Miracle: Technology saves the youth!

Introducing Little Ripper!

Are you an accidental luddite like me? Oh how technology gets me all hot under the collar. Almost Ashton Goggans level hot under the collar. It drives me crazy when my phone/computer don’t intuit exactly what I need and respond instantly. I know it is silly. I know it is all my fault, my non-binary brain stuck in a bourbon bog, but I still blame the tech and internally threaten to burn Silicon Valley to the ground.

But did you know that technology does good things? Even technology that is essentially annoying like drones?

It’s true! And should we turn our eyes to the New York Post?

The world’s first water rescue-by-drone happened Thursday in Australia, when a machine saved the lives of two teenage boys caught in dangerous surf off the eastern coast of the continent, reports said.

The new drone — called the Little Ripper — dropped an inflatable rescue pod to the boys, allowing them to make it to shore three times faster than a normal rescue, the BBC reported.

“It took only 70 seconds from when the Little Ripper drone was launched to when it dropped the pod into the ocean for the rescue, a task that would usually take a lifeguard up to six minutes to complete,” Ben Franklin, Parliamentary Secretary for Northern New South Wales, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Little Ripper… I don’t know that I’ve ever read a better name for anything.

And let us go back to the Great Jaws Debate of ’18. Remember that Albee Layer pointed out the dangers of water safety when all the skis have photographers and are trying to get clips instead of rescuing drowning surfers?

Well wouldn’t the Little Ripper instantaneously solve this problem?


Hello nineties!

Fashion: Puka shells are back!

And Teva-like sandals!

You are, no doubt, a student of surf culture and all its various intricacies. You know the ebbs and the flows. That sometimes quads are very in and sometimes thrusters are very in and every once in a while twinnies are kind of in. But did you know the ebbs and flows apply to surf fashion as well? Did you know that late-1990s surf trends like puka shell necklaces and canvas sandals, which washed out to sea more than a decade ago, are back in?

It’s true!

The famed French fashion house Louis Vuitton is pouring its resources into a surf-themed  roadshow and let’s read a little from Condé Nast.

For Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection, menswear artistic director Kim Jones looked to the beach for inspiration, putting together a tropical surf- and skate-culture-inspired line of gauzy floral print shirts, denim bucket hats, pukka shell necklaces, and Teva-esque sandals. What better way to celebrate the launch, then, than to pack it all into a VW van—the ultimate symbol  of a life spent chasing the next set of waves—and hit the road?

The retro-style van, complete with a floral paint job and an array of custom bumper stickers, will be popping up in front of Louis Vuitton locations in the Miami Design District from January 10th-22nd, on Los Angeles’s Rodeo Drive from January 26th-February 5th, and at the Ala Moana shopping complex in Honolulu from February 15th-22nd. In addition to a selection of runway favorites, the van is stocked with technicolor Hawaiian shirts, special editions of the brand’s signature monogram totes half-dipped in cobalt blue, and surfboards emblazoned with an all-over interlocking palm tree print—all of it exclusive to the van.

Is the VW van really the ultimate symbol of a life spent chasing the next set of waves? I always thought pterygiums were to be honest but no matter and why are you still reading? Why aren’t you out in your garage digging through old clothing boxes and getting cool again?

Jaws: The Ethics of Board Transfers!

Could a skimboard decapitate a man? What about a Wavestorm?

The Jaws Sessions, as they have come to be called, are reaching legendary status in our surf world. January 13th and 14th saw some of the biggest ever surf at Maui’s iconic spot and the lineup was filmed with all manner of surfer, towed surfer, photographer, ski driver, etc. Albee Layer weighed wrote about the madness and thrill on his Instagram account.

The water safety thing is ridiculous. The fact photographers are willing to give more money for a photo than surfers for their safety is ridiculous. We need to find a way to put surfers in contact with water safety and maybe a gofundme site or something so they can’t be bought out by photographers. There are a lot of great water safety teams here, but after years of saving random people for no reason it makes sense they would rather hang in the channel making $600 cruising around with a photog. Lets work together to fix this because it puts everyone in danger including those of us who hire water safety. With a wall of skis trying to get the shot waking up the inside and getting in the way.

