Welcome to the 23rd episode of The Temple of Surf Podcast! We would like to thank you the thousands of you that now are following us, episode after episode!
The first series is almost over (3 episodes including the one of today), but don't worry, we will be back by the end of September with an amazing 2nd series!
Today with us is Adam Paskowitz, surfer, musician, environmentalist, captain, dad and son of the legendary Doc Paskowitz.
Let's discover more about him, the Paskowitz Foundation, his future travels and projects and much more!
You can find us in all major podcast platforms ( Spotify, YouTube, I Tunes,...) but, if you prefer to read the interview, just have a look here , in our website (please allow common mistake of transcribing the episode).
TTOS: Aloha Adam, welcome to the show! Where are you today?
I’m in Southern California, we're just coming out here in Orange County from the lockdown.
This is the longest time that we been in a house in the last 10 years, it's weird, but, you know, we're trying to be responsible to some degree.
The law of the second stage lock down is changing here in Southern California Orange County and it's good to get out and get our sea legs back together, because we haven't been in the water for freaking three months….It's crazy.
It's just weird, especially for my kids, they've never been a part of that whole like online and, and computers and all that, now they're just sitting just like watching, streaming and it feels very weird.
I felt like cage birds, my daughter walks around like in circles, she paces in circles outside because she just wants to do something.
It reminds me of how unhealthy and sedentary suburban life is…. It's crazy, I just cannot do it.
TTOS: Today we are going to talk about surfboards, surf, The Foundation and much more, but the first question that I have for you is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
Well I’m sort of the belief that there are several new guys right now that are trying to bring back what I call like “The classical low fondness of surfing” .
My dad was surfing in Southern California in the thirties when there were five or six guys on the entire coast, but today, there's upwards of 25 million surfers, but the beaches are the same size.
I think that if you don't have the spirit, surf can be a very difficult, it can be a very difficult sport for a person.
It's not like mountains, It's not organized when you're in the water, it's all an individual of one, each person's experience is their experience and everyone's sort of scratching for their own waves.
I think that the primary element of surfing is to have “Surf with Aloha”, that's Hawaiian word, it means to have a sort of a kind spirit and is a golden rule, but many times that gets lost, it really does.
TTOS: I see what you mean and also, as you said, so many people don’t know what the rules are, what means respect or they just simply ignore it, they must think is all fine….
I think we're realizing that waves are rare and way waves are worth protecting and worth fighting, sometimes.
I mean, that's the honest truth, I hate to say that, but I think we always looked at the unlimited nature of surfing and the unlimited nature of waves, but now it has changed.
I was just looking at some stuff from Koa Rothman and looking at how many guys are out on a given day on the North shore and you see how “wow, a good wave is rare”.
It's hard to get, I appreciate people, that get beef and scraps and stuff and the exponentiality of people and waves shows that there's just not enough room for all of us out there.
You could be the best surfer in the world and still just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and it can be brutal, especially if people are just on it…..it is just crazy right now, because they've all been locked in for months and now it's just like a mad zone.
TTOS: I was talking a couple of days ago with Drew Brophy and he told me that where he lives (San Clemente), everybody is now there and surf there because of the lock down and also all the pro surfers are not going around and traveling.
Everybody is in the water and only the pro surfers are catching most of the waves, things get so competitive out there and people say “ I want to get some waves too!”….
Like I said, you get where people are coming from and out there you want a wave and the guy next to you wants a wave and the guy next to him wants a wave and……. how many waves are there?
Lately it has become sort of the survival-of-the-fittest, I don't know what the title of this podcast will be, but it's really like “Gone Wild” right now in Southern California.
The beaches are just full, people are rioting and protesting and then all the surfers are getting arrested…. It has been a wild month.
TTOS: I can change the title on “The survival of the fittest – corona virus edition” …..
Everyone, from guys that are like the best surfers around and then every kid, they're all in the water at the same time and normally you wouldn't have that level of intensity, but now you just see little kids just go like “Screw it, I don't care who you are…..I'm going” .
TTOS: When did you start surfing yourself?
You know surfing for my family, wasn't something that you really had a choice about.
My dad was one of the original surf guys, back then he was in Hawaii for a long period of time, then obviously he went to the Middle East and started surfing there.
