Life can be violently extinguished or instantly ruined. Here, Rob Bain recalls the day his world changed…
Five yeas ago, the one-time world title contender, Rob Bain, head-butted a reef, was scalped and broke his neck.
“It was the worst thing but it was also a beautiful thing,” says Rob.
Click below to listen to his radical story, knowing he was “broken inside” of “feeling like I was going to die” of hearing the paramedics and the doctor arguing over what to do with his terrible injuries and the aftermath of a catastrophic injury.
They are wholly confident. And their aesthetic beauty translates to the wave…
“How beautiful maleness is, if it finds its right expression.” – D.H. Lawrence
The first time I came across Asher Pacey was in an issue of Tracks, circa 2004. It was a cropped picture of him standing victorious on the podium of a nameless airshow held in a gutless city beach break. This picture however, was not celebrating his achievement; it was ridiculing him for the state of his oral health. The tracks in his mouth were the harshest of metals. My estranged stepfather is a dentist and I showed him the picture.
“That’s clearly Malocclusions caused by moderate to severe crowding,” he said.
The next time I encountered Asher was years later in the Snapper car park. His hair was long and peroxide tipped. His teeth were perfect. Fresh Rhythm stickers graced the medley of fresh crafts in the back of his Holden Commodore as did what looked to be a box of fresh veggies.A beautiful girl sat in the front seat in a floppy felt hat, the first I’d seen. If it wasn’t for my completely useless, stalkeresque selective memory that allows me to recognise every mid-range pro surfer from 2001-2008, I wouldn’t have picked this as the same man from the glossy pages of Tracks. Upon his entering the water I witnessed that the makeover was complete. Gone were the froggy airs and in their place were the most expressive and patient brush strokes you’ll find on the Gold Coast points.
Handsome men surf better. They are wholly confident. Kelly Slater himself documented his own plight with self-confidence/vanity (they’re totally linked in case you hadn’t realised) in his seminal 2004 autobiography Pipedreams. He explained that as a young man he suffered from considerable acne. As the post-Tom Curren Great American Hope the spotlight was fierce and oft shoved right in young Slater’s pustule ridden face.
His dermatological insecurity was highlighted when, while waiting in the Surfer magazine headquarters in California, Kelly read some graffiti scribbled on the wall.
“Kelly Slater has pimples!”
Envy manifests itself like most other forces: by taking the path of least resistance. For proof see the Stab message boards. If somebody’s obviously aesthetically flawed, despite their athletic ability, then it’s easy to highlight. Dane’s fat, Filipe’s ugly, Jordy’s nipples are too close together. It makes arm-chair critics feel better about themselves but it makes the pro’s weep.
Imagine how Asher must have felt, that first day the swells, winds and tides of Snapper Rocks aligned in symphony with the shedding of his train tracks. Like the Berliners the first sunny day after the fall of the wall! Asher’s Instagram (@asher_pacey) depicts the perfect Australian waterman, circa right now. He fishes, surfs (a lot) and has that knack of avoiding overwhelming cheese in staged lifestyle shots. He just looks right. Marketing 101. Asher’s also a damn fine protagonist of riding an alaia, which is akin to pleasuring two women simultaneously: It takes a man with perfect balance, and almost meditative concentration to get the job done.
The web clips produced by Asher and Auteur Matt Kleiner are mesmerising. It might not be the fastest, biggest, most radical or cutting edge surfing, but the waves are East coast blue, the music melancholic, the lifestyle shots reflective of place and time, and Asher’s surfing is truly handsome.
I feel handsome sometimes but not always. I felt handsome the other night. White chinos, cream cashmere sweater, brogues, a new haircut, and a fresh tan. Stepping out into the cool southerly I found my step filled with a rarely realised confidence. The confidence of aesthetic beauty.
My arrival at that night’s function was met with an assortment of pseudo-compliments blended with undertones of jealous mockery. I simply smiled until my greatest friend at the gathering pulled me aside.
“You know you look good, hey.”
Our eyes met, and a burst of shared laughter blew away in the breeze. I knew.
Nineties punk-lite singer litters famous Hawaiian beach. Pays ultimate price!
The North Shore of today is going to become one of those places immortalized, dissected, and condemned in a New York Times Sunday Edition Op-Ed by someone who frequently updates their Linked In profile just as how pre-9/11 Manhattan is currently talked about. Countless people will lament about personal run-ins with the Hawaiian “bigs”, the best surfers, ice heads, and the occasional celebrity.
It’s impossible to spend any amount of time on the North Shore and not have a run in with someone who has starred in a movie or something. Those interactions will be the most boring story you leave the North Shore with because they’re often the most boring people on the plant. But if you’re the type that fantasizes about taking a selfie with Taylor Swift or Josh Hutcherson than you’re probably boring too. A short trip down the Kam Highway to Foodland to fetch some food could turn into a 36-hour bender in town with weird Burning Man fire dancers and a barbeque at Sandys wedged somewhere in between, or it could mean running into a famed musician.
