Mitch Coleborn
The Australian Mitch Coleborn delivers the opening gambit in Cluster, a celebration of lives realised away from competition. | Photo: Cluster surf movie

Opinion: Why “Fuck the WSL!” still has currency

Surfing is a contrived ritual and the freesurfer represents, beautifully, the pointlessness of the act.

The current crop of freesurfers have a hard time of it. People seem to hate that they get to surf all day and don’t seem to do anything meaningful.

BeachGrit has been unkind too: Chas pondered why they are such disappointments when they could turn things on their head. I, too, have been harsh. I concluded that they are knee-capped by confusion and their need to fuck. I suggested it was a malaise that plagued white kids in general. I’d go as far as saying it is part of the modern existence so many others have lamented.  I stand by this claim. Their so-called rebellious gestures are impotent (Noah and the WSL), their anger lacks gravity, their airs, though technical and impressive, are meaningless.

Yet, I admire them. I admire them for their ability. I admire them for their lifestyle and I admire them because they’re the embodiment of modern-day impotence. Why? Because I can’t escape that feeling of modern-day impotence myself.

I shouldn’t feel like this.

I’m 30, comfortable in my own abilities, in a healthy long-term relationship and I have a good job with excellent career prospects. But I feel empty, without purpose (the essential ingredient for impotence), prone to bouts of aimless anger and compelled to engage in empty gestures of defiance and stupidity. The highlight was being 19 and putting a shotgun in my mouth. I can’t remember if it was loaded or not and I’m not sure if I want to remember.

I’ve accepted living with these feelings, it’s OK. I just put in my ear buds crank up Minor Threat, Death and the Dead Kennedys as I walk to a dull government building and plan on how to destroy myself on the half-pipe or dream of barrels. It is also why I look to the Noah’s, Mitch’s, Dion’s, Creed’s, etc.

Those kids are useless in life like me (and I’m guessing you too, it’s probably why you may hate them). They’re pissing into the wind, they’re team average, they often don’t have nice styles and they ride strange boards. They’re imperfect.

They’re not like the Gods of the WSL. But perfection is boring. Mick surfs heats perfectly, great for winning world titles, but so boring to watch. He’s  70’s stadium rock to Noah’s punk.

Yeah, the freesurfers do contrived things, but who doesn’t?

Surfing (and I don’t care what the poet/surf scholar/ocean activist/ dolphin fuckers say) is completely contrived. The whole of human life is full of contrived rituals, if it weren’t, we’d be back on par with the animals. The fact that they are paid to be average seems obscene to you? It seems no more obscene than fat middle-aged men being called athletes and getting paid millions to walk around a golf course.

Yeah, they’re not going to change the world and they won’t be as interesting to watch as Arab kids trying to overthrow their government through revolution. Remember, though, revolution is self-defeating. It just replaces the status quo with a new status quo and you can’t keep a revolution going in perpetuity.

Slater was a one-man revolution, now he’s just staid and boring. The Brazilian storm will become a lingering warm front (boring light drizzle), and John John and Julian will become what the Cooly kids are now. Seriously, revolutions get boring.

I appreciate competitive surfing, but I want an alternative to that structured world. Dion and his gang is that alternative.

Yeah, they’re impotent modern youth, they’re not John John, they may have slightly dubious fashion tastes, they’re not going to change shit and are probably overpaid for what they do.

However, they do seem to have a lot of fun. And I want some of that cake. So fuck the WSL.

The Inertia claims victory in racist intrigue

Champagne bottles are popping in Santa Monica.

Yesterday, The Inertia contributor/poet/surf scholar/ocean activist Trey Highton began an online petition to Suspend & Fine Gabriel Medina. (Read here) Today, he claims victory. 51 people signed his appeal leading directly (apparently) to Gabs being fined an undisclosed sum by the World Surf League. The League subsequently released this statement:

“The World Surf League (WSL) Rules and Disciplinary Committee has completed its investigation into the Medina/Hall incident from the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Following conversations with both parties involved as well as reviewing broadcast footage, the Rules and Disciplinary Committee has determined that Medina was in violation of the athlete Code of Conduct and has been fined as a result.  

“Medina’s efforts following the incident to amend any public misperceptions about his and Hall’s relationship have been noted and appreciated.”

Ummmmmmmmm but is that really a victory? Was the petition to Not Suspend & Pretend to Fine Gabriel Medina? No? It wasn’t? Whatever the case, I don’t know how either The Inertia or Trey Highton could feel in any way good about taking an even pretend amount of money from a poor Brazilian man trying to scratch out a living beneath an unforgiving sun.

And, forthwith, in order to stop cynical race-baiting, BeachGrit slapped The Inertia with a heavy No Hate-Mongering in Surf Media by The Inertia petition. 50 people have also signed but victory is most assuredly not ours. Not yet. Victory will only be achieved when The Inertia takes public responsibility for its backing of hurtful language and pairing Teva sandals with oversized Banana Republic short sleeved button-ups. Sign today!


Introspection: The marine at the airport

In between sweeping up the detritus of suicide bombers, the writer ponders… 

I sit here in the airport and I’m forced to wonder if anyone here is even noticing me. I look around and I see these faces. Pretty faces, ugly faces, fat faces and thin faces, but everyone moves with a glazed-over look and you’re forced to wonder if they even have any idea what is happening around them or who the people are they are so casually dismissing with their non-caring eyes.

