My Balls are Killing Me!

Do yours? If so, I might have a cure!

The trade winds are howling, a mixed blessing if there ever was one. The ocean is ripped to shreds, no diving, kind of okay storm surf, albeit bumpy and swirly and a whole lot of effort compared to the reward.

But the temp has dropped what feels like thirty degrees, a blessed relief after months of no wind, absurd humidity, and record high temperatures.

Which was torture, I spent the majority of our heat wave on the injury list, a gross as hell catheter running from the crook of my elbow into my heart, dumping in lifesaving meds but preventing me from ever cooling down. Even a cold shower doesn’t do much when you’re wearing a shoulder length plastic glove that looks like it was stolen from the set of some terrible horse vet themed porno flick. When the doc finally yanked my catheter it looked like a magic trick, he kept pulling and pulling, it kept on coming.

“That’s the longest thing that’s ever been inside me,” I said.

“That’s probably a good thing,” was my doc’s reply.

I guess it really depends which way you swing, huh?

It turns out that a common side effect of Vancomycin, the goop I was twice daily pumping into my bloodstream via a clever spring loaded medical device, is a weakened immune system. Towards the end of treatment my white blood cell count was hovering in the end stage chemotherapy range, forcing me to limit my already infrequent contact with fellow humans, so as to avoid picking up a terrible bug from some typhoid Mary hacking his guts out while he makes a sandwich because he doesn’t get sick days without a doctor’s note.

I once sneaked into my manager’s office while being forced to work with the flu and spit on her phone, door knob, and into an open can of soda. She was out sick for three days while I robbed the place blind. Ha! Showed her.


How fucked is that, by the way?  I’ve had numerous employers (and I mean numerous, I’ve been fired from dozens of jobs) refuse sick leave without paying a doctor to write me a note. Which I couldn’t afford, so I’d head to work and wring a little joy from spreading my disease.

I once sneaked into my manager’s office while being forced to work with the flu and spit on her phone, door knob, and into an open can of soda. She was out sick for three days while I robbed the place blind. Ha! Showed her.

The upshot of my sickly status, combined with weeks of sweating like a tweaker at a rave while never being able to get truly clean, was that I picked up a nasty case of jock itch, something I’d never experienced.

And, inshallah, never will again. One minute I was pouring sweat from my pores into my filthy couch, the next my balls and taint were itchy burning like I’d tea-bagged an anthill. Fucking miserable.

Over the counter remedies didn’t work, a trip to the doctor led to a humiliating conversation.

“Have you been showering? Jock itch is usually caused by poor hygiene.”

“Dude, my dick is the cleanest part of my body. I’ve been spit polishing the thing a couple times a day since I was eleven years old.”

Pissing on your own testicles is more difficult than you’d think. Twisting your dick around, cupping your taint to make sure urine gets spread everywhere, your wife joining you in the shower and asking why it smells.

A little internet digging turned up the fact that jock itch is basically athlete’s foot, something with which I’m familiar. I spent my younger years playing waterpolo and swimming competitively, your feet never truly dry, athlete’s foot is a constant problem. Unless you pee on your feet every morning, that does a great job of preventing it.

Pissing on your own testicles is more difficult than you’d think. Twisting your dick around, cupping your taint to make sure urine gets spread everywhere, your wife joining you in the shower and asking why it smells.

“Because I just peed all over my balls, dear.”

In a few days my own home spun treatment achieved what weeks of powders and sprays could not, and I was good to go. Free to start banging my wife again too, since jock itch is mildly contagious and it wasn’t fair to share the wealth.

But now the trades are back, everything is cool, and, I’ll hopefully never again experience that awful chafing itching burning hell that was my life.

Unfortunately, the return of the trades has also caused the cancellation of the Na Wahine O Ke Kai, the all female Molokai to Oahu outrigger canoe race in which my awesome waterwoman stepmother had planned to once again compete.

Real bummer, tons of ladies from around the world are on Molokai, now forced to find alternate routes to Oahu, being extorted by Hawaiian Airlines for last-minute, inter-island flights.

And now, to add insult to injury, on top of wasted money and huge logistical hassles and the emotional dump which comes with prepping hard for a challenge only to have the rugged yanked out from you last minute, they’ve gotta deal with me segueing into the news of the cancellation via a story about my itchy balls.

