Parker: On Hawaii’s caste system!

Is Hawaii really like apartheid-era South Africa?

Kauai creeps ever closer to election day, and things are heating up. Lots of little birdies singing in my ear. Allegations of corruption, incompetence. Whispers of multiple cases of marital infidelity. Does that matter to the local electorate? I could care less, though poor decisions in pursuit of pussy are always amusing. Sex and the City style blog posts making the rounds. Smart men doing dumb things.

Transient vacation rentals are a hot topic. State legislature is looking to hand AirBnB a serious windfall, passing a bill that allows the vacation home middle man to collect taxes on behalf of the state but removing language that would have required the company to ensure its members were in compliance with local laws.

Too onerous a requirement, according to AirBnB heads. How can they tell who’s legal and who isn’t?

Just look at Manhattan Beach, that affluent honky enclave that specializes in NIMBY politics. City outlawed short term rentals in 2015. Quick search still turns up a lot of illegal units.

California rental law is relatively tenant friendly. Wonder how long it’ll be until gutter punks start realizing they can book a day and refuse to leave? I’d imagine that pursuing a civil suit to recoup money lost in the commission of a crime might be difficult.

It’d be more or less impossible on Kauai, now that the planning commission and county council are playing election year politics and holding off-island TVR violators’ feet firmly to the fire. Money may buy favor in off-years, but election time means playing to the local crowd. Not a lot of sympathy present for off-island property investors. Large fines are being levied. Speculators are facing the hard fact that they can’t afford their properties without a steady stream of illegal tourist income.

Cry me a river.

So racist, so unfair! What about the economy?

Rumor has it that the current plan is to pursue fines sufficiently severe that they remove all profitability from ignoring zoning laws. Force people to sell, depress the local market. Open up housing for local families.

Maybe just chase out the millionaires, bring in the billionaires, as in the current situation at the Big Island’s Haulali Four Seasons Resort.

Definitely doesn’t benefit local families in the slightest, but it does deliver comedy.

It was poolside that he particularly felt the caste system at work. “You’d go to a pool and order what you want,” he says. “And then, when you make the mistake of sitting in the wrong seat, a Hualalai brownshirt basically comes over and says, ‘You can’t sit there.’ And there was literally no one else near the pool because it was kind of drizzling. It was just bizarre.”

Firestein writes dialogue for a living. Standing by the empty chaises longues, he didn’t hold back. “I said to them, ‘You know, this is weirdly like Jim Crow. You’re telling us we can eat here and not here, and there’s no one else around?’ ”

He didn’t stay the full week. Another family the Firesteins had rendezvoused with there—visitors, he notes pointedly, from South Africa—also left early. “I don’t want to exaggerate,” Firestein says, “but it really is an apartheid experience.”

Conspiracy: Is Kelly’s wave even real?

New evidence comes to light suggesting Kelly Slater and friends are up to tricks!

Yesterday I posted a meaningless story about Gab Medina being “featured” on ESPN. It was a waste of my time and a waste of yours but at least you got funny in the comments. I can’t remember who first brought it up, maybe Lemmy, maybe Karl Von Fanningstadt, maybe Wiggs, maybe Hipster Krypster* but the discussion turned to the greatest thing Kelly Slater ever put his name on. The early 2000s classic video game Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer!

Don’t you remember? You could be Donny Frankenreiter with a steezy bottom turn, Kalani Robb, Bruce Irons, Kelly of course…maybe Tony Hawk? I can’t recall, exactly, but I played it for many hours even thought the soundtrack was god awful. I could do lots of high scoring combo airs and stay in the barrel forever, balancing just right.

And that barrel. I hadn’t thought about it in forever but….and the realization hit me like a ton of bricks….I felt like I had just seen it. But where?

Oh yeah. The second greatest thing Kelly Slater ever put his name on. Look and compare! Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.35.44 AM

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Uncanny? Too Uncanny? Kelly, what aren’t you telling us? Either you had this wave pool all invented up and were shredding it back in the early 2000s or it ain’t real at all. Which is it? The people (Lemmy, Karl, Krypster and Wiggs) demand answers!

