Plus, Kelly's boards are horrible and ugly, says What Youth's Travis Ferré
I was once told that exclamation points should never be used (what a crock of shit!). I also once called BeachGrit’s very own Chas Smith the modern day Lord Henry Wotton(from The Picture of Dorian Gray). And since then I’ve had a fantastic relationship with exclamation points and with Chas and Derek and I think that is because Chas and Derek are living, breathing exclamation points and I tend to thrive on enthusiasm.
I once purchased a used and very rare hardback edition of The Galleryby the fantastically gay and fantastically dead (at his own hand) John Horne Burns at the recommendation of Chas (“that’s how you know it’s good!” he exclaimed! ).
I bought it from the The Strand (18 miles of books!) in New York and I bought it on the same trip in which Rob Machado and I began our decade-long and apparently somewhat ongoing feud (you know there will be more on that later Blood Feud! etc.).
That book was a fantastic recommendation and the copy I have smells not unlike the inside of a 1987 Saab with leather interior. I’d like to take this moment to urge you to purchase a copy yourself and see what went on inside Galleria Umberto, which according to the book jacket is “a bombed-out arcade where everybody in town comes together in pursuit of food, drink, sex, money, and oblivion.”
Sounds like the World Tour circa ’89!
So what the hell am I doing here? I suppose I should get to the point.
Well, Derek sent me some fantastic watermelon-rind green swimming trunks and I thought it would be a neat exercise to participate in the sweaty Caribbean dance floor of journalism they’ve created over at BeachGrit. So much gossip! So much fun! So loose! Who cares about tomorrow! Who cares about yesterday! We have today. And this rum and this sticky dance floor. Fuck art, let’s dance and all that jazz.
As you may or may not know by now, I do What Youth. We do surf and we do some skate and some living and we do music and we do youth. But we also do not youth too. But who’s to define that word anyhow. I get carded every time I buy my Heinekens despite inhabiting earth for more than three decades. And I’ve recently noticed the great and entertaining work of Chas and Derek and Rory and all the characters here and I wanted to play.
But where to start! My cup runneth over. I ran through so many topics.
Kelly Slater is riding boards even more horrible than his last ones (I haven’t loved the aesthetics of Kelly’s surfboards since they were all-white 17-inch wide blades with black Quik stickers on the nose and one clean “Shaped by Al Merrick” logo laminated ¾ of the way down the deck).
But until recently, he was always able to manipulate those ugly boards into perfect surfing and I would be forced to eat my words and watch surfers at home try to ride them and fail. Now they are ugly and he is unable to manipulate them and they look as though they cannot defend themselves against any form of whitewater. I worry for him. And I worry for all the poor kids who will end up buying them. At least when his boards were 17-inch wide sexy blades we all looked cool. Now we look Costco.
I have also long disliked Rob Machado for embarrassing me with a back of the head tap at an XXL Awards show that was apparently prompted by my refusal to remove a story I wrote called “A Moment Among the Famous.”
I am so bored by WSL and “Margie’s” and Pottz’s commentary makes me sad because he loves conservative surfing so much. I love Taj Burrow and Benji Weatherly with all my heart and was once married to Benji by Taj underneath a full moon at a post-Lowers victory party and that stands as a career highlight.
Consider this a prologue. With many more exclamation points to come!
Kieren Perrow has just called the action off. Let's fill our time productively!
Today’s hot professional surf action has just been called off by Kieren Perrow and why does he look so impish when he makes his call? Why does he look like he’s pulling one over on the viewer? Does he know something we don’t? Maybe that the World Surf League is partially funded by a great barrier reef oil concession that is slowly murdering the planet and it is doomsville for all of us? Well, whatever, we have nearly 24 hours to kill until the contest is called off tomorrow too.
And you’ve played that wonderful time killing game shoot, fuck, marry have you not? The rules are simple. Three people/things are presented. You must shoot one, fuck one and marry one. Got it? Good. So let’s play a special World Surf League edition!
Joe Turpel’s hair, Martin Potter’s neutered personality, Pete Mel’s downward gaze.
Margaret River’s Main Break, the Box, North Point.
