I am still in Mexico and I don’t write this to boast nor to apologize for my laughably poor effort over the last few days. I write it only as a fact and also a preface. The waves, you see, are small fronting the quaint mainland beachside hamlet giving me much time to wander, swim, drink and people watch and I see too many of one sort of person. The mid-30s dreadlocked white man and his traveling companion.
The mid-30s dreadlocked white man is, in my estimation, next to corruption, silly tariffs, high unemployment and aging infrastructure, the biggest drag on developing economies. You know the one. He made a little bit in America, Australia or western Europe plying some trade then went on vacation to Mexico, Indonesia, India and realized that he could live twice the life for half the money. He quits the west and moves, full time, to his new developing homeland living poorer and poorer each passing month. Eventually he turns a uniform brown, from skin to tattered Billabong boardshort to hemp necklace, with toes spread wide from never wearing shoes. He sits in the town square selling some version of hemp necklace and gathering around him, like a mother hen, various hostelers.
He feels he is living like a brown dreadlocked king without a care in the world. He feels he has gamed the system but really he is a lead weight and if I were a benevolent dictator/corrupt public official of Mexico/Indonesia/India I should have the dreadlocked white man shipped home, COD, via rickety bus.
"Anyone can fucking make a bat-wing-quad-swallow-tail wood keel…"
Yesterday afternoon, I was seated at a cafe specialising in splendid organic dishes on Bali’s Bukit peninsula. I generally prefer a Spanish paella to modern fusion, but the beggar cannot be the chooser as they say, particularly in these parts.
Across the small wooden table was the surfboard shaper Matt Biolos. He is a great character whom I’ve written about many times and who, earlier, had ridden a six-eight channel with tenderness and freedom in six-foot waves. (In contrast, my campaign, on a five-nine, was comedic.)
Shortly after being served, he leant over the organic avocado-and-quinoa burrito filling my plate and swiped my 2013 issue of What Youth (#4, Creed McTaggart cover).
“I’ve got a story in this,” he said.
The story, actually too short to be a story if we’re to be frank, more like a three-paragraph muse, was a riff on why the pro surfer board is…everything… to a shaper.
I enjoyed the piece so much I asked Matt to reprise and expand on the idea.
“The high-performance surfboard is the most elevated form of the craft,” Matt says. “There’s no fucking doubt in my mind that the ultra-light, white, high-performance, fall-apart, minimalist pro surfer board was and always will be the highest form of surfboard manufacturing. Why? Because of the scrutiny and the detail needed to please the most discerning customer that can possibly ride a surfboard. And that’s a pro athlete.”
To the trend for resin-tint cutie pie sleds he says, “Anyone can fucking make a resin tint. And anyone can make a bat-wing-quad-swallow-tail wood keel. Spend some time and do it. It’s bitchin’. (But) it’s a hobby.”
You already have one bad habit (surfing). Why not develop another?
Many people fall into bad habits and practice them absentmindedly with neither passion nor flair. They smoke, for example, and are sitting in a restaurant feeling vaguely satisfied but vaguely uneasy and so they get up from the table and step outside and light a cigarette. No great pleasure comes to them, only a slight uptick in overall well-being because they did not choose this habit. This habit chose them. Maybe they were young children and their parents smoked and they emulated. Maybe they were in school and saw posters of James Dean and emulated. Maybe they were post-college and in da club and watched boom-chick-boom-chick-boom-chick smoke and emulated. Whichever the case, they all begin with emulation and end with chemical dependence. They do once, twice, three times and then Lady Nicotine reaches her yellow stained fingers into the ventral tegmentum and the result is as reptilian as it is bland.
Passion and flair require choice. They require the practioner to think about what bad habit he or she would like to develop and then set about actively changing their very brain chemistry by do do doing that thing over and over. And the best kind of bad habit? A gambling habit.
My cousin was once an honorable man. He served in the military. He went to medical school and became a nurse. And then he started gambling. One thing led to another led to another led to him stealing chips from a table, to feed his bad habit, and going to jail. When he got out he started robbing banks to feed his bad habit and robbed 27 banks before getting caught. When he got out again he promptly disappeared. I think he may be in Kathmandu but cannot be sure. In any case, living on the lam in Kathmandu as an ex-bank robber is very much better than being a nurse. Here’s how to develop your own habit:
Go to fabulous Las Vegas: If you learned anything from the previous column, how to live in the desert, you know that Las Vegas is the best part of the desert and this is because gambling. Gambling built luxurious hotels with fine thread-counted sheets. Gambling brings James Beard award winning chefs du cuisine and even Michelin starred ones to chic restaurants. Gambling. And so find your game. Play the roulette. Play black jack. Play craps. But end in the poker room. Poker is the only game to really get addicted to. It is too difficult to win or lose massive amounts of money at once in the other games. Also poker feels like a skill whereas roulette, black jack and craps all feel like luck. It is really all luck but who cares. Poker. But also thread count and James Beard.
