Obituary: A younger brother remembers!

Michael Kocher's younger brother lays a wreath....

If you have been here, to BeachGrit, more than five times then you will certainly remember the swinging prose of Michael Kocher. He blasted onto our little universe with stories about being a Marine and surfing and giving up surfing for drugs and getting spinal cancer. Turned out the spinal cancer bit was a scam but funny. Right? Or interesting at the very least. Sure he wrote bad junkie prose from time to time but overall Kocher was a fun part of our DNA. An interesting part. Last week he was gunned down by police in Denver for taking people hostage. Here his younger brother writes an obituary. 

He was a very intelligent young boy, able to breeze through most academic challenges the schools could throw at him, excelling in math, language arts, history, and social studies, eventually earning his degree in political science while attending UAA. As a teenager he became interested in computer programming.

He was also a voracious reader, reading anything that piqued his interest, fiction or not. When he was younger (in middle and high school) he enjoyed reading Star Wars novels, something he passed on to me, but more than anything he loved the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, having read The Lord of the Rings trilogy dozens of times as well as every other work published by the man and also posthumous releases.

If you had a question about Middle Earth or the Star Wars Universe, he could talk at length about it or nearly anything else, as he had a memory like a steel trap. He had a boisterous personality from the very beginning and though he wasn’t always quick to agree, people usually found something about him that they liked or had in common and he made countless friends and acquaintances throughout his years and travels.

He was in JROTC in high school and always showed a great deal of respect for military service of which my family has contributed a fair amount. His greatest influence was probably his maternal grandfather, who served in World War II as a United States Marine. He joined the USMC and in 2006 at age 23 and made it through boot-camp despite a bout of pneumonia; He pushed through it, something for which he carried a great deal of pride.

Unfortunately, he was not prepared to handle some of what he witnessed in Syria and Iraq, and though his time there was mostly spent fixing radios and aiding the locals, the experience changed him. As the article in the Eagle River star reported, he reached out to friends and family for donations of soccer balls for the local children.  He succeeded in gathering over 50 soccer balls and a Hand Pump.  It was the most humanitarian/charitable thing he ever did.

He continued college after returning, but, despite earning his degree and being a Veteran, his search for gainful employment was met with one disappointment after another leaving him feeling downtrodden and hopeless at times. Much of his difficulty in life after that was tied to a recurring addiction various substances including alcohol and opiates, the toll of which seems to have ultimately lead to his demise.

During this time he did some things he regretted and had intended to rectify in his life. His family, friends, and those that worked and served with him will remember him as intelligent and passionate with a personality that could fill a room. He loved surfing, having surfed Yakutat, Alaska and the California coast and revered the works of Allan C. Weisbecker who wrote In Search of Captain Zero was his and my mom’s favorite book. Jack Kerouac was also a favorite author of  Michael’s who always had a romantic and poetic outlook on life. He wasn’t one to let obstacles dictate his path and usually found a way to achieve what he wanted in life.

His greatest downfall, perhaps, was expecting too much from himself and the world…

Scott Kocher, brother of Michael


The wonderful, and wonderfully mysterious, Westerly Windina holding a photograph of her former self and now current self, the champion surfer, and nude centrefold, Peter Drouyn. | Photo: Jamie Brisick

Trans: Westerly turns (back) into Drouyn!

Surf hunk turns into show girl and back again!

Two years ago, the American writer Jamie Brisick wrote Becoming Westerly, a book about the “transformation of surfing champion Peter Drouyn into Westerly Windina.”

Brisick’s book was a masterpiece, and not because it tells the fascinating story of a one-time stud’s bleak existence living in public housing in a shitty Queensland suburb as he struggles with gender dysphoria, but because it created as much mystery as it revealed.

Becoming Westerly begins in Bangkok where Drouyn is about to get a cut-price sex change. But does the knife descend on his privates? Does Drouyn officially transition from surf hunk to showgirl?

The answer is promised in an accompanying, yet-to-be-released documentary, which I was interviewed for. (I told ’em I thought it was all a beautiful piece of theatre and that, eventually, Drouyn would reveal the gag.)

Now, nine years after he announced that he was turning into a gal, Westerly is gone and Drouyn is back!

As reported by Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail,

Westerly is no more – and Drouyn is back, larger than life.

He made his first big public reappearance as Drouyn at a reunion for the WindanSea Surf Club at Currumbin RSL last week attended by past and present surfing luminaries, including Joel Parkinson.

Drouyn was one of the leading members of the now defunct Gold Coast branch of WindanSea, a venerable boardriding club established in San Diego in the 1960s and which spread all over the globe.

The ever-eloquent Drouyn delivered a stirring speech at the reunion in keeping with his reputation as one of surfing’s biggest characters and deepest thinkers.

Old mates including reunion organiser Andrew ‘Andy Mac’ McKinnon and Gold Coast surfing solicitor Mal Chalmers were stoked.

