Opinion: The joys of fatherhood!

Having children will give you wings!

Some men and women hate children or find them a tremendous bother. On the surface, it stands to reason. Children require constant attention, get sick, cost money, take away most daylight hours, take away most nighttime hours as well, suck energy, put jam on everything, stomp dry-docked surfboards, get slivers, cry because they don’t want their sliver taken out, cry because their sliver is still embedded, need to get driven from school to soccer to slumber parties until 16-ish, etc. How can be there time to surf or sex with such demands? In reality, though, only the unimaginative father and/or abuse mother will ever let the cost of child rearing detract from the benefit.

Biological narcissism: Young Narcissus, in Greek mythology, became so enamored with his own reflection as it bounced off of a river that he stuck his whole head in and drowned. A parent, staring at his or her own offspring will experience similar awe. The genes, as they re-order themselves in another sentient being, are wondrous to behold. It does not matter if parent is physically lacking or ugly…the offspring, as reflection, inspires. And there is no danger of drowning in a river while starring at this reflection. Only the danger of getting jam smeared somewhere permanent and annoying.

Pride: It is a good thing to do something well and, likewise, get praised for doing it well. Compliments, though, are a minefield for the grown up. When people tell me they like my writing, for example, I never take this statement as fact. I think to myself, “Yeah? Well of course you are going to say that to my face…” or “Hmmmmm. Really?” But when people tell me my child is beautiful I know that it is so and think, “Damn straight.” A child allows for pure, undiluted acceptance of adulation. Especially if she is as beautiful as mine.

Strength: “Dad strength” gets spoken of and I knew what it was, because my dad could probably still smoke me even though he is old, but never knew how to get it. In retrospect it is obvious. Become a dad. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life and it is a thick, brutal strength. A rough dumb strength. I think it comes from carrying a little baby every single day. The little baby starts somewhere near ten pounds and then grows, slowly, to twenty then thirty then forty then fifty etc. It is so slow and the dad carries always and so his muscles slowly grow too. It is like the parable of a frog getting killed in a pot when the temperature slowly raises to boiling. Such incremental build is not noticeable in the moment but after time the frog is dead and boiled. And the dad is a strange muscleman.

Rage: Rage is a fine thing to have and especially when combined with strength. Of course it can get out of control. It can be a fire that burns helpless innocents to the ground or looks very silly when poured out upon a late night barista who happens to use soy instead of whole milk. But it can also be glorious. Since becoming a father, I have roared more people off waves than I can even count. The wave is always twice as satisfying afterward. I know a father who roared once in the surf because someone was in the way and it was accidentally a Bra Boy. At the moment he felt so strong and brave. Later he feared for his life and maybe still fears for it today. Rage makes a man or woman feel alive. And children are the root cause of rage because they make a parent excessively tired thus short-circuiting the parental brain and also create an evolutionary craving to protect them. When cars drive too fast down my street I lose my very mind and slam their hoods, curse their drivers etc. Recently, I tried to strangle a driver but was pulled off by another dad who lived nearby. He said he was only protecting me because, once, he threw a chainsaw at a car that sped by and almost went to jail.

Passion: When children come along it is sometimes more difficult to surf or skate or snow or do any sort of pastime. It would maybe be a downer except when a free thirty minutes comes along and I can paddle out it is a glorious thirty minutes. First, it feels very nice. Second, with the strength and the rage, I catch many waves and try to surf each like Sunny Garcia. I try and throw buckets of spray and bury my rails deep and arrrrrgh. I am passionate, now, like Sunny Garcia when I surf and that is very much better than surfing like Michael Dunphy.

Riches: I am trying very hard to get rich but there are setbacks from time to time and frustrations. But a child brings riches near. Of course they cost money themselves and in that way, they make a man or woman work and work hard. My head has never been further down, my stronger-every-day shoulder pressing the wheel. I won’t fail. But if I do, my daughter is very beautiful and she can be a model or an actress or a singer and I can be Billy Ray Cyrus. Proud. And rich.

