Long Read: Ode to Brazil!

Do you really not love her? Really?

Miguel, Gisele, and the Architecture of Sex first appeared in The Surfer’s Journal…


Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes each one she passes goes ahhhhhh….


The west is pregnant with Brazil. There she sticks, all round and glorious, into the warm Atlantic. She is pure possibility, pure potential, and she has been since the Age of Exploration. The Portuguese saw it first. They saw fertile, river-fed lands. They saw sugar, coffee, wood and gold. And they went forth and grabbed. But Portugal is Portuguese, small and weird, and the colonial power, fighting more robust English and French powers in the Old World, could not provide enough resources to give birth to her pure possibility, pure potential.


She gained independence in the early 1800s but ineffective monarchies, a brief romance with Fascism and a longer romance with military dictatorship kept Brazil with child well past her due date. Everyone saw it, the river-fed lands, the glowing people, everyone knew that the baby could be the greatest ever if only…if only…if only…if only…


If only finally turned into the 2000s and booooom! Labor pains! The end is nigh! Baby on the way! Baby almost on board! Yes, Brazil, today’s Brazil, has the sixth largest economy in the world and the seventh largest purchasing power. Her GDP growth rate of over five percent is one of the fastest and she has closed the competitiveness gap with giants India and China. She has more billionaires than Japan and she has more surfers too.


When she walks she’s like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle that when she passes each one she passes goes oooooooh….


The history of surfing in Brazil is shrouded in as much salty mystery as the history of surfing in general. There are whispers that, maybe baby, a small surf community sprang up on the beaches of Sao Paulo in the early 1940s but these whispers are the same as those that say surfing, in general, started in Peru and not Hawaii. Weird whispers that feel fundamentally flawed. The real pioneers, the real first timers, paddled into the warm Atlantic off of glimmering Rio de Janeiro.


Rio in the 1960s was as hot as dusky sin. Oscar Niemeyer was erecting sex in the form of architectural gorgeousness. “I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man,” he said of his vavavavoom buildings. “I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman.” Oh Brazil’s beloved woman! Dusky sin! On the beaches of Rio, these beloved women were experimenting with bikinis so small, so teeny tiny, that the imagination was turned entirely off. No need to guess what lies beneath when it is right there in full Technicolor. Those bottoms! Those tops! Right there in full Technicolor! And those hips were not just standing still, uninvolved. No. Those hips were swaying to the hottest new sounds anyone has ever heard.


It was called Bossa Nova and it mooooved those hips in an effortless sort of liquid back and forth. The name itself meant “new trend” and it combined traditional Brazilian samba with cool cool jazz. Traditional Brazilian samba, from the favelas, was all boom boom boom rhythmic west African boom. Bossa Nova, from the beaches, was like a breeze. It floated along with barely a care.


And the first surfers would move through this fog of swaying hips and barely a care, paddling out at the rock of Arpoador located in the southern zone of Rio on a small peninsula between Ipanema and Copacabana. Unlike their counterparts in America and Australia, these pioneers were scuba divers. They picked up surfing from who knows where. Movies? Travelers? Who knows and who cares. They picked it up and it caught right on with the young people. What could be better? Buildings as sex on land, bikinis as sex on the beach, Bossa Nova so sexy in the air and surfing, perpetual sex, in the water.


But I watch her so sadly. How can I tell her I love her? Yes, I would give my heart gladly, but each day when she walks to the sea, she looks straight ahead, not at me.


The center of the surf revolution would move, in the 1970s, from Arpoador to the Ipanema Pier. This area was considered “free” during the era of military dictatorship and surfers and musicians and intellectuals and girls, girls, girls would dance to the hymn “E proibido proibir!” “It is forbidden to forbid!” Tropicalismo blasted from speakers, all electric, and nothing could be finer even in the face of nasty authoritarianism.


