Do you love skin cancer? Surf fights? Bogan accents? Schoolies? Well then Snapper would be your number one but it is my number three because I only like all those things. All of Coolangatta is worth the price of admission ($23.90) but Snapper is the crown jewel because it is fun to watch the tourists fall on the rocks and it is fun to catch a wave and end up in Papua New Guinea. | Photo: Andrew Shield

Definitive: Australia’s best beaches!

And what is the price of perfection?

Australia is the land of beaches and you’ve always wondered which was the best haven’t you. Oh I’m not talking waves here either, I’m talking beaches. Strips of sand fronted by the ocean and backed by surf life saving clubs. Beaches. And finally there is a definitive list from a trusted source. PEN nominated writer Chas Smith. And let’s get right to the meat.

Bondi: Bondi, from its northern stink stack to its southern Iceberg swimming pool, Bondi is the best beach in all of Australia and maybe the best beach in the entire world. Where else can you surf, kick a tourist practicing Capoeira, practice yoga, eat a cold gelato and quietly ogle the sexiest men and women on earth from behind tortoise shell Tommy Ford sunglasses? Bondi!

Mackenzies (Tamarama): I could, likely, continue south from Bondi listing each and every nuggety little cove all the way down to south Coogee because they are each magnificent. The way the small ancient cliffs bend, the way the trees and brush grow, the way the sand glistens and the way bodyboarders end their small lives on glistening stone slabs… it is like Lord Byron himself dreamed it all up. Mackenzies is the prototypical of these just a walk and a world away from Bondi.

Bells: I grew up on the brutal Oregon coast. People said it was beautiful but all I saw was oppression, mint Skoal and waves that neither felt nor broke like they did in Southern California. Still. I pretended they did and would surf every day and this made me a tough weird nut. I think Bells Beach is basically the same thing. I think tough weird Victorians look up to Sydney while shrugging and convincing themselves cold fog is good medicine. Maybe they are right.

Snapper: Do you love skin cancer? Surf fights? Bogan accents? Schoolies? Well then Snapper would be your number one but it is my number three because I only like all those things. All of Coolangatta is worth the price of admission ($23.90) but Snapper is the crown jewel because it is fun to watch the tourists fall on the rocks and it is fun to catch a wave and end up in Papua New Guinea.

Gas Bay: Western Australia is magnificent and I defy you to find someone who says otherwise. It has mining, kangaroos, wine and Gas Bay. This little gem of a beach lives just south of Margaret River and you won’t be sad here because a famous surfer’s father told me that the magnetic qualities of the rocks make his son surf very well. I’d imagine he is right and that you could become a famous surfer too or at least squire one. And what could be happier than that?

Ballina: Sometimes a beautiful pastoral scene, quiet pubs, white sand and blue waves are not enough. Sometimes almost certain death is required in order to get the heart pumping and Ballina couldn’t be better because there is a one in three chance you will get eaten by a shark if you wade in past your kneecaps. Ballina falls on the great road between the Gold Coast and Sydney and this is worth driving but best in an automatic in case you lose a leg.

Forster: They say Forster has the bluest water in all of the world or at least in all of Australia and I can attest to this. It is very blue and the waves are also fun and the sand is the perfect temperature but if you can pull yourself away from all the beauty you should get a meat pie from a mini mart in town. Very delicious.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island: I think this is considered the most beautiful of Australian beaches by most boring tour operators who don’t think getting eaten by a shark constitutes a thrill and while I’d like to leave it off the list it must be here. Because it really might be one of the most beautiful. It is worth sailing there, if possible, because the water sparkles and the winds gift the best hair you’ll ever have had.

Byron Bay (pre-2005): Time machines are certainly coming soon and the day they do you should cut to the front of the queue and punch Byron Bay 2005 into the computer before someone tries to visit Marie Antoinette or Michael Hutchence. In case the Michael Hutchence visitor beats you, though, hop in and then hang around for 10 years then go to Byron Bay because it might have been the best beach town ever, even better than Bondi, before the gypsies moved in.

Noosa: There’s something about a palm lined, white sand, warm watered, small waved beach, at the very end, that is just perfect. Noosa has everything just as it should and normal beachgoers will enjoy their time and some might think, “Let’s move to Noosa!” and they will but their children will develop low-grade drug habits and not amount to much. The price of perfection.

The two lovers, Kolohe and Maddie, conjoined as husband and wife, as partners in love, money, property, business and so on. "If you get a good wife, you'll become happy," wrote Socrates. "If you get a bad one you'll become a philosopher."

Divine: Kolohe Andino just got married!

