Parker: Tattoo machines and me!

Aren't your twenties all about making bad decisions?

When I was in my early twenties a number of friends bought tattoo machines. Which was terrifying. I was drinking heavily, lots of lost days and nights, and I had a recurring nightmare in which I’d drunkenly get a shitting dog tattooed on my chest.

Woke me up pulse racing a hundred times. What I remember of my dreams is usually very surreal, so the realistic ones do a good job rattling me. They always feature me running from the cops for some unspecified offense, or it’s finals day and I’m in a panic because I forgot to study.

The latter is especially fucked. It’s been over a decade since I was trapped in academia, the ol’ mind-brain needs to give me a break. On the cops one too, I’m a white upwardly mobile guy with a spotless criminal record. I’d need to kill someone to get in real trouble. Very worst case scenario, I’d be looking at three days in Kauai County Jail. Place is hardly Oz.

Been free of the tattoo nightmare for years and years.

Until last night.

The missus was talking to her brother on the phone, and he mentioned his buddy just bought a machine.

Oh, no.

Sure enough, the little bozos are scribbling all over each other.

I mean, isn’t that what your twenties are about? Making bad decisions? We live a fairly long time, ideally, so long as you don’t have any kids there aren’t a lot of dumb mistakes you can’t come back from.

I met my wife fifteen years ago, when her youngest brother was seven. Watched him grow from a spoiled little monster into a pretty cool adult. The wife says I’ve been a huge influence on him, which probably isn’t great. Not that I accept any responsibility. He’s a grown man now, he can make his own decisions.

Even if those decisions are stupid. I mean, isn’t that what your twenties are about? Making bad decisions? We live a fairly long time, ideally, so long as you don’t have any kids there aren’t a lot of dumb mistakes you can’t come back from.

Even tattoos, I guess.

Removal technology has come a long way, plenty of guys I know are getting shit scrubbed from their faces. Which is great. Tattoos are cool, I’ve got a few of my own, but I’ve never seen one on someone’s face that didn’t seem indicative of some sort of mental disorder. Like that poor kid, Antwon DixonMan, did the skate industry eat him alive or what?

I asked my brother in law to send me a picture, needed to witness what his idiocy hath wrought. I was not disappointed.

“What’s that supposed to be?”

“It’s a chick holding ice cream cones under her tits.”

“With an upside down crucifix over her box?”

“No, that’ supposed to be her pubes, shaved into one.”

“Same thing. What’s with the flying pig?”

“It’s funny. I’ve got a mole smoking a joint on my other leg.”

“Those are terrible.”

“I know, but they’re on my thighs, no one can see them. Except for girls, sometimes.”

“If the tattoos are jokes, does that make your dick the punchline?”

justin tattoo

Witness: The Dawn of Mayhem!

Matt "Mayhem" Biolos is an artist at the height of his powers.

Matt “Mayhem” Biolos today is Lou Reed in 1967. He is Takeshi Murakami in 2000. He is Hedi Slimane in 2002 and Greg Louganis in 1988 and Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1864 and Paul Bocuse in 1975 and Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.

He is an artist at the height of his powers.

And if you have never owned a Matt Biolos board you you will kick yourself in 25 years for missing out just like our parents kick themselves today for not buying Apple stock in 1980 for $22 a share. Of course you could get a custom shaped thing but why wait? His boards, off the rack, are as delicious as any. He is that good and your surfing will shine when guided by the brushstrokes of his hand.

You think I am prone to over-exaggeration? You think that Pac-Sun bought …Lost and BeachGrit and Futures fins and is driving an ill-conceived, poorly executed piece of advertorial down your open throat? Shame on you! Shame indeed!

