Kelly Slater

Ravaged Beauty: A power ranking for the rest of us!

How handsome are the top ten? Our expert weighs in!

Johnny Constantine Unitas III comes from football royalty and has the greatest name this side of Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch. He is, himself, handsome. A sort of American prince. And he knows many things, including how to throw a tight spiral and what makes for physical beauty. What, then, does his expert eye tell us about the relative handsome of our surfing top ten? How would he rank them on a scale that truly matters to the rest of the world?

Is judging another man’s handsomeness still frowned upon these days? Personally, I don’t care. I’m a buyer for a fashion retailer and spend hours critiquing clothes.

I shed a tear as my skin turns pasty white and my hair looses its sun-bleached blonde highlights while summer on the U.S. east coast fades. And, sometimes at length, debate my girlfriend on whether Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds is the most handsome “Ryan” in Hollywood.

So, when Chas Smith e-mails me asking, “Can you do a power ranking on the WCT’s top ten surfers handsomeness? Like, put them in order from most to least?” I gladly set aside my heterosexuality, pour myself a cup of coffee and ask, “are piercing blue eyes and a chestnut tan enough to offset baldness?”

The answer is, yes.

Kelly Slater comes in at number one with those glassy-beautiful eyes that once gazed longingly into Pamela Anderson’s, Bar Refaeli’s and now permanently into Kalani Miller’s. There’s a reason I came home after school everyday to watch Baywatch. And it was that damn, Jimmy Slade.

Second, has to be Joel Parkinson. That strong jaw line, perfect scruff and brawny Australian accent bring him in at the number two-spot.

Third handsomest goes to the tall, dark and… well, handsome, Michel Bourez. Michel looks like he could take a punch and wear a black eye better than Brad Pitt in Snatch or Fight Club. He is “The Spartan.”

Kolohe Andino takes the fourth spot. Kolohe looks like he stepped out of an Abercrombie and Fitch, Bruce Weber editorial. And that’s why he’s number four. Damn good-looking but too damn young to be truly handsome.

Comfortably, in the fifth spot is, Mick Fanning. He’s the most ruggedly handsome, but lacks panache and swagger. Rugged is all he has going for him.

Sixth place goes to Taj. While not the most handsome, he looks like he’d be fun to drink beers and have a laugh with. That’s called, “charm,” and being charming and slightly handsome is sometimes better than being 100% handsome.

Seventh and eighth spot are a toss up between Adriana de Souza and Gabriel Medina. I’ve asked numerous females to weight in, and I would have had an easier time flipping a coin.

Ninth spot on the handsome power rankings is Jordy Smith. He’s just dopey looking, and could use a very good haircut. Or maybe it’s his receding hairline? Jordy is very lucky because Lyndall is a lot more attractive. But, we should all take a page out of Jordy’s “How to Propose to the Love of Your Life,” book.

The ass-end of the handsome power rankings goes to none other than John John Florence. Let us not judge a young man’s handsomeness off of his pro-ho following. John John is the least handsome, and his lack of handsomeness clearly defines the phrase, “Pro-Ho.”

Kelly Slater on chemtrails via Instagram
"Chemtrails are one of those things that I'm not so sure about," write Cyrus. "It's common knowledge that geoengineering technology exists and cloud seeding with heavy metals has long been tested. It's also well-known that are all getting doused with chemicals from industrial pollutants, but a secret global spraying campaign to combat global warming and mentally/physically castrate the population?"

Chemtrails! Are you being castrated from the skies!

Kelly Slater likes 'em. How about you? Is your government spraying you from the heavens?

Cyrus Sutton is a filmer, director and rad surfer who lives in a van, even when he’s at home (he parks it in a shed in the yard). Cyrus’ movies Compassing, Riding Waves, Stoked and Broke and the website all feed into the modern need to back off from all our electronic devices and conveniences.

But don’t go thinking Emmy-award winning Cyrus is a dull boy. Ask him about his travel philosophy and he says, “Drive fast, take chances.”

And chemtrails? Let’s ask!

Like a lot of us, I started getting interested in conspiracy theories some years ago have enjoyed my attempts to sort facts from the fiction. After researching the Fukushima disaster, talking with the world’s leading Fukushima fallout researcher Ken Brussler at Woods Hole, buying a radiation detector and testing around around the coast, I now get bummed when I see NOAA tsunami swell maps on the internet being passed off as “fallout” maps.

