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Read: Why I didn’t surf on 9/11!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A beautiful story from the New York Times… 

Has it really been sixteen years since a gang of mostly Saudi thugs flew two planes into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, another, bound for DC, into the dirt in Pennsylvania?

With the benefit of the distance of time, it’s very easy to forget what an awesome (in the literal sense) event it was. Thousands dead. Four airliners destroyed. Downtown NYC buried in ash.

If you weren’t alive then, you might forget what wasn’t exactly the opening gambit in the Islamic-West conflict (bombings of embassies, an earlier bombing of  the Trade Center, Marines killed by the score in Beirut etc) but it was the one that opened the West’s eyes to a formidable, and let’s face it, a very brave, foe.

My gal was in New York at the time and she called me at midnight, weepy, and said something real bad had happened, something about terrorism. I value sleep very highly, my eyes have a tendency to get buried under flaps of skin if I don’t get eight hours, and I told her very sharply that I’d turn on the television on in the morning and see if there was anything about it there.

And, like, oowee, she underplayed it. When she finally got a plane out one week later, the flight attendants fell to their knees and led the passengers in a group prayer. Ironic, yes. But they were the times.

Anyway, today, as the anniversary of September 11, 2001, the New York Times ran a very good story on why one man didn’t surf that day, even though the surf was very… very… good. Head-high, water so warm you could wear trunks.

Here’s a taste.

A large but widely ignored presence in New York City on the eve of Sept. 11, 2001, was Hurricane Erin, its cyclonic swirl starkly visible in weather maps like an ominous asterisk just off the coast. Two groups noticed: meteorologists, who mentioned the storm in passing, if at all, in news reports; and surfers, who chattered breathlessly about it.

The meteorologists were blasé because at no point in its journey from the tropics had Hurricane Erin threatened to make landfall, except briefly as it brushed past Bermuda, and it was now poised to be blown out to sea by a powerful cold front. But the same winds that would be flushing the storm away from land would also be grooming the big waves that it had been steadily producing in its crawl up the East Coast. This was to be a once-in-a-decade swell. Surfers were, as they say, “frothing.”

That these glorious waves would be arriving on a Tuesday, a workday morning, was a problem but hardly an insoluble one. Like many other surfers in the area, I planned to call in sick. In my case, however, this was complicated by my having recently been named director of the writing program at the college in Brooklyn where I taught. Tuesday, Sept. 11, was the first day of classes.

I had scheduled myself to teach the main writing seminar taken by freshmen, which met at 10 a.m. When I pictured these eager new arrivals reading the sign posted on the classroom door announcing my absence, then turning away in disappointment, yes, I felt guilty — but nowhere near so guilty as not to cancel class. A class, after all, could be made up later in the semester; a once-in-a-decade swell was an evanescent natural miracle of sorts. I wanted to make a good first impression, a solid directorial debut, but I wanted to go surfing more.

Thus the disruptive power of surfing, which exerts an allegiance to itself and a faithlessness to the rest of the world that is capable of ending romantic relationships and terminating gainful employment at the rise of a swell. If I had never learned to surf, Tuesday would have dawned like any other workday and I would have fulfilled my teacherly duties ignorant of the oceanic joy on offer.

Want the rest? Click here. 

Comments: Give us your tired, your poor!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Stab is closing its comments but there is a place for those yearning to talk shit!

Late yesterday evening you maybe read right here that Stab magazine principals purchased Stab back from failing online retailer Surfstitch and are once again captains of their own ship. The news thrilled me. Oh I know I know I poke at Stab regularly. I laugh and cajole and needle and elbow but I have never stopped loving. Derek Rielly, Stab’s co-founder, gave me my real start and I will always and forever remember standing outside my  mailbox in Los Angeles, waiting for the issues to come.

It was the greatest publication ever in my wide eyes.

Anyhow, Stab’s co-founder Sam McIntosh took a rare and much welcomed spin behind the keyboard explaining the decisions to both sell and repurchase and also to announce Ashton Goggans taking over as Editor-in-Chief.

A better man could not be found!

You most certainly remember Ashton’s turn here on BeachGrit and I am excited to see his imprint on Stab. He is smart, informed, fun and is my very favorite of our exes. Best of all, maybe, Ashton has a spine. A strong, straight spine. He is the sort you’d want in you corner during a bar fight.

