Have you ever thought about quitting? If so, was it a bad heat, a bad board or an aggregation of shitty events? | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Quiz: Would you ever give up surfing?

What would it take?

Three days ago, I asked the horrifying question, Will You Be An Intermediate Surfer Forever? Being…okay… at something you love more than anything is a barren and mediocre terrain, a bleak horizon to ponder.

And yet we persist with surfing despite never getting better until we hit oldish age and start going backwards.

But what happens when you think, fuck this, and you quit surfing?

Throughout my life I’ve marvelled at people, some who’d once been very good surfers, giving up surfing in entirety.

Boards gone. Beach vacations swapped for examinations of the cultural history of eastern European cities; weekends spent decamped at cafes and art galleries, or parked in front of the television “binge watching” docu-soaps. Hair yellow to brown. Body type triangle to pear.

Have you ever thought about quitting?

I thought about it once when I persisted with a surfboard shaper, who despite universally adoring press, delivered custom surfboard after custom surfboard that made me turn pale every time I went surfing. Oh they were treacherous! I didn’t just want to quit surfing, I wanted to quit life.

I didn’t, of course. I’m happy enough as is, a naive optimist.

But those who do drop the microphone, so to speak?

Do you think it’s a sudden event: a bad surf, a bad heat?

Or is it the aggregation of a thousand things: the bile of an argument, a surfboard that refuses to work, a wide stance that won’t narrow, a long spell of uninspiring waves, a surf trip that goes to the dogs, a wife or husband that stares daggers when you go for a surf and leave ‘em with the screeching kid?

And what would it take for you to give the game away, for good?

Tareq Kamleh
From surfer to boiling soldier of Allah!

Careers: Surfer turns soldier of Allah!

What bad career choices have you made?

Recently, I had a surprise argument with a good friend over the sensitivity, or not, of celebrating Christmas. The friend, who was planning the December window display of his store, remarked, in such an off-hand manner that it chilled me to the bone, that he was having difficulty finding a “Happy Holidays” sign in Sydney.

Christmas, he said, causes terrible offence to our non-Christian brothers and sisters and therefore all references to the birth of Jesus must be evaporated.

I pitched camp on the side that once you remove all vestiges of the host culture a vacuum is created, which is henceforth filled, by another that doesn’t cringe at its own traditions.

We back and forthed, both making up facts and including anecdotes that didn’t happen, until I stormed off (briefly).

I ain’t one for believing in omnipotent gods, but Christmas, in my experience, is a rewarding time of the year, even if television programming suffers. To cast it aside is the first step in the crumbling of what is, mostly, a kind and just society, and least in comparison to many others around the world.

But young men know only lions get respect. If I was twenty, I might’ve heard the call to become a hero of the caliphate too.

Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me when I hear of young men taking up, with romantic zeal, the cudgel for ISIS, that dynamic offshoot of Al-Qaeda.

Let’s catalogue the  benefits of an ISIS membership: you get to shoot machine guns with real bullets at real people. You’re encouraged to take multiple wives. You may take a battery of sex slaves, by force if necessary, if you’re the sort whose cock could drill holes in concrete. Every thought, meanwhile, is taken care of via an ultra-orthodox interpretation of the Koran.

Two years ago, the Australian doctor Tareq Kamleh, who trades under the Jihad name Abu Youssef al-Australi, whistled into Syria to join ISIS.

“It was a decision I was very, very happy I made,” he said at the time. Tareq also said any muslim who didn’t take up arms had “no self-respect.”

Yesterday, it was reported that the former surfer’s diary had been found by a former currency trader, who uses the pseudonym Macer Gifford, and who’d fought for the Kurds against ISIS.

As reported by Fairfax newspapers,

“(Kamleh) had an ‘obsession with vitamin pills’ and had many bottles for various purposes. Mr Gifford concluded the doctor was ‘an American Psycho-type man’, referring to the preening, charismatic but psychopathic book and film character.

“Former colleagues and acquaintances of Dr Kamleh’s have previously described him as charming but manipulative and sexually predatory.

“There was a meticulousness, an obsession with his health … He had a workout schedule of how many press-ups he was going to do. Just a neat, intelligent but slightly psychopathic character is what came across in his possessions.”