It sure does sound very chaotic with many moving parts, people things and you can watch this fine compilation from Surfer magazine, paying special attention to the 2:40 mark.

And was that a transfer to skimboard? It most certainly was.

Firstly, I must say, whoever did is a very brave man.

Secondly, with board transfers being all the rage I am curious as to the etiquette. You’ll notice his Wavestorm goes flying out the back which is, I assume, the best possible scenario but what if it accidentally catches the wave too? Is that bad form sending a foam missile through the crowd? Are you supposed to have a dedicated Wavestorm clean-up man who fetches it or are they single use? Have you ever been hit in the face with a Wavestorm? Did it hurt or did it feel like a pillow fight?

Also, you’ll notice the brave man becomes dislodged and his little disc skitters away. Could a skimboard take a man’s head off?

I’ll get to the bottom of these questions soon. In the meantime, off to Davos.

Surf media: The art of losing cool!

To hell with the high road!

It has been almost one week since Stab’s new editor Ashton Goggans and I met in pastoral San Clemente, California. There, you may recall, I completely lost my cool and flew over the reclaimed wood coffee table betwixt us and tried to silence the portly man by use of strangulation. Though I haven’t carved out the time to listen yet (you can here!) I imagine it sounds choked and ugly. Still, even after almost one week of reflection, the only thing I would change is that I would have gone over the table sooner and more often until that smug, smarmy bastard either fled or fought.

I don’t like Ashton Goggans one little bit. His behavior during his brief stint in surf media has been marked by two-faced artificiality and self-serving stabs in the dark. To simply play the game, as it were, of smiling and nodding while being subtly underhanded and demeaning bores me to no end. I have purposed to say what I feel even if what I feel is wrong.

Now, many if not most of the reviews of the podcast have been unkind, focusing on how Ashton utilized my button pushing tactics and how I was too thin-skinned to put up with the abuse. The classic he-can-dish-it-but-can’t-take-it argument. All fine and good except when have I ever been a proponent of taking it? I nudge, poke, cajole and grenade throw from this tiny little soapbox precisely to get a reaction. Some heartfelt scream that can be employed, at the very least, in the cause of entertainment and at the very most in making surf media great again. Real opinions, real beliefs as opposed to snide, cool silence.

Keeping one’s cool, I think, is most important when dealing with children or the mentally/physically compromised but has replaced genuine communication, and real fun, in our surf world. To hell with measured responses, I say. To hell with neatly worded yet empty digs.

To hell with the high road.

And no, this speech is not cribbed from the great Martin Luther King Jr. though I understand your confusion.

The Australian Harry Bryant, who flew to Los Angeles to join What Youth on their reader-funded road trip.

What Youth: “Advertorials make our skin crawl!”

Newport surf media house holds cup out to readers to fund surf movie!

Seven years ago or thereabouts, the creative muscle behind Surfing magazine flew the coop and started What Youth, a print mag and online portal.

The high-volume and heavily advertising-reliant Surfing never recovered from the desertion and, one year ago, was officially spiked. 

Chalk one up for the brave independent, yes?

Maybe no.

Recently, What Youth, who get their money from making well-crafted, sponsor-funded online shorts, creating a gorgeous office in Newport and providing salaries for half a dozen people and so forth, held its cup out to the readers. 

“We need your help. We’re embarking on the first surf trip for our new film. And that means we need some money,” the magazine’s editor and co-founder Travis Ferré wrote on Kickstarter. Wetsuits, signed photographs and a surfboard were offered to benefactors.

With thirty four hours to go, $US5,500 had been pledged.

All that, the public cry for cash, for five gees?

Is What Youth, a cultural arbiter unlike any other in surf, whose movies turned Chippa Wilson, Nate Tyler, Creed McTaggart, Mitch Coleborn and Noa Deane into stars, on its knees financially?

