Lost: Outtakes from Paradise!

Hidden gems from an American classic!

(Many years ago I wrote a book titled Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell. Today, I stumbled upon clippings that fell by the wayside. Here is one.) 

At sundown I was on the deck, wondering how to capture in words the exact way the Pacific below looks in winter light; the way the gradations of milky blue and green abruptly father darkest sapphire (no, no mention of jewels- that is cheating); give birth to a deep black-blue like… like the deep black-blue of the Pacific at the end of a sunny winter day.

I have never been able to describe what I see every evening from the Turtle Bay Resort and Spa (does it have a spa?) Must make do with plain statements like the vog that signifies a prehistoric burp that eliminates the line between sea snd sky so that they look to be the same element and one has the sense of being at the center of a cold fire.

I attempt this description for the hundredth time in order to give my pen something to do as I try to sort out what has happened to me since Kimo, the bell braddah, appeared at my door with the alarmed look he always has when a haole comes to call and a barbarous name must be announced.

“Ho ba. Some uhhhh guy name Hudson is downstairs an wants talk story.”

Since it is my job to be at home to haoles – particularly in the surf industry – I told Kimo to bring Hudson to my room and straightened my short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt that I was trying out, ironically of course.

After a few moments, and through the beige door, a large slow figure stumbled into view. “Yo, Chas, how sick is this place? So sick. You go downstairs and see all the boys yet? So sick…”

I looked toward the Pacific with tired eyes and thankfully did not hear another word Hudson said as the Filipino grounds crew had begun its traditional midday pruning.

Laird Hamilton and the actor Vincent Gallo surf a 100 foot wave together.
Laird Hamilton and the actor Vincent Gallo surf a 100 foot wave together. | Photo: @lairdhamiltonsurf

Laird on surfing 100 ft wave: “It’s not cool!”

The world's most famous surfer describes a singular experience!

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Chirping birds, blooming flowers, boxes of chocolates and Laird Hamilton’s epic new film Take Every Wave in virtual reality. You, of course, remember when the regular version of the Kennedy directed bio-pic came out five months ago. It was a hit, I assume, and exposed many secrets of the world’s most famous surfer including the fact that he was raised as a minority in a racially tense world.

Now, on Valentine’s Day, you can journey with Laird though this world where insensitive pejoratives meet the thrills of a lifetime and let’s let People magazine pick up the story.

You are not Laird Hamilton. You don’t ride 100 foot waves on a whim. You don’t travel around the world to do so, and you don’t look like a more athletic version of Barbie’s Ken. But you could be.

“Take Every Wave: Laird in VR,” a 360-degree virtual reality experience created in collaboration with the surf legend transports you to Chicama, Peru, where you can ride what many claim is the world’s longest wave on a hydrofoil surfboard that makes it seem like you are not only walking on water, but also flying above it.

“In a way surfing is my art,” the 53-year-old tells PEOPLE at the 2018 Lumiere Awards hosted by Advanced Imaging Society, where he accepted the award for Best Sports VR Experience. But Hamilton’s extraordinary feats aren’t exactly easy to emulate — or watch — so he got creative about how to share them with the wider world.

“We’re normally out at sea somewhere,” he says, “so we are always looking for ways to try and capture it, and bring what we’re experiencing to people. Normally the formats don’t do that. Normally, I can ride a hundred foot wave, and someone takes a picture of it and [people] are like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s cool…’ Its’ not ‘cool.’ It should be an out-of-body experience that is very infrequent in our world.”

To be honest, I didn’t know the mythical 100 foot wave had been ridden yet and feel very bad for not bringing you this news when it happened. It also seems, from context, that it happens a lot, on whims and that all kinds of people take pictures but remain relatively unimpressed.

What assholes.


Catcall: “Bitch, you’ve got no ass!”

The price of surfing a Beater!

Bitch, you’ve got no ass. I heard the call from somewhere behind me. I was wiggling my way out of my wetsuit after a short evening surf. The scene included the usual California shit — swaying palm trees, glowing sunset, surfboards in the parking lot. I missed the green flash. Maybe I blinked.

I was at the kind of generic beach break that repeats predictably up and down the California coast. There’s a parking lot and a lifeguard tower and public bathrooms with an archeological dig’s worth of sand and who knows what else on the floor. There’s a lot of infrastructure, is what I’m saying. Concrete walls and boardwalks, these are somehow necessary to keep the beach where it belongs.

The disembodied voices of the lifeguards announce things with varying degrees of urgency. Tonight it was to ensure we all knew that they were going home for the day, and to be sure not to drown. I felt reasonably confident I could make that promise in the knee-high dribblers bitch-slapping the sand.

I once thought it would be pretty great to be a lifeguard when I grew up. Drive around in the red trucks. Zip along on jetskis. Squint at the sun and the tides. Know exactly where to place the flag that demarcates the swim zone from the wild, free waters for surfing. These all seemed like important jobs to eight-year-old me as I rode my boogie board in my favorite red bathing suit.

