From the tanned cornified layer of his epidermis to eyes that shine like wet metal and hair that swells like a freshly opened fruit, Joe Turpel is number one! That voice! Somehow carnivorous and repulsively innocent! | Photo: WSL

Shocking: I like Joe!

Joe Turpel creates the most divine press box poetry, sets the scene with astonishing accuracy!

I recently had to drive ten hours miles through the great state of California. Traversing coastal planes, rolling hills, fertile valleys, scorched desert and urban gridlock, I have the privilege of making this drive about ten times per annum.

The best part? That lovely stretch where the German sedans and Italian sportsters of bayside tech millionaires and clairvoyant LA business mavericks cohabitate with lifted American diesel trucks toting confederate flags, all hell-bent on cutting the five hours from SF. to LA down to three.

They all drive like assholes. Why? Because they all drive the way above-average surfers navigate a crowded lineup. Only instead of trying to pluck a set wave from the pack, they’re seeking out that 200-meter stretch between big rigs where they can accelerate to the limits of their 2016 engines and an equally turbocharged sense of self.

Of course, like getting waves in competitive lineups, you gotta burn some motherfuckers if you operate an expensive automobile. You see many a near-death-by-forced-lane-change when driving distances on a major California interstate, and there are exponentially more quattroporte LEDs burning your pupils than there are indicators.

I like to imagine that for the sedan and sportster drivers, visibly more affluent than I, clearly in a hurry, and maybe famous, such haste is because there’s a big eighter of cocaine at the destination and a world-record cock to snort it off of. Or an orgy, preferably on a boat somewhere. Also with pure drugs and huge cocks.

The lifted bro trucks? I like to imagine that the confederate crowd — proudly of desert or valley parentage —a re urgently off to a Tea Party meeting. But with meth and cute trailer chicks.

And then there are dudes like me, the Bede Durbidge of distance drivers, guys who’re just trying to get the job done and end up on the right side of things at the end of the ride: for Bede, heats and requalification.

For me, not bumming out my in-laws or employers. But ten-plus hours down and back practically every month? There’s not a soundtrack in the world that can make passing Coalinga for the umpteenth time this year even remotely desirable.

Now, here in America, early autumn is the most exciting time to be cripplingly addicted to sports media. Like the emergence of a batch of the most ebony of black tar, the rabid sports follower finds himself at the spectatorial verge of overdose.

Late-season baseball characterized by pennant races and wildcard hopefuls. College football upsets abound, rife with narratives of rust-belt mid-majors stuffing the pigskin powerhouses of the former Confederacy while East Oakland and South Central’s fastest and most furious represent universities who would have escorted them from campus for loitering were it not for a 4.4 second forty-yard dash.

For four hours, everyone’s favorite Val-twinged monotone ejaculated some kind of unexpected, divine press box poetry, setting the scene with astonishing accuracy and even a hint of emotion!

But on the day of my drive? It wasn’t a weekend, so no American football. It was far too early for a midweek pitching battle between San Francisco and San Diego.

It was just right, however, to catch the final day of the Hurley Pro, live to the good ol’ mobile device while descending from Fresno to LA!

Now, the bitch about watching a surfing contest and driving is that it’s actually quite difficult to watch television and drive at the same time (drinking and driving is, strangely, much easier, but maybe it’s a practice thing). Even harder when what settles for ‘television’ is an undercharged cell phone placed on the dash at a less-than-ideal viewing angle.

So I had to settle for the experience of radio.

Unlike Matt Warshaw, I didn’t grow up in LA listening to Vin Scully and Chick Hearn. As for my knowledge of greater Los Angeles, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Burbank and Bell Gardens if my life depended on it.

What I do know is that the play-by-play from Trestles was delightful from a radio perspective. Mere weeks after Warshaw “wrote a hurtful piece barbecuing the brave men and women who front the WSL broadcasts”, I had the unanticipated experience of hanging on Turpel’s play-by-play for every paddle-battle, every turn, every punt, and every score of the last seven heats.

And I’ll be damned, but with the predictable (you said boring, not me!) style and trademark of each quarterfinalist so clearly engrained in the collective memory of the surfing world, Turpski’s commentary was spot on, painting an aural portrait of every wave ridden at that ever-so-iconic-if-overhyped SoCal venue.

The sets on the horizon! Mick’s deep bottom turn-to-wrap! Filipe’s corked reverse and the heartbreak of defeat! The very mechanics of the runner-up’s claims! For four hours, everyone’s favorite Val-twinged monotone ejaculated some kind of unexpected, divine press box poetry, setting the scene with astonishing accuracy and even a hint of emotion!

