Get to know: Surfing’s first hipster!

Dion Agius is a wonderful man and he brought us a wonderful gift.

Patient Zero, or the index case, is the name given to the initial carrier of disease, or exemplifier of a syndrome, in a population. Mabalo Lokela, a school teacher from Zaire, was the first recorded victim of the Ebola virus. Liu Jianlun, a doctor from China, was the first to transmit SARS. Edgar Enrique Hernandez, a young boy from La Gloria, Mexico, was one of the earliest recorded victims of Swine Flu and Dion Agius, a surfer from Tasmania, brought Hipsterism from distant shores to the living rooms of Newport Beach.

Dion, quite famously, started his public life as a Boogie star but soon transitioned to surf and professional contest surf at that. When he was young, Body Glove sticker on the nose, he didn’t know anything but three to the beach. “I guess I have a jockey contest stage for sure,” he says while drinking a small batch Manhattan touched with house made vanilla bitters. “I definitely wasn’t playing football on the side or anything like that but I was definitely into contests, that’s for sure. My dad used to drive me around to do a shit load of them. I have a really bad temper and I used to loose all the time, I used to fucking hate it.” And maybe the hate shook something loose because in his genes a powerful force lay waiting. Hipsterism.

The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines “Hipster” as, “a person unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.” And certainly “hip” surfers existed before Dion, Dave Rastovich and Ozzie Wrong and Ozzie Wright and Miki Dora to name a few, but nobody put the elements together quite like Dion. Nobody became the essence of “Hipster.”

And the powerful force bubbled in his insides. He felt like he wanted to do something different than chase points in contests. He felt there was something out there but he didn’t know exactly what because no one in his generation was really doing anything different. And then he went to Vietnam with Taylor Steel.

“I was on the trip with him and I was telling him how much I loved the drive through movies and how intriguing it was to see the guys on the road and all the behind the scenes stuff…” He says between bites of an artisanal grilled cheese sandwich featuring aged Gouda. “You see the best of the best and even everything in between was so interesting. I told him about this idea I had about doing this website thing with a mini drive thru series. I thought it would really show my style. I went home and I had a meeting with Globe. The president of Australia at the time said, ‘You can ride for us and we don’t want you doing another competition.’ That sounded awesome. I didn’t want to do another competition. He said, ‘Yeah we’ve got this idea I want to start. This little website thing I want to start with you. We could mix your interesting film and start documenting your travels.’ It was the weirdest thing ever because it was pretty much the idea I wanted to try. I told Steve and I was just tripping, I couldn’t believe it. That’s where it as born from. He told me, ‘I don’t want you to do any more contests. We want to put you on. We want to market the shit out of you and put all this money into it. We don’t want you competing against guys and getting beaten and looking like an idiot. Why don’t we just send you out on the road, have an amazing time, and we’ll capture it all on video? That’s what we want you to do.’ To me, that sounded like a dream. From that point on I actually went and did a QS because it was still engrained in me and we hadn’t figured out how it was all going to work. I remember getting called from him the next day after I had lost. I got smoked by probably Hedgy or someone. He called me and said, ‘Dude, what did I tell you?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And he said, ‘What the fuck did I tell you? I don’t want you doing another contest.’ I just said, ‘Yeah, ok I get it.’ I never did another contest after that because he actually got mad at me.”

The blog that grew on starring Dion Agius was groundbreaking because it was the first of its kind. There was no There was no Instagram. There was no Dane Reynold’s girlfriend on Instagram. There was nothing but a tabula rasa and then there was Dion, traveling, filming, getting artsy with skinny models, living in New York and setting it to a moody soundtrack. It was “Hipsterism” par excellence. And it was how Dion did it that made it par excellence. He took an active roll in crafting all the elements. He surfed, sure, but he also took the photos, filmed some, doodled lots and today is filming more. He is starving for knowledge, starving for a hands-on approach to his art. He says, while lighting an American Spirit cigarette, “Yeah. I think for me I’ve just been so lucky throughout my career. I’ve been able to travel and meet some of my idols like Taylor and Dustin and guys like that. When I was a kid I was looking up to them and absolutely mesmerized by their work. When I got to do a trip with them I took it as an opportunity to hassle the shit out of them. They were probably so annoyed, like, ‘who the fuck is this little kid? Leave me alone.’ I just wanted to learn, because I could. Joe G. is one of the most amazing dudes ever who loves teaching you stuff, so I took advantage of that. I still do to this day. I’m still learning from him every single trip we do. He’s been a freaking amazing mentor for me. I’d say at one point or another I was probably annoying the shit out of him with a million questions.”

