Terror: Death Storms to Stomp Hawaii!

Hawaiian hurricane terror is real!

Hawaii hurricane terror is real. Streets flooded with people going about their business. Overcast skies! Palm trees swaying in pleasant sea breezes.

But it’s only a matter of time ’til the rush. Families flocking to their nearest market.  Mass hoarding of toilet paper and bottled water and light beer. Pure anarchy!

As of two pm Wednesday afternoon two class twelve death hurricanes are rapidly spinning their way towards our idyllic tropical archipelago. One has been named after a cookie, the other after that uncle who once cornered you at a family gathering and jammed his finger up your ass.

Hawaii Governor David Ige has declared a state of emergency! Schools will be closed!

Madeline will most likely bash herself to death against the southern shores of the Big Island. Residents of Puna will be cut off for weeks!

They’ll barely notice. Business as usual in that off-grid neck of the woods. Some generators will fail, residents will be forced to drink tepid Steinlager.

One has been named after a cookie, the other after that uncle who once cornered you at a family gathering and jammed his finger up your ass.

Lester is forecast to swoop north through the island chain, destroying everything in its wake. Hits Kauai on Saturday.

Is this to be a repeat of Iniki?

Gnarly time out here. People tell stories. Horrible consequences in the fighting chicken world as hundreds of coops were destroyed. Prize game cocks scattered to the four winds.

I’m appropriately nervous. Raised in Southern California, I can handle earthquakes.  Wind and rain, not so much.

But I’m prepared! Cases of bottled water, spare batteries for flashlights, a huge amount of fireworks I bought this past Fourth of July and never used. A handle of Jameson Whiskey a guest left behind and half a bottle of Cognac Derek sent me for Christmas!  Probably barter both of those for some child slaves.

Once the DTs start kicking in it’ll be a seller’s market.

John John Florence Tahiti
On to the point. What'd I miss? Just short of a month with spotty, at best, internet service. Something cool must have happened. I see John John's wearing that stupid yellow jersey! How grand. I didn't watch a moment of Tahiti. Was it any good? | Photo: WSL

Parker: “Was Tahiti Any Good?”

What did I miss while I was away?

I feel terrible.

Don’t handle failure well. Not when I’m emotionally invested. Which I very much was when it came to my recent freedive trip. So I’m just sitting here in my pit of despair stewing in self-hatred and waiting for the sun to crack back through the looming cloud of gloom.

A series of hurricanes is coming to kill me.

Standard shit, really.

To top it off my lovely wife picked up a cold as she started to mend. Was kind enough to pass it along to me. Now my head’s full of cement and my throat is lined with knives and I wish I believed that suicide was something more than a coward’s way out.

Boo-fucking-hoo. Life is soooooo hard.

But there’s a bright side! Today I get to pick up my brother-in-law from the airport. He’s moving in with us for some undetermined length of time while he decides whether he wants to move to Kauai.

He’s a great kid and I love him to death. But our spacious two bedroom is far less so with a third person kicking around the place. And I was not consulted about this. Only informed and told to deal.

Anyway… blah blah blah. I needed to vent, you fuckers get to read it. On to the point. What’d I miss? Just short of a month with spotty, at best, internet service. Something cool must have happened.

I see John John’s wearing that stupid yellow jersey! How grand. I didn’t watch a moment of Tahiti. Was it any good?

Any good scandals drop? A glance at your dear BG shows Surfstitch continues to circle the drain. Maybe we could put together some crowdfunding deal to purchase FCS. Make sure no one else gets their greedy mitts on it. Band together to put a much needed bullet in the fin system’s head.

Any good health knowledge on the Inertia? I nearly lost my shit at a lady giving nonsense medical advice the other day. Freaking out about my wife’s Hep A status, told to simmer some weed in coconut oil and apply it to her joints. So fucking sick of hippy-dippy snake oil. Every dumb fuck with a dream catcher hanging from their rear view mirror seems to thinks they have a license to practice medicine.

Maybe y’all could catch me up in the comments? Or not. Whatever.

As far as the final installment in my Nicaragua odyssey… you’re gonna have to wait a day. Turns out the wife put her own version of the events to paper while she was battling E.Coli. Interesting take on things. Not how I remember it, but I’ve never claimed to own an objective truth. Or maybe I have. It’s hard to remember. I spew a lot of nonsense.

She’s, rightfully, terrified to expose something she’s written to the pack of jackals who frequent our comment section. But she put it in my hands. Too late to back out now.

The piece needs an edit. Will probably plop in my own asides. But the mystery is near an end. All the salacious details will be staring out at you from a computer screen very soon.