“Chemtrails” are one of those things that I’m not so sure about. It’s common knowledge that geoengineering technology exists and cloud seeding with heavy metals has long been tested. It’s also well known that are all getting doused with chemicals from industrial pollutants. But a secret global spraying campaign to combat global warming and mentally/physically castrate the population?

Many ecosystems are on the verge of collapse and this world is filled with corruption. But by far the most pernicious and well-established form geoengineering is deforestation. Kill the forests, stop the rain. Just ask the Middle East.

All indigenous cultures protected their forests for their rain and nutrient nurturing qualities. Scientists all over the world are proving that we can reverse climate change and feed the world by fostering local regenerative agriculture which has long fed the majority of the population.

These truths continue to be undermined or ignored. I think conspiracy theories are a great tool for acknowledging that we need to think for ourselves but here’s a danger of being wrapped up in them to the extent that they “cloud” our vision to the real and tangible change we can still make.

If we take a hard look at our own actions and focus on creating tangible solutions then our reliance on of the host of destructive exploits which we decry will become obsolete as we heal the planet and our bodies through stewardship of real ecosystems.

We are many and our actions will dictate what the one per cent do, not the other way around. What’s your view of conspiracy theories? Do they motivate you to change things for the better? Or do they drive you to towards fear, anger and hopelessness?

Note: This post (which first appeared on IG) isn’t meant to discredit anyone’s opinion just open the door to conversation if any of you have any info that you’d like to share with me and others…

Bukowski! Dion Agius reads The Laughing Heart

What do you want from your existence? Pain? Complaints? Seize life with both hands and throttle its neck!

Dion Agius reads The Laughing Heart from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

And here we see the surfer and photographer Dion Agius surfing, early evening, in south-west France while a recording he made, also in France, colours the air.

The poem is the same one Levis used in an advertisement a little while back and, yet, its theme of acknowledging the brittle hold we have on life and therefore the importance of seizing every single day of it, is universal.

It’s a short poem that Dion reads with a resolute steady swing. A very good entry point into the poetry of Bukowski whom every wanna-be drunk beat poet absolutely adores. And how can you not when Bukowski says things like:

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

Here are the words to the poem. Read along.

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

Your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Craig Anderson hangs outside of car window
We are the first surf adventurers on earth, all of us. We are the first and we are beautiful because we keep the fires of discovery alive. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Fabulous: your life as a surfer!

Or as the great Helen Keller once said, "Life is either a great adventure or nothing."

We, all of us, travel to surf. We go to the ends of the Earth. We drive and fly and sail and let our hair grow and don’t shower and feel the salt on our skin for days, even weeks, straight. We adventure. And adventure narrative is always clichéd, or almost always, especially surf adventure narrative. It plays out awkwardly and causes reading eyes to glaze with familiarity. Listening ears to bore. The same themes. Discovery, hardship, discovery, the simple joys of sleeping on dirt and surfing clean, uncrowded rights or lefts. Always the same. But, I will say, there is also something cute about it. Something fresh and youthfully naïve. When we are on a surf adventure we are the first people on earth to experience what we are experiencing. We are the first people on earth to round the bend and see the wave. To get barreled. To crawl through the cave and climb into the light and really see. Even if the bend is just past Huatulco and the wave is Barra de la Cruz. Even if the barrel is Colorado in Nicaragua. Even if the cave is Uluwatu. For when we adventure everything that happens, happens only for us. When we go on surf adventures we are the first surf adventurers on earth.

It has all become so easy, or easier than it used to be. We can book our flights online. We can check spots, even watching streaming cameras, thousands of miles away. We can devour first-hand website information complete with tide, crowd, parking information. But as soon as we board our flights we are still the first. Our cynicism falls away and we enjoy the uniqueness of our situation. The clove smoke from the taxi driver smells alive. The Mexican ditch digger looks quaint and we imagine, even if for only a minute, that he has discovered the secret to life. He is unburdened by material possession and lives just outside of Barra. He can surf it whenever he wants! Of course, he has never surfed it, nor will he ever, but we can still naively dream.

