Surfing has hit Chicago!
In January of 2012, Rex Flodstrom was featured on the Chicago evening news for being arrested……for simply surfing. The Chi-town resident decided to hit the waves of Lake Michigan one brisk January day. Surfing is legal in Chicago on certain beaches, however, the beach Mr. Flodstrom surfed on that day was not on the list. The sports advocate spoke to the local news to express the outrage of the strict regulation of surfing in the Midwestern city. BTSCelebs had a chance to interview him about his life on water and dry land.
Below is his introduction:
“My name is Rex Flodstrom. I’m a surfer, skateboarder, snowboarder, biker, and artist. I’m a fan of creative expression. I express myself creatively.”
Without further ado, the interview begins:
BTSCelebs: How did you begin surfing? Was this sport always your passion?
Rex Flodstrom: I started skateboarding when I was a kid. I knew I wanted to surf someday. When I was a teenager I would visit my Dad in Los Angeles. My first board was $10 at a garage sale. It was an old beater water log, but I was stoked. After many failed attempts, I finally caught a wave. I was hooked for life. Surfing has been a passion ever since.The waves here are nothing like the ones of Florida or California.
What brings you to Chicago?
I’m from Chicago. I’ve always had roots here. I lived in California. I love California. I was struggling to get by out there. The flow of the universe brought me back to Chicago.
Why do you think surfing is so strictly regulated in Chicago, despite it not being a major surfing destination?
A long time ago there was a tragedy where some kids drowned on a raft, so Chicago banned flotation devices. Surfboards where classified as flotation devices. In 2009 Chicago legalized surfing at certain beaches due to pressure from Surf-rider and surfers. Surfing is misunderstood here. It’s unfortunate that people think surfing is crazy. Surfing is a multiple billion dollar global industry. Surf companies have the technology to build suits and gear in an environmentally responsible way that can keep a surfer warm in cold water. People drown in the great lakes; I have no desire to be one of those people. In 2011 87 people drowned. There is documented proof that surfers save lives in the great lakes and around the world. My friend, The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project travels around the lakes teaching surfers lifesaving techniques and educates people how to survive rip currents. I agree with Surfrider Foundation’s belief that all beaches and all waves should be accessible to all people. We believe that surfing is not a crime.
In light of your recent legal issue for surfing in Oak Street Beach in January, Will you be making any appearances on any Chicago-produced talk shows, like Windy City Live or the Rosie Show to support surfers rights in Chi-town? No Chicago-produced talk shows have contacted me. Does your family feel as strong as you do about the importance of surfers rights in Chicago? Yes, my surf family is with me. Movies like Gidget and Johnny Tsunami have depicted surfing to the young mainstream audience, do you feel they accurately portray surfers? I don’t remember seeing these movies, but no i do not feel surfers have been portrayed accurately yet.
Please describe the nature of your sport:
Surfing is spiritual. Surfing puts you in the moment. Surfing is about being in the right place at the right time.
Speaking of the movie “Gidget”, Do you consider yourself a modern day Kahuna?
Have you ever been injured surfing?
Thankful all my surfing injuries have been relatively minor. I’ve had reef cuts, fin gashes, jelly fish stings, severe sun burn, scary leg cramps, and bumps and bruises from impacting my board.
Are there any competitions in Chicago that you participate in?
there are no surf competitions. i’ll participate when my friends in the skateboard industry have informal competitions.
Do you plan to take your passion for surfing to the professional level?
I want to surf. I’m still getting better. Without sponsors it’s difficult to afford entry fees and travel expenses for competitions.
BTSCelebs would like to thank Mr. Flodstrom for the informative and interesting interview. We wish him all the best in his fight for surfers rights in Chicago.
Image credit: Mike Killion and Rex Flodstrom