…and why Dustin Barca won’t be mayor of Kauai…

Can environmental hero Dustin Barca beat the football hero incumbent Bernie Carvalho for the Kauai mayoralty? Maybe not…

Dustin Barca will never be the mayor of Kauai.  Carvalho is a football hero and favourite son of the powers that be. He toes the line, does what he is told, and in this small island of political corruption, is predictable.

Barca is not. He is a pro surfer, labelled as a hot head, and now cools his heels as an MMA fighter. This does not impress the vast “mauka” population that does not surf (nor cares who does) because they rely on their agricultural jobs, the paycheck, and the healthcare for their family that the ag-industry provides.

In this “small town” know as Kauai, it’s better to embrace the devil you know than the devil you don’t know when it comes to political “common sense”.

Sure there were what seemed like thousands of “Barca4Mayor” posters and bumper stickers circulating all over the island but that doesn’t mean squat if you break it down to the basics:

1. Not everyone on Kauai surfs

2. The agricultural industries (those people who provide jobs/wages/healthcare) have Carvalho’s undying attention

3. Not everyone with Barca4Mayor bumper stickers can even vote (because they are not permanent residents of the island).

In many ways, the illusion of support for Barca stems from the fact that the seasonal, part-time “residents” of Kauai are actually transients from the mainland — mostly from California, but plenty from the east coast. And Canada. Yeah, Canada —not even eligible to register to vote if they decided to become full-time Kauai residents.

They are haole: not “born and raised on Kauai and, unlike Oahu and other over-populated islands, that term is used correctly here. If you are not born and raised on the Garden Island, you are haole. Colour does not matter.

You cannot show up on Kauai, try to blend in with your Asian or Latino culture, pick up some pidgin, and be local. If they don’t know you, if they didn’t grow up with you, you are a haole. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact.

I am a haole. I have lived on the island for a few years. I have a lot of “born and raised” local friends on Kauai. But I am only a “resident” of Kauai. And that’s fine with everyone, so long as you know and acknowledge your place in the island’s culture.

Which brings us back to Barca4Mayor:  In the primary elections, Carvalho smoked Barca with a 2-1 vote advantage (over 10,000 vs 5,000) votes. They will go head-to-head in the general election and Carvalho will walk away easily with a second term.

Why? All those Barca4Mayor signs and bumper stickers are not on the lawns or cars of most locals. The South Park temporary-locals of Hanalei give a false illusion of support but most of those haoles can’t even vote on in Hawaii. Move away from Haole-Hanalei and it’s clear that the working class core of the island on the east side, south, and (most most definitely) west side will never support someone with “haole” support who appears to threaten their livelihood.

Dustin Barca at a mayoral rally on Kauai
Why should Barca be given the keys to Kauai? How about a platform that places the health of the island, and the people, and a pragmatic approach to the scourge of meth, above the whims of big biz? "I would die for this island," he says.

Why Dustin Barca Should Be the Next Mayor of Kauai

Tomoz, Kauai goes to the polls to elect a new mayor. Should it be pro surfer and MMA fighter Dustin Barca? We say yes!

These days, utter the phrase “save the environment” and there’s every chance you’ll draw yawns or be called a “stinking hippie,”.

But, you gonna call Dustin Barca a stinking hippie?

It’s not breaking news that the former pro-surfer-turned-cage-fighter has leapt to the defense of the environment of his beautiful, lush, tropical island home of Kauai.

But it does warrant a mention that a couple years in, Barca’s still in the fight and will be contesting for the title of Mayor of Kauai on November 4 (tomorrow!) with a pledge to tackle multinational chemical companies he says are using the island as “an open air experimental lab”.

“The root issue we are fighting against is poison,” says Barca. “Poison in our air, Poison in our drinking water and water tables. Poison in our soil. Poison on our reefs. Poison around our homes, schools and hospitals. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that much poison is not good for us.”

Those “poisons’’, Barca says, are being developed to speed along the development of the new boogie man on the block, the genetically modified crop.

But the issue of genetically modified crops is also quite the divisive one as evidenced by a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Western Australia earlier this year.

Two neighbouring farmers, one organically certified, the other a proponent of genetically modified crops found themselves the center of world-wide attention after the organically certified farmer, Steve Marsh, contended his neighbor, Micheal Baxter’s crops had contaminated his.

Despite global support for Marsh, the judge ruled against his claim and Marsh lost both the case, and his organic certification.

Barca says he’s aware of the fluctuating support environmental issues can bring but has no plans of backing down long after the rallies are finished and the crowd’s gone home.

“Quitting is not a option when you are fighting for the health of your ‘ohana (family) and ‘aina (natural resources),” he says. “On Kaua’i, we are born and raised to protect what we love and right now, with the world environmentally at a tipping point everybody needs to unite no matter what color or creed they are. Everyone needs to get their heads out and realize what’s going on.”

Barca for mayor? Say yes!



Cory Lopez
"You know how Andy was. Everything was full bore. We were best friends and I'd have him in a heat, and in some of those years I was top 10 or top eight and he was running for the title, and we'd be in the water screaming against each other. It'd take a good two hours or even the next day for us to be normal again. Andy was a real passionate human being but he had so much love for everyone."