I didn’t grow up to be a lifeguard but there I was back at that same childhood beach. I slid along a tiny right on the edge of the swim zone, thumbing my nose at the authorities I’d once looked up to. I was on a softop, so I wasn’t breaking the rules. At least that was my argument. It’s just a little baby softop, what harm could it possibly do?

The Beater was supposed to be my boy of summer. When I got it, I wasn’t even sure I could ride it. Is this thing even surfable? Oh, but it is. It’s ridiculous and fun. I rode it in head-high, sloppy surf when the freeway was closed last month. It spins and slides and makes me laugh, which is a very good thing when the world isn’t as funny as it should be.

My goofball softop boyfriend was perfect for the evening’s dribblers and I giggled and slipped right on down the line. Before threading through the parking lot, I stood for a moment on the wall to watch the sunset. It’s a ritual I can never skip.

There were a variety of boards lounging around, including the usual allotment of Wavestorms. A pair of beautifully gloss-coated single fins looked like they’d just stepped out of a time machine from 1978. There was even a couple of shortboards. I applauded their optimism as I strolled by, softop swinging under my arm.

The car rolled up behind me as I shimmied out of my suit. Bass lines bumped and laughter spilled out the car windows. A solid crew crammed into a black compact, out for a cruise and looking for a party, as much a California ritual as sunsets and the rest of it. Bitch, you’ve got no ass. She hung out the window, all bright sass and spark, calling me out.

I laughed as I turned and caught her eye. She stared back at me. She looked a little embarrassed that I’d heard her, but also defiant. You know I’m right, she seemed to be saying.

And then she was gone. The laughter echoing on the evening breeze was the only trace that she’d been there at all. Oh girl, I hope you have fun out there tonight, I thought.

And it’s true, you know. I really do have no ass.

A filmic representation of JP mistreating his bookmaker.

Scam: I got rich betting on surf!

Bookies lecturing me about “good faith”. Get fucked.

I am a gambler.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I’ve come to accept as inherent in my nature. I can’t always control it, but I can live with it.

It’s my affliction. I take things and run with them until I smash gnashing teeth first into concrete. My fiance thinks I might be on the autistic spectrum, which is probably just her euphemistic self-soothing when I act like a cunt.

I’ve gambled on most things you can imagine, and some you probably can’t. I’ll take it any way I can get it. Live, face-to-sweaty-face in time-abstinent casinos. Furtively, through back doors of peeling painted side streets and shady poker rooms. Or whittling away hours in the self-loathing, perspiring glow of a laptop screen.

I’ve largely been a functioning addict. But, shamefully, the fact that I’m still standing is owing to the better financial decisions of my family. Most significantly, a brother who at the height of my addiction was making enough cash as the skipper of a fishing trawler that bailing out his desperate, degenerate older brother became as regular a routine as hauling up the nets. I’m forever in his debt.

In this context it might be a hard sell to convince you that I’m actually good at gambling, but it’s true. Spend long enough consumed by anything and you’ll be an expert. 10,000 hour rule? Smashed it years ago.

Yet I am not rich. Self-control, patience, knowing my limits…none of these attributes have ever been in my locker. Like I said, teeth to concrete.

But sometimes it works out. And once, for an extended period of time, it worked out that I could make a lot of money from betting on surfing. Once upon a time the online bookies were like green lines of code I manipulated as if I were Neo, flexing The Matrix to my will.

Until a couple of years ago, bets on surfing were unheard of here in the U.K. I’m still a bit surprised that it’s sustainable. But they appeared one day as I trawled for obscure markets, buried deep in “Other Sports”.

Odds on professional surfing were fresh like the first crocus in springtime, ready to heal the hurt of a long winter of soft grounds, cup upsets and bad beats. This is a market I can conquer, I thought. I mean, what the actual fuck do British bookies know about professional surfing?

How right I was.

Bookies like tip off times, and finish lines, and goals. You know, objective things of black and white certainty. To my knowledge they didn’t like scoring which drifted between arbitrary and waffling in accordance with weather or whim. And I was absolutely certain they didn’t understand the tidal intricacies of SW France.

As suspected, the bookmakers didn’t have a clue. There were minor errors (Gabriel Medina 25/1 to win in France anyone?), and there were major errors. On several occasions they presented me with completed heats that I was still able to bet on.

Suddenly I was Sonic the Hedgehog spinning wildly through showers of golden coins.

In a way it was a gamblers dream. In a way it wasn’t. There was something a little empty about it. Real gamblers savour the masochism of losing, because without the lows how do you know the highs?

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it immensely. I sat at home with my laptop and spotted errors. I placed relatively minor bets so as not to arouse suspicion. I told no-one, aside from the brother to whom I was indebted. (He went too hard and too fast with large stakes that were flagged and cancelled but would have netted him enough to retire on if they’d slipped through).

The first time I noticed a major error was after I had sat up all night watching Round two from Tahiti in 2013, I think. The year Ace Buchan won. I refreshed the gambling site in disbelief that they were still offering odds for heats which had finished. In the morning I placed a £100 multiple of guaranteed winners which scooped me around five thousand pounds or seven thousand American dollars.