Satisfaction: At the end of the day, though, nothing but nothing is as satisfying as an offspring’s smile. It makes up for all the missed surfs, skates, snows, sexes whatever. Because that smile is very beautiful. Only a parent knows that unless the father is unimaginative, the mother abusive. A finely executed, perfectly timed cutback on a head high wave comes close. But the child’s smile is better 8 times out of 10.

As first seen in What Youth!

Kelly Slater Wave Co
I'm taking a wait and see approach with Kelly's pool. Today's Los Angeles Times article points out, “The video shows a maelstrom of backwash behind the wave that would take time to settle before another wave could roll through...Lochtefeld, 63, says that is the 'kiss of death' for any commercial venture, in which a wave needs to roll every 10 to 20 seconds. ” | Photo: Kelly Slater Wave Co

Just in: Slater’s Wavepool is Open!

But only for a precious few!

New Slater pool footage dropped while I was sleeping. Not a bad thing to wake up to. Sip on some coffee, try and wrap my head around the whole affair. 

I typically do the grocery shopping in our house.

Because I’m a bit of a cheap-ass I usually just buy whatever coffee is on sale. The more expensive stuff definitely tastes better, but I don’t care. Coffee is a caffeine delivery mechanism for me. Just like booze exists to get me drunk, not sip on and wax rhapsodic about nuances of flavor.

But the wife decided she wants good stuff. Grabbed a bag of $25 per pound local Kauai grown. Coconut caramel crunch flavor. Given that she doses every cup with heavy whipping cream and four tablespoons of sugar, I don’t get the point. I drink my shit black, because that’s what real men do. I’d bet I could swap out the nice stuff with Folgers garbage and she wouldn’t notice the difference.

Slater’s wave pool is exciting. Rushing it into production, then letting the world watch as it flounders would be a terrible idea. Just look at Surf Snowdonia. So much hype, all the excitement come to naught when it became clear the wave kind of sucks. And shit keeps malfunctioning.

I tried her sickly sweet concoctions. Barely even tastes like coffee. So I’ve just gotta assume her preference is a matter of perception. It tastes better because more expensive coffee does. Similar to how a set of fancy pants fins don’t make the average person surf any better. But if you feel like you’re gonna rip, you might as well be actually doing so.

Slater’s wave pool is exciting. Probably still has some kinks to work out. If it didn’t they’d be building ’em all over. But it’s good they’re taking their time. Rushing it into production, then letting the world watch as it flounders would be a terrible idea. Just look at Surf Snowdonia. So much hype, all the excitement come to naught when it became clear the wave kind of sucks. And shit keeps malfunctioning.

“A spokesman for WaveGarden, Felip Verger, says that though the parks will be capable of making bigger waves like Slater’s, they probably won’t, because that would raise energy costs and reduce the number of waves, meaning fewer surfers could be in the lagoon at a time.”

Wave pools are like porn. Well groomed, looks easy in the hands of pros. But the reality is challenging. Unnatural pumping, weird angles. Magic moments are rarely handed to you. Gotta put in effort, do your time. Figure out how everything works.

I cleaned pools for years. Best job I ever had. Only once did I show up to a nude customer lounging in the hot tub, waiting. Guy was in his seventies. It was a bit awkward. Let it go, the guy tipped great on holidays. No, that’s not a euphemism.

I’m taking a wait and see approach with Kelly’s pool. Today’s Los Angeles Times article  points out, “The video shows a maelstrom of backwash behind the wave that would take time to settle before another wave could roll through…Lochtefeld, 63, says that is the ‘kiss of death’ for any commercial venture, in which a wave needs to roll every 10 to 20 seconds.”

Nat, Kanoa, Kelly, and Carissa tear shit apart in the few clips we see. Nat’s barrel is baffling. Carissa shows the thing has enough power and wall to do an actual carve.


But the split-second glimpse we get of Wingnut standing tall after a log pocket ride spoils the dream a tad. Guy’s nearly my size, a reminder that an overhead barrel for Moore is a shoulder high runner to me. Yeah, Young’s pretty tall, by surf standards, but it’s not like I have the flexibility or talent to actually make that fast tiny backside tube.

