Surfers of the Pacific may know a good burrito, but their Atlantic counterparts know that crab cakes and beer are tough to top in terms of summer eats. Jersey surfers, in particular, also tend to appreciate the blurry distinction between life on a barrier island and that on the â€œmainland,â€ the beauty of surfing in the snow, and sharing stories with friends–both old and new. On Friday, July 22nd, surfers from up and down the New Jersey coast gathered at Tuckerton Seaport to gorge on all of the above at Black Sails Publications and Intercourse Breweryâ€™s Singlefins, Boardwalks, & Storytalks II.
Narrated slideshows by N.J. natives Dick â€œMezâ€ Meseroll, Donald Cresitello, Seth Stafford, and Bruce Chrisner spanned 30 years and offered a glimpse of the stateâ€™s often forgotten surfing heritage.
Black Sailsâ€™ Jon Coen created Singlefins after the New Jersey Surf Museum opened in Tuckerton in 2010.
â€œI always thought the Seaport was a really worthwhile place because it preserves the seafaring history of the Jersey Shore. The people who worked and lived on the water back in the day were the predecessors of the surf community. To me, we owe as much of our history to those pioneers as we do the early waveriders in Hawaii and California,â€ he said. â€œI grew up here–crabbing, fishing, boating, surfing in the snow. I wanted to do something that was about our own roots and encompassed the whole coast.â€ That coast was presently saddled with a 119-degree heat index.
Even at dark, sweat trickled down backs and legs, and coconut water was guzzled en masse. Seth Stafford strategically placed himself in front of the entrance to the Surf Museum so that every time someone opened the door, blasts of refrigerated air offered temporary relief. Despite the swelter, we were all still there because, clearly, Coen was onto something.
Mez began the show and set the mood, which was very much like that of a family reunion boasting multiple generations and lots of inside jokes. When he reached a prototypical snow shot, someone in the audience said, â€œYou miss that, donâ€™t ya?â€ Mez, who now lives in Florida, thoughtfully said, â€œI do miss the snow. Yeah, I really do.â€
â€œAll of the old pictures–thatâ€™s my favorite,â€ Stafford said. â€œSeeing Mezâ€™s pictures. [This event] opens everyoneâ€™s eyes to the surfing community in New Jersey and brings everyone together.â€
As slides elapsed, Cresitelloâ€™s shots of Andy Irons boosting at Manasquan and Sam Hammerâ€™s mental drops brought open-mouthed awe to most peopleâ€™s faces. Staffordâ€™s water photos and flash work were mind-blowing. He called a picture of Matt Keenan hovering in front of a Ferris wheel his â€œluckiest shot ever.â€ Chrisnerâ€™s photos of steroidal Jersey waves looked nearly foreign and his hilarious anecdotes made a perfect event finale.
Mez, who was born and raised in Point Pleasant Beach, said, â€œTo me, itâ€™s about getting the tribe together. Surfers, traditionally, we like gatherings. We like talking about our experiences, and Singlefins–you couldnâ€™t come up with a better way to do just that.â€ It also teaches the younger generation â€œhow deep Jersey surfing roots run,â€ he said. â€œYou should know your past.â€ The past keeps the future alive.