The Surfer and the Terrorist

Surfer gets barrelled; Fundamentalist says his prayers. Both feel something that challenges the soul.

Little did you know, but that bearded Arab hiding behind a sand dune with his rocket propelled grenade aimed squarely at your Qantas flight to Bali is actually your bro. Oh sure, he hates your guts and you hate his (especially after Lindt, after Charlie Hebdo, Bali, Madrid, Bali again and New York), but that’s just because you don’t know each other.

So, everybody extend hands…  it’s time to meet.

Why surf? Every time you wax your board and paddle out, you kick the dominant Western ideology in the balls. Not the theoretical principles of individuality, freedom and happiness but the actual principles of work, cubicles and fluorescent lighting. Surfing is not about making money and it’s not about being efficient.

Frankly, it’s a fucking waste of time and money. It demands your heart and energy for an idea and a feeling that can’t be explained in any rational way to those who don’t surf. It’s about stoke, which can’t be bought, sold or traded on the international markets (unless you’re talking about the Stoke Exchange).

Surfing is an alternative discourse which asserts, “You bitches can make all the efficient capital you want. Go ahead and keep the Ikea furniture stacking up in your suburban homes, Landrover Discoverys needing baths and one billion overtime hours worked last week. I’m going to the fucking beach.”

Why back an Islamic fundamentalist revolution? Every time Mr. Beard-o Jihad goes to the mosque and takes his religion seriously enough to put it before financial upward mobility, he kicks the dominant Western ideology in the balls.  These fellas don’t hate freedom or life. They do hate the reality of a soulless economic system that denies there is any more to it all than making capital in the most efficient way possible while destroying countless lives and claiming that it’s really a more evolved way to exist. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is an alternative discourse which asserts, “Try as you might by shoving McDonald’s down my throat, driving your bling bling Lexus over my family and putting me to work bottling delicious Coca-Cola for one penny a year. I will not repent for believing there is more to life than making efficient dollars, pounds and euros for you and/or your fat-ass bosses.”

You may think that Islamic fundamentalism is austere and hateful. Fundy-bro may think that you are frivolous and shallow. What you feel about each other – or each other’s tactics – doesn’t matter. In truth, surfers and fundies are both part of a broader revolutionary discourse, which percolates under the surface of capital-driven humanity. People wake up, drive to work, drive home, go to sleep and die, lost to any genuine feeling. Surfer gets barrelled; Fundy says his prayers. Both feel something that challenges the soul.

Surfer and Islamic fundy: side by side, lockstep, in conflict against a piece of shit dominant ideology that denies what’s important, the very essence of life, for a measly dollar.

Skip work, paddle out, punt an air, flip off the fucking man and know that in the hills of Afghanistan Mullah Mohammed Omar is flipping him off too.

lewis samuels and kelly slater
"How's your small-wave game these days, sweetie?" Lewis' voice has a raspy, lung-cancerous tone to it. "Fine sir!" says the professional surfer Kelly Slater, laughing nervously.

Memories: When Lewis Samuels Owned Surf

Once, Lewis Samuels was the biggest thing in surf lit. Oh how we miss his raspy, lung cancerous tone!

The dessert spoon overflows with choux pastry and chocolate-flavoured crème patissiere. The surf blogger is nervous at first and uses a sentence with the word “gay” in it. His protests are short.

Like every other man before him, he soon begs for the éclair, mouth open. I upturn the spoon upon his tongue, which greedily rims the crème patissiere, suddenly free to explore and experience.

“Delicious?” I ask.

“This is a joke! This is a joke,” he repeats, suddenly ashamed.

One hour later, Lewis, the half-Jewish surf blogger from Bolinas, 45 minutes north of San Francisco, is sitting naked and cross-legged, his naturally-curly hair teased into a brown ball, MacBook balanced in his lap.

Lewis is at Stab magazine, an Australian surf title that I once edited and owned. He had agreed to an interview and to a studio portrait that you can find here. The interview, that I’ve reproduced below, charts the rise of the online surf community he created for his now-defunct website PostSurf, praises him for the sharpness of his keystrokes and his excellent sense of humour, but puts him to sword for his dreadful Andy Irons interview for Surfline in 2009 and for his juvenile liptstick communism.

