Claim: Surf star’s dad swindles Billabong!

Moralist takedown of Jack Robinson's daddy.

Stab magazine featured a very odd story today titled Go Home Pops, You’re Drunk. It was a savage description of Jack Robinson’s dad, Trevor, getting drunk in a Tahitian bar and behaving poorly. The writer, Jake Howard, went over Mr. Robinson’s various offenses, twisting the knife this way and that, summing it up:

The scene was heartbreaking. Jack’s a great kid. He’s clearly got the talent to be one of the best surfers in the world. When I first met him some years ago, he was bright-eyed and eager to learn and see the world. It was so clear he possessed everything he needed to go far in his surf life. Now that he’s on the verge of stepping into the big leagues, he deserves better than his old man swindling free beers on his sponsor’s dime.

And then writing about how he wished he’d said something about Andy Irons’s issues when Andy was still alive.

Very odd indeed and I don’t know that I’ve ever read anything quite like this. A real gut punch to an extremely periphery figure who hadn’t actually done anything other than getting drunk and bragging about driving drunk. Not too cool, to be sure but worth a story about the evils of drink and stage parenting?

I suppose it is a demand for action but what action is supposed to be taken? Is Billabong supposed to hammer…Jack for… his dad’s behavior in order to… get him into rehab? Or… hammer Trevor directly by… firing his son? Or… what?

Maybe it’s not a demand for action just a snapshot of life on tour… of parents.

In any case, this is BeachGrit and we’re nothing if we’re not anti-depressive! So here’s a happy Trevor Robinson annecdote!

The man once told me a long but funny story, standing at North Point, about how the magnetic properties of Western Australia’s rocks gave Jack surfing super powers. I found it to be one of the most wonderfully eclectic things I had ever heard in all surfdom and wonder if there is any truth in it and if I should move to Western Australia.

Later that day I got drunk on many Carlton Draughts.

Carlton Draught is the best beer in Australia.

Surfer Editor-in-Chief Todd Marinovich thinking up happy stories.
Surfer Editor-in-Chief Todd Marinovich thinking up happy stories.

Surfer mag: I call total bullshit!

Surfer magazine Editor-in-Chief spins a wild yarn!

For all of surf media’s many many many many many many many mandy (sorry) many many many many failures, I think one of its grand strengths is accurate descriptions of what happens in the water. Surf stories are not like fishing stories. Wave heights are either described accurately or slightly under-reported. Outside the WSL booth, surf action is detailed in generally subdued terms. The weather, crowd, people in the lineup, etc. specified exactly. Or as exact as can be.

Enter Surfer’s Editor and Chief Todd Marinovich.

In the latest magazine, dubbed The Community Issue, Todd opens with this tale:

The midweek crowd at Ala Moana Bowls on the south shore of Oahu was light despite the dreamy shoulder-high left-handers consistently peeling along the reef. But even with plenty of waves to go around, the small local crew fell into an exclusive rotation, taking turns picking off the best set waves while outsiders were mostly left with scraps.

I couldn’t have cared less about being relegated to second-tier waves; after all, as a visiting San Diegan, what was my alternative? The locals likely surfed that break every day, had intimate knowledge of every piece of coral on the reef and therefore had earned the right to the best sets, so sayeth surfing’s unwritten code of wave worthiness. But not everyone in the lineup shared my perspective.

A slightly overweight, sunscreen-caked, rashguard-wearing tourist seemed a bit perturbed by the pecking order. He seethed as one of the locals — a tall, tan fellow with rippling muscles and traditional Polynesian tattoos on his face — paddled right past us and back to the peak after
getting a long, almond-shaped barrel through to the inside.

“Unbelievable,” the tourist said, shaking his head as he started edging deeper. On the very next set wave, the same tattooed local stood up, tickling the lip as a green cylinder formed around him. The tourist had had enough; he scratched into the shoulder and locked into a stink-bug crouch while a series of expletives echoed from the tube behind him. In that moment, I hoped the tourist was thoroughly enjoying the ride, because it seemed that his day would only go downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, a sense of shared culture and community was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind in the lineup that day at Ala Moana as the local paddled full speed toward the tourist who had burned him.

