On a recent Saturday morning at Malibu, I found myself checking the waves alongside a longhaired, bearded, barefoot, 60s-ish guy in old faded 501s and a jean jacket bedecked with logos—AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, a Led Zeppelin ZOSO, a Rolling Stones tongue. On the back, embroidered on the denim by the look of things, was a big Grateful Dead skull. Parked not far from us was a shiny black Range Rover, a brand new-looking silver Audi wagon, and a dusty old beater of a 1970s frog green Econoline van with a Feel The Bern sticker on the rear window and an upside down American flag on the bumper. I mentally drew a line from my fellow surf-checker to the dusty van.
It got me thinking about logos. We surfers love our logos. We like to put our personal stamp on things. It’s a sign of allegiance, as in the Windansea Surf Club jackets in the ‘60s. It’s a display of geographical pride, as in those Hawaiian Islands stickers you see on the backs of big trucks on the North Shore. It’s also part of a lineage, Kustom Kulture, the customizing of hot rods in the ‘60s that transposed into the surf culture in the form of signature pieces (Greg Noll’s prison-striped boardshorts, Dewey Weber’s red-railed longboard). We are individuals. We are DIY. We like to have the last word (i.e., give us your cool single-color boardshorts and we’ll add our own personal patch).
Or, in the case of my fellow surf-checker who unsheathed a sun-faded ‘70s pintail single fin from his van, a Mustache Rides 5¢ sticker, displayed boldly on the nose.