Ain't That Swell
Radio show that's so not radio but radio format! This is the t-shirt by Ozzie Wright.

Joy: The rise and rise of the (mostly) surf podcast!

Four podcasts to enliven brain and life… 

It’s funny how, now that we live in a crazy future where tech advances have created a world that was considered science fiction twenty years ago, we choose to embrace some aspects, while rejecting others in favor of the simple.

We can, literally, video chat at any time we choose with people in pretty much any part of the world.  But most prefer to send abbreviated text messages.

We carry around magical books that contain all the knowledge mankind has ever assembled, yet use them to play games and browse pornography.

Podcasts are a great example. In a time when it’s easier than ever to create astonishingly high production value videos and distribute them world wide we’re seeing a rebirth of the radio play.

I’m aware I’m a bit late to the party, but I’ve recently found a few I really enjoy. Some are surf related, some are not, but they are all, without exception, awesome pieces of entertainment to listen to at the gym, or play in the background as you clean house.

The following are my current faves, let me know if there are any I’m missing. I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands. Click on the titles (or SoundCloud button) to listen.

Down the Line Radio  

Scott Bass and David Scales put out a top notch ‘cast every two weeks focusing on the current state of the surf world. It’s good stuff, more than enough to keep me coming back for more. And they talk about BeachGrit fairly frequently, which is great, and this week they said some really nice stuff about me, which is even better. Because I love attention. I know you’re not supposed to admit that, but whatever. I’m a total fucking ham and love nothing more than being talked about.

Ain’t That Swell

Jed Smith is one of those guys I kind of want to hate. He’s got a solid writing career going, is all young and in shape and surfs better than me. And his podcast is great. Sure, sometimes I have difficulty understanding the Aussie accents, but I think that’s something wrong with my brain.

WTF with Marc Maron

Marc Maron really comes across like an asshole. In fact, that’s a common theme on his show, what a horrible prick he is. But I’m a prick too, so I can relate. Maron has an amazing assortment of guests and is one of those interviewers who is gifted when it comes to establishing a rapport and getting people to speak from the heart. Which is no easy feat.

Plus, the POTUS said “nigger” on his show.  Which is fucking crazy.

The Drunken Taoist 

I first met Daniele Bolelli nearly a decade ago, when he was one of my wife’s professors at CSULB.  They hit it off outside of class and ended up becoming good friends. Daniele is a crazy dude, a total warrior poet. He’s one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met, and he could kick your ass.

habits of world champions
Five things y'need to carry the crown: a paid BFF, a distorted view of reality, a sleight of hand, the ability to turn fours into eights and… one shaper for life.

The 5 Habits of World Champions!

You need a paid best friend! You need a distorted view of reality! And three more!

Since 2005, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning have won eight of the 10 world titles. Kelly has five; Mick has three. (Joel and Gabriel, one apiece).
Have you ever wondered what is it that separates these two men from the rest of the tour? Talent, sure, but isn’t Taj Burrow, just to pick one, as good as Kelly or Mick?
And what about Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino, Filipe Toledo and the rest? Even brave little Matt Wilkinson! Every heat is a potential final. To continually steamroll the pack, to win multiple contests and multiple world titles means there’s something else at play.
And they are:
1. A paid BFF
Kelly has Stephen Bell aka Belly. Mick has Phil McNamara. Australia-born Belly is one of the surf pioneers of Hossegor alongside Maurice Cole, Robbie Page and Tom Curren. He arrived in France in the eighties, didn’t know a word of French, but built a life, and started a glassing factory that finished Quiksilver’s boards. And so he came to know Kelly. And they liked each other. Belly is a straight-talker and he knows boards. Kelly isn’t after a party buddy. He wants knowledge. He’s got it. Phil McNamara, meanwhile, is there to make sure Mick covers the basics, to keep his body in tune and limber enough for continual high-torque turns, to push visualisation techniques and, like Belly, just to be there.
2. A distorted view of reality
How bad do you want to win a world title? Like, really. Are you ready to sacrifice everything for the chance that, maybe, you might win a cup made in a small workshop in South Australia and worth about a grand? And by everything, that includes the parties, the pals, the comfort food, all those everyday things that make your life what it is. Anything that takes your gaze off the finish line has to be taken out of your life. And if a friend gets in your way, you have to crush him without regret. Think Kelly versus Rob Machado in 1995; Mick and Joel in 2011. It ain’t fun and that’s why Kelly and Mick own the world title.
3. A sleight of hand
It’s a subtle theatre. It’s only claiming those scores that fall on the borderline (think: Kelly’s first wave in his semi against John John in Tahiti last year). It’s maintaining a studied dignity when politely criticising judging decisions. It’s being available for post-heat interviews even when you lose. It’s the clever use of criticism of your competitors wrapped up in praise. It’s getting inside a potential rival’s head with outrageous compliments (that you don’t believe).
4. The ability to find a perfect score where none exists
Think Mick at Pipe in 2013. Did he conjure that last-minute, world-title winning wave out of the depths? How? And Kelly, every heat against Taj Burrow. Sure, they might be flat-spin airs, but last second, and totally rotated, and judges have no choice.
5. One shaper for life. 
Mick has Darren Handley; Kelly has Channel Islands. Gabriel Medina? Johnny Cabianca since 2008.