Kelly Slater and the six-six CI Semi-Pro he rode to victory against John John Florence at the 2013 Pipeline Masters.

Rumour: Surfstitch to sell FCS!

Surfstitch flags asset sales after $155 million loss… 

Can you believe it’s been nine months since the online surf emporium Surfstitch scooped up Fin Control System for $A23.7 million? Don’t time fly.

A good buy? Yeah, it was.

Twelve from twelve event wins at one point even if the iconic Australian shaper Maurice Cole describes the FCS II system as the “the worst fucking fin system on the market.”

Several minutes ago, however, BeachGrit’s Bondi bureau received a call from an industry insider who said FCS was back on the market, Surfstitch looking to sell off assets after posting a $155 million loss, its shares falling 45 per cent to 11 cents. The group’s share price, which peaked at $2.09 in 2015, has now collapsed more than 95 per cent.

So what’s that all mean for FCS? SFR (Surfstitch Group Limited) has “flagged asset sales, including a plan to put a subsidiary it bought just nine months ago back on the block,” reports The Australian.

Nine months? FCS.

Want to buy?

In happier news, the ABC reports that “Co-founder Lex Pedersen – who stepped in as interim chief executive after the departure of Mr Cameron – saw his base salary for the year jump from $280,000 to $634,000… The board failed to declare a dividend, although this was not a surprise.”

JOB British Colombia
Who doesn't love a little JOB inflammable jackassery? Let's ask BC locals! | Photo: JOB

Blood Feud: JOB vs British Colombia!

Episode of JOB infuriates environmentalists! Panics Red Bull!

I doubt if there’s anything funnier than watching a big company go into panic mode because of some kinda “controversial” content creating a ruckus. All those managers, fearful of losing their sixty-k-a-year salaries, twitching and gasping like fish on the deck of a boat as they shift blame further and further down the hierarchical ladder.

Therefore, I can picture the frenzied scene at Red Bull over the last few days when it was reported that Jamie O’Brien had possibly used a gasoline accelerant for one of his Who is JOB stunts in a “sensitive watershed” in British Colombia.

In the latest episode of Who is JOB, which has since been pulled from YouTube, “the video features a scene where stunts are performed over a log sticking out of Kennedy Lake,” reports BC Local News. “The log is set on fire and online commenters quickly accused the troupe of pouring gasoline to set the blaze… Ministry of Environment spokesperson David Karn told the Westerly the B.C. Conservation Officer Service is looking into the situation.

‘The complaint was submitted via the RAPP [Report All Poachers and Polluters] line, and will be considered by the CO as to whether it warrants investigation,’ Karn said.

“While the video does not show any flame accelerants, Tofino local Josh Temple told the Westerly News he is ‘100 per cent” positive that petroleum products were used. ‘I’ve spoken with several of the people that were actually there,” he said. ‘No ifs ands or buts; it was gasoline.'”

In the story, Temple said he, “immediately reported the video to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada as well as B.C.’s Ministry of Environment. ‘I want to see a full investigation,’ he said. ‘I want to see a public apology from Red Bull and Jamie O’Brien and I want to see them come to the table with some sort of restitution and a way to make this right.’

“Temple said ignorance would not be an acceptable excuse from either the company or O’Brien. ‘You can’t tell me that they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong,’ he said. ‘You can’t tell me that somebody is going to say straight faced that they thought taking petroleum products, dumping them into a pristine wilderness environment and lighting them on fire was a good idea and that it would be okay for the environment. You can’t tell me that. So, obviously, they’re not thinking about it or, worst-case scenario, they were thinking about it and just didn’t care.’

Do you think Red Bull, who sold five-point-three billion cans of its sugar-filled caffeine drink in 2013 cares and it was simply the wilful behaviour of Jamie O’Brien? Or was JOB instructed by his Austrian masters to poison the BC wilderness?

Option C, none of the above.

Read the story here. 

Rory Parker Kona Depth Challenge
The evening before the event began featured a short safety meeting, a quick explanation of the rules, and the first time we named our depths, as well as whichever discipline we'd be attempting the following morning. Because I'd done, literally, no training prior to the event, and because I have no grasp of the metric system, I threw out 40 meters CWT. I've previously kicked down to 120', and so picked the number because I knew I was capable of hitting it without killing my body. However, I forgot that a meter is longer than a yard and that 40 meters is actually 131'. Stupid, stupid, stupid. | Photo: Mike Hong/@mic_strong

Parker: “I was totally fucking crushed!”

