Gimme: Surf booties for the streets!

2018 is officially declared The Year of the Surfer!

Oh Merry Christmas everyone and I hope your last few days have been filled with joy, family, friends, laughter and wonderful gifts. What did you give? What did you get? Were you delighted? I received the most perfect cardigan made from finely spun wool and alpaca and won’t take it off until summer. I did not receive the Maison Margiela re-imagined Tabi boot though may go and buy for myself.

And have you seen?

It is, quite basically, a surf bootie for the streets. I was sent an image of the boot by the wonderful Kreepy Kyle and thought to myself, “Yes. This is exactly what I need for 2018 for 2018 shall be the Year of the Surfer.”

Don’t you think it is time for a Year of the Surfer? I’ve spent the last few (2015, 2016, 2017) being quietly jealous of trannies, the gender fluid, even old fashioned lesbians. We live in the era of identity politics, you are well aware, and however people categorize themselves, minutely, defines everything about how/where/why they live. Everyone making a big deal about who they are and what they want. Everyone but surfers.

We are a self-loathing lot, hiding our neckline tans underneath generic blank t-shirts, refusing to wear our surf branded hats, and so while everyone is having fun, marching on Washington D.C. we are stuck at home. Sad and lonely.

But shouldn’t we get in on the game? Shouldn’t “surfing” define every single thing about us this year? Shouldn’t we wear surf booties on the streets?

I think yes.

I am surfer hear me roar!

Or wait… what should our slogan be?

"I don't think I could explain unless we sat for a long time and you kinda understood what it is."

Kelly Slater: “I just had the most profound experience of my life!”

"Otherworldly!" says 11-timer… 

Earlier today, the sinuous trail of surf tourism was exposed in a lovely piece that you can read here. 

Of course, the upside of this sort of velvet colonisation is the fabulous places you can go and visit and surf and yoga and eat delicious non-meaty dinners and maybe even have an audience with God.

One month ago, Kelly Slater was a guest of the Rythmia resort, “the ultimate spiritual vacation located in Costa Rica, in an all-inclusive luxury resort” where “93.26% of our guests report a life-changing miracle during their stay.”

(Have a read of the testimonials on Trip Advisor.)

The resort offers to “awaken you to your highest potential through the Rythmia way program, ayahuasca ceremonies, yoga, metphysics classes, hydrocolonic cleanses, transformational breath work, massage and farm-to-table organic food.”

I got a miracle of information. The challenge and the goal now is to refresh to that knowledge and to use the what I experienced and got to understand from it to change my life and my world. I think it opened up some sort of doorway in my future.”

Shortly after his visit in November,  Kelly appeared on a to-camera testimonial looking beatific and dressed in guru-chic beige. In an almost whisper he says, “I just had the most profound experience of my life. I literally decided to come here twelve hours before I came. It was something that was nagging at me for a few weeks beforehand, that this was something that could potentially change my life. I’ve had a lot of experience in my life. I’ve been all around the world… I’ve lived all around the world…and I’ve got to experience most worldly things. But…”

What miracle did occur?

“I don’t think I could explain unless we sat for a long time and you kinda understood what it is. It’s really bizarre. I would say I got a miracle of information and what you do with that is your own thing. So that’s the challenge and the goal now is to refresh to that knowledge and to use the what I experienced and got to understand from it to change my life and my world. I think it opened up some sort of doorway in my future.”

Watch here!

(And what do you think the miraculous information is? Something like the three secrets of Fatima where, in 1917, three Portuguese school girls were entrusted with apocalyptic secrets delivered in person by the Virgin Mary?)

Or even better?)


Gosh, says here I can buy a dang house in Nicaragua for a hundred k and have a pack of cleaners for ten bucks a day.

Surf tourism “Killing Central America”!

Soaring real estate prices; locals turned into cleaners, drivers, tour guides… 

Did you ever think that one day, surf tourism would be a thing? Many years ago, of course, surfers rejected the whole notion of tourism, where every whim, need, desire is taken care of by troupes of indigenous workers toiling for their western masters.

Hence adventures to the hitherto unknown islands of Bali, Java, Sumatra and so forth, surfers melting into local communities, learning the language, connecting. 

These days, surfers have been built towns in every crummy Third World joint from Indonesia to Mexico. These ghettos, filled with balayaged boys and girls, rely on two crucial factors: cheap labour and cheap land. The four-hundred k that doesn’t buy you even a piece of a studio apartment in New York gets you a palace by the beach in Nicaragua; the thirty bucks an hour you gotta pay for a nanny in Sydney gets you a fleet of industrious hands in Bali.

Good for the tourist; ruinous for the indigenous community. Real estate prices soar. Trades and traditional crafts lost as everyone becomes cleaners, drivers and tour guides.