Round 2, Round 4, the finals
a little jam, a carve off the top, a little air reverse
Ronnie Blakey’s sexual charisma, Strider’s boyish enthusiasm, Ross William’s metaphors
I’ve been watching the Florence/Ibelli heat on repeat, trying to figure out how the hell it makes me feel.
Tough call, definitely a close one. I really want to say the judges got it wrong. JJ’s coping clicker frontside three got my panties wet. Such a cool approach to a wonky section. Lickety-split rotation, right into a steezy layback into the pocket. Different, stylish, loose limbed beauty. Gotta love it. Should’ve scored higher, right?
But Caio… he done good! Went for risk in the dying moments. Pretty big rev, but not backed up by a heck of a lot. Judges gave him a hair too much credit, we’ve been there before.
JJ deserved a bit more, Caio a tad less. Would it have changed the result? I dunno.
It was enough to make me pay attention to the new Brazzo, though.
Went back through his heats, I like what I see. Don’t know what to call his approach. Aggressive-conservative seems good. A lot of commitment behind that wide stance. Sits somewhere in the middle. Dazzles better than De Souza, makes heats better than JJ. He kitesurfs, apparently.That’s weird.
Probably makes me racist, wrote him off without really looking. Figured he was a ‘QS type cat, bring some strong tactics, nothing fancy. But some of my best friends are Brazilian!
Not true. Even if it were, saying so would definitely make me racist.
How dare he? Just because he has decades more experience behind him, knows more about pro surfing than anyone else on Earth, the guy thinks he has the right to provide a rational, thoughtful, view that differs from mine? Makes me angrier than a cat in a sack!
But maybe he’s right, maybe things are getting better.
Maybe the problem’s the old guard, the decrepit fuckers in their thirties and onwards that have had a stranglehold on competitive surfing for the last decade plus. Taj, Mick, Parko, Kerr, Slater, et al., have been destroying rookie dreams for far too long. Once they’re all gone, exploring life post-tour, selling real estate or shilling soft goods or drinking themselves into oblivion, the young guys will finally get a chance to come into their own.
A team sport gives rookies time to transition. Sit the bench a bit, figure out that performance bump from really good to best in the world. Tack some muscle onto a pubescent frame. But surf is do or die, sink or swim, a weak first year can kill a promising career.
Don’t get me wrong, the judging still sucks, and the word “jam” is the worst. But maybe I should ditch the doom and gloom and appreciate potential, instead of lamenting reality.
Whatever the case, the first four events are almost always a drag. Tapping my feet, impatient.
Trace B Marshall: Not yet, I wish. But it is Sunday afternoon here so I’m contemplating opening a bottle of wine.
Tell me about the post…
Dude, it’s sad watching Slater. He’s ripping so hard, dominating so hard, in freesurfs, but when he’s in a heat it all collapses. He stutters and it’s because of his boards. They look like shit. I think it’s because he’s so stubborn. It’s him trying to do the next big thing. But, in reality, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Kelly Slater Board Co is making boards for artificial waves. They only work in wave pools.
You see him in his turns, in heats, and you know it’s not him not being able to do it. It’s his surfboards. It’s crazy, dude. He can be his own worst enemy. It’s like, dude, Outerknown? Come on man, the dude with the worst fashion taste ever making a high-end men’s fashion brand? Come on, just rip! We need you!
I can’t see a damn thing. All I see is a master tinkering on a work of genius…
Dude, it’s beyond. Have you ever once seen a stutter in that guy’s surfing? You’d see him mess up, misstep and it would be this calculated thing. He’d make an adjustment and then continue to fucking dominate. What’s so exciting about watching Kelly surf is he’s not mechanically perfect. He’s not John John, he’s not Brazilian, he’s not a fucking young dude doing sick airs. He exists between everything. His surfing is calculated and radical. You see him in his turns, in heats, and you know it’s not him not being able to do it. It’s his surfboards. It’s crazy, dude. He can be his own worst enemy. It’s like, dude, Outerknown? Come on man, the dude with the worst fashion taste ever making a high-end men’s fashion brand? Come on, just rip! We need you!
Would you think ill of me if I told you I was wearing an Ok t-shirt, like, now? And if I was to tell you that besides my Balmain collection, and maybe the ACME tees, it’s my favourite?