You can tell a lot about a person based off of how they act on the beach. Those with metal detectors are usually hermits collecting misplaced treasures in hopes of one day buying a Real Doll, while those that wear gym shorts and basketball jerseys have probably never read a book in their life.
One time, I was walking towards Velzyland after a session out at Backyards. The waves were about four-foot Hawaiian and the wave, known as Freddyland, situated between the two spots was barely breaking. It’s a great spot for anyone who isn’t ready for some of the real surf breaks on the North Shore. I walked towards the Phantoms channel where a large group of my friends had been sitting. They were chatting and pointing at a long-haired man wearing a lanyard necklace and homemade tank top. It was Eddie Vedder sitting with his family.
Old Eddie had been renting out the house up the block from where my apartment was as he was working on his ukulele album. As I walked up to my where my friends were sitting, a neighbours of mine, originally from some middle-of-the-country suburban hellhole, began yelling in her newly acquired pidgin accent about how Eddie Vedder had been throwing orange peels on the beach. I wished I could have seen Eddie’s face as a transplant from the mainland patronized him for throwing his orange peels on the beach.
Eventually Eddie paddled out to surf a wave that wasn’t really breaking. A one-foot set came through and the lead singer of Pearl Jam paddled as deep as he could and stood up on the wave. He didn’t pump and he didn’t need to pump. He was Eddie Vedder.
Somewhere, a gentleman sweeping the beaches is listening to Better Man as he stockpiles lost jewlery in hopes of one day purchasing a Real Doll.
He keeps a boy in a cage and feeds him booze and whores and belts him three or four times a day! Maybe true!
Just moments after sailing into world title favouritism (if Gabriel was paralysed with fear in Portugal, wait until the long switch blade of the world title, of Hawaii, of Pipeline is above his head), Mick Fanning explained the secret to his endurance.
And such a secret!
“I still get letters in the mail,” confides Mick, “mostly from cracked-up men in tiny rooms with factory jobs or no jobs who are living with whores or no woman at all.”
The people’s champion!
These fans, says Mick, “have no hope, just booze and madness. Most of their letters are on lined paper written with an unsharpened pencil or in ink in tiny handwriting that slants to the left and the paper is often torn usually halfway up the middle and they say they like my stuff, that I surf on rail, that I don’t make mistakes.”
Mick is thoughtful. He lays on a clean bed. We can hear the bellow of a truck outside.
“I wonder if they realise where their letters arrive?” he says. “Well, they are dropped into a box behind a six-foot hedge with a long driveway leading to a two-car garage, three-jetski garage, a rose garden, fruit trees, animals, a beautiful woman, mortgage about half paid after a year, a new car, fireplace and a green rug two-inches thick…”
The secret to your endurance?
“I have a young boy to surf for me now,” says Mick. In between contests, “I keep him in a ten-foot cage feed him whiskey and raw whores, belt him pretty good three or four times a week.”
Does it work? What do you think.
” I’m 33 years old now and the critics say my stuff is getting better than ever.”
(And the world title scenarios at Pipe? Cut and pasted from ASP press release below!)
If Medina finishes 2nd or better at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, he
will clinch the 2014 ASP World Title.
If Medina finishes 3rd at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Fanning will
need to win the event and Slater will be out of contention.
If Medina finishes 5th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Fanning will
need to win the event and Slater will be out of contention.
If Medina finishes 9th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Fanning will
need to finish 2nd or better and Slater will be out of contention.
If Medina finishes 13th or 25th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters,
Fanning will need to finish 3rd to win or 5th to send the title race into a
one-heat “surf-off” between himself and Medina. If Medina finishes
13th or 25th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Slater will need to win
Mason Ho (yes! again!) on the enchantment of surfing…
That hip sneer! That kinky top! Mason Ho surfs and his face (and ours) light up at his flashing finery. Mason makes BeachGrit (and you, we believe) hoarse with ecstasy. Where so many others play a baleful tune Mason hula-dances to an electric spark.
Over the course of four or five years, I’ve interviewed Mason maybe half-a-doz times. And each time I hang up and, think, son of a bitch, that kid is good. An original thinker and someone unburdened by that undefined fear of saying the wrong thing.
Here’s some of his best.
On head-checks at Backdoor: I swear it’s a dick thing, don’t even try it. I think, frick, it’s such a habit but I cannot stop doing ‘em. Every time I watch a clip I think, frick, stop doing it! It’s nice doing ’em at Backdoor. The look down’s so easy I’ll do it on every thing. And then I got hooked on it. And now, it’s like, damn it, I try not to do it. But it still feels good.
