Whether we know it or not, David Bowie influenced everybody. As The New York Times wrote in his obituary,

“Mr. Bowie wrote songs, above all, about being an outsider… His music was always a mutable blend — rock, cabaret, jazz and what he called ‘plastic soul’ — but it was suffused with genuine soul… Yet throughout Mr. Bowie’s metamorphoses, he was always recognizable. His voice was widely imitated but always his own; his message was that there was always empathy beyond difference.”

What does this have to do with surfing, you might ask? Well, as East Coasters, we’re perpetual outsiders in the California, Hawaii, and Australia-centric surf industry complex. Given the vagaries of our wildly diverse coastline, our waves are constantly shape-shifting, mutable blends of fun and perfect, rippable and off the Richter scale, so-so and insanely good (sometimes in the space of one session). Every East Coaster worth his or her salt knows we have more soul than most of our surfing brethren — but like David Bowie, we never feel the need to talk about it. Whether in the Caribbean or Canada, our lineups are always recognizable. And although waveriders in Florida and New England might share very little similarities on the surface, deep down we know that anyone from the East Coast shares an unshakeable bond that transcends all boundaries.

So maybe it might seem tenuous to connect the death of David Bowie on Sunday, January 10th with the fantastic run of swell felt in all East Coast corners from roughly the 8th through the 12th. But we choose to believe otherwise — perhaps the longtime New York resident was thinking of us as he passed gently into that good night. As he said in his 1977 hit “Heroes,” “We can be heroes, just for one day.” If you ride a surfboard and live on the East Coast, you probably felt like a hero at some point over the last few days. So let’s dance and embrace that — honoring David Bowie the best way we know how.


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