(Dear Pac-Sun…I can’t speak for my wonderful friends at …Lost or Futures but let me introduce BeachGrit! We are as fun as we are fresh, anti-depressive to the core, and would make a lovely counterpart to the rest of your online surf wear sales business…)

I am not exaggerating at all! Matt’s boards are a revelation and maybe it is because he makes them for you and me and himself. He makes them for the average and then scales them for his stars. And maybe it is good that you waited, if you have never owned, because today is a new day and he in unveiling a new technology. Carbon Wrap! What makes Carbon Wrap so good? Let’s ask the master!

Why should we care about carbon wraps? Real talk!

Honestly, I fell in love with these boards when I first laid eyes and, immediately thereafter,  feet on. The combination of EPS foam and epoxy resin has long been a lively pairing for greater-strength-to-weight ratio surfboards, featuring a lively pop in small to moderate surf. The benefits of carbon re-enforcements versus the old wooden stringer have already proven popular, and fairly easily felt under the foot of intermediate to expert, and even professional surfers. What Dan MacDonald (the inventor of CW) came up with that is so unique is the carbon bands create an engineered flex focused just in front of the fins. This is the magic of CarbonWrap. The tail, under the pressure of the surfers’ feet and G-forces in the wave, loads up and snaps back with astonishing bursts of speed. Combined with the light, and relatively high strength-to-weight ratio, construction of EPS foam and epoxy resin, and a composite of multiple direction layers and weaves of fiberglass and carbon fiber, these boards are electric underfoot. There was a solid five years of hard core RnD that went into Carbon Wrap before  we got involved. Dan’s stroke of genius, The Wrap, had been through many incarnations. We got involved about 18 months ago. We began to build dozens of boards for athletes (and for myself and my crew of Domesticated RnD guys) and refined all aspects of the construction. Sure, the WCT might not jump all over it. It’s not necessarily about them. The thing about CarbonWrap is that it most benefits the average surfer. In small-to-moderate surf, it feels like it  does the work for you. Almost like pedaling one of those electric assisted bicycles up a hill.

What’s the smackdown, price-wise?

The boards are between $750.00 and $800.00 in the US with the price being right about the same but adjusted to Australian dollars in Australia.

What’s the difference, in layman terms, tween Hayden’s FF and the carbon wraps?

Look, Hayden really pioneered bringing this genre of construction to the global surf market. Before him, these boards were more on the niche side of board building. He broke down the door and figured how to take them to the global market. I was there. He made multiple trips to southern California , stayed at my house and introduced me to his construction. We traveled to Japan and built hundreds of those things in Chiba together.

That said, the way Carbon Wrap is engineered, with the carbon bands beginning at the nose, slowly splaying outward towed the tail then strategically “wrapping ” the rails and becoming a perfectly positioned tail patch, it’s is easy to see that the flex is engineered in a more focused and specific way. We also added the fused carbon strip in the deck which gives a little extra push-back and projection forward under the front foot and encourages the deck to eventually cave in and resemble that of your foot’s arch, and a standard wooden-stringer board, rather than having the entire deck caving in, rail to rail.  

For you, me, real life surfers, not Kolohe etc, what diff is it going to make?

Listen. Although our WQS team is raving about CW, and using them in comps, as well as re-ordering more of them the time, I honestly feel that these boards will in fact make a bigger “diff” for guys like us, than the top surfers. Surfing a already easy for them! We are just supplying  a board to help make surfing more fun, and hopefully somewhat easier, for the the real life surfer.

Go and get one now. And get one with a Futures box. Their fins smash those poorly engineered, poorly advertised FCS things. 11 Championship Tour Wins wins in 11 Championship Tour tries (2015). Who wants to surf like they are part of the World Surf League? Not John John Florence and he is even part of the World Surf League!

THE DAWN OF MAYHEM from Lost Video Productions on Vimeo.

Have you heard? There might be a new Brazilian champ in town! No, not you Gabby...Italo! Italo Ferreira!
Have you heard? There might be a new Brazilian champ in town! No, not you Gabby...Italo! Italo Ferreira!

Rumor: Mick Fanning picks Italo!

Could last year's ROY be this year's champ? Mick Fanning allegedly says "Yes!"

