Video: Examine the “pop-up” of the worlds’ most famous surfers!

See Kolohe Andino's "chicken wing" and John John Florence's "Aussie sprinter" pop-ups in slow motion…

Four weeks ago I wrote an unkind, but true, story listing five more ingredients of the filthy kook.

You know the sort of thing: measuring waves in metres, calling marshmallow soft mid-face direction changes “wraps”, riding a log without a leash and, pointedly, examining in serious detail as if it were the formula to curing inoperable cancer of the pancreas, your “pop-up.”

It surprised me, although it shouldn’t given the rise of the mega-kook adult, but it has become its own field within the study of surfing performance.

Let’s list again a recent Google search.

If that gallops your heart, examine this.

At the Founders Cup at Surf Ranch two months ago, a man called Brent Rose from the sports blog Deadspin filmed the “pop-up” of Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Stephanie Gilmore, Matt Wilkinson, Kolohe Andino and a few more.

“Here we have the GOAT, the 11-time world champion… see that he’s kicking like crazy. That’s not so much to propel him forward, but to keep his board on a hydrodynamic plane so it goes smoother.”

“And now the reigning back-to-back world champion John John Florence…hands go back towards his waist…and look how high his front knee comes up. It actually hits him in the chest before it pops down. Both feet hit at the same time and his foot his way ahead of the traction pad so I guess he’s using that to generate drive.”

“Kolohe’s putting a ton of pressure onto the deck of his board and just…thumps down…when his hands hit the rails. So…boom…”

It makes for perversely compelling viewing.

Exclusive: Kelly Slater reveals secret J-Bay strategy!

The King is back!

For certain you’ve already seen the news that Kelly Slater is booked for a surf at the Corona J-Bay Open. A professional surf contest that runs from July 2 to July 13 in the dead of South Africa’s winter. You may have seen it on Surfline or the World Surf League propaganda organ or Instagram but you certainly saw it and I bet you thought, “Finally, bro.”

Before we get into Kelly’s injury, how he has spent his last year nursing it, what he thinks moving forward, the secret strategy he is planning on utilizing to fell the world’s best surfers etc. let’s talk about Corona’s sponsorship of the event.

So, Corona, a word that means crown in Spanish, is brewed by Grupo Modelo in Mexico City and has been since 1925. It is a very popular beer in the United States and also popular in Australia, though Modelo Especial is better as well as one of the group’s other offerings, Estrella, a word that means star in Spanish. Grupo Modelo was recently fully purchased by a Belgian-Brazilian transnational beverage and brewing company with global headquarters in Leuven, Belgium called Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Are you with me so far?

If you need a quick recap, and I’m not faulting you if the answer is yes, in Corona we have a beer started in Mexico but popular in America and Australia with a parent company that is Belgian-Brazilian.

South Africa, where Jeffery’s Bay is located, was enveloped by the great Bantu expansion which took place before the common era. In 1652 the Dutch colonized the land, wanting it to secure their place in the spice trade. The British wrested it away from the Dutch, as the nation had fallen into disrepair, in 1815 in order to hedge against French aggression. The Dutch/English combination is why Jordy Smith sounds the way he does when he speaks today (a little retarded).

Now, the Netherlands (Dutch) have many famous beers, chief among them Heineken (popular on Oahu’s North Shore). The British (English) also have many famous beers, chief among them Newcastle Brown Ale (popular in Newport Beach, California).

So why isn’t it the Heineken J-Bay Open or the Newcastle Brown Ale J-Bay Open? Mexico, the United States, Australia, Belgium and Brazil have never had a vested interest Africa’s bottom. Is something nefarious at play? A new age of empire?

Riddle me that you bastards.

Help: I was shamed by a 7x Irish longboard champ!

There is no excuse for bad behavior. And drugs are bad.

Can I admit something to you? These days find me not being my best self. I don’t really know why, to tell you the truth. Maybe I frayed my amygdala by writing surf for a few too many years. Maybe age and alcohol are catching up with me. You’ve seen scans of those booze-soaked brains, no? All black marks and holes etc.? Whatever the case, there is really no excuse, I snap or get all huffy without even being truly provoked.

Like two days ago there I was on Instagram, scrolling around after posting yet another bit of bald-faced promotion for my book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here in America!) (Here in Australia!).

Instagram can be a wonderful tool for this kind of thing but, of course, promotion is sniffed out and disliked by a good number of people because it is annoying. So anyhow, there I was scrolling around into some comments on the bit of promotion (a video of a man playing with his nose) and stumbled across a note from someone frustrated with my glorification of cocaine because I was setting a bad example for the minors following my account.

His profile describes him as a surfer, writer, traveller, ex 7 x longboard champ, LGBT, creator of Humans of Surfing and he made a very good point. Cocaine is not good for you and children should not be tricked in to sampling.

I should have just apologized and was clearly holding an untenable position but got huffy instead and responded, “Unfollow, bro!” or something equally lame.

