I will always remember my time as a submarine captain with a mixture of pride and satisfaction. I was a king of the sea.

What it feels like to captain a submarine

It's like being in a perpetual barrel!

The sea is the greatest place to ply a trade, and professional surfing is a wonderful example, but for those whose top turns do not differentiate, substantively, from their bottoms, there are many other opportunities to toil with sun in the eyes and saltwater in the hair. There is the Steinbeckian longshoreman, hardy and stout. The city lifeguard watching over bronzed youth in the throes of summer passion. The rescue diver, pulling corpses from Davey Jones’s icy grip. There is the proud submarine captain. Very few have experienced gliding a giant vessel under the surface. I am one of those few.

The submarine voyage begins with the captain pushing a button that releases a whistle and a deep, baritone voice telling the crew to secure the ship for sea, single up all lines, cast off fore, cast off aft etc. then eases the boat out of its moorings. Passengers below see bubbles, as the dive begins, down to ten fathoms, and a veritable plethora of sealife right outside their small windows. Lobsters, crabs, sea turtles. These amphibian patriarchs of the deep are direct decedents of the dinosaurs and have changed little in the past 200 million years.

Here, the submarine captain can have the most fun. His vessel is out of view and so he can bump the sub in front of him, causing the passengers to smash their faces on their small windows or press the kill switch and break down the ride for four hours while small children wail.

The captain continues right, swinging past the Matterhorn. Below, the passengers see groupers, or giant sea bass and giant clams. They have fluted shells that can weigh over a quarter of a ton. The moray eel with its powerful tooth-filled jaws ambushes unwary prey from holes and crevices in the reef.

Next comes the cave, or “polar icecaps.” Below, passengers see a graveyard of sunken ships. A stronghold of lost treasure. Here, the submarine captain can have the most fun. His vessel is out of view and so he can bump the sub in front of him, causing the passengers to smash their faces on their small windows or press the kill switch and break down the ride for four hours while small children wail. But if he doesn’t push the kill switch, Atlantis, mermaids and an underwater volcano appear. It takes a deft hand to steer through this minefield. A googley-eyed sea serpent will appear last and the captain must make emergency maneuvers but does not put it in the official log because no one would believe it anyway. And then he eases the boat back into the dock.

I will always remember my time as a submarine captain with a mixture of pride and satisfaction. My white uniform gleamed. My aviator sunglasses reflected both the Southern California sun and the lusty stares from envious men and desirous women. I was a king of the sea.

Jordy Smith
"He's playing to a local crowd, and that shit totally influences scores. I picked Jordy because he'll get the loudest cheers." | Photo: WSL/Cestari

Parker’s Picks for J-Bay Pro!

They're terrible!

J-Bay is three days off. Forecast looks like it’ll kick off in some solid swell. Yippee skippee hooray!

And sharks! Sharksharksharksharksharksharksharksharksharksharkshark! Chompy monsters lurking below the surface, looking to nibble on your fave pros’ salty pink bits. So tasty! Like crispy brined pork belly. Can’t get enough of the stuff.

We’ll see a bullshit sonar buoy floating somewhere in the lineup. Does it work? Maybe? Basically a super expensive fish finder. Shows the people watching some squiggly lines. Which they claim are identifiable based on something or other.

What’ll happen? Will there be constant heat stops and starts when a pod of dolphin shows up? Will they just ignore the thing? Spout a bunch of feel-good nonsense about safety while secretly winking at the fact it’s an empty gesture meant to alleviate nonsense fears?

Maybe the world will learn the nasty fact that the sharkies are always there. Right below your feet. Spooky!

Here’s my fantasy surfer picks for the event. Use them as a guide. As a guide to who you should not pick, probably. My team has done terrible all year. I blame it on bullshit judging and terrible surf, but maybe I just suck. Probably the latter.

No goofy guys on this one. If it’s big and barreling they won’t be able to cookie cutter top turn to victory.

Tier A

Adriano de Souza: Power squat safety approach is what the judges want to see. ADS’ll give it to them. I figure there’s a decent chance he’ll lose to Kerr in round one, but he’ll make it through the next few.

John John Florence: I mean, come on. Can’t bet against JJF in big frontside tubes… is what I want to believe.

Tier B

Jordy Smith: The lanky hometown boy is an injury magnet, for sure. But he’s playing to a local crowd, and that shit totally influences scores. I picked Jordy because he’ll get the loudest cheers.

