‘New York Surfing’. Come again? It sounds like an oxymoron – on a par with ‘Antarctic agriculture’ – or some absurd Zen koan designed to blow the mind.
New York: surely this is the metropolis par excellence, the classic urban jungle, the realm of King Kong and West Side Story and Mean Streets. Isn’t it?
But there is more to New York than very tall buildings. The Quiksilver Pro surf contest that took place in New York recently reminds us that it is also an island with a beach and waves and free spirits riding them.
I used to live in New York. I once flew from there to Hawaii in search of the perfect wave. I didn’t know that, this time, Hawaii would be coming to meet me – at Long Beach, on Long Island.
If you live in Manhattan, all you have to do is go down the subway and keep going east for a while – and suddenly you find yourself out where the mighty Atlantic collides with the continent.
I first came across Brian Menendez working in the Quiksilver store in Times Square. He had only lived in New York for a couple of months, after moving up from Florida. I followed him from the city to the beach.
This is Brian’s story.
But as I went from city to cement to sand and back again, I realized that New York contains an allegory of human experience: the feeling of repression and the sense of liberation and then, finally, a different perspective on the city itself.
And I realized that Freud, in his classic essay, Civilization and its Discontents, provided an unsurpassable commentary on surfing and the psyche.
This film is a narrative of transformation. It shows the metropolis – but also a magical metamorphosis, a myth. It is a true story, but also a fairy tale of New York. Naturally, it had to be called...Once Upon a Time in New York.
Produced and Directed by Andy Martin and Norman Lomax
Written by Andy Martin in association with Sigmund Freud
Camerawork by Dominic Neitz
Surfing Footage courtesy of Quiksilver Inc
Edited and coloured by Norman Lomax
Timelapses by Ryan Quan, Paul Yonna and Anthony Piscitella
Music by Jack and Spencer Martin
Brian Menedez and Amanda Diaz play themselves