Hate Preacher of Hilo, Hawaii
For the last five years Lincoln Park, in Hilo, has been forced to deal with a nightmare transplant of the delusionally hateful god-shouter set. James Borden, a Massachusetts native, has taken it upon himself to follow in the footsteps of his haole forerunners and use the location as a sounding board for his unique brand of hateful nonsensicality.

Delusional: Meet Hawaii’s hateful god-shouter!

Free speech is a helluva thing… 

Much like Oregon, Hawaii attracts a lot of people running from their problems.  Never mind the fact that their underlying struggles are typically self inflicted and will follow them to the ends of the Earth, this little far flung archipelago presents a tempting fantasy of warm tropical days unburdened by past or proclivity. Reality is, of course, different, but that’s a fact that’s hard to appreciate until you’re staring down the barrel of our insane cost of living, lack of affordable housing, and laughably low wages.

And so a steady stream of mainland origin flights spew forth their daily assault of stinking filthy, dirty, hippy fools, nothing to lose junkie scumbags, gutter punk status dropouts, kid diddler ex-cons, and wild-eyed Jesus freaks.

Most will try and fail, others will end up dead by overdose or misadventure, but the very worst will find a toe hold and set roots like a pestilent haole weed.

For the last five years Lincoln Park, in Hilo, has been forced to deal with a nightmare transplant of the delusionally hateful god-shouter set.

James Borden, a 64-year-old Massachusetts native, has taken it upon himself to follow in the footsteps of his haole forerunners and use the location as a sounding board for his unique brand of hateful nonsensicality.

His church, the Yaweh Lincoln Park Ministry, which consists of a pickup truck with large signs affixed to the tailgate, has enlightened the local community with many bits of his home brewed wisdom over the last few years, such as “Homos using children to promote queer lifestyle” and  “Muslim Obama’s Islam go back to Saudi Arabiai [sic].”

Borden has been largely tolerated or ignored by the local community, wisely so, as it’s important to let the dumbest shout their stupid opinions so you can properly vet your own, lest you find yourself in agreement.

“You know, I always thought Borden was a moron, but his recent message about the president being a secret lizard sodomite from Kenya who smokes cigarettes and is in league with the Jew cabal living at the center of the Earth really struck a chord with me…”  Oops, time to reevaluate some stuff.

However, his latest sign has struck a nerve, featuring large depiction of what is purportedly an aborted fetus. It’s gross, everyone is really bummed out, and they’ve decided enough is enough.

Armed with signs bearing positive messages like “Live Aloha, “Honk if you love Obama,” and “A’ole racism” they’ve begun a counter protest hoping to… well, I don’t know what they really hope to accomplish.

Beyond the indisputable legality of his actions Borden actually has supporters, like mental giant, George Krail (click here):

“My wife was here earlier, and her and I were healed of the two abortions we had,” Krail said. “We were for abortion, we came to Christ, and somebody like Jim (Borden), showing us the picture of the baby, we were like my gosh, that’s what we did. That’s the reality of what we did, and that’s what turned us around.” 

And so continues another example of America’s proud tradition of religious zealots using notions of liberty in their quest to deny rights to other people who aren’t hurting anyone.

Fortunately for us, the zeitgeist is currently skewing agnostic.

Finally, Big Island is a crazy place with its own notions of frontier justice.

I will not be surprised if Borden’s corpse finds itself stuffed into a lava tube on undeveloped land in the very near future.

