Martin Potter broke something inside of me yesterday…
For many years, Derek Rielly and I have discussed “The Great Unfinished Surf Novel.” It always makes me laugh so much in my heart because, maybe because hyperbole is the actual discourse of our fair game.
Yesterday, Rory Parker and Samuel Einstein did such a wonderful job of painting an accurate, non-hyperbolic picture of the Bog Rail Pro brought to you by Slavery. I didn’t get a chance to catch it live but, after reading THIS and THIS went over to the WSL website where they promised I could “binge watch” every heat. I clicked on Mason vs. Mick vs. Keanu and drug my curser to minute 16 or something. Mick was racing down the line as fast as he could, rail to rail, on a knee-high section. It looked absolutely terrible. It looked so so so so so so so so so bad and Pottz said, “This is where it gets good.”
Martin Potter snapped something in me with that neutered batshit bullshit and made me think what the world doesn’t need is a hyper honest surf novel but that was, all of a sudden, what I wanted to write. Here’s the prologue!
THE DEVIL WEARS MADA
“What the hell is a dog of winter?” Jezza asks while flicking the miniature Australian flag planted into his avocado toast and poached egg sandwich with roast tomato on the side. His ring fingernails are both painted black.
“A dog of winter. Someone told me about this book called A Dog of Winter or some fucken shit. Said it was a novel about surfing by this valley kook and it made me wonder. Is ‘dog of winter’ some crusty old surf slang or something? Like, did those guys who went to G-Land back in the 70s call each other ‘dogs of winter? Was the book about them?’”
Charlo looks up from his Proteins & Potassiums smoothie. The miniature Australian flag that had been floating like a cocktail umbrella is lying off to the side. The two work together, across the street at FTBD (pronounced “foot bed”) socks in the marketing department. The tagline is Die on your Feet™. A remix of Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition floats through the unseasonably warm air.
“I don’t know. Never heard of the book but, if it is real I’m sure it’s totally gay. You can’t write a surf book. Nobody can. For starters, what we do is, like, dumb. Have you ever really thought about it? We put on black pantsuits and go sit in a puddle surrounded by other men in black pantsuits all sitting in the same puddle. Water bumps appear on the horizon and all the puddle people get super eggy and paddle and hoot. It’s a full retard-fest. Have you ever listed to us? I mean, I can tell you right now, ‘Bro, there’s a mysto break out past Turtles and it’s firing!’ and it sounds normal, right?
The communal table between them isn’t wide enough so their knees keep brushing gently. It could be assumed they are brushing knees in Bondi but they are not. They are in an Australian themed café in the middle of Costa Mesa, California. Around the corner from Volcom. Down the street from What Youth.
“Yeah. Is there one? I’ve always wondered.”
“Exactly. Try writing that shit down. It looks mongo. And no. There’s not. There’s just that giant fucken kelp bed.”
Jezza thinks about this for a few seconds while studying an old black and white photo of Tom Carroll hanging on the wall. Tom was surfing’s world champion in 1983 and again in1984. He was proper midget short and looked like a little caveman but in the photo he captivates standing there next to his brother, Nick, who is even shorter and more caveman-like. Even in a pantheon of troubles, though, his healthy, sun-kissed skin radiates. An impossibly white smile glimmers. He is the picture vitality. Of surfing as a lifestyle. Even Nick looks handsome.
“I don’t know. I think what we do is rad…” he finally says. “I think it’s what every kid in, like, Brea would do if they could figure it out.”
“Or skateboard, or snowboard or whatever.”
“Austyn Gillette is from Brea, I think.” Charlo says. “And he skates professionally.”
“You know what I mean. Move to the beach and actually live the dream.” Jezza responds without thinking.
“Austyn’s not living the dream? The kid is on HUF, makes an easy couple hundred thou a year all in. Fucken BgrSgr is probably paying him 200k just for riding those damn earbuds in competition. And he is not even relevant anymore. At all.”
“What’s with his hair?” Jezza segues.
“Exactly. Balding circa three years ago. But doing it with money in the bank and kicking a skateboard for a job. I’d say that’s a dream.” Charlo answers while wondering if he should have ordered a breaky sandwich instead.
