couple on the beach by josep de toggeries

Culture: Surf Art History!

A high-culture romp through nineteenth-and twentieth-century art history… for surfers.

As realists and romantics appreciative of aesthetics, no surf media audience is as astute and learned as that which congregates here at BeachGrit. Case in point? Mariano Landa’s transatlantic high-culture romp through nineteenth-and twentieth-century art history… for surfers.

5. Josep de Togores (Cataluña), Couple on the Beach (1922)

couple on the beach by josep de toggeries

Every surfer who’s filled a passport or two knows that only one surf trip happening is as memorable as scoring bombing waves halfway across the world: that raunchy tryst with a total stranger after the swell dies down. Son of the President of the Barcelona Association of Football Clubs (later FC Barcelona), Togores uses a neutral palette to capture the essence of such an encounter, embodied by our lady — is she a French ripper? — whose round curves complement the bronzed brawn of her surfed-out lover. The flatness of the waves reminds the viewer, “Everything has a time and a place. Don’t be that guy who misses the swell trying to find a fuck.”

4. Joaquín Sorolla i Bastida (Valencia), The Arrival of the Catch (1889)

The Arrival of the catch

Orphaned at two years old, the post-impressionist Spaniard Sorolla knew a rippable little left when he saw one. The stiff sails in the background indicate that there’s a nice little side-onshore air wind running, the fishermen’s bare feet tell us that the water’s trunkable, and the left off the banks looks apt for two pumps and a jump. The young girl’s dismissal of the surf, perhaps turned off by the breeze, causes her father to comment, “Honey, it’s better than it looks out the back. Be glad you don’t live in Florida.”

3. Darío de Regoyos (Spain)– The Basque Coast, Morning (1895)

cote basque

A century before the WSL even thought of a European leg for the tour, Regoyos was dropping clues as to the temperamental nature of the waves in the Bay of Biscay. The heaving shorebreak barrel is deceiving. As the headland provides scale, it’s bigger than it looks, and the left seems the natural option: it’s overhead for sure. But seeing the left clamp as it runs into the corner, the viewer thinks, “If only there was more west in the swell, the point might be firing!”

2. Daniel Vázquez Díaz (Spain) – The Sea (1908-1914)

El Mar

Vázquez reminds us that everything is derivative. Acclaimed as a rip-off of his Golden Age predecessor Zurburán, DVD was more Kai Otton than Kelly Slater. But he brings us into the fore of our present debates of surf and sex. What you don’t see is that the two naked dudes — literally riding bareback — have stashed their fresh 28L Sharp Eye’s in the bushes before crossing the rivermouth for a surf check. As the seated figure leans back to get a better angle on the swell filling into the right, his rippled back reminds us that he’s not posing for you or for me, he’s posing for himself. “We’re out there,” cries his companion.

“More horses,” cries a Roxy ad exec.

1. Ignacio Merino (Peru/France): Pizarro Taking Possession of the Pacific in the Name of the Spanish Monarchs (1850)

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 3.25.47 pm

Merino was a true G. Born to parents so wealthy that they make Dane’s contract look like pocket change, he grew up within a stone’s throw of those famous Peruvian pointbreaks between Piura and Trujillo before being educated in France, rubbing elbows with big guns like Franky Goya, Eugéne Delacroix, and Paul Delaroche. After a back-and-forth between Lima and Paris, he pumped out this image of a disputed conquistador— Pizarro or Balboa —who throws a claim worthy of imitation by any competitive surfer or layman barrel-dodger. Chucking caution to the wind in a shorebreak that looks worthy of a WSL contest, his costumage reminds us just how far back retro-revivals can still go.

Just in: Surf season is here on the North Shore!

Hawaii has some of the best local news ever. Come feast!

“Surf season is here and the North Shore is up to the challenge. Way up!” And thus Hawaii’s KITV 4 tackles, in amazingly nonsensical fashion another winter on the North Shore! This one is going to be the best ever, maybe. “It’s considered the most wonderful time of the year…” reporter Brenton Awa tells the viewer. And if you don’t live in Hawaii you should find some way to watch their local news. It is always a joy. Like, some of the best television going anywhere outside HBO. In this episode we have guest appearances by Danny Fuller and Susan + Bob Friend.