Conner Coffin: I just picked him because Gerlach did our BGTV segment. And he surfs real good. And he gets the Curren comparison enough that I figure it’s like picking Tom. I’d totally pick Curren if they gave him a wildcard slot, and this is the closest thing to that.

Dusty Payne: Total heart pick. I want Dusty to do well because I like how he surfs. At the same time, acting based on my emotions is usually a terrible idea. The type of thing that leads to me getting in an argument with some tourist at Costco because I called her lazy when she took a loaf of bread out of her cart and just stuffed it on a random shelf.

Mick Fanning: Yeah, his ankle may be wonky, but this year is all about special treatment for White Lightning. WSL is selling his shark encounter way too hard for them to give him an early round exit.

Tier C

Steven Sawyer: I just felt like picking a wildcard. Seems like they’ve been playing spoiler a lot this year. But I don’t know shit about the kid. Oops, just watched a video. He’s stands with his right leg forward. Scratch!

Jeremy Flores: I don’t know why. He’s a very good surfer, basically.

Kelly Slater: Reinvigorated drive, maybe? Did Fiji rekindle his competitive flame? Maybe, maybe not. But if the surf is big and good he’ll have fun. And when he’s enjoying himself he’s still the best overall surfer in the world.

Gab Medina seen here in happier times.
Gab Medina seen here in happier times. | Photo: ASP

Medina and his brave act of cowardice!

Featuring Jadson Andre and his brave act of cowardice too!

Do you remember, ten or such months ago, when Filipe Toledo refused to take off on a wave at Teahupo’o thus receiving the lowest heat total in professional surfing history (a zero) and cementing his place in the annals forevermore?

At the time, I wrote:

As the Brazilian bobbed in the water, not surfing, he surely must have known the haters were boiling in their tanks but he chose to bob, lonely against the steel grey sky, and brave. Yes, brave because I would, and will, argue that it is sometimes more difficult to not get smashed in order to prove a larger point, thereby getting smashed by public opinion.

And smashed he got and smashed he continues to get. So brave!

Well, two short days ago Filipe was joined by countrymates Gabriel Medina and Jadson Andre as the bravest cowards on earth! In an interview with his local Brazilian newspaper, first picked up in the English press by Surfline, Gabriel admitted to voting against the World Surf League returning to J-Bay after the Mick Fanning shark incident. He said:

I can’t help but think of the shark. I don’t even know how they got this stop back on Tour. What I know is that we are going, and I hope everything goes well. People told me there will be some kind of sensor, that the athletes are going to use, something that either scares the shark or tells you it’s coming. I’m going to keep my eye on the sensor. But my vote, when they asked me, I certainly said no — that they shouldn’t have the event. It’s going to be a little tense, but let’s go there.

Jadson also said he did not want to return to J-Bay. The only two. And just think about it for a moment. Think about staring down the rest of the championship tour stable. Think about looking Kolohe and Joel, Kelly and Jordy, Caio Ibelli and Conner Coffin, Wiggolly and Italo, Filipe Toledo, Julian Wilson and Mick Fanning in the eye. Think about looking at all of them and saying, “No.”



It is a human response to put oneself in the shoes, or boardshorts as it were, and ten or such months ago I put myself in Filipe Toledo’s Phantoms. Paddling off the cliff at heaving Teahupo’o? I wouldn’t do it either and so how can I fault him? But paddling out at gorgeous J-Bay, rifling down the line? Oh twelve sharks couldn’t keep me out of that water! And I must guess that you would want to paddle out too.

Gabs and Jadson are, therefore, probably also looking a good majority of the surfing population, even me plus you, in the eye and saying, “No.”

So much opposition! Thousands upon thousands of confused faces looking back, scratching heads, saying, “You really don’t want to surf J-Bay with one other man in the lineup?”

The bravest!


Cyrus Sutton
Cyrus Sutton is a 34-year-old surfer-filmmaker from San Diego, California. Cyrus neither confirms to the grab-bag of leftist or right-wing views, but studies both sides, and after contemplation, arrives at a position. It's liberalism in the cleanest sense! | Photo: Kane Skennar

Cyrus Sutton: The Joy of Capitalism!

Set your freedom loving bitch free!

I admire the San Diego wanderer and semi-pro Cyrus Sutton more than any other stud in the game. Where other surfers, who should really know better, live in a smug world of conspiracy theories (“The Jooz did 9-11!”), Cyrus, who is 34, isn’t afraid to voice an opinion based on studying the facts.