By the time I was born, it was just like five brothers older than me and they were all completely little groms, I can remember paddling with my dad in Israel and I was probably three, maybe four, that was my start.
I'll never forget the way the board just glided across the water, really, really clean just glassy waves in in Israel and God, I was just instantly so crazy.
And then by the time I was probably five, I was in a hundred percent.
TTOS: what was your first surfboard, like a proper one?
I think one of my first boards, that I can remember ,was a board that has been made by Ben Aipa.
I had a Ben Aipa that he loaned me at Rocky point. I think I was like seven years old.
And that would just became my board, then with Gordon Smith back in Southern California had a bunch of boards G&S and those were like my first boards.
You gotta realize that we were all in camper and there are 10 of us.
My dad had a couple of boards and then, think about it, even if each kid had his own board, you're looking at a dozen surfboards on the roof of your car….I think there was a time we had like 34 boards on the roof.
TTOS: Wow, quite a lot! Do you still have one of those boards or these all disappeard?
I wish, I've met Dale Velzy (The Hawk) , legendary shaper and developed a strong friendship
My brother Izzy and I were competing, at that time, in the longboard division, he was with Hobie and all his boards were made by Hobie made by Danny Bronner and all those guys.
The Hawk started making me boards and I must have had a dozen boards from Velzy, but now I don't have not even one of those boards.
He used to make me the most elaborate crazy things and we'd make longboards without stringers, then he'd put a ping pong ball, infuse helium in it and man, he was wild.
We had a really great experience, there was like a two seasons competitive thing, Izzy and Hobie versus me and the Hawk….it was rad, so great, I'll never forget,
I wish I had kept them, I had an amazing 11 foot Skip Frye that I don't have anymore.
I can't even believe all the Town and Country boards I had and all the Hawaiian boards.
And then, sometime in the early eighties, when we were in in Hawaii, my brother David and I started making our own surfboards.
My dad was like “you can't be a great surfer unless you can make your own surfboards”.
I was in the HSA, surfing and all those contests, we started making our own boards and I'll never forget, like we had a really cool little brand that we started and it just got so popular,so fast.
We were like: “Oh, we quit”.
People will start buying our boards and we asked my dad “what do you think we should sell our boards for?”, he was like, “this would be the most expensive surfboard in the world”, he's like “500 bucks per board!”.
It was unheard of like 500 bucks and we thought “no one will buy them at that price”, but then we just kept selling them!
We went from surfers to being like child labor working all day and like into the night on completing all these board orders.
We never thought to go and get help, we said “Screw it. We quit”
I was like really deeply in the Hawaiian Surf Association in the contests, all I cared about was winning contests and having to make boards seem like it was a pain in the neck,
TTOS: But at least you took advantage of the situation, right? There was a high demand for your boards. So I guess, that's quite a lot of money…..
Yeah, we made a serious amount of money in one summer, but we realized like how hard it is and I had so much pressure, surfing in Hawaiian contests and I didn't really had the time to dedicate myself to finishing some little kids board.
Our boards were crazy, back in those days in the eighties, we helped make that part of that craziness, all neon colors, anything you could possibly think ….you couldn't imagine what the boards look like, polka dots, a deck of cards, we did a whole boards of series of boards that were like decks of cards and diamonds and hearts and clubs.
It was rad.
TTOS: And today, which kind of surfboard you like to use?
Well today, I'm back with Hobie!
I have mostly long boards now, but I also have a few of Timmy Patterson's mid-length fun boards that I love, which I have to say Timmy is an incredible shaper.
Right now, Gary Larson over at Hobie is making boards that were designed by Bucky and those are long boards and are the best ones I've ever had in my life.
I just got a new board yesterday, 12 foot board, they made for me, that's five inches thick, 31 inches wide, and it is fricking a beast.
TTOS: You can have the whole family on that!
It's like a platform for everything that we do.
I also had a couple of Jerry Lopez. I had one of his babies, Jerry Lopez, baby model was fricking the best board.
I liked the sort of fun shape, seven foot, eight foot, I don't really short boards so much anymore. I mostly just like, I liked that paddling speed and it's just really fast and it's fun.
Here in Southern California, it's so mushy and whatnot most of the time… I guess if I moved back to Hawaii, you know, maybe I'll get some short boards
TTOS: Let's talk about the foundation. So it's a special project, right. That you are carrying forward, can you tell us more about that?
