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.)

Rothman: “Enough is enough!”

It is fucking election day in America!

People have many opinions about Eddie Rothman but I will say, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he cares deeply about Hawaii. He cares about its people, he cares about its environment, he cares about its economy and he cares about his surf.

And here, on election day in America, we see Eddie giving ‘er hell!

Oh the passion is as refreshing as an Off the Wall head slap! He is no mealy-mouthed politician. He is a firecracker who has seen it all and done it all and is not content to sit back and let the lesser fortunate get rolled.

Watch, learn and vote.

Reiss Laurenson
Reiss Laurenson, here, is a surfer from Western Australia, nicknamed Quokka by Matt Hoy 'cause Australia didn't have a Rat Boy. He is also the founding daddy of Necro, a wax and tailpad company, of which your ol pal DR now has a one-fifth stake!

Crazy: I just bought a deck grip co!

No biz plan, no company structure, nothing but dreams… 

Did you read my gross, but not entirely unexpected, misreading of the Billabong share price yesterday? One minute, I was convinced I had tripled my money; an hour later, I was down two thirds. 

But the sun sets every day, and people die every minute, and we mustn’t be scared by rigours of business. If you don’t roll the dice, or spin the wheel, how will you ever win?

Today, therefore, I announce my latest venture: a twenty per cent stake in Necro, a new deck-grip and wax company created by the two crudest and most savagely ambitious dreamers and doers in the world.

Let me introduce.

The first is Reiss Laurenson, currently, the menswear designer with the Perth-based surf company Rusty. Reiss is also well regarded for his expressive and soaring airs. Some years ago, Reiss placed well in the Quiksilver Air Show series and earned the nickname Quokka from Matt Hoy as Australia “needed its own Rat Boy.”

The second founding daddy is the film director Luke Farquhar, whom you’ll know from his ability to create WSL surf promos and whatever else for the cable station Fox with an unusual zeal.

Watch his piece for summer, here.

Luke and Reiss approached me with a deal that was very hard to ignore. No biz plan, no idea of how to sell, a category that was notoriously lean (how many tail pads do you buy a year?), so how about I shovel in a little cash and be a part-owner?

The pair were driven by a desire to emulate their heroes at Astrodeck, the American deck grip company still owned by the famous, and famously wonderful, Fletcher family.

This is consistent with Necro’s inability to create a working business structure or of any coherent idea of moving the little company towards profitability.

Says Luke, “It’s become so safe so it’s good to set up a non-pro surfer owned company that still remains true to what we all got into it in the first place. ”

Just, wax and grip that is exact as a knife.

Have you ever seen such a ravenously aggressive box of wax?
Have you ever seen such a ravenously aggressive box of wax? Or human skulls as wax?

Stab magazine wrote a terrific profile on Necro a few months back, which you can read here. It covers Luke and Reiss’ influences, and further reasons behind the creation of Necro.

The tail pads, which are made in the Communist utopia of China, are available in red, with black coming in a month. Pads cost sixty-six Australian dollars, and wax is six dollars and sixty-six cents. The devil imagery reflects Reiss’ love of Deathwish skateboards. 

Buy here etc. 

As a biz owner, I’ve got a few questions I’ll throw to the audience: what kinda grips do you use? What do you like? What…don’t… you like?

One-piece, three or five pieces?

Does the idea of expensive wax shaped as skulls and delivered in fancy boxes excite or repulse you?

Does a pro surfer riding for a certain brand make you want to ride it too?