Australia story "slithers under low bar of recycled cliches!"
The greatest thing ever written pertaining to surfing is to be found in the opening paragraph of a novel called the Rider about (ironically) bike riding by the Dutch writer Tim Krabbè.
Reproduced for your pleasure it reads,
“Meyrueis, Lozère, June 26, 1977. Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of my car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from side-walk cafès. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.”
Roll that phrase around in your mind for a second or two. The emptiness of those lives shocks me. If you haven’t felt something like that, nameless until now, strolling back into real life among the legions of the unjazzed with a song in your heart and a sled under wing after riding waves then you ain’t a surfer.
Second best thing ever wrote was by BeachGrit principal and author Chas Smith while covering the Quik Pro on the Gold Coast for Stab. I paraphrase but he described the atmosphere upon arrival on the Gold Coast as stinking of skin cancer and teenage pregnancy. Brutal, visceral truth.
Among the worst, slithering under a very low bar made mostly of recycled cliches melted down, also belongs to Chas. Due to an upbringing as a regional deadshit I think in Australian phrases and after reading Chas exposition on Australian culture and mindset the one that came to mind was: Hmmm, this smells like mouldy dickcheese.
This smells worse than mouldy dickcheese.
In the piece, which you can read here, Chas spent a year in Australia and fled because we hated winners, chopped down dickheads, sorry tall poppies and lacked the full flavour of essential human elements like vanity, judging our neighbours, coveting our neighbour’s wife and envy.
In short, silly shallow convicts who could not build a decent building, write a pome and were doomed to be the poor white trash of Asia.
Well Chas Smith, let me tell you that is a very bad read. A very, very bad read on us, except for the poor white trash of Asia bit. We are definitely that.
But no striving? No entrepreneurial spirit?
We are responsible for: twin fins, hippies, the shortboard, thrusters, legropes, bucket bongs, the retro movement, Indonesia, finless surfing, sideboob, feminism, gender fluidity, androgynous free surfers, beard oil, hipsters, surf travel, leashless log riding, pro surfing, online surf retail, vertical integration, surf media liquidity events, renewable energy, taxpayer subsidised surfing contests, celebrity trash and the internet etc etc etc.
We invented the surf industry! The very self same surf industry whose grave you dance on with such bonhomie.
We have invented so much that has made the world great. The surf world could not function, would not exist without Australian dreams and Australian dreamers. Off the top of my head, and there are many others I’m sure, we are responsible for: twin fins, hippies, the shortboard, thrusters, legropes, bucket bongs, the retro movement, Indonesia, finless surfing, sideboob, feminism, gender fluidity, androgynous free surfers, beard oil, hipsters, surf travel, leashless log riding, pro surfing, online surf retail, vertical integration, surf media liquidity events, renewable energy, taxpayer subsidised surfing contests, celebrity trash and the internet etc etc etc.
I can only think America has given craft beers, excessive and irrational localism, adult learners, Tom Curren, Dane Reynolds, Scientology and legalised marijuana as gifts to the world of surf. There may be others but they pale into insignificance compared to the Australian contribution.
We have writers and thinkers. Les Murray, a fellow subhuman redneck, is the greatest living poet and a tremendous fan of pro surfing. Henry Lawson a peer of Chekhov or Sherwood Anderson in the short story. Patrick White rested a Nobel Prize for literature on his mantelpiece before pushing up daisies. He was the equal of Faulkner in every way.
Are we not vain? If you cut us do we not bleed?
In Australia the bald man is so reviled and suffers such a lack of sexual congress that even a national living treasure like our very own Nick Carroll has been publicly rumoured to be considering auctioning off his quiver of collectible surfboards to afford a custom toupee.
Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew OAM, 1978 World Surfing Champion and ten-year president of the ASP owns a rags-to-riches backstory that would make Horatio Alger blush. He also counts among his possessions a combover so luxuriant it is only shaded by the 45th POTUS, Donald J. Trump.
On the wall above the CEO of the government-funded High Performance Centre just south of the Gold Coast is a plaque with the words: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a bald man to join the CT” inscribed in gold brocade.
We have not and never will allow a bald man to become a pro surfer in the antipodes. It would be an affront to our national sense of decency.
There are no strivers, no social climbers, no-one as status obsessed to equal the Australian urban middle class. Which is to say, ninety percent of the country. Mick Fanning is the son of a single mum who battled to raise a brood of boys. Joel Parkinson, the son of an honest bricklayer. Dean Morrison slept rough as a kid because his dad found it tough to keep a roof over his family’s head. By the time they were twenty-one all three lived in McMansions with garages stuffed with V8 utes, jetskies and other rich boy toys. No one does nouveau-riche better than an Australian from the wrong side of the tracks who comes into money.
No accoutrement aids overseas travel like an Australian accent, a good one with smooth vowels, like RonDog Blakey, not some squeaky mess like Glen Hall or Occhilupo. No nation travels like the Australian nation. The Australian accent adds 20 IQ points to a person’s intellectual endowment and plays well both sides of the Pacific, as well as the Eurasian landmass. The Hawaiian nasal twang makes a man sound both whiny and ultra-aggressive, the Californian drawl suggests a mild cognitive impediment. The Kiwi accent is worse.
The Hawaiian nasal twang makes a man sound both whiny and ultra-aggressive, the Californian drawl suggests a mild cognitive impediment. The Kiwi accent is worse.
We don’t back winners? We backed surf! West Wyalong sits on the edge of a desolate plain west of the Great Divide in NSW. It’s harsh, hard scrabble country that breeds tough men and tougher women. One afternoon, I parked a HG panelvan with a nine-foot Brewer on the roof outside the Royal Hotel and drank in the public bar with a man named Tom. He had a bit of blackfella in him he said, bit of Afghan, bit of Irish. Wiry and tough as a slab of ironbark. You could stick him in a hole and string barbed wire across him and he’d still be there in fifty years. Impervious. His Irish father flogged him so hard as a kid he was left to die. By the time he was fourteen he’d driven cattle 1400 km’s across the middle of the country on a droving run.
As the sun dipped down into the treeless plain Tom, looking out at the surfboard atop the roof, spent a schooner of beer explaining why Cheyne Horan coulda, shoulda won a title or two if he only “got off those fucken single fins” and rode a thruster. That’s a measure of surf, of how far surf has permeated into the core of the Australian consciousness, like no other nation on earth save Hawaii.
I was shocked upon listening to Rory Parker’s podcast with Nick Carroll to hear that Rory has never been to Australia. You can’t write surf, understand surf without study and understanding of Australia.
Chas, how could someone so righteous get it so wrong?
Time to go clear?