Choice Cuts

A selection of some of our favorite stories published in 2023.

Light / Dark

Photo by Don King

Outer Waters
By various authors

From TSJ 32.5

Flipping through the last six issues, I found a bunch of favorites: photo features on the work of Tony Arruza and the ’70s-era duo Island Style, Baja hijinks from Pez and Lopez, Hulet in Peru, Whitman Bedwell in the Maldives, a capital H history piece on the island of Niihau, and cultural profiles and analysis that ran from Tosh Tudor to Raymond Pettibon to Kai Neville. I’m forced to pick only one, though, so I’ll cheat a little and select the sailing package. With four features grouped under one umbrella—thousands of nautical miles crossed, countless waves surfed, and actual life-and-death consequences for all the voyagers—it’s impossible for me to stay away from that kind of escapism and adventure. —Alex Wilson, Editor

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Photo by John Durant

Local Color
By John Durant

From TSJ 32.4

This hyper-local (and thus universal) study of resin-flow surfboard maestro Bradley Buben was Proustian for me. Early-’80s PB and Windansea. Dangerous, degen, roots, insider. Dutch’s Market. Skip shaping in the ghetto behind Select. Curtis Barnes, that sneering Jesus of Cool. Roper at Big Rock. Mabile shaping Clark Seconds for thirty bucks. And Buben “color jobs” under the arms of the lokes, glass-ins only, no leash plugs ever. Good lord, I wish it never changed. (Harrumphs, bangs cane on porch.) —Scott Hulet, Creative Director

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Image by James L. Amos/Getty Images

The Forbidden Island
By Chris Cook

From TSJ 32.6

Being the copy editor for The Surfer’s Journal always involves a healthy amount of fact-checking each issue, but “The Forbidden Island,” by Chris Cook, stands out as the most interesting (and labor-intensive) feature I edited in all of Volume 32. Atop the challenge of confirming long-buried historical information, we committed to honoring Cook’s desire to employ Native Hawaiian spellings in every instance. The edit team consulted an incredible array of sources to accurately punctuate and present the Indigenous language so central to surfing—no small feat in the digital age, when words with accents and diacritic marks are, regrettably, often made plain for convenience. This feature is a stellar example of reverence for the subject and respect for the labors of the author to bring it to light in a culturally appropriate way. —Kim Stravers, Copy Editor

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Jules de Balincourt, BEFORE THE STORM, 2012, oil on panel, 51 x 61 inches, courtesy of the artist

By Thomas Farber

From TSJ 32.5

Backdropped by the full saturation of the tropics, Farber’s essay is a reminder of just how much is sitting right there in the every day, from the small talk to the mythological. —Whitman Bedwell, Editor at Large

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Photo by Tony Arruza

Arruza Light
Words by Matthew B. Shaw | Photos by Tony Arruza

From TSJ 32.2

Surprisingly, I hadn’t seen much of Tony Arruza’s work in my two decades of photo editing. When I asked him for photos to fill a culture piece on Miami, he turned in images with a unique aesthetic that spanned decades of travel. I immediately asked to see more, knowing his work was a no-brainer for an extended portfolio. The final piece was a whopping 24 pages (it could’ve gone longer) of solid surf action and off-beat moments. —Grant Ellis, Photo Editor

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Illustrations by Mattieu Cossé

Sandías y Corridas de Toros
By Steve Pezman

From TSJ 32.1

Since seeing its UFO-like shape from the 1D before doglegging south, I’ve been intrigued by Tijuana’s Monumental Plaza de Toros. Years later, hearing folklore of Steve Pezman pegging a matador with a watermelon during a bullfight at the venue re-fueled this fascination. One day, while riding shotgun with Pez, gridlocked on the 405, I asked him about the story. His answer, this essay, was far more vibrant, funny, and detailed than anything I could’ve imagined. —Ben Waldron, Senior Editor

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Photo by Russell Holliday

Beyond the Bluff
Words by Christian Beamish | Photos and Film by Russell Holliday

From TSJ 32.3

Underground chargers, like Chad Kaimanu Jackson, go out and surf big waves just for the love of it and then clock into their day jobs. However, Jackson’s work as a full-time archaeologist and tribal liaison for California State Parks is as unconventional as the waves he surfs. Having fellow Central Coaster Russell Holliday shoot the print feature around their zone added a layer of storytelling. His imagery made the land and waves that shaped Jackson, who now stewards them, feel like a character in the piece. Having Holliday direct a short film to accompany the profile took this piece even deeper. —Kevin Voegtlin, Assistant Photo Editor

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Photo courtesy of the Waikiki Beachboys Collection/Grady Timmons

O Beachboy, Where Art Thou?
By Beau Flemister

From TSJ 32.3

To make a living hanging out at the beach is every surfer’s dream, or at least mine. This feature pays tribute to the watermen who did just that, the original professional surfers who pioneered the surf tourism industry that has now taken over Waikiki. This detailed portrait of that storied beach, from clueless tourists to world-class punters, considers what differentiates the sharing of culture from its commodification. It’s a fascinating look into the rich history of a place where kings and queens once surfed together. The contemporary local surfers in this piece prove that the original spirit of aloha from the beachboys’ heyday still lives in Waikiki. —Kalohe Danbara, Editorial Intern

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[Feature Image: Derrick Disney. Pulled from TSJ 32.5’s On Style department, read here. Photo by Grant Ellis]

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