“We were the radical kids!” Cory on Andy

The former world number eight Cory Lopez remembers his best friend Andy Irons… 

Cory Lopez is the 37-year-old surfer who can claim Andy Irons as his best pal. The pair met when they were both lighting up the boys division at the US amateurs at Diamond Head on Oahu. Cory was 13; Andy was 12.

Andy thought Cory, with his long dyed black hair, was “a punk.” But, still, they hung out, ’cause Cory, being Cory, and Andy being Andy, well, “we were the radical kids in our group. I came from a single dad and he was running loose and having fun. We weren’t bad kids but we were wild kids. My brother Shea was three years older than me and so when I was 13 I was doing the things 16 years old do. Andy saw me having fun and… you know how it is. We were ready to surf and have a good time…”

And so from amateurs to the qualifying series and to the world tour, the pair became as tight as friends get. Every January when the tour went into its yearly hiatus after Pipe, the pair would grab their girls and vay-cay somewhere not necessarily for the waves, but anywhere away from the heats and cameras and phones and whatever else, somewhere, and it was usually in the Caribbean, where they could surf a little, swim, scuba dive, inhale a cocktail here and there. Flash trips.

Andy Irons and Cory Lopez with wives at the Surfer Poll
Lyndie and Andy Irons and Cory and Jenn Lopez at the Surfer Poll awards. Check the time in the bottom right corner. Sweaty!

“No pressure, just me, him and our girlfriends,” says says Cory today, speaking on one of those wonderfully clear autumn nights at Indian Rocks on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A day that also marks the fourth anniversary of Andy’s death in room 324 at the Grant Hyatt, Forth-Worth International Airport.

Cory had just landed from a trip to maybe the Azores, or was it Donkey Bay, Cory can’t quite remember, but he was listening to voicemails from Andy, who was in Miami the night before, saying, “Cory! Where you at?” And this is where Cory laughs ’cause Andy couldn’t quite fathom that even though Cory lived in Florida, Miami was a four-hour drive, even with your foot to the floor.

And then he heard from the Venice Beach filmmaker Alek Parker that Andy had just been found dead in Texas. “Alek told me and I didn’t want to believe it. I got another phone call and you just don’t start a rumour like that. No one would fake a rumour like that. It instantly hit. There’s disbelief, all these emotions, you can’t believe it’s true but you know it…is… true. You want it to be a nightmares that you can wake from. I still have dreams that it’s not true.”

Let’s talk a little about Andy, the dynamic motherfucker. “You know how Andy was. Everything was full-bore. We were best friends and I’d have him in a heat, and in some of those years I was top eight and he was running for the title, and we’d be in the water screaming against each other. It’d take a good two hours or even the next day for us to be normal again. Andy was a real passionate human being but he had so much love for everyone.”

Cory says that Andy’s great social skill was his phenomenal memory. “He could go anywhere in the world and anyone he’d met at any time in the past, he’d remember their name and what they were talking about, even if it was five years before. He’d make them feel so special. Y’know, I was lucky to have been so close to him for so many years. I think about him all the time. (His death) is something I’ll never get over, no matter how much time goes by. I think about his every day. I’ve had dreams about him, crazy dream, dreams that would blow your mind, but I’m not going to share them.

“Life and death is such a fine edge we ride. Andy wouldn’t have been who he was if he didn’t do what he did. That’s why we loved him so much, because he was so extreme. We lived vicariously through his radical and wild life.”

Andy Irons was a dynamic motherfucker!

Andy Irons' last-ever interview, recorded shortly before flying to Puerto Rico in November 2010… 

The surfing magazine plays a dishonest hand. We gild the pro surfer’s life as the greatest aspiration but for so much it’s a life spent in pressurised aluminium tubes and at airports, feet folded under chairs, food served in foil-wrapped rectangles, headphones over ears, with backpacks as pillows.

Who talks of this loneliness? Who tells you when you’re 12 years old and ruling the beach all you want to be is an ASP professional?  Who tells you that when you make it, in just nine months you’ll travel from Australia to Brazil to South Africa to Tahiti to California to Europe to Puerto Rico to Hawaii and home again just in time for Christmas?

Who tells you of the overnight layovers in anonymous airport hotels? Another check-in, another wake-up call, another mini-bar, another phone call to the woman you love. And, then, when you get to the other side of the world, you wait around in more hotel rooms for two weeks for a contest to run.

Dream Tour? Yeah, it is. But it ain’t always dreamy.

Four years ago today, Andy Irons died in a Texas hotel room, bed sheets pulled to his neck, an empty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on the floor beside him, six thousand clicks from a wife pregnant with his son Axel and a home gilded by the rays of a Hanalei sun.

I spoke to AI before he flew to Puerto Rico about his fears, his loves, about recurring dreams and about a comeback year punctuated by the exclamation mark of a surprise win at Teahupoo. Surprising because after a year-and-a-half on the sidelines, the Champ was a long way off his peak. In a cartoon I wrote shortly before his death, Kelly Slater and Andy Irons muse on the loneliness of competition.