DJ on a NAR photoshoot at the Guardian Centers of Georgia…
DJ on a North American Rescue photoshoot… | Photo: DJ Struntz

Surf photog turns to war games!

What's a man going to do once he's done with the surf mags? Find war!

The first time I saw DJ Struntz was in Fiji almost ten years ago. While I was carried by natives of the Mamanuca island chain to the beach (my feet are soft and who knows what is buried in the shallows), DJ was emerging from the deep with great lacerations to his thigh.

Barracuda wounds!

For DJ, real name William, the ocean is his playground, his office and his supermarket. Follow djstruntz on Instagram for a montage of his life from swimming with tiger sharks to shooting Globe teamriders all over the world to spearfishing with his son.

But, time passes, of course, and eventually, all surf photographers must transition out of the surf game. As DJ surmises, “Do you chase the surf mag treadmill until it dies and you get jaded and bitter? I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t have a way out.”

As it transpires, DJ’s home in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, is surrounded by three bases for American special forces, including Delta Force’s Fort Bragg (251 square miles) and the marines’ 246-square mile Camp Lejeune.

While researching for a trip to Yemen many years ago (his first call was to BeachGrit‘s own Chas Smith!) DJ got talking to a special operations guy who’d done undercover work for the US government there. They became pals (how could he refuse!) and new pal gave DJ a fancy military first aid kit made by the company North American Rescue.

Around the traps, DJ got introduced by his new pal as the “crazy guy who went to Yemen without a gun.”

Soon, doors opened to the special forces community. DJ started to shoot photos with ’em.

“I do some crazy photo shoots with crazy guns and live fire,” says DJ. “I’m close to the muzzle of these guns when they’re firing down range. It’s loud…real loud…”

He liked it. Liked the adventure. The camaraderie.

“They appreciate the fact I don’t try to be someone I’m not,” he says. “You’re not going to win a dick measuring contest with bunch of special force guys. So you laugh at yourself and move on.”

One day DJ was looking at his medical kit and it… clicked. These things are perfect for surf travellers. Not ’cause we get belted by guns, but fin chops, car accidents, reef lacerations.

“Bleeding is bleeding, right?” says DJ.

So he cold-calls North American Rescue, the 100-million dollar company that makes the high-end kits. It’s how DJ got into the surf game. He wants to work for ’em. Wants to help ’em… grown.

Call. Call. Call.

The company is intrigued by the noted surf photographer and offers him a job as a consultant, then as full-time manager of their social channels. In one year, DJ grows their Instagram numbers from zero to almost 100k. DJ takes Facebook, with no advertising, from five thousand to twenty-one thousand likes.

How’s he do it? By story.

DJ says he’ll interview a vet and get off the phone bawling his eyes out. Like Mary Dague who lost both her arms when an IED blew up in her arms while serving in Iraq.

“Now she helps veterans who are struggling with depression,” says DJ. “She does everything in her power to show ’em there’s an alternative to eating a bullet.”

I ask DJ if being pally with special forces studs has made him think, or re-think, American foreign policy.

“Do I think our foreign policy is completely fingered?” he says. “You look at the way the (foreign policy) bus has been driven and it’s been fishtailing all over the road at the cost of so many lives. Am I a fan of the US military? Absolutely! Am I a fan of the implementation of the US military? Sometimes. But there is evil in the world. I look at ISIS and the stuff they do, they troll our feeds, and I see stuff on the feeds I follow and it makes me wanna throw up. Does it need to be stopped? Absolutely! Is the US military the best way to solve the problem? I don’t know. Maybe it would be better if it was stopped by the people who live there.”

Is all this talk of war and amputees and foreign policy making you a little blue?

Watch this! A bunch of vets raised a million-and-half dollars via crowdfunding and made this classic apocalyptic zombie movie. It even stars the double-amputee gal Mary Drague!

“She’s a scene stealer,” says DJ.


Adrenaline: Watch Niccolo Porcella fly!

Do you remember Nicollo Porcella's spectacular Teahupo'o crash? Now watch him soar!

