The Devil Wears Mada!

Chapter II!

The continuation of an epic unfinished surf novel!


Chapter I

Chapter II

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.

Blood Feud: Victoria vs. Western Oz!

A vicious battle over hearts and minds!

Have you been watching lots and lots of professional surfing? Did you catch each of the 3452 heats from Bells and the 1435 (and counting) heats from Marg River? Of course you have! What a wild Australian leg! Such surprise! Such drama! A never-ending story!

But let’s talk about the quieter moments when our heroes aren’t smashing, carving, dancing. Doesn’t it seem that the main World Surf League sponsors these days are tourism boards?

Victoria, the state that swaddles Bells as well as the Great Ocean Road, ran commercials between every break and during every heat of the Bog Rail Pro. “Visit Victoria!” they exhorted. I think Mick Fanning might have spoken glowingly about what the region means to him. Some others too.

And now we see Western Australia, one upping their southeastern brothers by basically snagging title sponsorship of Margaret River. Barton Lynch tells us that, while he doesn’t live in Western Australia, he always feels at home when he visits. And Tom Carroll glares at us while flying a small airplane. What are his eyes saying? Come get me or leave me alone? Nick, can you help here?

In any case, tourism is a finite resource. Only so many people visit Australia each year and Victoria and Western Australia are very far away from each other. The people must choose. The people must decide on one over the other and this is the essence of a Blood Feud™. So who is winning this vicious battle over hearts and minds? I think maybe Western Australia. I can’t get Tom’s eyes out of my head!

Caio Ibelli Margaret River Pro
Brazils Caio Ibelli just beat the Hawaiian John John Florence, who is approximate 54 times richer, for the second time in row. First Bells, now Margaret River. What a sudden and surprising blossoming! | Photo: WSL

Day Three: Caio harpoons John John!

For the second time in a row, Caio roasts JJ! Round three, Margaret River Pro… 

John John Florence is a big man. A full six-feet in height, noble shoulders, tits like well-fed crabs ready to pounce on the fleshy parts of the unwary diver. He has the best contractual arrangements on tour (roughly three million dollars a year) and, you would think, banks on better than ninths at Margaret River, Fiji, Tahiti, France and Hawaii.

Who knew he’d be cuckolded by a tiny (a full five inches shorter), balding rookie two events in a row? But you gotta love a man who slings a heat-winning eight-point five with a minute on the clock and who hacks out these gorgeous quotes, post-match.

“John John is a really good surfer and I love to watch him surf,” Ibelli said. “I spent my whole life watching him and cheering for him, but now that I am on tour I really want to beat everyone. This was the second time in a row that John John and I met. It was hard. On my second wave I almost hurt myself on the rocks and I thought the pain would not let me surf. At the last second John John let that wave go and I could land an air and make the heat last minute.”

Watch the abridged version of that heat here.

Leo Fioravanti reminds me of someone, someone very Margaret River? Someone not Taj Burrow (who also lost today) but… close. James Catto! Does anyone remember Catts and his reckless talent?

A year older than Taj, maybe better, who jumped down the rabbit hole of being too-cool-for-contests, and who, last time I heard, was doing shop fit-outs while Taj fingers his bricks of cash every night before going to bed with his model girlfriend. Anyway, Leo has the same long-limbed, tail-stomping technique as Catts. Who’d Leo stomp in round three? Adriano De Souza. Kelly Slater yesterday, the reigning world champ today.

Kolohe’s heat with Wiggoly was studded with brilliant and illuminating passages. Watch!

Gabriel? He swung and fell and won against Melling. Let’s slow-mo.

Who’s going to fling four or five more heats together and win this damn thing? These ungraspable phantoms called World Tour events?

A first for Zietz?



Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.00 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 9.27
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.40 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.60
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.90 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.80
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) 18.10 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.77
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.90
Heat 6: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 15.60 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.50
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.67 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 13.10
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.10 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.20
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.54 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.16
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 17.73 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.20
Heat 11: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.27 def. John John Florence (HAW) 15.54
Heat 12: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.43 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.23

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Racism: Lunada Bay “boys” strike back!

"It's not about surf, it's about class war!"

Yesterday, in an amusing side note to the ongoing battle over Lunada Bay, the Palos Verdes Peninsula News published an op-ed by local realtor Frank Ponce.

It’s an amusing attempt to justify, deflect blame, continues their “outsiders are bad guys” rhetoric. Tosses out a bunch of lame red herrings, one of them pointing to some pretty ingrained racism on the part of Mr Ponce.

How about that name, Ponce? Means an effeminate man, or one who lives off a prostitute’s earnings. Too funny.

The ponce, Ponce, is trying to play the frivolous lawsuit card. Now that the city, police, and some of the xenophobic losers who live on the hill, are being sued for a decades long policy of harassing, or allowing the harassment of, outsiders, he claims it means everyone is gonna get sued.

The idea that they are being classified as a “gang” is absolutely ridiculous. Just because a group of surfers congregate to surf when the waves have good shape does NOT classify them as a “gang.” I congregate with a running club and hit the PV trails with aggression. Are we a gang? Cyclists congregate at Malaga Cove by the hundreds on the weekends and take over the streets and blow the stops signs and other traffic violations. Are they a gang? How about a group of teenagers that gather to play basketball in Compton every day? Maybe they won’t let you play on “their” court. Are they a gang? What about a group that gathers at the bowling alley, guzzles beer, and yells profanities while bowling? Perhaps the old guys from the Haggarty’s Surf Club should be called a gang. Let’s get real.