The week before I spoke to Andy, I’d been in the Canary Islands with his little brother, Bruce, and we’d recorded an unusually thoughtful late-night conversation.

In both interviews both men said the same thing.

Andy: “If I ever lost my brother, I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t live without him.”

Bruce: “Andy’s my brother and I don’t know what I’d do if he weren’t around.”

Andy Irons was full of hope, he was frank, he was friendly and his gift for surfing was innate. And now? Now? The party’s over, the chairs are upside down on tables and the lights are off. The fat lady has, to quote AI, honked her horn.

DR: Is that the Champ? 

AI: Is that Rielly? I know that voice…

Hey, I’m talking to the fucken Champ! 

The people’s champ! That’s me! Fuck yeah! (Laughing) Fuck yeah, how y’doin, brah?

I’m good, if y’count owning balls like peanuts good. I know you’re good. After Tahiti, you’ve got your comeback locked down tight like a little girls tuna (Editor’s note. This is a quote from AI’s favourite show, Eastbound and Down, series two. It ain’t me being a weirdo.) 

Yeah, yeah! Kenny Powers, bro.

Kenny fucken Powers. Andy fucken Irons. 

Kenny fucken Powers! You know that! Hey, so what are we doing? What…what… what’s this whole deal (interview) about, D? Is this for the (Stab hardcover) book?

Yeah. Y’know how it is. It ain’t a book without The Champ inside. Last year we shot you for an interview about your awesome style… 

You should see me right now. First time in three years, bro, that I’m down to my gold comp weight, 176. This winter it…is…fucken…on, brah. Fucken major Kenny Powers way.

You’re so fucken back. 

My results don’t speak for themselves (apart from Tahiti), but I fucken haven’t surfed so much in ages, brah. I’ve been surfing two times a day with Freddie P and Dusty Payne. Dusty Payne. That kid fucken pumps me up! He’s my new Cory Lopez. I lost Lopey (from the tour) and I’ve frickin’ finally got some sparring partners. Dusty’s the coolest, gnarliest little kid. Full Maui style, brah. Those guys, they’re a different breed, brah. Dusty is awesome.

Dusty’s gold, almost as gold as his reddish-gold hair. 

He’s fucken classic as shit.

I just came back from the Canaries with your brother. He’s supersonic, too. 

How’s this? I was in Madrid on the way to Portugal and I’m going, this guy looks like my brother and he goes, “It is your fucken brother.” He comes up on me… (laughs)… all creepy and sweaty, introduced Evan Geiselman to me as Evan…(laughs) Geiselfuck! And, then he showed me footage of this wave-pool thing. It was fucken sick, but, wave-pool’s are so hard to surf. Y’gotta read those things like the fucken Matrix!

Did Bruce tell you about all the poor bastards in wheelchairs in Tenerife? 

The Canary Islands? Wheelchairville?

Yup, go to a hotel and instead of hire car booths in the lobby, there’s a rack of motorised wheelchairs… 

No shit!

Hey, how good is this! We went to a party with some locals at the beach and all our shit got ripped off! 

(Laughs) Holy shit (laughs)… hey, so, let’s do this interview or have we been doing it? (Laughs)

Got a few lil gems. But, tell me, whenever I spoke to Bruce I always referred to him as The Champ’s Brother. I’d knock on his door and yell, “That the Champ’s Brother?” 

I love it!

Does Bruce call you The Champ at home? 

Fuck, I am the people’s champ, brah. You know, Slater’s taking 10 this year and it’s making my three look all the more… I told him, “Get that 10 and make my three look that much cooler, brah, cause I’m the only one who took you out.” And he laughed and I said, “No, I’m serious.”

Late at night, in bed, what keeps you awake, what are you fears? 

I’m an insomniac. I’m awake all the time, anyway, but my fears are fucken failure, letting down my family, my wife and I’m, fuck, I’m scared to be a quadriplegic, I’ll tell you that right now. A friend of mine’s in a wheelchair now from surfing and that sometimes pops into my mind at night and shit what with the waves we surf. I don’t think I could ever handle it. I’m a wild animal but that would really crash my spirit.

Andy Irons proposes to Lyndie Dupuis on Tavarua, June 2007.
Andy proposes to his then-gal of four years, Lyndie Dupuis, on Tavarua island, Fiji, in 2007. “Let’s go for a walk,” said Andy, steering Lyndie to a patch of sand that had “Will you marry me?” written in it. Later that year they got married on Kauai and on December 8 2010, their boy Andrew Axel Irons was born. Photo by Brian Bielmann (who also shot the opening underwater photo.)

When you need to put your mind in a good place, what beautiful memories do you revive? 

I still go back to my first surf at the pier, aged seven. Riding this wave that didn’t really break and it was the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. I went left, right, left and the wave didn’t really break and I was on the glide. I remember my dad being so proud that I stood up and rode the wave for as long as I did.

What childhood dreams have stuck with you? 

It’s usually, I’m on top of a mountain and I’m trying to stand on the pinnacle without falling off. The wind gets really strong and it turns into this radical Wizard of Oz trip with the wind coming up and with lightning bolts appearing around. It starts to rain and the mountain starts getting real slippery. What does it mean? Probably, that I’m trying to hold on.