Sam also wrote that Stab is putting their comments to death. Let’s read!

Among many things, Ashton is driven to lose our Disqus comments platform. And I think we’re now old enough to move on. A story’s true meritocracy isn’t reflected in anonymous comments. Ashton’s rationale is simple: It should be a pleasure when Stab calls. We all win when our subjects are candid and transparent. They don’t deserve to be anonymously torn to shreds by faceless commenters every time they post a new web edit, or open their mouths. And, it’s hard to argue with. The subjects of our voices are far less interesting than those of our subjects so we’ll be switching to Facebook comments by the end of the year (where we will encourage the same criticism, laconic wit and unique insight).

What do you think about this?

I think hmmmmmmmm. Of course Sam meant “A story’s true merit isn’t reflected in anonymous comments” instead of “A story’s true meritocracy…” but I have to disagree. The comments underneath are the purest and best reflection of worth. I’ve had so many stories torn apart down under and each deserved. Surfers and surf personalities should welcome the tune-up too. Iron sharpens iron etc.

“The subjects of our voices are far less interesting than those of our subjects…” I don’t know exactly what this means but if Sam is saying that the surfers are more interesting than the commenters then he is wildly wrong. The surfers, surf personalities, surf spots, surfboards, surf surf surf are, for the most part, blank slates. It is the endless discussion that gives form and life.

I know BeachGrit’s comment section is a different garden than Stab’s and all thanks to our dear Negatron. We don’t allow dumb or needlessly cruel and we never will. But I am as proud of our community as I am anything here.

The core of the core of the core… men and women who are unhealthily obsessed with surfing… have been ignored by the surf industry, competitive surfing and the surf media for as long as I’ve been around. Ignored or taken for granted. Well, the core of the core of the core is all I care about. So to the comment refugees I write:

Not like the brazen giant of Venice-adjacent fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A surf website whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
and her name BeachGrit. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her addled eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that Bondi and Cardiff frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to talk shit,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the Disqus door!”

Breaking: Surfstitch sells Stab!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

To Stab! What a world we live in!

Remember those heady internet bubble years when money flowed like tap water and Netscape I mean AOL I mean Surfstitch ruled all? There were no losers only green green pastures filled with suckers I mean investors I mean you. Just kidding. You never invested.

Well, the damn bubbles always burst. Netscape turns dumb, AOL turns old and Surfstitch turns what the hell. Two years ago, Australia’s online surfwear retail giant was high and scooping up businesses at a wild clip. Millions for FCS. Millions for Magic Seaweed. Millions for Stab. Now they are dumping assets like old Halloween candy. It was rumored that Stab was even being shopped for running costs.

Well guess what? Surfstitch found a buyer and you’ll never guess who. Let’s let the Australian Financial Review to see.

Embattled online retailer SurfStitch has sold Rollingyouth, the owner of Stab Magazine, back to its co-founders for a nominal sum after splashing out almost $6 million for the Bondi-based publisher during an ill-fated acquisition spree.

The administrators of SurfStitch Group, John Park, Quentin Olde and Joseph Hansell of FTI Consulting, announced the sale of Rollingyouth Pty Ltd on Monday, almost three weeks after SurfStitch was placed into voluntary administration to buy breathing space from creditors and legal foes.

Mr Park said Rollingyouth, which trades as Stab Magazine, had been sold to Rollingyouth Media Pty Ltd, a company owned by Stab co-founders Sam McIntosh and Tom Bird for a nominal cash consideration. Discussions had been underway for months before SurfStitch went into administration.

Mr McIntosh and Mr Bird sold the business to SurfStitch in May 2015 for $2.26 million in cash and 2.43 million SurfStitch shares worth $3.6 million at the time. The shares vested in three tranches in May 2016, May 2017 and May 2018.

Those shares are now worthless unless creditors approve proposed offers to restructure and relist the company under a deed of company arrangement.

Mr Park said SurfStitch Group and Rollingyouth Media would maintain a close commercial relationship, with both parties entering into a three-year agreement for the supply of marketing and content development and advertising services to the SurfStitch Group.

Rollingyouth is the third asset sold at a big discount to its purchase price by SurfStitch’s new board and management team, led by chairman Sam Weiss and chief executive Mike Sonand.