Julian Wilson Reunion island
Reunion Island or île de la Réunion is that sexy lil hunk of volcanic rock just east of Madagascar and south-west of Mauritius. Best uncrowded waves in the world, too, 'cause of a bull shark infestation. Jeremy Flores went there for a two-week vacation last year and didn't wet a board. The photo here is of Julian Wilson during filming for Jordy Smith's Bending Colours in 2012. | Photo: Ryan MIller

Discovered: perfect uncrowded waves!

There's just one catch. And it's a doozy… 

Everywhere’s crowded. It ain’t even a joke. You’ll fly across the globe for 20 hours, jump a domestic flight and then an overnight boat charter and you’ll wake up to the fabled perfect waves you’ve seen in surf mags… with thirty surfers.
Who needs it!
So what if I told you there was a gorgeous tropical island, so perfect there in the southern Indian, near Mauritius, near Madagascar, that hosted dozens of empty waves. Dozens. I so don’t shit you!
If you were there today, for instance, you’d ride a perfect lefthand reef, empty, a wave that lights up through July and August by those southern-hemi winter south swells.
Where is this paradise? Okay, here’s the rub. Reunion Island. More attacks than Western Australia, Byron Bay and South Africa. Home to an infestation of rabid bull sharks, pugnacious thugs unlike any other shark in the ocean. Quick to attack, slow to let go.
In April, one of the island’s best young surfers, 13-year-old Elio Canestri was hit. Killed in front of his seven friends. Fourteen attacks, seven fatals, in the last few years. Tourism, surfing, is dead on Reunion.
But it wasn’t always this way.
For a time there in the nineties Reunion was the most exotic stop on the world tour. Difficult to access, usually via Jo-berg in South African, which was already 20-plus hours from anywhere, and being an overseas department of France meant it had a demographic that was part French and part Creole (quick lesson! Creole is the name given to anyone born on the island whatever their ethnicity, but this could be anything from Chinese to Malagasy to African and Indian).
Reunion isn’t a world different to Tahiti, mountainous, blue-water reef passes and bound up with all the good French bits (food culture, education, language) without any of the stiff French formality.
Anyway, so the tour came and went, but what didn’t change was how rad this volcanic jewel is. Waves? You’ve got ’em everywhere. Kai Neville’s 2009 movie The Modern Collective showed that it was more than just St Leu; that a short drive south you could be jumping off the biggest ramps anyone had ever seen – and no one out.
Yeah, it always had a rep for sharks. It’s the Indian Ocean. It’s tropical. Like  Madagascar. Like Mauritius. Attacks happened but they were predictable. Surfers were smart enough to avoid the east coast, to avoid surfing after rains that muddied the water and by staying out of the drink at dawn and dusk. An attack here and there, but years apart, and only occasionally fatal.
But in 2007, a 19km stretch of marine reserve was created on the west coast. Nothing could be touched, shark, coral, whatever. Shark attacks spiked. And all either in or close by the new marine reserve.
Surfers are leaving the island en masse, to mainland France, to wherever, to anywhere. The number of regular surfers and bodyboarders on Reunion has dropped from over 5000 to around 60. There use to be 13 surf schools on the island. Now there’s three. One surf shop that’d sell bodyboards in the hundreds in a season has sold three in a year.
And you know what that means? Uncrowded lineups! Perfect tropical waves where you’ll beg for another person to surf with. An old gem becomes a New Classic!
Sure, the sharks are there, but isn’t there an inherent risk every time we dive into the ocean?
Anyway, if it freaks you out too much surf on Wednesday and Saturday. Vigie requin (government employed free divers with spears) patrol popular surf spots. If a shark is spotted whistles are blown and the water cleared. The vigie requin are even trained to deal with trauma. ie. sudden amputations.
Win, win…

Rob (holding trophy)
Rob (holding trophy)

I saw Rob Machado at the grocery store yesterday

He was buying one bottle of teriyaki sauce.

He stood behind me in line with his one bottle of teriyaki sauce. I was buying lots more than that but I can’t remember what and can’t remember why I didn’t let Rob cut in front of me. I didn’t bring a bag so I had to buy one for five cents. Rob didn’t need a bag because he was buying one bottle of teriyaki sauce. We talked about the famous snowboarder Nicolas Muller and about BBQing. It was nice.

Do you think Rob Machado is one of the greatest surfers ever? He is getting kind of old now even though his hair is still impossibly full. But it has grey in it.