Greg Long on National Geographic Live
National Geographic live featuring Greg Long, big waver.

Inspiration: Big-Waver Greg Long Talks Fear

Everything you wanted to know about staring fear in the eyeballs and… stabbing it!

False evidence appearing real. What an empty fucking platitude. Sure, it applies to your mundane social construct terrors; like public speaking, or dancing, or just dealing with strangers who are interested in your whole trip, but falling apart over that type of shit is more manifestation of cowardice than healthy instinct for self preservation.

Maybe I just don’t get it, though. Hand me a mic and I’ll happily yammer at a room full of strangers for hours. I don’t care if people are interested in what I’m saying, just look at me. Look at me! Watch me dance! Pay attention to me!

But real fear is out there. Putting your body on the line, confronting your mortality, driving on the 405 freeway after the better part of a decade in Hawaii. Scary shit, all of it.

Because of the whole surf writer thing, and because I live where I do, I’ve been tapped a fair amount of times to interview big wave surfers. Lots of ego going on there, though understandable, and forgivable, given what they do for work.

You’ve gotta have a relatively high opinion of yourself to hurl your body over a fifty-foot ledge on a regular basis. That thin line between self confidence and arrogance is defined by doing. We all love to hate on Laird, but I can’t think of a single time his mouth wrote a check that his ass didn’t cash.

They all talk about their fear. It sells well, it humanizes, it plays with humility. But I’ve never believed it to be true.

Fear’s a sliding scale, and if you’re doing things right it’s different day to day. As an eight-year-old confronting chest high shore pound my knees were weak. As a grown man with decades of experience it ain’t nothing no more.

I was a fearful child, and remained so into early adulthood. What might happen, what could be, was an ever lurking horror beneath my bed. Consequences, failures, humiliation; bugaboos so abhorrent they’d freeze me in my tracks.

I found a switch, it turns emotion into emptiness. We all have it, it’s just a matter of learning where it lies and how it flips.

It’s not that you don’t feel fear, it’s that you don’t feel anything. In that moment your mind is blessedly free. In a heartbeat you attain an emptiness that the unenlightened achieve by decades of chanting into a void.

You may end up broken, or beaten, or spend years analyzing a failed moment that is the culmination of years of preparation. But that really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that split second when your every instinct screamed, “STOP!” but you went anyway.

Consequences don’t matter, only doing does.

We’re all gonna die, better by misadventure than shortened telomeres.

Methodical: Day Two, J-Bay Open 2015

Prestigious event survives the peculiar pain of round two… 

If you thought the first round of a CT event was a long-haul, the loser round, round two, is worse. All those wildcards chosen to placate locals, all those borderline pro surfers on the slow road to oblivion. The horror of the scene, which soaks up half a day, is made vaguely interesting by those surfers for whom round two is a rarity. It’s like stabbing a bound, defenceless man for no reason at all and then sitting, watching him die, with a dull, meaningless stare.

But something happened last night. The waves switched on a little and the surfing was imperious!

Let’s examine the heat between the Australian Kai Otton and the Brazilian Jadson Andre. Neither surfer would have fans of the sport jamming the turnstiles to watch a heat tween the two and yet, in four-foot runners, not one inch of wave was wasted. As the camera focussed on Otto after a wave he clearly deemed to be better than nine, and mistakenly thinking he’d scored an 8.33, his eyes blazed, his fur twitched and…screw everyone! … he pounded the water. His personal tragedy turned melodious when a 9.33 dropped. What a frightful difference a point makes.

The 2012 world champion Joel Parkinson got pushed up and down hill by the New Zealand rookie Ricardo Christie, both surfers presenting a very uncomplicated approach to J-Bay.

Alejo Muniz beat Taj Burrow and later said he’d been watching and admiring Taj since he was a “little kid”. Alejo is 25 years old; Taj is nearly 40.

Gabriel Medina won a heat! Against Glen Hall!

Jordy Smith uttered a little moan, as if the air was being squeezed out of a little pin-hole, when he lost to Adam Melling with only one scoring wave.

And Filipe! Mercifully, we didn’t lose Filipe! His wrought-up nerves, his slim hunched up shoulders, his humming gouges, slid him past the South African wildcard Michael February.

Let’s sees what unfurls tonight! I look forward to Kelly v Kolohe and Adriano v Dane.

J-Bay Open Round 2 Results:Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.33 def. Slade Prestwich (ZAF) 13.04

Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.00 def. Michael February (ZAF) 8.00

Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.17 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 13.77

Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 18.13 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.83

Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) 17.10 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 12.10

Heat 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.96 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 15.16

Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.00 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 10.44

Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.84 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 18.13

Heat 9: Adam Melling (AUS) 14.90 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.03

Heat 10: Kai Otton (AUS) 18.10 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 17.07

Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 17.77 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.23

Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.80 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.93


J-Bay Open Round 3 Results:

Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.50 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 15.40

Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.50 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.83

Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.94 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 8.40

Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) 16.87 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 8.03


J-Bay Open Round 3 Upcoming Match-Ups:

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)

Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)

Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)

Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)

Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)

Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)

Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)

Heat 12: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)

Just in: Huntington Beach gets worse!

In a move previously deemed impossible, Surf City becomes less attractive.

Huntington Beach, home to rohypnol, Donkey Punch and Travis Ferre is now home to “an aggressive seven foot Great White shark.” Who knew “Surf City” could get worse!

Last week, ISIS targeted the famed 4th of July parade. “The Intel is they are going to kill mass people and then target the fire, police and military that respond…” Huntington Beach’s fire chief allegedly texted his son (read here!)

This week, the marine patrol closed the water for the first time in city history after an aggressive shark bumped a surfer. It was hot and people from inland Chino and Riverside wept openly when told they could not wet their skins and calf length boardshorts.

