How I sometimes wish I was born in 1995 and on gorgeous Copacabana.
Yesterday’s discussion of Filipe Toledo’s brave cowardice opened my social accounts’ floodgates. Brazilians unfollowing in droves! Angry messages in the inbox!
And oh how the jealousy burns in my heart. As a middle-aged American, you see, it is very difficult to get excited about other American’s accomplishments. I grew, unfortunately, in the 1980s-1990s and it was uncool to show any sort of patriotic love for country. It was very cool to be ironic and slacky and shoe-gazey.
And oh how I’ve been robbed because I watch young Brazilians defend Filipe Toledo on the merits of him being a Brazilian and how fun does it look? Like a wonderful extra pastime. Like pure heaven.
Of course, it is thinly veiled racism to say Brazilians are “passionate” or “fiery” and that is not what I am saying. I am saying I’m jealous of the ones who have unfollowed, the ones who post screeds on message boards, who dance in their hearts when Adriano de Souza wins and cry in their caipirinhas when Gabs Medina loses because it looks a lot funner than gazing at my shoes.
Is not taking off on a wave in a WSL heat, in front of the world, the bravest thing ever?
Filipe Toledo put on a stunning display of cowardice in his heat 5 round 1 battle vs. I. Ferreira. His score total (0) matched his moxie and wow! The lowest point total in professional surfing history.
As the Brazilian bobbed in the water, not surfing, he surely must have known the haters were boiling in their tanks but he chose to bob, lonely against the steel grey sky, and brave.
Yes, brave because I would, and will, argue that it is sometimes more difficult to not get smashed in order to prove a larger point, thereby getting smashed by public opinion.
But wait. Is Filipe somehow bigger than that?
WILL he get smashed by public opinion. Hello, surf historian Matt Warshaw, curator of the Encyclopedia of Surfing (click here)!
Charlie: Is Filipe going to get smashed by public opinion after Teahupoo?
Matt: He is.
Charlie: Fair? Or not fair?
Matt: Depends on how Filipe plays it. He needs to humble this one out, big-time. Fail-wise, it was just beyond epic. And so very public. And after what Sally Fitz did at Cloudbreak, and with Flores surfing with a brain injury or whatever, you can’t play the injury card. I mean, Filipe’s deal is un-spinnable. He isn’t ready for prime time at Teahupoo. Or Cloudbreak. Or even J-Bay. I’m his biggest north-of-50 fan, and I feel sort of crushed by what I saw. All Filipe can do now is come out and say that he’s got a mile of hard work to do in the premier WCT breaks. And meanwhile, like Sean Doherty said yesterday (read here), if he does go on and win the world title, which is totally possible, it’s gonna come with an asterisk.
Charlie: But what if Filipe got really brave, steeled his backbone and said, “Guess what bitches? I love to surf head-high, puntable waves. It’s who I am, yo! And I’m going to win a title surfing only Gold Coast, Rio, Trestles and the rest if they small enough. Booya!” What if he admitted, to the entire world, that he ain’t brave. Wouldn’t that be brave?
Matt: Damien Hardman won two world titles that way, except he didn’t say anything. Gary Green didn’t paddle out for his heat at Waimea one year, I think it was the ’86 Billabong Pro, when it was huge, and if he didn’t own if with total gusto, he shrugged and said “I’m a smoker, never done a day of exercise in my life, never surfed this horrifying place, so fuck it.” Then again, Green quit the tour the following year, so maybe he wasn’t feeling so casual. Even if Filipe has the game to say he’s a small-wave specialist, God he’d just get so smashed in the media. And I think he really does want to be magical in heavy surf, like he is in small surf. He must just be choking on frustration right now. He’d never say it, but you know what makes it way harder for him I bet?
Matt: Italo, exactly. Rookie paddles out there and keeps up with every big-swinging dick on the lineup. Italo could have won the thing! First time at Teahupoo!
Charlie: Brazil-bashing isn’t so vogue this year.
