How to: Properly fly the bird!

Are you satisfied with your middle finger style? Let's learn a better way!

There are very few things a man, or woman, actually needs to know in this life. Very few and shrinking to fewer every day. Like, knowing how to change a car’s oil is no longer necessary. Knowing how to approach a cute boy or girl no longer necessary. Knowing how to use English correct not longer necessary.

But knowing how to say “fuck you” with your hand, or hands, is as necessary as ever. Maybe even more necessary than ever.

So let’s decide once and for all. When it comes to the middle finger what is the proper way to flash? I have very strong opinions on the matter. I believe that the thumb should not shoot out to the side like an errant verse. I believe the thumb should not stress itself but either bend slightly inward or stay parallel to the hand.

But maybe I am wrong.


Should the thumb be in?


Delivered with a big smile?

A psychedelic smile?

Or a…. what the hell is this look? Who even is this?

Hurry! The world awaits our decision!

Help: I wanna be a pro surfer!

A "Choose your own Adventure" part IV!

Another day, another compelling decision to make! If you are new to this “choose your own adventure” catch up on parts one, two and three here! And without further ado…

Crowds do suck but the waves at 54th have that little end section and you have been working on consistently landing your air reverse. You really want to make the junior varsity surf team this year and feel you’ve got a great shot if you can just sort out the damned thing. You make almost half, which is great compared to most “normal” kids, but you don’t want to be most “normal” kids. You want to be a professional surfer and making the surf team will help, yeah? Brett Simpson surfed for his team and so did… so did… Kanoa Igarashi? Or wait. He was homeschooled. You know there’s another World Surf League pro who helped his school win state and you’re going down the list when your dad cuts in.

“54th huh? Your mom and I almost bought a house right on 54th before you were born but my practice was just getting started and so we bought up on the hill instead. I still kick myself though. We could have had a place for just 2 million. Can you believe it? Crazy!”

You’ve heard this story a few times before and can’t believe it. If you had been born on 54th…like right there…just think. You could have surfed whenever you wanted. Whenever! You would have made Kanoa Igarashi look like a flash in the pan! As soon as you get your Tesla all that will change but damn. Damn!

And your dad cuts in again. “Speaking of your mom…”

a) …You know Samantha? My new nurse? Well… I don’t know how this happened but we’re in love!”

b) …We are going to a couples retreat in Arizona to strengthen our marital bond and will be gone next weekend.”

Choose (A) or (B) in the comments!

Vacant: GQ plumbs the shallow depths!

The men's magazine spends a day with John John Florence!

Do you miss Ross Williams as much as I do? Oh don’t get me wrong, I love the spice that Kaipo brings and want him to stay but I still miss Ross Williams. And I miss him even more after reading a long feature on John John Florence in the newest GQ magazine.

The writer, who is neither surfer nor pretends to be, describes John John’s North Shore world through a non-jaded lens. All the color, all the character. Let’s read his description of Ross real quick!

(John John’s) been surfing the same boards—a sleek, slim model Pyzel calls the Bastard—for the past three years, but today he’s trying out a couple of new Pyzel designs. Trying to find that magic one, as Ross, a sardonic, powerfully built former professional surfer who is presently coaching John John, explains to me.

Sardonic and powerfully built! Can’t you just picture Ross’s military haircut right now? The bulge of muscle beneath tight WSL polo? Come back to us Ross! Come back!

My favorite part of the whole feature, though, was when the writer tried to ask John John an emotionally charged question about his father who ran off, leaving the family behind. Let’s pick it up in the middle!

(John John’s mom Alex) was married to a man named John L. Florence. An unhappy story, though I know this more from his account than hers. In 2014, he self-published a memoir, F.E.A.R., with two explanatory subtitles: Fuck Everything and Run and Face Everything and Recover. Though he does not seem to have recovered at the time of writing. The book is disorganized and determinedly self-lacerating—a strange document of a guy listing all the ways in which he is terrible, and yet not quite believing any of them. He describes himself as an alcoholic, a criminal, and a thrill-seeker—“I am an ‘egomaniac with an insecurity complex,’ ” he writes—and questions whether early head injuries led to his lack of impulse control. In the book he tells of meeting Alex, whom he calls Surfer Girl, and their Bonnie and Clyde-style courtship. I will not repeat the demeaning, unverifiable details here. Suffice it to say the book ends shortly after John John’s birth, with a present-day cry for help: “I sit here with an overwhelming sense of DOOM as I try and figure out how to pay for my DUI attorney. The attorney wants $15,000 dollars that I don’t have. Here, at the end of the first part of my life story, I return to the beginning: I always have been and always will be doom

When I ask John John about his father and namesake, this is what he says: “I spent a bit of time with him for a while before he moved, because he used to live in town. And then he remarried and had another kid. We have a half brother. Super nice. Yeah. Super cool. But they live on the East Coast now.”

Do you guys have a relationship?

“Yeah. It’s good.”