“BRA, WHAT THE F–K YOU DOING?!” he shouted mere inches from the tourist’s face.

“Well,” the tourist started, chin up with a misplaced sense of confidence, “I noticed that you kept taking all of the good waves for yourself, and I’d like to have some good waves too, you know.”

There was a pregnant pause as the local looked the tourist over, trying to discern if he had any idea of the numerous bylaws he’d broken and the potential consequences. Suddenly, the local craned his head back and let out the kind of cackling, coming-apart-at-the seams laugh typically reserved for the single funniest thing you’ve ever heard. The tourist stared at him, awestruck as the local turned and started paddling back to the peak, struggling to catch his breath.

Perhaps that facially tattooed local had figured out something that eludes many surfers: Sure, the surf community may be inherently conflicted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a sense of humor about it.

And that right there is some egregious bullshit. There is absolutely no way in the world this actually happened.

Zero way.

But how do you think Mr. Todd Marinovich came to it? Did he:

a) Get high and think it really happened.

b) Watch 50 First Dates too many times.

c) Accidentally listen to A Prairie Home Companion before writing.

d) Accidentally listen to What the World Needs Now is Love (the Glee version) while writing.

e) Get his twelve-year-old emo sister to write it.

f) All of the above.

Has Todd every actually been to Hawaii?

However you get your kicks, right?

Faux/Real: Novelty Waves!

Waves for kooks looking for cool backgrounds for their next Instagram chop-hop? Or no?

Tell me.

In your considered opinion, are novelty wave exciting and intrepid and adventurous?

Are they cool?

Or are they the epitome of millennial douchbaggery?

If I were a Gen X contrarian, I’d be inclined to write novelty waves off as the domain of self-absorbed kooks who sacrifice size, length of ride, and the ability to manoeuvre just to get a cool background for their next Insta chop-hop.

But guess what?

I’m a millennial!

I love chop hops and quirky backdrops, and I reckon we get plenty of ‘manoeuvre’ training from all those daily surfs we get, while novelty wave haters sit in office cubicles pondering whether they still have the dexterity (and the immune system) to successfully navigate a wave like this.

Also, snaking seven year olds in Newquay harbour made me realise that no matter how shitty a wave, nor how many times you bog a rail, if you do it near something hard and full of barnacles, it’s kind of fun.




And if the threat of bacterial infection and stitches don’t get your juices flowing, novelty waves often provide an audience of non-surfers who ohh and ahh at every botched cutback and flailing highline.

Good for ego? Yes!

Bottom line.

Are novelty waves faux by definition?

Or does their inherent thrill make up for their inconsistency, tendency to be polluted, meagre size and so forth?

I'm certain that Adrian Grenier's message about not using straws is environmentally important but I still find Vinnie Chase impossible to forgive.
I'm certain that Adrian Grenier's message about not using straws is environmentally important but I still find Vinnie Chase impossible to forgive.

Finally: The Inertia comes clean!

Founder Zach Weisberg admits, "I have sucked my entire life!"

In what has been long rumored, Steve Bannon today resigned/was fired from his position as President Donald J. Trump’s chief strategist. The Failing New York Times reports:

Earlier on Friday, the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. But a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted that the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week. But the move was delayed after the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

The loss of Mr. Bannon, the right-wing nationalist who helped propel some of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises into policy reality, raises the potential for the president to face criticism from the conservative news media base that supported him over the past year.

In other more explosive news Zach Weisberg, founder and chief strategist of Venice-adjacent log rolling blog The Inertia, admitted today what has whispered for years though never explicitly admitted.

I didn’t read the story, but remember watching HBO’s Entourage for the first time and seeing Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, and thinking, “Ugh.”

Adrian G. might be a fantastic guy but Vinnie was unbelievable as a fictional Hollywood star, though entirely believable as a world-class douche. He sucked and sucked badly. I hate watched almost every episode of Entourage after that, plumbing the depths of my own masochism.

