Surf shoe laughs at mass incarceration!

Vans releases "The Prison Issue." Tone-deaf or celebratory?

Did you know that the United States of America locks more people up than any other country on earth? More than North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran, even Australia. More than Russia, Mongolia, Ukraine, South Africa, France, even Syria.

So many people!

1 out of every 36 Americans is under some sort of correctional supervision according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, growing by 700% from 1970-2005 creating a multi-multi billion dollar industry.

Moreover, the whole proposition is wildly racist. The Center for American Progress reports that one out of every fifteen men in prison is black, one out of thirty-six Hispanic and one out of one hundred and six white. One out of every three black men will go to prison at some point in their lives generally for some low-level, petty drug crime. Black men get stopped more often by the police, searched more often, beat more often and then get carted off to the big house very much more often to spend at least 20% longer there.

A human rights disaster by any measure.

And are you reading this on a contraband cellphone behind bars right now?

Probably not (because if you are not Maurice Cole then you are white) but if you want to feel like you are try buying a pair of the new Vans Prison Issue. A shoe modeled on the very same sort black and Hispanic inmates wear in cages.

The release reads:

The return of the prison issue (AKA style #23) features an updated toecap and resized straps for the ultimate comfort and support.



Do you think actual prisoners get updated toecaps and resized straps? Do you think releasing a shoe celebrating hard time in an era of extra-hot racial tension is tone-deaf or do think Vans parent company VF Corp is honoring a truly American pastime?

Should some percentage of sales go to the non-profit The Sentencing Project aimed at fixing America’s criminal justice system?

Oh what a grand idea!

Cinema: Ian Walsh lances your heart!

The new Ian Walsh vehicle Distance Between Dreams is sure to thrill! Get a taste here!

What if we all lived in Medieval times? What if we were all born around 1057 and raised in a soggy English shire? Let’s assume that none of us die of any unfortunate disease but let’s also assume some of us are horribly disfigured with no teeth.

What, do you think, your position on that Middle-Age pecking order? Do you think your lineage would put you in line for the throne or some lordship? Would you be a religious man chanting in Latin by candlelight? A simple farmer with sheep, goats and pock-faced children?

Big wave surfers, I feel most certain, would be crusading knights. Men with guts and imagination lacking in fear and hungry for blood. Men who chase glory above all.

Ian Walsh would, without any doubt, be a crusading knight.

I met with him just over a month ago underneath a warm Cardiff sky to speak of this very project here. I was under strict orders to keep it quiet until the proper time, which was exceedingly difficult. My position on that Middle-Aged pecking order would be gossip-monger, my days alternating between the stocks and the booze houses and the stocks again.

And it was exceedingly difficult not to speak/write about because the story Distance Between Dreams positively sings! Ian describes as such:

I wanted to invest my time and energy into a project that would give people a very comprehensive look into everything that we put into surfing big waves. In Distance Between Dreams, we are able to share the good, the bad, the hard work, and resulting satisfaction that you feel when you push yourself further than you ever dreamt possible,” said Walsh. “Fortunately for us, the year we decided to film coincided with a record El Niño giving us an opportunity to time mark one of the best big wave seasons ever.

And if Red Bull’s Media House knows one thing it is how to capture the mania of true wildmen in the highest possible definition from the most angles.

Have you seen Travis Rice’s new film The Fourth Phase?

It is the benchmark of action sport film. Nothing even comes close.

Travis Rice, in person, is as warm as he is friendly. He doesn’t smack of crazy but watch his approach to riding mountains and it becomes quite clear that he is touched. No sane person would do what he does.

Ian Walsh is much the same. Unnecessarily kind. Thoughtful. Easy with a laugh. But just watch him ride ocean beasts. He ain’t normal.

I will chat with the man tomorrow, or the next day, depending on rumor/drink so I can ask him any questions you have (throw them in the comments!) but today revel in this.

Just in: Kelly Slater is a political artist?

Well, yes!

Going to be in used-to-be-hip Venice this Thursday? You might want to examine the role of Kelly Slater as political artist at the Folding Tables Gallery, 201 San Juan Ave, corner of Main Street etc.

Kelly, of course, is a 44-year-old American whom you might know as an enthusiastic singer or as the front man and manufacturer of a subtle menswear range. Or maybe you know him as the owner of two surfboard companies, Firewire and Slater Designs. Kelly is also the reigning world number five after a comprehensive win at the Tahiti Pro. 

Is there anything else I missed?

Oh yes!

Kelly Slater is a firm believer that big business and government are poisoned by the machinations of unseen evil.

His Venice show is called “Apolitical Process: a vision by Kelly Slater” and is, he says, “an artistic journey through the chaotic and sometimes inflammatory 2016 election cycle. It is our aim to explore and expose the underlying truth, hypocrisy, danger, motivations, misinformation and effects of this process. It is our hope that the artwork produces thoughtful discussion, transparency and an openness to question the powers that be..…”

The artists include Bruce Reynolds (a poppy, DADA style), the satirical Kevin Ancell and the fine art surf photographer Todd Glaser. 

Here’s your invite!



Blood Feud: Slater vs Rincon Logger!

Is surfing behind the best in the world something you should complain about?

