Here, we see, at left, Dane Reynolds, the almost thirty one year old surfer known for his 'go-for-broke' surfing and, at right, the sassy creative Courtney Jaedtke, officially coupled today. | Photo: @miniblanchard

Dane and Courtney just got married!

And, now, advice from Rory Parker on the happy union… 

Dane and Courtney got married! Can you believe it?

Did she take his name? I don’t know. My wife didn’t take mine. No big deal. I’ve never really understood why women change their names. I’d never change mine. Rory Parker is my identity, flipping it into something different would feel really uncomfortable. She’s got a cool last name too. Slang for an awesome drug combination. Misspelled French because her cajun swamp trash ancestors were illiterate.

Dane and Courtney waited a long time before tying the knot. Pumped out a baby first. Built a life together. Really the right way of going about things. People change over the years, gotta spend enough time together to know you can change together. In such a way as to keep from absolutely loathing each other.

Marriage is, really, just a business deal. Like merging two separate companies. You both bring your strengths and weaknesses, build a whole better than its parts. Life’s better with a teammate. Definite benefits come tax time, or when you need health insurance.

Dane and Courtney
Family means theme parks!

Which is why you’ve gotta let the homos marry. God isn’t real, imaginary sky man’s opinion on unions shouldn’t count for shit in a modern society. The point of marriage is building a life as a team. Damn difficult without a government recognized status.

Before my five-minute ceremony on the beach at Mokuleia I had all sorts of heads giving me advice about marriage.

“Everything changes,” they said.

Except it doesn’t. We’d been living together for over a decade. At that point you’ve seen pretty much everything. I’ve shit my pants in front of my wife on multiple occasions. Once while walking down the road in Dahab, Egypt.

It was a bad gamble on a fart. Hot semi-solids flowing down my legs.

“Oh man, I just shit my pants.”

“Really? That’s fucking gross.”

“Whatever. I’m gonna hop in the water and rinse off.”

We were near a section of the Red Sea that was ankle deep reef for a hundred yards out. But no one around so I just did the squat and splash. Trying to clean myself enough to walk to deeper water. Wife watching and laughing and mocking.

Here comes the tour bus. Faces pressed to the window. Wife waving and smiling. Good memories.

She tried to tease me for it. I reminded her of the time were in Argentina and she ate nothing but bread and cheese for two weeks and eventually broke our hotel toilet with a log the size of my forearm. Sounded like she was giving birth. Very amusing.

Basically all that is wedded bliss. Pooping with the bathroom door open. Knowing someone has your back. Screaming matches over inconsequential problems. Badgering your wife into sexual role play.

“I’m your seventy year old uncle. You’re my twelve year old Mormon spirit wife.”

“I don’t want to do that.”

“Perfect! Keep it going.”

“No, seriously. Stop. I don’t like this.”

“It’s what god wants, little girl. Don’t you want to be closer to god?”

“No. Cut it out.”

“Listen, missy. You swore to love, honor, and obey. Now get on all fours. Don’t make eye contact.”

“Come on. You’re making me uncomfortable. This isn’t fun.”

“I’m gonna keep filling you full of babies until you die in childbirth. I don’t believe in modern medicine. I’ll just pray at your bedside as you bleed out.”

“Fuck you, Rory. I’m so over this.”

“Just a minute more. I’m almost there.”

Congratulations, Dane and Courtney!

Good call on waiting. Popping the question at the beginning of a relationship is for fools. The type of shit you see in movies. How children think love works.

There ain’t nothing romantic about signing a contract.


Laird Hamilton: A Hipster Hero!

Macho? Sexist? Mainstream? A hero to the hip?

I’ve decided to take a different approach. After speaking with Maui’s Laird Hamilton, who is fifty two years old, for an hour (or more accurately, after being spoken at by Laird for an hour), I came to the conclusion that he is an offshoot cousin of the now rampant surfing hipster.

While hipsterdom has sold out and hooked its vintage-clad extremities into every hole of mainstream society, the door has opened for the emergence of a pure DGAF (don’t-give-a-fuck) character such as Laird to take the title of avant-garde surf hero.

