Kelly Slater and The Inertia

The Inertia: Blame Trump on Slater!

Surf media's killer dog rounds on champ!

The anguish today keeps pouring down. The funeral procession of our theoretical better selves enveloped in a never ending wail.

Like this!

Even the best of pals are torn asunder by our new political reality. Even idols brought low by those who used to gaze up with only the utmost admiration.

Let us examine the case of one Robert Kelly Slater and The Inertia‘s founder-in-chief Zach Weisberg.

Oh you know how surfing’s definitive online community adores the champ. We all do, of course, but The Inertia more than adores. Maybe worships a little. Maybe wants to marry on a Kauai cliff during sunset with Don Ho as master of ceremonies (presented by Purps).

But the spectre of Donald J. Trump threw a big old monkey wrench (spanner) into the machinations of love today. Really derailed the works.

Let us read from Mr. Zach’s dirge:

Nothing is given, and liberals forgot that the same way disenchanted conservatives remembered it. As such, progressives failed to tap into the same dormant emotions that drive America to be its greatest.

I regret that The Inertia failed to make a formal presidential endorsement this election. It doesn’t matter that it most likely wouldn’t have any impact. But it could have. In my estimation, it was the right thing to do, because it was an expression of how I, as a leader, and The Inertia staff, as a collective, feel with a renewed obligation in communicating to our 1.5 million monthly readers.

I regret that we didn’t take Kelly Slater, a man I deeply respect as surfing’s most influential ambassador, to task for choosing not to vote in this year’s election despite hosting an art show to inspire political conversation. In my estimation, that’s a disingenuous thing for a thoughtful person to do. Voting is a privilege our forefathers died to preserve, and while I respect anyone’s right to refuse to participate, for those who care about the environment (surfers and outdoor enthusiasts) and social justice (thoughtful people), there was an appropriate choice on this year’s ballot.

It was not Donald Trump.

So my favorite part is The Inertia making a formal presidential endorsement a way to also let potential advertisers know how much “traffic” they’re getting.


But the part that brings a lonely tear to my eye is the thought of Zach W taking Kelly Slater to task. Don’t give in to your baser prog Huffy Post instincts, dearest Z.

Let Kelly vote for Kelly and Let Love Rule!

Trump Playboy
I'm not reproducing, what do I care about the future health of our environment? Fuck it, let's burn shit to the ground. Of course, the white bread faux-Christian mouth breathers who farted out a vote for Trump yesterday breed like a rats. Pumping out child after child, fruitlessly multiplying. They need a planet to host the poisonous detritus that springs forth from their wombs.

Parker: “Comedy comes from pain!”

A buffoon-in-chief will be hilarious!

Motherfucker. I truly did not see that coming.

Should’ve, probably. Just didn’t want to believe a campaign built on hate could win. But it did.  Wasn’t even close. Bigotry and fear took the day, get to run with the ball for the next four years.  Probably eight, if we’re being honest.

But the world isn’t ending.

Nothing has really changed.

We’re the same group of assholes today that we were yesterday.

Is it absurd that we elected a reality TV star to run our country? Yep.

Is he going to use the Senate and House majority to roll back every positive environmental and public health program we’ve got? Probably.

Am I allowed to call people niggers and faggots and beaners again? Looks like it.

To be fair, I’ll only be applying that license to the racial or ethnic or sexual minorities who supported him. They signed up for it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Well, maybe mostly, but if you want to read that type of stuff you can find it anywhere at the moment. I’d prefer to focus on the bright side.

Comedy golden era

A buffoon-in-chief will be hilarious, there’s no way around it. Whether he’s committing social gaffes among his fellow heads of state, or engaging in late night Twitter wars with detractors, the presence of a President without a filter will make for endless opportunities for solid humor.

Sure, a lot of the laughing will be the kind you do in order to avoid tears. But that’s fine. Comedy comes from pain. Saturday Night Live will catch fire for a few years, South Park has Mr Garrison in the White House.

He gave a voice to the voiceless

But not really. He exposed a lot of people for the close-minded xenophobe bigots they truly are, and tricked them into thinking they were represented. But, the truth of the matter is, that fairly large subsection of our population has been largely ignored because they are stupid. Easily led, receptive to demagoguery, willing to believe anyone who spews venom that overlaps with their own. But first and foremost, stupid.