“He hasn’t missed a beat,” Chalmers said.

So what’s that mean for Brisick’s movie?

“The film is nearing completion,” Brisick wrote in an email from his Malibu writing base. “It’s became a far bigger story than we ever imagined. And we have never felt more love and compassion for our subject, Peter Drouyn. We always knew the story was about identity above all else. Pardon the pun, but Westerly transcended transgender. A one-in-seven-billion girl, you might say. Did she or didn’t she? We’d be fools to tell. Or, you’ll just have to see the film.”


Quiksilver Inc. fools baby writer!

The innocence of youth is a beautiful thing!

Minutes ago our dear Michael Ciaramella wrote a story about how Quiksilver just changed its name to Boardriders and don’t you just love the innocence of youth? The glass half full? The corporate name being the same as the brand name?

I remember when I thought everything I loved was owned by benevolent elderly men (or women) much like Willy Wonka. There he (or she) toiled, building magical products for us to enjoy. There he (or she) put his name on the seal and it was his. And it was mine.

But then I grew and realized this is a world of S-Corps and C-Corps and holding companies and offshoring and onshoring and hedge funds and junk bonds and conglomerates and DBAs and… ummmm… I didn’t major in business but also didn’t need to.

This cruel world slapped the Willy Wonka from my dreams and taught me that everything we see is smoke. Is mirrors.

Boardriders, Inc. is simply the new parent company name of Quiksilver, Roxy and DC. It ain’t sexy and the brand should have never issued a press release that found its way to our starry-eyed little man but… I guess now’s as good a time as any to break the tough news.

Michael… Santa don’t exist and Donald J. Trump is President of the United States of America. It’s a hard hard hard world.

But at least we still have Quiksilver!


Just in: Quiksilver Changes Name!

High Times was just the tip of the iceberg! Say hello to...

Is this not a uniquely exciting time in the world of surf? What with the WSL losing Samsung and the WSL gaining Facebook and girls maybe doing full rotations? And then, just today, a company of nearly fifty years and hundreds of world championships goes and… changes its name? Yes!

Yahoo Finance reported just ten half-hours ago that Quiksilver, Inc. has officially changed its name to…

Drum roll please…

Boardriders, Inc.!

The scoop, via Yahoo:

In February 2016, the Company’s U.S. entity emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization and began an aggressive turnaround program led by the Company management team and the Special Situations team for funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”). Since that time, the Company has dramatically right-sized its cost structure, re-engineered its entire global development engine, streamlined distribution, reduced excess inventory and instilled clarity, rigor and discipline throughout the organization.

The renaming of our company signifies the beginning of a new day at Boardriders. Our teams around the world have been building our resurgence brick-by-brick. Their passion and tireless execution, along with the loyalty of our customers, suppliers, and partners, has allowed us to complete the restructuring phase of our turnaround and to begin shifting our focus to growth,” said Pierre Agnes, Chief Executive Officer of Boardriders. “As we pivot to growth, we think it is important to recognize the importance of all three of our iconic brands, and the passion of the boardriding culture that those brands support.

Now readers, I ask you: is Boardriders, Inc. the most drab name one could ever conceive, and in that way destined to fail? Or is it so simplistic, so un-esoteric, that it will achieve Quiksilver’s I mean WSL’s I mean Boardrider’s lifelong goal of acquiring genuine mainstream appeal? Or should they have named it LatterKnown, as a really funny prank on Kelly and Dane and Craig?

It’s important to note that Boardriders, Inc.’s properties of Quiksilver, Roxy, and DC will retain their namesakes. But will their branding schemes be altered? Like, what gives for Quiksilver’s latest and greatest marketing scheme — starring Mikey Wright as the new-age Michael Peterson — High Times? And, could there be a new logo in the works? The mountain and wave is still, in my opinion, an idyllic and historic symbol that will stand the test of time. But maybe I’m wrong?  Throwing Disqus, this could be your big break!

 


Do you like Kelly Slater? What does that mean? You’re at least 40, you’ve only surfer once or twice a year for the last ten years but you still tell everyone in your office that you’re a surfer, big time. You’re the kind of person that just doesn’t know when to quit because you’ve convinced yourself that you will somehow go out on top no matter how long you wait. | Photo: @thesurfinghobo

What Your Fav Surfer Says About You!

If you cry at little things, it's Gabriel Medina! If you surf twice a year, Kelly Slater!

Who knew your favourite surfer could reveal so much! Just as riding a Firewire signals you are a stay-at-home dad with a bar fridge full of Pepsi Cola and a 1 TB hard-drive full of she-male porn, your choice of surfer determines your style of clothes, your style of living, even your moral framework.

But enough chatter! Prise the curtain open, maestro!