Since hipsters are generally defined by what they are not, I have compiled a short list of three things Laird is not, which if taken together should cement his new status.

Laird Hamilton is not… 

MACHO: While surf hipsters the world over counter macho masculinity via gender-bending floppy sun hats and rogue kindergarten-grade flower drawings at the end of video clips, Laird has the balls to admit safety is his top priority.

This commitment to safety is the fuel behind his taboo preference of towing over paddling. Laird says: “As long as I’ve been trying to ride big waves and as long as I want to continue riding giant waves, I’m trying to reduce the risk, not increase the risk, in order to have more shots at it and also not create the opportunity to have an experience or a wipeout that may affect the outcome of my love of big wave riding.” In the macho realm of big wave surfing, Laird is committed to putting safety first. The courage to admit to fear, the individuality to embrace it.

SEXIST: A (true) hipster would never be sexist. A while back, Laird’s now infamous comments regarding Maya Gabeira being neither skilled nor experienced enough to be out in maxing Nazaré were widely slapped with the tag of sexism.

Let’s say, for example, I entered into a life-threatening twerk battle with Anastasia Ashley, barely made it out alive, and then was later labeled as not skilled enough to be there in the first place. Sexist? No. Other men can twerk (I’ve heard) and other women, according to Laird, can handle any waves (citing goddaughter Keala Kennelly).

People tend to forget that Laird has shared multiple tow sessions with Maya and rescued her on several occasions. While you could argue that he wouldn’t necessarily be an authority in judging prone paddling capabilities due to his lack of involvement, to say that he is sexist for calling out a fellow tow surfer (of which he is, by default, the most experienced ever) with whom he has extensive experience is silly. It is in fact sexist to assume that he made those comments because Maya has girl parts.

“My mother was an incredible woman. I think women are more than capable of doing many of the things that men do, and quit a few things that we are not capable of doing.” Loves his mommy and admits women can do things men can’t? Hipster. Quintessential surf-hipster-guru Kai Neville including Dusty Payne’s blatant and non-ironic sexists comments in Lost Atlas? Poser.

MAINSTREAM: Alaias, retro twin fins, neck beards, asymmetrical whatevers, all had their birth (or rebirth) in modern surfing at the hands of a few individuals (hipsters) trying to break the monotonous mold of the standard potato chip.

Now,  there are hoards of bearded bros from Malibu to the Maldives hand-jiving down the line on their Mini Simmons. What does this mean? It has evolved from a splinter group to the mainstream.

From hydrofoiling to stand-up paddling to windsurfing and kitesurfing, Laird is one of a very exclusive group of guys shredding alternative equipment in XXL waves. And, according to him, they get no love.

“You know it’s interesting. I saw Kai Lenny paddle that morning (last big swell at Jaws) for probably six hours, then he went on his stand-up board and got a couple of the better waves of the day and then a bunch of guys gave him a hard time, and I was kinda like, ‘I don’t understand that’, like, ‘Don’t be so narrow minded that you can’t appreciate that.’”

Need more proof of Laird as the master of… everything? Inhale here.


Terror: A new threat in beautiful Big Sur!

Sharks, elephant seals and mean locals used to scare but now there is something worse!

I am in Big Sur and it is fantastically beautiful but danger bristles around every majestic corner. Wildlife, from the great White Shark to the bulbous elephant seal guard the ocean. A terrible wildfire burns in the north, befouling the air, and crusty locals patrol the most secret of surf spots.

Oh it is such an adventure!

Big Sur, and the rest of California’s northern coast, used to be a regular stop in my life but I haven’t been back in ages. The unbreakable vistas. The cliffs that careen into oblivion. And I have discovered a new, most terrifying new menace.

Chinese drivers.

Oh son of a bitch, have you ever driven here? The roads are perched at the very edge of those cliffs that careen into oblivion, straight into the mighty Pacific hundreds of yards below, the great White Shark and the bulbous elephant seal ready to tear meaty bones from mangled auto wreckage. Giant boulders teeter above the roads begging, pleading, to be loosened so they can mash and smash and bash unsuspecting motorists.

The bends and winds, switchbacks and S-turns are severe. Maybe more so than any other stretch of road on earth. And now each is filled with Chinese white-knuckle gripping the steering wheels of rented Fords and Dodges.

