That steak before it sizzles on a hotplate is attached to a living, breathing, cartoon-y animal. Who knew?
For those of us who live in sweet urban hamlets where animals are seasoned with herbs and wrapped in plastic containers, we have no idea how they got there. Did they lay down in “processing centres” and die with smiles on their big snouts, sacrificing their delicious meats to the superior human?
Who knew they were dragged screaming into slaughter yards and given a bolt to the head or, if they were killed according to the scriptures of Jew or Muslim, hung out to dry with a knife to the throat.
Shane Dorian, the great Hawaiian surfer famous for his love of pig hunting, lives with eyes wide open. He knows that steaks, before they sizzle on a hotplate, were attached to living, breathing cartoon-y animals with beating hearts and little families.
And he can teach us a thing or two about the ethics of eating meat…
BEACHGRIT: Tell me this, because I know you’re a hunting kinda guy. I saw a photo of Alex Gray with his first kill. And he killed a sheep. Now, killing sheep don’t seem to be a difficult thing to do. Killing boars, there’s an element of danger there cause they nasty, but a fur ball?
SHANE: That’s a perception I can totally relate to and I’m sure Alex can too because until recently he was a non-hunter. When you don’t hunt you have these perceptions, these presumptions, of what it’s like, but for Alex, he’s new to the hunting thing, brand new, and it’s like, and this might be a weird analogy, when you start surfing you don’t throw your kid on a…when you go t take your girlfriend surfing you don’t throw her on a little thin narrow thruster that is five-nine, you throw her on a longboard, right?
Right… exactly right… so it makes sense to kill easy beasts first…
With hunting, Alex, um, sheep are actually…um…people absolutely froth to hunt sheep. The sheep that people hunt are not the sheep that you’re used to. They’re not like sheep in New Zealand that just stare at you. It’s definitely not as easy as you’d think. But, there are game animals that are more exciting.
Are the sheep vicious? Or do you start with tame animals so nothing bad can happen in the initial stages?
Ha ha ha! Yep! They’re rabid. They like nothing more than eating humans.
So, for Alex, it was kill or be killed?
I doubt it. But, but they have meat on them and if you…if you… if you don’t disagree with eating animals there’s nothing wrong with eating a sheep and hunting one. And, his freezer probably wasn’t full before he went hunting and now it’s full of meat and he did it with his bow and he’s probably pretty stoked about it.
Do you believe we’re too removed from what meat actually is and from the act of killing? That it ain’t just a miracle that appears in foam trays, covered in cling wrap, in supermarket refrigerators? That little shanks and delicious hams do come from a cuter-than-heavens lamb or mischievous piglet?
There’s not doubt about it. You know what’s really funny? How people can differentiate, like you automatically, like it’s society and our upbringing, but you automatically decided that a sheep was less sporting than a boar. That they’re a less desirable game animals just because of the way they look. If I put a photo on Instagram of me and my bow and a dead boar with big ol teeth hanging out and looking vicious everyone’s like “Good job! Get those nasty boars!” and if I put a picture up of me and a doe, a female deer, with my bow, people lose their shit. Everyone automatically thinks I’m Satan cause I kill a deer. It’s the same thing. My friends will go spear fish and you can put 50 million dead fish on Instagram and no-one will ever say a thing. But, if you put one Bambi on Instagram people lose it. I don’t see the difference between fish and deer. Do you?
Oh, I’m a vegan. So you preach to the converted. But, back to the sheep thing. They look so friendly! So tame! And, look, here they come up to this nice man in camouflage, expecting a pat, maybe some kind of inter-species communication and…pow! That I struggle with…
Yeah! I know what you mean! But, just to clarify, not that it’s interesting for your readers, but there are some types of sheep that are not difficult to hunt, but there are sheep that have incredible senses, really insane eyesight, and who are extremely paranoid so they are difficult to get close to with a bow.
Can you describe the process of death up close? You must enjoy profound insights of life and death, all the killin’ y’do, sitting astride the doomed Bambi, tearing your serrated edge across its carotid artery. Do you see the life drain out of their eyes?