Have you ever truly believed you were about to die? 

Fuck, yeah! I’ve had some moments, even turbulence in an airplane, where I felt f’sure the plane might crash. I’ve even had planes crashing in my dreams and woken up on a plane. The other nightmare I have is, I’m on a plane and the bottom’s made of glass and it starts cracking. But, fuck, that wave in Tahiti where I got stuck in the lip and froze with fear and just made it? I really felt like I might be physically hurt then. That wave was, literally, a major moment in my life. I remember telling Mark Healy that I’d pulled back on a wave, that I’d fagged out, and he said, “The next one, just put your head down and go”. Bruce was actually trying to get that wave and he said, “Y’better go, FAG!” and the next thing you know I was in the lip and held up and…fucken… I was about to jump, I couldn’t move, I was petrified with fear, literally frozen with fear. I made the wave frozen with fear. I couldn’t move my arm or anything. Somehow it worked out and I didn’t land on my head and get my neck broken. But, it was the wave of my life. I think about that wave all the time.

Talk to me about failure. 

To me, failure is not living up to my potential. The whole world title thing was my major drive. I didn’t want to have that Taj Burrow thing where you surf so good but you don’t have a world title. I didn’t want to have that burden. That’s what drove me to take on Kelly. I couldn’t handle being 40 years old and living on Kauai and people telling me, “Oh you should’ve won the world title but you didn’t quite put it together.”

What’s your greatest achievement? 

It’s going to be in December. It’s coming. Little Axel Jason Irons is on his way. The name Jason is my cousin’s name. Jason’s my hero. It’s my dad’s brother’s kid. My dad tried to get me surfing, but it scared the shit out of me and it turned me off. And, Jason, who I looked up to my whole life, is a Shane Dorian-kinda guy, a genuine good person. He surfs like Tom Carroll mixed with Occy. He rides for Billabong and it’s a major reason why I ride with Billabong now. He’s my fucken hero. He’s a stud. Always been the nicest, coolest badass, but in the best way. No showboating and when it comes down to it, just everything I’d like to be like. He’s seven years older than me and I’ve always tried to tag along with him. I tried to comb my hair like him, fucken, you name it, whatever he had or did, I had to get or do. When he got into BMX, we (AI and Bruce) got into BMX. He showed me Pump and Surf Into Summer (iconic Billabong surf films), he got me into surf magazines, everything about surfing I’m doing today, is because of him.

What would you change about your life? 

Not a thing. Everything’s a learning curve. There’s a couple of things (laughs) I’d like to take back, but fuck, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today. You gotta go in the mud sometimes to figure out who you are. I’ve had my fair share of hills and valleys, but life’s been radical and exciting. Stuff that kings would die to do. Straight-up, fuckin A. The lifestyle we’ve got and the lifestyle I’ve led since I was 17, I couldn’t even tell my friends. I try and tell stories and they think I’m making it up or I saw it in a fucken movie. Straight up. It’s the life I wanted since I caught my first wave.

Do you have a fear of being broke? 

Fuck no! I come from humble beginnings. As long as I have a surfboard, a pair of trunks and a roof over my head and, if I don’t a have a roof a tent, I mean, I’ll be happy and a hippy living  on bananas. Me and my bother have lived with my mum in a fricken place with no kitchen. What I have now is beautiful and all but I could go back the other way and live like that if I had to. But, I’m not gonna.

Do you have a fear of prison? 

Shit yeah. That would break me. I’ve had friends that’ve gone in wild animals and come out numb.

What do you like most about your body?

 My feet. They’re not too jacked up. Everything else is pretty blown out and scarred up. My feet handle it.

Who or what is your greatest love? 

My wife, right now, she’s fricken… ah, wait… you know what, I’m sorry, but surfing. Surfing’s the only thing that’s always been there day in, day out, fucken girlfriend breakups, fucken report card fails, surfing always makes you feel better. No matter what, when I’m in the water, even if I don’t catch a wave and just swim in the ocean, I always come out a better person.

Do you fear losing the love of your life? 

If I ever lost Lyndie or my parents or my brother, I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t live without them.

If you weren’t The Champ, who would you like to be and why? 

I admire a lot of people for different reasons, for their different traits and for the different values they have. But, I don’t know man, everyone has their own problems. Everyone’s got ‘em. It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s always something wrong with ‘em. I’m happy with myself.

Enough of the fruity shit. How’s that pussy palace of yours? 

The home at Hanalei? I call it the Hanalei Bomber. It’s radical, it’s my dream. I grew up across the street in my dad’s toolshed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water. It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.

Anything y’wanna tell the world, now that AI is back? 

People have actually been so… fucken … cool with wanting me to come back. People that didn’t even like me, who thought I wan an arrogant little fucker, are now coming outta the woodwork and being stoked. Richie Collins (radical Californian pro surfer of the eighties) sent Lyndie an email today telling me to stick with it and how stoked he was that I was back on the world tour and how much he likes to watch me and that he only tunes in (on the webcast) to see if I’m there. To me, that’s the ultra fucken compliment.

We all missed The Champ. 

