Yemen: The Great Fraud of Danger!

Interlude: A meandering diatribe on the truth of thrill.

(I am writing a series about Yemen because what is currently happening there is terrible beyond. My inaction disgusts me and so I am going to introduce you to to the country because… the place, people, culture all deserve to be saved. Catch up, if you wish, on the links right here… (Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7)

Stories that include bits and pieces of danger always feel fraudulent to me if the storyteller is still alive and relatively whole. Or at least this storyteller. Real trouble ends in death or dismemberment. Right? Real trouble leaves jagged scars. I have been in situations where I thought, “This is the end. This is it. I am dead.” Where things were going very sideways and very quickly.

But I have never died and the fact that I am sitting, typing, fully limbed (except for my one limb bending a nice glass of vodka) throws the exact nature of the danger into question. Was I really so close to a shallow grave or did my heart soar to hyperbolic conclusions? The only jagged scars I have are on my nose (from when I yelled a mama joke at a group of toughs) and on my chin (from when I did clapping push-ups in Cairo and my hands slipped on the dust). There are no bullet holes. No post-traumatic stress. Just my memory.

That evening we arrived at a hotel in Ataq, Yemen late and dragged our worn out bones to a room. It was standard Yemeni fare with an assortment of twin beds, one hanging bulb and a television with at least two music video channels. We watched for a while then fell asleep.

In the morning, we got up, maybe watched a few more music videos then pushed downstairs for breakfast. The modest lobby was packed with Yemeni soldiers. Dusty, bloody, tired. Some lay asleep on couches. Others lounged against the wall. They looked exhausted and they looked at us. Not menacingly or angry. Just studying. Some seemed vaguely amused. Others disinterested.

We asked a man who looked to be a commander what had happened. He told us in Arabic that a nest of Al-Qaeda operatives had been in the hill, had heard of our presence in the area and were coming to get us. The military had been alerted and met them some seven-kilometers out of town. They had killed them all and had not suffered a casualty.

I had no way of knowing if that was true. The soldiers were clearly spent. No one was in a joking mood. No one was asking us for anything at all. I felt guilty and elated. Guilty because what to us was a grand adventure put other people at risk. Elated because being in Yemen and having a pile of Al-Qaeda trying to ride us down felt like being in a movie. And because we had cheated the reaper.

But were we really close to death? I will never know because all I have is my memory. My damned rusted memory. If only we had been shooting video then we would all know for sure. Then we would all have definitive proof as to the precise levels of danger.


Ah but here is the rub. Video is as great a liar as memory. Three years later found J., N. and I in Lebanon “covering” the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War. It is a long and convoluted tale that doesn’t need fleshing out and especially since we are smack in the middle of another long and convoluted tale but since this is an interlude and since we are talking about the Great Fraud of Danger allow me continue?

We were in Lebanon eating delicious baba ganoush, driving motorscooters because they were lighter than motorcycles and could be carried over bomb craters. J. and I had just driven them to Damascus in order to DHL video tapes back to America and returned to a real Israeli pounding. We decided it was a good time to head into a Hezbollah controlled neighborhoods, almost got hit by a bomb, almost got shot on the way out, crashed, got snagged by the Palestinian Liberation Organization, eventually got handed over to Hezbollah for a long, long interrogation and had the full first part recorded.

It looks like stupid shit.

So what is the point? Danger ain’t danger unless you die and I always feel like a fraud telling these stories.

Want to weep at the sheer beauty of the human will? Watch little movie below!

Watch: Bethany rides Kelly’s wave!

A thing of beauty!

Is Bethany Hamilton the most inspirational surfer to ever live? You’d be hard pressed to find another more inspirational + skilled. She is a revelation and took her wonderful story of redemption, recently, to inland California to ride Kelly Slater’s Wave Ranch.

Let’s watch then discuss!

Are you impressed? Well of course you are. Either impressed or heartless.

But let’s discuss. Who has put on the best show at Kelly’s Wave Ranch so far?

A) Bethany

B) Mick

C) Gerry

D) Kelly

E) One of the technicians

One company to rule them all?

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius!

Derek Rielly’s reporting yesterday on the possible, even probable, sale of Rip Curl was first-rate journalism and what you have come to expect from our Bondi bureau. What you have come to expect out of our America Cardiff-by-the-Sea bureau is cut-rate journalism and I had a cut-rate rumor just days ago that I failed to deliver.

And wonderful, but unconnected, friend told me, “Guess what… Quiksilver is going to buy its two biggest competitors.”

I thought, “No. No they are not….” and continued Google image searching Griffin Guess.

But then Derek’s story sparked my memory and maybe my wonderful, but unconnected, friend was on to something. Oaktree Capital owns Quiksilver. Oaktree Capital owns Billabong’s debt which Billabong is having trouble servicing which could mean a takeover.

If Oaktree Capital were to purchase Rip Curl, and it is rumored that they are in fact a suitor, then “Quiksilver” would indeed be buying its two biggest competitors.

The prescient Brothers Marshall once made QuikBongRip t-shirts.

Who would have ever seen this maybe day coming (except for The Brothers Marshall)?

And who stands to gain the most?

I would think they would all maintain their distinct consumer facing identities but probably share distribution/blah blah/whatever/business stuff. Will you be excited to buy? Excited about the innovation? About the dynastic future?

Oh you should be.

