Every once in a while, the marketing whores raise their collective snouts from the trough and demand you consider just how cool surfing is. I don't know why, maybe it's because surfing is still considered by landlocked meatheads as a "subculture" or a dreamy lifestyle sport. As someone who suffers in hostile 48 degree ocean water lineups on a regular basis, my response to that is...cracker, please. Anthropomorphic furry zealots --that's an undisputed subculture. Curling, a lifestyle sport. But when every other advertisement bombards you with surfing images and the mall of Peoria hawks drooping $80 Quiksilver boardshorts to pissed off teenagers, I'd say the sport is pretty much mainstream. Unfortunately.
Which brings me to to the subject of crime novels and surf. The undisputed kings of the surf-noir genre would have to be Winslow (The Winter of Frankie Machine, The Death and Life of Bobby Z, Dawn Patrol) and Nunn (Tapping the Source, The Dogs of Winter, Tijuana Straits). Nunn may have lost some of his street polish due to his loose affiliation with the late HBO series John From Cincinnati that got wiped off the map for assorted misunderstandings (not the least of which were poor casting choices), but these hombres still rule the game. There have been others who totally get it (Jeff Shelby and Alan Weisbecker to name two) and whole host of others that don't (let's leave them out of it, I think it's obvious who these kooks are). So to say I was skeptical when I picked up John Shannon's latest PALOS VERDES BLUE is an understatement. But I'm here to testify, brothers and sisters. Wow. This book kicks so much surfing ass I am re-reading it in awe.
I've been a fan of Shannon for a while, but his latest is a surf -noir masterpiece, wedging in all sorts of ugliness and desperation against the cold, fading heartbeats of America's empire of greed. The book moves with a swift, dark current and is, by far, the best surf-related crime novel I've ever read.
As long as I'm shamelessly plugging others, click on over to 3 A.M. Magazine and read Greg Bardsley's latest nightmare: "Some Kind of Rugged Genius". I swear, I'm watching my Timex here, but if someone doesn't snatch up Greg and give him a book deal, I'll eat my hat. Try not to giggle so much as the hilarity and horror unfolds.