I swear, I don’t know what it was, but, yeah, I mean, shit, it’s been a trip. In Portugal, after my heats, people were coming up to me and all kinds of cool shit. Back in the day, it was sour apples and a couple of threats but I haven’t had that in a long time. It’s getting me really motivated to try and do good, you know, put my better foot forward.

Is it a good time to bet on the champ? 

Ha! I don’t want the pressure of fucken losing someone else’s money. But, I’m not going to pull that spoiled brat tantrum shit anymore. That was old Andy. The new Andy is still real passionate, but fricken, I’m gonna try my fucken hardest until the fat lady horns.

Andy Irons and Bruce Irons
"My brother won the world title and I was very proud of him. I was, like, fuck, this is the guy I’m surfing with every day and he’s winning the world title? What the fuck? … If he wasn’t around I don’t know what I’d do,"said Bruce, three weeks before Andy died.

The little brother: A two-am sitting with Bruce Irons

Three weeks before Andy died, I recorded this subdued and oddly morbid interview with Bruce Irons…

October 2010: High above the resort town of Las Playa Americas, in a hotel of three generously allocated stars, stands Mr Bruce Irons among a wreckage of remote control toys, five knives, as well as various Apple gadgetry. A pair of Dr Dre Monster Beats squeezes the gold of Mr Irons’ longer-than-ever hair. His eyes blaze with madness, his cheeks a furious dusky pink. A remote control helicopter fizzes past his face, thumbs working the rotor blade controls in a dexterous manner. The helicopter lands on a bedside table. Mr Irons places the remote control unit down and unstraps his Nixon watch.

“It’s called The Housing,” he says, biz-like. “It’s programmed with tide information for 200 beaches worldwide for the next 10 years, it’s got a wave counter and you can dive 300 feet and not blow it out. I noticed you’ve looking at it all trip. It’s yours.”

My pal Shinya, the designer of the magazine Stab, walks in. He is 24 years old and grew up with Mr Irons as his number one surf hero. His body visibly trembles when Bruce addresses him. “You look like you could do with a pair of shoes,” he says, then pauses. “But, wait. Will you wear ‘em?” Shinya shivers an anxious yes (Is it a joke? Will Mr Irons rescind the gift?) and receives a pair of black Nike low-tops.

“I’ll run in these,” says Shinya, the seizure of uneasiness gone as he swings the shoes over his bony little shoulder.

The next visitor, photographer Richard Freeman who came to shoot Bruce for a cover, is gifted a pair of noise-cancelling Bose headphones, with fresh batteries, a high-end device worth approximately $500 at retail. Later, Rich points out to me the significant wear on the foam of the ear cups and leaves the present hanging from a coat hook, its red diode winking in the darkness like an abandoned lighthouse.

In a pile on the room’s spare bed are gifts for his wife, his kid and for his friends. Kindness is an unexpected trademark of Mr Irons.

I spent five days with Bruce in Tenerife, a city in the Canary Islands, and the location for a Stab wave -pool shoot. Bruce flew for two days, from Kauai to LA, from LA to Chicago, from Chicago to Madrid, then Madrid to Tenerife. And, he arrived looking like he’d spent the entire time at a fitness camp. I never had Bruce figured out before this. I thought we’d be babysitting a 30-year-old prince. But, Bruce is a prince of the best sort. Lord, what a joy it was to shower in his bawdy stories.

On our last night in Tenerife, I found Bruce unexpectedly thoughtful. Place a microphone near his gums and his quotes are supersonic. But, at two am, as he sat under the yellow glow of a floor lamp, he reflected on ageing, the parabola of his life, the loss of a friend and the grief that follows. He spoke at length about his sometimes difficult, but always loving, relationship with his one-year-older brother; a brother who would not longer be around in a few weeks.

This interview begins just after midnight and concludes before three. Beer is served but drunk with little gusto as the interview descends into morbidity.

First of all, in between evening sessions at the pool and your regime of day sleeps, you’ve bled the island dry of its trinkets. Can you catalogue what you’ve bought here and their price tag?  

I bought a gun with a flashlight and a laser beam on it, the gun was 10 bucks, maybe 15. I bought this little glow-in-the-dark swirly thing, I gave the chick four bucks. I bought some Nike shoes, they were about 80, 90 bucks. I bought five knives. They were a good price. Two were 15, a couple were 11, one was nine. I bought a remote-control helicopter in a briefcase, a travel case, that was 160 bucks. Woohoo! What else did I buy? Oh, I bought a little thing that can do your fucking nails, fucking tweezers, all sorts of fun. Five bucks. I bought some thermo underwear. That was probably 20 bucks. I bought my daughter an outfit, Nike, head to toe. Nice get up. I didn’t look at the fucken price, though. I figure it was about, let’s see the receipt (to another person in the room) hey get out my way, you’re running in circles…  The baby’s outfit was fucking 80 bucks.

I can see a few more things on your bed. What’s that cube? 

This thing, when your battery is dead on your phone, it gives it a burst of power for about a couple of phone calls, that was about 15 bucks. I bought some Dr Dre headphones that were well-overpriced at a whopping 300 dollars! And, um, oh I bought an iPad case for 15 bucks, an iPad screensdaver for 12 bucks,

And the cute little Monster speaker? God, my questions are so lame already! All I want to is roll in your bold consumerism!