They may think they’ll get what they want, but they don’t know what they want. And no one cares anyway. The frustration as that fact dawns on them will be delicious.

The Red State Blues

The jobs are gone, they ain’t coming back. All the Rust Belt retards who think Heir Trump will somehow bring back all the off-shored manufacturing jobs are gonna learn real quick that those were just empty promises. The Trump presidency will be about putting as much money as possible in the hands of the ruling class. You don’t do that by paying a living wage. You definitely don’t do that by supporting unions.

“BUT YOU PROMISED!” they’ll cry, while fighting for crusts of bread in the gutter. “You said you’d make us great again. This isn’t great at all.”

Goodbye Obamacare

Thank jeebus I can afford private insurance. Great coverage, the best!

But guess what? Repealing the Affordable Care Act will mean insurance companies can once again charge more, or deny coverage outright, due to pre-existing conditions. Which is a serious problem if you’re an obese redneck motherfucker with adult-onset diabetes. Ditto if you’re an aging baby boomer about to experience the litany of ailments that comes with senior status.

Global Warming isn’t real

I’m not reproducing, what do I care about the future health of our environment? Fuck it, let’s burn shit to the ground.

Of course, the white bread faux-Christian mouth-breathers who farted out a vote for Trump yesterday breed like a rats. Pumping out child after child, fruitlessly multiplying. They need a planet to host the poisonous detritus that springs forth from their wombs.

Luckily for them, the type of half wit imbecile their tainted bodies produce will be well suited to surviving the aftermath of our planet’s destruction. Retreat to caves, return to their troglodyte roots.

They set a precedent

Fuck unity. Fuck brotherhood. Fuck national identity.

It’s us versus them, ain’t no two ways about it. Hopefully the more liberal-minded souls will finally realize that, if you want to fight a pig, you’ve gotta get down in the mud. No more attempts at discussion or ideological parity. Stop pretending there are rules, start doing what it takes to win.

It’s time to throw our idealism in the garbage, where it belongs. Face the cold hard truth that you’ve gotta employ violence to get what you want. That’s it’s okay to trample another person in your quest for a brighter tomorrow. That truth has no place in reality, and that the ends always justify the means.

Election: Don’t blame Kelly Slater!

It's ok world... our white knight will come riding in to save us!

Oh a profound sadness is washing over America today and, I suppose, in certain inland corners a wild jubilation too. Election day is over and Kelly Slater did not win even though he posted a picture on his wonderful Instagram account of a ballot where his name has been written in. “BTW this is not my ballot…” Kelly added alongside the post. “Someone sent it to me.”

Oh yeah! Totally!

But the question remains… what will Kelly do to spoil Trump’s victory? Let us recall his most recent attention grabbing triumphs

After Adriano won a hard fought crown Kelly unleashed his perfect barrel on the world. So effective was the pulled spotlight that I can’t, to this day, remember The Little Plumber’s last name.

After John John won Kelly went on to the socials and called Jordy Smith the best current surfer in the world.

And now Trump has won, besting Kelly maybe 58,000,000 to 4 but certainly our heart’s champion has something up his wizard’s sleeve. Will he…

a) Post a selfie standing next to Vladimir Putin with the hashtag #biggerfasterstronger.

b) Win the Jaws event riding tandem with Cam Diaz.

c) Open a wavepool on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. with gold water instead of brown.

d) Build a wall along the U.S. – Mexico border made entirely out of wavepools.

e) Announce his candidacy.

f) Post a selfie standing next to Canada’s Justin Trudeau with the hashtag #mosthandsomeleaderintheworld.

g) Build a wavepool on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with green water instead of brown.

h) Announce that he has single-handedly brought peace to the middle east.

i) By building a wavepool in Jerusalem where both the Jew and the Arab can surf for 50 shekels an hour.

j) All of the above.

John John Florence Portugal
Don't you, like me, think it's the most wonderful thing in the world that the world champion surfer pays for his own tail pads? Cost price, sure, but you can bet more than a dime there's companies out there who'd shovel a quarter-mill a year to have him ride their pads. | Photo: WSL

John John Florence buys Astrodeck!

