It took me 23 years and over 3,000 miles to make the iconic walk out to Trestles. It’d take me what felt like just as long to traverse the minefield of rocks and vegetation at low tide. But I hadn’t foreseen that awkward future yet. I was still back on the trail, contemplating the fact that my dream wave lay in waiting somewhere up ahead.
My feet moved with a subtle hint of urgency, but upstairs I was mind surfing flawless, peeling rights. Throwing maneuvers that my body would never allow. Reggae playing in the background as I slosh some spray at a dude floating in the lineup. Everything in slow motion. He smiles and tosses me an ice-cold beer as I continue etching brilliance into the wave face.
But I was distracted from my fiction when I realized I was surrounded by colorful words. By graffiti. It accompanies you for the entire walk out to the waves – the epicenter located under the overpass. One of the supports serves as a towering grey easel for those equipped with canned chemicals. My eyes were immediately drawn to a hilarious rendition of Joel Parko flipping off an overly bald Kelly Slater as an ode to his 2013 ASP victory at Lowers.
With each step I took, I became more aware that a battle of contradicting ideas was being waged in fading reds and dripping blacks. Countless messages reinforcing the rumors of localism that surely waited beyond the breakers. “No Kooks,” in bold white on the asphalt. “If you don’t live here, don’t surf here,” sprayed in all-caps. What did that mean? San Onofre? California? Either way, it was clear that a kid from North Carolina was screwed.
The threats were colorfully stained everywhere. Anything from a simple, “Go Home,” to specifically named individuals with the following message: “You don’t surf here.” That guy must have dropped in on somebody in his kayak.
But that was only half the battle. Only the demons clad in black-spiked armor wielding crooked swords. For every spray painted allusion to localism, there existed a glowing message of acceptance. “Surf Nazis Must Die.” Right above that, “Localism is white supremacy.” “No Masters, No Gods.” And perhaps the most accurate: “The waves are good, but the crowd isn’t.” All somewhat reassuring, as I’d only just smelled the dead kelp of the Pacific for the first time a few days prior.
Two ideas. Natural opposites. Acceptance and Localism. Represented by one of humanity’s rawest and bluntest forms of art. And the tug-of-war playing out between the two on the trail to Trestles proved one thing to me: neither side had won. An all too fitting assessment of lineups on either side of the country.
We have these concrete notions of what Localism is. Aggro individuals whipping kook ass in their neon wetsuits. Boards being launched at foreigners. These are mostly physical ideas, but there are much more frequent, less harsh versions of localism. Simple shit we do without thinking twice. Shaking our heads at the out-of-state license plates at our local breaks. Not saying a word to the new face in the lineup. This isn’t that scary North Shore type of localism, but it is still derived from the same emotions. Both share the same common denominator: negativity.