Monster speaker! Don’t forget that! That was a walk-in 55 dollars! I bought another case for my iPad, that was 12 bucks, and some Nike socks ‘cause I didn’t have any socks. That’s it. I think we’re about down.

Tell me about your knives. Yesterday, you were at the pool with it clipped to the elastic of your waistband. 

I like collecting knifes and I like having a knife. You always need a knife to do something. Cut a rope, cut a fish, fucken, knives come in handy. I always have a knife on my side. I like knives.

Are you a hunting man?   

Well, no. I’m not going to call myself a hunter. Because, I’m not a fucking hunter. But, my friends are hunters and I go with them. Most of them don’t surf and they grew up hunting.

Have you ever killed a pig with your knives?  

I’ve not knifed one, but I’ve shot ‘em. Yeah. I shot the pig for my wedding and for my daughter’s first birthday I shot the pig.

How do you do it?  

You just come up and in between the eyes, point blank. My friend has a pig farm. He raises ‘em. But, I just went to Molokai and hunted deer. My friend lives there. We go fishing, then jump across the street and go fucking hunting deer, right there. In three days, they shot, like, 15. I got a couple. You see packs of 40 coming by and you’re, like…pow…pow… pow…  pow… whereas the shit you see on TV, you sit for hours and you see like one deer. But, in Molokai, it’s packs of 40.

What’s it like to get one of the bastards in your sights an nail it? 

Like I said, I’m no hunter. I suck shit. And on TV it looks all easy, but you stalk the thing all quiet, and when you see something, your heart’s all going, and to look through a scope and try to breathe steadily, it’s really hard. You have to be some semi-ninja, semi-jedi. And, I’m neither.

Do you think, wow, I’m about to end this animal’s life? 

Well… no… I don’t. If you kill it and you eat it, it’s fine. So everything I kill I eat. Tuna are the most beautiful looking fish out there and we eat ‘em. Just don’t fucken take more than what you need. Killing animals? I’m fine with it as fine as long as you eat ‘em. What is this? Fucking Outdoor Hunters Magazine?

I want to know what it was like when you first starting getting attention, going from your idyllic poverty to pretty much instant wealth? 

Here’s the background. My dad was a carpenter and my mom worked at a little shop in Hanalei. They’re divorced so we had that going, mom hates dad; dad hates mom That’s why we’d go to the beach and surf and surf as much as we could all day long, go home sleep and go to school. But, before we go into that other stuff, let me say: the good thing about that is our dad and our mom never pressured us into doing anything. We’d go to contests with our friends and that was our thing, we’d go there, my dad would work, my mom would work do her thing, we’d go to contests and surf and I’d watch their parents snap at them and I’d be like, God! I feel sorry for ‘em. So, not having my parents at my contests was a good thing.

Anyway, I’ll tell you from the beginning. Richard Woolcott (who would start Volcom) used to come to Kauai when I was younger and he’d come and hang out with Kaiborg, Chava (Greenlee), Kala Alexander and Woolly was Quiksilver and he took care after the boys. And, one time, I was fourth grade, I did my first 360 at Pine Trees and somehow he was there and I ran into him at the shower and I had already had a Quiksilver sticker on my board. Back then, you’d have as much stickers as you could put on your board. And, he was like, what’s up with this company, do you like it? And, I was, like, yeah, fuck, and he asked, do you want to ride for us? He gave me a pair of elastic shorts a bright pink shirt that were way too big. But, I was, like, woo-hoo, I’m sponsored!

Anyways, I rode for Quksilver for a couple of years and then when I was 13, Danny Kwock brought me into his office. I was in California doing amateur contests and he brings me into his office and he tells me, and I’m not even listening, I’m 13 years old, but I did catch the line, “Oh yeah, if another company comes along your way, if you get a better offer, you should take it. We’ll always be family here.” I was thinking, you’re Quiksilver! What do you mean?

Two weeks later, Richard Woolcott (who’d left Quiksilver to start Volcom) calls my house and offers me this HUGE deal and I’m fucken 13 years old! It was fucking big! And my dad was, like, “Volcom who? This radical fucken company? These fucken crazy fucken punks at Volcom with their ads flipping people off?” But, the money was too good and we didn’t have any money at home so we had to take it. But the funny thing was, two weeks after I had the talk with Danny Kwock telling me that if a better offer comes along I should take it, what do you know, Richard Woolcott calls. And, it didn’t make sense to me until Volcom went public and so and so made a shitload of money and had to step away from Quiksilver and I started thinking, hmmmm wow, this guy delivered me to Volcom. Which, to me, isn’t a bad thing because, you know, I’m very happy how everything turned out BUT do you think he owes me some money? This is all hypothetical, of course.