Love or hate hipsterism, in general, and surf hipsterism, specifically, it cannot be denied that hipsters actually make things. Hipsters like knowing things. Hipsters try. And Dion Agius’s humble blog gave birth to hundreds of people who actually make things, know things and try. Certainly it can seem empty or, at the very least, redundant but even at its most contrived it is still better than completely manufactured. Take the fascination with motorcycles for instance. Yes, it is super “trendy” but still. Those hipsters caught up in it get grease under their fingernails. They get weird with gaskets and Bondo. They do something. Take the fascination with old cameras. Those hipsters caught up in it spend time in the darkroom. They get weird with printing tongs and processing trays. They do something. Take the fascination with alternative surf craft. Those hipsters caught up in it are actively involved in what they ride and that is more valuable and more important than simply buying a factory shaped board from China and factory designed trunks from China.

The children who have grown walking down the trail Dion Agius blazed take their many options for granted. They start sunglass companies, write, dance, sing, play guitar, draw, doodle, paint and Instagram everything. They get their hands dirty and all the crafty business extends, even, to surfers it theoretically should not. John John Florence, born and bred on the North Shore, is, on the surface, the antithesis of the hipster surfer. Yet, look at what he does. He has made and released very progressive unbranded movies on his own dime. Certainly, he is currently working on a big budget Brainfarm piece of awesome but he has brought along filmmaker Blake Kueny and Blake Kueny is a hipster.

Yes, the trail Dion Agius blazed is smashed flat with many canvas shoe soles. And, again, love or hate, the trail leads to many more interesting places than three to the beach. What will follow surf hipsterism? Who knows, but one of the canvas shoe wearers is mutating Dion’s strain right now and that will be the future. Whoever that is, Jack Robinson or Leo Fioravanti or an unknown from Jacksonville, Florida, will be the new Patient Zero.

Taj Burrow Bali
Taj says: "To be honest, I had never heard of (fellow finalist) Shane Holmes until this contest. When I saw him surf I knew he was the real deal. Then when I saw him beat Joel (Parkinson) and was in the Final I definitely wasn’t taking it lightly. To win a couple of events here is amazing I love this wave, it’s really fitting as it will be one of my last WSL event. I couldn’t be happier.” | Photo: WSL

Just in: Taj Burrow Two-Packs Keramas

The original mad huey, Taj Burrow, wins back-to-back WQS events at Keramas, Bali.

We’ll never forget Taj Burrow, even though retirement, now, is official and only six or so weeks away.

Just two hours ago, the thirty-seven-year-old won the Kommune Pro (presented by the Mad Hueys, naturally) for the second time in two years.

The waves were four-to-six feet in the final and for most of it, it did appear that Shane Holmes, a concrete worker from Australia’s Central Coast, and whom Taj had never heard (nor I for that matter), would win.

But, as the press release document explains:

“Burrow waited patiently in the final until he found himself in a combination situation (needing two single wave scores) and found a long hollow wave with some smooth finishing turn sections. He was then left needing an 8.70 (out of a possible 10) Burrow found one of the bigger waves of the heat and stalled for what seemed like and eternity in one of the best barrels of the event before coming out and smashing two big turns to score the a 9.67 for a heat total of 18.74 (out of a possible 20), the highest two wave total of the event to take the win.” 

Taj’s surfing, as you’ll agree, has an undefinable quality that bursts into glory when he opens those shoulders.

Taj also has a mysterious charm that unlocked the secrets of women through his two decades on tour although this he recently shelved for love and fatherhood. 

In a world full of plastic people, Taj is the real deal.

A smoking little pocket ride at Kelly Slater's Fresno tank!
More style than a mink-lined Dior trench!

Steph Gilmore Tubes at Slater Pool!

A smoking little pocket ride at Kelly Slater's Fresno tank!

Mr Slater just dropped a new clip of Stephanie Gilmore scoring at smoking little pocket ride on his wave machine.

It’s really getting hard to write this thing off. Looks so damn fun.

I would love to see some lesser-skilled surfers ride the thing.

Mainly because I’m sure it’s more difficult than they make it look and some wavepool wipeout carnage would be entertaining.

In other news, I’m still waiting for my invite. Wonder why it hasn’t arrived yet? Probably due to, you know, politics and stuff. I keep it too real.

Give the video a watch, you can only see it on BeachGrit!

And also on, literally, every surfing website that exists.

Struggle: The Life of a Pro Surfer!

Shed a tear for his pain, for her sullen outlook.

