This spring is shot. And likely so is summer for the most part. My wife and I just got finished discussing whether or not we keep our plans to go to Costa Rica in a few weeks just in case. Of course, we already knew the answer but it has been a glimmer of hope to keep that trip on the books as we locked down in our house. Will beaches be open, will travel resume? Even if it does, when are we going to feel ok getting on a plane, recirculating air with 300 people again?
Beaches are closed, then opened. Maybe they’ll be closed again. Who knows.
But as I sit at home and work on Twin Fin Coffee and build and engage my audience and write articles about past surf trips, I have been watching in shock what has been going on in my old home town of NYC.
It has made me think about friends and family there, old work colleagues, the simple act of taking the train from Penn Station out to Long Beach or heading out to Montauk with Manno to catch some waves.
It has also revealed to me how the surf community has changed in the ten years since I left The City, when I basically never saw another person on the train with a surfboard, and there certainly weren’t surf themed coffee shops in Soho or surf hotels in Rockaway or places (that I knew of anyway) where you could rent a locker for your board and take a shower before you jumped the subway back to the city.
For the most part, a morning run out to Long Beach in the crisp late fall air meant a quick change into my wetsuit under the boardwalk and a not quick enough change out of it with numb fingers and solid rocks for feet, then passing out on the train as I headed back into the city.
The doorman at my old building still shakes his head and says ‘you still doing that surfing stuff?’ when I come to visit. To say that taking a surfboard down the elevator in the middle of winter made you stand out in a building full of, shall we say, less than conventional individuals, was an understatement.
But lots of things have changed. I was in NYC last year for a birthday before heading down to Mexico to surf and wander around with the family for a couple of weeks. I didn’t head out to the beach, but was absolutely enamored with filling my days seeking out the best coffee the city now has to offer. Very few if any of the amazing options for coffee were there when I lived in Chelsea over ten years ago. I remember when the Starbucks downstairs was new. It used to be a burrito place run by Asians, the only Latin people in the place were the delivery guys and the food was horrible. Just once, I wish they all would have switched jobs and seen what happened.
Today, wandering around the city seeking out amazing espresso can fill a day. And there are even bikes to help you get around – how amazing!
In my quarantine-fueled Instagram surf and coffee obsession I have come across a few places, some new some not so new anymore, that I look forward to putting into a fall surf and coffee trip itinerary to NYC once life allows for such apparent frivolity like travel and hugging old friends and squeezing into Arthur’s Tavern for some late night jazz and of course surfing.
Saturdays New York City
While Saturdays has been open since 2009, I hadn’t heard of it until recently (I left NYC after 13 years in 2008). The more I learned about how they came to be, the more I look forward to visiting their shop the next time I’m in NYC and grabbing a coffee on their back patio. In the ten-plus years since they opened, Saturdays has become a global brand with shops in NYC, Sydney, Tokyo and more. I appreciate their connection with Japanese sure and design.
I’m not sure how I missed this one. It may have had something to do with starting a family and moving a half dozen times and immersing myself in the SoCal surf culture I had always wished to find. But that’s alright.
I look forward to checking it out next time I’m in town.
I’ve been following Paul Schmidt on Instagram for a long time, and it has been cool to watch his evolution as a shaper and a brand over the last few years. I’m not exactly sure how I found him, but for me, his story has been a window through which I have watched the evolution of the Rockaway surf scene.
Obviously the East Coast surf scene has been there since before the pictures started hitting your feeds, but that’s just the point. East Coast surf getting coverage and appreciation is relatively new and Paul’s grown with it.
I hope to meet him one day, maybe take one of his beautiful boards out for a test ride.
Rockaway Beach Surf Club
This place looks awesome. Surf, tacos, music, art, drinks. All a subway ride away from The City. What’s not to love.
These are the kinds of places that I hope make it through the current business climate. It’s going to be tough, and I look forward to when they get up and running again.
Of course, one of the things I look forward to doing is just the same trip I used to do. Grab my board and walk up to Penn Station, grab an early train out to Long Beach, and just walk to the boardwalk, quiet without the summer crowds and lifeguards and rules on where you can surf, and just walk straight out into the water.
I’m sure there are some new places to eat and grab a nice hot coffee after a cold water session, but I’ll just have to figure that out when I get there.
One of my good friends from NYC has a place in Montauk. We’re still good friends despite that time he put my brand new 6’4 JC on the roof of his car and it blew off and smashed the tail. He also still has the place. I used to make runs out there with him after all the summer plans ran their course and no one else really felt like driving out in the grey of winter because a storm had kicked up swell.
One of the best surf sessions I ever had was at Turtles when overhead waves were crashing into the cliffs and when you duckdive you could hear the hollow sound of the bowling ball sized rocks moving around on the floor of the seabed.
These were days before both of us had families and kids, where when I was there it was just two dudes chasing cold swells on the weekends when we could pull ourselves away from all the vices of the city.
I look forward to making the long drive out to The End, listening to classic 80s metal the whole drive, where I’m sure some things have changed but some haven’t.
Maybe by the fall when storms kick up some swell and maybe kids go back to school and maybe people go back to work and abandon their summer homes and the weather in the Northeast is perfect I’ll be able to put on a sweatshirt and flip flops and visit some of these people and do some of these things.
The Rockaway Hotel