Hee! Hee! Are you kidding me, man? It’s fucking exactly how you think it is. For me, when I have to do that, not that I have to do that, but when I go hunting, a lot of times that’s the case. You have to finish the animal off. And, to me, I try and do it as quickly and as humanely as possible. It is what it is. I choose to go hunting. I choose to harvest animals for food. When you go and order a steak at your local restaurant you never think about the animal that died for it. But, every single time you eat meat, there’s a dead animal there. And, people are so far removed that they don’t see that But, I think it’s good for you to kill an animal if you eat meat. That way you can appreciate the life that was taken. Like y’said, I think people think that beef is raised in little plastic containers and it comes as a steak. But, yeah, it’s part of the deal when you go hunting. You’re taking an animal’s life. For me, still to this day, every single animal I’ve harvested or killed or however you want to call it, I’ve always felt remorse for them. I feel sad. That feeling has never gone away from me and I hope it never does, actually.
It makes you appreciate the sanctity of eating meat?
Yeah, I mean, it’s taking responsibility for you action.
Can we slide back to the original question? Have you had any awesome moments where you’ve watched the life slip away from an animal you’ve winged? The big brown eyes of the deer staring into yours, understanding that it’s over, but somehow appreciative they will be butchered by a hunter with conscience?
Hee her hee… have I ever what?
You’ve winged deer. You go up to it. It’s gonna die. It looks at you. Those connections, I ask…
Yes. I have had that. And I have had that look where they know it’s over.
What a special moment!
Well, it’s, for some people it’s not a moment at all. They probably don’t even notice it. They just get the knife out and do the old one-two. And they never think about it again. But, for, you know, I’m actually…(laughs)… an animal lover. I love animals. And, I love deer. I love taking photos of them, I love getting close to them. I appreciate everything about them. But, I do love hunting them and eating them.
It's just fresh to death! Men in white capri pants and so much nineties styling. It's a swarthy heaven! Even tubes!
Maybe it’s the cold. Yes, it has to be the increasingly unbearable winters that have cryogenically stagnated the entire coastline in New Jersey. From the rundown boardwalks to the men standing on the beds of their pick-up trucks doing the best they can to appear as if they are the bassist for some low-brow band opening up for Pennywise, this state has a bit of trouble with figuring out what year it is.
If you’re staring down the boardwalk, the vendors will say it’s the 1970’s. But if you’re in the parking lot of your favourite surf spot, you would think that the Warped Tour was still in its infancy. Baggy clothing, black hats, and SRH stickers. Like all punk bands from the early 90’s, this style is long past its expiration date.
The first thing you need to know about New Jersey is that it’s only purpose is to serve as a residency for people that live in New York. Its second purpose is to serve as a place where all trends that died in New York can get a second life. Sequestered between New York and that refuse-collecting city we call Philadelphia, is a state that can be divided into two categories: the North and South.
The south is mostly backwoods and farmland with exception of Camden, a city so dangerous that Vice devoted a segment of their TV show to it, while the north is full of even more cities with high crime rates, a ton of malls and highways that lead to even more malls. During the summer months, both cities empty and fill up the New Jersey coastline bring with them massive traffic jams, really muscular men wearing white capris with white tank tops, and really bad waves.
New Jersey is full of contradictions. The human being that surfs in New Jersey will tell you how hardcore their state is and how there is no place on earth like it all while sitting in a bar decorated with fake palm trees and a “Welcome to Key West” sign. They will complain, like Holden Caulfield, that too many “phonies” are seeing their favourite band perform but then argue that the same band doesn’t get enough praise. They will yell at you for exposing an unknown spot but then use that unknown spot to gain more Instagram followers. Fortunately for Jersey surfers, poor sartorial choices and bizarre logic don’t equate to poor wave-riding skills.
Just as the deep fried Oreos are being pulled off the boardwalk at the end of summer, the waves begin to fill in and big south-wind swells will frequent the area until the middle of spring. The water stays relatively warm until the middle of November with a 4/3 and booties being the standard for most surfers. However, in the spring, the water can still be very cold well into May and even as late as June. Most of New Jersey works best with south-east swell and a light west wind. Here are some of the best surf spots in New Jersey.
Sandy Hook: This beautiful National Park, home to the wild goats that were made famous during the 2013 Government shutdown, epitomises pointbreak surfing on the eastern seaboard of the Continental US. Sandy Hook is a barrier island situated to the south of New York City. This is the best surf spot in New Jersey when it’s on. The only issue is that the main break, called The Cove, on the seven-mile stretch of land is also a magnet for morons that can’t surf. However, it’s worth the nuisance because there is nothing like getting shot out of a righthand barrel as you stare out at the palatial New York skyline.
Cape May: When the wind is blowing north-east and the swell is just right, the tip of Cape May will mirror Sandy Hook with its endless lefts that are perfect for the goofyfooter or those looking to just pig-dog it in five mm of neoprene.