“Business is gonna get mo betta!” Awa tells the viewer as high surf starts cruising in and, yes it will. If you live in Hawaii which is your favorite local newscast besides all of them? Rory Parker, which one is yours?

Ace Cool
Ace was the first big-wave surfer to use an artificial oxygen supply (a little tank affixed to his wrist) and choppers for accessing outer reefs. This was…way… before skis.

Bummer: Big-Wave Legend Goes Missing!

Alec Cooke aka the larger-than-life Ace Cool disappears while surfing Waimea Bay…

Ace Cool, aka Alec Cooke, big-wave legend, North Shore character, one of the few humans to have surfed Kaena Point, went missing Wednesday off Waimea Bay.

Ace Cool Waimea Bay
…that time back in 1985 when a chopper got Ace out of the juice at Waimea Bay. Photo: Jones

Reported missing by his girlfriend when he did not return from his session, Cooke’s truck was found near the Waimea church with his keys and dog still inside, but no surfboard present.

US Coast Guard, Honolulu Fire Department, and Ocean Safety crews have deployed, searching the surrounding water and shoreline.

Ace Cool
If you’ve ever been to the North Shore y’probs bought one of Ace’s postcards.

Read about the time Ace surfed Kaena Point here. 

And watch this video for a taste of his charisma, which was undeniable.


House Guest
Rule #5: Wake the fuck up. Maybe you like to sleep 'til noon at home. That's fine, I don't care. But if you're crashing on a couch and someone starts banging around at 6am, tough shit. Time to wake the fuck up. Don't moan, roll over, and try to go back to sleep. Your alarm clock is your host, do not cramp their style just so you can catch a little more shut eye.

How to: be a North Shore House Guest

Rule #7, don't let my wife pay for everything. I need money for boards, spearguns and drugs… 

It’s that time of the year again. Winter swells are on their way, bringing with them ten million wannabes, never-wills, and hangers-on.

And house guests, always house guests.

Which isn’t a problem. I enjoy visitors, if for no other reason than a fresh set of eyes really helps keep the stoke alive. Too easy to find yourself driving through a tropical paradise at the end of a hard day hating everything, everyone. Life is just soooooo miserable. Even when it ain’t. Especially then.

The vast majority of people are phenomenal guests. Polite, appreciative, helpful, a true joy to hang with and sure to be invited back. But there are always outliers, the type of fool who rocks up with an “I’m on vacation” mindset and figures they can do whatever the hell they want. Which you can, if you’re dropping a few hundred a night on a hotel room.

#1 Bring gifts: People always ask, “Is there anything I can bring you?” Which is very thoughtful, much appreciated. But we don’t exactly live in the third world. It’s a near thing, sometimes, but Amazon Prime will get us whatever we need.

Except for Trader Joe’s candy. If you’re coming from California, and really want a happy host, fill a bag with that shit and present it on arrival. If you forget, or don’t have time, or whatever, it’s hardly a deal breaker. But a good first impression goes a long way toward earning forgiveness for any unintentional trespasses. You may get drunk and spill a beer on my laptop, but if you filled my wife’s belly full of chocolates we’ll get over it.

# 2 Clean up: A no-brainer for older travelers, but something the younger types often forget. We may be your parents’ age, but we aren’t Mom and Dad. In addition to the fact that we may try to have sex with you (leave your hang-ups on the mainland, haole), we do not want to pick up your mess. We don’t want to pick up our own. But I can guarantee my wife made me scrub the place top to bottom before your arrival, so a little assistance maintaining the pretense that we don’t live in our own filth is much appreciated.

Simple shit. When you see some dishes in the sink, wash ’em. If there are no clean towels, toss a load in the machine. You don’t need to mop the floors or clean the window screens, just contribute a little more than you would at home.