And although I can barely tell Turpel’s voice from Ross Williams until Ross refers to some long-forgotten trouncing by Kelly decades past (context clues!), I have to hand it to him.

Joe Turpel braved the “color” commentary of the most whitebread media team ever assembled to lay down a mean day of play-by-play, providing an enrapturing radio account that transported this commuter-listener onto the very cobblestones of the San Mateo Creek.

For this, I hesitantly —I’m told it’s a faux pas to speak nicely of the WSL without overwhelming irony — say, good on ya, Joe Turpel!

Somebody get that man some drugs and a phallus, because he’s going places fast.


Mariano Landa – 25/9/2015

Turmoil: WSL a financial sinking ship?

Two top financial executives gone within a month!

It has seemed, since the Mick Fanning shark incident, that the fates had finally smiled broadly on the WSL. Tahiti was fun and won by a brave not brain damaged youth. Kelly Slater did the most talked about 4. something ride in the history of judged sport. Mick Fanning won Trestles in boring, albeit boring, fashion.

But BeachGrit has exclusive and inside information that all may not be well. “The CFO (chief financial officer) abruptly resigned and left last week. The COO (chief operating officer) left on very short notice last month.”

Chris Payne, the CFO, worked at EBay and Tinder before taking the financial reigns of the World Surf League. There is no news, as of yet, why he resigned. Could he have accidentally swiped left?

Smart: Mike Oblowitz on surf film!

Also, is the above Brian Bielmann photo the greatest surf photo ever?

The bio-epic Heavy Water will be premiering in a few short days at the San Sebastian Surf Film Festibal. San Sebastian, for those who don’t know, is the creme de la creme of the action sport festival scene. It is extremely well run and perfectly executed and fancy. It is the one festival you should, someday, attend but do not forget your tuxedo.

South African director Michael Oblowitz (read Rory Parker’s interview here!) is a force of nature and his newest film, Heavy Water, following days in the life of Nathan Fletcher, is a brilliant piece of filmmaking. I met Michael on Oahu’s North Shore. He was amazing. A character and I lounged on his bed next to Surfing magazine’s then editor-in-chief Taylor Paul and watched Oblowitz’s other work of art Sea of Darkness.

In any case, the most important Hollywood trade, Variety, published an interview with Mr. Oblowitz today and he said the smartest thing I have ever read related to surf film. He said:

Making a film is never easy. Each project unfurls its own set of difficulties. My first surfing documentary, “Sea of Darkness,” dealt with characters derived from the 1960’s and 70’s. There was a certain romantic openness to their narrative. Whatever nefarious activities they engaged in had a native utopian goal. This kind of transcendental optimism characterized the hippie era and beyond, even when it had all turned to shit. It was kind of a self-indulgent narcissism that defined the “turn on, tune in and drop out” era.

The contemporary characters of this documentary deal in a different kind of narcissism. Nathan Fletcher is a character who is almost a throwback to the hippie era — a charismatic yet enigmatic character with a care free attitude. However, this belies a rigid disciplinary approach to riding huge waves.
For all his nonchalance and Marlborough (misspelling Variety editor’s fault not BeachGrit’s. I used to smoke!) smoking, anti-athleticism, he never appears to wipe out on a wave. The precision and control of his surfing is amazing to behold, as is his ability to survive a variety of extreme experiences. As one of the characters comments: “His senses are always sensing.”

Needless to say, the exponents of contemporary extreme sports indulge in the full panoply of extreme experiences. As Danny Fuller remarks: “…they dance with death.” This penchant for extreme behavior is often at odds with the professional attitude that the big lifestyle companies expect from their athletes. Especially when the athletes meet their demise, which is inevitable in all extreme sports. The characters in the brilliant documentary “Meru” come to mind.

It hasn’t been easy for me dealing with the consequences of this film’s narrative tropes.

Whoa! You better read that again.

Opinion: Wavepools are bullshit!

Moving surfing inland, employing freshwater, that shit's golf.

I often wonder what the average landlubber sees when they look at the ocean. Just liquid in some shade of blue or green or brown or grey? I know they don’t see channels and shallow spots and currents and peaks and corners.

I had a fun session at the local beach break today. Nothing special, chest-to-head-high storm surf, lots of water moving, the occasional corner doubling up onto the inside sandbar, sucking smooth, making for a rippable little nugget.

