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?

Exclusive: Leaked Hurley commercial!

We are the new WikiLeakes! Only not chicken!

Tomorrow is election day in the United States of America. And while the prospect of a Donald J. Trump presidency has driven even the stoutest among us to the hills, I must admit, this whole cycle has left me nothing less than thrilled.

Part of my joy comes from the daily leaks. Oh not the ones from Julian Assange. His lily-livered faux power-mongering from behind the canary yellow walls of the Ecuadorian embassy is so weak! So gauche!

No. My favorite leaks are the anonymous nuggets from inside the campaigns themselves. Did you read Inside Donald Trump’s Last Stand in The New York Times? It positively crackles with anon gossip. A true work of art that will undoubtedly go down as a journalistic high water mark.

Also the works of cold-blooded Russians deep in Siberia who are not in it for fame or glory but for integrity. For truth.

And in that same very same vein, a brave Russian deep in Siberia just today emailed me this Rob Machado commercial from 2011 that never saw the light of day. The hacker, WilderBEAST420, said he/she found it while combing through the dark net. Or darknet.

What’s that?

But I don’t care! It sounds wonderful. And he/she leaked it to me because even in Siberia there are people who recognize the soul crushing seriousness of the surf industry.

You might recall my rant against Volcom last week that shouted at them forgetting that what we do, this surfing, is at the end just plain fun.

The hacker, whoever she or he is, knows this, read the piece and got to work digging around in the inner sanctums. And this little peek behind the ivory walls makes me smile, yes, but it also fills me with great hope.

There are people out there trying to make surfing fun again!

Revel then in this bit that you aren’t supposed to be seeing and smile along.

Ouch: Ski runs over surfer at Uluwatu!

A forgotten menace!

What is your worst biggest fear? Rogue set wave and a super low reefy tide? Shark? Hydrofoil SUP? Regular SUP? Beginner on a longboard? Beginner on a SUP? A really good surfer embarrassing you whilst your girlfriends is on the beach taking pictures? Shark riding a hydrofoil SUP?


After the strapped thing went away I sort of lost track of jetskis in normal waves. Like, who does that? Apparently some man at Uluwatu who mowed down another man on a fun-sized day. You must go to Indo Surf Life to catch all the carnage but I’ll give you a taste here!