Stoke and Leisure.
Stoke and Leisure. | Photo: @haoleshaka

Apply: “Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure!”

Do you like coconuts? John John? Barrel? Well here is the opportunity of a lifetime!

The World Surf League has created a new position and it has your name all over it. No not your name I guess. You are caustic and wry. You are sarcastic and… wry. So not the real you and definitely not your Disqus Account you but maybe the metaphorical “you.”

The job title is really and truly Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure and since I can’t out-write the WSL I won’t even try. Here, in all its glory, is posting.

The World Surf League is searching for someone who is both extremely stoked and leisurely to join us in Hawaii for six weeks.

If you can appreciate the unreal excitement of top-notch athleticism and the simple elegance of a Hawaiian palm at the same time, if you can laugh, adventure, experience, seek, try, celebrate, taste, and take pictures, then, well, keep reading.

What is stoke?

Stoke is the excitement you’ll feel when you:

See the best surfers in the world getting barrelled on surfing’s most legendary wave

Drive around finding the most un-freaking-believable scenery in all of Hawaii

High-five John John Florence

Surf Hawaii for the first time…or surf anywhere for the first time

Walk out of your current job/parents’ basement knowing you’ll soon be in Hawaii for six weeks

What is leisure?

If you stopped reading two lines ago in search of something chiller and more fun to do…well, come back, cause you’d be perfect.

What is the World Surf League and is this real?

Yeah, it’s real. We put on surfing’s Championship Tour, which takes us to Australia, Brazil, Fiji, South Africa, Tahiti, California, and Europe before it ends with a grand finale in Hawaii. Every “winter” we post up on the North Shore of Oahu, the birthplace of professional surfing, for some amazing events. (PS If the waves get big, like REAL BIG, the Pe’ahi Challenge will run at a wave called Jaws over on Maui when the surf is 20ft+. Google it. And if this goes down while you’re there all we can say is – you lucky dog you.)


“Hot damn! I am so interested in this job I’ve practically already kicked down my boss’ door to quit but like…what do I have to do?” So glad you’ve asked, friend:

You’ll be the the head of a newly created department within the WSL – the department of Stoke and Leisure – to be run out of our Hawaii office, the WSL event sites, and a prime-time Airbnb where you’ll be in charge of two ultra-important initiatives: being excited about whatever is happening and chillin’ the most.


Stoked. You are required to be stoked about life, surfing, palm trees, açai bowls, pro surfers, coral reefs, crystal clear water, not working for The Man, mind-blowing sunsets, the occasional coconut, and more. If none of those things elicit stoke in you, then you need not apply.

Ability to maximize use of all-access pass at highly-attended event. If you enjoy being a fly on a really, really, REALLY cool wall, you’re gonna love this thing.

Skilled at ‘gramming. We are going to load your Like cannon big time, but it is you who must light the fuse. Waterfalls. Parties. Cliff Jumps. Famous people. Hammocks. Lava. FRUITY DRINKS. Jet ski rides to places you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Brace yourself for plenty of comments along the lines of “I hate you,” sent from within the confines of cubicle walls.

Energy. You’re about to do a bunch of stuff. Unbelievable stuff. You’ll want to amaze your friends, family, grandkids, people you’ve just met, and total strangers with one knockout highlight reel of The Whole Thing. Six weeks in three minutes. We’ll hook you up with lots of hi-res footage, music, and a world-class editor-guru, but the main ingredient will be your experiences. So nap on the plane, hit the ground running, and don’t stop ’til December 20.




Unlimited coconuts

And more!

Apply here.

Did Griffin Guess (left) steal his wife's sunless suntan product and use it all up? Photo evidence suggests yes.
Did Griffin Guess (left) steal his wife's sunless suntan product and use it all up? Photo evidence suggests yes.

Breaking: Maverick sale in trouble!

A tawdry soap opera featuring supermodels and sunless tanning!

The champagne has not yet dried in Half Moon Bay but tears may soon replace its glistening shine. Tears or rain. You recall just two weeks ago when the World Surf League scored the deal of a lifetime by purchasing the Titans of Maverick contest for a song from Griffin Guess’s Cartel Management.

The world’s second most famous big wave surf contest is where it has always belonged. In Pete Mel’s ample back pocket. Kelly Slater could have surfed the event. Josh Kerr too. Any and every World Surf Leauger who dared to dream.

Well, today that dream may have died and all thanks to sunless tanning.

Griffin Guess’s Cartel Management, you see, was originally trying to sell the rights to Maverick for at least $1,000,000.00. When nobody bid the WSL swept in with a 1/2 price offer that was accepted. Apparently, though, $500,000.00 is not enough. Let’s turn to the august Monterey Herald.

Segler Holdings ranks as one of Cartel’s largest creditors. Last November, Segler won a $700,000 decision against supermodel Marissa Miller, a Santa Cruz native, for breach of contact for failing to promote a sunless tanning line. Cartel, which is owned and presided over by her husband Griffin Guess of Capitola, served as her agent in the transaction.

Four months after Segler Holdings won its suit, Cartel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In all, it and Titans of Mavericks owe their creditors about $3 million.

The permits are considered one of Cartel’s few valuable assets, as it acknowledged in its own filings to the court last month.

A decision by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Central District is expected by Sept. 13. After that, the sale would still be contingent on the harbor district approving the sale and the transfer of the permit at its Sept. 20 meeting.

Who would have ever thought sunless tanning could lead to such trouble?