Terror would be in their eyes if their eyes were visible. Their eyes are not visible, though, because they are hidden behind Police, Armani Exchange, Costa and other off-brand sunglasses.

Oh son of a bitch, have you ever driven here? The roads are perched at the very edge of those cliffs that careen into oblivion, straight into the mighty Pacific hundreds of yards below, the great White Shark and the bulbous elephant seal ready to tear meaty bones from mangled auto wreckage.

These are not American born Chinese but Chinese from China. 參觀大蘇爾 (Visit Big Sur!) must be a best-seller at this very moment in the People’s Republic because they are literally everywhere driving like folk who have never even seen a car much less know how to operate one. They creep along at a snail’s pace, weave erratically, sit in the middle of traffic and try to cross an opposing lane. They brake wickedly and without warning. They have no idea what a passing lane is and what a turn out is and what a speed limit is and that it is not, in fact, a “limit” but a meek suggestion for the lowest probable rate of motion.

You can keep your ISISes, your terrorists and your bombs. Big Sur is the scariest place on earth. I dare you to visit.


I called up the Hawaiian Airlines customer service line at (877) 426-4537 to see if they could shed some light on the matter re: surfboard charges. What followed was one of the most bat shit crazy attempts to find information I've ever experienced. Thirty five minutes on the phone, half of which was spent on hold. No big deal, the lady was trying to help. Kinda. If you consider politely giving me totally wrong information regarding size restrictions, prices, and damage coverage, refusing to transfer me to someone who knew more, then finally admitting, "We actually don't know the process of the airport agent because we actually are located in the Philippines," helpful.

A Batshit crazy call to Hawaiian Airlines!

Regarding Kelly Slater and Bob Hurley's recent complaints… 

I like Hawaiian Airlines. Do my best to use them to and from the mainland. Usually a little more expensive than other carriers, but I think it’s worth it. Staff is typically very friendly. Planes are newer. Always very clean. I’ve honestly had nothing but good experiences.

But I don’t travel with surfboards.

No real reason to bother. I live where the water is warm and the waves are fairly good. I’m perfectly happy to avoid the hassle of lugging around a huge bag. Don’t mind riding beaten rental equipment. I toss a pair of swim fins in my roller bag, go for a bodysurf if that’s my only option.

So when Bob Hurley (and Kelly Slater) started complaining about Hawaiian Airline’s policy regarding surfboards my first reaction was, “Aw, boo-hoo. Poor rich boy wasn’t being catered to?”

Probably an unfair response.

Yesterday Hawaiian Airlines posted a rebuttal on Instagram. One sentence in particular stuck in my craw.

Plus, we’re liable for damages if something goes wrong. The fees we charge are intended to cover those costs, and we try to keep them reasonable and competitive.

Translation: We charge you for the damage we do to other people’s boards.

They followed up with:

We try our best to inform our guests about these policies before they travel, because nothing is more upsetting and frustrating than learning about them at the airport. 

Can’t argue with that. Unfortunately, the policies on their site aren’t one hundred percent crystal clear.

So I called up the Hawaiian Airlines customer service line at (877) 426-4537 to see if they could shed some light on the matter.

What followed was one of the most bat-shit crazy attempts to find information I’ve ever experienced. Thirty five minutes on the phone, half of which was spent on hold. No big deal, the lady was trying to help. Kinda. If you consider politely giving me totally wrong information regarding size restrictions, prices, and damage coverage, refusing to transfer me to someone who knew more, then finally admitting, “We actually don’t know the process of the airport agent because we actually are located in the Philippines,” helpful.

And, of course, no one would ever consider that helpful.  It’s the complete opposite.

If I actually needed the information I would have lost my fucking mind. Thankfully I was just playing surf journalist and was able to remain nice and calm.

You can listen to the call here. It’s pure lunacy. It has been edited to remove time I spent on hold, nothing more.

What’s the takeaway? Hawaiian’s release was nothing more than a disingenuous PR move. They don’t have a clear policy in place, their support staff is totally untrained. Ship boards with them at your own peril. Despite what they say there’s no way of knowing what’s gonna happen until you’re standing at the gate.