If Pangloss is right, and this is the best of all possible worlds, well, that’s pretty well fucked, isn’t it?

Hiroto Arai from Japan.
This is Hiroto Arai, from Japan. "Surfing is my discipline!" he says. | Photo: Red Bull

Movie: Red Bull Unleashed (Full-Edit)

New cut of wavepool event paints slightly more impressive picture…

When Albee Layer won the Red Bull wavepool event in Wales a week ago, the press was thrown a short edit of the event.

(Watch here!)

The 56-second cut didn’t do the contest any favours. A carnival of B-grade jibbers transposed to the cold river water of a tank in the unchanging hills of the Conwy Valley in North Wales. And it was responsible, I’m sure, for the blizzard of criticism that followed.

Was it really like a “bad one-star QS?” (Read here.) 

This three-and-a-half-minute edit is better and, sure, it ain’t Tahiti and never will be, but it holds the imagination a little more, shows the stir and colour of a contest that looked like it boiled with fun.

Brent Symes attacked
Should the WSL adopt the Filipino example and apply capital punishment to surfers who are slow to exit a contest area?

Big-Wave Surfer Attacked at Cloud 9 event!

Locals with bats want blood at Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup…

Brent Symes is a 36-year-old Australian who is kinky, in a very large way, for big waves. Wants to be invited onto the WSL big-wave tour.

Puerto is his go-to joint and, this year, he flew into the Billabong XXL Awards running with a no-hands tub. Watch here.

Brent likes the regular WQS, too, just ’cause it keeps his name out there. Which is why he was at the Siargao Cloud Nine Surfing Cup, a QS1500 $US50,000 event last week.

But his trip to this isolated, and usually flat island (I went there in the nineties and there hadn’t been a wave over two feet for three months), was spectacularly abbreviated when he was attacked by four locals with various third world weapons in the shorebreak during the final of the locals trials event.

Or, as the police report recorded it, “allegedly mauled with broken bottle and log by more less four persons.”

Gold Coast surfing magazine Surfing Life (which I edited years back, hello alma mater!) ran a piece that interviewed “well-known and respected local Dencio Dizon” who said Symes, “got what he deserved. Or in my opinion, he got lucky, because he probably deserved more after hearing of his reputation. This same guy was also here last year, and he got disqualified after two interferences in his heat.”

The reason? Dizon says Symes wouldn’t get out of the water during the final of the locals trials final.

And so he had to die.

But a murderous attack in response to someone surfing through a contest is actually no one’s fault, says Surfing Life, least of all the simple island people.

“No matter what, it’s never cool to beat someone up. But as human beings, and surfers, we also have to remember how important it is to show respect,” it advised sagely.

Cultural relativism! Natives can’t help ’emselves!

(Read story here.)

The Philippines is fucking gnarly at the best of times. Restaurant signs tell patrons to leave their guns at the door. If you want further reminder, three tourists and a local were kidnapped from their resort a few days ago, likely by by the Al Qaida-linked Islamic gang Abu Sayyaf.

(Read that story here.)

I’d heard about the attack via a couple of pals on Facebook. One, the surf guide and artist, Phil Goodrich wrote: “Brent Symes aka “Red Dog”. Such a legend. I spent a month at HT’s with him. Classic Aussie charger. Straight talker, he put on one-man-shows every day on land and charged like a maniac in the water.  I can promise you he would give an excellent interview…”

He wasn’t wrong.

Brent, who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, bounces back and forth between a childhood spent in poverty, his brother Darren who ghost-shapes for Simon Anderson and Pyzel, a little bro Kyle who was a junior series ripper, and his own pro surfing childhood competing against, and sometimes beating, Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison.

While we’re talking (Facebook Phone Call) the big-wave surfer and champion paddler Jamie Mitchell apparently texts: “Are you alright?”

Brent Symes
Brent Symes, as he appears on the WSL website.

Brent’s version of the attack goes something like this. He was hanging out in the Boardwalk restaurant that fronts Cloud Nine. At one point, he noticed there were only a few guys out. No contest. Maybe a gap between semis and the final. So Brent and two others paddle out. The other guys get a set and go in. He’s out there, is too deep for a bomb, and the ocean goes flat. There’s a 20-minute lull.