Matt: Italo! Anyone who tuned this week and didn’t fall in love with guy is heartless.
Charlie: I’m heartless! Theoretically, I liked that Italo tried his best but, in real life, trying one’s best does nothing for me. For example. I was in Tahiti last year, in a boat, in the channel, obvs, because it was pumping. Mikey Wright, Owen’s brother was doing magical things but poor young Kanoa Igarashi was there and looking completely terrified. But nobody made him be there. He clearly did not like that vibe and good for him! Get back on the boat and pop a Hinano, or whatever it is young boys are drinking these days. Own the gutless or paddle the fuck in. I have done both in my life and both are wonderful in their own ways.
If you are telling me that Filipe really wants to surf those waves then why did he not surf those waves? Nobody in the line-up? Manageable size? He don’t! He wants to punt and dance!
Matt: But Filipe could kick it up. People find that gear later on. Potter didn’t like big waves as a kid, then later he did. Fanning couldn’t surf Teahupoo early on, now he can. Who knows. Could just my own wishful thinking with Filipe…
Charlie: And give me other examples guys who don’t want it? Because you just made Gary Green my fav surfer ever.
Matt: Dora said he was a “four-foot-and-under man” and gave loving long descriptions of how scared he was on the North Shore. Except then he flipped the thing on its head, because he actually charged Pipe and Waimea. Kylie Webb, you’d love her! Gorgeous blonde, and drank herself off the tour in the ’90s. But before that happened, she paddled out for a heat at Sunset, in big waves, pulled a Filipe and got a zero, then threw her 17th-place prize money check back at the contest director in disgust and said “I don’t deserve this. Buy the judges some beer.”
Watch Filipe’s zero-point heat here!
And remember when the Margaret River Pro moved to the Box? Gabriel Medina, I’m told, had to be coaxed into the lineup with the words, “You’re the world champ! You have to surf!”
There is a place nearby and you can do it in a few hours!
The crowds at most popular and accessible American, Mexican, Australian and Brazilian beaches grow thicker with each passing year, or so it seems. Longboards, hybrids, even the dreaded SUP compete for a static number of waves and sharks are not eating enough people to make a real difference.
Are you frustrated by this overcrowding? This human invasion? Do you not have the money to fly across the world and sort out a place where they ain’t? Well, it is really no problem and the solution is right under your nose. It’s called “night surfing.”
I stayed out long after sunset recently. The moon wasn’t full but it was there and my eyes adjusted to the scene quite easily. It wasn’t pumping, necessarily, but fun 3-4 ft and I was alone in Southern California. Alone. The waves were a bit hard to judge at first, but my body eventually adjusted like my eyes.
To be very honest, I am not surfing in a wildly progressive manner. What do I need clear light for? And, to continue being very honest, you are not surfing in a wildly progressive manner either. We less than progressives now have 12ish whole hours to ply our trade all alone.
Very seriously, you should go night surfing tonight and then you should come here tomorrow and tell everyone how much you loved it!
Who proves, conclusively, to be the most dazzling interview in surfing…
…wait! I made this particular phone call a couple of years back and it fuelled about six interviews, for Stab, for BeachGrit and I even cut off a slice here and there for a profile on him in the new Surfers Journal. (A very small taste here)
But, considering how rare it is to get an unedited piece of a noted surfer’s world, as in a phone call from dial tone to hang-up, I figure it’s worth posting this thirty-minute conversation.
For me, it’s difficult to listen to my shrieking and fawning and weird non-question questions without questioning my sanity for opening my poor interview techniques to the whole world.
Mason, of course, is gracious. You can almost hear his brain spinning as he tries to decode whatever it is the hell I asked.
For the Journal interview I did, I spoke to his shaper Matt Biolos about Mason. He said,
“Mason Ho is the saviour of the fucking corporate straight-laced, uptight, fucking, pre-planned interview answer surfing world we live in today. He’s everything that people think surfing is and should be when you think of all the beautiful stereotypes, like the fucking Beach Boys to fricken Sean Penn to Big Wednesday. Mason is fucking incredibly fun to watch surf two-foot junk to 12-foot Pipeline. He’s what everyone’s selling without trying. He’s the most real guy out there. We’re fortunate to have him in our lives.”