 Two thousand and four was an interesting year for you. You’d qualified, you were at your peak, and your contract was up. You had a fantastic opportunity to sign what could’ve been a milestone contract with an opposition company…

I knew I was going to stay with ‘em because the relationship that I have with Richard Woolcott and Troy Eckert, to me, it’s not a company. Richard’s like a father; Troy’s like a brother to me. So, 2004, the contracts are coming, I’m in the WCT, and I wasn’t just gonna let them expect that they had it. I had a sit-down with Bob McKnight and Strider (Wasilewski) from Quiksilver. They were in my mind because at that time, Quslilver was big. They were 1.3 billion dollars so it was lavishing and crip and big. But, I knew what I had at Volcom was way deeper than that. I’ve been there since the beginning and I knew I was going to be with them for the rest of my life but…  ha!…  I was fucking with them. Bob knew. He said, “I know in the back of your head you already have your decision made but, hey, we’d love you to  blah blah.”

I let Volcom sweat the whole year until New Year’s and I went out to dinner –  me, Borg, Dave Riddel and Troy and Woolly. And, they thought we were just going out to dinner. I just told ‘em, “Are we going to do this forever or are we just fucking around?” And, they weren’t expecting it. And I said, “Well, I come as a package deal.” I told ‘em, “I will sign the fucking thing tonight BUT I’m bringing Borg and Riddel with me. Borg’s my guru and Riddel’s been like another father to me. He’s my comfort zone. Riddel’s been taking care of me and my brother since we were 12 years old.” Back when I rode for Quiksilver which is now Volcom. And they said, “No worries.” And here we are, six years later and I just re-did the thing with ‘em, a 10-year contract.

Did they cut you a little piece off when Volcom went public? 

Everyone thinks that I got handed the whole fucking shebang-shebang. But, it was in my contract that if they ever did go public I had the option to get x amount of shares which I bought. Volcom! They’ve taken care of me since I was 14. They will care of me, I’m pretty sure, until the day I die.

Who attaches more importance to money? You or your brother?  

Who gets weirder over money? My brother! My brother! That’s who he is. He’s a real competitive, jealous person. And, yeah, he wants to make the most, be the best… and that’s the reason for his competitive success. He wants to take whatever the person in the water has, contracts, or heats. That’s where me and my brother are completely different because I’ve never been the fucken contest fucken world champion. To me, I’m fucking thrilled with everything I’ve got. There was a point in high school where I was just partying with the boys. And, my real friends, the ones that cared, told me, get your shit together. We’ll always be here. You have a chance to go and fucken do shit that none of us can even imagine. We’ll always be here.

What emotions did you attach to his world title wins? 

My brother won the world title and I was very proud of him. I was, like, fuck, this is the guy I’m surfing with every day and he’s winning the world title? What the fuck? So at that time, I was, I can do it, I can fucken do it! I WILL WIN THE FUCKEN WORLD TITLE! That’s what I thought. Fuck, I’m not going to lie, I might’ve had big dreams, expectations, but I cracked under pressure. Fuck! I got so fucken nervous. I was never nervous… ever! But, god, you know, all of a sudden I’m in my heat just…  (choking sound)…  I was out there surfing to impress the surfers on tour not the judges. I was going out there trying to do a hundred and fifty per cent on my first turns…  blowing the fucking board to fucking space…  ‘cause I was worried that I didn’t want to surf like a kook. I didn’t want the competitors to think, god, what the fuck is this guy doing on the tour? And outside, I had crowd anxiety. I couldn’t handle the pressure. I would, like, lock up and surf like a fucking kook, a robot, I hated it. I barely fucking made the first year by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin. But, the next year I found that, ok, I belong here. But, fuck, I still couldn’t, I just didn’t like the way I was surfing. I couldn’t get this fucking glitch out of my head, like, fucking three to the beach. I felt like I had a stick up my ass. I felt like I was still a stiff robot. I did not like what I was seeing. Even when I made it clear in my head I wasn’t going to do the tour the next year and I was out there with nothing to lose, I still didn’t like the way I was surfing. It was fucking weird. I looked like a stif fucking robot trying to do…  cutbacks.

Tell me about the most intense fight you’ve had with your brother. Was it the night before The Eddie, the year you won?  

Oh, no, no. That was just a typical fucking fight. Him saying some stupid things he shouldn’t be saying to certain people and I was not happy with it. This was in the daytime. And, I was screaming shit at him. Everything you could think of to get him to come out of the house to fucking attack me. And, I said the perfect things and he came flying out and fucking tried to karate kick me. He kinda got me and then we started swinging… some guys grabbing me…  and then he got me a couple of times and gave me a black eye and a bloody lip. I think I barely got him. But, fuck, that was a good reason I won the Eddie because I had so much rage in-fucking-side of me. And, I don’t want to use the word hate, but I was very, very upset with him. He was in the heat before me and it was the pulse of the contest and he was…  it was 25 feet…  and he was getting big waves, probably the biggest waves of his life and I was just…  screaming…  paddling out, looking at the sky yelling…  YOU CANNOT!…  because he has won everything. I was, like, he’s not going to win THE FUCKING EDDIE AIKAU! I fucking wanted it really badly. Winning the Eddie Aikau, that contest, I think it picks a person. There’s so much energy in that thing. The winner is already set in stone. It might’ve been for someone else that year, but I wanted it so bad I took that energy, I got those waves, the biggest waves of my life, and, you know… I won. And, a big part of it was how I was feeling. The depth of feeling inside me. Everything was in fucking fifth gear.