Yeah, you know, my dad left me a legacy to me and all of my brothers and sisters, that is giving back to the ocean that we've dedicated so much of our lives to and had so much fun.
He told me, before he died, “You got to protect the ocean, it needs you more than you need it”
I just really took that to heart and it's been like a legacy thing for me.
It really has been, I feel like it's sort of my job and my place over the last probably five or six years.
I got a sailboat and then traveled around the world and along the way, I ran into so much pollution and bad shit in the water that I just, I came back and I was like: “God, it's hard to have fun.”
You know, you have to turn a blind eye to what's there.
it was me and my family obviously, but we didn't just like go to Hawaii or, or Tahiti, you know, we traveled to some of the islands that are so rare to get to places like Kiribati and new way. And, and it just was disconcerting to see how much of the modern world floats there…..it's just crazy.
You know, it's not just plastic, but primarily that's pollution.
You kind of have to turn a blind eye, I've, I've seen some unbelievable waves in places and, and you have to turn a blind eye to enjoy it.
I've been working with some people at Waste Management, which is a big trash company here in the United States and we've been trying to find a way to collect trash and compact it and move it away from the area and try to remove it from the environment in a way that allows you to stay in those areas and pick up more trash.
There was one point that our boat was there and there wasn't a single area of the boat that didn't have plastic in it that we had picked up.
Then the problem was that when we went from Fiji down to New Zealand, we got hit by a big old rogue wave, three foot wave, and a lot of what was on deck, went back into the ocean.
Thousands of pounds of plastic went back into the ocean and it made me realize like disturbing plastic pollution in general, their responsibility of doing something with it.
I had already organized to having people take it in New Zealand, but it was really expensive and it was horrible experience.
I'm trying to find technology that helps us sort of move plastic in a responsible way and that's what our foundation in honor of my dad.
It's a nonprofit for ocean conservation, we were going to launch our nonprofit before the coronavirus hit and basically we're like an ocean action family where we have such experience with the open ocean and with a lot of the areas around the world that we just go, we help out, we bring attention, we dig a ditch, pick up trash, we help advance media projects, we build our own little media projects.
And again, we were trying to preach a responsibility more than anything else, just understand that there's a finite number of waves, there's a finite ocean.
There's not just an endless supply of everything and I think this corona virus and everyone being locked down has sort of made people understand the basics of what's important in many ways.
I'm really interested in seeing how this all puts itself back together.
It has been here in Southern California a wild experience getting back out and there's been some clashes of opinions.
I think that it makes us realize like how the outdoors is so critical to us, for you and me it's the ocean, but for there's a lot of people it’s the forest or the desert or the mountains.
I'm hoping we can get back to that and understand that.
We're working on getting another boat and heading back out to sea and technology has got to play a role.
I hate to try to fix things with technology, but there's just no way to gather pollution in remote areas not the, not enough of it.
We have some really smart people with us trying to come up with some solutions and, by the way, the waves out there are just incredible.
The secret waves that I know are just like, God, it's not real. It is not real how many waves there are in some pretty remote areas like, “Oh my God”
TTOS: That's good. Let's keep it a secret.
You have to, now you have to, now it has to remain a secret.
TTOS: I agree with you, I guess like with the lockdown and coronavirus, it maybe made us more appreciating what we lost for a couple of months and then maybe people finally will realize how important are the little things and to preserve them.
How people can help you with the foundation?
Well right now we're sort of organizing the behind the scenes.
We'll launch and we'll let people know where they can donate their time.
We do a number of pickups in Southern California, that's how this all started was basically, my dad even from an early age, he taught us that when you go to the beach, you leave it cleaner than you found it. And so he, even as little kids, we would always have to pick up trash at the beach today.
Trash is plastic pollution and so me and my kids, we have picked up tons over the last five years, tons of plastic from the beaches.
We'll organize that and people will find us and we'll find them right now.
We're looking at platforms boat platforms to find better and better ways to get to some of these areas where nobody has ever picked up the trash.
And as I say, it the coronavirus kind of put a wrench in that a little bit, but maybe it's gonna enlighten people to protect what they love.
You know, you have to protect what you love and we're surfers!
And it's funny, sometimes surfers have a real blind spot to the problems in the ocean.