…tail-pads at ten bucks a shot!

Yesterday, I mighta mentioned that I’d thrown in to be a part-owner of a devil-themed traction and wax company.

It ain’t gonna make me rich, so far it’s made me a little poorer, but why not take a swing when a ball flies atcha? Read about that here. 

Now all the talking about deck grips got me thinking about the best in the biz, the original, the beautiful, Astrodeck. It may surprise you, surprised me, that the world champion John John Florence and world number five Kolohe Andino, who have signature Astrodeck tail-pads, actually…pay… for their grips. Ten bucks a hit. It ain’t retail, sure, but fuck.

When Necro tried to lure Noa Deane into riding for ’em, offering a piece of the company, he said he didn’t want anything but Astrodeck.

So  few hours ago I called Astrodeck’s San Clemente, California, bureau to talk about the ringing endorsement of the Champ, Florence, ballet dancer Noa and the sorta contender, Andino.

Who answers the phone? Ms Dibi Fletcher herself, writer, artist, and the matriarch of the famous surf family that includes Herbie the tow-pioneer/artist/traction pioneer, Christian, Nathan, and skate-star Greyson, Christian’s kid, Dibi’s grandkid.

Well, hello, Dibi!

Turns out Dibi, who is almost seventy years old, opens the doors in the morning, answers the phones, works the warehouse, ships the pads, does it all. Ain’t nobody else there but the still cute-as-a-button Dibi.

“Getting it in, honey,” she says, with a fabulous hoot. “I don’t want people’s dysfunctional kids. I’ve already got my own. No one wants to work. You train someone and then they move onto the next thing. What’s in it for me to spend the time and train somebody? It’s easier for me to do everything. I know everything, do everything. If there’s any problem it’s my problem. I don’t have nobody to blame except me and I learn from it. That’s the reality.”

Now what is so cool about Astrodeck, apart from making the best tail-pads money can buy, is the Fletchers never diluted their game by bringing in investors. Always been Herb and his design (his lucrative art, too) and Dibi on the business levers. John John and Kolohe Andino both have Astrodeck models but don’t get paid endorsements. They like, they ride.

“Known ’em since they were kids,” says Dibi, who won’t omment on the ten-bucks-a-pad arrangement.

Dibi, who has this beautiful way of adding “Do you understand?” to most of her declarations, lights up when you talk authenticity and the ins-and-outs of the surf industry.

Does she make money?

“If I was making money do you think I’d be sitting at this fucking desk? You think at my age I’d be out the back shipping pads? The reality is, it’s a very small, niche market. But I still feel that I make the best pads. I have the best surfers in the most critical positions. That’s what I’m interested in doing. Making the best pads. Everyone in my family surfs. Unlike most of the other pad companies, do you understand, they’ve got people in cubicles making different coloured pads. They knock me off. I don’t care about. I don’t give a shit!”

I keep it going because, dude, it’s not because I’m making any fucking money. I keep it going because it’s the right thing to do? No one in their right fucking mind would do that. Do I like selling surf pads? Do you understand? Do I like shipping them? There could be better ways of spending my time. Money? There is NONE! But I’m proud of our place in surf history. It’s important to keep it alive.

Dibi adds, “That’s my story, honey, here I am! I make the best pads in the world, we’re the original pad maker (since 1976), we’ll always have market share as long as I stay authentic. Companies went too big, they have to make their quarterly earnings. If you want big, you have to go and push your brand all over the place. Pretty soon you have no story left because you whitewashed it to death to get your corporate earnings. All the other ones have come and gone and I’m still here. It’s testament to the fact I didn’t try to make it get really big. I didn’t have to accept other people’s money. If you get too big you’ve lost the kernel of what it can be. I can still have sand in surfing. All the big companies have to appeal to the mother of a grammar school kid, do you understand? And I’ve been here before all of ’em. I sold pads to their dads! The best riders in the world in every generation. I mean, that’s something that’s kinda fantastic!”

I ask about my investment.

“Good luck on making any money, honey!”