Proof that virility isn't just measured at the root of the belly… 

Earlier today, the number seven rated surfer in the world, Kolohe Andino, and his adorable GF Madison Brooke-Aldrich were married at The Casino, a pre-war Spanish mission-style joint just on West Avendia Pico there in San Clemente.

Kolohe, who is two months short of his twenty-third birthday, chose Jeremy Carter as his best man, an important role incorporating all sorts of logistics, and Luke Davis, Nat Young, Tanner Rozunko, Ian Crane and Griffin Colapinto as groomsmen, a significant title and recognition of friendship, yes, but whose role is merely to act as ushers to the wedding’s guests.

Maddie’s account of Kolohe’s Christmas Day proposal, is divine and is proof, I think, that virility isn’t just measured at the root of the belly where the phallus rises with a perfectly beveled rim of unusual weight and the friendliest red.

Let’s read.

We met 7 years ago, I was working at Guichos Eatery where I first met Kolohe. We were only 18 and 16, wow have we grown!!

Kolohe proposed early Christmas morning, it was our first Christmas together in our new home. I told Kolohe that my favorite part about Christmas is the stockings, and that my mom always wrapped ALL of my stocking stuffers, he though this was ridiculous. However he was up into that late hours of the night wrapping all my stocking stuffers. Kolohe woke up at 5 am ready to start his day! He drug me out of bed and we made our way downstairs. He began setting up his phone so it could self film us, when I asked him what he was doing he told me he wanted to document our first Christmas in our new home together, little did I know he wanted to film the proposal. We began to alternate turns opening up our stockings, it was my turn and I was down to my last stuffer. I opened the gift and it was a ring! As I looked up Kolohe was on one knee asking me to marry him, I couldn’t believe it and kept asking him if he was kidding! After the realization that this was really happening, I said yes. It was a Christmas we will always remember and cherish!

We have two puppies, who we call our children, their names are Levi & Dually. We also have a slight addiction to the Dodgers and are their number one fans.

We have been through so much together and are beyond excited to make marriage the next step in our story! We can’t wait to celebrate with all of you, get ready for the BEST DAY EVER!

Guests wedding photos here.



Day 3: Stab still silent!

"We've got some guys on the inside looking into anything interesting."

It has been three long days since Quiksilver and Billabong merged into one company and Westchester’s Stab magazine is still silent. Not one jot. Not one tittle. The boys even posted a story this morning titled The Surf Biz Is Nothing If Not Interesting* without a mention of the Quik x Bong marriage. Oh it is surely insidious. The website’s editor, Ashton Goggans, stepped briefly from behind the partition to comment here by posting an ancient speculative thing in defense.

It was as if Sean Spicer himself had risen from the dead.

And I let him know that everyone had reported the months ago rumors of a possible merger but that ain’t the same thing as reporting that it had just happened (be still my beating heart).

To which Ashton replied:

Honestly, read the interview. Put it at the back of the line. We’ve got some guys on the inside looking into anything interesting, you know, instead of just regurgitating the same press release. We’ll get to it. I’d love to know what insidious corporate plot you might imagine we’re tied up in. Go full Pynchon on me. You can lay it out for me and Scales next week.

Sam and I went and surfed up north yesterday. Morgs is on his way to Hawaii. What did you do with your lovely Friday, Charlie**?

The interview? What interview? It was a business story and littered everywhere. CNN Business, MSNBC Business, The Wall Street Journal, etc. And he put it on the “back burner” because some “guys on the inside” are “looking into anything interesting” instead of “regurgitating a press release?” And egregiously non sequitur mentions of surfing and Hawaii?

This whole thing stinks.

And I’m glad he mentioned that we are set to meet, both in person and on air, next week. I had the odds at 1 in 200 that he’d agree because, in truth, it will be the end of Stab. An absolute bloodbath.

See you in the octagon*** Ashton Goggans! You had better start looking for another job now.

*This is totally the pot calling the kettle black but I really can’t stand that Stab capitalizes be-verbs, articles and prepositions in titles. Such a pain.

**I used to know that people were passively-aggressively displeased with me when they called me “Chuck.” It has changed recently and now when they are passively-aggressively displeased with me they call me “Charlie.”

***By “octagon” I mean Surfrider’s offices in front of a microphone.

So poor they cannot even afford trunks.
So poor they cannot even afford trunks.

Tragic: Surf clubs turn to panhandling!

Australia's historic institutions become common rail station beggars!

If you have ever been to Australia then you are at least semi-familiar with the country’s surf lifesaving clubs. I am ill-suited to provide much detail, having never been a member, but I believe they are non-profit, non-governmental associations that provide water safety services, fun classes for kids and flamboyant red + yellow hats. Am I surmising correctly? Is this what they do?