What really sucks is there’s not much we can do about it. Hawaiian could serve me a steaming pile of shit for my in-flight meal, charge fifteen bucks for it, and I’d still choose them over Delta or United.

Hawaiian hasn’t lost my business. Still gonna use them to and from. But it’s worrying. Demonstrates a real lack of care. Shows that they’re far more concerned about perception than actual service. Whoever is in charge of the company’s public face is totally detached from the actual operation.

Get your shit together, Hawaiian Airlines.  There’s no excuse for this kind of service.


"What was surprising, and not in a fun oh-you-shouldn't-have type way, " writes Rory, "was the life threatening infection it had caused in my mastoid (the honeycomb skull bone behind your ear.) The doctor told me that it had most likely been there for a decade or more, and had been slowly dissolving my skull the entire time. What I'd thought were ear infections had been pus leaking from the bone infection through a hole that it had eaten into my ear canal. It had destroyed the bone between the infection and my brain until there was only a wafer thin bit left between me and meningitis. The doctor said, 'You've been diving with this?' 'Well, yeah. I've been trying to get to two hundred feet.' 'The pressure should have pushed the infection into your brain and killed you a long time ago.' Fuck me. | Photo: @freedivephoto.com

Real Life: “You got brain cancer! Wait!”

In short, I was told I had cancer, then I didn't, then I might, wait, no… 

“The radiologist took a look at your CT scan, we need you to come in tomorrow to talk about the results.  I know you’re very active in the ocean, we’re going to need to talk about your future…”

My wife woke me up in the middle of the night and told me she was taking me to the emergency room. I’d been fine went we went to bed, sometime around three am I started running a fever, and my left ear had sprouted a growth the size of a racquetball. I wrote it off as a bad case of swimmer’s ear and tried to go back to sleep. But there’s not much more persuasive than a concerned spouse. I was in the car and on my way to Wahiawa General 10 minutes later.

The ER doctor agreed with my opinion. It was a very bad case of swimmer’s ear. Just use the drops, it’ll be better in a few weeks.

I’ve had ear problems my entire life. It’s just something I’d learned to deal with. Wipe the filthy crust from your ear, put in the drops, wait for improvement, go back in the water. Repeat as needed. You get used to things, and by now, in my mid-thirties, ear pain and pus leakage is just part of doing business. I mean, what are you going to do?  Stay dry?  Play golf?  Kill yourself?

This time things didn’t improve. The growth got bigger, and the resulting pressure became excruciating. It was pretty obvious something was seriously wrong.

Hawaii doesn’t have the best medical care in the world. We do have great health insurance (if you work more than 20 hours a week your employer is required to provide it), but being isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means that you deal with a lack of options, some being terribly lazy doctors, others being overbooked and unable to see you in a timely manner. This causes problems when you’re dealing with something terrifying, painful, and unusual.

I’ll spare you the details. They’re more or less boring to an outsider, though to me they were white knuckle inducing. In short, I was told I had cancer, then I didn’t, then I might, wait, no, definitely not cancer. And that fucking sucks.

A CT-scan later they figured out that I had a skin abscess. A quick outpatient procedure drained, literally, a pint of pus from my head. Bandaged me up and sent me home.

My wife had recently been offered an awesome job on Kauai, but it started in three weeks. We couldn’t wait to leave the packed hustle and bustle of Oahu for the Garden Isle, so I put any concerns about the hole in my head that was slowly weeping a foul smelling pus.

After two weeks on Kauai things still hadn’t improved. The moment our health insurance went into effect I made an appointment with a local ENT to see what was up.

It wasn’t good. I was finally fortunate to be seen by a diligent, intelligent, MD, and the first thing he did was start cutting into me to relief the abscess.

“This isn’t good, Rory. I’m seeing a lot of granulated tissue, and I should have hit your skull, but I haven’t.”

Okay, well, I don’t really know what that means. I gave him a copy of my CT and went home to wait for his call.

Which is how I found myself sitting in front of a computer screen flanked by doctors as a radiologist walked me through some panic inducing news. I had a cholesteatoma on my left ear drum. It’s a type of tumour/cyst caused by repeated ear infections and ruptured ear drums. I’ve had hundreds of ear infections in my life, and have perforated both ear drums multiple times, so that wasn’t especially surprising news.

