How about we loosen our collar, shuck our potato sack jeans…
One day ago, I posited the idea that pro surfing might like to dredge a middle finger down the throat of ten point rides.
I got that from reading a story about gymnastics in the New Yorker. Gymnastics had blown off ten-pointers, even thought it defined that sport in its pursuit of artistic and athlete perfection, because it rewarded… safe.
In response, the filmmaker for John John Florence, Blake Vincent Kueny, argued for a 100-point scale.
Waves should be based on the 100 point scale, there’s too many nuances in surfing for it to be narrowed to tenths of a point.
Might surfing ever be so bold?
Anyway, while browsing the work of Taki Theodoracopulos I was struck by the similarities of today’s tennis tour and, perhaps, surfing soon.
Let’s study the text.
The French Championships, as they were back then before the Open era of 1967, was my favorite tournament—Paris being Paris, the Parisian girls being, well, beautiful and easier than most, and a very laissez-faire attitude among tennis officials making it so.
Needless to say, the French Open is now a very different affair. Top players are multinational corporations, marketing is a sine qua non, and if one wants to speak to a player, one goes to his agent’s agent and negotiates an appointment. Everything is machinelike: the play, the way players act, their training, even the umpiring, with Cyclops overruling the human error. Players are protected from prying eyes inside the locker room, and from getting in each other’s heads by their limited access to them. Coaches, trainers, gurus, and dietitians make sure of it. Tennis is a soulless game made so by technology and hucksters who sell it to advertisers who in turn sell it for big corporation dollars. Hype rules supreme and debases the game. Everyone, with very few exceptions, looks and plays the same. The most banal questions precede and follow the matches by hacks who are basically cheerleaders. Welcome to the modern game of pro tennis.
Do you see the parallels?
For so many years I couldn’t believe the access writers and photographers had to the best in the game. Ring up whatever company was sponsoring an event the day before it started, wrangle a pass, stroll into a VIP area that mixed surfer with media, wait for surfer, jam miniature tape recorder under their chin and cajole whatever it was you wanted out of ’em.
I remember the creamy tan handsomeness of Kelly Slater up close. How gorgeous Andy Irons looked once he’d shucked his potato sack Rising Sun trunks for jeans. I remember surfers whom I’d accidentally affronted being tense and slit-eyed and hissing at me like vipers.
One time, my journalist mentor had a screwdriver jammed into his throat by a very famous Hawaiian surfer who said,
“Tell me why I shouldn’t just kill you right now…”
It was real, although most were disarmed when the offending piece was broken down into easy-to-understand morsels. End of the day? We’re all pals. And we ain’t changing the world. Loosen the collar and have a good time.
Now I got the WSL behind my armpits, deleting fair use of clips, hassling me on Instagram, cold-cocking me on Facebook. Try to get to a surfer now and apart from a few honourable exceptions (Hello Conner Coffin! I’m so sorry my GarageBand file didn’t save) you’re gonna have to go through the surf co, the manager and then promise to show ’em the story you’d written.
And what do we get for negotiating those hurdles?
Whimpering email interviews.
Rose satin video clips rotten with the stench of vanilla.
Panting profiles that serve only as love letters and not windows into the life of a significant athlete.
Do you, like me, think that the playfulness of pro surfers, and not the laborious process of two-week long events that start, stop, pause, maybe start again in a week, is the the WSL’s, greatest asset?
That by recognising the humanity of the shadows we inhabit, there is something a little more?