Parker: “When surf saved my life!”

For a fucked-up teen, surf was my escape. Free from self-doubt and self-hatred…

I’ve been sitting in front of the computer all damn morning. Bashing my head against the keys, trying to shake loose something. Anything.

I’m just over writing about surfing at the moment. It’s so lame. I’m so jaded.

Wasn’t always this way. Until I hit 30 I was more or less gay for surf.

If the sport had a dick it would’ve been balls deep inside me. Maybe I’m just a little sore these days. Maybe I can channel a little of that old stoke. Steal some inspirado from the days I’d devour every surf mag cover to cover, instead of half heartedly flipping through an issue while I take a shit.

The year was 1994. Shane Beschen was my favorite surfer in the world. His wide leg stance, buried rail gouges, a fins free game years ahead of its time. What wasn’t to love?

I was riding terrible boards. The super narrow, ridiculously thin, rockered out elf shoe garbage all the cool kids had. Pretty much Slater’s fault. Agonizing over sticker placement, spending hours getting the perfect wax bump going. Normal idiot teenage boy, didn’t have an original thought in my head. Boners 24/7, too awkward to convince a girl to touch it.

For a fucked-up teenager in the midst of terrible hormonal swings, life turned upside down, new school, no friends, surf was my escape. Total cliché, I know. But true. A few hours a day in the moment. Free from self-doubt and self-hatred and whatever behavorial problems I’d have been diagnosed with if it were ten years later.

I’d been kicked out of school a few months before. Kinda. More like got in trouble, mom was sick of her three sons. Dropped us off with dad. Didn’t see her much after that. What little I did was too much.

If I’m being honest, I never really got over it. Stopped speaking to the woman years ago. No great loss. Probably worked out for the best. Dad’s a better person, got an awesome stepmom. Molokai channel paddling waterwoman. Puts the men in our family to shame.

For a fucked up teenager in the midst of terrible hormonal swings, life turned upside down, new school, no friends, surf was my escape. Total cliché, I know. But true. A few hours a day in the moment. Free from self-doubt and self-hatred and whatever behavorial problems I’d have been diagnosed with if it were ten years later.

Pre-internet surf content was few and far between. Er and Ing every month, most of the info months old. A VHS copy of The Green Iguana I’d rewatched until the tape was tattered. And the occassional contest broadcast. I don’t remember what channel it was on, or if it was ever anything more than Cali beach break slop comps. But it didn’t matter. It was surfing, that was enough.

I’ll never forget the ’94 Beschen/Slater final. So stoked they played it on TV. Probably a few weeks after the event, but it didn’t matter. I had no idea who won. Didn’t read the paper, still came before the mags dropped.

Back and forth battle, Slater needed a 9.8-something in the dying moments. Snagged a quicky cover-up off the pier, punted an air on the end section. Ten! Had to be.

Wasn’t. Slater lost. Beschen hammered the final nail home by drawing an interference.

Pretty cool Warshaw saw fit to save the heat, posted it so I can relive the moment.


Webber wavepool

Parker: “Surfing’s Soul Doesn’t Exist!”

So why worry about surfing being in the Olympics?

The Olympics is a dirty business. A platform from which to whip the world’s citizens into jingoistic fervor, built on a foundation of corruption, and misappropriated government funds.

It provides niche sport athletes a chance to compete on the world stage. Helps corporations piggyback their way into your pocket book. Reportedly degenerates into an Olympic village hump-fest without fail.

Fernando Aguerre has been leading the push for surfing’s Olympic inclusion since the early nineties. A former rubber slipper magnate with a somewhat suspicious penchant for bow ties Aguerre is, by all reports, a true believer.

Emotionally invested in the sport, truly wanting nothing more than to see the competitive side of the slide slip its way into global consciousness. It’s a perplexing dream, that desire to pigeon hole creative release within the confines of competition.

Aguerre recently “recently hosted some IOC officials at the WSL event at Snapper Rocks to give them a taste of the sport in action.”

It might be unkind to insinuate that “host” is a euphemism for bribe, but the past behavior of IOC officials makes the suspicion tough to avoid. All evidence points to the conclusion that Olympic inclusion is largely pay-to-play. Which hardly makes Aguerre a bad actor, merely a devoted adherent working within the confines of the system.

