The Devil Wears Mada!

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!


“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.”

Dusty Payne Rip Curl Pro
Tell me: what kinda jams do you wanna see? Practised but safe turns on sets or a little risk on slightly smaller waves? | Photo: WSL

Revealed: WSL Judges “Size Queens!”

Would you rather see someone surf a set wave safely or a medium wave insanely?

The fundamental question needs to be asked: would we rather see someone surf a set wave safely or a medium wave insanely?

Dusty must be scratching his head. What spectator would rather see Kanoa safety slap his way to the beach than Dusty looking he’s auditioning for (insert bearded film-maker)’s next flick?

The WSL needs to come out and say it.

Wave choice trumps all other aspects of the scoring criteria.

While this (to a degree) makes sense at spots like Chopes, Fiji, Pipe etc, shitty shoulder-high and onshore Bells is the wrong time and place for the WSL to drive this point home. As far as quality goes, the difference between the set waves and the medium waves on a day like this is irrelevant. Yet still, the wave-height scoring bias is on display.

But why?

My theory: this trivial shit makes sense to the WSL’s target mainstream audience. Wave height is tangible to non-surfers. For the last few years, Paul Speaker and his team have been promising mainstream viewership. However, surfing isn’t basketball. It’s not soccer. There’s no ball-in-the-basket moment that makes sense to a corn shucker from Iowa.

So many of these contests end up being wave-selection affairs where the guy lucky enough to be on the right side of the rotation wins by default. If I had a nickel for every time a heat was coming down to the wire, and I knew the guy was going to get the  score only because of the size of the wave he took off on, I’d have enough to buy the goddamn WSL.

My theory: this trivial shit makes sense to the WSL’s target mainstream audience. Wave height is tangible to non-surfers. For the last few years, Paul Speaker and his team have been promising mainstream viewership. However, surfing isn’t basketball. It’s not soccer. There’s no ball-in-the-basket moment that makes sense to a corn shucker from Iowa.

Let’s take another sport for example, figure skating. I don’t know shit about it. It all looks the same to me. Some twirls. Some awkward in between ‘dancing’. Some smiles. Then it’s over. I wouldn’t know how to judge that in a million years. Sure, I’ll see it on TV every four years come Olympic time, but that’s it.

That’s what surfing is to non-surfers.

Therefore, when you simply award the biggest wave with the best score, people have that moment of clarity. “I now understand surfing and want to buy Mick Fanning’s t-shirt!”


Day One: Flat-Section-Bog-Rail Pro!

Brought to you by slavery!

It’s the first day of the Flat Section Bog Rail Pro brought to you by Slavery! Behold and wonder! Who will hop across the most sections? Will foamy end bonks take home the gold?

Is there anything more interesting one can do with their time?

You could go for a surf. I had a blast this AM, finally healthy, frothing everyday. Feels good, Oahu turned me into a jaded spoiled ass who’d turn his nose up at anything that wasn’t glassy and reeling. Nothing gets the motor going like a years long forced convalescence followed by relearning how to surf.

Let me tell you, sitting on the shoulder with the rest of the kooks because your shoulders are totally gone is fucking humiliating. Thank god it’s done.

Yesterday, I spent a solid hour watching a pair of teeny tiny boys on sub five-foot shortboards dismantle a little sandbar. Crazy how good little kids surf these days. Kind of makes me angry. How dare they? I rode huge battered hand me downs at that age, so did everyone else. Grom specific micro boards weren’t really a thing. I can’t believe they are now, who’s got the money to drop on a custom stick the kid’s just gonna outgrow in a few months?

Rich white people, that’s who.

What struck me as odd. While they ripped, no doubt, they surfed boring. Linking cutbacks, safety floaters, no risk. The sandbar they had to themselves was head high (by their standards), and kept presenting these little racetrack to air sections that they totally ignored.

Then I noticed Dad on the beach. They were running heats, practising. How lame, way to suck out all the fun. It breaks my heart to see someone so young turning surfing into a sport, rather than the selfish aquatic dance it’s meant to be.

Then I noticed Dad on the beach. They were running heats, practising. How lame, way to suck out all the fun. It breaks my heart to see someone so young turning surfing into a sport, rather than the selfish aquatic dance it’s meant to be.

Surfing has always had its share of the jock mentality, dudes who want to win, fun be damned. And I get that, it’s a job, gotta bring home the bacon while you can.

