Memories: When Eddie Slapped Graham!

An excerpt!

I wrote a book, once, too long ago. It was called Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell (buy today!) and was my love letter to Hawaii. I’m working, slowly, on a second and having to flip through it today. Here’s my favorite part:

And when my American Airlines plane wheels skidded along the tarmac of Honolulu International airport Eddie Rothman was driving his jacked-up black Ford F-350 diesel.

He had left his compound at Backyards, a famously localized surf spot, after the sun set and drove south on O’opuola street before turning east on the Kamehameha highway, gripping his steering wheel with scarred knuckles. He passed Ted’s Bakery, known for its plate lunches, its cream pies, and its impossibly slow service. He passed the only Chevron for miles, run by a family of transgendered Samoans who flirt freely when handing over packs of cigarettes or change. They are each over six feet tall, two hundred pounds, with the daintiest touches of eye shadow and blush. He passed the rotting fruit stand selling fresh passion fruit and pineapple, Ehukai Beach Park and its just erected “Billabong Presents the Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons” scaffolding, set up for the contest that would run the next day. He passed sunset Beach Elementary school and then he abruptly turned right, without signaling, onto Ke Nui Road.

Ke Nui is the size of a small alley and runs parallel to the Kamehameha for a rough mile. Banyans and palms hover over it like a frescoed ceiling. There are no streetlights. Night can feel thick on Ke Nui. Dense. Eddie drove over the speed bumps without slowing and then slammed to a stop at its end. Directly in front of the Billabong house.

He got out of his car, went through the wooden gate and up the rock stairs and straight inside without ringing the doorbell and without the customary removal of slippahs.

Inside the house he paused briefly, glancing around, before walking up to Graham Stapelberg and fixing him in his dull gaze. Looking through him. Before reaching a scarred knuckled hand through time and space and grabbing his throat. The surfers and executives, those who had not yet left for Surfer Poll, froze. The horror. This horror. And Eddie reached his other hand back, back, back, and then, as if it was a slingshot, launched it forward. It smashed into Graham’s cheek with a painful thud. Eddie kept slapping him and then dumped him in a pile and went on a tear through the house. 

God bless Eddie Rothman.

 


Beware: The menacing surf gang!

Watch the clip! Those boards! The scariest!

The American cable channel TNT premiers its new show Animal Kingdom this week. Deadline calls it “Gritty but gratuitous.” Entertainment Weekly declares it is a “…surfing Sons of Anarchy.”

It follows the fortunes of a southern California crime family who surfs, drugs, etc. BeachGrit‘s Australian friends will, of course, recognize that it is an adaptation of the film with the same name that followed Melbourne’s famous Pettingill family. They did not surf, if I recall. And why would they? Bells? Burrrrrrrr!

In any case, the darker side of surf is all the rage. The Lunada Bay “Boys” and their “surf fort” strike fear into the hearts of the public. Etc.

Complex Magazine even wrote a piece about the phenomenon this morning. Let’s look!

Surfers have largely eschewed the seedy reputation that’s stuck to their land-bound alterna-sport brethren. Skateboarders hang out behind the grocery store. Dirt bikers lurk around the woods. Surfers wake up early to go to the beach; even the most wholesome mom can get behind a lifestyle like that. At worst, surfers are sometimes seen as aloof Spicoli-types, perhaps a bit too laid back for their own good.

Alas, even the sunniest beach gets a dark cloud every once in a while. Menacing “surf gangs” have long played a supporting role in surf culture. Often just a close group of friends, these groups band together to enforce the infamous “locals only” policy on their favorite break. Generally, these groups are harmless, and their enforcement methods are limited to sending bad vibes your way, with perhaps a rare verbal threat. Sometimes, though, the locals take things a bit too far, and that’s when the police come in.