Rory Parker blows his ears out in a freediving competition trying to hit forty meters… 

I’m back. Did you miss me?

Two weeks in Nicaragua, twelve hours back on Kauai, straight to Big Island for the Kona Depth Challenge. Damn hard on my body, all that traveling. Not something I’d be willing to repeat. Need time in my own bed, honest sleep, time to recharge.

But it was fun. Very fun. Until it wasn’t.

The Kona Depth Challenge was set up by Kurt Chambers. Kurt holds a couple national records, teaches freedive classes to make ends meet. A very interesting guy, we ran a fairly long profile/interview piece on him last year. Give it a read if you have not already.

A quick primer on freedive disciplines at the KDC:

Constant Weight with Fins (CWT): Diver kicks down along a line, either using bifins or a monofin, to a plate at a depth chosen by the diver. Must return to the surface with whatever weight they used to get down.

Constant Weight No Fins (CNF): Same as above, but the diver cannot use fins or touch the guide line.

Free Immersion (FIM): The diver pulls down using the guide line, then returns to the surface the same way. Once again, you may not drop your weights upon returning to the surface. Of the three disciplines, this one is the easiest.

In a normal contest, a diver must perform certain surface protocol for the dive to be considered successful. This consists of removing any gear (goggles, noseclip), saying, “I am okay,” and making an “OK” sign with their fingers. Because the KDC was essentially an amateur comp these were relaxed and a dive was considered successful if the competitor remained conscious.

Where scoring is concerned, the day prior the diver chooses their depth and is awarded one point per meter. If they don’t hit their target they are penalized the missed depth from their accomplished depth. Therefore a diver who elects 40 meters, but accomplishes 30, would receives 20 points.

Fairly straightforward.

In serious competition the depths are kept secret and there is a bunch of mind-fuckery among competitors. The KDC was more of a fun affair, akin to a local surf comp. Everyone wants to win, but no one is an asshole about it.

The evening before the event began featured a short safety meeting, a quick explanation of the rules, and the first time we named our depths, as well as whichever discipline we’d be attempting the following morning. Because I’d done, literally, no training prior to the event, and because I have no grasp of the metric system, I threw out 40 meters CWT.

I’ve previously kicked down to 120 feet, and so picked the number because I knew I was capable of hitting it without killing my body. However, I forgot that a meter is longer than a yard and that 40 meters is actually 131 feet. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The next morning I showed up early to get in some the warm-up dives before my turn came. On the beach was Bobby Twitchell, a hellman deep hunter who runs the Maui Spearfishing Academy.

Bobby is a far better diver than I, and had just done 40 meters with no fins. He hit his depth, but suffered a lung squeeze and was forced to drop out of the rest of the comp.

Briefly: a lung squeeze is when your lungs temporarily collapse due to pressure at depth. You surface spitting blood. No more diving in the near future.

Forty meters is a relatively shallow depth to suffer a squeeze, so it didn’t get in my head too badly. These things happen, but they don’t happen to me. I’m invincible.

I swam out, did my warm-up, which consists of a few shallow drops to fifty feet then hanging out until contractions begin. My time came around, I breathed up, and managed to hit it effortlessly. In fact, the plate was set a meter-and-a-half deeper than it should have been, so I ended up hitting 136 feet during my one minute and twenty second dive.

Felt great. Very pleased with myself. Swam in for a post-dive cigarette, named 40 meters CNF for the next day, then hung out drinking beers while everyone else took their dives.

I was feeling like I was on top of the world when I got a call from my wife. On my buddy, Richard’s, phone. Because I’m a weirdo who doesn’t have a cell.

She had E.Coli, thanks to some dirty cocksucker who didn’t wash his hands. And fucking Hepatitis A!

I should’ve been on the next flight home. A better husband would’ve been. But she insisted she could handle, I should stay. Nothing I could do to make things better.

Forty meters was a stupid call. More than double the deepest I’d gone without fins. But I was feeling strong, and diving is a purely mental game anyway.

Competitive freediving is, at its root, a stupid pursuit. It can kill you, do terrible damage to your body. And there’s nothing to see. Just blue all around.

But it takes an empty head, and therein lies the appeal. My mind never, ever, stops going and for a brief time I can shut it the fuck up. I don’t go to a happy place, I go to the empty place. And I love it there.

Day two was a struggle. Worried about my wife, inexplicably nervous about my dive. During my pre-dive breathe up I had to force myself to stop hyperventilating, find that calm moment. Normally easy, but not so much that day.

One minute left, thirty seconds… go.