Deceptively powerful, as Hawaii often is, I got my ass handed to me paddling out by a fun looking little set. Duck dived straight into the bottom, just enough time to think, “Oops, I’m gonna feel this one.”

Post session, drinking ice water, trying not to be too obvious as I lech’ed out on some pretty young things, a tourist family pulled up in a bright red Jeep with two epoxy rentals strapped to the roof.  Standard stuff there, but the few guys left in the water were trading off on some fun little waves, and I thought I’d spare them the hassle of two new additions to the lineup, while protecting the kook crew from their forthcoming drubbing.

Further down the beach is an old breakwall setup. Makes for a fun left on the right swell, provides a protected little nook the rest of the time.

“Head down there,” I told them, pointing, “it’s more forgiving, you’ll have more fun.”

“It’s okay, we’ve surfed before.”

Okay. That’s fine. None of business, really. And I got nothin’ to do but hang out and see how things pan out.

Pretty well, actually. From where I was standing.

Two parents, two teens, both kids at that awkward age when they’ve grown taller but failed to build muscle. Gangly limbs. One put his leash on his left ankle the moment his feet touched sand, tucked his board under his right arm, and ran for the water. One step, two steps, three, four, and there goes the leash around his right foot. Ass over elbows, face first into a scattering of driftwood. Play it off, don’t look around, I wonder if anyone noticed?

Little brother decided to hang with Mom and Dad for a bit, big bro dusted off the shards of wood and was out there. A twenty-yard paddle in about fifteen minutes. Not bad. To his credit, he didn’t give up. Splayed legs, no idea how to paddle, but he put his head down and bashed his way into the lineup.  Almost.

He was resting when a little set popped up, board horizontal to the beach, laying across the center of it, legs dangling shoreward.  The best thing to do, obviously, was to try to push the board sideways through the lip as it pitched, frog kicking with all his might.

Upside down and backwards, over the falls he went. Managing to tombstone his board for an impressively long time, given the depth of the water and size of the surf. No doubt terrifying.

He broke the surface climbing the ladder, leash goes sproing!, earned him a nice kiss from the tail of his board, right up the side of his head.

I was enjoying myself, and was disappointed to see him put his tail between his legs and head in.  That’s not how you learn to surf! Shit’s hard, take your beatings, get better. It’s worth it.

His family packed up and headed back to their rental, where I sat.

“Man, you took a beating out there, huh?”

What a dick thing to say, right?  Rub his face in it, should’ve listened dumb-dumb.

Teenagers, yeah? He mumbled something at me. Dad was a lot more verbose.

“We surf behind the boat back home, so he thought he could do it in the ocean too. I tried to tell him it’s not the same.”

Have truer words ever been spoken?

It isn’t the same, not even close.

We can build an ersatz thrill, excavate a pit and slop around water. Fill a $40K boat with overpriced gas, let go of the rope and do airs all day long. But it isn’t surfing, because you’re not going to die.

The ocean is beyond powerful, totally uncaring, always dangerous. And, yeah, knowledge can ameliorate a substantial amount of risk, but more than one talented surfer has lost their life in less than terrifying conditions.

Playing in a medium that can easily kill you is something to be embraced.

Moving it inland, employing freshwater, that shit’s golf. It’s prim and proper and packaged and fake.  It’ll never be the future, ‘cuz it’ll always be bullshit.

Jay Alvarrez Ethan Carlston

Blood feud: Two pretty Instagram boys!

It is Jay Alvarrez vs. Ethan Carlston in this latest round. Who are they? Ask your thirteen-year-old niece!

Jay Alvarrez (@jayalvarrez) is a very famous Instagram celebrity with 2.4m followers and a girlfriend named @alexisren that has 3.1m. I think he is a model, maybe, but I think he thinks he is a surfer too. He takes many pictures with his girlfriend and some with surfing or at least surfboards.

Ethan Carlston (@ethanzane) is not as famous with 48.1k followers and has no girlfriend so far as I can tell. I think he is a model too but he is also a surfer and very pretty. He takes many pictures of himself sticking out his tongue and writing “Fuck Off Im Busy.”

Jay is pretty too and for some reason they are really angry at each other on Instagram. Threats and counter threats have been hurled back and forth and then the public stepped in to try and sort this feud out!

“It’s over how Jay took money from Ethan,” one commenter says.

“Ethan is putting this all out there to bring awareness of all the shit Jay has done…” says another.

Both are so beautiful Surfing Magazine’s esteemed photo editor Pete Taras says its hard to look at them. I agree. If you were going to get into an Instagram battle who would you fight? What mean things would you say?