Confusing: The Nietzschean surfer!

Angsty AF.

I am going to San Francisco this evening for a little slice of business. Have you been? Many of my favorite people in surf are either from there, have spent lots of time there or love it there. Matt Warshaw, honored historian, occasional zealot, spent years bundled in black, I think. Ashton Goggans who is at Surfer did too. Taylor Paul, the ex editor-in-chief of Surfing magazine grew up just down the road in Aptos. Louis Samuels, whom I have never met, still plies his trade somewhere in Fog City. Etc.

The town features wonderful food, grand architecture, an interesting history, activities for both the young and young at heart and also features the worst climate on earth. Mark Twain is attributed with famously saying, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco…” and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t just sum it up nicely.

Fog descends from the sky, beginning sometime in May. A freezing, thick and miserable fog. It blankets the bay morning, noon and night refusing to release its grip for weeks, even months, at a time. The locals, shrouded in thick wool, turn into strange moles scurrying about their business. Children weep for the sun. Mothers hush them, saying, “The sun is for weaklings. You’ll grow up tough, dear. Tough like Courtney Love (who was born in the middle of one of SF’s “summers” in 1964).”

And the surf? Relentless! Ocean Beach is one massive test of the human will. Waves march like Napoleon’s army pouring their fury upon the Russians at Austerlitz. The surfer, shrouded in thick rubber, must put his head down and ram it against futility. If he is lucky he’ll wind up outside where the peaks shift and the sharks wait and crusty old men with beards shake angry fists at the sky, daring “God” to show his face.

I don’t surf to test my will and want absolutely nothing to do with OB but am very impressed by the masochists that crave its slap. And equally confused by them. If surfing is a Nietzschean struggle then what joy is there in life? What pleasure?

Confession: I’m a (surf) cuckold!

A six-foot wave at Long Beach, New York, took my manhood and made me an object of derision…



noun: cuckold; plural noun: cuckolds

1. The husband of an adulteress, often regarded as an object of derision.
verb. (Of a man) make (another man) a cuckold by having a sexual relationship with his wife.


Its true. Kinda…

In 1936 Ernest Hemingway published an amazing short story called The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. In it, Macomber and his wife travel to Africa for a hunting safari. Their guide is a strapping, rugged and emotionless stud (a fear in and of itself for every belly bulging, hair-line receding hubby) called Robert Wilson.

Macomber hits a lion, but it doesn’t die. It stumbles into a heavily wooded/grassy area. Their guide, Robert Wilson, tells Macomber he can’t leave the lion that way. He needs to go into the bush and finish the kill. Macomber becomes terrified. Wilson says he will go with him. Macomber’s wife, Margarate, is watching this all unfold. That is to say, the first piece of her husband’s masculinity starts to fade when she senses his fear.

They go into the bush. Macomber succumbs to fear. Wilson kills the lion. Macomber is stripped of his manhood. His wife, Margarate, on the ride back to camp, kisses Robert Wilson right in front of her husband.

There’s more.

Later, Macomber wakes in the middle of the night to find his wife absent from her cot. She walks in some time later. He calls her a bitch. The next day she “accidently” shoots him to what Wilson says “will be a certain amount of unpleasantness at the inquest. The gun bearers will serve as witnesses …but you should be ok.”

A six-foot wave at Long Beach, New York, took my manhood and made me cuckold.

(It wasn’t big. Pretty good form from the higher tide. East-south-east angle. The water was cold though. Around forty-one degrees.)

Actually, now that I think back on it, that bulging swell of salt water did look like a lion rushing out of a tranquil bush. Long Beach (NY) locals (who rarely surrender a set wave) posed as the gun bearers and surrogate wives watching and waiting for me to turn and pop up. The current had drifted them toward the end section of the lineup. I had just paddled back out.

So I sat there alone. Waiting.

I paddled toward the peak. The hoots continued. I turned toward shore, dug my hands into the water and started paddling. As I looked down the line, a cadre of NY locals staring through me, I realized I did not like the look of the wave. Looked like a closeout. Didn’t feel like getting pinched by fifteen cubic yards of ice cold Atlantic with a fraction of possible Hep C. Sorry.

Eight hooded black rubber suits bobbing at the end of the line slowly making their way back to the take-off point. Watching me sit there. Detached. About 60 yards out to sea, we all saw the peak of a set wave begin to pyramid. It marched closer.

In the ocean, amid all that expanse, there are no buildings or cars to muffle noises or calls. Especially when your sitting there alone and the signals are meant for you…




These howls translate to “YOU BETTER GO PUSSY!!!”

There was nowhere to go. There was no other surfer around to relinquish priority to.

I paddled toward the peak. The hoots continued. I turned toward shore, dug my hands into the water and started paddling. As I looked down the line, a cadre of NY locals staring through me, I realized I did not like the look of the wave. Looked like a closeout. Didn’t feel like getting pinched by fifteen cubic yards of ice cold Atlantic with a fraction of possible Hep C. Sorry.

The pull back was awful.

Open mouths. Shaking heads. A couple of “un-fucking believables.”


However way you try to play it off like it doesn’t bother you, like Hemingway and Macomber, there is a side of us that is sickened when we cower. When we shy away from the reality of a manhood challenge. I felt that tinge of nausea in my belly.

I walked back to the car some time after.

Hoping my wife was not on the beach. Hoping the ammunition store was not open yet.

No endorsement: Hip mod slang!

Slang AF

I’ve been on a negative kicker today but I’m going to play through if you don’t mind. Tomorrow the sun will come out! Today I fucking hate when surf publications play to some sense of cool by using youth phrases 4 months after their pull-by date!

