Water slapping, locker smashing! Oowee, little waves and big passion!
I am standing again on the dirt in the sun facing Lower Trestles. A man of the people. A surf populist.
Yesterday, in case you missed, I was given a revelation. A truth as profound as the Buddha’s. Oh I didn’t need a Bodhi tree nor a cave in the desert. All I needed was the god forsaken media tent that was positioned on top of spent nuclear fuel 3.5 miles south of the actual Hurley Pro event site. For it was there that a whisper entered my heart saying, “Forget the small comforts. Forget the elites. Forget the free Michelob Ultra and chicken caesar salad wraps and shade from tents. Get thee amongst the people. Be one with them.”
And I heeded the whisper’s call.
How invigorating it felt to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, your faded Brazilian flag lapping at my shoulder, your eager shouts when Italo flies into the oncoming section.
I was so invigorated that I woke up, made a peanut butter* and jelly sandwich, cut it in half and put it in two brown paper bags. One for Hurley’s Evan Slater and one for me.
Working man’s food. The bread of the people.
And here I am again, the dirt silently coating my Louis Vuitton drivers. The sun so hot that I must flip the collar on my Dior button up lest I get a red neck.
And I’m sorry. You, at home, working hard jobs for near minimum wage also want to hear about the surf action. Oh it is my pleasure to describe.
Heat 4 (Kerr vs. O’Leary)
Very little makes me happier than Josh Kerr heat victories. He is such a wonderful man, kind, fun, a good father and an amazing surfer. He has invented surf moves (the club sandwich) all by himself. He doesn’t win often but he did today and against an Irishmen, who are having a rough couple months in competitive surfing/boxing.
Heat 5 (Jadson vs. Kolohe)
Kolohe dropped anchor, as they say, and didn’t catch many waves. Jadson won and normally I would have been cheering this outcome. Jadson drives a car of the people. An old, beat RAV-4 with the word “limited” on one front fender and it being damaged to “limit” on the other front fender. He is us. But I love Kolohe and Kolohe became us in the locker room afterward by beating his locker senseless. The World Surf League cameraman was too chicken to stay fixed on the shot, or so I am told, and Joe Turpel was too chicken to dip in for a quick interview but Kolohe… be proud! This rage will serve you well in Europe. Bottle it and smash it into those continental faces like America of old did.
Heat 6 (Pupo vs. Michel)
Heat 7 (Joan vs. Nat)
Heat 8 (Buchan vs. Stu)
This heat thrilled and mostly because Ace surfed on his backhand and Stu slapped the water with anger in his veins. Not Kolohe-style anger but an off-kilter Australian version. He was so angry at the judges. So mad. He surfed, from my perspective in the dirt, better than Ace but that’s mostly because I don’t like goofy feets. I like regular. Regular blue collar men. And I should like Stu Kennedy. Right Longtom? I should? But I can’t get over the “Kennedy.” All I smell is Hyannis Port. “Kennedy.” The elite of the elite. Right Longtom?
Heat 9 (Dantas vs. Leo)
Leo lost and Wiggolly won in large part because of his paddling style. He got to waves quicker. Uglier but quicker. And sometimes Wiggolly’s Paddling Style is all you need.
Heat 10 (Kanoa vs. Caio)
Young Igarashi did not surf well but he won and, for my three hard-earned dollar bills, the fact that he is still in the event should scare the rest of the field. He knows small waves. He knows how to hop and jive. If the fates smile he could walk away with a victory and leave the John Johns and the Jordys in a world of “trouble.”
Heat 11 (Italo vs. Jack)
The beach announcer was talking about how much Jack Freestone and Mick Fanning were hanging out and giving each other tips during the heat. Mick was seated in the VIP athlete area and his jaw was set strong and his face was seeming to redden. He did not seem to be enjoying the scrutiny. Or maybe it was just my imagination. Maybe just the way it looked from the water’s edge.
Heat 12 (Zeke vs. Ian G.)
I turn around and look up at the 1%. At those VIPs and VVIPs in the athlete guest and WSL and athlete area. Covered by parasols. Drinking Michelob Ultra. Separate and separated.
“Look…” I hear one of the wonderful people standing beside me say, also looking up at the privileged. “…there’s Crooked Jessi.”
I wipe the sweat from my eyes and see the WSL’s commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer so high up in her gilded tower that she’s almost in the clouds.
“Lock her up! Lock her up!”
The chant begins rumbling through the crowd. I don’t know what she should be locked up for and try to intercede on her behalf. “People…” I say “…Jessi Miley-Cyrus is a beautiful soul. She is kind and gentle, smart and fun, and she surfs very well.”
But the people are not in a listening mood. I hear something about the gall of dropping “e” from “Jessie.” Something about coastal elites and their love of hyphenated last names but am certain that if Jessi Miley-Dyer just came down from the exclusive places and graced us with her presence whatever misstep would be forgiven.
The people may not be in a listening mood but they are gentle of spirit.
* There was actually no peanut butter in the house this morning so my sandwich was made from $20 live almond butter.