WORDS + PHOTOS
BY BRENT LIEBERMAN
When Julie and I first moved north to the hinterlands in 1973, we landed at 425 South “A” Street, which was a really wonderful place to live. I was close to my favorite surf spot Abalone Reef, and we lived only two blocks away from the infamous C-Street house. We had been visiting our friends Dave and Robin there for a few years prior to moving in, and were getting to know the locals. They didn’t mind, and actually dug me making photos of them, “as long as you fly under the wire and don’t give away the locations,” which I agreed to, and still keep that promise today.
There was a crew of about 10 or 15 core surfers that surfed Abalone regularly, and they all seemed to have nicknames that appeared to be doled out by one big guy who went by Shamu. His brother was The Big or Biggie. Some of the other nicknames went like this: Hamil, Urbacide, Mars-Man, The Chode, Birdie or Crow, Steelie, Gilly, RG, PJ, Marko and few more.
The coastline in those glorious days was wide open and free of crowds. There were still “secret spots” that only a few knew about, and hardly any spoke about. Seemed like most of us all rode single fin Bradbury’s, wore hiking boots, had huge backpacks and all enjoyed the camaraderie and brotherhood that we shared. We had these amazing slide shows at the C-Street house, which sometimes turned into debauchery.
One of the crew, Tony Otero, a.k.a. Crow, Cro-Magnum or Birdie, and I became good friends and we cruised the beaches of the Central Coast quite often. We both had VW Variant station wagons and could drive to just about any beach for two or three bucks worth of gas. I loved shooting with Tony. He was a really good surfer and very exciting to shoot with because he always ripped. Birdie and I drove over to “Dreamland” in February 1975, and I made this photo of him surfing all by himself. There was no one else on the beach, except for me and the pelicans. I loved the peace and solitude then and still seek that out now as well. Later in life the rumors were that Tony moved to Montana and was a cowboy, but I recently found out he was a fisherman in reality. He now resides in Portland.