Here’s a brief history of surf gangs running into trouble with the law. Strap on your leash—it’s going to be a choppy ride.
The writer goes on to discuss the Lunada Bay “Boys” and La Jolla’s Bird Rock Bandits before turning his attention to Hawaii.
Surf gangs aren’t just a mainland phenomenon. In Hawaii, where beaches are crowded and tourists are everywhere, surf gangs have done their best to make sure that locals always have room to ride. The Wolfpak, led by Kala Alexander (who had a role in the decidedly kooky film Blue Crush), is the most notorious group on the North Shore. As one surfer put it, “It’s kind of like Mafia control in the surf.” Since 2001, they’ve sought respect using a combination of intimidation, volunteer work, and fists.
Nor is the surf gang just a recent menace. Da Hui, or the Black Shorts, have been active since forming in the ’70s in reaction to the increase in surfers from Australia and the mainland. This intense localism has been exacerbated by Hawaii’s position as a tourist hotspot; at numerous points over the last 40 years, police escorts have been required to get visiting surfers home safe.

Surf gangs might be intimidating, but don’t let this information keep you from heading out into the waves. Compared with the very real risks of drowning and spinal injuries, surf gangs are harmless. Even sharks—a statistic often compared to being struck by lightning or winning the lottery—are infinitely more threatening than your fellow humans. In the ocean, the real danger always comes from nature. That said, you should still probably think twice before cutting off a local.

Hmmmmmmm.

Wait…what did that say? I was too busy studying the 12 foot thrusters in this Animal Kingdom clip.

Whoa!

Maurice Cole? Matt Biolos? Is this the future? 12 foot thrusters?


The beautiful, and thoroughly missed, Owen Wright, pictured almost exactly one year ago, during his perfect twenty point final in Fiji. | Photo: WSL

Should 10-Point Rides Be Abolished?

Has the "perfect ride" outlived its usefulness? Does gymnastics offer a solution?

Does the scoring of rides at a WSL event sometime leave you feeling a little odd? Cold? Confused? Maybe wrung with despair?

I remember, once, spending a day in the judging tower at a WSL event and not being able to get close to the numbers being punched into the little blue machines that look like they were made by IBM in 1978. My threes were their fives; my sevens were fives. When I hyper-ventilated over two Toledo airs and yawned at three safety turns by Brett Simpson, the judges gave ’em identical scores.

It wasn’t until the fundamentals were explained to me: judge for the conditions and all that matters is that you’re consistent in the heat, that I got it.

And, so, a ten-point ride, the theoretically perfectly ridden wave, can happen in two-foot surf, as it can at 10-foot Fiji.

Doesn’t that irritate you?

Don’t it make you want to get rid of the 10-point scale for something that reflects the…difficulty… of a wave, of a move?

That a 10-foot Cloudbreak barrel will always…always… score higher than a full-roter in two-foot beachbreak? That a Julian Wilson or Kelly Slater turn, more earth shifted, more ground shaken than a bottom-rung guy, will always score higher.

Difficulty!

There’s a precedent.

Gymnastics were all about the perfect 10-pointer, a mix of artistry and athleticism, but then in 2006 they tweaked the game for a system that rewarded difficulty over everything.

Ten pointers? Gone!

Was there a consensus? Not exactly.

“It’s crazy, terrible, the stupidest thing that ever happened to the sport of gymnastics,” the gymnastics supercoach Bela Karolyi told the New York Times. “How could they take away this beautiful, this most perfect thing from us, the one thing that separated our sport from the others?”

Reeves Wiedeman in The New Yorker explains:

“By the turn of the century the limitations of the ten-point scale had begun to stunt the sport’s growth. To score well, a gymnast simply had to meet a minimum level of difficulty and not screw up. Gold medals were being given to safe routines that limited mistakes, while gymnasts who pushed the sport’s boundaries received no reward… The new system, laid out in the Code of Points, is an open-ended one, in which gymnasts are given two marks: one for execution, worth up to ten points, and another for difficulty, which is theoretically infinite.”

Change gymnast to surfer and you start to feel it, right?

Should there be two scores, each from its own panel of judges, given to a ride?

The first, say, is the usual, best moves in the most critical part of the wave, combos, speed and flow etc. The second, is a score given to the technical difficulty of the moves, of the wave.

Overly complex? Or beautiful in its transparency and bias towards the best in the game?


The bar at Namotu Island, populated, mostly, by Australians, is where friendships are loaded and cocked. Good times? Yeah, good times. Here, we see your favourite athletes (how many can you name?) watching the Cape Fear event aka Savages of the East. | Photo: WSL/Ed Sloane

Parker: “Porn stars and oiled wrasslin’!”