I saw professional surfer Alex Gray in the departure lounge of Emirates flight EK 215 in Dubai. He was coming from South Africa, I believe. I had already been three days in transit. He had been flying for eight hours at least. The non-stop flight we were both looking down the barrel of was sixteen hours.

And the glamour of an international life rots very quickly at 30,000 feet. I used to love travel more than most anything. At nineteen I went to Egypt for a six month study abroad program and had a thirty hour layover in New York City for some reason even though I was flying from LAX to JFK then JFK to CAI. My travel agent offered to rebook the ticket, giving me a normal layover. I told her no and not because I wanted to catch a cab into the city and dance the night away. I stayed at the airport for those thirty hours, soaking up the joys of travel. The highs and lows, the possibilities the promise, the dream of a jet set existence. I thought, as I moved from hard bench to hard bench to generic kiosk to hard bench, that someday I wanted to look the like the elite airline status businessmen utterly annoyed at everything and everyone. I wanted to have traveled so much that I too hated all associated with it.

And I have arrived. The thought of getting on a plane, right now, turns my stomach. Of taking my computer out of my carry on bag and placing it in the plastic tray and placing my shoes in another plastic tray with my phone. Of having the security mister tell me that I need to put my watch in the plastic tray too even though my watch has never set off a metal detector. Of waiting for my section to be called. Of wedging into a rough fabric seat. Of 2 Broke Girls or The Big Bang Theory.

I don’t frankly know how the pros do it. A good half of their lives are spent in the air if they are lucky. Two-thirds if they are luckier. How does a depressed pall not cover everything they gaze upon? Alex and I had a nice chat about what I was doing and where he surfed before heading to our respective cocoons. He may well be on another plane right now, heading for surf somewhere. I am getting on another one in two days heading for the grave.

Reiss Laurenson
This is the surfer and co-founder of Necro, Reiss Laurenson. The other founder, Luke Farquhar says, "Luke Stedman for years used to think Reiss and I were the same person and we would pop up all over the place and it seemed like it was really confusing him. He just didn't quite understand. Both chop-hopping with the long hair in the shittest surf ever."

How to: start a tail-pad company!

Use Yakuza money, devil imagery, sado-masochism and a little nudity… 

There are four pleasures in life impossible to better: sleep, television, casual sex and new tail pads.

Therefore I was pleased beyond measure when, on an unseasonaly warm Thursday afternoon last week, the brooding film director Luke Farquhar arrived at BeachGrit’s Bondi bureau with six tail-pads, a bottle of saki and two thousand dollars in cash.

He wanted, in obvious order, to get drunk, bribe one of the three gatekeepers to the site to run a story on his and pal Reiss Laurenson’s tail-pad and wax brand Necro, and buy two vertical banners for a period of ten days.

I protested that that he’d already given the story to another website (which you can read here) but money doesn’t talk so much as it shouts.

I also asked where he got this kind of money because directing doesn’t pay real good anymore, even though he’s relocating to Los Angeles very soon. Luke said a Japanese man whom he met in a Tokyo nightclub is funding the company. Luke and Reiss design the pads and nail the creative (Reiss is good on the keys, as well as in the air) while the Japanese man cuts the cheques or, in this case, provides the cash.

I needed the money and said, why don’t you explain the mechanics behind starting a tail-pad company?

Luke said, “It looks pretty simple, but really isn’t. These red fuckers are a custom five-piece, single square routed surface. There’s this… perfect… hardness in the kicker with soft pillow-like squares across the  deck. This gives you more ease with foot movement when you need it.”

Necro surf

Isn’t grip…grip?

“I’ve noticed a trend in deck grips to use a corduroy design,” says Luke, “and for me I need to really feel something under my foot or I’m constantly readjusting before I go into speed-ball mode which can be frustrating when you’re getting ready t0 launch.”

Necro also makes these little skull-shaped, Alexander McQueen-esque blocks of wax. Luke describes those, and the grip, as like a “shampoo-conditioner combo.”

Necro surf

Coming soon, he says, is a two-piece grip, and a five-piece in black. The wax is sold out but you can buy stickers of a man in a devil costume spanking a naked woman.

Necro sticker


Luke adds, “We sent Noa Deane some grips. He didn’t use them so…um… Noa, can you send ’em back? Cheers cunny.  Also, we are 100 per cent all about the product. Feedback welcome, even if you just wanna call us cunts in the comments. We would love that. Maybe we can send you a grip for doing so? You’ll have to come out from your on-line name though, ya pussy!”