# 3 Bring money: The missus and I are doing okay financially these days, but that was not always the case. Hawaii is mind-blowingly expensive, and our first few years were a hard scrabble, beg the electric company not to shut off service, five bucks ’til payday struggle. All worth it, in the long run, but far from easy. I think most people are aware that’s a common plight out here.

Which was why I was shocked the day I picked up a guest at the HNL airport and learned she not only had an empty wallet, but an overdrawn checking account.

“Just loan me some money while I’m here.  I’ll pay you back when I get home.”

Only problem, that assumed I had some extra cash. Which I did not. I barely had enough to feed myself and my wife, much less subsidize the bar crawls of a third party.

“It’s okay, I can get guys to buy me drinks, I just need a little cash during the day.”

She was not invited back.

# 4 Live by my schedule, not yours: I know you’re on holiday, and Hawaiian time is a very real thing, but that doesn’t mean you can move at a snail’s pace whenever it’s time to get ready. You’ve got a free place to crash and someone to show you around, don’t leave you tour guide waiting for two hours while you slowly get your act together. My wife doesn’t mind, but at a a certain point I’m just gonna leave you behind.

# 5 Wake the fuck up: Maybe you like to sleep ’til noon at home. That’s fine, I don’t care. But if you’re crashing on a couch and someone starts banging around at 6am, tough shit. Time to wake the fuck up. Don’t moan, roll over, and try to go back to sleep. Your alarm clock is your host, do not cramp their style just so you can catch a little more shut eye.

# 6 Don’t bring anyone home: You may, or may not, be able to find yourself a fun little vacation hump while you’re visiting. If you do, congratulations, good times! But take your target back to their place to plow. If you’re on Oahu while the tour’s in town the male/female ratio is even worse than usual.  A woman can cruise through Foodland and have a million cocks flung her way, for guys it’s a harder slog.

One time a hammered guest went missing from a North Shore bar right before last call. The wife was worried, I figured she either scored some dick or was murdered. No reason to worry, we’d know for sure soon enough.

We woke up to her sleeping on the couch, over coffee she regaled us with the tale of her previous night.

“It was so romantic. He took me to a deserted beach, we made love under the stars. I came so hard!  Then he dropped me off and went home.”

Right on, you do you. I’m sure it will always be a fond memory. But, later, as we headed to the beach, I came across a pair of thong underwear in the dirt near our car.

“Hey, are these yours?”

“Oh my god, yes! I thought I left them at the beach.”

“Dude, he didn’t take you to the beach! He fucked you in a ditch, like a pile of garbage!”

She did not find it as funny as I did.

# 7 Don’t let my wife pay for everything: She’ll try to, but I need that money to spend on surfboards and spearguns and drugs.

# 8 No, you can’t borrow my boards: I mean, maybe you can. But don’t assume. I used to have a quiver of shitty boards reserved specifically for visitors, so I didn’t have to worry about someone using the reef to punch a hole through one of my bright and whites. But they got stolen by meth addicts, so now all that’s left are planks I actually like.

# 9 Get a rental car: Your host is not your chauffeur and the buss won’t let you bring a surfboard.  With the money you’re saving on hotel costs you can swing a cheap rental for at least a few days.  Check Discount Hawaii Car Rentals, they’ve usually got a solid hook up.

# 10 Don’t jerk off on my couch: Use the shower, like a decent human being. Or, fuck, at the very least don’t let me catch you. It’s gonna make me feel awkward when you’re gone and I fancy a nooner tug. Because you can rest assured that I’ve rubbed one out on every sleeping surface in my home.

# 11 Have a departure date: No return ticket, no dice. Like legions of previous transplants have already found, you won’t be able to find a job that pays a living wage and a place to stay in any fashion resembling quickly. Guests are great, roommates are a whole ‘nother matter. Thanks to a previous experience with a family member we have a hard two week limit.

If you think I won’t put you on the streets at the end of that time, you’ve got a hard lesson coming.