On surfing: I’m having so much fun it’s… ridiculous! I’m addicted to filming and surfing!
On surfing naked: I hate to say it, but I do that so much. People would think I was out to lunch if they knew how much I do that. Every full moon for the past couple of months it’s been perfect. I don’t got much to do with chicks. I hang out with chicks and they’re always, like, (in a sing-song voice) “Let’s go on an adventure!” I’m, like, no way, I wanna kick it. My favourite adventure is, I tell ‘em, “Full moon time!” And, we go down the beach and get all sixties, all naked, and I go surfing naked, whatever, get all weird… Oohhh… ohhh… I don’t know if I should be saying that but… it’s all sixties… it’s all beautiful-ed out…
On girls: I’m so bad, Derek, I think every girl is hot. Australia’s the raddest place, for sure. Everyone asks me and I tell them every single time the same answer – Western Australia. Like… boooooom! You can’t beat (surfing) The Box and the girls’ mentality over there. Too much fun! And, that Prevelly wine! Damn! The mentality is like a 17-year-old Hawaiian boy!
On guys pushing up against Coco: Oh, fuck, nowadays I just play dumb. When I was younger, I’d slap kids up the side of the head. I thought it was a super funny thing but kids would just get rattled. Nowadays, it just seems like I have too much respect for her. I’m kinda like… she let’s me hook up with all these… She lets me fricken runaround so fricken… I just figure, fuck, I can’t be bringing all these chicks home every night and then just snap on her with one guy so, like, fuck it.
Kolohe or John John: Hooooo! That’s so sick. That’s the sickest! Who’s better? Let me think. You’d be so surprised how tight I am with both of them. Because, I’ve been staying at Brother’s house every summer since I was 10 years old. To this day, every single summer, almost all summer. I was just talking to Tina, Brother’s mom, and I’m moving in tomorrow. So, yeah, Brother’s like my full brother, literally. He was named after one of my uncles, Kolohe Bloomfield. John John, on the other hand, is the little brother I see at home every day. We surf together and he’s sooo cool. He’s like too cool I don’t even know what to think. He rips so fucking hard.
But, who’s better, that’s the question, let me think: oh brah, I can’t say. I’d get so busted. I like John John because, obviously, he can paddle out to Waimea, fricken pull-in at Backdoor and he’s fully up to par with all the boys at home… I mean, I’ve never seen Brother do that, yet. But, then, when it comes to me surfing every day in super tiny waves all I’m thinking about is how I grew up with Brother surfing at T-Street (in San Clemente, Kolohe’s home town).
Who has the most aloha on the Shore: (Slowly) Most… aloha… on the North Shore… sick question. I wonder. I was going to say Kalani Chapman. He’s, like, almost like a modern day Owl Chapman (Sunset stand-out, influential shaper and Kalani’s uncle) – super cool and groovy without even trying. He’s so nice – too nice to even try. But, come to think of it, if he got burned five times at Pipe he’d rip someone’s head off.
Who has the least aloha: It seems like all of us at home, we all try to have a lot of aloha on the land, we’re learning you need to have aloha to get through life, but in the water… (laughs)… we lose that aloha.
Is aloha variable? Like, in winter, does it evaporate completely? That seems like it’s pretty true. A lot of people do that at home. My Dad’s never ever done that, though. He always seems super cool ‘cause he always has a lot of friends come in the winter. It seems like Dad’s always showing aloha, year round, so that’s what I’ve tried to copy. A lot of the boys get all… SNAAAPPPED!… when winter comes round like, “FUCK! THESE FUCKERS… AGAIN? FUCK!” And my Dad’s always telling ‘em like it ain’t going to change, you’re getting all nuts in the water. But, then, Dad kinda eggs everyone on. It’s fucked up. He eggs everybody on and then when he’s in the situation, he’s cool, but if it’s someone else he’ll be like, “Ho, what, you never even do nuthin!” I look at my Dad and go, “What? You just told me 10 times not to do anything and now you’re teasing my friend for not doing anything.
On Michael Peterson: I try to copy MP the most when I’m surfing. Big time. Because he’s PSYCCCCCHHHED! So in the moment!
On surfing: I love getting barrelled. It could be a one-foot barrel or a 30-foot barrel, whatever, just let me get barrelled. It’s such a sweet feeling. That’s my best manoeuvre. Airs are second. Turns are third. People can be, like, “Oh, you’ve got to do a big form carve.” But, all the guys who say that have never done a 10-foot air so they don’t know the feeling. You could be going a hundred miles an hour on a wave and do the hugest carve ever and to me that’s the third best feeling in the world. But, if I was going a hundred miles an hour and did a 20-foot air, and fucking stuck it, I’d be the happiest man. And, then, if I was going a hundred miles an hour inside a barrel? That’s number one.