Mark Healey spearfishing
Leading the spearfishing zeitgeist is the Hawaiian Mark Healey, five-foot-one and tons of fun! He gets the woman, he gets the fish! | Photo: @donkeyshow

Revealed: How Fresh is Your Fish?

Do you suspect the farm-to-table movement is bullshit, too?

If you ever worked in a restaurant you’ve probably long suspected that the farm-to-table movement was bullshit. Too difficult, too expensive. Profit margins are low enough already.

The idea that restaurateurs would find a way to jack up prices with pretty rhetoric, then cut corners to bolster the bottom line is far from unbelievable. To be expected, more like.

A lot of the time it doesn’t matter, taste wise. An order of battered and deep fried fish and chips slathered in tartar sauce tastes much the same whether the fish in question is wild caught Alaskan halibut, Vietnamese gutter fish or koi the dish washer snatched from some rich dude’s reflecting pool.

I see it most often with seafood. Pretty easy to tell the difference between truly fresh and previously frozen ahi. Or when the waiter says their ono was caught yesterday, but you know it’s off season and none of your fishing buddies are seeing more than one or two at a time. A lot of the time it doesn’t matter, taste wise. An order of battered and deep fried fish and chips slathered in tartar sauce tastes much the same whether the fish in question is wild caught Alaskan halibut, Vietnamese gutter fish or koi the dish washer snatched from some rich dude’s reflecting pool.

Happens at the farmers market too. “Heirloom” tomatoes that are suspiciously firm, uniformly red, and totally unfragrant. Or “local” Dole pineapples, when everyone knows there’s almost zero chance they were grown in Hawaii. Much easier to keep a cutesy project farm on Oahu, but import the things from Honduras, or wherever.

Not that I think it truly matters, beyond the sting of being misled and overcharged. If food tastes good, it tastes good. Apples don’t grow well in Hawaii, better to import them and use the land for something that thrives. And I rarely order fish when we go out to eat. Ever since I got balls deep in the spearfishing game the stuff you pay for tastes like garbage to me. Fried baloney, I want filet mignon.

The Tampa Bay Times has an amazing article up online about the topic now. The writer went deep, contacting farmers to see if eateries were buying from them (they aren’t). DNA testing seafood to see if what’s advertised is actually being served (it isn’t.)

For several months, I sifted through menus from every restaurant I’ve reviewed since the farm-to-table trend started. Of 239 restaurants still in business, 54 were making claims about the provenance of their ingredients.

For fish claims that seemed suspicious, I kept zip-top baggies in my purse and tucked away samples. The Times had them DNA tested by scientists at the University of South Florida. I called producers and vendors. I visited farms.

My conclusion? Just about everyone tells tales. Sometimes they are whoppers, sometimes they are fibs borne of negligence or ignorance, and sometimes they are nearly harmless omissions or “greenwashing.”

To a certain extent, I’m fine with industrial farming. Getting produce out of season is great. If I lived in some frozen Northern tundra I’d want fresh veg year ’round. Pickles and preserves taste great, and are fun to make, but they don’t scratch the same itch the fresh stuff does.

Straight up charlatans, on the other hand, fucking suck.

My wife forced me to buy some “organic” beef recently. Marbling was terrible, I knew it would taste like shit. The red dyed store line looked better. But, even though she doesn’t eat meat, I’m not allowed torture beef. Only that’s all eight dollars a pound will get you. Still haven’t found a proper butcher on Kauai, you’ve gotta make do.

I ate less than half, gave the rest to my dog. He seemed to enjoy it, though I later remembered why you shouldn’t serve a french bulldog large quantities of beef.

While you eat your cheese at up to $26 per pound, he will show you his “bible,” a photo album of his water buffalo.

It appears his bible is a fairy tale.

While he once sold his cheeses at St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market and other outdoor stands, questions arose that he was substituting cow’s milk from Dakin Dairy in Myakka. Jerry Dakin confirmed he was selling milk to Casamento, but said Casamento hasn’t bought any in the past year.

In January 2015, Casamento was accused of animal cruelty over a calf in Plant City found tied to a post too tightly, with an eye injury and a rope embedded in the muscle tissue of its neck. In February 2015 he signed a settlement with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office relinquishing ownership of the calf and agreeing to have Brandon veterinarian Mark Mayo inspect his herd.

“He really did love on ’em,” Mayo said of his visit. “They were a little down on weight. I wouldn’t say it was a severe animal cruelty case. People have good intentions and sometimes things don’t go well.

“He was talking about selling his herd.”

According to EcoFarm’s Jon Butts, Casamento sold his water buffalo about a year ago, many for their meat. Butts took two males and a female at his Plant City farm, but said Casamento has not been buying their milk.

You can read the entire piece here.

Very well written, superbly researched, worth your time. Even if you’re not some overly concerned foodie, it’ll give you ammo if you feel like fucking with the ones you know.

Gabriel Medina
"I’ve seen Gabriel Medina’s backside flyaway to crash in the flats a dozen different ways by now," writes Surfline's Matt Pruett. "It’s not an epic moment. It’s not even an epic fail. It’s garbage. It’s a vanity clip more appropriate for a first-year skimboarder than a World Champion."