Ha, well, we love the dude. We do things constantly to fuck with him. The dude has a sense of humour and is the greatest of all time. But, how bad do you want to see him take it to all these guys, you know? And you know he can! You can see it in his surfing. It’s not a physical handicap. It’s totally faulty equipment. I was watching the contest the other day, seeing him set his line for the biggest fucking cutback and… he bogged. Dude, put yourself there. You ride a board you haven’t ridden before, the waves get good and you have the wrong board. It’s those mistakes he’s making. All my friends can see it. Even his friends. Even Ross Williams and Strider. You can tell they’re frustrated for him.
What would you like to see change? Dancing on Merricks?
Put down the wavepool boards. They look like fucking pool boards. I want to see him come out in ankle-high striped Quiksilver Trunks, KS fin systems, a rainbow-striped tailpad and a CI with a giant red Quiksilver logo again and just… dominate. If he wants to be fashion forward, that’s fashion forward.
He stepped through the door and into the harsh late afternoon winter light. El Nino was bringing desperately needed rain to a parched southern California but was also bringing its unnecessary cold and ridiculously clear air. After the squalls passed, when the sun poked out from behind pregnant black clouds, you could see for miles and miles and miles. The pollution washed away. Any extra floating air particle drowned. Most would comment favorably about the purity but he found it super off-putting. It was like living in a magnifying glass. Or one of those crazy super HD televisions. He liked pollution’s fuzz. The harsh made him feel weird. Sick.
He put his sunnies on, quickly, and shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his black peacoat, pulling it tight. He was happy he had worn a beanie. Happy the sun would be down soon.
The traffic on Placentia was lighter than usual and there was no pedestrian activity. He stood out front of Avila’s El Ranchito spacing for a minute. Trying to think of what to actually do. The skinny palms waved above him in a hollow wind.
He looked both ways, waiting for a newer Toyota Tacoma pickup to pass, and then ran across the four lanes plus painted island to the other side, walking by a tan stucco two-story apartment building and the two-story cement office building next to it. Everything here, for miles and miles and miles, was two stories, or one. If happening by, it would only look like early 1980s urban sprawl. No distinct architecture or tone. Single story homes. Double story office complexes. Single story miniature warehouses with small front offices and metal rollup doors out back. Wide four lane’d streets with either painted or curbed islands. Palm trees here and there. Magnolias every so often.
On clear El Nino days one could see for miles because there was nothing to stand in the way. No geographical curvature. No manmade tower. Even Christ Lutheran Church’s brick steeple only reached two and a half stories into the sky.
He walked by FN/KY’s office. It’s pronounced “Fin Key” and they made towels and after surf mats that you put on the ground when changing out of a wetsuit. One of his bros had worked there before getting a job filling orders at Octopus’s miniature warehouse around the corner. They made surf traction. What Youth, the surf/culture mag, was around the corner and Banks Brand across the street from it and Outpost Kitchen, started by an Australian surfer who used to work for Electric sunglasses before starting an eco restaurant that served avocado toast and Proteins & Potassiums smoothies was next to it.
It would be impossible to know, without already knowing, that there was probably two billion dollars worth of surf/skate/snow industry locked here non-descript two mile Costa Mesa triangle between the Santa Ana River and the 55 freeway. He kicked a rock and it pinged off the toe of his red Vans satisfactorily skittering to a stop in the street. A newer Toyota Tacoma ran over it.
The Fouled Anchors thing wouldn’t be happening for another couple hours so he figured he’d walk to the 7-Eleven on the corner and grab a case of Coors Light to take back to house. Or whatever. He had to beat it before the chick came out, anyhow, and they needed Coors Light at home so whatever. He passed the coin laundry and the produce & meat joint that sold the greatest carne asada and was ready to push past a Mexican day laborer and through the glass doors when he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket.
It took him too long to fish it out because he had accidentally washed his raw denim jeans a few days ago and they had shrunk impossibly. They were already super skinny but this amount was too much. He was wanting to wear them back into shape but the wet weather wasn’t helping his cause and the cold just made them annoying. When he finally had it in his hand the screen read Missed Call: Kat V and his knuckles were scraped and the anchor ring he wore on his middle finger had fallen off.