Over the year I spent in Australia I looked on with envy at these surf lifesaving clubs mostly because they each seemed to have the most wonderful clubhouses sitting right on the beach. I imagined inside there was a chummy vibe, cold beer in the summer, room temperature scotch in the winter and fun songs sang in unison. Today, though, the Sydney Morning Herald popped my balloon.

In the featured story it was revealed that surf lifesaving clubs struggle for money, have difficulty maintaining facilities and send members to train stations in order to panhandle like Indians. But there is a man who has a plan to pull the clubs into profitability and let’s read together.

Surf life saving clubs could be turned into small hotels under a proposal to raise more money for lifesaving operations. Barry Tilley would also equip surf clubs with liquor licences to operate bars beyond the limited circumstances in which they currently serve alcohol. A property developer and businessman, Mr Tilley’s preferred model is a pensione, or small hotel, offering “a couple of meals of the day like they do in Italy”.

Mr Tilley said accommodation and dining facilities would help pay for the maintenance of facilities and provision of water safety and training instead of relying on donations.

“There’s nothing more demeaning than seeing surf club members begging around railway stations,” he said. “It would create a new industry in so far as people learning lifesaving around the world,” he added. “Australia is the leader when it comes to lifesaving.”

Fantastic, right? I would love to stay in one, sharing the chummy vibes without really “belonging” but apparently things are not so simple. Turning the clubs into hotels and bars is prohibited by Australian law.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Lands, Forestry and Racing, Paul Toole, said: “Crown land utilised by surf life saving clubs is generally reserved for public recreation purposes and the establishment of bars and accommodation on such Crown land would not be in keeping with the reserve purpose.”

Well son of a bitch. And wouldn’t you think now is a good time to rebel against the crown? I would come fight for you, dear Australia. I would come fight for your nippers and your cold beer and your room temperature scotch. Let’s do this thing.

Stab admits: “We’re corporate shills!”

The website's deafening silence on the most important surf story of the week!

Did you know that the two largest surf companies in the world, Quiksilver and Billabong, are merging into one? It’s true and… oh just kidding. Of course you know. It’s all we’ve been talking about for almost two whole days. Some of you are unimpressed. Manuka wrote under Derek Rielly’s previous posting, “I get the “these brands have shaped our sport” message, but for sure very little purchasing power from “Us, the BG” goes to Quik or Bong. The question is, why do you cover it to such a detail? Why the excitement? Am I missing something?”

To which I respond, “Yes!” These two brands have dictated what has happened in the surf industry for a quarter century and their merger speaks to its future.  For my money this is the most interesting story of 2018, mostly because it is big/unprecedented (imagine in Ford and Chevy combined… or Boeing and Airbus) but also because 2018 is only 5 days old and the rest of the “news” has been typical post-holiday bland.

But you would never know that our world has shifted on its axis if your only surf industry portal was Hawthorne, California’s own Stab magazine. That’s right. The website, never shy about jumping into a day old story with both feet while pretending it is the first to report, has been entirely silent on the matter. Since the news broke last evening Stab has released:

Keanu Asing Will Not Be Silenced

“Comments of the Week” edition 115

John John Wants To Get “Better” At Surfing

Snowy, Windy, Pumping And Oh So Cold! Maine, Yesterday

Watch: Oliver Kurtz’s Triple OBX Tunnel This Morning

Jake Patterson: “I Wish John Had A Bit Of Andy In Him”

And nothing but nothing on the merger. A clipped silence.

And why?

I don’t quite know.

Stab is, of course, partially responsible for Billabong’s prodigious fall and an utter corporate shill. The website has proudly produced, supported and pushed unfortunate Billabong collaborations for years under the name “content.” Like the latest ten-part series, Can You Believe The World’s Biggest, Most Popular, Rock Star (Iggy Pop Of Course) Wears Billabong Trunks? I would imagine there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Stab’s Hawthorne office that not one of its purchased Facebook “likers” actually went out and bought any product.

Also, the website is also currently selling a co-branded trunk with Quiksilver that I must admit looks very sharp though I’m curious why Stab is using a flare gun in its advertising.

But do you really think that both Billabong and Quiksilver’s parent company Oaktree Capital tells Stab’s ownership, “Hey. Keep quiet on this story or else we’ll merger you right in the face.” Like, really? Or is there something else at play?

Maybe there is a silver lining. Maybe when Quiksilver x Billabong do pop-up shops at Costcos Stab can drive “traffic” like it once did for the mighty SurfStitch.

Oh let’s hope!