Surfline: “Stop blogging dogshit!”

Surfline issues a harsh edict to the World Surf League!

Surfing’s most storied, albeit dull, forecasting website had harsh words for its partner, the World Surf League, yesterday. “Stop blogging dogshit and calling it a garden gnome!”

The incendiary phrase was lobbed from Surfline’s Huntington Beach headquarters toward WSL CEO Paul Speaker’s Santa Monica office in response to a Facebook video of 1x World Champ Gabriel Medina pitching an air to the flats. Surfline writer Matt Pruett wrote:

I’ve seen Gabriel Medina’s backside flyaway to crash in the flats a dozen different ways by now. It’s not an epic moment. It’s not even an epic fail. It’s garbage. It’s a vanity clip more appropriate for a first-year skimboarder than a World Champion. Yet, on Monday, the WSL proudly posted the clip on their Facebook feed, and actually captioned it with the following: “Counting the minutes for more of that!” Embarrassingly, they even replayed the catastrophe in slow-motion…

Come watch the offending clip HERE

And such fire! Surfline and the WSL have enjoyed a cozy relationship since the very beginning. Peter Mel regularly, and lovingly, discusses the “purple blobs” etc. which throws the rage into stark relief and also begs the question, has it become de rigueur to bash the WSL? Is it a necessary component of modern surf coverage? Does it make you feel a little bit sorry for the hapless league or do they deserve unbridled scorn from even the most prosaic of corners?


Craig Anderson
Of shooting Craig, the photographer Steve Wall says, “I was stoked to blend the calm aesthetic of empty waves with someone like Craig. He was so composed drawing those lines. I used to be a surf action guy. I don’t think I am now." | Photo: Steve Wall/@whereswalle

Sublime: Is this the perfect surf photo?

Have you ever seen Craig Anderson look so pretty?

There was a time, and it wasn’t long ago, maybe three years, when I lived in newsagencies. Every morning, every lunch, after work, I’d browse the racks, slouched over with my spine bent like a sapling, and pull down interesting magazines, one after the other.

The turnover of magazines back then was ferocious and every visit would yield something to inspire or maybe just to outrage, something like a graphic designer doing the post-modernism thing badly. I don’t do print so much anymore. If it ain’t online, I don’t see it.

Yesterday, however, I found the new edition of Australia’s Surfing World magazine on a table at a bakery. It was a beautiful magazine with a cover price of 12 dollars.

As pretty as it was, the magazine grabbed me mid-way with a handful of photos of the Australian surfer Craig Anderson. These were straight from the hairline. They weren’t shot by one of those arteriosclerotic bastards who loads up card after card while shooting from the back of a jetski. These were sculptural. The curved lines. The photos dazzled in a way that was chromatic.

I’m easily in thrall to anything featuring Craig Anderson but…this. I’d never seen anything so pretty.

All of the photos were shot from the water, a low-yield game in anyone’s eyes. Who’s got time for that kinda biz? Steve Wall does. He’s a lanky, hard-boned 23-year-old surfer and bodyboarder from Mona Vale, in Sydney.

This session, January 12, 2016, was a rarity in that there were only a few surfers (Craig, filmmaker Kai Neville and the shaper Hayden Cox) and no bodyboarders, it was a mix of southerly groundswell and north-east windswell and the wind had backed off before the expected summer onshore.

Normally, this joint is the most iconic bodyboard air-bowl-wedge on the NSW South Coast. Not so many surfers. But over the last couple of years, Craig, Chippa Wilson and Dion Agius have started to swarm.

Steve describes the wave as “chaotic” to shoot as wedges bounce everywhere. You could be twenty metres away from the action, he says, and not see a damn thing ‘cause of the cross waves. Steve knows he could get more photos shooting from a ski but, “I’d rather nail a nice shot from the water. The shallow depth of field is more my personal aesthetic.”

Of these photos, below, he says: “They were shot right near the summer solstice, about as bright and hectic as the sun gets. It’s only a little off-axis to looking directly at the sun. In winter, the wave looks darker. This was a bright summer morning with that nice blue wash.”

Of Craig, he says, “I was stoked to blend the calm aesthetic of empty waves with someone like Craig. He was so composed drawing those lines. I used to be a surf action guy. I don’t think I am now.”




Want to see Steve Wall’s showreel? Click! 

Best of: Words by Morgan Williamson!

Get into a freeform kinda groove...

I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz lately. What started as an accident has become a ’round the clock obsession. I read that rats given lots of cocaine prefer jazz over other types of music. Hmmm. In any case, here is a very jazzy remix of words by surfwear retailer Stab’s very own Morgan Williamson. All his. All the time, baby. Enjoy.

With coast comes crashing ocean, jagged cliffs, roads, surfers, seals and… sharks. With sharks come misunderstanding, innate fear, black eyes and a bite to be avoided. Injuries suck. Plain and simple. If it keeps you out of the water, you end up left with thoughts of ‘what the hell do I do now?’ Whatever your ailment, hearing you’ll be without physical activity for months is like having your fingernails peeled back. You can do what makes the most sense, which is sit around, drink beer, watch TV and twiddle your thumbs (assuming you still can). The more you drink the slower you heal; bad blood. The pain pills are nice. They’ll leave you confused about what day it is, who you are and what you’re doing in this little world. Ladies and Gentleman, Kelly Slater’s green. And not because of the price of Outerknown beanies, not that kind of green. The King’s new wave, you know that chocolate barrel that we all watched with our mouths on the rug is 100 percent solar powered.