When we arrive back home, regular life sets in. We go to our office jobs or back to school but we are tanner and leaner than we were before and our eyes are hungrier. When the receptionists asks about the tan we tell her, “I was in Indo…” and “Indo” has been done to death by surfers but it hasn’t been done to death by the receptionist and she coos and thinks we are exotic, as long as we don’t go on and on and on about the reef pass and the lost surfboards and the barrels. As long as we keep it simple. And we coddle our memories, chewing them over when the Northern Hemisphere winter sets in and we are cold and miserable and our own surf is flat. We go to the bar and, even if we don’t say, “I was in Indo three months ago…” we know that, “I was in Indo three months ago…” and that makes us better than every other person in the bar.

Yes, we are the first surf adventurers on earth, all of us. We are the first and we are beautiful because we keep the fires of discovery alive. And the older we get, the more complicated our lives get. They are shrouded in mortgages and bills and promotions. But as soon as we book another surf adventure, as soon as we board our flights, we are still the first. We are young. We are dumb. We are full of adventure.

Gen Y and the legacy of Morning of the Earth

Who can relate to John John Florence? Alex Knost and Jared Mel are the ones having all the fun!

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original.” – C.S Lewis

Disposable culture is peaking. Rip Curl have just released a watch that tells you how many ‘likes’ you’ve ‘got’ while you’ve been in the surf and so-called ‘hipsters’ are making people very angry on the internet. It brings to light the generational burden. Time is perpetually creeping on and the search for meaning continues for us Gen Y’ers. The reason that there is this constant pressure to define each generation in surfing is because in 1972 Albert Falzon made a film called Morning of the Earth.

The theory that’s taught in schools is that unless something’s unique and original then it’s not worth doing. My thickly Scottish, Christ-like guitar teacher at school echoed this depressing sentiment.

“There’s nay point trying to be original, everything’s been done.”

But American author William Cane said that we should emulate the greats. His book Write like the Masters sews the idea that plagiarism isn’t a dirty word and that “picking up pointers of style,” from the gurus Hemingway, Falkner, Fitzgerald (Terry and F.Scott!) isn’t a faux pas but something to be encouraged.

Ninety-nine per cent of the surfing population can’t even think about relating to John Florence. But Ryan Burch looks like he’s having fun, so does Knost, Ellis Ericson and Jared Mel and they’re taking the majority of their inspiration from Alby and the boys. If you’re going to revisit an era, make it the best one.

The exclusive shaper to my friendship group “The Peps Man” of Pepper Shapes is a beautiful throwback. Not in a contrived way, I just think he was genuinely born in the wrong era. He lets you pay for his boards in $20 weekly installments (legend) and your board is guaranteed to look absolutely nothing like what you originally discussed.

He’s got the habit of phoning you up when you’re drunk and putting ideas in your head about what he’d like to shape you and how it’s going to improve your surfing/your life.

“How about channels maaan!”

“Nah Peps lets just keep it simple on this one eh?”

“Ah, ok….so six channels yeah!”

I don’t want something that’s an exact replica of something else, something with a serial number. I want The Peps Man to creep into his shipping container bay late at night, after the obligatory 15 joints, and shape whatever he feels like. It’s progressing his craft and who knows it might just be a gem. It’s not purely original but it’s fun.

The Morning of the Earth survivors see themselves in us, to an extent. We’re searching for something; so were they. Everything comes full circle. A lot of ’em are miserable bastards. They can’t get over the crowds or the kids and possess the inherently Australian quality of having been everywhere and done everything 30 years ago and now it’s all “fucked.” This rhetoric is unbearable. Go to Indo and at any given warung there’s at least one unbearable whinging old bastard. The gems are still out there however and if you find one, cherish them.

I was pouring rosettas in an inner-city café – with a recycled timber interior! – when the iconic M.O.T.E tune Simple Ben came on the radio. A colleague asked, “This is from that surf film isn’t it?”

“Yeah Morning of the Earth,” I replied.

From the other side of the resin-filled counter an unidentified voice piped up, “I saw it when it came out man.”

I looked up from the milk jug and saw the classic weather-ridden visage of the veteran coastal-dweller beaming back at me.

“1972, wow that must have been an amazing time to have been alive.”

He grabbed his latte, grinned, and uttered his parting words. “Still is man.”