Kelly Slater, on left, discusses Hawai'i with Rory Parker, center.
Kelly Slater, on left, discusses Hawai'i with Rory Parker, center.

Dear Rory: Is Kelly Slater a haole?

The noted Rory Parker on racism in paradise!

Get ready to ponder you fun loving Hawaiian. Is Slates a haole? Think about it, sure he owns land on the North Shore, multiple Pipe champ and winner of the Eddie. However, he is from Florida, certainly would not categorize himself as a local, and owns homes all over the world. Hmm sounds like….
mahalo you fucking surfer,
One Confused Honkey

The dreaded h-word! My eyes!  My ears!  How could you do this to me?

I’m fascinated with the term, “haole.” I spend most days playing with words, pay a lot of attention to how people react to them. And the h-bomb is gold because of the multiple ways it can applied and understood.

If you spend some time clicking around the internet you’ll find plenty of people arguing about the word.  Should it have an ‘okina?  Does it mean “without breath?”  Is it a racial slur?

At its simplest, colloquial, level it means “white.” Or caucasian, if the use of color confuses you. And that in itself is not an insult.

But context is gorgeous and a subtle tone shift can turn it from descriptor into pure venom.

“Do you know Steve?  Haole guy, works at Bubba’s Burgers?”


“Did I tell you about my new neighbor? That fucking haole cut down my plumeria tree while I was at work. Says he’s scared his dog will eat the flowers.”


“Some fucking haole up near Princeville built a gate across the public beach access.”

You can’t help being a haole.  But you sure as hell can avoid being a fucking haole.

Now, I know the rebuttal.  “It’s still racist. You shouldn’t use someone’s skin color as an insult.”

Blah, blah, blah. I hear it a lot. Too often. Usually once everyone has had a few drinks and every shade of brown has gone home so all the honkeys can spout off without checking the room.

Motherfucker, you’re a professional earning well into six figures. Some teenager shouting an insult from a passing car does not make you Rosa fucking Parks. A rude waitress is not endemic racism.

“Yeah, but locals hate white people.”

Since when? How much effort have you put into making local friends? Oh, you’ve got a few? But they’re the good ones, right?

Do some locals resent haole transplants?  Of course. We’ve earned it.  The white hand has not been gentle in Hawaii.

Even beyond the outright imperialism, it’s frustrating to grow up somewhere and watch a bunch of affluent invaders buy up everything. Price you out of your hometown. Get their greedy mitts on every shred of available land and refuse to let go.

If you grew up in a LA beach suburb you’ve experienced the Silicon Valley invasion. Wasn’t fun, was it?

If you move, or travel to, somewhere and find yourself in constant conflict with its residents you should take a long hard look at your own behavior. Blaming everyone around you without trying to assimilate is something a fucking haole does.

Yes, Slater is a haole. I am a haole. You most likely are too. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to be proud of.  It just is.

Just don’t be a fucking haole. Don’t drive down Kam Hwy ten miles below the speed limit taking pictures out the sunroof of your rental. Don’t try to cut in line at the market. Don’t snake someone’s parking space because you’re in a hurry. Don’t complain because your food is taking to long. Don’t paddle out at Rockies and act like you’re in an NSSA explorers heat. Don’t look for persecution in your every interaction.

Caught in a jam?  Stuck in a pickle? Send your life questions to [email protected]. Due to volume Rory cannot respond to every letter.

BeachGrit TV: “Tired of being told NO!”

In this latest episode we have the gorgeous founders of What Youth!

Have you ever left the safety, the comfort, of a sure thing and launched into the dark unknown? Did you wake each morning in a cold sweat? Did you wonder if your plans, maybe hatched during a drunken hour, would actually pan out? Could actually pan out?

Oh how easy it is to sit on the sideline and snipe. Creating something though, anything, out of scratch takes all kine moxie. It takes a strong backbone and a stronger pair of Ray Bans. It takes a teflon coated spirit. It takes guts.

And here we have two of the three founders of What Youth, Travis Ferré and Scott Chenoweth looking like the coolest jazz cats on earth and talking a little about what it feels like to build something.

What Youth has become a necessary component of our surf universe. The profiles, direction, art and spirit define what is coming next rather than what has been. Without it none of us would have anything to bounce off. They define the borders of our frontier.

This interview here is not deep but it is fun… or was fun for me. I got to drink many spicy pineapple margaritas with two of my favorite people on earth!

Fab: Tay Steele and his 25th film!

Feat. bonus game! Is it Rob or is it Craig?

Did you too come of age in the 1990s? Did Taylor Steele direct every surf film you knew or cared about? Can you believe he is on his 25th?


It is a miracle that a man can make a living doing surf film. An absolute miracle. But Taylor Steele, our Brent Bolthouse, our Bruce Weber, our Neville Chamberlin deserves the miracle and now his 25th and now it is called Proximity.

Oh how retro meets today! How Rob actually and physically surfs with Ando!

The movie isn’t out yet but come whet your whistle here on a making of feat. Rob and Ando.

Who is that in the first frame? I dare you to guess!

More importantly, though, is Alejandro. He is featured in this “Making of…” and shines. He makes me want to see the finished product.

Is it Rob or is it Craig? Who cares! We all win!

Leroy the masochist
Like us, our pals at the brilliant Saturdays Surf magazine adore Big Wednesday. Surf historian Matt Warshaw, howevs, says it was "some heavy-handed bullshit about friendship, and growing up, and blah blah."

Warshaw: “Surfing’s biggest Turkey!”

Surfing's most shameful episode!