I asked Kelly Slater for his opinion about Lewis. Kelly replied: “Lewis just basically riles you up and puts a flame under your weaknesses and does his best to expose you and keep you honest. Every sport has it’s detractors but few actually get through on a personal and visible level to a lot of athletes but that’s probably cause of the nature of surfing and the lifestyle and accessibility surfers have  to people around them. I have emailed with him a few times. Not sure  if it was between heats meaning I was needing a pep talk or something  but may have been between rounds. I think he’s funny. My brother  wanted to punch him out for what he had written recently cause he  didn’t see the humour in it and was being protective. He tends to ride the line with people and will probably get punched by someone soon or  barred from going places comfortably. That’s kind of genius to put  your true thoughts and opinions out there for people to read like he does. Not a lot of people are truly honest in this world with what they are thinking cause they’re scared of the repercussions. He definitely rattled a few cages in his short surf-writing career. He did probably inspire me to step it up at Trestles after gassing out at J-Bay to Taj. Probably helped me stay more aware of keeping myself fit and ready and hydrated during contests. He actually has gifts for people if they take it the right way.”

Such memories! 

DR: On your website PostSurf you once wrote: “I feel for Dane. It’s professional courtesy – one false messiah tipping his hat to another. It’s a tough business, leading from on high, tacked on that cross.” Do you think you are seen as a messiah, and are you false, and are you crucified?

Lewis: People give a little too much credit to what I write and they take it too seriously. In terms of being crucified, what I was alluding to for both Dane and I, was that people expect you to have some great importance when realistically most of the things we do in our lives don’t have much importance.

You are the biggest thing in surfing, word-wise. You are the leader, the thought-provoker and the trendsetter. Is it a revenge of the nerds scenario? Skinny Jewish kid, sorry half-Jew, uses keyboard to slaughter the jocks?

There’s an interesting trend in popular culture and you see it in the hipster thing and in movies like Juno where everyone wants to be the quirky, unique one. Getting credit for their ideas, not just fitting in, non-conformity being a plus instead of a minus. There’s an aspect of that to it.

Are you thrilled that top pro surfers hang on your every keystroke?

It’s baffling they read it or care. I don’t blame them for being affected by it. It’s pretty gnarly reading what people say about you. At the same time, it never occurred to me that they’d take it seriously. Why the fuck would they care what I had to say? There’s no reason to. It’s trying to say the things that haven’t been said because the surf media’s pretty controlled, there’s a pretty tight lid on it. And, you just wanna be able to see that discourse that you hear when you’re at a party, having a drink and talking about surfing. You just wanna hear those things said out loud.

You often write about your hardboiled drinking. Yet, when we drank together you nearly fainted after a couple of long-balls and a few vodkas. What is drinking to you and how hardboiled are you? 

It’s all about a consistent intake during working hours. Staying consistently drunk in your working hours, that’s where I’m at.

Does drinking give you a feeling of boldness?

It’s not about being in the office and conveying things in a responsible manner, it’s about trying to get to the heart of the emotions behind it and that comes out better with alcohol on your breath. That’s all it is. It’s not so much that I’m constantly drunk, but consistently drinking.

A constant theme on postsurf is the lack of spine in surf media. Yet, I must put you to the sword for your dreadful Andy Irons interview. In the middle of AI’s public meltdown, you didn’t go near the reasons or causes. Like the rest of us, you crumble at the moment of truth. Tell me about the feeling of capitulation and weakness.

Ohhhh, man. The Andy Irons thing. At that point, I was still trying to play the game. And the numbers were huge. And the repercussions were huge even if people like you read it, snickered, and said, “Aw, that’s a bulls**t piece.” Some of the frustration with that experience manifested itself in creating Postsurf. At a certain point, I no longer was happy writing stuff that was controlled by a corporation that had relationships with advertisers and managers and surfers. I just wanted to say the things I wanted to say. And, now it means I don’t have an active mainstream career in the surf media.

On your site you wrote, the three biggest problems in surfing are: shithouse writers, jiu-jitsu and Joel Tudor. 

Well, I’m responsible for one of those three problems. The jiu-jitsu thing, on the other hand… where I live, if men want to have sex with other men, they just do it.

You mentioned the ironically named Fred Van Dyke saying big-wave riders are “latent homosexuals”. Latent homos, as you know, never consciously express their desires. It is a covert, not overt, desire. But, isn’t jiu-jitsu an overt expression of a desire to hold men? Can I ask you this: do you think Joel Tudor wrestles for sensual pleasure rather than to satisfy a competitive urge?