Every jetty and inlet between Cape May and the Hook: This isn’t an exaggeration. Every couple of blocks there are jetties in New Jersey that can create a wave that is rippable in some form so long as you’re not some curmudgeon that will only paddle out when the waves are the easiest to surf. They are so fun to surf, especially in the winter when it’s 35 degrees out and you can find your very own empty jetty to surf because all the sane people in the world are sitting by their space heater or up in the mountains drinking beer and snowboarding. Dredging can ruin a surf spot, but that only lasts for about a year and in the winter, all the sand is removed from the jetties creating wonderful sand-bars that can pick up the faintest of swell.
Being that it’s so damn cold for three to four months of the year, the social circles that usually develop at surf spots are almost non-existent. Sure, friends will meet and share the waves, but a spot check in the middle of the winter is usually done from the safety of a warm car or a very brief run across the beach. A very fucking brief run. Once the surf session is over, you’re back in the car blasting the heat and flying home to hop in a hot shower.
New Jersey is not, and never will be, synonymous with surfing. However, on any given swell, it’s not uncommon to see a surfer with no stickers on their board pull into a below sea-level barrel and make it out of the tunnel. The quality of surfing here is very good given how scarce waves can be and as the surfing grows, skilled grommets are forcing out the old antediluvian surfers of the pre-Kai Neville world the same way the state government forced many residents along the coastline out of their homes via eminent domain.
Ask Pam: straights and dreamers. (Now with audio!)
This week: should I leave my boy, I ain't happy and… pro surfing? Should I become?
Pam Reynolds, four years old, got advice! “He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violent: and precious shall their blood be in their site. Psalm 72:14.’ Relax, BeachGrits, it’s the same French bulldog. She nods and winks. And each time she speaks a wave of warmth just fizzes through! Redeem your soul below.
I don’t have any haunting, life-threatening problems but, as a MillennialI feel… numb. Do you ever get that feeling of hopelessness, of pushing a heavy load, with nose, up a perpetual incline? How can I find my joy?
FUTURE PRO SURFER
I want to ditch my life in an office and become a “professional surfer”.Do you know anything about this business? Is it a hard “nut” to crack? Is there money in it? Do compromises have to be made?
Yair, Tel Aviv.
LEAVE THE BOY
Should I leave my boyfriend,who loves me, but seems unwilling to commit to a physical relationship.
Watch the closeouts! Watch the lip! Feel it pound!
The Teahupoo contest is running even right now and eyeballs the world over are glued to its splendor. Those tubes! That reef! Those green and sensual mountains! It is a postcard and, let me tell you, feels very much better in person. I spent last week roaming free in Tahiti and could and will spill much ink in testament to the country’s gorgeous.
But while eyeballs the world over are glued to Teahupoo, I must start there. Very few dreamed of places live up to their lofty expectations. When I first saw the sphinx, outside of Cairo, I thought, “Well what a little piece of shit.” When I first saw the Mona Lisa, in the middle of Paris, I thought, “Snore.” When I first saw the Statue of Liberty, off New York City, I thought, “This?” But when that boat ferried me across the lagoon toward the thunder I thought, “WOW!”
First, the boat driver is French by way of colonization and speaks a dialect so dreamily smooth that, when BeachGrit becomes an institution, I will hire a Tahitian to speak me to sleep each and every night.
Second, the reef really is right there. Like, right under the water so unbelievably clear and turquoise and all the Crayolas of the rainbow. I don’t know how professional surfers can take that ride and not picture their scalps growing alongside sea urchins.
Third, the length of the boat ride, from shore to shoulder, is the perfect amount of time to build anticipation without letting any air out. Fifteen minutes, I’d say, and if this life has taught me anything it is that fifteen minutes is the ideal increment.
Fourth, the judges’ tower really does harken Kevin Costner’s hit film Waterworld.
Fifth, the mountains, verdant green folds, mother earth’s breasts, are so beautiful that it is hard not to stare only at them.
But, sixth, there is the wave. Sitting on its shoulder, peering into its heart, watching it race and explode and swing wide. Watching the pod of surfers panic. Watching one spin, commit, drop, get drilled, not get killed. Watching the closeouts. Watching the lip. Feeling it pound. Asking others on the boat if they would surf it. Hearing only, “Are you fucking kidding me?” in return. Yes, take your “I want to visit London’s Buckingham Palace” money and book a passage Teahupoo instead. Buckingham Palace will leave you feeling as cold as the queen herself.
But Teahupoo? That is something you can tell the grandkids about.