But now… fucking jerseys with numbers, off season training, everyone’s got a coach. So lame, so boring. This truly is the Dead Ball Era of surfing, people have cracked the code, turned each wave into low risk/medium reward.

You could hardly accuse JJ or Sparkle Eyes Ho of boring freesurfs. But the rest of the kids? They’re not doing anything new. Same shit as all the old men, but each new generation should be pushing the limits.

Scary for the future. All the old men are falling apart, falling off. The last generation that tones it down for heats is dying, the new kids surf this way all the time.

There are outliers, of course. You could hardly accuse JJ or Sparkle Eyes Ho of boring freesurfs. But the rest of the kids? They’re not doing anything new. Same shit as all the old men, but each new generation should be pushing the limits.

Remember the early 90’s? When airs and fins out bashes weren’t “real surfing”? How hard those old men kicked and screamed to prolong their notion of what surfing should be? No point now. Same old same old, frontside revs we’ve seen a million times. Great for the guys who hung around, the ones who pioneered that shit. Stale as fuck on a baby faced rookie.

I’ve seen today before, I’m not engaged. I’m going back down to the beach. Maybe I’ll swing by the Green Pig and pick up a Porkaholic sandwich. I really shouldn’t though. Anything called the Porkaholic needs to stay a sometimes treat.

Nixon: “No blacks! No hippies!”

A public relations nightmare?

You know Nixon, of course, as a wonderful action sport watch company. Jack Freestone, Rob Machado, JJF, Josh Kerr, etc. etc. etc. The Player, Ultratide, etc. etc etc. They are watches that fit your surf lifestyle!

You may not know Nixon as the 37th President of the United States of America. You maybe should because he lived near Trestles but there are no reports of him actually surfing it. In any case, his presidency was marked by turmoil. Many found him an evil man. Hunter S. Thompson wrote, after his death:

Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.

But the watch company. Fresh! Fun!

But the ex-president. Naughty! Rude!

And yesterday, it was revealed that Nixon was even naughtier and ruder than previously thought. He specifically started the War on Drugs to smash African-Americans and gentle leftists. In a just published interview that sat hidden in notebooks since 1999 Nixon’s domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told writer Dan Baum:

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
Uh oh! That doesn’t sound very fresh, fun or action sporty. It does not sound like a program that either Rob Machado or John John Florence would approve. When you Google the name Nixon both the watch and the man are front and center. Do you think that hurts sales or do you think anti-commie racists have started their Christmas shopping early?
Should we start a watch company ourselves and name it Radovan?
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Cottons, I think. Or one of those damned waves. No blacks. No hippies.
Cottons, I think. Or one of those damned waves. No blacks. No hippies.

Rumour: Depactus takes a dive!

Surf label aimed at Men of Extraordinary Pursuits may be no more!

Do you remember the “adventure-inspired” brand Depactus? It was launched almost two years ago by the former pro surfer Luke Egan, Electric founder Bruce Beach and Volcom’s Tony Ruiz, and was marked by a well-chosen team including the “greatest athlete you’ve never heard of” and Maui jibber Matt Meola.

Depactus branded their team MEPs or Men of Extraordinary Pursuits. Catchy, yeah it was.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 8.13.08 am

If you read the about section of the Depactus website, you’d discover it was “a technical outfitter for surfing’s modern youth.”

In an excellent interview with Stab magazine at launch, Luke Egan described Depactus as the “yin to Patagonia’s yang… After I left Billabong, throughout 2013 all I wanted was another challenge. I was going to stay at home in Australia and start making boardshorts and give them to the boys, just to see where it went. I spoke to Bruce, who’d left Electric, and he just wanted to go surfing with his son for six months. By the time it got to the end of year he’d done that and taken this brand to another level. Fuck, alright, let’s go then, I thought.”

Anyway, word on the street is Depactus is done. The MEPs are actively seeking alternative sponsorships and the reason for its failure?

We’re told the brand was marked by three major flaws.

  1. Big salaries right out of the gate.
  2. Branding that was tone deaf to the consumer. Depactus came in high-end and expensive where Salty Crew, who is killing it, came in low, came in blue-collar. Same waterman-fisherman-surfer vibe but more authentic and value oriented.
  3. Bold spending. Big ad agency employed, designers, staff and the most delicious trade show fit-outs seen in a while.

Did you get to see, feel, maybe buy Depactus? Did you like? Why do you think, if rumours are true, that it failed?

Below, you can watch a What Youth-produced video made at launch. A short that is marked by an optimism that was beautiful to watch the time, perhaps a little sad now.