Lt. Claude Panis told the Los Angeles Times, “The ocean is like a big wilderness. There are many sharks out there.”

Stanford University, though, just released a study that said shark attacks in California are down 91% since 1950. Lt. Claude Panis maybe told the Los Angeles Times, “They have all gone to Australia. Australian flesh tastes like avocado toast drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. California flesh tastes like cold McDonland’s french fries. Huntington Beach flesh? Oh. You really don’t want to know.”

Veronica-Pooh Nash Poleate
“The shark has the right to eat you up when you get in his house. Use some common sense if you are going to the beach. You watch the ocean from a distance.” Who knew it was so easy!

Proof: Why the Pro-Shark Argument Sucks

Don't wanna die in the mouth of a shark? Stay out of the ocean! Who knew!

There’s one of those viral video clips doing the rounds at the moment. After the half-a-doz recent shark attacks in North Carolina, Tennessee gal Veronica-Pooh Nash Poleate (yeah, welcome to the south) filmed herself delivering an in-car sermon about dey fools who swim in the ocean.

“I’m on my way to church this morning, but I wanted to make a quick video because my spirit was troubled this morning. I had the news on and it was talking about somebody else done got ate up by a shark…

“The shark has the right to eat you up when you get in his house. Use some common sense if you are going to the beach. Go to the… beach. You watch the ocean from a distance.”

Twelve-and-a-half million views plus however many million hit it from here.

Every major news organisation from New York to London bit. Without exception, it lauded her “logical” and “epic” advice.

And that’s the thing with the pro-shark argument. Don’t wanna die? Stay out of the ocean. Simple. The world carved into black and white.

I don’t want to die in a twisted car wreck either but I’m not going to recoil at getting behind the wheel. Plummeting to the earth in an Airbus with all engines flamed-out don’t excite me too much either, but I’m still going to fly.

What usually follows the argument are the stats for getting hit by a shark. But take away the 95% of the world’s population who don’t go in the ocean, but who are included in the calculations for shark attack, take away another four per cent who don’t go past their knees, add the fact that you surf every day somewhere where there’s been a cluster of attacks and the odds shorten dramatically.

What this kinda homespun “common sense” also misses is, there’s a world of grey out there. What if you’re not for the destruction of sharks but you’ve got a few questions to ask before you hang up your sled?

As in, what if there is a sudden imbalance in the ocean?

Ask the surfers of Reunion Island, who lived with the occasional shark attack without complaint, but when a marine reserve made it a haven for bull sharks, surfers started dying en masse, kids included. Jeremy Flores went there for two weeks last year and didn’t surf once, even when the surf was pumping.

What about Byron Bay? A fatal every decade or so, now one every few months. And not the usual bull sharks and bronze whalers hanging around rivermouths but the mighty great white.

What about Western Australia? Quiet, now, but how long before a white surfaces with a lid or six-two in its mouth?

A year or so ago, I spoke to a shark fisherman from SA who said he and the other 50 or so shark fishermen there used to take a couple of hundred whites every year. He told me to do the sums since they were protected in 1999.

“Imagine, 200 times 50 times 15 years,” he said.

That’s a lot of White.

Rockaway Taco
The cutest taco stand in the whole world (now closed), Rockaway Taco, NYC.

It’s Sunday! Make Salsa!

Five bucks for a few ounces of salsa? Fuck that noise. I'm gonna make this shit myself from now on.

There are nine Mexican restaurants (at least, I may be missing one or two) in Kapa’a, the tiny little Kauai town I call home. It’s an absurd amount for our population, but they all manage to do a steady business, no doubt bolstered by the withdrawals felt by all us SoCal haole transplants. Nearly eight years in Hawaii and I still feel the itch.

Quality-wise, they run the gamut from merely mediocre, to outright fucking terrible. Which is ridiculous, Mexican food is among the easiest to make on Earth. Just burn some flank steak, chop it up and plop it on a tortilla, and drown that shit in some good salsa. It’s not brain surgery.

I found myself enraged beyond reason recently when I asked for more salsa to go with my twelve dollar unseasoned chicken and canned bean on store bought tortilla burrito, only to be informed it would be an additional five dollars.

Five bucks for a few ounces of salsa?

Fuck that noise. I’m done, I’m just gonna make this shit myself from now on.

With a little effort I’ve managed to dial in my salsa recipe. It’s fucking good. Really, really good. The best salsa you’ve ever tasted.

I’ve started making it in a big batch every few weeks, pouring it into mason jars, and actually enjoying good Mexi food on the regular. It’s surprisingly expensive, but only because I live where I do, and insist on only using the best locally grown ingredients.

Which, honestly, doesn’t really make that big of a difference. But it’s more fun.

“This salsa was prepared with only the finest local heirloom tomatoes and freshly harvested sweet onions.” Pointless but fancy.

2 x Large tomatoes, chopped (Like I said, I pick out the fanciest tomatoes on offer, but you can substitute cheap stuff without really noticing a difference. Pick ones that are slightly under ripe, they’ll be easier to work with.)

2 x 14.5 oz cans of plain diced tomatoes with no seasonings (Get the cheapest shit you can find. They’re all the same.)

4 x 6 Jalapeños, seeds and all  (cut off the stems, obviously)

2 x Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 x Tablespoon Cumin  (This is key!)

5 x Garlic Cloves, minced

1 x large sweet onion

2 x Tablespoons salt  (more or less, your choice. I use our fancy pants Hawaiian Alaea sea salt, finely crushed, but Morton’s works fine)

1 x Tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/2 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Blend until smooth.

If you over blend it may get a bit whipped and foamy, just pour it into your mason jars and let it settle for a while.

Now pour it over everything.