 Way to bring in the terrifying specter of black youth, Ponce, but that’s not gonna work. I know y’all are terrified of them, but the rest of us know it’s bullshit. As for the remainder of your red herring tirade, if a group of cyclists, bowlers, or runners banded together and decided to harass, intimidate, or commit vandalism, to protect the supposed sanctity of their respective road, lane, or trail, yeah, they’d be gangs. Stupid white people gangs that are banking on their privilege helping to keep them out of trouble.

I have used the Bay Boys’ surf shack to barbeque with my kids and I have slept there overnight to listen to the waves. It is NOT a fort. The Bay Boys have loaned my kids and I their kayaks, and even offered some of their old boards to surf with. It would be a true shame if the surf shack were torn down as many hikers use it as a resting place. Tearing it down will not accomplish anything. It may even cause serious erosion to the cliff above if it is torn down. Just cite, arrest or fine the few troublemakers. Most of the surfers that gather there are law abiding citizens who come to surf the point. I am certain there are much bigger problems in this city than surfers being belligerent and not sharing waves. Tax payers’ money might be best used in stopping the rash of burglaries in the area.

 Poncey-boy wants their clubhouse to stay, he likes it. He uses it to barbecue. The government shouldn’t be wasting money destroying illegal buildings on public property! That’s not their job!

Except it is. In the case of the California Coastal Commission it is, literally, their job.

And the ponce totally ignores the reality that the heart of the lawsuit is based on the fact that the cops are not citing people. They’re looking the other way. Have been doing so for decades. Finally being held accountable. Kinda. Regardless of the outcome, the cops won’t pay a dime. But the local taxpayers, the same rich assholes who have been benefiting from and supporting their look-the-other-way policy will. Which is right, and just, and above all, hilarious.

Frank Ponce travels to surf. He’s been to “Malibu, Rincon, Swamis, Trestles, Rat Beach, San Onofre, Hanalei Bay and other locations.” All bastions of localism, right? It’s been nothing but hell for me in Hawaii. Roving bands of brown lunatics shouting at me, denying me access to the beaches overlooked by their billionaire parents’ mansions. My average day in the water looks like something out of Surf Nazis Must Die.

In the end Ponce misses the point. It’s not about surf, it’s about class war! The first shot in a coming battle that’ll see them bruised and bloodied, their clifftop splendor burned to the ground, beaches overrun with the millions who live within a short drive. No more privilege, no more privacy. They’ll be forced to wallow in the muck of the common man, just like the rest of us. No more special treatment, no more deserted beaches. Just mobs on every swell, a total lack of parking for local residents.

This lawsuit will only create an opportunity for more lawsuits from Santa Cruz to San Diego by attorneys digging for gold. There will people complaining that they were verbally heckled, or they felt excluded. The reason this is such a circus is the close proximity to L.A., a city with about 10 million people and lots of media. The great swells only last about four months, so the competition for the lineup is tough. Just round up the few troublemakers and put an end to this circus.

Digging for gold! Classic! But it misses a crucial point. Verbally harassing beach-goers, excluding them from access to a public resource, both are crimes. Crimes which aren’t really committed all to often in any location other than Palos Verdes. Crimes the police have allowed, the city has supported, and from which the local residents have benefited.

My favorite thing about the whole affair? If the suit succeeds, and an injunction barring the middle aged shitheads who call the place home is granted, a few will ignore it, get popped, and go to jail.

Not for long, thanks to hellacious overcrowding in the California penal system, but something tells me a bunch of spoiled tough guy white boys won’t fair well at LA County lockup. Doesn’t matter if they’re in for a day or a year, jail’s gonna scar their softcock hearts deeply.

Just in: Slater to surf tour ’til 50!

Kelly Slater agrees to surf professionally until he reaches the half century mark!

Five years ago I met Matt Warshaw. He had written a gorgeous piece in The New York Times imploring Kelly Slater to hang it up after ten world titles and go out at his peak:

It’s been pointed out that a lot of the people who want Slater to continue are older surfers, people who need him out there performing for the same reason a few million baby boomers need the Rolling Stones out there performing — because, illusion or not, it keeps the flame of youth alive.

Hell, I’m old. I’m 50. And I say to Kelly Slater: give us a wave and a smile and walk away. Do the thing that virtually every other sports legend, from Ali to Armstrong, has been unable to do. Go out on top. Nobody’s getting close to that record. Not in your lifetime, and probably not ever.

I countered in the equally impressive Surfing Magazine with some foolishness about how Kelly should never retire:

Truth be told, Robert Kelly Slater is aging better than any living man. Better than Brad Pitt, better than George Clooney. Better than Keith Richards. He is immune to skin-crinkling UV rays. He is immune to moisture-sapping salt. His eyes, and I swear this is true, get bluer and bluer each time we speak. His skin a more even caramel. He is a perfect stasis of gravitas and youthful charm. He is wisdom and vigor. And it would be a mortal sin to deprive a surf public of that sort of genuine handsome. It would be a mortal sin to leave us with Heitor Alves.

I believed it at the time and it was worth writing because Matt and I had a good laugh about it in person and are now fast friends. This year, though, I’ve wavered before jumping completely into the camp that his career is over and watching the slow death is too sad.

But yesterday! His boards look terrible but his surfing wasn’t bad and then that post-heat interview. Not often does the loser step up to Rosy Hodge’s hot mic. Not often to we see actual pain in the eyes, hear a voice searching for answers. Kelly’s graciousness in that moment made me remember what we are going to lose. It made me want to stave off his retirement for as long as we can. I’m going to pretend he will stay professional surfing until he hits the half century mark. Would you like to join me?