‘I don’t think he was a particularly happy character … He didn’t seem to be getting on with people there very much,’ Mr Gifford said.

Odd, but not surprising, story, yes?

Mystical worship and deep, fathomless submission only gets you so far.

Reality bites.

Now: what bad career choices have you made?

Let me start. I once spent two hundred thousand dollars on a water taxi business.

When that sank, not literally, but close when a ferry belted into the side, I poured fifty into an online surfing website.


Pandora’s Box: Is river surfing surfing?

Our brave new world scares me!

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch has really thrown my whole world off kilter. I think about it every day, pondering its broader meaning, wondering how it will change our future, examining each new clip to see if each new invited star surfs it better/differently than the stars that preceded him or her. Like, did you see Shane Dorian’s latest? I think his is the best yet but do  you think this is peak pool performance right here? PPP?

Also is river surfing now surfing? It all used to be so easy to define. Surfing was done in the ocean. Everything else was funny and maybe fun but not surfing.

But now we have surfing 100 miles from the beach and does this mean it’s all surfing? One big weird tent featuring this:

And this:

And even this:

Please tell me no. But also please tell me how I can continue to exclude everyone. Give me the secret to opening Pandora’s Box and shoving Zach Weisberg (pictured) back in.

Protest: The culture wars come to surf!

Our way of life is under attack!

Today, fellow surfers, our culture is coming under attack. Our values that have been passed down from generation to generation to us. Our code and our way of life. The lamestream media has criticized our “localism” for years, branding us ruffians and thugs for simply reminding the valley to go home. For smashing cameras, throwing rocks, waxing windshields and yelling loudly but we know that if we don’t make interlopers feel unwelcome then the surf will become dangerously crowded.

We, each of us, are quiet heroes.

But a new brand seeks to challenge our history. Let’s read about “Localish.”

Localish was born out of a desire to foster a sense of belonging in the wonderful, but sometimes-territorial, surf community. Co-founders Jenn Biestman and Greg Coffin believe everyone should feel a sense of belonging wherever they are, whether you’re a native, part-time resident, or visitor passing by. Inspired by this philosophy, Localish Apparel is made with original designs created somewhere between Hawaii and California.

“Surf culture can sometimes come with territorial attitudes. We believe the ‘locals only’ notion is not only prohibitive and unwelcoming, it’s outdated,” said Jenn Biestman. “This attitude certainly isn’t limited to the surfing community, which drove us to create Localish, a brand that is for everyone.”

“To be ‘local’ is truly a state of mind, rather than a point of origin,” added co-founder Greg Coffin. “This is why we are thrilled to bring the Localish philosophy and products to the public. It’s time to change the way we think about what being a ‘local’ means.”

Hell. What are we going to do about this? How are we going to remind everyone they don’t belong?

Should we start a brand?

What should we call it?

Let’s get inspired!

Malia Manuel at Candyland!

How to: Build your own Surf Ranch!

All secrets revealed!

Once, when I was a little boy, I came to southern California to visit my cousins and it was my birthday. My uncle took me to a surf shop, mystical in my young Oregonian eyes, and said, “Pick whatever you want.” I picked a Surfer magazine (because it must have been assumed that surfboards, wetsuits, etc. were not included in his generous offer). And now I sometimes write for Surfer magazine under The Weekly Grit! moniker.

The latest?

Would you permit me to be honest with you for just one moment? A little real talk? I am neither a scientist nor mathematically inclined. If doctors were allowed to study my brain they would discover synapses coated with bourbon firing vague memories borrowed from Sex and the City episodes (Chas Smith playing the role of Carrie Bradshaw, of course). If they peered deeper, they would stumble upon an above average Mark-Occhilupo-singing-karaoke impression. Nowhere would they find “science” or “math.”

And then guess what? I totally reveal the entire patent to Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

Read here!

After that I basically describe the mechanics of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch because a magical being sent me the ENTIRE patent for the thing. And also come over to my house and help me dig the Wave Corral. The commenters at Surfer think I’ve helped lead to the demise of that proud title and tell me my brain is full of used condoms so I don’t think they’re coming.

My uncle would be most upset.