Still, it’s damn neat, huh? A self contained wave’s been a decades long dream. Unreal we’re almost there.

I’m sure we’ll see a future where these things are common. Landlocked wannabes will be able to live the dream. They’ll take vacations, flood lineups, learn real quick there’s more to surfing than just standing up. We’re gonna see rich kids with season passes tossing kickflips into the flats, stalling sliding into ridiculously long barrels. Then hopping a flight to Hawaii and doing their very best Rick Kane.

They still won’t know how to read the ocean.

Will get their asses kicked the first time they try to paddle out. More than a few people will decide surfing’s more fun when you eliminate the grind, retreat back into the ease of a pool.

Localism: The experts weigh in!

National Geographic exposes surfing's charade!

James Joiner is a journalistic renaissance man. A photographer/filmmaker/writer with two fingers on pop culture’s pulse and two other fingers making a peace sign/smoking a cigarette/playing a piano. He has had stints across the board with Esquire, The Daily Beast, Vice etc. but his latest for National Geographic surely wins because it is National Geographic, of course, but also because he tackles the topic of surf localism in a thorough, captivating way.

Let’s dip in!

Across the Internet, surfers have been cheering at the thought of one of the world’s most infamously localized breaks opening up for general use, with those who speak up against the suit being quickly shouted down in comments sections.

Some long-time surfers feel this widely publicized case against localism has come to represent more than a battle over a small break. It’s indicative of an ongoing battle between traditionalists and new school riders over surfing’s very soul.

“We’ve protected this beach for years,” McCullom told the LA Times in 1995, in one of many articles the paper has published about the town’s forbidden break. “This is why: so we can have driftwood on the beach rather than Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes. If this place was ever opened up, it would be packed with lowriders, guys in VW bugs; the rocks would be marked with graffiti, and the beach wouldn’t be safe at night.”

Many surfers are quick to note that he’s not without a point—even 21 years ago, neighboring beaches in Torrance and Long Beach were rife with overcrowding and litter, a stark contrast to the clean sands of their “protected” stretch of Lunada Bay. But it’s not just crowds that localism targets—it’s also a method of self-policing, enforcing respect among the ranks for each other and, especially, for the ocean. Localism has always been an undercurrent of the surf scene, an at times harsh punishment for infractions in an oftentimes harsh activity. Yet now, in many places, it’s being phased or, some will claim, gentrified out.

“Up until fairly recently you wouldn’t even dream of getting in the water if you weren’t from the neighborhood,” Jeff Johnson, a lifelong surfer and noted adventure photographer, explained in reference to a surf break near Ventura. “If you were an outsider you’d get hassled for even checking the waves. But now it’s a free-for-all.”

How good is Jeff Johnson? I think very good and an expert. Would you like to hear from another expert? Of course you would!

Chas Smith had a different take, likening these territorial surfers to drug addicts chasing their next adrenaline fix rather than a tribe of spiritual, if testosterone-filled, modern-day warrior poets.

“I think surf localism exists because surfing makes people insane,” he said. “The longer a man surfs, the more insular and selfish he becomes. Paranoid like Gollum. He wants the preciouses all to himself. He can’t stand someone even looking at them … Talk of surfers being a ‘tribe’ or maintaining ‘chill vibes’ or anything like that is all lies. Surfers are decrepit addicts. Nothing more.”

Read the rest here!

Trump Rally
A bloodied Trump supporter in Costa Mesa, not our surfer pal, however… 

Fresh: Surfer Goes To Trump Rally!

The Republican nominee performs in Costa Mesa! Town raises hell!

Ever been to Costa Mesa, the modest neighbor just inland of Newport Beach? It’s not too terrible of a destination. Plenty affordable Orange County standards and just up the hill from the playful peaks of 54th st.

