Albee Layer judo
Albee Layer demonstrates a judo air. Let's examine the ingredients: front leg kicked out topside, board grabbed the nose. But does he land?

Poetry: “Albee’s foreskin in gum line!”

We live in a golden age of online commentary… 

I came into the surf game when comments under Internet stories were but a newborn babe and social media was still affixed to Mark Zuckerberg’s fertile womb. Everything was anonymous and the rage poured like a handicapped waterfall.

“You fag!” people would post.

“You fag no good surf!”

Very rudimentary sentence structures. Silly playground taunts with no flair. No élan.

Dude once you get albee’s dick outta your mouth maybe come to Maui and surf? Would love to watch you drown, since you know nothing about surfing and just write bullshit stories about how you are a total faggot who lives in L.A and wishes he could put Albees foreskin in your gum line. Please write an article about this too, I’m waiting.

Life has changed, though, and it seems that true artists now flourish on message boards, Instagram, Twitter and underneath stories. I was messaged on Facebook a while back, apparently in regards to something I wrote about famous and handsome professional surfer Albee Layer, but I didn’t see it until recently. And this is what the message said:

Dude once you get albee’s dick outta your mouth maybe come to Maui and surf? Would love to watch you drown, since you know nothing about surfing and just write bullshit stories about how you are a total faggot who lives in L.A and wishes he could put Albees foreskin in your gum line. Please write an article about this too, I’m waiting.

How could I not? It would be the same as leaving Khalil Gibran’s great works unseen. Like never committing Robert Frost to the page.

On top of it all, he offered to introduce me to some of his friends.

I got some bi-sexual friends on “backpage” they want to meet up with you in LA after I showed them this pic of you. They seem really excited!

The globe is warming, catastrophically. The Middle East is melting down, China’s economy is grinding to a halt, doom and gloom. Except on the Internet, where the flowers of friendship are in full bloom.

Just in: Slater Pool 100% Solar Powered!

What do Kelly Slater's pool and Erin Brockovich have in common?

HUGE NEWS! Slater’s wave pool is going to be 100% solar powered! Oh my gosh, so good for the environment. Everyone is covering the PR coup; Surfline, the inertia, other people… It’s the best thing to happen to Mother Earth since I stopped using plastic bags to pick up my dog’s shit and just started heaving it into the bushes.

Of course, the cynic in me asks, “How the hell can that be possible?”

Generating waves requires massive amounts of power and I have a hard time believing it’s financially feasible to build a gigantic solar array around every park they plan on opening.

So what’s going on? How is it possible?

Through the magic of words! The wave pool will be a participant in the PG&E Solar Choice program, wherein you pay extra for electricity and they promise all the power you receive, delivered through pre-existing infrastructure, comes from solar alone. Even more impressive than the solar program is the ability to keep that new solar power separate from the dirty old kind made from burning coal, oil, or harvesting orphan tears. (That last one is a joke. If I could run my laptop off the suffering of unwanted children I’d be living in a magical world, indeed.)

Since electricity mixes freely once it enters the grid, there’s no way Kelly’s pool will actually run off solar alone. But Pacific Gas and Electric swears that paying extra will introduce an equivalent amount of solar power into the grid. So it’s six of one and half a dozen of another. And you can believe PG&E, they have a long tradition of trustworthy environmental stewardship.

Like in 1993, when they donated, via court order, $333 million, the largest direct action settlement in United States history, to residents of Hinkley, California after contaminating their groundwater with hexavelent chromiumHow could they have known that storing toxic by-products in unlined pools would be bad for the environment? At least we got a Julia Roberts movie out of it.

Likewise the PG&E pipeline that exploded in 2010 in San Bruno, California, killing eight people. Sure, state inspectors had warned that the pipeline had faulty welds, and, yeah, PG&E subsequently increased pressure in the pipeline to meet demand, and yes, they were fined $1.6 billion in April of last year.

But they’re environmentalists now! If you pay them money they’ll provide marketing materials showing you are too!

Yay for capitalism! Yay for disingenuous marketing! Yay for getting in bed with bad actors in the quest for positive PR!

Kelly's Wave from Kelly Slater Wave Company on Vimeo.

Blood Feud: What Youth vs Captions!

“Surf captions are officially dead!” and “Fuck a caption!”

Bold opinion is such a rare commodity in our world of “safe spaces” “micro-aggressions” and “trigger warnings.”

Who knew that one day cartoonists would be gunned down in their offices and other cartoonists would defend the killings as the result of ‘em “punching down”?

We’ve become so pompous and solemn and dull, don’t you think? College students are so terrified of confronting ideas and so unable to cope with even literary classics, The Great Gatsby now comes with a warning: (Trigger: suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence).

Everyone else is finding hunks of racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia (but curiously not the more virulent anti-semitism) and white privilege in their corn flakes each morning.

And surfing magazines, of which I’ve been a part of, one way or the other, for longer than I’d ever admit, take this piety to new levels. Which makes ’em ripe for satire and for criticism.

So I always light up a little when I see, read, someone having a bit of a swing at the status quo.