Go back to Las Vegas but less fabulous: Cancel all trips that don’t involve Las Vegas or maybe Reno or Atlantic City. Spend more time in the smoky back rooms and less time in the thread count or with James Beard. Find the casinos that specialize in that game. They will not be the glitzy ones. They will be the obscure ones, away from the strip, and you will be shoulder to shoulder with pockmark face’d white men wearing trucker hats and double chins and picking $5 t-bone steaks from between their crooked teeth with small twigs. The external pleasures of beauty, comfort, fun are beginning to fade. The bad habit is beginning to form.
Don’t go back to Las Vegas or anywhere else: Find your local Indian casino, the one nearest your home, and settle down. The back rooms will be even smokier and the company less pleasant. You will now be shoulder to shoulder with wide Chinese men featuring dead faces and slacks from Hong Kong. Their breath will be so bad that if health workers could enter (they can’t because the casino is considered sovereign because it is Indian) the building would be condemned. The whole situation will be, in fact, so repugnant that lesser souls would vomit simply by entering where you spend six to seven hours each night ecstatically. Your eyes, burning red, see only one thing. Royal flush.
Go to jail: Except you usually do not see “royal flush” you see various shades of “bust” and your money dwindles and you devise a plan to get more money so you can continue to play. The bad habit is now fully set and wonderful. At first you gamble to get more money so you can gamble but then that somehow doesn’t work and so you steal a car. You, however, are not a car thief, you are a gambler, and so the police quickly find you and lock you up. After getting out you have even less money and so you gamble but then steal diamonds because they are smaller than cars and easier to conceal but, again, you are not a jewel thief, you are a gambler and so the police find you once again and once again lock you up.
Go to Kathmandu: Because there must be fantastic poker in Kathmandu or because you are trying to shake your bad habit in a place that has no poker and only slacks from Hong Kong. In any case, you are car thief jewel thief degenerate living near the roof of the world and isn’t that better than what you are right now?
Italo's 50-50 snowboard technique, Nat Young's ability to simplify and more!
Whatever you think of the Rio contest, it’s better than the purgatory of a lot of our lives.
I see a dazzling equatorial beach. I imagine girls whose indigenous features kung fu my abdomen, and whose system of sexual values is a reversal of the coin of promiscuity.
I see surfing so good, so wonderful, I honestly don’t think there’s enough syrupy adjectives to throw at ’em.
Four hours of staring at a phone screen while bouncing around in cars, inhaling cocktails, and everything else, yielded, from my point of view, these observations.
Italo: Surfs with a snowboarder’s fifty-fifty stance. The most naturally ambidextrous surfer on tour. The shaper who let me grab a room in his villa here on the cliffs on Uluwatu said you could tie a string from his cock and it would hang in a perfectly straight line. Italo moves faster, turn to turn, than any other surfer on tour. Not necessarily powerful but…electric. Room to grow in the rail game, if we’re going to be frank.
Filipe: Wasn’t trying big airs. Looked fast, solid, despite being out of the water for two-and-half months. Has the best weight-to-strength ratio on tour. Knows he doesn’t have to do anything extraordinary to get an eight-point ride and swing through the early rounds. With the swell dropping he’s going to be an absolute fucking nightmare for everyone.
Gabriel Medina: Do you feel, like me, that all it’s going to the to kick Gabriel into gear is one big score? One event win? If he wins one, he’ll get on a four-winning streak. No weaknesses. Frontside. Backside. Big. Small. Tubes. Whatever. Once he builds momentum he’s unbeatable.
Julian and Kolohe: Both of ’em looked confused, half asleep. Neither of ’em in the zone. Overconfidence? Maybe.
John John: In constrast to Julian and Kolohe, John John looked fired up. The waves didn’t come to him, but he squeaked a win.
Adriano: Looked great. But keeps losing these close battles. You could watch all his losing heats this year and understand they could’ve gone either way. Only lost to the wildcard replacement for Kelly Slater here ’cause of a last-minute wave.
Wilko: Kept looking for rights when the bank was a left.