Then the four surfers in the trials final paddle out. Brent says one of the finalists, Phimar Alipayo, says he can stay out and watch. But Brent says he ain’t going to get fried watching it from the water.

“I’ve got fair skin, red hair and no sunscreen… I’m out of here,” he says. “But I knew the final wasn’t going to start for five minutes. So I could catch a wave in.”

Brent says he caught a wave, pulled off, there was a set behind, duckdived one and got the next. Says he rode it all the way to the inside, did a big reverse, “went backwards for ages, didn’t spin it around, and fell off onto the reef.”

Says he was nowhere near the contest.

Then he turns around and “there’s five dudes with weapons. Knives, a fucking sawn-off bamboo. I thought, fuck, I wonder where they’re going? Guys with knives and bats? What are they going to do? Then I saw ’em heading straight for me. Is this for real? I didn’t run off or anything. Fuck it, I’m going to have to fight these dudes. They want me and they were screaming out to me, ‘I remember you from last year! You got two interferences! I remember you! I’m going to kill you!’

IMG_3726 copy

Oh, quick little interruption. Brent surfed in the contest last year and got a couple of interferences in his heat. He was surfing with a hyped contest kid, an Australian, and told him, ’cause of the small takeoff, let’s take turns. Kid got one, paddled out, and took the next. Brent said, fuck it, I’m going anyway.

The story continues:

“Then they come at me. The first swung the bat. I put my board up, blocked it. It was easy, pretty long bats, really thick, gnarly bats, and it took ’em ages to swing ’em with their little arms. As they pulled back for a second swing, I grabbed it. I train twice a week Muy Thai. I threw the bat into the water and he ran back into shore. He ran off. He knew he had no chance. I actually had an elbow ready to come down on his head, to open up his whole face. He was a sitting duck. It was like me going to play tee-ball.

He ran off. He knew he had no chance. I actually had an elbow ready to come down on his head, to open up his whole face. He was a sitting duck. It was like me going to play tee-ball.

“When I had the bat, I was thinking of killing him. I was going to kill him. I just refrained. I threw the bat into the water and I didn’t lay the elbow.

“The next guys swings… bang… there’s little holes all over the reef, deep opening, and I lose my footing. The third guy grabs my board. Another two guys come with bats, onto me, that’s when I started blocking everything.

“So, then, I easily got rid of them too. They were scared, another guy ran off. I got his bat as well. Then it was down to one dude with a knife and a baton. I said to him, put the knife down, keep the baton, come to me and we’ll talk, we’ll try and solve this, this is a misunderstanding!”

Brent says the conversation went like this.

“No! You’l kill me if I come close to you!”

“No! I want to make friends! Let’s sort this out!”

“No! You’l kill me! You’ll kill me!”

Keep the bat, put the knife down… “

“And then he wouldn’t the knife or bat down so I had to keep walking at him. He was getting scared, backing back, backing back.”

By now, Brent figured he’d better swim out into the ocean rather than face 300 people “telling me it was my bad.”

Brent eventually comes in, feels like he’s going to be murdered so he locks himself into his room.

“The police said don’t go on the road to (nearest town) General Luna. You’ll get ambushed.”

The police chief comes to see him, says Brent, tells him he’s going to charge the attackers with attempted murder. Brent says the chief then takes him to the mayor at his country club in General Luna to explain what’s happened.

Anyway, let’s cut this a little.

Brent gets his security guaranteed and splits the island back to Cebu, and then to Bali, where your ol pal DR lights up his Facebook chat line.

Will he ever go back to Cloud 9?

“Not that at this stage, no,” he says, perhaps with a little understatement.

surf novel

Great Unfinished Surf Novel: Literature!

One Day in the Life of John Dennis (part III)

8:45 Is whenever I’m with you.

The Dennis home is cute as. The only house on the block painted grey, today like the sky, it sits back from the street hibiscus bushes planted in front and a basket/backboard nailed to the telephone pole. The rim sags and is netless. His dad painted the house and he painted some too. It is a single story postwar home featuring a corrugated tin roof and wood framed windows without shades. He lives here, when he is here, with older sister who is a primary school teacher, mum, younger sister who is a professional surfer too, and dad. His ex-filmer, Les lives next door and his other best friend lives a couple houses up the street.

