The “Ice Cream Headaches” Are Worth It
If you’ve ever surfed the east coast in winter you know the feeling well. We recently chatted with Edward Thompson and Julien Roubinet, the writer and photographer (respectively) behind Ice Cream Headaches, a book (yes in print!) highlighting the remarkable New York and New Jersey surf scene and the unique characters that only it could foster. Read on to share in their stoke and join us on Saturday, July 21st to meet the guys and pick up a signed copy of the book and/or a limited edition print to bring the stoke home!
@ Julien – How and when did you first get into photography?
It started pretty late. Younger, I never thought of myself as creative. However, I remember taking that one photo and tweaking it on my computer and realising I could probably dig deeper. About 8 years ago, I pursued it more seriously through experimentations, trial and error, and it was not until 2012, a year after moving to New York, that it became my job. It’s quite incredible to think that what I love doing the most is my actual job!
@ Edward – How and when did you first get into writing?
On summer vacations as a kid, my parents always wanted us to keep a journal of things we’d done that day – how many ice creams and bugs we’d eaten, forts built, etc. I found it incredibly slow and frustrating and it kind of put me off journaling! In spite of this, I ended up with an incredible literature teacher in high school who showed me how to read, write and think critically, and I went on to study literature at university. I don’t necessarily consider myself a writer, because there are much braver people than me who put their whole selves into it. It’s extremely hard to do well. You’re creating something from nothing, just the thoughts inside you. It’s (still) slow and can be a very painful process when you get stuck. In spite of the challenges, seeing your work out in the world, especially in print, and knowing people have enjoyed reading it is a wonderful feeling.
What was the first conversation you remembering having about the idea for Ice Cream Headaches?
Ed: I met Julien through a mutual friend, surfing in Rockaway. Both of us had recently moved to NYC and immediately connected over visa woes, our impressions of the city and our excitement that we could surf here. Both of us wanted to make surfing as central to our lives in New York as possible. Julien was just beginning his career as a photographer and I saw he had a really deep passion for it and a great eye. I’ve always loved taking photographs and I really admired his work. One day I just threw it out there: what if we made a book about the surf culture here? To my surprise he said yes immediately, so we started thinking about how it might be possible.
Julien: I had been surfing for just a year at this point. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but thought that it would be a great way to learn about the community here, and surfing and the rich culture around it.
What inspired the name?
Julien: A brutal winter surf session in New Jersey. The project was moving forward and we needed to find a name for the website. We loved Thomas Campbell’s book titles (Slide Your Brains Out, Seeing Fatima’s Eyes) and searched for a title depicting the feeling of surfing here. Even though it is not only about the winter, an ice cream headache is a sensation that every single surfer in NY & NJ can relate to.
Are there any moments/stories that stick out from the making of the book?
Ed: The day we shot the cover was one of my favorite days in the whole project. We’d been waiting for a proper Montauk swell for months and finally something came up on the charts. We abandoned all plans, called Tripoli and asked if we could crash at his place and shoot him the next day. For some reason we’d forgotten our coats, so we stood on the bluffs shivering, watching the locals get to work at dawn in these absolutely perfect waves. The light, wind, swell, timing and obviously Trip’s performance came together and we drove home knowing we’d got some really special photos.
Julien: That day was really special indeed!
I don’t think we have fully digested these past 4 years, but still, receiving the first book and flipping through the pages for the first time was a pretty special feeling. It is quite hard to step back and breathe to realize what just happened but again, it’s a great mix of satisfaction, happiness, relief and a bit of pride!
If you had to choose your favorite capture/story from the book which one would it be and why?
Ed: My favorite interview was with Linda Davoli in Brigantine, New Jersey. You can read her story in the book so I won’t repeat it here, but she has lived a genuinely incredible life of pure stoke and commitment to surf. She gave it everything and she has the most wonderful stories and a huge smile looking back on it all. She still repairs boards and gives them away to local kids to keep the stoke going.
Julien: I think we answered this question a couple of times in different interviews and my answers changed quite a bit. Linda’s story is fantastic, you could not invent it. The portrait of her I shot when we visited is also one of my favorites. I do think her story and her personality surface on that photo.
What’s your favorite beach that you’ve ever surfed?
Ed: There is a spot in the UK called Putsborough Sands, with a huge, grass-topped, granite headland protruding from one corner of a long, curved bay. With the right swell there’s a left inside the headland but it’s mostly a beach break. The car park is on a cliff above it, overlooking the bay. It’s just a very beautiful, very English beach and I’ve had some great, even formative sessions there.
Julien: That is a tough question! If I had to chose one, I think the spot we went to in Michoacán, Mexico was really special. An empty left, in an indigenous village, run by local people only, with minimal comforts, no wifi, and cabanas overlooking the wave. No more needed.
Are there any upcoming projects we should keep an eye out for? Any plans for another book perhaps?
Ed: I do have another project knocking around in my head, for a different medium. I don’t want to spill too much but when you boil it down it’s basically an excuse to travel and surf…
Julien: As mentioned earlier, this was quite an undertaking and kept us busy. Now that we are finally able to breathe, I am thinking of continuing shooting portraits, here in LA where I live, and documenting the unique scene of Malibu! Very different crowd but just as interesting…
Be sure to join Ed and Julien at the MBH on Saturday, July 21st.
As always, peep our calendar for details and to RSVP.