I enjoy no fins dives. Most people do not. But when you’re swimming well, your body is in the perfect rhythm, it’s a joy. Ten meters passed, twenty. At thirty meters my watch beeped to notify the depth. Then I did something stupid. I looked at the plate.

It’s very important to keep your chin tucked while diving. Stretching your neck can lead to trauma as the pressure collapses it. And you really don’t want to know how far you have to go. Ten meters is no distance at all, especially when you’re negatively buoyant. All I had to do was wait a little longer and I would have been there.

Instead it looked a world away. And everything came flooding back. My wife was sick. What the fuck am I doing. I panicked and turned for the surface at 101′.

And the trouble began.

“eeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE… POP!” Pretty much the worst fucking noise I’ve ever heard.

If you’re a regular reader you may be aware of the ear problems I’ve been dealing with over the last few years. If not, long story short, I came down with a massive infection which dissolved my mastoid (the honeycomb bone behind your ear), and required the installation of a titanium total ossicular replacement prosthesis to restore my hearing. The consequences for my freediving were totally unknown. I have the pleasure of being a test case.

One minute and forty seconds after I began my dive, I may have surfaced screaming. It may have just been mental. I don’t know. I do know that I was terrified, convinced I’d undone a series of very expensive, and excruciatingly painful, surgeries. I’ve had my left ear cut off and reattached three times so far. I do not want to go for number four.

I swam to a SUP they had anchored on the surface, climbed aboard, covered my right ear and begged someone to say something.

“Like what?”

Oh man! Thank the god who does not exist. No blood. Hearing was fine. Ear drum still intact. Nothing to worry about.

Back to the beach. Smoke my cigarettes, bum out the healthy folks. Realize my ear was rapidly swelling, looking like I’d taken a hard punch to it. Lightly touching the side of my head set off a crackling that was worrying.

And that was it. I was out of the competition. Totally fucking crushed. Not only had I failed to hit my depth, I injured myself. How severely, I had no clue.

I’m an overly emotional guy, and keeping my problems from ruining everyone else’s good time was a struggle. I’d like to think I kept it internal, but I know I was a mopey little prick. So much build up, such high expectations for myself, and I fucking failed. Utterly.

Went to bed early that night, had a good cry. Showed up late the next day so I wouldn’t do something stupid, like try to dive anyway. Watched the swelling slowly subside. Made an appointment to see my ENT, Dr Netzer, as soon as I was back on Kauai.

The high point of the day was learning my wife had been misdiagnosed. No Hep A. What a relief! But she has advanced pancreatitis! Oops, no, wrong chart.

Hawaii medical care can fucking suck sometimes. I certainly hope whoever actually has pancreatitis got a call informing them of such.

A pizza and beer party wrapped things up. Winners got their prizes, I mingled with a bunch of very cool people who I’m very happy I’ve met. Like Steve, the guy with “God hates us all” tattooed across his collar bones.

It’s unfair, and indicative of my status as a totally self involved hack writer, that I have no idea how anyone else did during the event. I spent the time as I usually do, totally wrapped up in my own wants. My own struggles. And I know that others set out to do the same thing as me. Hit their deepest depths, push themselves past what they thought they were capable of.

I missed all that.

But I know what happened to my ear. The source of that awful, awful, POP! Just got back from the doctor, he explained it all to me.

I suffered a reverse squeeze, wherein a blocked eustachian tube causes baurotrama during ascent.

I’m lucky, in a way. In a normal human body it might have lead to a blown eardrum. However, due to the fact that I lack a mastoid on my left side, the overpressure blew out into the soft tissue, rather than through my ear drum. Basically, the air was forced into a gap between my skin and skull, inflating my head like a fucked up balloon.

Short term, I’m fine. I won’t die, won’t get sick. No big deal.

Long term, I’ve got some tough choices to make. This might be the end of my diving. I might just say, “Fuck it,” and deal with the future as it comes.

At this moment, as I’m typing, I absolutely fucking hate myself. Excuses are bullshit. I’m a total failure. I had my chance to do something special and I fucking blew it.

I’ve got to end with a big thank you to everyone present.

Thanks to the Kauai boys, Richard Tucker, Ed Corrales, and Elijah Assand for splitting costs with me.  Sorry, Elijah, I know we were a bit much.  Thanks to all the safety divers for keeping us alive and kicking.  Mike Hong took amazing pictures of the event. Kurt Chambers put together a super fun event.  And all the other competitors, too many names for me to remember.  It was an impressive weekend of people pushing past their limits.  Everyone should be very proud of what they accomplished.

Except for me. I suck.