Beer Pong?

By Robert Bernstein

Beer Pong may not seem like a newsworthy event in Isla Vista. But it has intrigued me enough to take some photos and videos which I have posted here.

I first came to Isla Vista in 1982 to begin my graduate studies in the Physics Department at UCSB. I was always aware of Beer Pong being one of the many activities happening in Isla Vista, but I never paid much attention.

And there are always many happy young people on the beach like these people, so that is not new.

What caught my attention recently is how it is happening everywhere in Isla Vista. Even on the beach. It involves making a table and carrying it down to the beach, which seems like a significant effort.

Here are a few photos on three different days:

I also am intrigued by the rules. I did a Google search to find some rules here.

But those rules have no resemblance to what I was seeing. What I observed was an extraordinary dedication to tossing a very tiny hard object high in the air and players watching it come down. It never seemed to come down in a spot that allowed the beer to be consumed. At least not while I watched on these days and other days recently.

Here are a few videos I made of the action:

Perhaps someone can enlighten us all about exactly what rules, if any, these energetic young people are following?

When I was that age I was developing my skills as a unicyclist and as a juggler. So I can’t claim any superiority when it comes to my own set of “totally useless skills” as someone once called these things. But this inquiring mind wants to know! 


Written by sbrobert

What do you think?


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  1. I’m thinking that instead of filming from afar and posting publicly without consent that maybe you could have just donned your mask and gone over and asked them? Betting they would have enjoyed being part of the film and answering your questions. Instead it just feels a bit creepy…

  2. While legal, I am disturbed by anyone on the bluffs taking so many pictures and videos of these kids or anyone not doing illegal acts. It wasn’t like, oh this will be a neat picture, snap and done, it was three days worth! Three days!! I agree with 5:09 on this topic.

  3. 420722 – so you are saying we should have to get consent from anyone who may be in a photo we take in public? I take a family photo and, in the background, there are is a group of 25 people. Do I need to get their consent before I take the photo? Or, do you propose consent is required only for the subject of the photo? What if the subject in an inanimate object, but it is next to a person? Interesting proposal you and FORREALNEWS have here. Not sure requiring consent to photo/film in public be feasible.

  4. True, nothing legally wrong. However, the obsession with taking so many photos is totally creepy. I mean, you started out being intrigued about what kind of “game” they were playing. Then we suddenly have eight photos and three videos of these kids! Enough! It’s an invasion of their get-together (game or no game). Turn the camera back on yourself and see how it feels. You wouldn’t want someone to do this to you or someone you cared about. Put those Physics books down and learn some manners. Beer pong, indeed!

  5. Creepy is correct. Posting these photos is not the same as incidentally catching someone in the background of a family get together. Robert you are exploiting these people and I know you know better. Too much “social media” I suspect. We are not all willing to be part of a website or shared media post just because we venture outdoors.

  6. The only reason people are labeling these perfectly normal photos creepy is because of Robert’s age and sex. Would you all think that a young person’s photos of a group of retirees playing shuffleboard was creepy? No. Thankfully this is not a totalitarian country where you need to get permission to take images in public spaces.

  7. Jesus Christ people. Shut up. Nobody would be saying anything if they weren’t wearing NORMAL BEACH ATTIRE. Hello? Grow up. He had a simple question about a drinking game he hadn’t seen before. I second Ant Lion.
    They are most likely playing a game called Snappa. It’s where you throw a die up in the air to a certain minimum distance, then it needs to land on the opponents side of the table and bounce toward them, if they don’t catch it (after the bounce) then your team gets a point or whatever. Just google it. The fun part is if you manage to toss the die up and it lands in one of the beers on their side of the table, then they need to chug the whole beer in order to get the die out of the glass. Don’t sweat the BS from these people Robert.

  8. I would still think it creepy if the photographer didn’t ask them if they were ok with it. It’s not like these are innocent bystanders in the back of a family photo, he was studying them from afar and posting pics and videos of college kids in their skimpy bathing suits. It would be equally distasteful, in my opinion, if it were elderly people and there was no conversation about why the pics and videos were being done.

  9. Wow sign of the times…Attacking the one and only Bernstein ! I have known him for over 30 years. He just loves to take photos. He has been to burning man, so seen about all you could see for human behavior. He likes to play his flute on the bluffs there. Which has all kinds of Freudian connotations.
    Well Roberto, sometimes it is better to keep you camera in your pocket Dr Freud would say…but we still love you work here at the hat.

  10. Here’s a simple concept… LIVE AND LET LIVE. If these young adults didn’t want to be seen at the beach in their bathing suits they would not have gone out in public wearing them. If they didn’t want their activities to be noticed by members of the public they would’ve sought more private surroundings. And if you think noticing young people playing at the beach in their bathing suits is perverse it’s because you’re projecting your own inclinations at seeing young people in their bathing suits. Being creeped out and seeing exploitation in the simplest and most innocent things while ignoring and giving support to the rape of our democracy and institutions by grifters YOU elected is really the abomination here.

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