Surf continued to grow, grow, grow with the first contest being held in 1972 and the first international one being held in 1976. Now, Australians and Americans and South Africans experienced the glories of Brazil too. They rode in the Waimea 5000 and won $5000 United States Dollars. An unheard of sum for surfing competitions back in the day. And yet, somewhere along the way, as the 1970s turned into the 1980s turned in to the 1990s turned into the now, the western surf establishment began to grumble. “Brazilians have an unfortunate style.” “Brazilians wiggle too much.” “Brazilians are horrible snakes.” “Brazilians claim too too much.” “Brazilians travel with too many other Brazilians.” “Brazilians (grumble grumble grumble)…”


I have never been exactly sure where or how this grumbling began. I, too, have been snaked by a Brazilian. I, too, have giggled at Brazilian exuberance after exiting a barrel. I, too, have had to push past traveling Brazilian mobs in Mexico, Australia and Bali and been vaguely annoyed. But still. In my heart I have always felt that nobody does surf culture, at least theoretically, like Brazil. Surfing, once again, like everything else in that fertile, pregnant land, is sex and, as always, how good is that? How perfect for the sport of kings to transition from its Island birth to its Puritan upbringing to a wild and free adolescence under the South American sun? It matters not what I think, though. It also matters not what the grumbler thinks for, baby on the way, baby almost on board, Brazil is the future of surfing and this is a hard fact.


Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes I smile but she doesn’t see…


There are so many Brazilians on surfing’s professional world tour, have you noticed? It used to be only Neco Padaratz, that strange man with the gold hoop earring that was ripped out by Sunny Garcia. Neco was fun but he could not surf. Now, we have Adriano de Souza and Gabby Medina and Alejo Muniz and Miggy Pupo and Filipe Holy Toledo others I don’t recall. They are there, en masse, and they are winning and they can all surf well. Not that surfing’s professional world tour is necessarily representative of surf culture writ large but it is representative of progression and talent and Brazilians no longer wiggle too much. They air very progressively and thrash the likes of Kelly Slater and Taj Burrow in Brazil and in Tahiti and on the Gold Coast. Other Brazilians, like Carlos Burle, have entered the pantheon of big wave hellmen with XXL Award performances. They charge unfathomably huge Mavericks and Teahupo’o alongside the best of them Others, like Pedro Scooby Viana, marry the sexiest woman on earth. Yes, Scooby is a fine Brazilian surfer with a repertoire that includes tricky little air moves and fearless barrel moves but he made a name for himself as the first man to pull a kerrupt flip while naked. He also surfed macking Pasquales tubes for two whole days, while naked. His trickiness and fearlessness and nudity garnered him Luana Piovani, one of the most famous stars in Brazil and voted “The Sexiest Woman on Earth” by VIP Magazine. I once asked Scooby about his outrageous fortune. He just laughed and said, “It was love at first sight. But her world is very different than mine. It is interesting but it is not all good because we have no privacy. But we get to go to amazing parties. It’s fun!”


And this is, very specifically, why Brazil is totally and completely awesome. Its surf stars marry pop culture royalty. Sure, American and Australian surf stars dabble. Kelly Slater once famously dated Pamela Anderson and maybe Cameron Diaz. But did he really date or did they just go to dinner? Whatever the case, he certainly did not marry. And neither Pam Anderson nor Cameron Diaz, gorgeous as they may be, has ever been voted “The Sexiest Woman on Earth.”


Surfing is not an outlying amusing, but otherwise forgettable, pastime in Brazil. It is mainstream. It moved from Rio’s beaches into the very soul of the country. Carlos Burle, when he is not charging giant waves, does television commercials for Bridgestone tires. Gabby Medina, when he is not thrashing Kelly Slater, does television commercials for Renault. Alejo Muniz is sponsored by one of the most popular Brazilian soccer (football) clubs, Santos. What if young Dane Reynolds was sponsored by the Dallas Cowboys? What if younger Kolohe Andino was sponsored by the Los Angeles Lakers? Then surfing would be a growth industry in the west instead of mired in economically troubled waters.


Olha que coisa mais linda mais cheia de graa ela, menina, que vem e que passa num doce balano a caminho do mar moa do corpo dourado do sol de Ipanema…


Brazil’s surf brands, like the rest of her economy, are doing just fine and maybe this, above talent, above newfound no wiggle ability, above even marrying pop stars is why Brazil is the future of surfing. Her economy is booming, her middle class is growing, her surfers are accepted into the mainstream dialog and her surf industry is reaping the rewards. The traditional Hurley, Volcom, Quiksilver are doing well and home-grown Hang Loose, Mormaii, Greenish are exploding as middle class children flock into the warm water. And they are no longer emulating the west. They are now emulating themselves, their own culture, their own stars. I can easily imagine a time not too far away when Brazil’s version of surf is what gets exported to the rest of the world instead of blonde California cool. Its middle class children will travel. Its middle class artists will make television and movies. Its middle class artist will sing songs. Its middle class will become the face of surfing for other exploding middle classes. Maybe? Yeah? Ricardo Macario, editor of Brazil’s largest surf magazine Fluir, still thinks the west is primary when I ask him if Brazil is the new heart of surfing. “I don’t know…maybe not the heart but the lungs we could be. California has been the heart for a long time and we are still a young surfing culture…” And I love California, dearly, but I have to disagree with Ricardo. California’s middle class is being crunched under the weight of American decline. Or, not American decline. I don’t believe in American decline. Our future is bright (for the very rich and the very poor)! But certainly it is being crunched under the contraction of America’s middle class. And without a middle class exporting new and cute and young surf fashion, surf slang, surfy surf style around the world we will lose our place.


