clock starts ticking on their allure, because flash fades a bit faster in this new media age. A few short years from now when Dane's added 15 pounds to his boiler, his neckbeard is grown out, and he's home watching a new generation of stars pick up where he left off, it's possible he could feel more exploited than ever being a video floozy seeking Facebook followers...By then a few 5.5s might just pale in comparison.
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A letter from Dane Reynolds
i've been getting some pressure from various people and/or websites to write something, sorta like an official statement concerning my exit from the world tour. my dismount. my pirouette. 'an opportunity level with your fans.' that's what they tell me. people wanna know whats goin on. be up to date. i can understand that. i like knowing whats going on. i like being up to date.
one thing to remember is that i have a heart and i have bones and muscle and skin and eyes and teeth. i have emotions. sometimes i act according to emotions. sometimes i think and make a conscious decision. i usually do that. in fact i usually think too much. sorta neurotic. i make mistakes, and i deal with them. i have fears and i have anxiety and i have insecurities and i have vices which i often give in to. social situations enhance all of these qualities. i could probably use some discipline, and lots of things bum me out, but generally i'm happy, and i enjoy making other people happy. sometimes all it takes is a smile. sometimes it takes a lot more than that. i try to be honest. especially with myself. i know that i'm fortunate. i'm sitting here and i have a pulse and i can breath and i hear birds outside and the buzz of the freeway and the suns about to set and it's a friday. that's fortune. i also know that i'm fortunate in many other ways. three brands support me and enable me to surf every day and travel and eat and have a house to live in. in return i represent their company in a positive way. i feel like i do a decent job. but that's obviously up for debate. surfing is my passion in life. i always think about how lucky we are that there's even an ocean, and its not too hot or too turbulent and it's not made of acid that burns our skin off. and how lucky is it that the land tapers into the ocean in just the right way so that when lumps of energy approach from a thousand miles away they gently rise up and crash at just the perfect speed so that we can wave our little arms and match their speed and hang at the crest weightless for just a second before sliding down the face. free to ride it in any way you please. and there's not just one of them. there's tons of them. they keep coming. all different sizes shapes and speeds. everyday they're different. endless joy.
there are of course a number of things that get in the way of feeling this joy: crowds, twitter impostors, eggy locals, eggy surf bloggers, overzealous surf photographers, chris mauro and rip curl contests, just to name a few. that was sort of a joke, but not really, and besides, surfing isn't just about joy. it's also a sport. an industry. and we must not mix business with pleasure. by accepting endorsements i assume a certain responsibility. some think that responsibility is to compete. to put on a jersey and crush my opponent. despite a flimsy one dimensional criteria and an inconsistent playing field that causes the end result to rarely come down to performance alone. maybe that's the fun of it. i don't know. i do enjoy it. but do i believe in it? enough to dedicate the better part of my life to it? or is that irrelevant because it's my responsibility? i didn't have to answer this question because knee surgery in january answered for me. by the time i was healing i was already gone. three buttons to the wind. adventure over responsibility. career suicide! blowing my potential. wasting my talent. i heard the buzz.
in all reality i was being constructive in a different way, traveling to a variety of locations and pushing personal boundaries in an attempt to learn, grow, and improve. it's not as immediate as a contest webcast, and heaven forbid its enjoyable, but in the end it's equally important and i've been neglecting it for too long because i was in a comfy space where contest results alone were satisfying. in order to be successful in surf competition you need to refine your act into a nice little package presentable in a 30 minute period in a number of trying conditions. you need to kill the variables. trim the loose ends. stay on your board. know your equipment. wave selection. endlessly try to revisit motions that score the most points. there are obviously exceptions to this. kelly slaters full rotation slob air reverse in new york. that was not a motion revisited and it was epic. on the beach afterwards: 'so kelly slater, how was that slob air reverse!' 'oh, is that what that's called?' also john john florence and gabriel medina. maybe it's only a matter of time before they refine their act, but for now i'm really impressed with their competitive success despite such rawness. rawness is good. surfing with john john this year in japan was enlightening. it was like every wave he was exploring new territory. i wanna explore new territory! i wanna unwind! by the end of the trip i felt improved and rejuvenated and then crunch! i busted my ribs at the mercy of a fresh typhoon swell. nearly drowned. another month out of the water. gotta pay to play. especially when you're trying to keep up with john john in waves of consequence.
and so here i am. 26. officially off tour. wasted talent. blown potential. refusing responsibility. 'all he wants to do is sit at home and play with crayons and ride fucked up boards.' but wait! but wait! that's not true! don't listen to chris mauro. he's a dinosaur. doesn't get it. this may be the end as a wct contender, but its also a new beginning. i feel like a baseball. the skins been carefully pried off and there's a thread and i'm gonna pull it and i'm gonna end up a pile of string on the floor. but then maybe i'll be knit into something more useful, like a sweater. or perhaps something beautiful, like a hand embroidered masterpiece of a deer and two fawn drinking cold clear water out of a creek. but you never know. i hope to achieve some sort of balance. yeah, i do like riding fucked up boards, but i also like doing airs and taking some aggression out on a cutback. and competings rad if you can stay inspired, but rankings and trophy's mean very little to me. i wanna learn, i wanna make things, things of purpose, be productive. travel. new experiences. new sensations. and most importantly explore the outer limits of performance surfing. i'll still compete. but its not going to consume me.
finding this balance will be a challenge. but its just a step in an endless set of steps. a staircase. it's sort of a big step. too big to just hop up. i gotta climb. like, with a rope and safety gear and shit. and i might get there and be bummed out and like my old step better but that's just the mystery of life and i'm happy to experience it. and i'm endlessly in debt to the ones who make it possible. firstly surf fans who have resonated with my surfing for one reason or another, because at the bottom of everything, you're the only reason i'm able to have the sponsorship that allows me to travel and eat and pay the bills and continue surfing. secondly my sponsors: channel islands believed in me from the ripe age of 13 and continue to craft boards that allow me perform at my highest potential and also craft boards that have nothing to do with performance at all, but make you realize how much joy you can get out of a simple high line. i thank quiksilver for their unwavering support, re-signing me during a year of uncertainty and working with me on honest marketing and products. i also thank vans for picking me up. every person on the team is one of my favorite surfers and/or people and i'm honored to be apart of it. there are, of course, hundreds of people worth thanking here, but this is who comes to mind tonight: my girlfriend courtney, for giving me inspiration, giving me perspective, giving me love and giving me treats. blair, for keeping my otherwise maelstrom of a life in order. my parents, for their conflicting views. i don't think i would have done very well in an ordinary functioning family household. my father particularly for dedicating countless weekends driving me up and down the coast to compete. that was a huge sacrifice. also my mom for preaching creativity, fearlessness, and keeping everything bullshit free. and my brother brek for administering many humbling experiences from a very early age. my grandparents, for being probably my biggest fans on earth. particularly grandma bonnie and papa chuck, who come to every surf contest on the west coast. they show up at 7 am to get good parking, even if i surf at 3. and also grandpa bob for giving me his super 8 cameras when i was 18 and instilling a lifelong hobby.