Only in suburban San Diego would a story as stupid as this ever make waves.

I’ve lived here for a year and have been able to gather my thoughts concerning San Diego.  I’ve already alluded to some of the issues that this area has, but allow me to start off by presenting some of the positives:

  • No drastic changes in weather patterns
  • My brother and sister-in-law live here and we have tons of fun with them
  • The Pacific Ocean is a beautiful sight to behold day in and out
  • In-n-Out Burgers
  • My wife is happy here

These points aside, there are more that I’m just not able to dig up at the moment.  Our year here has proven to be a learning experience as much as Iowa and Portland were.  However, there are some certain downers to contend with.  Subjectively speaking, of course, the following is a list of bummers for me:

  • Holy shit, it’s expensive to live here
  • As a foodie, North County San Diego (and I suspect most of San Diego…) sucks for dining as well as groceries
  • No drastic changes in weather patterns (Yes, this is a bummer, too…)
  • It’s not as progressive as I thought it might be
  • Not a fan of surf culture (I’m much too rigid…)
  • An overabundance of frivolous plastic surgery
  • The masculinity is thick in the air and I’m not very masculine

That last bullet is what the aforementioned article is all about.  In short, a statue of a surfer in action was placed in a prominent place along the 101 highway in Cardiff by the Sea and the surfers don’t like it.  The question, though, is why?

The article seems to lead off with the idea that the statue is just not representative of surfers.  Apparently, there isn’t an actual “move” that looks like the bronze figure.  From the article:

They say it’s not masculine enough. They’ve also attacked the pose of the bronze figure, arguing that it doesn’t capture a true surfing move.

StatueWhile I’d argue this fact (mainly because I’ve seen many a surfer look exactly like this, even though I’d be hard-pressed to find any that would admit it), I can understand the feelings that the surfers might have by having someone from the “outside” try to figuratively paint the inner workings and spirits of the surfer world.  But, this is something that amounts to a gift from the community to the community and visitors, notwithstanding.  Primarily, this just showcases, as the article alludes, an attitude of elitism.  Fine, whatever.  No biggie.  I sometimes feel elite because of my foodiness.  Everyone has a tendency to move toward ground that is familiar to them to maintain a certain level of confidence and belief in their skill craft.

What the article almost misses and downplays is the larger issue that runs rampant through out the coastal areas here: homophobia.  I don’t know many surfers, but I’m quite sure there are gay surfers in these waters.  So, why would the surfers of North County call the statue “gay” and slap the name “Fairy Mary” on it?  Does the statue really look gay?  Is that only how a gay surfer surfs?  Oh, wait, let me guess, the rest of you straight tough-guys surf like you’re bad-asses and you look awesome whenever I see you tumble head first into a small wave that you couldn’t handle, right?  Again, from the article:

Much of the criticism on blogs about the Cardiff statue has had a homophobic undertow. Some say it looks “gay.” Others have dubbed it “Fairy Mary.”

While surfers routinely use the word gay to describe lame, uninspired efforts, homophobia is part of the surfing culture, said Warshaw, the San Francisco writer.

He knows of no American professional male surfer who is openly gay, for instance. That might seem surprising, he said, since many surfers believe themselves to be free-spirited and laid-back.

But some say the surfers’ furor over the Cardiff statue isn’t all that complicated. The statue doesn’t cut it when it comes to depicting a surfer, they say.

“The pose is just dorky,” Pezman said. “Even a gay surfer would say the same thing.”

The problem I have with the entire tone of the last half of the article is that it doesn’t take to task the homophobia that seems to run a little more rampant through the surf culture than it should.  The author does mention it and goes into some depth, but leaves it sort of hanging.  Whether it is homophobia or just a severe lack of judgment or plain ignorance, what is being said about the statue and, in turn, about gays is just wrong.  And saying that even a gay surfer would think that the pose is “dorky” doesn’t help the situation – “dorky” is a terrible word to describe something.

And this comes from a linguistic elitist, thank you, but not a homophobe.