Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Surfer Joe, And The Surf Culture of Whales

by Dick Mac

Although it was impossible to avoid in the 1960s, I have never been a big fan of surf music; and what little I know of surf culture is uninteresting to me.

That said, some songs stick with me. Certainly the catchier of the Beach Boys tunes live rent-free in my brain, much to my chagrin. I would rather those synapses be used to recall opera arias, of which I am almost completely ignorant; but easily recalled I suffer "She had fun, fun, fun, until daddy took the T-bird away" and I cannot erase it no matter how hard I try.

Imagine how sad this is: I can remember "Help Me Rhonda" but couldn't discuss a single aria from La Boheme; and the latter is much more interesting to me than the former.

Maybe that's why we call those intrepid days of youth the formative years. Information that reaches our brain at seven-years-old cannot be erased, while more vibrant information that is collected later in life seems to come and go like the passing of seasons.

Well, I digress.

The Safaris and The Ventures were two bands I liked in the 60s. I owned 45s of Surfer Joe and Wipeout, and had a Ventures LP. They made it into rotation with the Motown and "soul" records I liked to hear, and the show tunes I would spirit away from my mother's collection.

I've never surfed. I don't like being on the beach dressed in swimwear, with all that sand and that blazing sunshine. There is little I find more unpleasant. I'm not a fan of surf movies, although I love the ski-lodge movie with James Brown that is really just a surf movie moved to the mountains.

Still, I haven't gotten to my point! Why do I ramble so?

I saw the above picture this morning and read the article about orcas (killer whales) riding the surf in New Zealand!

I know that marine mammals are much smarter and social that we ever believed in the past; and there is now evidence that dolphins (and possibly whales) are self-aware. Self-awareness is something that we generally think is reserved for human beings and implies a social sophistication that makes hunting marine mammals tantamount to murder. They are not dumb animals!

Now we find that the social structure of whales around New Zealand includes surfing for fun!

And I wonder, are there some killer whales who watch others surfing, and talk disdainfully about the surf culture in their society. Or is impishness exclusively a human trait?

And I wonder if orcas would like to listen to Surfer Joe?

Whatever the answer, I am fascinated by the story of whales surfing just like their human counterparts.

New Zealand orcas join surfers in search for the perfect wave

1 comment:

Steven Pofcher said...

How can you NOT like surf music? (Well, my wife doesn't like it.) The Beach Boys and the Ventures are only the tip of the iceberg. Check out Dick Dale, Dave Myers, Jon & the Nightriders, Laika and the Cosmonauts, the Mermen, The Chantays, Los Straitjacket and many more. Surf music is resurging.