You can definitely draw some conclusions that there are sexual undertones. I’m not noticing the technical holds or the moves. I’m just going, there’s a man’s face and there’s Joel’s crotch. And the man’s face is being grasped and pulled into Joel’s crotch. By Joel.

What’s the problem with Joel?
People look at him like another false Messiah. If he’s really that talented of an athlete I would love to see him ride functional surfboards instead of archaic pieces of shit. He’s never really challenged himself to go ride modern equipment in perfect waves to see what would happen; just to see. For me, there’s a place for that stuff, when the waves suck. When it’s big and barreling, why do you want to hold yourself back? It’s a marketing gimmick. Technology has offered us better equipment to enjoy surfing. Better wetsuits, trunks, legropes. And, I’m not sure why, but when it comes to surfboards some of us ride shitty surfboards from 35 years ago that barely work. There was a great quote from Wayne Lynch, years back, on how Joel was trying to get some vintage Wayne Lynch board to ride at Tavarua and Wayne laughed at him and said: “The board sucked at the time and it sucks now, so why waste your time riding it.” And, that’s my feeling.

You are the self-proclaimed most hated man in surfing. Is there a pressure to keep the insults coming?

I definitely don’t think I’m the voice of a generation when it comes to surfing. I just think that there are some crazy motherfuckers out there who take what I say way too seriously. I’m just taking the piss in the end. – Derek Rielly.

Wade Goodall with broken leg
Bones of chalk, nerves of steel! The conundrum that is the Australian Wade Goodall. | Photo: Matt O'Brien

Wade Goodall: Five Women I’ve Adored

A gal with a kink for old dudes, a country singer (who liked homeless cats), a librarian. Variety!

Wade Goodall is on the other side of 25, a father and excellent operator of a surfboard, with emphasis above the lip.

But, once, he chased gals! Here are five of his most memorable.

1. Patti

I met a girl at a gig I went to in Brisbane. I ended up staying down there with her for the whole weekend. She was an actor that did those low-budget crime shows, the ones that have the reenactments. A re-enacter actor.  I saw her for about six months. One day, she did a scene where she was manipulated and seduced by this really old guy. It was weird cause she said she was super turned on by it and wouldn’t stop talking about old dudes. I went to see her one night and she had this full old man get-up on her bed that she got from the op shop for me to wear while we had a session. It was kinda funny for the first week or two but it just got a bit weird after that so we parted ways. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see her again when I’m older.

2. Diana

I went to the library and fell for a girl that was working there. She was textbook library: tartan skirt, big black glasses, super cute. I tried to work out what day she would be working again so I could go in and sign up. I timed it wrong and got some old bird that used to work at my primary school. I’ve been in and borrowed a few books since and she’s never working. Maybe she quit.

3. Mum and Sis

I love my mother and sister. For the advice and the love.

4. Alexandrine

I loved the girl that dragged me out of Dick’s Sand Bar in France by my freshly shaved mullet and made me walk her home on a lead. I loved her so much that I passed out at her place before anything could go down. Not from alcohol, but from love. The most pure and intoxicating love.


I dated a girl from Tamworth who was a struggling country music singer and songwriter. I met her at the Woodford Folk Festival. She was working at the Satay Hut and hooked me up with a few free sticks. I went back to the tent when she knocked off, then we saw the boot-scooters. She was awesome but she just kept going on about how she was way better then them and that she should be up on that stage playing boot-scootin foot-stompers instead of being in the crowd foot stomping while boot-scooters played.We dated for a year and her music career never really took off in that time and she was getting pretty obsessive about it. We ended because she wanted to go abroad. The last I heard from her she was busking in New York, was about to drop an EP and had adopted 10 cats from the animal shelter.

Dane and his Courtney.
Dane and his Courtney. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Voyeurism: Inside Dane Reynolds’ Garage

How do the other half live? Come peek.

I ask Dane Reynolds about his garage. The rain is falling steadily outside my Los Angeles home and I can hear it, through the phone, falling outside his oceanfront Ventura modern as well. I am wearing sheepskin slippers. I will guarantee Dane is not.