Let’s examine capitalism, for instance.

It’s a system that has given the west wealth, health and all the technological and educational advances that can only come in a stable, secular democratic society. In what other epoch could the poorest members of a society live in such abundance they can, literally, eat themselves to death? If we weren’t addicted to the death porn of the 24-hour news cycle, you might think you lived in an earthly paradise.

But, capitalism. Such a dirty word. Enslaves the little man while making a venal one percent obscenely rich. Right?

Wrong, says Cyrus.

“Capitalism, I’ve been hearing more and more people denouncing it lately,” writes Cyrus on his Facebook page. “As someone who’s come to embrace and succeed in it after years of alienation, I can understand both sides. On one hand I think the innovation and hustle it fosters can be positive, while the stratification and exploitation are insidious. I’m no expert but shouldn’t we be talking about the foundations of economic systems instead of their flavor?

“I mean shouldn’t we be discussing scale and values first? Is it capitalism that’s the problem or the extractive imperialist framework upon which it hangs? I’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries in which capitalism in a small population (Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Norway, Sweden, France) with government regulation and social services seems to leave most people feeling content and somewhat supported. I’ve also been to Russia and Cuba and seen some good things but mostly people feeling oppressed by the systems they are taught to increasingly rely on. 

“I personally think the key is honoring the places we live by scaling down our needs and supporting our communities on a bioregional level with respect for diversity. The larger the scale and more dominant any form of rule, the more perilous it becomes for the people and the planet.”

Are you in Cyrus’ camp, capitalism, mostly good, but could do with a little tinkering around the edges? Or do you think we’d all be better served if the rich were eaten and the wealth distributed evenly?

Matt Wilkinson WSL

Parker: On Slavery, Twin-Fins.

Plus, the stupidity of volleyball, a ribald adults cartoon and a dead skateboard mag… 

So… I don’t know. Feeling kind of empty today. Not emotionally or anything. Just not really in the mood to write about surfing. Which happens sometimes. Kind of hard to spend this much time focused on a single aspect of life.

But I need to get something done. Because it’s my job. Kinda. Not a real job, and I don’t make any money. But maybe one day we can flip this site to some deep pocket idiot who wants into the surf scene. Then it’ll all be worth it.

Here’s a few thoughts. And a surfing clip.

Volleyball is stupid: I lived in the South Bay for a good portion of my life. Born in Torrance, move to the OC or a while during my childhood. Ended up back there for high school and hung around until I bounced for out for a trip around the world. Moved to Oahu instead of going back. Don’t regret that choice one bit.

Volleyball is huge in the Hermosa/Manhattan stretch. Don’t see the appeal. Spend all day at the beach, get all sandy and sweaty. Never go in the ocean. A lot fo the guys who spend all day playing are tools. Did you know people try to localize courts? They do! And forget having a fun fuck around game with your friends. Some 6’6″ dweeb’s gonna roll up and say, “We play winner.”

So lame.

I’ve witnessed full-grown men fighting, literally, over a call in a pick up game. Rolling around in sand so hot they need socks to protect their feet. Volleyball is stupid.

I can’t wait for season three of Bojack Horseman: It premieres July 22. Gonna watch the whole thing start to finish in one sitting. Then over and over again. Who’d’ve thought a cartoon about a talking horseman would speak to me like this? I know I’m not the only one. Some serious life truths in there. Plenty of funny slapstick shit to keep it from getting too serious.

I can’t ride twinnies: Never could. Don’t know what the deal is.

Apparently all the shrimp I eat is processed by slaves: That sucks. I like shrimp. Eat a lot of ’em. Easy thing to toss in food because the wife will only eat living things that come from the sea. Which is an odd moral decision, but whatever.

So now I guess I can’t eat shrimp. Or I have to buy locally caught stuff. Not that I can tell the difference. Pretty easy with fish, but crustaceans are some whole other deal. I guess I could just go prawning more, but that’s a lot of work.

They just released a coffee table sized collection of Big Brother issues: Picked it up for $25 on Amazon. Not a bad deal. Thing’s slick, glossy. Haven’t done much more than flip through it yet, but it looks pretty cool. All the best articles, plus a bunch of little background stories from Carnie, Cliver, etc.

That’s it. I’m done. Here’s Curren’s part for 5’5 x 19 ¼. Hopefully I’ll feel more motivated tomorrow.