Am I putting too fine a point on the economics of surfing? Yes? Well, then I can also say surfing is sexier in Brazil. It is sex and, as always, how good is that? Look at her beaches, for pity’s sake. Where Bossa Nova once swayed hips wearing non-existent bikinis it STILL sways hips wearing even less. The beaches are crowded with lust and music and hot hot air and caipirinhas. And I don’t mean to be self-loathing but that whole scene smashes American Budweiser and Lady Gaga Labor Day shoreline parade. The lineups are another story. They are crowded and crowded and snakey. But whatever. With beaches like those, who needs lineups? That is what traveling to Indonesia and mainland Mexico and Fernando do Noronha is for.


O seu balanado parece um poema a coisa mais linda que eu j vi passer aaaaaaaaah por que tudo eh tao triste?


How, then, does this, our future look? Ricardo Macario is right. Brazil’s surf culture is young and does have some kinks to iron out. The general Brazilian surf approach, in the air, is a thing of beauty, but in the water it needs to find more fluidity. The surf brands are a bit too loud. Too many graphics all jammed together on low quality t-shirts. But they will find their way, I have no doubt, because Brazil is the country that gave us Oscar Niemeyer who brought his sexy curves all the way to Manhattan and built us the United Nations building. An architectural gem. And it is also the country that has given us Gisele Bundchen. Can you, honestly, tell me that you have seen a model so fine? Her cheekbones look molded from porcelain. Her hair looks gold. Her legs are skyscrapers that go up to the heavens. Gisele married our favorite Patriot, Tom Brady. No one is more Americana than he, and they have a beautiful child and this is how our future looks. It looks like Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady’s beautiful child.


Style is not a zero sum game. Brazil’s birth, Brazil’s rise, Brazil’s full embrace of its potential does not necessarily mean that western surfers will start claiming waves like maniacs, dancing capoeira, celebrating carnival and calling it carniVAL instead of CARNival. No. It will mean that we re-discover our sexy. We will expand our vocabulary. We will broaden our tastes. And we will not do this because, all of a sudden, we decide to be citizens of the world. We will do it simply because surf culture as a whole will come to look more and more like Brazil. This Brazilification will be incremental, not a sudden, shocking submersion and surfing will be saved because of it. Surfing will be more fun, it will be more exciting, it will be better looking. It will be far better looking.


The die-hard Americanos will continue to grumble, grumble, grumble but they will also get older, start SUPing and die. The tuned in surf child, though, will instinctively know that Brazil is a place to go. That Brazil’s Miggy Pupo does a mean stalefish. That Brazil’s Scooby surfing giant Pasquales wearing only God’s wetsuit is fantastic. That Brazil’s Gabby Medina, even though he is a horrible snake, is also a world champion. That Brazil is as much “them” as anything in surf. Who doesn’t want to marry Gisele Bundchen? She is so tall and tan and young and lovely. We can only hope, at this point, that when she passes, and we smile as she passes, that she sees. And that she consents to having our beautiful child.

Great White Caves Beach
What do you do when you're photographing a pal riding the swell of the decade and a White breaches fifty metres out the back? “We started tooting the horn of the car, and I took off one of the trusted red flannelette shirts and put it on the end of a crutch to let him know,” the photographer Nathan McLaren told Channel Nine. | Photo: Nathan McClaren

Wow: Great White Breaches Near Surfer!

It's official: Great White season opens in Australia!

Australians of a certain age will remember when attacks by Great White were an abstract and paranoid thought. Yeah, they happened, maybe once every dozen years, twenty even, but always in South Australia.

And so you weighed up your options on whether or not you wanted to take the chance.

You want those uncrowded, cold-water reefs in South Oz? Go get ’em. But know there’s Whites. I once interviewed a man nicknamed Sharkbait who’d been attacked twice by Whites. He eventually died in a car crash.