El Niño saw California’s drought and filled some buckets, it rained there… like a few times. People are ecstatic, the drought is over, the reservoirs have been replenished, the Sierra snow pack is saved. A few rains and California’s surely out of the woods… Will they ever again see the sun? Yes! February’s rolled around and the Golden State’s survived yet another harsh winter, it’s beach weather, rejoice. Meanwhile, the evangelicals in Texas are still praying for rain. Oh boy, it’s a big universe out there and you’re just a speck of matter. Space… man. We all get hurt, ’cause shit happens. For us, it’s an out of sight, out of mind thing, thoughts of sharks don’t enter our cerebrum when the surf’s pumping and we’re on the conveyor belt, paddling like madmen, tongues slacked out the sides of our cheeks like labradors. It’s funny, sharks by some are seen as an irrational fear: “You’ve got a better chance of getting struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark,” we’ve heard and said. The concept of no work just surf’s a dream. But not all grow up with a plethora of sponsorships and hype. Some have to work, or at least attempt. Surfing’s up there in the world’s hardest sport to make it in along with golf, tennis and baseball. And not to say that professional surfing’s not a ‘job’… It’s just a better ‘job’ than anyone of us have.

But if these guys worked full time your downtime would be filled with less surf porn and more porn porn. That is unless you were on the coast of Los Angeles last summer where a white shark was reeled into a group of long distance swimmers by a fisherman off the Manhattan Pier resulting in a hefty chomp early July, and by later July a few miles down the road, on the affluent coast of Marina Del Rey, lightning struck the beach leaving one dead and 13 injured… Hell, you can’t write reality. Surfing implements a junky mentality, and our types get hooked on the stoke and no 12-step program can get you off the stuff. The sharks can’t keep us out (with the exception of Brazil’s Recife where people straight-up don’t go in the water and bull sharks swarm empty lineups like an agitated hornet’s nest. Bottom turns aren’t given much thought or discussion. They tend to slide up the feed without a double tap, in search of more W O W. They’re surfing’s lay-up, everything else is the dunk. Without them, there’d be no manoeuvre. Surfing would be reduced to straight-line mundanity – perhaps a joy for some, but certainly not us. So, with an ominous crescendo of clashing white piano keys in mind, here’s 10 of the world’s sharkiest waves that when on, all us pathetic addicts couldn’t help but paddle out.

Now, acquaint yourself with The Sky Surf Park at SKYPLEX in Orlando, Florida. How suiting, why should the ‘theme park capitol of the world’ miss out on the artificial wave venture? The cool cats over at American Wave Machines thought about this and said, “fuck boys, let’s stick one of these puppies on a rooftop.” Well, actually if we are clueing in on some factual half-assed journalism, according to a press release something a bit more professional came from their mouths. Many things don’t coincide: the Kardashians having reason for fame, Kanye West and humility, Johnny Cash and white, Bill Cosby and safe drinking. So we can’t expect great waves to only be found in first world countries. And it’s better they aren’t. The possibility of untouched Malibus, Rincons, Snappers, Lowers, Pipes and Hossegors is what keeps us searching. Shooting down to Baja, getting shacked then indulging in cheap tacos, beer and maybe a sneaky trip to Bada Bing’s a good time, when it runs smooth. Occasionally as a traveling surfer things do go wrong and hopefully you have a grip of cash on you. Although that can also dig the hole you’re in a bit deeper. Honesty’s a cruel bitch.

Dazzling: WSL’s viewership numbers!

The number of professional surf fans no longer a mystery!

Maybe I am mistaken but didn’t the World Surf League used to host their videos on Vimeo and/or hide view numbers? I don’t think I am mistaken. I think they did and left fans everywhere wondering are the numbers in the high six figures or the low seven figures? Eight? Eight figures?

Well, now that they are on YouTube we know! The videos get high three figures to low four figures! If you take a look at the WSL YouTube channel and cruise through Snapper, Bells and Margaret’s (so far) you will find an average view count of 3,596. When star (JJF) are in the water the numbers shoot almost into the tens of thousands. The Snapper finals, feat. Wilko’s first win was watched over 40,000 times while his Bells win was not as well loved and seen by 24,000 souls.

So many potential jersey customers!

How do these stellar numbers compare to the NBA? Most of their videos are in the mid 500,000 with big plays etc. into the tens of millions. What about the NFL? Generally well over a million to, like, 600,000,000. That fucking tennis tour? Hundreds of thousands. The WNBA? More than the WSL.

Do you think maybe that WSL CEO Paul Speaker should engineer a stunning move back to hidden numbers before returning to the TV news circuit and talking about the twenty four millions who regularly tune in to professional surfing? Maybe? Or have more shark attacks mid heat? Yeah?