Manifest Destiny meets the Pacific.

Waiting for the lynch mob to descend upon the zhongnanhai can be a bit frustrating, so here goes.

The history of white America was one of Manifest Destiny with genocide, strip mining and dead buffalo. Taking a key theme found in Mike Davis’ City of Quartz (which I’ve enjoyed many times), the founding fathers who laid out the city plans for Los Angeles were proto white supremacist Anglo-Saxons. Lebensraum beside the Pacific.

City of Quartz with the rotten new cover

Barney Hoskyns in his Waiting for the Sun provides a totally white bread history of Californian rock kicking off with the Beach Boys. This mold was broken once only and that was by Sly and The Family Stone. Hoskyns was acutely aware of this contradiction.

Thus his cover.

Very Hispanic with a measure of sexual ambiguity.

Thing got a little strange however, when white folk started entering the Pacific Ocean:

Annette and Frankie

The Gidget fanchise is almost up there with the James Bond royalty stream – sequels, TV shows, etc – surfing being milked by Hollywood for all its worth. Annette and Frankie would have been more at home in the Italian sections of New York. Frankie surfed in front of a moving background, while Mouseketeer Annette got by on her assets.


In the face of decaying technology, lets go to the crux of this post, being my enjoyment of surf art. And where better to begin than with Don Severson’s Ranchland, a water colour which displays a discomforting quality at odds with the innocence found in his main body of work.

Ranchland a water colour which displays a discomforting quality, unlike the innocence of his main body  of work

You can peruse a great selection of Severson’s work HERE, and I just love Discovery #222 which represents the dialectical antithesis of US land-based Manifest Destiny.(The old bastard Hegel has his uses.)

Night Rush by Pamela Neswald

You can see more surf art by Ms Neswald HERE.

In the same vein, Lynn Coleman and other artists are discussed HERE in the LATimes

I’ve barely scratched the surface of surfing’s visual culture, and so shall conclude with the Tony Edwards OZ contribution – Captain Goodvibes “the Pig of Steel” – and shit, he was a challenge to the PC set.

The Goodvibes Manifesto

The George Greenough Twin Fin Revolution

Disco Inferno: The Goodvibes Mix. Sticky Records 1978

And now that I have graduated you to post-graduate surfing qualifications, here is your next challenge, companeros.

Highly recommended reading and the basis for this post.

STOKED! A History of Surf Culture 2001 Drew Kampion. Gibbs Smith.

Rich in brilliant photography, eloquently written and well referenced. I bought my copy from a barrow guy in Shenzhen.


2 Responses to “Manifest Destiny meets the Pacific.”

  1. NiubiCowboy Says:

    Annette and Frankie’s movies were so terrible that, in a fit of awkwardness, I literally almost squirmed my way out of my seat when I first saw them. Paul Lynde, Buster Keaton, Don Rickles, what were you all thinking (answer: $$$)? But, try as I might, I could not get the Beach Blanket Bingo’s titular single out of my head after I first saw it.

    Definitely adding STOKED! to my reading list, though.

    Also, caught this amazing pic a while back on Deadspin. Absolutely jaw dropping:

  2. kingtubby1 Says:

    Teahupoo off Hawaii was my first choice, but the bloody pc started to melt yet again so grabbed the first image I saw. The undertow is 16 feet below sea level, so it is one mother.

    That is one beautiful photo.

    I got addicted to big wave surfing movies in China, and have now vicariously surfed all the big ones, even thought I can barely swim.

    I’m not much into coffee table books, but Stoked is bloody far out.

    I know…they were beyond even Elvis’ worst (Clambake ? which I think took Hal Brooks? 4 days to make), so here is something further up the arthouse ladder.,r:1,s:18


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