This is maybe not the entire case, but I understand. His options here, in front of a reporter, are not great. Especially once I bring up the memoir.

“I have no idea,” John John says. He’s visibly uncomfortable. “I haven’t even seen it.”

It’s called ‘F.E.A.R.’

“Really? Interesting.”

So you haven’t read it?


It depicts a guy in a tough spot.

“Yeah. He’s in a funny situation. But just, my relationship with him is good and whatnot. But I’ve just kind of grown into myself and focused on my own thing, you know? I’m pretty comfortable and happy with how my life has gone.” I believe him. John John and Alex and their family are far from the first to take shelter from the world here, on the North Shore, and to build something purer in its stead.

And ha! The buzzsaw of surf journalism! A completely shallow answer to an emotionally charged question! I think, in most fields, completely shallow answers to emotionally charged questions just mean the subject is blowing off the journalist. In surf, though, there is a shallowness so amazingly deep that I’m sure John John’s answer about he and his dad being cool was honest.

I have spent the better part of my professional life plumbing the depths of these shallows. There is literally nothing there! Nothing at all! Nothing! Nothing in me. Nothing in you. Nothing in John John. Nothing in his dad. Nothing in any of us.

Let’s surf! And read the rest of John John’s Wavy World here!

WSL: This is what a 9.73 looks like?

Four comfortable turns and a closeout twitch an almost-perfect ride in 2017?

Have you felt the thrill of mob anger? Under the flimsiest of pretexts becoming enraged at who knows what, exclamations of ribald encouragement yelled as you tear down a sign, throw a rock at the damn police or kick someone you’ve never met?

Oh I’m so…so…angry with the WSL.

I got such a tick in my groin when it was announced Filipe had officially interfered with Kanoa Igarashi. Oh I knew it was coming. It strained my nerves so much because I knew those judges in their loud shirts would thrust their thumbs down at Filipe.

But, I think, much worse, was this almost 10-point ride from Owen Wright in round four. When I read that morning’s WSL press release (who can stay up so late to watch live?) I threw back why sheets and opened my laptop to watch the wave.

An almost-perfect ride on those odd, backwash-ridden waves?

What bag of bon-bons did Owen serve?

Four identical backhand swipes, none presenting any difficulty or risk for Owen, and a closeout re-entry on a wave you would only generously call three feet.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, presenting what passes for an almost-perfect ride on the WSL in 2017.

Cue to 4:58.

Caveat: I know, I know, waves are scored heat by heat, scale is set on the first wave etc, put it into context and so forth. But this is nearly a ten?


WSL throws Brazilian down the well!

Filipe Toledo banned! Is the WSL racist?

Both Derek Rielly and Michael Ciaramella have already written beautifully about the wonderful Filipe Toledo being suspended by the World Surf League for being smaller than Zeke Lau and I have nothing really to add but felt left out.

But is Filipe Toledo your favorite professional surfer now? He is mine and by far! Like Bobby Martinez in a more sophisticated, more talented package with better eyes and better everything. What perfection. What absolute perfection. He is the synthesis between Australia’s Gold Coast, Brasil and San Clemente. He is the future of surfing.

Yet the World Surf League felt compelled to kick him out before Fiji because he is not intimidating like Hawaii and this miscarriage of justice must be addressed (for the third time) (and in poorer form).

You’ve read World Surf League head judge Renato Hickel’s statement twice already:

Filipe is a really good kid and an incredible surfer. The WSL is very fortunate to have someone of his caliber on Tour and he is constantly progressing the level of surfing in the live arena. It’s disappointing when we have to pass disciplinary action for any of our surfers, but that behavior is not acceptable for the sport. Filipe knows this and we look forward to seeing his talent back on Tour very soon.

And isn’t this the most mealy-mouthed garbage response of all time? Shall we go sentence by sentence?

“Filipe is a really good kid and an incredible surfer.”

Paternalistic pants on. Belt tightened. Check.

“It’s disappointing when we have to pass disciplinary action for any of our surfers…” 

Ummmmmm nobody gives a shit. Don’t “pass disciplinary action” at all if you are so disappointed with it. Are you worried that Roger Goodell and the National Football League won’t approve? How is that drug testing going by the way? And the Owen Wright Helmet Rule?

“…but that behavior is not acceptable for the sport.”

Sport? Sport? SPORT?

“Filipe knows this…”

Paternalistic pants double checked. Belt double tightened.

“…and we look forward to seeing his talent back on Tour very soon.”

Sons of bitches. Let’s sing the World Surf League’s official theme song in protest!

In my sport there is problem And that problem is the Brazilian. They sometimes storm the judge tower. But they smaller than Hawaiian.

[Chorus 2:] Throw the Brazilian down the well (repeat line) So my sport can be free (repeat line) You must grab him by his De Souza (repeat line) Then we have a big party (repeat line)

[Verse 3:] If you see the Brazilian coming You must be careful of his De Souza. You must grab him by his Red Bull. And I tell you what to do

[Chorus x2]