You want a fast-track to good surf technique? Surf behind someone better than you.

It always amazed me, still does, how very good surfers seem to control the wave. They are rarely more than a metre away from the pocket and turn on parts of the wave that would have most hunch-backing for the tube. I hanker, therefore, for pro drop-ins. The cheapest coach money can’t buy. I watch their feet. I watch the motion of their torsos. I watch the swinging of the arms.

Which is why it perplexes me when average surfers hair-out in the lineup and, a, either hassle maybe the best surfer alive off a wave or, b, weep when they gotta share.

As Dane Reynolds once told the chocolate-nippled Morgan Maassen in an interview I commissioned , “Every single day I get dropped in on. It’s super backward compared to other sports. Tom Curren should be able to paddle out at Rincon and get any wave he wants. But he doesn’t get a break from anyone. He grovels around on the inside like a grom while guys that look like they’ve been surfing for four months catch bombs. It’s unbelievable.”

What do you think of the behaviour of the longboarding man in the clip below, who is angry when he splits a wave with Kelly Slater?

“Maybe I owe a wave to at Surf Ranch,” says Kelly. “I was on the wave about 5-10 seconds before he took off and I went past him. That’s where this edit begins. He didn’t have a leash and his board washed up next to my gf but he didn’t know she was my gf. He had a few choice words about me to the guy sitting next to her on the beach. So yeah, maybe we should just ride it out all the way together next time!”

Comments on the post, 881 at last count, are roughly two-to-one in favour of Kelly.

(Note: If you’re on a laptop, you might just get the top-thirds of the clip. Click on “kelly slater” and navigate to the clip.)

While you’re here, how about we relive the time the wonderful Chucky Rigano fell like pennies from heaven onto Dane Reynolds at the very same wave. Read, “Barneys Act Like I Spat on Dane’s Baby!” here. 

Parker: “Everyone’s stealing your shit!”

Do you shoot photos or video, or write, for the …exposure?

I’m often pleased with the fact that, of all the terrible creative pursuits that could’ve caught my fancy, I got stuck with writing.

Sure, the written word is in a decline. Supposedly. Maybe not totally. Your dear BG is almost nothing but text. We’re getting bigger every day. Eventually we’ll rule the world. Or get a sweetheart offer and sell the fuck out.

Most likely the latter. Hopefully the latter.

I’m stoked I’m not a visual artist. Mostly because those types are beyond strange. They express themselves with images! What the fuck is going on there? Only slightly better than musicians.

“Do you want to know how I feel? Then listen to this.”

Bong bing ding bong bingdong bong! Ting zing boom blorp zip.

There’s also the financial aspect. Shooting pictures and video is damn neat, but so beyond expensive. You wanna be at the top level you need tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear. Gotta insure it, deal with breakdowns and theft and ever lurking poverty.

You need a damn good computer too. Gotta edit that shit up. Color correct, crop… other stuff I only vaguely understand.

Expensive way to create art that pays poorly. Bet your ass you’re gonna supplement income shooting weddings or kids parties or Instagram model shots for weird middle aged women desperately clinging to a youth that’s long left them behind.

Everyone is trying to steal your shit. I’m not even talking about outright theft. Ripping and reposting videos, pictures. Plagiarizing articles. Stealing screenshots from competitors then forgetting to edit out the caption. I’m talking about bullshit Terms and Conditions that use quasi-legal means to rob poor suckers blind

Writing, on the other hand, is cheap as fuck. All you really need is a pen and paper. Theoretically, at least. I loathe writing longhand. Love my laptop. Much quicker to type. Makes editing, what little I do, a breeze. You can grab a bottom tier ‘puter for damn cheap these days.

But one commonality, across the entire spectrum of creative endeavors, is that everyone is trying to steal your shit. I’m not even talking about outright theft. Ripping and reposting videos, pictures. Plagiarizing articles. Stealing screenshots from competitors then forgetting to edit out the caption.

I’m talking about bullshit Terms and Conditions that use quasi-legal means to rob poor suckers blind.

So easy to run a contest, offer up a pittance for first place, then reap the delicious runoff from everyone who fails to win.

I’m not gonna name names. No need. It’s common across almost every outlet. A symptom of the new bullshit crowdsource economy.

Except for The Surfer’s Journal. They don’t try to own anything. They just license use. Don’t try to claim ownership in perpetuity. They play fair, pay fair, and turn out a quality product.

An idea without execution isn’t worth much, but it is worth something. Ditto with your likeness.

If you’re a filmer or photographer or musician or painter or sculptor or writer or interpretive fucking dancer, and think you’ve got a shot of winning something, or buy the exposure lie, read your fucking contract. There’s a good chance you’re doing little more than giving up your rights, in perpetuity, for what amounts to little more than a lottery ticket.

And never forget, there’s all sorts of non-legal shit in contracts. Unenforceable provisions, outright lies meant to keep people from asserting their rights. Fucked up terms that seek to pass off liability while retaining profitability. Craven copy/paste skullduggery that won’t hold up in court, but is only meant to discouraged wronged individuals from taking legal action.

Hire a lawyer, sue the shit out of someone. Freelance heads set their own rates. If you allow people to steal from you you’re admitting your work ain’t worth nothin’.