Me? I tended to stick to the more comely trails of  the Gold Coast, Western Australia, Sydney and its surrounds. I can live with bronze whalers, bull sharks and tigers, at a pinch. But Whites? Oowee, they’re such midnight creepers. The first time y’see ’em close up, you’re gone.

Times do change. The weather has gone to hell and, clearly, seventeen years of protecting Great White sharks in Australia has led to a buoyant population.

Ballina and Byron Bay, home to the occasional bull shark sighting, now host families of Whites. This time last year, a Japanese surfer had both legs bitten off and was killed by a Great White at a beach I used to favour.

And Western Australia? Last week, one surfer and one diver were killed within days, and a hundred kilometres of each other, in WA.

Today Australian surfers’ lips popped agape in flabbergast at the front cover of the tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph. This photo was taken a couple of hours north of Sydney, at Caves Beach.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 1.37.47 pm

It’s a wonderful photo, of course. Proof of a healthy ecosystem, proof of the ability of surfers to exist in harmony with Great White sharks, and proof, perhaps, that surfing is as cruel to its participants as a lying, brutal, cheating husband is to his wife. The torment. You can never be safe.

The surfer, pictured, and his pal, who shot the photo, glowed in their television performance, however.

From NineMSN.

Co-host Karl Stefanovic asked Mr McClaren if he’d seen sharks fly.

“I have now mate – I’ve had the pleasant experience. I’ve seen other animals fly,” he responded.

“Like the unicorn?” Stefanovic said.

“Yeah, normally see a couple of those on the weekend,” Mr McClaren replied, as the TODAY panel erupted into laughter.

“Hang in there big fella,” he added, as Stefanovic laughed.

A unicorn, for those who don’t swing, is a single, bisexual female who is willing to have sex with an established couple. No strings attached etc.

Watch the exchange here. 

Hi! I'm your champ!
Hi! I'm your champ!

What if…the Italian Ferrari wins it all?

Could a blue collar Brazilian put the WSL out of business?

Let’s play a new game on BeachGrit, shall we? Let’s call it What if… and pose questions that would bore the tears out of normal, healthy people but cause us to ponder deep into the night.

And let’s start with Italo Ferrrrrrrairrrrra! I clicked onto worldsurfleague.com today to see if anyone had left CEO Paul Speaker two roses but also to see if the contest was on.

Nobody did and it wasn’t.

But since I was there I clicked on the rankings button. There, of course, is Wilko, hair cut like Gavin Rossdale’s 1995 Bush ‘do, on top. But Wilko ain’t for real, is he. He doesn’t have the mental make-up to complete a wire-to-wire run. He is fun, he is fruity, he is not a champion.

John John Florence is 3rd and while he has the skill to make a run I, also, don’t believe he possesses the mental fortitude. If Kelly Slater taught us anything it’s that it takes a singular focus to hold the trophy at the end of the year. John John may someday have that. Right now he is satisfied being John John. Much like Dane used to be satisfied being Dane.

SeaBass is 4th and no. Caio is 5th and who? Adriano, Jordy, Kolohe, Gab, Joel, Nat and motherfucking yawn.

Do you know who is 2nd though? Do you?

Italo Ferira!

And he is the sort of champion that this modern tour makes. He is certainly the one who will finish the season on top.

How do you feel about that? Do you feel bravo! The blue collar Brazilian put his head down and crushed the higher priced models!

How does the WSL feel about that? Does it feel shit! Another year with an unmarketable winner!

Or does it feel get Enzo Ferrari on the phone! We have our sponsor for the 2017 season! And while we’re at it let’s order two roses!

Mason Ho Costa Rica
Mason Ho's surfing could illuminate the face of a toy doll.

Just in: Episode 4, License to Chill!

"We're gonna surf! Party! Cruise!" Burger, Mason and Coco go to Costa Rica!

Is License to Chill, the eight-part web series from Mason Ho and co, the nine-hundred dollar rhinestone collar of web clips? Who else’ll hypnotise you for a nine-minute short, two of those as credits?

In this episode, Mason, his sister Coco and his pal Keoni “Cheeseburger” Nozaki visit the Republic of Costa Rica in Central America.

It’s an eccentric palate of Burger’s gags (watch him lavish sunscreen on little Coco, “Chop Chop lotion boy! Sunscreen! Sunscreen sir!”), Mason’s effortless jumps and Coco’s ferocious tour style (she throws fins!).


Which is Surfer and which The Inertia?

Dear Rory: “How can I raise a child?”

The really fucked-up thing about raising a kid? It's a roll of the dice, no matter what you do.