Did that intense feeling disappear once you’d won, once you’d beaten your brother?

No! Actually, it did about a couple of hours later, but I had a black eye when  I was on stage and, fuck, I was jumping up and down on the stage like a little girl but, uh, he went to shake my hand and I fucking walked right by him on stage. And, I went back to my house, he came over with a bottle of champagne, we went upstairs and talked. I told him, fuck, you can’t do that. You can’t act like that. We hugged and that was that. We got in a fight in Fiji three years ago and I realised after that fight that it’s not cool. I punched him and cut his eye, he broke my surfboards afterwards. It didn’t feel good punching him even though he’s punched me hundreds of times. I realised, fuck, I’m punching my own blood. I told myself, I’m never going to let it get to that point again. I will fucken walk away. I’ll be the bigger man. Even though I don’t want to. Like, just recently, we got into a fucking fist-fight and it’s hard to be the bigger man, I’ll tell you that. It sucks! It sucks having to be the bigger man and you’re the younger brother. But, if it stops the way I feel afterward because, fuck, he’s my brother, I’ll suck it up. If he wasn’t around I don’t know what I’d do.

Who’s your one closest, most trustworthy friend? 

Shit. You guys are not going to know him.

It don’t matter.

It’s hard to find. Now that I’m getting older and had a kid I look at my life. You start to wonder, who are your real friends? Who is your friend because they’re you’re friend? Or, who’s your friend with their hand out? A lot of people, where I live, there’s a lot of negativity. It’s weird. A lot of people, they’d rather see you fall than rise. Instead of working together, they like to work against each other. I’m not saying that about everybody, but there’s a lot of people. Especially in my situation, a lot of people hate, hate, HATE the fact I came from nothing have a lot of things and live life not really caring what they think.

Have you ever wanted to die? 

Yeah. But, that’s hypothetically speaking. And, if anyone out there says that they’ve never wanted to die is full of shit. But, not since I’ve had a child. I actually try to take care of myself these days. I’m not as reckless, careless because me imagining my daughter growing up without me, her father, to take care of her, fuck, that scares me.

When’s the time you’ve been most grief stricken? 

Oh fuck! My friend Ronnie-Boy, fuck, shot himself two years ago. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. It’s still hard for me to deal with. It’s very sad. Yeah. Someone that you never think would do that but is crazy enough so when you hear it… I did have a dream about him. He’s doing good.

What was the dream?  

It’s weird ‘cause he was a crazy, crazy guy but he was for real. He was one of my best friends. Someone who said they’d die for you and who would actually die for you. And, I was waiting for this dream because I’d hear people say, oh, I had a dream, but a lot of those people who say that, they’re just full of fucking shit. So, I was, like, WHERE THE FUCK IS MY DREAM? I was waiting for, like, a year-and-a-half and any chance that something was coming I’d get really excited and wake up and be, like, awwww fuck! So, when I finally let go of it, he was in my dream. I’ve had two. I just had one two weeks ago. The first one was, I was down at Pine Trees, me, my friend David, he was another one of Ronnie-Boy’s really good friends. Ronnie Boy was a nuts Hawaiian hunter, scrapper, tough as nails, but a really fucking sincere person. Big fucking heart. And, he did not care what you were. I was a little white haole surfer and he was a fucking nuts Moke hunter trapper guy. But, we were best friends. He wishes he grew up surfing because his dad made him hunt. So, in my dream, I came back from Molokai and I was telling him, “I just shot some fucking deer, you’d be so proud of me.” And, he was, like, “No way, Red!” ‘cause he used to call me Little Red, “You did it, you shot some!” And, in my dream, I said, “Where the fuck were you?” And he was real mellow, usually he was high strung. My friend Dave had his back turned to him. It was weird. The three of us were fucking real when we were together. But, he wasn’t looking at him. And, I was thinking, fuck, why? It took me a long time to process it. I woke up and I was, like, fuck, I thought he was still around and I realised it was a dream and, fuck, I started crying.

(Bruce talks about Ronnie-Boy at length and a few more dream guest appearances as well as the arrival at Ronnie-Boy’s house of a spiritualist who presented his mom with her favourite chocolates and flowers, a gift, she said, from her son.)

You got something else for me? You’ve been uncharacteristically reflective tonight…

You’re supposed to tell me what to say. Shit, I miss my wife and daughter.

How about you tell me how you feel about getting older? 

You know, my brother’s kinda going through that right now (Andy’s 32, one year older than Bruce). I think he’s maybe just starting to accept it a little bit. But, me? I always thought I was the shit, I was the young guy, until two years ago when I had my 10-year (high school) reunion and I didn’t go. In your mind, you think you’re always going to be the shit. But, then you have guys like Dane Reynolds arrive. It’s hard at first. Like, fuck, FUCK THESE GUYS! First instinct, fuck them, fuck that, fuck everybody. It’s an easy thing to do. Fuck this. But, uh, I just said, you know what? Fuck being jealous and fuck being angry. I was a cocky FUCK growing up. I still am.