He pulls his car onto the ribbon driveway. There is a grey bungalow in the back, at the far end of the yard, where he sleeps, along with his filmer Pat. “I’m a twenty five year old man who sleeps in a bunk bed…” he says. Pat isn’t inside the room editing the clips from South Australia and Bali so he passes under the clothesline, around the empty hammock frame, goes into the main house to check the winds on the internet. There will be a surf today f’sure. He walks through the room featuring a day bed and that Magna Carta puzzle framed in gold, down the hallway, past his sisters’ rooms, and into the kitchen. His sister is there drinking coffee and gives him a kind smirk. It is school holidays. She is tall and lean with red hair that falls past her shoulders in wavy waves. His mom is cleaning the counter. She is not tall. And Pat is sitting at the kitchen table checking his email. Next to Pat on the floor, is his yellow singlet from the Quiksilver Pro. He was a wildcard in the event and it is framed except not in gold but rather black.

Pat looks up and nods his head. Blonde hair falls right above his eyes. He is of medium height, medium weight. Handsome but not memorable. “You wanna go oot and get some breakfast?” He is from Canada. Toronto. “Yeah, yeah. Ah’m down. We’re just gonna go eat, mum…” he says.

He goes himself to the kitchen table and there is a handwritten note from his dad sitting next to a stack of Moda stickers. Moda is his tailpatch/leash sponsor. The note has a circled 1, 2 and 3. Circle three has three sub-points. 1st, 2nd and 3rd. His dad leaves him to-do notes every day, when he is home. Circle 1 on today’s list is, “Close ANZ cards. Get a print out of June’s details and July details.” He chuckles about it with Pat before his sister says, “It’s really nice of him to do.” “Ah know. Ah know,” he responds “Ah need it. It’s just funny.”

Moving over to the computer, he logs on to The font is set to large, or something. It sort of warps everything. He tells Pat over his shoulder, “It’s probably going to be fun somewhere.” Pat asks which way the winds are blowing. “Straight offshore.” There is a walnut cabinet next to the computer chair filled with family pictures. Parents, grandparents, kids, cousins. His dad usually leaves for work at 4.30 am. Two nights ago he and Pat came home from a biggish night as he was leaving for work. He felt guilty.

9:00 He loves eggs benedict.

He and Pat walk out to the Dae Woo and drive towards Goldberg’s. Famous for breakfast. The edge to the blanket of overcast is tantalizingly close but still over Newcastle. Still in the distance somewhere south. Pat has pulled a black and white stripped beanie over his blonde and tells him that this cloud cover is going to sit over his head all day. “No it won’t…” he says. “Ah’ll drive to Sydney.”

Even though it is school holidays and Friday the roads aren’t full. It takes exactly four minutes from driveway to car park across the road from Goldberg’s. The sign is gold and bubbly cursive. The sun breaks through the second before they reach the door. Blanket pulled back and he lets out a large sigh, turns his face and lets the light swallow him. The streets look different. Everything looks different. Glorious possibilities instead of numbing depression. And breakfast? “Ahhhhh.”

Inside the walls are dark green, the ceiling is red and a large brass chandelier hangs low. It is dark. Ambient. All the wood, tables, chairs, bar, is dark. He and Pat are seated directly near the door. It is full but not packed. Buzzing with low level and certainly banal conversation. A Korean girl in the corner is eating poached eggs and tomatoes and is using her knife and fork like an Australian. Pushing food with the knife onto the back of the fork then putting it into her mouth. She wears a touch of lip gloss and her hair is black and straight.

He doesn’t need the menu. He has been thinking about eggs benedict with ham as soon as he saw Les’s description was not altogether accurate. The waitress comes with the menu anyhow and leaves. Pat asks him, “What’s good here, man?” He answers, “Everything. The eggs benedict.” Then he says, “It’s gonna be a good day today. I’m feelin’ it. That sun is telling me. What are you thinkin?” Pat, staring holes through the menu, tells him he’s not sure and he helps. “The eggs benedict with the ham.” Pat, distracted, looks at a neighboring table. “I wonder what they got?” The waitress returns and he says, “Hi. Can I get a latte, and can I please get the eggs benedict? With ham?” Pat orders it as well except he gets a flat white instead of a latte.