Back in 2015 our own Chas Smith wrote on The Daily Beast,

“The inherent nature of snowboarding is anti-establishment. Inclusion in that shit is counter to our deal,” my wife, Circe, tells me. Now she is an extreme-sport agent and her client, Iouri Podladtchikov, won halfpipe gold in Sochi and got a massive bonus, so she is happy. 

For all their differences snowboarding and surfing share a common “anti-establishment” rhetoric. But, despite a purported emphasis on freedom and individuality it’s hard to ignore the fact that both pursuits are primarily practiced by the relatively affluent, requiring ample free time, disposable income, and a proximity to either mountains or ocean.

Neither of which boast affordable housing or low cost of living. Addicts without the ability to reap professional endorsements may live in squalor to sustain their high, but the average rider retreats each day to a life which is relatively cushy. Neither is truly anti-establishment so much as it is a chance for beneficiaries of the establishment to temporarily shed their shackles.

And so, like snowboarding, surfing’s “soul” is in no real danger. Because it doesn’t exist, beyond the minds of over-zealous devotees and the tag lines of multiple marketing campaigns.

A huge complication for potential inclusion is venue. All hype points towards a wave pool, certainly a possibility considering a purpose-built pool wouldn’t be saddled with the need for a sustainable business model. Like many past Olympic complexes a self-contained wave could be safely allowed to languish unridden once the closing ceremony is complete. 

But, as yet, a truly competitive venue contained within a stagnant pond remains a pipe dream. The Wavegarden has thus far disappointed. Plagued by mechanical failures and a reality far from the groomed perfection on display in promotional propaganda. While Slater’s pool looks promising there’s been little word since the big reveal. Snowdonia also delivered footage of glassy fun perfection, but reality’s shown it’s a lumpy mess when run all day.

And it seems the IOC has its heart set on the real deal. According to Aguerre, “The IOC and Tokyo 2020 want things that are certain and the ocean is certain.” 

Only it isn’t, a fact of which all surfers are keenly aware. Surfing may be popular on the beaches surrounding Tokyo, but a world class destination it is not. Barring access to, or inclination towards, a high quality self contained wave it’s a near certainty the event would be run in sub par surf. Hardly engaging, even for the most ravenous surf fan.

In the end we’re all spectators to whatever events unfold. Whether surfing is included, or not, will be decided by powerful men behind closed doors. It will depend on politicking and profits, not the approval of a group of salty misanthropes clinging to their perception of sanctity.

Which is fine. Surfing, like skateboarding, another potential newcomer, is in no way dependent upon competition. The act exists completely separate from its “governing body.” Whether the games go or not will have little effect on our lives.

If surfing gets the nod we’ll all tune in, complain about the judging, bitch about the waves. Then move on. Repeat in four years.

There’s no reason to fight it, no reason to support it. It just doesn’t matter.

Wavegarden Sydney
It’s not as if Sydney is exactly…short… of good waves. You can throw yourself into world-class reefs 20 minutes after pushing your trolley through the arrivals gate. But surfing is still a hassle, right? Know how you roll up to a beach on Saturday morning, the peak is crowded and everyone’s rolls their eyes when you paddle out to join the pack? Wouldn’t it be nice to throw a fifty at a cashier, get your wrist-band, and slay a guaranteed dozen waves? Maybe it won’t be as idyllic as all the videos and artists impressions make out. But maybe it will.

Just in: Wavegarden for Sydney!

Tank surfing comes to Australia's biggest city!

It’s Wavegarden season! Do you remember, last August, when Wave Park Group’s Andrew Ross told me that ten Wavegarden tanks would be built across Australia over the next years.

Ten of ’em? Really? 

These tanks are big-ticket machines that soak up serious real estate. Dress ’em up with cafes and climbing jungles and whatever other “lifestyle opportunities” and you’re fifteen, maybe 20-plus mill in the hole.

Whomever runs Wavegarden’s sales office is doing a helluva job. After all, there’s still only one commercial tank operating, the bedevilled Surf Snowdonia in North Wales.

But, if press releases from Wave Garden Group are to be believed, Melbourne surfers will have their first pool late next year on the site of the old Melbourne Airport Club.