Suddenly Dibi detonates an explosion of cackles: “Ahhhhhhhahhhahhahhh! Oh that’s funny! Honestly! I have it so lean, do you understand, no employees. I have it so lean and I run Herbie’s art thorough it to keep it going, I keep it going because, dude, it’s not because I’m making any fucking money. I keep it going because it’s the right thing to do? No one in their right fucking mind would do that. Do I like selling surf pads? Do you understand? Do I like shipping them? There could be better ways of spending my time. Money? There is NONE! But I’m proud of our place in surf history. It’s important to keep it alive. It’s the right thing for my kids, for my grandkids. It’s a part of history.”

Any more advice?

“I’ll tell you something. I’ll kick your ass at retail if you come and compete with your brand. I’ll make sure of it. Honey boy, if you don’t learn fast!”

With that, UPS is at the door and Dibi splits to grab the boxes to shop.

“That’s so fucking awesome!” she says. “Hot dog!”



Bali Killings
In Bali, eighty-thousand men, women and kids, or five per cent of the population, were butchered in the killings of 1965, 66. | Photo: The Act of Killing

Bali’s Darkest, Bloodiest Secret!

Or why I don’t like surfing Bali’s east coast beaches…

(Editor’s note: It always strikes me as odd that so few travellers to Bali are aware that beyond the superficial smiles is a history so bloody it defies the imagination. In 1965, during the great Communist purge that would lead to the downfall of Sukarno and usher in thirty years of Suharto rule, an estimated half-a-million Indonesians were murdered. The CIA reported that the massacres “rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s.”

In Bali, they took up the cudgel with gusto. Five per cent of the population, eighty-thousand people, women and kids included, were butchered. In this story, the writer, who was a boy at the time, remembers the killings.)

A hot day in December, 1965. I was nine years old, a blond, sun-crisped Bali bulé boy, and a Balinese man I’d never seen before hunched on the parlor sofa of my parent’s house in Klungkung, east Bali. He reeked of fright: acrid, bitter, biting. He was silent, hands clasped between his knees. A former member of a Communist party’s community organization, he was helpless, hopeless, marked for death, a marking that painted not by gray-skinned pallor but by stink. I’ll never forget that smell.

Outside on the street in front of our house marched squads of Balinese men in black with machetes and spears, some with guns. The taming–the killing teams. Efficient. Deadly.

They were the victorious nationalists, rampant and on the hunt for Communists, who only a year previously were poised for political power and the control of the country’s future. In those black, brutal months, with a madness sweeping over the island, an estimated 50000 Balinese were slaughtered by other Balinese, killed for being Communists and for being leftist and for having said the wrong thing, even (in one recorded case) for having provided a pressure lantern for a Communist mass rally.

Klungkung had a large PKI presence, with many of the high caste Brahman families being party members. Kids I’d played with on the streets and fields and banyan trees simply disappeared. Thousands of corpses were tossed into estuary ravines by the seashore, and into the ocean itself. A journalist staying with us told of seeing a raft of bodies floating in the surf, sharks leisurely feeding.

This is why I don’t like surfing the eastern black sand beaches and sandstone ledges. There’s something spooky to that water, the roaring surf, the deep offshore trenches. There’s one particular place near Klungkung, now on the surf guide radar, that I’ve flatly refused to surf — I get goosebumps just standing on the beach.

When we moved to Gianyar when I was a teen, I had to will myself to paddle out at Lebih beach and the breaks around there, but I never lasted long. It wasn’t sharks, or being out alone—the other world, the what the Balinese call the unseen realm, shimmered very close all around me. The Balinese have a word for places like this–angker–and they would know exactly what I’m talking about, which is not really “spooky” but mystical, spiritually charged, dangerous.

I don’t know how many visiting surfers, or even resident expat surfers, know of this dark and terrible chapter of modern Balinese history, but I can tell you that every Balinese of a certain age has memories of that violent time, memories they are reluctant to talk about. Every coastal village and town in Bali that has turned into a surfing destination hides its own secret killing fields, its forgotten burial grounds.

(Here, below, is a trailer for the film The Act of Killing, a documentary where the director, remarkably, convinced some of the old murderers to re-enact their butchery.)