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A Life Outside Focuses On Seaside Surfers

Russell Brownley, DP, Catherine Brabec, Director, Nic McLean and Joshua Colegrove, cinematographers, with the surfers
Russell Brownley, DP, Catherine Brabec, Director, Nic McLean and Joshua Colegrove, cinematographers, with the surfers (Used with permission from Greg Mesanko)

Growing up in Seaside Heights I was always around surfing even if I wasn’t one myself. 
Actually I was for a very brief period.  In the late 60’s towards the end of the summer my father gave me a brand-new Hobie (Corky Carroll model) surfboard from Keller’s Surf Shop in Lavallette.  It was a gift for helping him out on the boardwalk and I have to tell you it was one very cool surfboard.

There was only one problem and that was I didn’t know how to surf even though several of my friends were regulars in the ocean.   So early one morning I joined my classmate Ray Andreola and hit the waves on the south side of the Casino Pier.  To be honest the surf was probably about 4 feet that day but to me I might as well have been at the Pipeline in Hawaii.

I tried time and time again but basically never got up. I made it to my knees and would get wiped out.  This was before you had a leash wrapped around your ankle so every time I fell I would have to swim in, grab the board and then try and paddle out.  It was exhausting and frustrating and that summer morning I decided that surfing was not really for me.  But like I said I was always surrounded by it.

My father was one of the architects in bringing a big-time surfing contest to Seaside Heights and for a couple of years the Atlantic States Surfing Contest brought some of the sport’s biggest names to town.  Unfortunately the waves did not cooperate and eventually the contest moved south to Virginia is search of better surf.

So why mention surfing on a frigid winter morning?

Tomorrow night the New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers University is premiering a movie titled “A Life Outside” which by the way will also premiere this weekend at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in California.  The 82-minute documentary is about six local guys who began surfing by the Casino Pier some 50 years ago and still do so today…and I know all six of them.  Brothers Greg and Chris Mesanko, Kevin Casey, Rich Luthringer, Jim Purpuri and Bucky Walters.

Catherine Brabac spent about three years on the project so it covers pre and post Sandy and in the movie trailer you can hear Purpuri predict an active hurricane season two months before Sandy because of how warm the water was that summer.  You can view the trailer below.

The documentary details their obsession with surfing as well as their relationship in and out of the water over five decades.  After viewing the trailer I can’t wait to see the entire film…maybe it will convince me to try and get up on that surfboard again.  Never mind!

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