Virtual reality shark attack
Ever wondered what it would be like to peer out of the jaws of a living fifteen-foot Great White shark? No? | Photo: Rapid Films

Just in: I survived a (virtual) Great White hit!

And I road-tested the new WSL/Samsung VR clip… 

I like kink. I like vibrating machines, I like hand-toys that flutter, concentrating pleasure wherever you deem it necessary, and I live my life mostly through the screen of my telephone.

Virtual reality is a hole I voluntarily climb down. A lot of people get eaten up with guilt and insecurity over burying ‘emselves in their screens. I ain’t one.

Earlier today, the WSL threw live the VR clip they made with funding by Samsung and with the tech skills of Rapid Films. Around the same time as Rory Parker was uploading his piece about it (Wow: WSL Brings Virtual Reality to Surf) the director Dave Klaiber was FB’ing me an invite to come to his studio and try the film with the $200 Samsung headset.

Was it the beginning of the technologising of surf? A call from the deep? I accepted the offer lustily.

As far as reconstituted experiences go, it’s more visceral than you might imagine. You involuntarily swing your head back and forth, up and down. You’re inside the tube looking out, now you’re looking back at CJ, now you’re scanning the reef, looking at the sky. The six camera angles feel like a hundred.

Watch it a second, a third time, and you might be inclined to ask, where are the cameras on CJ? How’s he filming the tube angle?

This is where it gets good. Rapid Films have got what is, effectively, an invisible camera suit, which is top secret ‘cause I asked to check it out and Dave and his executive producer Susannah Dilallo both yelped No at the same time, but the way it works is this:

Six cameras means there’s a little piece of overlap from each cameras when your stitch the images together. The overlap sphere means you can hide where the camera is.

“We exploit the overlap,” says Klaiber.

The VR clip was made around this year’s Teahupoo contest for “less than a million dollars”. Rapid sent a team of eight, including the director Taylor Steele, to work with Kelly Slater and CJ Hobgood on the project, although it is CJ who steals the limelight.

Kelly Slater virtual reality
Here we see Kelly Slater wrapped in Samsung VR goggles during the Tahitian shoot. The delicious Tahitian in the background is none other than the very famous Raimana Van Bastolaer.

The CJ clip makes it technically feasible for anyone… including the sick, the disabled or the 99 per cent of surfers who’ll never touch a five-foot tube in their lives… to get into situations that would otherwise remain completely foreign.

Is it a good thing that the infirm or the lazy can climb into a bigger tube than you? Does it matter? Nothing’s stopping the capable nor the humourless nag who rails against such things from paddling out.

Watch the making of it here.

Klaiber isn’t just surf. Rapid Films built a teary short for Samsung around a woman giving birth in Western Australia while her FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) miner husband watches it happening five thousand miles away in northern Queensland. Oh, it’ll make you weep even if it is lashed with Samsung branding.

And the Great White attack?

As no fuck is ever in vain, no VR experience is time wasted. This time, it’s with a 15-foot Great White that was filmed last year down there in the Neptune Islands in South Australia. (Hello Brinkley Davies! I can see you! The sharks have returned!)

During the filming the White ate the giant housing containing the camera although it was attached to a pole, held by Klaiber. Some kind of biology lesson remained in Klaiber’s head and he figured, he if held on long enough, the White would spit the camera out and he’d have the footage of a lifetime. He held, the White spat.

The headpiece is affixed. Some very good headphones by Seinnheiser are strapped on.

Suddenly, I’m in the Southern Ocean.

“See that five-metre Great White? Don’t lose sight of it,” says Klaiber.

I dog paddle my hands in the air and follow. It turns!

Wait, it bites!

“Look up!” says Klaiber.

I see the world as viewed from the inside of a five-metre White’s jaws.

“Look down!”

I get a close-up of the inner-mechanisms of the sharks’s mouth.

Oh, this jangles the nerves. I get worked up into such a state that I’m beside myself. I polish off the clip, however.

As should you although I can’t guarantee you’ll wanna surf again. Click to watch. 

Buy cheap headsets here.