Flat-day fun at the Fiji Pro!

Another lay day for the Fiji Pro. Swell forecast ain’t looking hot. A day of big open barrels is looking unlikely. Expect to see it wrapped up in the teensy weensy stuff.

Poor WSL. So unlucky. Can’t they catch a break?

Posting flat surf shenanigans. Mundane stuff. White boy basketball. Ping pong. Hook and line boredom.

It may be hard to imagine if you’ve spent your life in some coastal suburb nightmare, but after a while every white sand beach looks the same. Definitely does to me. Sunsets, palm trees, azure seas. Yawn.

Gotta be hell for the guys stuck out there. I’d be bored stiff. It may be hard to imagine if you’ve spent your life in some coastal suburb nightmare, but after a while every white sand beach looks the same. Definitely does to me. Sunsets, palm trees, azure seas. Yawn.

Missing a great opportunity for some reality TV hi-jinks. Oil ’em up, set ’em to wrasslin’. Big draw, that. Been looking online for a porn star that surfs. For a project. Difficult thing to search. Lots of hits, none of them useful. For what I have in mind. Totally useful if you’re lookin’ for a thrill.

So the market’s there, obviously. Possible injuries could be a problem. You know some of the boys’d go long and hard. Maybe dial it back. Live stream a light round of grab-ass.

In looking for porn stars who surf I ended up on Anastasia Ashley. Which is unfair. She doesn’t do porn. Just glories in her body, earns a buck doing so. I’m fine with it. Not that anyone asked my opinion.

Did you know she’s got some sort of sponsorship going with Totino’s? The company that makes those little microwave pizza pockets.

Weird. Not that she’s promoting them. That’s her job. She travels and looks good and helps move product. Which I’m sure is way fucking harder than it sounds. Probably not a lot of fun a lot of the time.

But Totino’s are gross. They sound tasty when you’re really high, but the reality is terrible. Mushy lava nuggets.

I don’t expect a model to only work for companies she loves. You wouldn’t get much work that way. I do have a problem with writers who play the shill game. We use words to convince people. Standing next to a product don’t make you a liar, telling lies to sell it does.

Guys pumping that damn shark leash are the worst offenders at the moment. I’m not too good to drum up bullshit copy for money, but I ain’t about to put my name on it. Pay us enough I’d happily toss some propaganda up on here. But the byline would sure as hell read “by BeachGrit.”

Speaking of selling stupid shit for money, Donavon Frankenreiter apparently opened a high end boutique on his property up north. 

Gonna need to take a ride up there in the near future. Take a look at the type of person who drops $400 on a board sock. Check out the $300 dream catchers. Maybe pick up a $600 bean bag. They sell Outerknown too!

How is he so wealthy?

It can’t be from his music? Please tell me it’s not from his music.


Blood Feud: Kelly Slater vs Chris Cote!

This one will end badly unless Kelly Slater pays up!

Say what you will, but TransWorld Surf (RIP) under the benevolent dictatorship of Chris Cote was the high water mark of the surf industry. Its PG-13 antics crackled with juvenile charm! Its bright colors and razor sharp broisms showed that anyone, literally ANYONE, could ride the wave to surf fame and fortune!

Do you remember the TransWorld film Tomorrow Today? Of course you do. It featured Clay Marzo, Dane Reynolds, Bob Martinez and Mike Losness.

Do you know who else remembers it? Kelly Slater!

Our 16 time World Champ has decided to use Tomorrow Today as his OuterKnown marketing campaign. Do you know who he has decided not to pay for the honor?

OuterKnown billboard in Venice, CA!
OuterKnown billboard in Venice, CA!

Chris Cote!

Chris was in Australia, of course, calling Cape Fear and is now in Brazil calling a skate event but would say…

“Kelly! Kelly Slater! I’m coming for you, Brozo the Clown!”

…if I called him.

What do you think Kelly should give to Chris? $8.50? His spot on the WSL World Tour? Eight cans of Purps and one OK Beanie? Two and a half barrels in the wave pool?

What?