“This is honestly less about tough times, and more about wanting to create good times,” says Travis, who is thirty five years old but presents as someone more like twenty nine. “Crowd funding has always been in the back of my mind as an interesting experiment… I’ve also always thought our audience as a whole was more participatory. And I love the idea of them being involved in producing something with us. Something our style. Not just a reader poll or something. Like, literally help us get somewhere.”

If you were to point a camera at Travis, right now, you’d find him piloting a fifteen-seater Ford Econoline with two seats taken out to fit in surfboards and cameras. The Australians Harry Bryant and Mitch Coleborn are in the van, along with the Newport surfer Colin Moran. They are somewhere on Interstate 5, between Los Angeles and Santa Cruz.

“Just passed a slaughterhouse,” says Travis.

BeachGrit: Tell me everything about the movie, who, where, how long, why? 

Travis: At this stage, this trip is that first backfire as you warm the car up for a long journey. We’ll see how this goes, log some clips, set a mood and the rest will take shape after that. All goes well, What Youth will have a full-length movie that will come out before then end of the year. The response to this has been overwhelmingly positive though, so I like the opportunities it sets up. This was dialed in over a margarita the other night and by the next day we went for it. So we’ll go nail this, hunt ramps and see what happens next.

Is it a hipper version of Drive-Thru California? 

No, we’ll make something from this trip (maybe something of a prequel) that may have that vibe I suppose, but we’re chasing a bigger project and this will just be the first of many excursions this year. Call this the pilot.

I see two sorts of surf media biz models, those who’ll do any sort of advertorial for money no matter how demeaning (to advertiser and website) and others, like you, and Warshaw too, who don’t do anything by halves. What’s your ethos re: advertorial? Would you, for instance, knock out a few hundred words and a thirty-second half-assed short for five gees? Would you generate a little fake news, say, ten best whatevers, at five hundred a shot? Or does that make your skin crawl?

Your examples above do make my skin crawl a bit, but I’ve found ways that you can actually change “advertorial” to a far less offensive word. More like a collaboration. Or partnership. We’re more set in our ways of working to create valuable franchises like “Fairly Normal”, “Afternoon Interviews”, What Youth short films, and some new freesurfing based projects like What Youth Parts that I think it will be a way to collaborate and elevate surfers and their personalities alongside brands who support them and us… It’s a long play, but we’re in this for the long haul, not the quick buck, and hopefully we’ve established that by now. We have a long history now of declined credit cards and well-executed projects. So we’ll make it work one way or another.

You can’t manufacture something like the act of surfing. Surfing is about so much more than riding on a wave. And that sounds dumb and cheesy, but it really is. I think we try to show that mysterious magical part at What Youth — that strange universe that surfing introduces us to that’s important.

Do you still make a print mag? If yes, is it long for this world? Do you lose money with every issue? 

Yeah, we still make a print mag. We actually gave the last one away for free and it was gone in two hours. We don’t get rich off making an expensive coffee table style magazine, and no, the magazine is not exactly the future of media, but it’s also the instigator of a lot of rad things we do. We love celebrating them when they come out, it’s also a tangible thing that drives the whole operation. I call it a wash financially, but it definitely creates value for us, even if it’s not monetary.

We still make a print mag. We don’t get rich off making an expensive coffee table style magazine, and no, the magazine is not exactly the future of media, but it’s also the instigator of a lot of rad things we do. It’s a wash financially.

You refused an invite to the Surf Ranch! Tell me why! And did it hurt, even just a little? 

There is no doubt in my mind riding that wave is “fun.” And there is no doubt that there could be some insanely fun and rad things we could (and hell, hopefully we will) do at that venue — both on the wave and as an event space — but for me it still represents the bottling up of something that should not and cannot be bottled up. You can’t manufacture something like the act of surfing. Surfing is about so much more than riding on a wave. And that sounds dumb and cheesy, but it really is. I think we try to show that mysterious magical part at What Youth — that strange universe that surfing introduces us to that’s important. The people, places and weird things I’ll never be able to explain quite right are what it’s about. And being okay with that is okay too.

Is it fun to have principles?

Absolutely not.