He went on and on and on in comment after comment after comment telling me that he knows people who know me and they have informed him that I’ve never done any cocaine and just participate in bad behavior only to get attention. That this sort of thing is my modus operandi. He was mostly right except for the never having done cocaine bit and, again, I should have admitted this and apologized but laughed at him for being a 7x Irish longboarding champ instead.

Then he went and deleted all his comments which, in turn, deleted all mine which made me very sad and only haunted by the people he knows who know me. The people who have informed him that I am a rude fraud.

How many longboarders do I know? How many longboarders know me?

It is definitely time for an apology tour.

“The best kinds of boards give you ideas!”

Thoughts on a new friend.

We met in the back of a non-descript warehouse, the sort where all kinds of things are made and stored and sold. I handed her a envelope stuffed with cash and she carefully counted it out. It felt like a drug deal. I was picking up a board, which maybe isn’t all that different for people like us.

On the way, I’d lost myself in an island chain of strip malls looking for a bank. All the buildings looked the same. Who can possibly find anything in such a place? I made more wrong turns than I’d like to admit. I am bad at following directions, which I’m guessing won’t come as a surprise to any of you. But I found my way to my new surfboard.

I’d met Christine Brailsford Caro earlier this spring, while working on a story for Red Bull’s magazine, the Red Bulletin. A friend of mine who has an eye for this kind of thing, told me to check out Furrow, which is the name Caro uses for her boards. “She’s this rad shaper down in San Diego. Her boards look epic.” My friends text like this. I can’t help it. But I do tend to trust their judgment when it comes to surfboards.

When I went to interview Caro, we sat outside Moonlight Glassing where she shapes and she told me how she grew up an artist. She made wood carvings and her first boards were made from wood: an alaia, a series of over-engineered handplanes (“They have little rails, they don’t really need little rails”), and zippy little paipos.

A friend wanted a board and offered to pay for the materials. After that, Caro was hooked. The second board she made was for herself: a 5’9” stubby design with a glass-on fin.

“I guess you’re supposed to keep your first surfboard. This is my second surfboard, so I guess I have to keep it. One day, I’m going to find some kid that’s worthy and I’m going to give it to them.”

Caro is forthright that she’s not a shortboard shaper. Thrusters aren’t her thing. She’s interested in the wild, innovative period of design between the longboard era and the shortboard revolution. Not surprisingly, she cites Greenough as an influence. “He made this v-spoon and he was able to do these wrapping turns that no one had ever seen before.” The first board she loved riding was a fish.

Now, you will all be rolling your eyes. Like, what is going on? Why is she writing about a fish shaper? She said she hated fish. She said she hated fish and was never riding a fish again. She said they make her arms do weird things. They do! It’s true that riding a fish does make my arms do weird things. But I’m trying to overcome these feelings. Rainbows. Unicorns. Peace. Love. Kale. And fish.

At the time I interviewed Caro, I had an obsession. I wanted a super short small wave board. I blame the diabolical geniuses at Catch Surf for this desire. Last summer one of my editors wanted a fun, beach-surf story and I suggested soft-tops. I’d ride them and write about them. Easy, I thought.

Then I rode a Catch Surf Beater for the story. And then, I kept riding it. It was aesthetically questionable — and became even more so with time. Also, I got like zero respect in the lineup. A chick on a boogie board. Awesome.

So when Caro said she liked making short, fast boards, I figured, here was the solution. I’d have her make me a tiny board. A twin fin. It would be fast and slidey. We emailed back and forth. Two fins. 4’10” long. 20” wide. A moon-shaped tail. I told her to put the volume wherever she felt it would work best. I picked a blue resin tint almost exactly the shade of a Tiffany box.

I drove to the industrial park with my envelope full of cash. It fits snugly under my arm, this baby twinnie. The color looks amazing. Caro shaped a single concave bottom with the cutest little v between the fins. There’s a tiny short rail line and a round nose. The tail is wide with a killer moon-shaped cut-out. When I met Chas for lunch later, he insisted on smelling it. At least he didn’t lick it.

I didn’t expect it to matter to me that a woman had made my board. I love gossiping with my usual shortboard shaper and he makes me lovely, precisely tuned boards. But somehow, there’s something special about this one. It’s the first time I’ve had a board made by a woman who loves playing in the waves just like I do. I guess it’s a kind of kinship, a meeting of kindred spirits. I can’t quite explain it. It just is.

I rode the board last night and it’s screaming fast. I giggled madly. It’s giving me the best kinds of ideas. Boards should give you ideas — the more improbable, the better.

Caro named her boards Furrow for the lines farmers cut into their fields to plant their crops. She describes a furrow as a path and sees her boards as seeds.

“One of my goals is to bring joy and positive energy into the world with what I create. And that’s what I feel like with my boards. You know, I’m not doing anything amazing or miraculous. I’m not saving lives or anything. I’m just hoping it’ll give someone this experience of joy that they can take with them in their lives.”