In an essay on Pacific Standard, the fantastically named Cinnamon Janzer skewers surf tourism. Here’s a good lil excerpt:

“A 2009 study on global mobility found that ‘Sayulita has become transnationalized … by its real estate market, which is now mainly advertised for potential clients in the north. These marketing campaigns have [rendered] property ownership virtually inaccessible to the local population.’ Even in 2009, property prices started to reach into the millions of dollars in Sayulita, where average homes used to cost just a few thousand dollars.

Once tiny fishing villages like Sayulita and San Juan are touched by surf tourism, they begin to transform culturally. Nick Towner, a lecturer at the Auckland Institute of Studies in New Zealand whose doctoral work researched the isolated effects of surf tourism in the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, explains that, ‘after a while, you start to see a shift in the community. They sell their nets and the younger people don’t fish anymore. Now they’re dependent on surf tourism, but that’s seasonal.’

Communities that once relied on their own skills for subsistence are now dependent on tourism, an outside force that naturally waxes and wanes. Towner’s work also found that younger generations begin to adopt both the appearance and behaviors of the tourists they see. He explains that they begin to wear board shorts and sometimes turn to activities like drug dealing to acquire iPhones that they can’t otherwise afford.

Surfers often head to exotic locales on vacation with the intention to relax and escape, often turning to drugs and alcohol in the process, a trend reflected in the popping up debauchery-fueled bar crawls like San Juan del Sur’s Sunday Funday. Local kids, however, don’t understand that the tourists’ vacations are just that—vacations. What younger generations of locals perceive as a lifestyle is really just a two-week break from what is likely a job that involves sitting in front of a computer hours on end and a dull commute to and from an office every day.”

Do you think, as I do, that eventually there’ll be uprisings everywhere and the surf colonialists will have their heads removed and placed on pikes as a warning to anyone else who might think it’s a good idea to stomp into foreign cultures and takeover?

Or will it be biz as usual, money talks etc, forever?

Read the rest here. 


Laird Hamilton: “Sleep is important!”

Surf's most prolific pitchman adds another company to his portfolio!

Laird Hamilton is the nearest thing our surf world has to Santa Claus. The ageless man surfs the earth™ (on a golfboard) while taking food to the extreme™ (with Laird SuperFood) while wearing clothing with a contemporary and multi-functional edge™ (in Laird apparel). And today, near Christmas, he has partnered with another company that promises to maximize your sleep. Let’s hear from him:

Sleep is a foundation to my training because it’s vital for muscle regeneration, mental recovery, and more importantly, long term health,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I’m able to chase the upper limits of my abilities by committing to a balance of exercise, diet and rest. As a brand ambassador for SleepScore Labs, I want to highlight the massive benefits of adequate rest and sleep, and the empowerment SleepScore technology gives me to maximize success.

Do you think Laird really speaks like this? “…the empowerment SleepScore technology gives me to maximize success” etc?

More importantly do you think sleep is important or a waste of time?

I’m of the mind that it is mostly a waste of time. If you want to buy the latest Laird craze though you can click here. The SleepScore technology promises…

Through patented technology from Resmed, the parent company of SleepScore that makes hardware for sleep apnea, SleepScore tracks a user’s sleep patterns with biosensing technology.

Its hardware, which is about the size of a tissue box, can monitor respiration and body movement without touching the user from a few feet away. It can track how long it took them to fall asleep and how much time they spent in each sleep cycle.

Taking into account a person’s surrounding environment by measuring factors such as room temperature, light and noise level, it can provide suggestions on how to improve sleep quality by doing things such as turning down the temperature in the room or using earplugs to cut out excess noise.

That sounds fucking stupid.

Donnie Frankenreiter, Ben Stiller and Andy Irons cameo in the Taj Burrow biopic Fair Bits.

Holiday repeat: 5 Rules for the Golden Age of Surf Writing!

Rule five: hold grudges!

This is the Golden Age of Surf writing. Chas Smith said it here, so it must be true.

But also, objectively, it is true.

At one end of the spectrum, you have the wise old men of the establishment like Nick Carroll and Shaun Doherty laying down smooth grooves. So trustworthy! So objective!
And, at the other end newer hands with different voices. You like a bit of tropical fruit in your daily word salad? Dell Rielly is your man.

Even fruitier, with impeccable Somalian/Yemeni surf cred and a Tom Wolfian penchant to suffer for style? Chas Smith will delight and infuriate with equal elan.

“Wild” Bill Finnegan has got the coolest, most detached New Yorker prose going anywhere outside New York City, even when his gal takes up with a Cuban revolutionary and he discovered Tavarua. Impeccable cool cat! All tastes accounted for!

Surf writing is taking over the world. We are all surf writers now. As we speak university courses are being rolled out in Slovakia, Borneo, Hamburg, Minnesota and many other places including Pakistan. Community colleges in Humboldt County California are struggling to find tutors to keep up with the demand. Everyone wants to luxuriate in the warm international bath of surf writer-hood and why not? Plenty of room for everyone. But please newbie surf writers, let’s try and advance the art form whilst we all enjoy the fruits of the Golden Age.

Here are some simple rules to follow.