It's only now are, our surfers waking up to the understanding ”OMG there are some problems”
Surfers have notoriously been, it's strange, you know, even growing up all the guys that I know we never talked about some of the problems that the oceans have now over-fishing and the things that we've seen being in and out at sea and travelling the ocean….it's just horrible stuff and I'm hoping more and more people get involved. I really am.
That's sort of my legacy for me and to my son, Doc, you know, my son's name is Doc, my dad's name was Doc.
I sort of feel like that's my family legacy as a passcode.
TTOS: That’s amazing, I believe there is also need of coordination among the different activities, initiatives from different people, right? Maybe the Foundation can take a role into coordinating different institutions or associations that today are doing quite a lot already with maybe altogether we can do more for the ocean and for all the problems related to ocean pollution, as you said, other-fishing and waste management, I really look forward to hear amazing stories in the future!
TTOS: You said before about your father and the legacy that your father gave to you “the ocean needs you more than you need him” , I would like to know what was the most important teaching that your father gave to you?
You know, I think he taught us kids the same thing I'm teaching today to my kids, is that the value of freedom and the ability to have free movement and to not be stuck in one spot figuratively or in reality. You know, we get stuck in spots and we get stuck as human beings in jobs and in relationships and in structures that we can't get out of,
TTOS: even without going so far, our mind place is somewhere we got stuck…..
That's really true.
I think that my dad always reminded us that this is your chance on the planet and that you should find a way to find joy.
He used to say “happiness is the meaning of life” and as I get older and I have kids and stuff, I'm sort of realizing that just the joy of existence can be better than anything.
I used to be in a band and we had, for a brief moment, some success, we got a chance to, at that point, the best thing in the world would be to like tour with the Rolling Stones. Right?
And so we did, we went out on tour with them and you know, the band was awesome, Jagger and Richards and all those guys.
I thought, God, you know, the most awesome thing you could do…. ever.
But then traveling by boat and finding a cove and anchoring in a cove on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and finding a wave there and just like catching a fish and just being with my kids was way better, way better.
TTOS: As you were referring to Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger wrote “ I cant get no satisfaction, but I try”, so you see that, you just needed to anchor in a cove and you got that!
What I thought would make me happy, really, it just was a lot of work and a lot of stress.
Now I'm keeping it simple, It's just me and my family and my family and I are interested in trying to find some general responsibility for our favorite thing, which is the ocean.
We're going to try to get out there this year and we definitely will let people know about it, but I hope that we can make the world ocean world a better place.
I just can't believe that we're going to stay on this path and just run out of fish and run out of waves and it would just be a terrible end to a really brilliant story about humanity and the ocean we've worked together since we've come from the ocean and we've been in a partnership with the ocean for so many thousands of years. And then, at the end, it's just like, we blow it and then we just screwed everything over.
TTOS: I guess also mother nature will not allow us, I think she has a way to preserve ourselves more than we know.
Right. I hope, because karma is a bitch.
TTOS: I agree on what you said and I guess being a father as I am, as you are, I think it changes the perspective and make us look at the world in a different way than when were just single and we just believe that there was “no end” and you can get right.
But then, when you are a father, the perspective change and everything changes, I was talking with Rob Machado at the beginning of the show, and he was saying that the most important thing is like being selfless, like the family and the kids would be above everything else we do….
We're going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the best thing that comes up to your mind.
Best surfboard you have ever ridden…
Is 10/0 Hobie “The Buckzaster”
TTOS: the best shaper of all time…
I'm going to say the most prolific shaper of all time, the guy that made the most amount of boards was a guy named Jim Fuller, Southern California, he made everyone's board for a long time.
Timmy is obviously one of the top guys and I think Larson at Hobie is fricking amazing, but Jim fuller, he could make fricking 10 boards in a day, he was no machine….
TTOS: Your favorite song….
My favorite “The girl from Ipanema” Antonio Carlos Jobim.
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot
Malibu, California USA.
TTOS: Your favorite surfer or the best surfer of all time,
Mark Richards from Australia.
TTOS: the last question is a little bit unusual, we want to know your best relationship advice
I'll tell you what my dad would say, my best relationship advice is “A relationship, it's not a 50 50 process, It's a hundred percent, hundred percent process”
TTOS: under percent is what our wife and families need from us.
Recorded in June 2020