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March 21 2020
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“If you were there, even just for some of it—Hawaii, California, surfing, the seventies—the memories and stories will come pouring off these photographs,” writes William Finnegan in the introduction to Jeff Divine: 70s Surf Photographs. It’s hard to think of anything that successfully pairs California’s and Hawaii’s laid-back vibes with the seriousness and devotion required by high-level sport the way surfing does. In Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, his 2015 memoir, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, Finnegan writes about the breezy feeling of “solitude, purity” that comes with perfect waves. “But surfing always had this horizon, this fear line,” he continues, “that made it different from other things, certainly from other sports I knew.” This dichotomy is chronicled in Divine’s serene yet intense photographs, which offer an homage to surfing and a chronicle of the close-knit culture surrounding it in the 1970s. “The beating heart of this book is … to my mind, a celebration,” writes Finnegan. “Of Sam Hawk’s bottom turn under crushing pressure at Pipe. Of Barry Kanaiaupuni’s balls-out airdrop at Makaha. And of looking good, always, while doing the extremely difficult.” —Julia Vitale

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