Say Something

So simple. So often neglected. Before you sit down to write you have to have something to say, an idea, a premise, a point of view. Facts won’t do. Facts without a narrative are meaningless. This is Kurt Vonneguts first rule of writing in effect: use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time is wasted. The concept of a premise is sometimes easier to understand in the negative. These are examples of non-ideas: a college graduate intern at The Inertia writing a thousand words on a subject of their choice for free, wanting to help your friend by writing an encouraging review of their film/music/writing, re-printing a WSL press release without context, wanting to surf Macaronis with pros and writing about the trip, writing about a pros first day on the CT.
Nothing to say? No problemo hombre. Put the pen down and hit the bricks pal. Go about in the big wide world and do some living.

Tip: Failure is more interesting than success. And easier to access.

Don’t write to a word count

Nothing can rescue a shit premise or non-idea, nothing. So don’t compound the error by padding it and making it even it an even more miserable waste of time for the poor sap reading it. Don’t say in a thousand words what you can say in 500 or 50. If your idea is good, strip it naked and send it into the sunlight to dance. If it needs twelve thousand words then defend that to the death against ignoramus editors.

Don’t be a comment coward

Is there anything lamer than someone who can punch in the co-ordinates but can’t deliver the ordnance in the comments section? Answer: Nein, non, nyet. Surf writer, you ain’t Moses strolling down from Mount Sinai delivering the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. So wipe that smug grin of your face. Everything you say is contestable and maybe completely wrong. The article is just the entrée, foreplay and nothing else.

It’s in the comments where the surf writer has to show up, get down and turn it loose. If you can’t defend your ideas in the comments then they were probably shit to begin with. Like a major, you drive for show, putt for dough. That is to say, the short game, via social, via the comments, is where the shit goes down. The ancient conceit amongst the old print surf writers is that they are smarter than their audience. For the USA, wrong. For Australian readers, maybe. A safer place to start is the assumption that the commenters are smarter than you and you better get ready to hustle. If you can’t make boogie-woogie in the comments then GTFO.

You got your nose bloodied in the comments surf writer? Get over it, you had it coming!

Make the call

Art is long, life is short and success is very far off, said excellent Polish surf writer Joseph Conrad. Except, for the surf writer there is no success. It’s not a career, it’s a calling, an affliction. To rip off Hunter Thompson: a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.

Surf writers are loathed by their fellow surfers, scorned in polite company, destined to always mumble out of the corner of their mouths when asked what they do: “surf writer”. Not real writers. Bush league batters left to die on the diamond. Parasites, low lifes, gutter dwellers according to Miki Dora via Maurice Cole.

What to do then? Make the call. If you saw it, call it as you saw it. As you see it. Don’t lose courage at the critical moment surf writer. All that is required, said Lester Bangs, is to be honest…and…unmerciful. Those people you’re writing about, they ain’t your friends. If you want to write to make them look good then you’re in the wrong neighbourhood. You need the one over there marked PR, with all the fancy homes and good looking girls.

Be like the Godfather of surf writing Freddy Nietzsche, he who “handles his language like a supple blade and feels from his arms down to his toes the perilous delight of the quivering, over sharp steel that wants to bite, hiss, cut.”

The best surf writer is the one having the most fun in hiding from the most people.

Hold a grudge

Weird thing: surfing is mostly nothing but a frivolous pastime undertaken by privileged white people but to write about it it has to feel like the most important thing in the world, with high stakes where nothing else matters. To you. That means you take every slight personally, not thanks very much for the feedback like a college circle jerk, but fuck you very much and everyone that you love. You don’t roll over like a cocker spaniel waiting to get it’s tummy tickled when someone slights you.

No writer worth anything a damn hasn’t held a grudge. Norman Mailer punched Gore Vidal in the head after Vidal wrote a negative review of Mailer’s (shitty) book Prisoner of Sex. Vidals’ response: “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer”.

Who was the better writer? Mailer wrote better novels, Gore was the superior essayist. In the end, after more than twenty years, they called a truce. If criticism doesn’t stab you in the heart and make you want to commit bloody homicide then you ain’t no surf writer. Above all though, if it isn’t fun you ain’t doing it right.

To put the cherry on the cake here is the definitive list of the Top 5 Surf Writers of all time.

1. Derek Hynd
2. Louie Samuels
3. Blasphemy Rottmouth
4. John Millius (for Apocalypse Now script, Big Wednesday, not so much.)
5. Andrew Kidman
OK, Top Ten, to quell dissent
6. Miklos Dora
7. Dave Parmenter (despite the appalling error of judgement over SUPS).
8. Chas Smith
9. Cori Schumacher
10. Michel Houllebecq (for Lanzarote, funniest book about German lesbians on a surf island ever).

(Editor’s note: This story first appeared on BeachGrit in October, 2015. Reprinted here for a couple of reasons. It’s real good, for one, and, second, it’s hot as hell and if I don’t baptise myself, soon, mind will be lost etc.)