And, just announced, Sydney gets its pool the year after.

Let’s examine last night’s press release.

“Surf’s up! Australia’s second surf park in as many weeks – URBNSURF Sydney – has been announced for Sydney Olympic Park. Perth based Wave Park Group today confirmed that it has been nominated as the preferred proponent over a 3.2ha site located at Sydney Olympic Park. With the expectation that surfing will be confirmed as an Olympic medal sport for the 2020 Tokyo Games, the location is a perfect fit for the future of the sport.

“The estimated $26.5 million development is to be located adjacent to the existing Monster BMX Track and Monster Mountain X developments, adding significantly to this existing public action sports precinct. The recently announced $1bn Parramatta Light Rail Project is likely to have a station adjacent to the facility, which will mean URBNSURF Sydney will be accessible to over two million Sydney residents in under 30 minutes.

“With a north-south lagoon orientation, URBNSURF Sydney has been designed to suit prevailing wind conditions and LED lagoon lighting means there will be surfing night and day. The facility will also feature sustainable design, renewable energy and water saving systems, in keeping with Sydney Olympic Park’s strong environmental sustainability ethos.”

Of course, the proliferation of wave technology and actual wave tanks, does increase the likelihood of surfing being included in the 2020 Olympic Games. Equal playing fields, inland countries not disadvantaged etc.

And that’s…exciting, right?


Launch film for Sydney Wavegarden from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

Cori Schumacher
Cori "sinks into love" with wife Maria.

Movie: It ain’t easy being a surf queer!

I love that Cori Shumacher won't keep her mouth shut…

Fucking honesty, tastes so damn sweet.

The truth is too often hurtful and ugly and mean. Takes a lot to face it, admit it.  Deal with shit you’d rather avoid.

We’re all so wrapped in our delusions it’s damn hard to see clearly. All you can really do is make an effort. Try to pick apart your flaws, become a better person. Own your mistakes. Don’t keep your mouth shut when people’d rather not hear what you’re saying.

Not a lot of dissidents in the surf world. Even fewer with a voice that’s heard.

I love that Cori Shumacher won’t keep her mouth shut. Love that people are starting to listen.

Watch her bio movie Waves of Disruption here.

Parker: More Dumb Shark Facts!

Why do anti-shark magnets work, for instance!

A minor shark attack in Bali has the internets abuzz! An American received a wicked chomp on the arm, underwent surgery.

Luckily for the unnamed fellow, it looks as though damage is minimal. Deep lacerations, severe bruising, but little to indicate debilitating injury.

In order to steal some clicks, and help you protect yourself, here are some excellent, but little known, shark facts.

The buggeragong shark, an endemic species native to New South Wales, has a pair of vestigial arms. Their presence leads to top scientists to believe that all sharks share a land dwelling common ancestor.

New research shows that sharks are attracted to mammalian feces, in addition to blood and urine. Previously thought to be due to the prevalence of voiding one’s bowels in life or death situations, a current study indicates that over 80% of shark attacks on humans are caused by poor wiping technique.

In addition to causing a balance enhancing placebo effect in idiots, magnets function as the best shark deterrent currently available. Not because they disrupt sharks’ ability to detect electromagnetic fields, but because dorks are not a part of a shark’s natural diet.

Contrary to popular belief sharks do in fact suffer from cancer, albeit at far lower rates than other species. Ongoing investigations into the reason for the lower rates leads researchers to believe its due to the fact that they smoke hella weed, bro.

In the summer of 1916, New Jersey experienced an epidemic of shark attacks that left four people dead and one severely injured. Two of the fatal attacks occurred in the Matawan Creek, a fresh water stream located miles inland. All five attacks were attributed to a the same hellacious beast with an overpowering thirst for human flesh, willing to do whatever it took in order to slake its rapacious appetites. That shark’s name? Hillary Clinton.

Hammerhead sharks spend the majority of their lives in large schools. Mainly because they’re a bunch of try-hard assholes.

The Great White shark, long thought to be the most powerful of living shark species, is currently in a state of worldwide decline. Leading experts believe it to be caused by reverse racism, as well as political correctness run amok.