Stab is definitely the grossest transgressor these days. You’d think it would be The Inertia but their staff is even too kooky to be 4 months behind. Surfer‘s editorial staff is so confused as to why they have an editor no one has ever heard of/is gingy to write anything meaningful. Surfing only likes looking at pictures. Does Surfline have any stories? Australian magazines. The Inertia is such shit.

I drove past their offices by accident the other day, by the way, multiple blocks away from the already spent Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA and it made me laugh lots. They have offices multiple blocks away from the already spent Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA! With a big sign and stuff!

But back to Stab. Yesterday they posted a story about Carlos Burle carrying the torch for the Olympics. The caption read “It’s still lit AF.”

AF. AF. AF. AF. That’s rad AF. Cool AF. AF. Just write “as fuck” if you want to use the term! AF! AF as AF! AS FUCK. FUCK! AS! AS FUCK!

Did you ever read Hipster Runoff in its prime? That man did du jour slang so well that he broke the mold. Stab should only use the Queen’s English. Nothing more.

I feel bad, now, for swimming in Rory Parker’s pool. He does cantankerous so much better than me.

As Fuck you, Stab.

Wade Goodall river surfing
And this is Dylan Graves' Australian pal Wade Goodall, surfing with a feverish impatience!

Movie: Wild Waves with Dylan Graves!

Come surf Snake River, Wyoming, with Dylan Graves, Wade Goodall and pals…

I’m not a fan of fresh water. Too much weird shit going on beneath the murky surface.  Logs, boulders, slippery eels.  No sir, I do not like it.

River surfing ain’t for me.

Take Waimea River mouth. Standing wave looks super fun.

But what the videos don’t show is how disgusting the water is. Had plenty of opportunities to give it a try, was happy to sit on the sand and watch others frolic in a frothy leptospirosis ag run-off cocktail.

Google says the Snake River is among the cleanest in the US, though. Probably cleaner than SoCal ocean and I spent most of my life playing in that poison. But it’s an irrational thing anyway. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of catfish swimming around looking to suck on my toes.  Must be some traumatic experience from childhood I’ve repressed.

One random bit of knowledge I possess, down river traffic has the right of way. Whitewater rafts will blast straight through kayakers when they don’t get out of the way.

The surf industry fucking sucks!

But just right now! Bright days maybe ahead!

Do you remember being a youth and needing surf accoutrement? I do.

I remember walking into a surf shop, smelling the wax, seeing the pink Astrodeck, the Mountain and the Wave, the fluoro Shark watches, the checkered Vans, the Op shorts, the Gotcha Fishman and thinking they were the only thing that mattered in life besides actually surfing.

The product, the image, was, in my juvenile mind, synonymous with the activity.

Oh how I wanted it all! My parents could afford very little/nothing so I was left mostly on the outside looking in/with Wahlboard t-shirts from Pismo Beach but still. I dreamed.

And I wonder about kids today. They don’t lust for product, do they. They don’t walk in to surf shops with eyes wider than Matt Biolos’s pant legs. They don’t need anything to belong. There are no more signifiers and thus the industry has been in a decade long death throe.

Whose fault is it?

Maybe the Australian Surf Industry Awards!

I read this morning about them on the industry blog Shop-Eat-Surf. Let’s tuck in!

The Australian Surf and Boardsports Association held its annual awards in Sydney on Thursday May 26, celebrating the high achievers of the Australia’s multi-million dollar surf industry.  Held at the Crowne Plaza in Coogee, the night attracted over 200 retailers and brand representatives from all over Australia.

Both retailers and brands were recognised with 30 awards presented across a number of retail, product and marketing categories.

On the brand side, relative newcomer Vissla has announced its arrival as a significant player when it was awarded the Breakthrough Brand of the year. Rip Curl’s attention to technical details was well rewarded when it took out product of the year in the boardshort, wetsuit and surf accessories categories. The Otis Youngblood won sunglass of the year while Reef was the number one footwear brand.

It was also a big night for Billabong, taking out swimwear brand of the year and the men’s and women’s brand of the year. To cap things off Billabong also won the men’s and women’s marketing campaigns of the year.

It was another big night and SBIA president Anthony Wilson was delighted with its success:

“It’s nights like tonight that really sets our industry apart, it really did have it all,” “Wilson said.

And what the goddamn hell?

There are too many wrong things happening here to fully digest but the Crowne Plaza in Coogee?

Attracted “200” people?


Billabong swimwear “brand” of the year and marketing “campaign” of the year?

Arbitrary award shows are, in and of themselves, embarrassing. This embarrassing one launched in 2011, smack in the middle of complete and utter surf market meltdown. In the five years since things have gotten steadily worse.

Not that we shouldn’t fiddle while Rome burns (welcome to BeachGrit!) but celebrating and awarding our mediocrity/squandering of an entire movement/at the Coogee Grand Plaza just seems….lame. And if I was a kid today I would want nothing to do with any of it.

How can we fix?

I think Michael Tomson was very right when he proclaimed size is the enemy of cool and there are many interesting smaller brands popping up all over. Like Rolling Death Maui or OurCaste or Insted We Smile or Saint Laurent’s Surf Sound collection. Brands run by people who have a finger on the pulse, who still care. A trimmed Quiksilver is better than it has been for years and Lost, pulled from the teeth of a management group, has snap again. Etc.

Is the future bright? Who knows! Tune in this time next year for the first annual BeachGrit Awards live from the Santa Ana Holiday Inn to find out but in the meantime, fuck the other bastards.