“How good was Bieber’s new skate vid though? Jezza segues again.
Charlo turns slightly incredulous while trying to pick a chia seed out of his teeth with his miniature Australian flag that he just rescued from a puddle of coconut water that someone else at the communal table had spilled. He was not prepared, even remotely, for the possibility that anyone in the industry actually liked Justin Bieber’s attempt at being core.
“The one feat. Ryan Sheckler? Where Shecks is powersliding with that lesbian through LA? What Do Ü Mean? Fucken hell, are you serious?”
“Yeah? I thought it was pretty good. And it got viewed over 100 million times.” Jezza says trying not to sound too enthusiastic. He had, in fact, watched it back to back to back and even contemplated downloading the song before he realized he would have no probable deniability if it ever accidentally came on in public.
“Well the other one with John Leguizamo got viewed over half a billion sooooooo….” Charlo says, unimpressed.
Jezza cuts him off. “There was another one? And it did? And you watched it?”
“Yes and yes and yes. While you were busy masturbating to shitty kickflips I was locking down a licensing deal with the chick who runs Leguizamo’s program. We’re doing a rad collab sock called Ghetto Klown. It’s going to be Tilly’s big Christmas push. Skullphone is doing a pop-out counter display…some weird jack-in-the-box shit or something. It’s going to be sick.”
Now it’s Jezza’s turn to be slightly incredulous while scratching one of his black nails with his miniature Australian flag that has turned half green from avocado because it had collapsed. “You were locking down a licensing deal, bro? Yeah? So you’ve been promoted to VP of new biz? Gonna move over to that desk underneath Andy Irons’ surfboard and ask everyone if they’re gonna ‘get wet’ this weekend?”
They both laugh at the very clear dig at Ricky Rogers, the brand manager, who just graduated from USC’s Marshall School of Business making him the only one who didn’t graduate from San Diego State. Generally he has ok ideas about experimenting with a variety of attitudinal statements from targeted Millennials but Jezza once went surfing with him and watched him put his fins in backwards.
“You’re right,” Charlo says. “I didn’t lock anything down but we really are doing that collab. You didn’t see it in our look book?”
Jezza is slightly frustrated. “No. Fuck. It’s already out? That’s why I was asking about that novel Dog of Winter or whatever. I thought if it really existed and was old surf slang it would make a rad sock. Like, a sick photo sublimated Rottweiler on the toe or something. Keep your Dogs of Winter warm. Or keep your dogs warm this winter. Or something.”
Charlo laughs. “Yeah but if it really existed it would be gay. Remember? You can’t write surf. Nobody can. We could do a pair of underwear called Tapping the Source and have a photo sublimated surfer being sucked into an asshole.”
“Was Tapping the Source a surf book?” Jezza asks.
“I wish I didn’t know but yes. Yes it was.” Charlo answers. “My parents got it for me for Christmas one year. The back said something about people coming to Huntington Beach ‘in search of the endless party, the ultimate high and the perfect wave’ or some shit. Huntington Beach. California. Motorcycles and speed and inland emperors in their calf length Fox boardshorts and tribal tattoos and wrap around sunglasses Huntington Beach. And I don’t think the bro who wrote it was even being ironic or anything. I threw it in the trash, literally, before I opened my next present.”
Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition transitions, without pause, to INXS’s Never Tear us Apart which, also, coincidentally, features skateboarding on its album cover though not in its music video.
“… but that’s surf novels or whatever…” he continues. “That’s what they all turn in to. The barns who write them think they’re living some grand fucken adventure because they surf. Chasing the stoke. Whatever the fucken shit they call it. When was the last grand fucken adventure you went on?”
“The Mentawis…” Jezza responds without having to think.
“You think that’s an adventure?” Charlo shoots back. “The Ments? Even though that place is as far away from us as you could possibly get every fucken surfer ever has surfed the there, like, this year. And done so while sitting on a boat drinking ice-cold Bintang and streaming episodes of Game of Thrones. There’s no more adventure. There’s no more unknown and that is fucken that.”