Some rumors here are ironclad. “Rumor” in name only, as it were. Others are a bit flimsier. Whispers floating on warm winds. This is one of the later but too juicy to keep all to my lonesome!

Get a load of this! Apparently, a brand executive overheard your three time world champ Mick “White Lightening” Fanning mention, ahead of this year’s Snapper kickoff, who stood the best chance to win the 2016 World Surf League World Title. His answer included three Brazilians, which should come as no surprise, but what may shock is that the leader, potential winner, first time World Champ was none other than…

Your most recent Rookie-of-the-Year Italo Ferreira!

And maybe it shouldn’t shock. The young Brazilian came storming out of nowhere to end his inaugural season number seven in the world. He surfed all sorts of waves, from playful beachbreak to thundering reefy barrels, with aplomb. He had style. He showed class. Surfing’s great historian Matt Warshaw even calls him, “My main man” and also says, “I’m Italo’s biggest, oldest fan.”

Let’s ask Matt right now if he thinks an Italo victory is possible!

(You can read a Zach Weisberg paragraph while we wait for Matt to respond!)

If you don’t feel your perspective is represented, or you disagree with something you read, don’t get mad. You can participate! Lo and behold, this is the only placethat will embrace you with open arms. That was largely the reason this thing started. If you think we disagree, you might be right. But we might run it anyway. Just email us. Our editorial team will have a look, provide feedback, and if your submission seems like a good fit, a million plus people might read it.

A million plus people might read The Inertia? Wow! But let’s head back over to Italo. Do you think he has a shot? Would you love to see him raise the cup after Pipeline? Is it possible not to love Italo?

(You can read another Zach Weisberg paragraph while thinking up your response!)

And that’s an ongoing challenge for media: indulging the ability to criticize influencers while maintaining a positive working relationship. But that’s something for me to worry about. Not you. I’ll walk that line, take the beatings on both sides, and do my best to figure out a way to make our most valuable stakeholders happy. But, as they say, you can’t please everyone. That doesn’t end well.

Zach takes the beatings on both sides? Wow!

5 Dumb Questions to Ask Pro Surfers!

Can I have your board? Can I tell you about my experiences with concave?

I won’t even begin to pretend that, at various points in my career, I haven’t felt overwhelmed, subjugated, under spell, by high-end pro surfers.

It’s a fame thing. I get it. I see it.

The way a pro surfer will swing in to my little town and his acolytes will follow, always arranged in a subconscious hierarchy in a line as they march to a bar, to a restaurant, the number one pal half-a-step behind the pro star, number five at the back of the pack. The way their heads are turned away when the dinner bill comes and the high-end pro surfer, depending upon his generosity rating, either discreetly slips his card into the leather billfold or uselessly searches for…someone… to make a token gesture at payment.

Can you imagine being surrounded by yes-men and dumb, beautiful girls who’ll fall into a deep squat just because of your fame, even if you’re paunchy and charmless. No one but the famous can appreciate the power of true harlotry.

But, as life ain’t all cake, fame isn’t always singing with seduction and worship.

Can you imagine the dumb, intrusive questions y’have to live with?

Small price, sure, and yes if only, but tell me you would be worn thin if, every day, every contest you were asked:

Can I have your board? 

I travel as what is loosely termed a “journalist” on surf trips. Sometimes I have to write something, sometimes shoot a film, sometimes I just surf and observe. And, every single day, a pro will have someone engage ‘em in conversation, be all pally, and, before you know it… can I have your board? Who asks such a thing? Would you walk up to Leo Decap and say, nice 100-foot boat, can I have? Yeah, I get that pros get free boards, and most ‘em do leave most of ‘em around the world, for kids, for the families they stay with, but why would they wanna give away a sled to someone who was non-existent in their lives five minutes previous? Say what you want about pros, but I’m always amazed by their patience, by their kindness in refusal.