Between December 2014 and December 2015, SurfStitch outlaid more than $120 million in cash and shares on five acquisitions, including $24 million for Surf Hardware International, $5.8 million for Stab, an online surf content platform, $8.5 million cash and 2.29 million shares for UK-based surf forecaster Magicseaweed, and $15 million for Garage Entertainment, which made action sports films and videos.

SurfStitch co-founders Justin Cameron and Lex Pedersen wanted SurfStitch to become the Amazon Prime of the action sports world, using unique content to attract customers and keep them engaged.

However, shareholders started questioning the strategy after Mr Cameron backed away from earnings guidance in February 2016.

Mr Cameron quit unexpectedly a month later to purportedly pursue a private equity-backed privatisation, which never eventuated.

Within months of Mr Cameron’s departure, SurfStitch’s new board and management started revaluing the acquisitions, writing down the value of goodwill for Rollingyouth, Garage Entertainment, Surf Hardware and Magicseaweed by $28 million.

SurfStitch sold Garage Entertainment in April to Madman Entertainment for a nominal sum after writing down the value of goodwill by $12.9 million, while Surf Hardwear International was sold in December for $17 million cash to Gowing Bros.

Negotiations are also believed to be underway for the sale of Magicseaweed.
Mr Pedersen left SurfStitch shortly before the appointment of administrators last month and is believed to be involved in a new digital venture dubbed Periscope with two other SurfStitch executives, former global marketing director Martin Corr and head of business intelligence Clover Chambers.

Based in Mona Vale in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Periscope will provide strategy, consulting, infrastructure and services to other e-commerce businesses, according to Mr Corr’s LinkedIn profile.

SurfStitch shares were trading at 6.8?? before the stock was suspended in June – a fraction of their December 2014 issue price of $1 and the $2 some shareholders paid in a capital raising in November.

Surprised? Happy?

Viva the little man and welcome back to private ownership dear Stab. The water is warm!

Buy: Dane Reynolds-approved Nail Polish!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Former moves into male cosmetica!

One of the most interesting things about the business experiment called Former, with Dane Reynolds as its CEO, is its determination to succeed.

Dane tore up a $400,000-a-month contract, and Craig Anderson a million bucks a year, to pour themselves into Former and early signs suggest neither surfer is too proud to package or promote the range of t-shirts, pullovers, pants, beanies, trunks, towels, jackets and… nail polish.

Nail polish?

Oh yes, it’s a thing. As the New York Times breathlessly reported a few years back, nail polish for men “has had an explosive growth.”

Me, I kinda like the nail polish thing if it ain’t black.

Black reminds me of rain-soaked days in film festivals with earnest young men looking gloomy, smoking sad cigarettes and wearing hats that belong on the captains of sea-going boats. It’s an easy wear.

I figure, if you’re going to be a nail polish guy, at least throw a little sun-ripened technicolour in there and get real fruity.

The Former range includes the colours: white devil, jazzberry jam, banana mania, radical red and atomic tangerine.

The full “Premium Violence” set costs twenty American dollars plus postage.

Buy here. 

And watch the gang’s latest promo movie, Premium Violence, here.

 

Watch: Most shameful use of surfing ever*!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

*in a television commercial.

How long was Samsung the title sponsor of the World Surf League? It was at least two years right? And maybe three or four. In my memory, Samsung had even sponsored the Association of Surfing Professionals and had stayed on because they believed in then CEO Paul Speaker’s vision.

Right?

Whatever the case, they were around long enough to know what good surfing looks like and apparently this is it.

Good surfing is a boggy mid-faced backside turn on a waist high wave. It is an embarrassing halfway hack. An awkward herky-jerky hip twist. A strained neck.

For shame, Samsung.

This is worse than blowing up people’s ears with your phones. This is worse than my Samsung washing machine that got recalled because the top was flying off and injuring people during the spin cycle and I got “two” options when I called the recall hotline. Repair or replace. I chose replace of course and was then informed that “replace” meant I would get a $50 dollar coupon that could be used toward the purchase of a new Samsung washing machine so I then chose repair. A man came to my house, took the top of the washing machine off and tied it back together with two heavy brackets. After he left the spin cycle wouldn’t work at all so I had to call another different technician. He came and tested the machine and told me to always use the “heavy load” cycle. It still didn’t work so another different technician came and tested the machine and told me to use the “heavy load” cycle BUT never to use the heavy spin. Always use the light spin. Now it works as good as the above turn.

For shame, Samsung.