Nat Young: Simplifies everything. Figures everything out then makes it real simple. Makes it easy on himself. Knows where to sit. How to surf. No head trips. He’s figured out the game. A staple top ten surfer for the next five years.
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.77, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.60, Dusty Payne (HAW) 11.30
Heat 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.30, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.93, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.80
Heat 3: Davey Cathels (AUS) 12.00, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.24, Deivid Silva (BRA) 7.43
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.50, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.86, Bino Lopes (BRA) 8.66
Heat 5: Marco Fernandez (BRA) 13.43, Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.57, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.73
Heat 6: Lucas Silveira (BRA) 15.84, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.80, Keanu Asing (BRA) 13.74
Heat 7: Nat Young (USA) 15.04, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.37, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 5.83
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.37, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.83, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.70
Heat 9: Adam Melling (AUS) 15.23, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.13, Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.04
Heat 10: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 15.53, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.44, Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.67
Heat 11: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.50, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.46, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.77
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 11.34, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.84, Matt Banting (AUS) 6.34
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Bino Lopes (BRA)
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Keanu Asing (BRA)
Heat 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 10: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 12: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Rory Parker weighs in on a "fabulous" day of professional surfing!
Thank god (who doesn’t exist) that Rio starts in the middle of the night for me. Otherwise I’d’ve been forced to sit through this garbage. Chas is down in Mexico, Derek’s in Bali lounging about, and I’m stuck in boring old Kauai. So this shit falls to me.
And shit it is.
The water’s supposedly cleaner at Grumari. I don’t know about that. Is ten miles or so enough distance to sufficiently dilute the Rio effluent? I know the WSL would claim so, but they were willing to force everyone to three-to-the-beach it in pure poison. Or, at least, everyone they could.
The thing with rules, if you don’t enforce all of them then none of them mean anything. Letting Slater and Otton blow off the comp for “personal reasons,” Parko use a knee injury to malinger his way into some ‘QS barrels, that shit sets a precedent. The WSL is gonna look like a bunch of favoritism playing cocks when they decide to enforce Article 17 in the future. Rules apply to everyone, or they don’t apply to anyone.
Not that there aren’t political implications to laying the hammer down on the guys who opted out. Probably don’t want to play a game of chicken with Slater. He doesn’t have much to lose. On tour this year, or in life in general. Press the point and shit could get ugly. Maybe they’d unionize again!
Of course, now the event resembles a ‘QS six star, or whatever the hell they call them now. Garbage surf, manufactured scores, and heat sheets that read like a who’s who of who-the-fuck-is-that?
Toledo’s dick is healed, good for him. Broken dongs are hell to live with.
Leo “don’t call him the Italian Stallion” Fioravanti surfs pretty good.
A single frontside reverse is still enough to earn you a 6+ score.
If the judges can see the nose of your board then the barrel don’t count!
Great to see Kaipo Guerrero handling the mic. Finally breaking that lily white color barrier! Too bad he dropped his local twang. Pure nasal white boy milk and parsnips. Don’t forget your roots, Kaipo. You got inside Madonna, ain’t no one on Earth can tell you how to handle your shit.
Italo’s nine… shades of De Souza’s twenty eleven floater. Must’ve looked different in person. Two backside pokes before completion ain’t excellent in any context.
Mel talking about the changing of the guard, similarity between ‘QS and ‘CT was pretty damn apt. Take a look here, best heat of round one Rio.
Remind me again why they slashed the wildcards in Hawaii. It’s because the guys didn’t earn their spots, right? No fair some local hero plays spoiler when there’s a title on the line. Guess they better start shitting on the beach and shooting motherfuckers. Open a bunch of spots right up.
Lucas Silveira is a lucky lucky boy. Gifted a spot at the last moment, two identical backside ‘QS approaches won him his first heat on the big stage. Happy happy clap and flex. Wave wasn’t good enough for a web clip, but it was enough to knock ADS and Asing into the losers’ round.
Holy hell! Even with the Heat Analyzer’s ability to reduce each romp into a four minute long click fest this shit is pure tedium.
Kerr’s air was pretty sweet. But I think Pottz would agree he tried too hard. Two feet lower, frontside reverse would have earned him pretty much the same score. All that pumping passed up a bunch of lip tap opportunities. Make use of them, add a claim, that shit would have been a ten.
“Brazil’s one of those places where you kind of know what you’re gonna come and get. You’re gonna get kind of a sloppy beach break condition. There is the odd perfect day, but mostly you’re gonna come down here and have to battle through it.”