Michael Scott Moore Surfing the Airwaves

Miller-McCune’s European Dispatch columnist is out promoting his new folk history of surfing.
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Miller-McCune’s European Dispatch columnist is out promoting his new folk history of surfing.

Those who know our European Dispatch columnist Michael Scott Moore for his takeouts on subjects like Holocaust denial, how Europe is coping with its Muslim masses or the Western influence on Somali piracy may be surprised to learn that he’s also an avid — and well-traveled — surfer. Now, as The New York Times’ Andy Martin has put it, Moore’s become a surf bard with the arrival of his new book, Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, With Some Unexpected Results.

In a series of essays from little-discussed surfing spots like Gaza, Morocco and Britain, Moore weaves stories of the local culture melded with the “pop silliness” of the Western surfing culture to create an international hybrid, similar to other American exports like rock ’n’ roll. In that quest to create a folk history of surfing, he actually avoided some of the best known global surf spots because his book is not, as he puts it, his version of Endless Summer.

“Wherever possible,” he writes in the forward, “I chose offbeat nearby countries (Cuba, Germany, São Tomé and Príncipe) to give the general reader an idea of how surfing reached that general part of the world and still, I hope, offer the dedicated surf historian something new — about how the sport mingled with communism, or how it wound up in the North Sea.”

Right now, Moore is attempting create his own wave — of publicity. He’s out flogging Sweetness and Blood and will appear on Friday’s edition of the NPR show On Point, a mostly sober program from Boston’s WBUR that nonetheless tries to keep a finger on the pulse of pop culture. (Lady Gaga was the leadoff segment this afternoon …) Moore’s segment is slated for the second hour of the two-hour show, which puts him on at 11 a.m. Eastern in those markets where On Point is broadcast live and who knows when in the rest of the nation.