Through all of this you’re observing intimate moments. The father coming back from Afghanistan to his four young children, the joy so palpable, so real and so close to home that it reduces you to tears; the scorned lovers who manage to reclaim what they’ve lost for that one fleeting moment when she comes through the gate and sees the man she loved before the moment that she remembers, or maybe realises for the first time, how dead that man really is.

All of this, I sit here observing. They say we’re always in motion, always changing, always affecting everything around us. That it’s impossible to be a non-interfering observer, that the fundamental premise of science (that we can observe and learn without affecting or changing) is blatantly without merit or worth.

Yet I know that these people aren’t noticing me.

Why would they? I sit in a nondescript black chair with a nondescript laptop, a plain backpack,  generic clothing and my height is hidden by my slouch. There is nothing special here and the brains around me understand that. They absorb their surroundings, their quest for the gate, the flight, the adventure (but, more likely, the mundane business of life) and discard those things that are unimportant.

So the question is, am I truly in motion? Or is the world just moving around me? Am I affecting things or just being affected?

Then it happens… a child wanders by. A child who has not yet learned that it is not acceptable to stare. But stare this child does. A stare born of amazement with all that is occurring around them. A first trip the airport? Maybe not, but definitely the first they will remember. And what is this child, this little girl, doing? She stares at me as I stretch. Because children see all. They don’t have the fine-tuned apathy and discomfort that develops in our brains later on. They can’t control the human curiosity that should define us all. They want to see all, and know all, and hear and feel and drink and eat and learn and, though they don’t know what to call it, love all.

They want to experience everything. They have not yet been broken of that most amazing of things… the human spirit.

Then it all flows in at once. I try to be invisible again but it doesn’t work. Suddenly, I feel not just her eyes on me, but notice the quick and hurried glances of the people as they move by me, occasionally holding my return glance for a moment, as if to say, “Yes, even in this hurried modern age, we are still connected, we still belong, and we are still all human.”

And so I realize, as hard as I try to avoid it, I’m just as much in motion as those around me. I sit and I try to let my life pass me by, try to avoid making the decisions that need to be made, ignore the problems that I need to solve. All in the hopes that life will pass me by and I won’t need to make any decisions at all.

And, yet, all I really want to do is be a vulture. I want to sit here and feed off the happiness of these people, the people seeing their loved ones, the people marching towards a flight with a sense of hope and desire, a poignant sense of what is to come.

And, yet, they are all tinged with sadness. Because all of them, all of us, even me, leave a little bit behind in every airport, every plane, that they visit. I sit here still, the odours, images, tastes and sounds passing by me, and know that as much as I wish I wasn’t, and as hard as I try not be, I am indeed part of this chaotic motion, not an observer, taking a little from each experience I share, even if from a distance.

This is what it means to be human.

And it exists in every airport, in every country, in every city. And it’s fleeting, though, because it only exists in those moments.

Editor’s note: Of course, as fate would play these things, Michael Kocher is seriously ill and maybe he won’t be tap-dancing on those keys for long. Malignant tumours. He’s in chemo. If you want to help a brother out, as in America ain’t so great with picking up the tab for its dying vets, click right here. 

revealed: what gabs actually says

You've already seen the video (on Stab), now Sterling Spencer helps us understand.

World #2 Gabriel Medina explains from SterlingSpencer on Vimeo.

You’ve already seen this video on Stab, if you live in Australia or the United States, and they rushed to market because…well…obviously. But in their haste, you were tossed to the linguistic wolves! Gabriel Medina is speaking Portuguese and it is subtitled in Portuguese. Worthless! (if you live in Australia or the United States).

Thankfully, BeachGrit has Sterling Spencer. He is the number one surfer in the world and also an expert translator. Here he walks us through what Gabriel Medina is actually saying whilst shaving his supple in a language we can all understand. English.

Do you like shaving? If you were spending a night with Gabriel Medina and forced to share a bed because only one room was left in the hotel and the floor was covered with mites would you be happy that he shaves?

Exposed: Professional surfers are poor

Sports Illustrated uncovers the truth!

Sports Illustrated just did a story on how little money action sports stars make. (Read it here!) It is sad. Professional mountainbikers, for example, only make 50k to 200k a year and usually only win 25k in their competitions.

Sports Illustrated says, “The yawning pay gap between action sports athletes—and their mainstream rivals—is rarely discussed publicly. But among themselves, over beers, extreme athletes ‘talk about it all the time.’”

There are many tears in those beers.

Not as sad as professional mountainbikers, but still really sad, are professional surfers. Sports Illustrated says, “Just ask 21-year old Gabriel Medina, Brazil’s first surfing champion, who struggled for years before winning the 2014 ASP World Tour title.”

But then Sports Illustrated doesn’t ask him so I don’t know what they mean. Do they mean Gabs is Brazilian?

John John Florence makes 5 million dollars a year (number 1 on Stab’s “Rich List” in 2013) but he is poor because Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes 108 million dollars a year. Also, the PGA Tour offers a yearly purse of $314 million dollars while the World Surf League offers $5.8 million. The NFL makes 10 billion dollars a year. The WSL sometimes thinks it does too because it is bigger than the NFL (see here) but really makes negative hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Professional surfers should have maybe played golf or football instead of professional surfing.

What sport do you think professional surfers should have played? If there was a Kickstarter for professional surfers how much would you give? Can you maybe make a Kickstarter for professional surfers?