Kelly Slater: Let us get the obvious out of the way first. You’re at least 40, you’ve only surfer once or twice a year for the last ten years but you still tell everyone in your office that you’re a surfer, big time. You’re the kind of person that just doesn’t know when to quit because you’ve convinced yourself that you will somehow go out on top no matter how long you wait. You love OuterKnown because you still wear nothing but Quiksilver t-shirts and too baggy jeans, or boardshorts, every weekend.

Gabriel Medina: Who knew eyebrows and body hair could become such a fixation? You jerk a shaver violently over your body each morning, and each night, and trained beauticians arrange the curve in your brow bi-weekly. Sometimes little things make you cry.

Mick Fanning: You believe in honesty, in your surfing, in your relationships, in life. It’s a man, his dog, his jetski, and mateships sealed in beer, occasional cross-dressing and public nudity. You believe all men are equal but this hasn’t come easy nor at minimal cost.

Gabriel Medina: Who knew eyebrows and body hair could become such a fixation? You jerk a shaver violently over your body each morning, and each night, and trained beauticians arrange the curve in your brow bi-weekly. Sometimes little things make you cry.

Alex Knost: You believe the seventies were a utopia of droopy hair, droopy brown tits wrapped in knit bikinis and tanker single-fins. You enjoy Peter Pan and like to re-enact the battles of the lost boys, pirates and Indians.

John John Florence: You are either very young and love the fact that one of your peers as a world title or you’re a middle-aged woman who still remembers the little towhead from Highwater and all those magazine features. There’s also the outlier possibility that you’re a creepy old dude and think that liking JJF will somehow lead to relations with Alex. Regardless, you’re the kind of person who likes fresh, new, things and buys into the idea that John John becoming a prodigy was simply a happy accident and not the maneuvering of a not-quite-so-laidback mother taking advantage of proximity to all that surfing knowledge.

Dion Agius: You’re such an adorable  little hipster. All your music comes on vinyl and all your photos come from 1980’s Russian film cameras. You refuse to watch the WSL for being too corporate and you think your hero, Dion Agius, is a sellout for attending Surfer Poll, regardless of how awesome you think Xanax is. Even though he is your favorite you still consider yourself to be better dressed, better exposed to music, and in general more cultured. You claim to have been a fan of Dion before anyone else outside of France.

The Hobgoods: You’re a redneck, a bogan, a chigger. You come from a working-class background, from a working-class region of your country and you think of yourself as a good ol’ boy. You have simple tastes in beer, food, music, movies and life in general. You’re always happy, you can have fun anywhere, and you own a 4×4 vehicle that you actually take offroad. You’re polite, you always respect your elders and you have zero in common with Dion Agius’s fans.

Makuakai or Koa Rothman: At some point in the last year you really fucked up and said the wrong thing, within hearing of the wrong person, and you live on the North Shore. In order to hide what you said, or did, wrong, you coat yourself in the camouflage of being Makua, or Koa’s, biggest fan. You even have downloads of Makua’s music constantly blasting from whatever speakers are near you. Even if you’re just walking down Ke Nui you play the music through your shitty smartphone speakers. You used to be a Mick Fanning fan and probably own a Micktory shirt.

Jamie O’Brien: Who is JOB? Only the coolest freaking dude in the world, says you. You love to party and you love anything that gives you a rush of adrenaline and dopamine. You grew up with some hook that made people want to be around and so you’ve been used to crowds of people your entire life. You make friends easily and sometimes you take advantage of that by abusing those friends and making them do really stupid things to entertain yourself. You love Jamie for constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible at Pipeline and can’t wait for him to switch from a boogie to a SUP to a hydrofoil to body surfing and back again all while pounding a Red Bull and operating a GoPro.

Dane Reynolds: You’re Californian, or at least you pretend and act like you are, and that means you’re laidback, you’re chill, and you’re super easy to get along with. If you’re married with kids then your wife is beautiful and your kids are great. If you’re not, you could be but you’re waiting for the right woman to come along. You’re extremely good at what you do but because you’re not flashy and in-your-face about it people sometimes forget just how good you really are. Whatever your field, you constantly push the boundaries of what is possible regardless of any personal changes that may have happened.

Sunny Garcia/Kala Alexander/Dustin Barca: You’re honestly a bigger fan of UFC than surfing these days, which is why you love guys who can charge on a wave or in an alley. You never actually enjoy yourself surfing because you’re too busy watching for any perceived slight that gives you a chance to try and point someone to shore so you get to hit someone. You spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos of surfer fights and even if you live somewhere like Oregon, Maine, British Columbia, Alaska, or anywhere that has completely un-crowded lineups, you still try and police visitors like you’re 1970’s era Da Hui.  You’re actually very unhappy and wish that people would stop thinking of you as nothing but a thug.

A note on Michael Kocher:

Michael is a former marine and writer for BeachGrit who was killed in a police shootout four days ago. This is a repeat of a story that appeared two years ago.