'Sweetness And Blood,' Finding The Surf In Some Unusual Locations

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Michael Scott Moore i

Michael Scott Moore is the author of the 2003 novel Too Much Of Nothing. Moore is also the European Dispatch columnist for Miller-McCune magazine. Michael Scott Moore hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Scott Moore
Michael Scott Moore

Michael Scott Moore is the author of the 2003 novel Too Much Of Nothing. Moore is also the European Dispatch columnist for Miller-McCune magazine.

Michael Scott Moore

For better or worse, it seems like American pop culture has crept into almost every corner of the globe. Travel anywhere and you’re likely to find some trace of it, whether it’s fast food, entertainment, clothing, or music.

Journalist Michael Scott Moore recently published a book on what seems like one of the classic images of Americana pop culture: surfing.

His book is Sweetness and Blood: How surfing spread from Hawaii and California to the rest of the world, with some unexpected results.

Moore travels to some surprising surf locations in his book, including the beaches of Tel Aviv, Indonesia, Japan, and the North Sea Island of Sylt. He even surfs the river waves of the Eisbach in Munich, which has become something of a tourist destination.

Moore says surfing has been gaining visibility with a loyal and sometimes unorthodox following. These surfers face harsh conditions and sometimes cultural barriers, but have, in the process, created their own kind of identity.

"No matter how bad the surf is or how cold it is or how bad the conditions are," Moore says, "there's that thrill of getting picked up by a wave that never goes away. That’s always part of surfing, and that’s what people get addicted to and it’s astonishing how universal it is,” Moore says.

There is no denying that surfing is an American icon, and as Moore notes, the sport does have roots in the peaceful pacific island of Hawaii.

Sweetness and Blood

Sweetness and Blood follows the spread of surfing through some unusual locations, including the Gaza Strip, West Africa and Cuba. Amy King/Rodale Press hide caption

itoggle caption Amy King/Rodale Press

But even in Germany, a country not exactly known for its tropical weather, surfing, or “wellenreiten” has been gaining momentum.

Moore moved to Berlin in 2005 from San Francisco. As a California native, he grew up surfing, so when he moved Berlin, he says he was surprised to find a surfing community in the city.

“I dropped everything and came out just to see what living in Berlin would be like, and it’s been actually very good, but the last thing I expected to do was find a surf board to ride,” Moore says.

Even though there are no actual waves to surf in Berlin, Moore says there’s still a good number of surfers in the city. He’s seen a handful of board shops that offer surf boards in the summer and gear for snow boarding in the winter.

“I bought a surfboard to travel with while I was here, and the guy who sold it to me was perfectly knowledgeable, told me exactly how the board would behave and was absolutely right, and it was a pretty good deal on a good used epoxy board and I had a selection to choose from. It’s just astonishing,” Moore says.

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