Much in the same way that I regularly visit The Inertia. And it makes complete sense that Zach Weisberg would hitch his suck cart to Adrian Grenier. Both horribly malign otherwise purely superficial pursuits (surfing/acting).

What a day! What a red letter day!

P.S. Stop using straws!

This picture was taken on the island of Soqotra, off Yemen's southern coast. It was a untamed place where the wind howled offshore each side, each day. I have no idea how that happens. This fisherman was proud that we had come to his village. I think I found that Che sticker somewhere deep in Yemen's interior. The same place we stumbled upon a Yemeni who spoke fluent Spanish because he had studied in Cuba. Southern Yemen was communist affiliated in the 1960s. The trip was partially "sponsored" by Op. Spy gave us sunglasses. They were all given away.
This picture was taken on the island of Soqotra, off Yemen's southern coast. It was a untamed place where the wind howled offshore each side, each day. I have no idea how that happens. This fisherman was proud that we had come to his village. I think I found that Che sticker somewhere deep in Yemen's interior. The same place we stumbled upon a Yemeni who spoke fluent Spanish because he had studied in Cuba. Southern Yemen was communist affiliated in the 1960s. The trip was partially "sponsored" by Op. Spy gave us sunglasses. They were all given away.

Yemen: Love in the time of Cholera!

What is the best way to counter a human tragedy?

One of my proudest life achievements is being included in Matt Warshaw’s epic Encyclopedia of Surfing (subscribe here already). The world’s greatest and only surf historian describes me thusly:

Bright, hyper-ironic surf journalist, author, and bon vivant from Coos Bay, Oregon; frequent contributor to Stab magazine, contributing editor at Surfing magazine, and co-founder of Beach Grit, a surfing website.

And while I’m only “bright” when juxtaposed with Stab’s utterly retarded staff and while, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I don’t contribute to them quite so much anymore and while Surfing magazine is totally dead in the grave, I did co-found BeachGrit and I am hyper-ironic. So hyper-ironic, in fact, that I can rarely discern what I actually believe about any given topic.

It’s anti-depressive!

But son of a bitch this last week has kicked me in the gut. Between a massive American shift toward identity politics and Presidential incompetence and terrorist attacks in Spain and ignorant babbling on the right and panicked screeching on the left, it all feels like a mess.

The thing that gets me most, though, isn’t happening in North America or Europe and it isn’t on the front page of any American newspaper and nobody is ignorantly babbling or panically screeching about it.

It’s happening in Yemen where Saudi Arabia, for no even halfway good reason and with the United States’ support, has bombed the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in the entire world. And today it was revealed that the Saudis are targeting children with their bombs.

And it crushes me. I’ve been to Yemen six or so times in my life. It was where I got my start as a “surf journalist” writing the worst thing ever for Australia’s Surfing Life. It was there I first shot an AK-47. There I first shook hands with a man affiliated with Al-Qaeda. There I first saw a tree bleed. That initial trip was from Sana’a, the capital, down to Aden and then along the entire coast, for three months, all the way to Oman.

Subsequent trips involved riding motorcycles from edge to edge, driving a Land Rover from edge to edge and sailing along its Red Sea coast.

It was always wild, magical, brilliant. Untethered. Yemen is not blessed/cursed with oil like its Arabian peninsula neighbors and has a rough, independent people so was mostly left alone over the last few centuries. My three friends and I were the first white men ever seen in some of those far off towns. At the time I thought it was a fun footnote. Today I think I am one of the few westerners on earth who know what Yemen really is. Like, really really is, and I have a responsibility to say something about its destruction.

But what?

What works? I have no idea how to cut through the clutter, how to get anyone’s attention. I suppose I’ve reached a desperation point and no longer care what works. I’m going to start doing what I know. I’m going to start posting stories about those trips. About the waves, the people, the architecture, food, customs, religious practices, color, spark, life. I am going to spend the next six months painting a non-ironic picture of the country I love most right here.