Niccolo Porcella’s got the name of an Italian cobbler and the drive of a someone with a serious chemical imbalance.Too much, too gnarly. A handful of joint destroying wipeouts dropped last year. Worst trip over the falls Teahupo’o has ever seen. Fired from a cannon into the flats on another. Kite assisted slingshot into the lip at huge Jaws.

Good thing he trains. Hard. Normal body couldn’t hold up. Don’t understand how his does. Wonder how long he can keep it up.

Cross-over adrenaline junkies are a weird breed. Takes so much time to safely approach a single sport at full bore recklessness. Guys who dip their toes in a ton of ponds don’t make a lot of sense.

Of all his shenanigans the wingsuit’s the worst. Big wave surfing is a you-think-they’re-gonna-die type pursuit. Real ugly, tons of injuries. Not that many deaths.

Flying squirrel men go splat all the time. I can understand the appeal, seems amazingly fun. But finding the drive to turn wanting into doing is beyond me.

Thank god everyone’s always filming. Slick edits deliver a second hand thrill. As close as most of us will get.


Famous: Gab Medina on ESPN!

We have arrived!

Don’t you swoon when you see surfing featured in major media outlets? Can you not help feeling we, as a culture, have finally arrived? That they like us? They really, really like us? I mean, not enough to buy our clothes anymore or anything like that but, you know, at least want us to come hang out? With Scott Eastwood? He’s got a great bod!

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It was a major sporting weekend, anyhow, around the world what with soccer in Europe and the basketball playoffs here in the United States of America. Toronto beat Miami and will face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. Out west, Oklahoma City will take on a juggernaut from Oakland. Barcelona beat Madrid too, am I right? Not directly, I don’t think but won their Liga. And there was a massive brawl in baseball as the Texas Rangers’ second baseman slugged Toronto Blue Jays’ star Jose Bautista right in the jaw. Clenched fist and everything.

Drake is from Toronto and is very excited about his city’s sporting rise. The “ten best Drake fan moments” made ESPN’s main page, near the bottom. But do you know what was a few stories below that? Our very own Gabriel Medina!

The words read: Surfer backflips for a perfect 10 and there was the video of him launching so high into the sky, grabbing both rails so tightly and spinning spinning landing. Did you love his air? His double grab? I have only met one expert on double grabs in my life and his name is Jimmy Wilson from Surfing magazine. Let’s tuck into one of his older pieces and see how he describes the two-handed two-railed approach:

I come to you today to help bring an end to something that should have ended years ago: the double-grab air. Let’s face it: this is the worst air in surfing. It would be the same in any other sport, too, but no one really does it besides surfers. If a skateboarder even attempted one they’d be immediately laughed out of the park, or wherever the f–k they were when someone saw it happen.

I have many problems with the double grab air, and I know I do not stand alone in this way of thinking. When asking aerial surfing phenomenon Dion Agius his opinion of the double grab, he replied with a simple “They suck.” Let’s discuss…

1. They’re ugly. Period. You can’t tell me they aren’t. I won’t believe you, and you won’t believe yourself if you’re being honest. Do me a favor. Drop what you are doing and take a stance on the ground somewhere in the vicinity of a mirror. Now reach down and grab at the ground with both hands in the form of how you’d grab your surfboard to go for a double grab. Now look at yourself in the mirror. You look like hell. You hate yourself no matter how you move around or where the mirror lies. It’s just basic logic. Grabbing ahold of a surfboard with two hands while standing on it looks awkward, horrible, death sentence, the worst, etc.

2. They’re easy. Now this is where I can accept someone doing a double-grab air: when learning how to do airs, and for learning purposes only. It helps you learn to keep your body above your board, and even when launching into oblivion, you can kind of keep control of what you’re doing. Now that you learned how to do airs and you’ve already landed maybe 5 or 10, it’s time for you to end your hideousness and try something else. It would be pointless to try and get better at doing double grabs because no body on earth will ever think you did a good one. You’ll just be ignored as if you don’t even exist in the lineup. People should probably start burning you on every wave.

He goes further and you can/should read it here but what do you think? Did you love Gabs air or find it ugly and easy? If Drake surfed what sort of airs would he do?