“First of all, its funny to me that since I can surf better than your average dude suddenly I’m expected to tell people all about myself. Share information about dumb things such as my car and my garage, which are totally average. My garage has a shitty door. It’s made of wood and the pieces have separated so that from the inside looking out you can spy on kids. My girlfriend hangs things on the wall about falconry and posters she collects, such as Thunder Down Under. It has a washer and a dryer and a mew for her red tail. There are boxes full of shit seldomly used such as Christmas lights, fog machines and plastic pumpkin heads. I put surfboards here when they are broken or don’t work. There are also trash cans.”

Dane surfs better than everyone in the world not just the “average dude.” A spy door, however shitty, is not average and spying on kids is also not average. Mostly it is illegal. Posters on walls are average but not ones featuring an all male Australian strip review (Thunder from Down Under) or falconry (unless the garage is in Saudi Arabia). Mews are not average. They are birdhouses designed for birds that love to kill. Like falcons etc. Or red-tailed hawks, ownership of which is always illegal without very special permits. Washers and dryers are average. Boxes of seldomly used Christmas lights are average. Fog machines are not average at all (unless the garage is in Lodi, New Jersey). Plastic pumpkin heads are not average either. Nor are tens of broken, unworkable surfboards. Trash cans are average.

“Now tell me about the book and CD” Dane says. I had lured him into calling by claiming that I have a book and some music that he will absolutely love. “The book is Death in the Afternoon. It is fantastic,” I respond. “And the music is Li’l Wayne’s rock n’ roll album The Rebirth.” I know he’ll likely be bored by Death and hate Rebirth.

Five Ways to Improve the World Surf League Right Now!

Hit it hard, hit it fast. And live a little… 

The first tour event starts in a few weeks. Wipe off the anticipatory saliva and bite in.

Is Gabriel a one-shot champ or is this is the start of an Andy Irons or, even, Kelly Slater-esque rule? Filipe? How’s his huck this year? Is John John interested in Snapper’s three-foot runners enough to fire his guns? Was Julian’s end-of-season form in Hawaii a sign that he’s shucked off his terrible form of early 2014?

And Joel, Mick, Kelly? Where do they fit in?

Excited? Yeah, we should be. So why does the thought of 12, 30-minute round one heats, the round two heats that soak up another half day, lay-days, women’s heats thrown in hither and thither, fill me with horror?

It shouldn’t be like this. The best surfing happens on tour. But the tour is flawed. Like a good-looking woman with poor dress sense and permanent tension in her mouth.

You want five ways to improve the tour, right now?

1. Reduce the tour from 34 to 12

Truth is, unless you have some kinda personal contact or affinity with anyone outside the top dozen, watching ’em tag waves to the beach does nothing for you, for me, or for the supposed greater audience the World Surf League is chasing. Sure, having 34 surfers guarantees a career for men who, let’s face it, ain’t Stevie Hawkings and would therefore be laying concrete or slapping paint on walls, but it ain’t taking the game forward. It’s making up numbers. And making up numbers means…

2. You’ve gotta finish an event in two days, max

Four days for men, three days for women. Two-week waiting periods. Endless calls. Endless standbys. It’s the most lurid tempo! No wonder such a ferocious sex hunger develops around tour events. You want to see an exciting sport. Go to Speedway. Three hours. A few heats and a winner-takes-all final. Spectators with no interest in motor sports are captivated. Surfing needs a full-day super jam, two if conditions turn to grease. Which means…

3. Forget combining men’s and women’s events

Oh! You get to use the same infrastructure thereby reducing costs? How ideal! It’s an uneasy coexistence. How many joints do you know can deliver a week of good waves within a two or three-week period, across all tides? It don’t happen. And so you’re left with crucial heats running in the crummiest and most inconsistent closeouts.

Speaking of tides and inconsistent closeouts…

4. Portugal has to be iced

What should be a sideshow of tuberiding and shorebreak tumbling has become the event where world title hopes and dreams of victory are dashed upon Supertubos’ shallow sandbank. Kelly knows. And Jordy Smith, the best surfer there last year, sat in a miserable ocean and caught one wave in the final (Click on the play button to watch). That ain’t sport at its best.

5. Live a little

Bottom line, y’ain’t ever going to get even a slice of the football or soccer or basketball crowds. Surfing is too subjective, too hard to understand. So, live a little. Let the guys on the mic, all of whom know a thing or two, loosen up.

If you don’t terrorise, it’s not surfing.