It embraces progression, creates better art and doesn't give a fuck about contests…
It’s kind of shameful to admit, but I pretty much quit skating when I moved to Hawaii. It’s just too damn hot all the time, and the constant series of rolled ankles and sprained/broken wrists that are my skateboarding reality made it almost impossible to surf. I’ve never been a very good skater, I fall down a lot.
But, prior to moving out here, I lived and breathed skating for almost a decade. I was writing for Automatic Magazine, a sick little indy rag out of Encinitas which was the only place that would publish my garbage.
While I still surfed whenever it looked fun, I wasn’t very interested in surf culture. Because, by and large, “surf culture” is boring. It’s too polished, too concerned with being marketable, too tied up in contest results, forever striving to find a way to sell itself to the unhip.
And you can’t call bullshit in the surf world without people taking it personally and getting their panties in a twist.
Other than the whole slamming-face-first-onto-concrete side of the sport, skating is pretty much better than surfing in every way. It embraces progression, no bullshit airs-aren’t-real-surfing type arguments that hold back progression for years and years.
It creates far better art, and thank god for that because I could go the rest of my life without seeing another painting of a fucking wave, turtle, palm tree, or some combination of the three.
It doesn’t give a fuck who won the latest contest.
And it’s friendlier.
As hard as people try to sell the notion that surfers are just one tribe, we all pretty much hate each other. But skating is welcoming, at least, it is if you stick around beyond your teenage, heckle everyone for everything, years.
Surfing will land you a better looking class of woman though. Being tanned and muscular does that. But the type of girl who’s into guys that spend all day falling in the gutter is generally a lot more fun to be around. They’ll do dirtier stuff in the sack as well.
Even though my current skateboard adventures consist almost solely of pushing around in the street in front of my house and trying to remember how to do frontside no-complys, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the the fun you can have zipping around the streets on a little wheeled plank.
And I’ll keep watching skate videos when I’m trying to find a little bit of pre-surf-session stoke.
Chet Childress and Jason Adams. Black Out.
I once saw Ol’ Dirty Crooks himself strolling through the Honolulu airport while I was waiting to pick up a friend. Without thinking I yelled, “Childress!” then realized that I’m way too old to be playing fan boy, and pretended it wasn’t me. He looked around for a second, then cruised on to wherever he was headed.I then realized that yelling his name and hiding is way more lame than yelling his name and fanning out.
Mark Gonzalez. Video Days.
The fucking Gonz, man. Was any other skateboarder ever as gifted when it came to filming fun, shralp your way down the street, parts? His art kills it, his poems… I don’t really get poetry so I’ll pass on passing judgment. Mark Gonzales built a life around being weird and creative and making life look so damn fun.
Louie Barletta. Man Down.
Following the Gonz in making it all look so damn fun, Barletta is one of those guys I still look up every so often to see if there’s any new footage floating around.
Natas Kaupas. Streets of Fire.
I’ve still got scars in my shins from trying those damn fire hydrant spins.
Tony Trujillo. In Bloom.
Something worrisome happened the other day while I was surfing super fun, super shallow, head-high semi-closed out sandbar barrels down the street from my house. I dodged a slightly overhead set because I was scared, then watched the thing suck dry and grind all the way to the beach. Fucking pathetic.
Trying to wrap my head around committing and taking my beatings has been slow coming over my last few paddle outs. The idea that I might get bounced off the bottom and re-ruin my shoulder makes my balls crawl up inside me and my hands shake. And that ain’t good. Winter’s just around the corner and I really don’t want to be that guy who’s always driving around looking for a sheltered spot to puss away the day.
TNT’s old TWS part always did a good job of amping me up, and it turns out it still does. Trujillo’s got a sick surfy style, goes balls to the walls fast, and makes me want to do the same.