The hip thrive in Costa Mesa. What Youth operates here, and The Growlers, (a popular psychedelic-surf-rock-band with a tendency to write songs that sound the same), call the area home as well. Their combined residencies attribute to Costa Mesa’s aesthetic of cool. Lots of black denim cuffed at the ankles here and as displayed on national television, a deep burning anger for Donald Trump.

Trump held his rally at the Orange County Fairgrounds last Thursday night, predictable, as the O.C is a conservative stronghold. Thousands came to hear him talk Muslims and Mexicans, but Costa Mesa’s Millennials and Latinos were also there… to raise hell.

As the right wing were entranced by Donald in the fair ground’s amphitheater, pissed-off youth paced the parking lot drinking beer and spray painting, “Fuck Trump” on the street. Mexican flags waved alongside American ones in protest of Trump’s wall and plans for large-scale deportation.
Innocent at that point, but then things got ugly. Traffic was halted, rocks were thrown and the roof in of a police cruiser was stomped.

Seventeen violent protesters were arrested. Right? Wrong? You can’t fight Trump like animals and give the fearful a reason to be so, that only plays into his hands. Peaceful protest and increase in voter registration, that’s the only route to curb the madness.

So how does this qualify as surf news?

Well, we’re in luck for Ryan Croteau, a semi-professional surfer who calls Newport home, was amongst the riot. In a video posted on his Instagram, he shakily films the precise moment when a wave of protesters crash against police forces. An innocent bystander can be heard saying, “Here it goes, we are about to get rubber bulleted”.

Ryan responds, “This is getting sketchy dude, let’s get out of here.”

As Ryan reflected afterwards, “Seen a lot of Trump rally videos but this was insane. Being in the center of this was just nuts. The tension was crazy. Seeing this gives you a real eerie feeling that we could all be doomed.”

What do you think?

Do you agree with Ryan Croteau that the US is doomed under Donald’s reign?

Will his racial rhetoric cause a race war? Or is the war already underway given the left’s obsession with race? So much irony!

Will this be the year, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote, that “we finally come face to face with ourselves, finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable?”

From the movie, Narcose. | Photo: Les Films Engloutis

Parker: “There’s a wonderland below!”

Come freediving and feel total freedom from the hectic hell of land…

I’ll be the first to admit that competitive freediving is a little odd. Especially at the top levels. Pushing your body to its limit, any mistake could be your last.

Yeah. People don’t really die within the confines of competition. Safety is taken seriously. Canned O2 on the surface, emergency staff, safety divers keeping an eye on everyone.

There’s really only been one death in a sanctioned event. But the Nicolas Mevoli incident was more a cause of an overly driven individual than any failure on the part of event staff. Tragic, but hardly indicative of the sport as a whole.

Recreational freediving, either with a spear or without, tends to take a few people each year. Often very capable people, just half-assed safety protocol one time too many. Easy to do, become a tad complacent, forget that even minor depths are dangerous.

It’s hard to convey the appeal to people who, perhaps rightly, view the whole ordeal as kind of dumb. “Worst sport ever. Just put a gun in your mouth and be done with it,” really isn’t far from the mark. Especially if you’ve never experienced the thrill.

The sounds at depth, it’s hardly quiet. The sensation of a slow freefall through water. Your lungs feel full again as they compress to the size of oranges. Total freedom from the hectic hell of land, too focused on your body, your survival, to care about what’s always waiting up top.

It makes for gorgeous video, if you can combine ability with creative talent. Which is a hell of a challenge.

No one does it better than Les Films Engloutis.

Guillaume Néry and Julie Gautier have been producing stunning work revolving around freediving for years. You’ve probably seen some of it.

Freefall did the viral rounds a year ago.

Ocean Gravity did too.

Narcose was beautiful. Visual poetry that comes damn close to capturing the feeling of euphoria you experience just prior to the lights going out.

Their newest piece, Haven, takes a turn to the sinister. Dark, foreboding, brilliantly edited. This time they focused on the fear, rather than the majesty.

Give them all a watch. Book a freedive course. Learn to hold your breath. Stop being a pussy who plays around on the surface without thinking about the wonderland that lies just beneath you.