Most of the time I was betting on outcomes I already knew.

The first time I noticed a major error was after I had sat up all night watching Round two from Tahiti in 2013, I think. The year Ace Buchan won. I refreshed the gambling site in disbelief that they were still offering odds for heats which had finished. In the morning I placed a £100 multiple of guaranteed winners which scooped me around five thousand pounds or seven thousand American dollars.

It took a while for them to process the bet. I was sure it wouldn’t pay out. Bookies were pretty much infallible, I thought. When the money hit my account I was outside the pub having a smoke on the day of my Grandad’s funeral. I withdrew it straight away and tried to mourn and mingle for the rest of that afternoon without grinning.

After that I scoured every market of every event. If they could make an error that massive then surely they would make others? And they did.

I sat at my work desk and watched Slater drop a ten in the opening seconds of his round five heat at the 2014 Rio Pro against Adriano, noticing that the start time was scheduled 15 mins too late. A minor error, but all too easy to take the money. This sort of thing happened regularly.

I watched heats run early in France when the bookies had scheduled start times much later. The European leg was always a gift. You just can’t pin accurate start times to sandbanks and tides. I basked in Kieren Perrow’s morning calls. I could almost taste the boulangeries and the pine trees and the sex. It was bliss.

It lasted for three seasons before the oddsmakers got their shit together. The last mistakes I remember were in the 2015/16 season. I don’t know how much I made overall. I can’t tell you because my accounts were all frozen. Some of them remain in negative figures where the bookies cancelled bets I’d already withdrawn. I’ll never pay it back.

I placed my bets carefully, conscious of not leaving it too long lest the errors be spotted, which sometimes happened. I tried not to go too daft. A few doubles, a scatter of trebles, a four-fold here and there. The errors slipped on by. I wondered if I was the only punter in Britain betting on surfing every single time I cashed out.

It lasted for three seasons before the oddsmakers got their shit together. The last mistakes I remember were in the 2015/16 season. I don’t know how much I made overall. I can’t tell you because my accounts were all frozen. Some of them remain in negative figures where the bookies cancelled bets I’d already withdrawn. I’ll never pay it back.

I took a couple of calls at the time from earnest representatives of bookmakers who said things like “There’s been a mistake, Mr Currie…we believe your bets were placed in error…betting should be done in good faith…obviously we cannot reclaim winnings paid out in error but…”

Bookies lecturing me about “good faith”. Get fucked.

I owe them nothing but I’m persona non-grata with nearly all of them these days. Partly because of my activity in the surfing markets, partly because of some other loopholes I discovered. I do have a couple of sneaker accounts, but it’s been dialled back significantly.

They’ve done me a favour, really. It was fun while it lasted. I’m pretty sure it’s the most money I’ll ever make from surfing.

(Editor’s note: this story segues well into the sidebar ad that links to PalmerBet, an Australian surf gambling site. Did you know Zeke Lau is paying 100-1 at Snapper? Joel Parkinson 17-1?)

Warning: Zombie cats terrorize Hawaii!

First meth and now this!

The zombie craze was such a dang thing two-ish years ago, wasn’t it though. From television shows like The Walking Dead to books like Guide to The Zombie Survival Guide to the dead-in-the-not-so-distant-future-of-some-flesh-eating-disease chic that made its way down Parisian runways zombies were totally everywhere.

Of course I don’t believe in zombies in real life but the wonderful Hawaiian islands are beginning to challenge my prejudices. The chain, as you know, has many methamphetamine enthusiasts and while not officially “zombies” they sure do act the part. And now Hawaii is home to cats carrying some brain eating protozoan (called “toxo”) that essentially zombifies them. Let us read a snippet from Outside magazine:

There was something else about toxo that made it especially creepy, in a Walking Dead kind of way. For starters, the perpetrating protozoa, T. gondii, can sexually reproduce only in the gut of a felid, a member of the cat family. An infected felid excretes the protozoa in the form of microscopic oocysts, and a single felid can poop out hundreds of millions of oocysts, although only one is needed to infect another animal. If a rat then consumes an oocyst, the protozoa can take over the rat’s brain and make it lose all fear of cats. Studies report toxo-infected rats cavorting in cat urine. Cats consume such rats easily, enabling T. gondii to replicate again.

While not having fear and cavorting in cat urine may seem like a wonderful vacation it is very dangerous I think. In short, the disease spreads to all sorts of seals, pigs, dogs, birds etc. mostly from these wild zombie cats. A bill was introduced in the state legislature to outlaw the feeding of feral cats, thus culling the population but cat people got all crazy and killed it in committee and now there is a war between cat people and non-cat people and the zombie cats are going nuts everywhere.

Very strange times and do the zombie cats make you re-think your next Hawaiian vacation? If the World Surf League does not, in fact, secure a permit for the 2019 season do you imagine the zombie cats could pull off the Pipeline Masters? Who would they invite to participate?