Strider Wasilewski Looks Back After Lighting Up Surf Ranch | “Will the last Dogtowner please turn out the lights?”
Strider Wasilewski has been lighting up the mic’s for the WSL the last few years. Even INSIDE the barrel at the Surf Ranch over the weekend. At 44 he is still charging real wave as well. This TSJ interview looks back at the gritty Dogtown days, surfing pipe and chopes, and much more.
Was growing up in Santa Monica and Venice in the 70s and 80s as rough as people remember?
It doesn’t even feel like the same place sometimes. I saw a guy get shot in front of my house. And they used to deal drugs in the alley behind us. There were drug addicts that lived on the beach and under the pier. It was the Dogtown era. I moved there in ’78. It was right when Tony Alva and Jay Adams were hitting their peaks—doing what you see in the movies. They were stars. They’d kick me out of the parties because I was too young. They didn’t want me to see what was going on. In that sense, they were looking out for me, which thinking about it now, was really cool of them. I can’t believe most of those guys made it through those days. When I started surfing, I couldn’t go to Venice. My little crew could go down there and skate, but we weren’t even allowed to walk out to the breakwater. The guys would throw rocks at us, beat us up, break our fins, and then tell us to go home. They didn’t care that we were little kids. Slowly, I became friends with a kid named Ricky Massie, who was my childhood rival as a surfer. Through him, I got a hall pass to go to Venice. His family members were Venice gangsters. Even though the rest of us were terrified to go down to the breakwater, Ricky was probably safer down there than he was in his neighborhood. We used to go to parties at his house that were so scary.
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Are you kidding me… so fun to surf and commentate at the same time! @wsl let me in the ring for some of the empty waves at @surf.ranch event. They posted this earlier today, thanks @WSL for letting me surf… #letstridersurf #lemoore #surf #stokemachine @kswaveco @kellyslater @lostsurfboards @opkix @ride_list @jamesperse @thule