He leans back, folds his arms still encased in camel cable knit jumper and casts a casual glance over his left shoulder. Sitting close is an attractive woman. “That chick behind me is fine,” he tells Pat. Pat waits for her to turn around. She speaks using her hands.

Pat picks up a section of the newspaper and asks him aboot Rugby League. Does he follow? “I don’t know if you could live near here and not be into rugby. Lots of the guys live around. They go to that club Fanny’s. You know that one?” he says.

Pat asks him how in the world he can like Vegemite. “Ahh it’s all about the butter. You need to spread it real thin with heaps of butter.” he says. Pat tells him he just can’t get away from the Nutella.

Eggs benedicts comes hot and tempting. Laid on the table with care. Hollandaise sauce the color of fresh sunshine outside. Egg yolks too. Both dig in and eat like Americans. Just fork no knife. Cutting with the edge and not eating piggishly but certainly hungrily. Breakfast is so good! They drink their respective versions of the same coffee, eat, eat without speaking.

When half finished “ding ding” the iPhone sings. He answers. It’s Hoyo. “Yo what’s happenin’. Just uhh finished breakies. Yeah. Nahh. Where are you? At home? I’m gonna go surfing somewhere. Late.” He tells Patt, “Hoyo rang me to tell me I’m blowing it right now. It’s firing in Forster.” Forster is roughly two hours north of Newcastle.

He sneaks to the cashier while Matt is in the bathroom. And Pat wouldn’t have protested anyhow. He pays for everything without holding the slightest grudge. Generous to a fault, if such a thing truly exists. The cashier, a mid-twenties girl slightly portly smiles at him. His black beanie is pushed far back his forehead. and beautiful hair falls.

Exiting it seems as if all hint of cloud has gone. The air smells wet and there are puddles, which throw shards of light every which way, but otherwise there is not hint of bad weather. Of the misfortunes that have betrayed Newcastle for who knows how long and he and Pat since Bali. They climb into the Dae Woo. He turns up the stereo. Alive.

Everytime the moon shines I become alive.

And everytime the moon shines I become alive.

I’m feeling strange in the (hiss)


Controversy: Kelly called racist!

An imbroglio erupts on Instagram!

Kelly Slater is best at a lot of things that kids do. Like airs. And Instagram. His feed is a constant source of entertainment/information because he seems to take it very seriously. There is no half-assing for the King and so his followers get fairly deep dives into his psyche, history, beliefs, passions. It is a wonderful spring!

Last night he posted two cover shots, one from Surfer one from Surfing World, both at Cloudbreak. In his comment he writes:

Same spot (#Crowdbreak, in Japanese), same section on the reef, same photographer (@toddglaser), same lens (50mm), same week, one year apart. But the one on the right was nearly twice the size and I ate it over the #Foamball. #SameSameButDifferent

And some got angry! One commenter says:

I’m a fan of your surfing, but is it necessary to point out and propagate racial stereotypes? I’d like to hear you try to speak Japanese without messing up a few pronunciations.

Kelly, ever the gentleman, responds:

Strike it’s absolutely necessary when you have a sense of humor. Strike a nerve there?

I don’t understand what that means but the discussion is an interesting one. Is it racist to poke fun at the way others speak English? True, the Japanese have difficulty with the “L” and “R.” Why?

Ryo, a wonderful Japanese linguist explains like this:

When using English letters for Japanese, almost everyone uses the “R” character and drops the “L” from romaji, but the truth of the matter is that neither R nor L exist in Japanese. The sounds signified are usually written as “ra, ri, ru, re, ro,” but these aren’t the same “r” as the ones we use in English. In reality, these sounds are more like a hybrid, or a sound that lies between the phonemic spectrum of L and R.

In other words, the Japanese sounds I just described (ra, ri, ru, re, and ro) are made by using one’s tongue a certain way. Those tongue movements so happen to be different from the way English speakers use their tongue when pronouncing L’s or R’s (i.e., the picture above), which is why English speakers butcher the Japanese language when they try to speak it. So monolingual English and Japanese speakers generally can’t pronounce each other’s L/R-like sounds because they have absolutely no practice in each other’s languages.

So the Japanese could make equal fun of foreigners Japanese pronunciations. Do they? Would you be offended if they did? Would Kelly Slater?