Dear Rory:

My chick and I recently welcomed our first child into the world and we’re rapidly adjusting to parenting. However, one can never have too much sage advice. We all know that Chas and Derek actually have children, rendering them unimaginative and jaded, all too 2014 in the ever-evolving game of parenting in the new millennium.

What we need is the advice of a parenting maverick, a visionary unaffected by parenting literature or experiential knowledge. Given that your ear is to the street on all the current trends in spearfishing, how can we up our parenting game in these early stages of raising an infant?


Daddy Derelict in Daytona

Dear Rory says: Wow, congratulations! You get to raise a child in the twenty first century.

Can’t wait to see what the internet looks like in 13 years. Can’t wait to hear all about the conversations parents are forced to initiate. “This is why you shouldn’t post pictures of your butthole online…” “No, bronyism is not a socially acceptable form of sexuality.” “Anal creampies are pretty advanced for middle school. You should probably save that for college.”

If it’s a boy you can count on walking in on him plugged in to a VR headset while he humps away at a rubber vagina simulacrum. That’ll be fun. Eyes covered, headphones on, you’re gonna have to actually touch him to let him know you’re an audience to his sin. The days of “No! Nothing! I’m just scratching my leg. Close the door!” will be long past.

If it’s a boy you can count on walking in on him plugged in to a VR headset while he humps away at a rubber vagina simulacrum. That’ll be fun.Eyes covered, headphones on, you’re gonna have to actually touch him to let him know you’re an audience to his sin. The days of “No! Nothing! I’m just scratching my leg. Close the door!” will be long past.

Female and you’ll still get to experience the age old joy of meeting some scrawny teen just looking to get up inside your precious baby girl. Ain’t nothin’ you can do about it. “But we’re in love! You just don’t understand.” Try not to think about changes in sexuality. Don’t focus on the fact that hardcore porn is at our fingertips, exposing a growing generation to new depths of depravity.

I hear there’s a thriving black market for newborns on Craigslist. Some states allow you to legally abandon unwanted children at your local fire station. Not trying to tell you what to do. Just, you know, keep your options open.

But it’s probably too late. Your brain started dumping those feel-good chemicals already. Nature’s way of making sure we don’t murder our offspring. Pretty solid evolutionary response, without it we’d have way more moms taking that long drive off a short pier.

The really fucked-up thing about raising a kid? It’s a roll of the dice, no matter what you do. Abuse the shit out of ’em, they can either turn into meth addicts turning tricks for nickels beneath a freeway overpass, or they overcome adversity and become shining models of productive humanity. Dote and love and support and you either get a try hard success story, or a spoiled worthless hunk of garbage who fails at life because they never learned that trying hard isn’t really enough.

Maybe the kid’ll murder you in bed one night. Show up at school with an arsenal because the genes you passed down are fundamentally flawed.

No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you care, you’re gonna make mistakes. And one day the kid will say, “I fucking hate you, Dad.”

Good times.

But none of this is advice, and that’s what you’re asking for. Here some stuff I’d pass down if I ever (god forbid) put a baby in a lady and had it survive to term.

Teach your kid to be an expert swimmer: Force them into swim lessons, make them waste their Summers in Junior Lifeguards. They’ll hate it, I did. But it’s one of those things where they eventually appreciate it. I eventually did.

Spare them the brainwashing: I swear, I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life unlearning the bullshit I was taught as a child. It’s like you’re lied to from birth until 18 years of age, then you’re expected to understand how the world works. Pretty gnarly trial by fire. Fucking sucks.

Never trust an authority figure: The world is full of petty tyrants. If you let someone determine your path in life you’ll just end up their slave.

Rules aren’t real: Only losers play fairly. Winners don’t get caught cheating.

Never admit to anything: If you’re being questioned it’s because they can’t prove you did it.

Only suckers fight fair: Go hard, go dirty, don’t stop.

Nothing really matters: Nothing you do as a kid counts in the long term. Grades are unimportant, the “permanent record” is utter bullshit.

Always stand up for yourself: No matter what the cost. Going along to get along just makes you a perpetual doormat.

Life hurts: It’s just a series of ups and downs. Never enough good moments. Always too many bad. Just something you’ve gotta deal with. No matter how much the now sucks the future will be better. Eventually. Probably.

There’s no afterlife: You only get one shot at this. Make it count.

Have fun. Better you than me.

Email Dear Rory your personal conundrums at [email protected]. Due to the volume of mail Dear Rory can’t answer all letters personally.