“Whether or not I’ve already caught the best wave of my life is — is a question that I don’t really wanna know the answer to. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since I was a little kid.”
So says Shane Dorian in Taylor Steele’s newest video, “Proximity,” produced in partner with TGR. This film is the newest offering in the meta renaissance of action sports videos. Surf porn has been done for so long, banger banger banger fast cuts set to a firing beat, that it’s almost a struggle to sit down for a series of the best surfers on the best waves on the best days. Rather just throw in “No Destination” for the, like, millionth time. No, we want more. We want to understand why why we spend all this money buying chunks of resin that we then pay a couple grand for a plane to carry, along with us, to some distant meeting of earth and ocean. “Proximity” doesn’t give us the answer; but it comes pretty damn close.
Witness, over one couple-minute section, Rasta Rastovich and Stephanie Gilmore sharing a wave, weaving in and out of each other like a kelp braid, followed by soul surfer Craig Anderson talking about why he didn’t compete into Kelly Slater and John John Florence playing chess, discussing strategy. The Kelly-to-John-John baton-handoff, though, stands out as the moment that, in 20 years, when JJF has possibly eclipsed Slater to become the winningest, most influential surfer in the world, people will watch on sacred a loop.
Of course there’s still sick waves in tropical waters, there’s island children and colorful British empire speakers in pubs and lots of footage footage riding in boats. And then there’s so much more. There’s walking through snow to paddle out into frozen Japanese waters and Shane and Albee Layer surfing a frigid, rowdy slab wave in Viking waters apparently named “Blood Eagle.” Mob (Rob Machado, for the youngsters) styles out Chile with pup Anderson, an ironic duo given Mob’s history as Scottie Pippen to Slater’s Jordan and Anderson’s career as a pure soul surfer. But that Micronesia footy tho…
In “Proximity,” Taylor Steele and TGR have made more than a surf flick; it’s a film about surfing, a mashup of the masterpieces that defined, well, Taylor Steele, with the “it’s not a sport, it’s a lifestyle” storytelling of the “Endless Summer” flicks.
The other day I saw TGR’s stoke bus parked outside their Jackson Hole base and that idea, of a magical universe on wheels, is “Proximity” in a nutshell. Stoke. As a surfer, you can’t watch the flick without becoming stoked on surfing and all the possibilities. As a nonsurfer, you can’t watch it without becoming stoked on life and all the possibilities, a zen meditation on a life worth living. Travel. Passion. Experience. Soul. Hunger. Competition. Companionship. Torch-passing and legacies and the unknown. Zen stoke, yeah, that’s it. A Buddhist time shift reinvention of a genre pioneered by the very Buddha himself.
Taylor and TGR are beyond zen stoked. You will be too.