Is that a single-double concave into a slight vee through the tail? 

It ain’t a secret that light concaves and vee through the tail are invisible to everyone except shapers in fluorescent-lit shaping bays. But, when you’re a pro surfer, everyone wants to talk design. They’ll grab your board, spin it on its side, run a cupped hand along the rail, say things like: Blockier than I thought. Or, I’m guessing this is 32 litres. How much do you weigh? And, most painfully, the fan will engage in deep philosophical discussion about the merits of single and double concave and vee in the tail, and how it has impacted upon their own surfing.

Can I have a tail-pad? 

I know one pro surfer, helluva of a guy, helluva surfer, and he says how difficult it is to stop his pals from raiding every tail-pad delivery. Think about it. A high-end pro mows through a hundred or so boards a year. That’s a real big box of pads. Now imagine all the times he gets asked for one of his tail-pads. My pal says he always ends up buying at least half-a-dozen at 60 bucks a shot. I know, don’t feel sorry for the millionaire sonofabitch. But, fuck.

Who are you sponsored by? 

There he stands, our dazzling hero, in head to thong Billabong, with VonZipper glasses, wearing a Nixon watch and holding a surfboard that confirms his employers.

Do you have a wife-girlfriend? 

The dumbest question! No!

Mikey Wright
Hello Mikey Wright! Are you the wild man the tour needs? | Photo: Quiksilver

Power Rankings: 2016 Rookies Pre-Snapper!

Are they the freshest air or do they stink of chemical products floating on the breeze?

Are the seven WSL rookies for 2016 a breath of the freshest air or do they stink of chemical products floating on the breeze? Let’s meet!

#1 Ciao Ibelli, Brazil

For those who doubt the peloton effect, watch this rookie come on tour as a fully-fledged man amongst men, slipstreaming right into the psychological advantage of the Brazilian front-runners.

Proof that supply side economics does work in rare instances. ie. a rising tide does float all boats. We saw that with the way De Souza learnt to ride Pipe, Gabby likewise at Pipe and Chopes, Filipe on the right path.

Ibelli has the most powerful bottom turn on tour, before he even starts. Rookie of the Year.

#2 Ryan Callinan, Australia

Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes, would say the timing is propitious for Ryan Callinan. An ecological niche has become vacant on tour with the retirements of CJ Hopgood and Freddie P, namely, working class goofyfooter.

Actually, Callinan is a bit more than that. Of all the rookies, he’s the only one I can get excited about. Very classy repertoire: progressive, powerful. More than a hint of Clay Marzo minus the Aspergers. Craig Anderson with a functioning back leg. You think I’m being a parochial jackass, backing an aussie goofyfooter? Watch this video and make up your own mind. 

Callinan has already been through a mild version of hype, come out the other side as a smart, well-adjusted kid. He’s obviously got the chops and is smart enough to figure out the game. Is he dumb enough to think that it matters?

From the I Ching: Trial and tribulation can hone exceptional character to a razor edge that slices deftly through every challenge. 
Action prevails where words will fail.

#3 Connor Coffin, USA

There’s everything to like about CC’s surfing and nothing to hate. Smooth, on rail, stylish, progressive, seems like a lovely kid, Santa Babs style as deep as the Mariana trench, made Sunset Beach look good etc… and yet, taken as a whole the package seems a bit… a bit I don’t know, pseudo, a bit soft.

I like it, it’s just I don’t feel anything when I see it.

I see you Bradley Gerlach, flying down the 805 in your convertible getting all red-faced and apoplectic, come on down and defend your boy. Tell me I’m a worthless internet hack who couldn’t surf his way out of a wet paper bag and whose opinion is worth five-eighths of fuck all. Bring the noise, but first look into your heart of hearts and tell me honestly you wouldn’t like to see Connor with just a touch more Andy Irons, a smidgin of Bobby Martinez, a bit more mongrel about him before he launches into a pro career. You do don’t you!

That’s all I’m saying, baby.