What Youth, the magazine started five years ago by most of the key players of Surfing magazine and the filmmaker Kai Neville, gave it to Surfer and Surfing magazines yesterday, on their crummy choice of photos. To Surfer, What Youth‘s editor Travis Ferré wrote:

“Please, we all deserve better from you. Surfers, editors, photographers, followers. This is our lives and just because you’re trying to appease a mil worth of followers, remember when you post something like this you make us all look like kooks. So please, stop it. Sincerely, What Youth.”

Today, What Youth is going after captions, the usually meaningless trope that goes under photos in those spreads.

“Surf photo captions are officially dead. Let’s reinvent them together. Surf photo captions suck because they’re easy to write instead of great to read. They’re designed for the supplier instead of the consumer. And it’s time to fix them. How can we redesign the surf photo caption? What could improve or replace it?”

It’s a good question. I haven’t seen a print mag in a while, but one relatively prestigious title I did find, ran the following captions:

“All smiles inside the world’s deadliest wave. Teahupoo.”

“Hard to believe something so beautiful could be so deadly. Teahupoo.”

One What Youth follower had barely read the Instagram screed before he started waving his pitchfork.

“WY is punk rock as fuck. Fuck a caption, don’t conform.”

My philosophy at Stab, although not always followed to the letter, as some days the lethargy would claw at my fingers and refuse any industry, was that any significant photo had to feature a quote from the surfer and the photographer.

For one week out of every six-week production cycle, I’d sit there and call both participants, chasing top 10 surfers around the world for a three-minute interview. More than once, Joel or Kelly or whomever would hear the silence at my end and ask, “Is that all you want?”

Did anyone care? Did anyone read? Who knows?

Maybe captions are unnecessary. At least they are according to this guy:

“Honestly, captions don’t matter that much, as long as it says who the surfer is, and who took the picture, and maybe where their surfing if it’s not like a secret spot. The main thing is the picture…”

And you? Do you care?


Everyone's ears are cocked! | Photo: Steve Sherman/Photo Union Worker/Surfing magazine

Invest: Villager is almost here!

Taj Burrow, Jack Freestone and pals' coconut water co will make you millions!

Remember St. Archer? The extreme sport craft beer financed by action sport stars that took the world by storm, eventually selling to MillerCoors for multiple tens of millions of dollars?

I remember when I first heard the concept that I almost spit vodka out my nose. “Another craft beer in San Diego?” I chortled. “Ha!” The market here, for those who don’t know, is gagged with a bazillion tons of hops and barley and mostly hops since IPA is trending hard. And distribution is controlled by very few. How would a dang extreme sport craft beer even begin to compete. “HA!”

Boy, was I wrong.

And now the same team is entering another choked market. Coconut water! That’s right, you’ve seen Laura Enever’s post, the word VILLAGER in black on a simple white background. You’ve maybe even followed @villagergoods and seen that same logo tiled across the page.

But what is?

Extreme sport Coconut water as financed by action sport stars! I’m sure there is some sort of ecological/giving-back angle. I’m sure it will have electrolytes. I’m sure it will taste good and be branded well. I’m sure they will steal market share and be scooped up.

Investors include Jack Freestone and Taj Burrow, Taylor Knox, Pat, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas, Laura Enever, and best skateboarder in the world Paul Rodriguez.

I’m sure, this time, that everyone will make multiple tens of millions of dollars.

Can you think of an ultra-crowded market that BeachGrit can jump in? A fast food chain that sells hamburgers and french fries? A bread company where the product comes to your grocery shelf tucked in a clear plastic bag? Cold-pressed juices? Coffee?

Help us help you!


Rage: Mavericks event cancelled!

The Titans of Mavericks would have run Thursday but for one small inconvenience.

Yesterday giant waves pummeled northern California’s most famous big wave surfing spot. “… one of the bigger days I’ve seen all year, and it was pumping so hard that it was throwing over,” surfer Galend Barbour told the Bay Area’s KRON 4 news. “Mavericks usually has this way of kind of crumbling and not really having a barrel. Today, there was so much force that there is literally walls of water just peeling over.”

Surfline, forecasting website with a predilection for dark kink, claimed 23 foot plus waves with gorgeous winds. Near perfect conditions. But no Titans of Mavericks event. Why?

That damned Super Bowl!

America’s grandest sporting spectacle is set to kick off this Sunday in nearby Santa Clara. The Denver Broncos, piloted by an aging gun-slinger, will take on the young, brash Carolina Panthers. Fun for most! Except the Titans of Mavericks organizers. Apparently they were told there were no police, sheriffs or even Coast Guard for them to use and, thus, they could not run their little thing. And so the best days in recent history when uncontested.

And son of a bitch. First catty infighting, then being outshone by Jaws, then getting busted for sexism and now this? Everyone is pinning hopes on El Nino bringing tons more contestable action so no worries, right? Right? RIGHT?

Do you think that made the Titans of Mavericks feel like their needs were met? Do you think they felt like equal citizens in this American democracy? Do surf lives matter?