Dane reynolds young
Little Dane, beautiful and happy and with such a wild ride ahead.

Opinion: “The most intimate document of a radical surf career ever”

It's time to recognise Dane Reynolds' greatest achievement…

I once put the The Diamond Sea by Sonic Youth on the jukebox at a Huntington Beach dive bar.It was an experiment — one that in retrospect I regret and should have been thrown out for, but it got results.

You see, the song begins enjoyably enough — one of the closest things you can find to a ballad in the Sonic Youth catalog, but at the five-minute mark the song launches into an abrasive distortion pedal-led sonic voyage of fifteen-plus minutes that one really needs to be in the right headspace to appreciate (the single version of the song is shortened to five minutes, which is the one the bar probably wishes it had on the jukebox).

By the twelve-minute mark I was nearly assassinated by the bartender and a few irate pool players. I didn’t disagree with them. I shoulda known. But the experiment was a success. It filtered out the possibility of there being any imposter Sonic Youth fans in the bar.

It was an experiment in authenticity. And it worked. Turns out there was only one Sonic Youth fan there, and I was him. 

That is what showing Marine Layer to your friends was like. There was the wonderful shredding but there was also the often odd, deep cut tunes and the herky-jerky unpredictable posting nature.

Sometimes it was 2:24 seconds of stream of conscious surfing. Then it was a music video and some Dane prose and then it was some film photos of Courtney and Craig and then back to the vids and then, occasionally, it was a magnum opus casually dropped on Vimeo. Vids like “rejects,” and “excerpt” and “discharge” and “sampler” and “charmed life.” The singles! The whole site was an avant-garde exploration into surf and art and how you interpreted it said a lot about your cultural positioning in surfing.  

Today we are officially acknowledging that Marine Layer as we know it is gone. Media Temple has taken it back — and while you can still kinda find remnants of photos and archive pages floating around, the masterpiece as a whole is gone.

And while this isn’t breaking news or anything, it’s time to celebrate and mourn the loss of the domain that truly allowed us to have real, insider trading surf conversations together. To anxiously await when “Dane’s new edit” was coming. Because those days are gone.

“It’s served its purpose,” his principal filmer Jason “Mini” Blanchard said. And boy did it. 

In the early days, Dane posted a YouTube clip of the short film Clown by Richard Balducci scored to the song Chinatown by Wild Nothing for no good reason. That’s when I knew we were in for something different. Something intimate and insider.

You would need a translator to show it to a non-surfer. And it was done in a way all his own. It wasn’t polished or edited or dumbed down to be accessible. It was like a Sonic Youth record in that way. Awkwardly abrasive for the philistine, poetry in motion for the core.

You would need a translator to show it to a non-surfer. And it was done in a way all his own. It wasn’t polished or edited or dumbed down to be accessible. It was like a Sonic Youth record in that way. Awkwardly abrasive for the philistine, poetry in motion for the core.

Dane takes a lot of shit for being an underachiever. For giving us “blue balls.” For teasing us for much of his career — never hoisting a trophy or trying or whatever.

it’s time we recognize his greatest achievement: Marine Layer. And that is no dig. I’m here throwing flowers. It will live as an epic time in surfing. It is the most intimate and thorough document of a radical surf career we’ve ever had or ever will.

But it’s time we recognize his greatest achievement: Marine Layer. And that is no dig. I’m here throwing flowers. It will live as an epic time in surfing. It is the most intimate and thorough document of a radical surf career we’ve ever had or ever will.

And it was made extra special because Dane was so damn good at surfing. It woulda been good without that because he was a great curator as well, but it was made great because of that. 

And what’s better, Marine Layer was never bound by brand (even in the Quik days) or bullshit either. It was distortion at a high volume, poetry, music, punk, rule-breaking and genuine world-class ripping. The lowercase names of the vids now represent an irreverent pantheon of sick. “lily breaking news,” “kiddie bowl,” “pelican breech,” “quiche lorraine,” “collecting scores + umbrella drinks,” “broken wing layback,” “sweet and tender hooligan,” “pork chop red shoes.”

They are all now just as immortal (and slightly more accessible via the Vimeo) as the box of termite-shit collecting VHS’s in my garage. And it’s that accolade we must praise today. 

Since Dane will never win a world championship. And Sonic Youth aint gonna snag a Grammy or a “hit,” let’s celebrate the influence they caused. Because they did it for themselves, and they did it for us. And by us, I mean us. Those who had the patience, the time and care to appreciate just how special it is to dig through the candid, experimental elements of what artisans in their field make.

What Dane left us with (and is still adding to in new ways) is just as important to surfing as what Kelly, Curren, Occy, Greenough, Richards, Peterson, Steele and Neville did.

And what Sonic Youth left is just as important as what The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Zeppelin, The Beatles or any other band has.

Fuck the fact that they never got chaired across the sand or handed any hardware. That’s what makes them ours and not yours.