You can coach technique but you can’t coach character. Parker = new improved Taylor Knox?

#4 Jack Freestone, Australia

Taking an omniscient view of the good ship “Jack Freestones career” we spy from our vantage three dangerous shoals ahead.

The first is genetic.

Jack is tall timber and his specialty is a progressive aerial repertoire. As we saw last year during his Snapper wildcard, when it’s small and weak he looks underpowered and cumbersome. Against smaller opponents like Filipe Toledo in three-foot surf his genetic attributes become a drag. He needs to quickly develop more big turn carving and shift water, as well as learn to manhandle heavy lefts.

The second shoal is expectation, or the weight of unrealised expectation. Freestone has been talked up since he won the world junior title and it was expected he would quickly slipstream his Coolangatta homies Parko and Fanning. Not so. In the meantime his peers and those younger than him have won events and world titles. That could be motivation in the right hands, in the wrong ones a disincentive to do the work required.

Which leads to the third hazard ahead. Attitude. Freestone has already won the prize: Instagram followers, Alana Blanchard etc etc. Why does he even need to be on tour? He’s already expressed ambivalence, he can’t come out of the gates at Snapper tentative, trying to feel his way in, wondering if all this hassle is worth it. Snapper and Bells suit his surfing.

If he lacks impact there he risks being an easy-beat by June with a still born career by December. That’s nothing but real talk.

#5 Kanoa Igarashi, USA

I’m wracking my brain trying to think of another pro sport where athletes can come onto the main stage with such undercooked skill sets at some of the main locations. Can you think of any? Pro surfing seems to specialize in this particular dish: the rookie who can barely make the drop at Teahupoo, looks as graceful and sure-footed as a new born foal at J-Bay and gets lost in the glare of the headlights at Pipeline.

That might be unfair to Kanoa, who has said he wants results at Teahupoo and Pipe, where he is not expected to do well. Wanting to do well though, and doing well are two different things, especially at waves where there are no shortcuts to mastery.

Has he been there, put the hours in? I can’t find any video evidence to say either way. Most of the video of Igarashi seems to have been shot when he was a kid and looked like a cartoon character of a small forest animal. Maybe this kid is carved from harder timber than he looks but at the moment and until proven otherwise he looks like wounded gazelle on the savannah.

#6 Davey Cathels, Australia

Let’s play word association. First word that comes to mind. No cheating, no googling.

Davey Cathels.
Davey Cathels.
Davey Cathels.

Get anything? Ring any bells?

Any mental images come to mind? Nah, me neither.

All I could come up with is a tow headed kid from North Narrabeen that did alright at an Oakley pro junior a few years back, friends with Laura Enever. Thats a problem for young Davey. Pro surfing is much closer to rock and roll wrestling than NFL.

Judges aren’t automatons. They are feeling, subjective beings, prone to error, bias, and most importantly, entanglement in the surf culture, where decisions about who is ripping are made routinely, unconsciously, decisively.

First rule of Pro Surfing: a sellable story, a personality, an image that engages, moves product and gets eyeballs on monitors matters far more than any physical stat unless your name is Bede Durbidge. Highest examples: Craig Anderson, Rob Machado.

Judges aren’t automatons. They are feeling, subjective beings, prone to error, bias, and most importantly, entanglement in the surf culture, where decisions about who is ripping are made routinely, unconsciously, decisively.

Davey needs to insert himself into that stream, bust down the door a little and then see where the momentum takes him. Even if his image is no image he needs to sell it, or remain a regional talent.

#7 Mikey Wright, Australia

Throwback to a time of wild men on tour, some of whom are no longer with us.

And it’s real, not something manufactured by Quik to sell boardshorts. He only needs to follow the template set by brother Owen in 2009. Viz, show no respect to opponents and go big at every occasion.

Forget strategy. Falling is not failing.

If the stars align he could be on tour next year, hopefully as partner and not replacement to his injured brother.