What was surprising, and not in a fun oh-you-shouldn’t-have type way, was the life-threatening infection it had caused in my mastoid (the honeycomb skull bone behind your ear). The doctor told me that it had most likely been there for a decade or more, and had been slowly dissolving my skull the entire time. What I’d though were ear infections had been pus leaking from the bone infection through a hole that it had eaten into my ear canal. Furthermore, it had destroyed the bone between the infection and my brain until there was only a wafer thin bit left between me and meningitis.

“You’ve been diving with this?”

“Well, yeah. I’ve been trying to get to two hundred feet.”

“You’re very lucky, Rory. The pressure should have pushed the infection into your brain and killed you a long time ago.”

Fuck me.

So, okay, I should be dead, but I’m not. Let’s move forward, what next?

I needed surgery, urgently. It was a miracle I was still standing, the infection could spread to my brain at any moment, and, boom, lights out. Best case scenario, I survive and spend the next year learning to walk and talk again while my wife wipes my ass and I pray for death.

Funnily enough, I could handle that. I mean, sure, shit’s scary, but the problem had been identified, it was fixable. Surgery is never fun, but what are you going to do?

But that wasn’t all. They walked me through what would need to be done: shaving infected bone, removing the cholesteatoma- and the consequences of the surgery, hearing loss (no big deal) and…

I’d most likely never be able to surf or free dive or even put my head underwater ever again.

What the fuck is that madness? I can’t go in the water?  Why not?

The surgery would leave me with almost no bone left in my skull in the area and the hole from my ear canal into the void would leave me at risk of life threatening infections for the rest of my life.

How the fuck am I supposed to deal with that news?

To be clear, I like to think that I’m a very good surfer. But, by no stretch of the imagination am I naturally talented. I’m a big guy and I don’t have great balance. Any ability I have is the result of decades of trying my hardest, of constantly struggling while watching other people surf better while putting in half the effort. I’ve put everything I have into this fucking sport, I don’t know how to do anything else. Every pursuit I enjoy involves being in the water. Without that stuff I don’t know what to do with myself.

In a split-second I’d just lost my entire identity. Everything I enjoy, everything I’d ever worked towards, gone. I managed to keep it together in the doctor’s office, then broke down sobbing in the parking lot.

I scared the shit out of some poor lady. She turned a corner to find a 6’2″, 220 lb guy curled in a ball between some bushes bawling his eyes out.  A pretty embarrassing moment, especially since this is a small island, and I know I’ll run into her again one day.

It’s hard dealing with this type of news. I was hesitant to share it with too many people, and the few I did lapsed into your standard, “Everything is going to be okay” platitudes. Which is hard to deal with. Because, I mean, I know they mean well, but shit isn’t going to be okay.

Who am I now? How the fuck do I live without the things that make life worth living? I focused so much on this stuff without them I’m a worthless waste of space.

In a sick way I started hoping I’d die. I’m not suicidal, but having the lights turned out seemed so much better than facing an existence where I was totally rudderless. My dreams, my goals, my future were all dead, not much point in keeping my diseased hunk of flesh I call a body ambulatory.

Thank heavens for good health insurance. Three days later I was on a plane to LA, to a specialist at the House Ear Clinic, to the one person who could save my life and let me return to a normal existence, if anyone could. The nature of the infection meant I got bumped to the front of the operating list and after few pre-op appointments and a physical I was doped up, strapped to an operating table, and cut on, bone reconstructed by modern medical magic.

And so here I am. Stone deaf in my left ear, missing part of my sense of taste (a strange side effect, but one I’ve been reassured will improve with time) and looking forward to a time in two months or so when I’ve been told I’ll be able to return to the ocean and all the things  love.

But I just can’t escape how close I came to losing everything. The idea that it could still be taken away, that something could go wrong, either now or in the future, lurks there in the background all the time. I need to expand my horizons, to stop being a one-dimensional person who focuses everything they have on one tiny aspect of life. But I just don’t know what to do.

How the fuck do other people live?