When I was a kid, sitting at home there in a gloomy suburb hours from the beach, I’d get my surf kicks via TV. One day, mid-summer, midday, no parent around to deliver me to the water, an old Hollywood surf movie called Big Wednesday came on.

I knew nothing about it. Didn’t know the hype. Didn’t know the praise (not much) nor the criticism (much). And it swallowed me completely into the romance of three men growing up, on the beach, as surfers around Malibu.

I ain’t the only fan. On the new Anderson Paak album Malibu, if you listen between tracks you’ll hear samples from this epic. 

The great surf historian, Matt Warshaw, has a totally different take. Matt regards it as one of the most shameful episodes, ever, in surfing.

BeachGrit: When I saw this, on TV, as a kid, it painted the surfer’s life, for me, poignantly, beautifully. Better than anything before or since. What’s your take? Did John Milius nail it for you too?

In the surf media, the Big Wednesday built up was like nothing you’ve ever seen. Cover stories, making-of features, endless gossip and chatter. This was going to be the one! John Milius gets it! He surfs! Greenough was onboard, Bud Browne, PT, Ian, Bill Hamilton, Greg MacGillivray, on and on and on. This movie could not fail! And it was a piece of shit. Worse than Gidget. Worse than Ride the Wild Surf. It was a message film. Some heavy-handed bullshit about friendship, and growing up, and blah blah.

Fuck you. You crazy!

No, actually the first 20 minutes were good. The party scene. The part where LeRoy makes that kid at Malibu give his board to Jan-Michael Vincent, who’s too hung-over to walk. “I’m going to drown, and all you’re going to find is this shitty board.” That was a great line. Most every scene with Gary Busy was worth watching. Did you know he made The Buddy Holly Story the same year he made Big Wednesday?

Got an Academy Award for that one, didn’t he?

Nominated, but didn’t win.

It was a piece of shit. Worse than Gidget. Worse than Ride the Wild Surf. It was a message film. Some heavy-handed bullshit about friendship, and growing up, and blah blah.

Didn’t the surf media shit on Big Wednesday when it was released? 

They lined up and took turns, yeah. Surfer called it “mediocre” and “self-indulgent” and “embarrassing.” And said Jan-Michael Vincent was horribly miscast as a drunk, which is sad and ironic but also kind of funny, given that he was on his way to becoming a total crash and burn alcoholic. Surfing said the only good thing about Big Wednesday was that it sucked so hard that Hell would freeze over before Hollywood touched surfing again.

Paint the narrative arc for me…

Three friends rule the Point, grow up, grow apart. One of the friends gets punched in the face by another one of the friends. Vietnam brings comedy and tragedy. There is a lemon next to a pie — I’m not sure what that means. In the final act, the ultimate big swell comes, and Gerry Lopez is there, and the three friends reunite at the Point, Lopez gives LeRoy a knowing smile, and the friends charge forth. Matt takes a header on the reef, the other two save him. Back on the beach, there is hugging, and vague promises to keep in touch. Cut.

Tell me the back story of Big Wednesday. It’s Lance Carson and so forth, yeah? The Malibu gang?

The party stuff in the beginning came from “No-Pants Mance,” a great short story written by Denny Aaberg, brother of California point-surf style king Kemp Aaberg. Lance was the inspiration on that one, yeah. Denny then wrote the book version of Big Wednesday, along with John Milius, and apart from the party stuff I don’t think there was much back story. Mostly just Milius having a sentimental wank about his days at Malibu. Before he went full fascist with Red Dawn and Conan the Barbarian.

Oh, the tragedy of the scene where Matt, now just slightly over the hill, takes his daughter to see him in a movie and the crowd quiets during his section and then lights up during the new hotshot Gerry Lopez part.

Yeah, the backside of the mountain. Tough. Five years later, it’d be Lopez in the theater looking noble and deflated as Tom Carroll comes onscreen and drives ‘em wild.

Y’got a favourite scene? 

LeRoy during his military physical, playing the nutcase, bumming cigarettes from the shrink.

Tell you though, I hated, hated, hated Jack. Reminds me of every teacher, every lifesaver, every cop. Goes to fight yella man in Vietnam, becomes a lifeguard, a ranger.

Jack actually makes all the right choices, the sane choices, but yes he is mouthful of castor oil.

Jan-Michael Vincent. God I wanted to be that stud with his freewheeling harem. How’s he doing these days? 

Drunk, broke, angry, and missing a leg. Don’t watch the video interview with him from a couple years ago. He was a bastard back in the day, I’ve heard, but jeez nobody deserves to be in the shape he’s in. Big Wednesday was Jan Michael Vincent’s greatest moment. He never looked better, and was still on his way up.

Were you surprised when the movie became a cult favourite?

Never underestimate the power of Baby Boomer self-regard. Big Wednesday was retro when it came out, and ten years later when it went big as a rental, it was retro-retro. Double-dipped nostalgia. Boomers wore their VHS machines out playing that turkey, wallowing in their imagined past. But at the time, yeah, I was surprised.

It’s morning again in the surf industry!

Feel that heart beat!

It’s morning again in the surf industry. Today more men and women will paddle out than ever before in our country’s history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new surfboards, more than at any time in the past four years.

This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will watch the U.S. Open of Surfing, and with the surf at less than half of what it was just yesterday, they can look forward with confidence to making out in the toilets instead.

It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of Kelly Slater, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?

But also…

There is a shark in the water. For some people, the shark is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the shark is tame. Others say it’s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the shark? If there is a shark.