The reality is that surfing is, by its nature, anti-egalitarian, territorialist, and exclusionary. The immigration issue never comes up in Barbarian Days, but it’s clear that the best surfers’ instincts toward what they care about most, waves, are fiercely restrictionist.

Barbarian Days Review: “Surfing a straight-white-male conspiracy!”

Pulitzer Prize-winning surf memoir reveals surfers as anti-egalitarian, territorialist, and exclusionary.

Do you remember the surf memoir called Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by the New Yorker’s Bill Finnegan?

Three years ago, it won the Pulitzer Prize for biography. The prize committee praised it as, “A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.”

The Pulitzer Prize, of course, is America’s most prestigious award in journalism. It also includes ten thousand dollars in prize money to each category winner.

The Wall Street Journal called it “gorgeously written and intensely felt… dare I say that we all need Mr Finnegan… as a role model for a life, thrillingly, lived.”

The LA Times said, “It’s also about a writer’s life and, even more generally, a quester’s life, more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any I’ve read in a long time.”

It threw me under the bus of a two-day obsessive read. I’d dived into Finnegan’s work in the New Yorker before, including an excerpt from the book about his time as a kid in Hawaii (read here) and figured the memoir would be gently entertaining but not especially adventurous. I imagined a writer with a loosely knotted bow-tie and a drooping moustache. A delicate New York gentleman, a flabby enthusiast.

I’d only penetrated three chapters into the book when we suddenly camping on Maui waiting for Honolua Bay to break and, shortly after, camping on the empty beach at Tavarua for a week and surfing a new discovery called Restaurants.

Soon, Grajagan in 1979, Africa and, later, among the big-wave surfers of Ocean Beach, San Francisco, and, then, spending long vacations on Madeira, waiting for Jardim Do Mar’s heavy deep-water right to break.

And so on.

Two days ago, the alt-right website Takimag.com published a review of BBD that hits on immigration, overpopulation and surfers’ barely concealed fascism.

Let me squeeze out a little of the juice.

While reading Finnegan’s account of his quintessential boomer life of freedom, security, and opportunity enjoying himself in some of the most desirable real estate in the world, I kept asking from my 2018 perspective: How could he afford that?

Surfing may be even more addictive than its counterparts, such as skiing, mountain climbing, and golf. While the waves are free (which, I learned from Barbarian Days, causes surfers no end of grief), the real estate values of adjoining coastal property have only gone up and up over Finnegan’s lifetime. The roll call of places where Finnegan surfed as a boy and young man—Malibu, Newport Beach, Topanga Canyon, Santa Barbara, Honolulu, Santa Cruz, Maui, Australia’s Gold Coast, Cape Town, and San Francisco—reads like a real estate speculator’s fever dream.

Before overpopulation, women’s lib, and immigration, America, especially California, had needed its young men, and would therefore put up with a lot from them. Finnegan recounts his occasional worries that his obsession with surfing might be interfering with finishing his degree at a free University of California campus and starting a white-collar career, but decent-paying blue-collar jobs were no problem for a strong young man to find back then.

Finnegan is an old-fashioned macho leftist. But he seems unenthused by contemporary anti-straight-white-male identity politics and allows his conservative surfer buddies a number of the best lines in the book, such as his Valley Dude friend who tells him, “You know what your problem is? You don’t like your own kind.”

Interestingly, there are no serious women surfers in Finnegan’s memoir at all. And every single one of his surf buddies has been straight, even his New York City surf pal, John Selya, who is a professional Broadway dancer. While some of Finnegan’s Honolulu surf buddies were Native Hawaiian or Japanese, the only African-American who appears in the book is Punahou Prep’s nonsurfing Barack Obama, who is amazed to hear in 2004 that Finnegan’s parents had sent him to a notoriously haole-hostile public school.

Although Finnegan devotes a few paragraphs to how surfers were, vaguely, part of 1960s leftism, the reality is that surfing is, by its nature, anti-egalitarian, territorialist, and exclusionary. The immigration issue never comes up in Barbarian Days, but it’s clear that the best surfers’ instincts toward what they care about most, waves, are fiercely restrictionist. Surfers tend to be localists, who are like nationalist nativists, only more tribal.

Read the rest here!


Filipe Toledo has no need for Airshows. The World Tour is his Airshow.

WSL: “Many say the future of surfing is in the air!”

WSL resurrects quarter-century old format in name of progression!

Do you sometimes feel like you live in an alternate universe? Where history doesn’t exist? All rear-view mirrors snapped off? Where everything old is new again, like neoprene shorts, oversized t-shirts with Choose Life written across the chest and ghetto blasters alive with MC Hammer?

Earlier today, it was announced that an aerial component would be added to WSL events in France and Lemoore.

The CEO of the WSL, Sophie Goldschmidt said, “Crowds love the athleticism and creativity of aerial surfing, and so do the surfers. Many say the future of surfing is in the air, and WSL is thrilled to be working with Josh (Kerr) to return a fan and surfer favorite into the competitive mix.”

The future of surfing is in the air.

Airshows. Remember ’em?

They were started by Surfing magazine at the behest of Shawn Barron (RIP both of ’em) in 1996, running alongside ASP tour event The O’Neill Coldwater Classic. Pretty soon there was a six-event tour. Christian Fletcher, naturally, won the first one.

Imitators followed.

The NSSA in the US for amateurs; the Surfing Australia Quiksilver Airshow series (owned by Gold Coaster Dave Reardon-Smith). In 2002, the Quiksilver Airshow World Championship was held at Manly and won by the Hawaiian Randy “Goose” Welch.

The vitality of the air events came from their juxtaposition with a tour that focussed on multiple manoeuvres performed on three waves to the beach, each surfer building houses with sixes not eights.

Airs in tour events? Forget about it.

“Slater would launch one now and then, when he was far enough ahead–which, come to think of it, he was most of the time. But as a rule, the World Tour was not a welcoming place for above-the-lip business,” Matt Warshaw wrote in Surfer magazine. “The Airshow withered and died a few years later as pros began to incorporate the Airshow ethic into WCT contests. Filipe Toledo has no need for Airshows. The World Tour is his Airshow.”

Well, ain’t that still the truth.

 


The kids will be thrilled to watch pro surfing instead of riding roller coasters!

Entertainment: Surf Ranch better* than theme park!

Plan your early fall family vacation now!

Early autumn is a wonderful time to be in greater southern California. The weather is generally dreamy ranging from mid 70s at the beach to mid 90s inland. The dining options are tasty and varied, from vegetable driven cuisine in Santa Monica to Michelin-starred to minimalist in Pasadena. And the entertainment options are virtually endless. Shopping, film, theater and of course theme parks.

The world’s very first was Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It opened its doors in 1955 and revolutionized how people spend time and money. Today, greater southern California boasts Magic Mountain, Knotts Berry Farm, Legoland, Seaworld, Raging Waters, Universal Studios etc. etc. Each is very popular but, if we stretch the regional definition of greater southern California to include the lower San Joaquin Valley, they are joined by a new, better* option.

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

Ticket prices were recently released for the upcoming World Surf League Championship Tour event in fall and let’s examine!

$499 nets you one VIP full event ticket that includes:

VIP seating for the duration of the Surf Ranch Pro (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 7-9) with: access to VIP lounge areas and bathrooms, free open bar (including alcoholic beverages for those of legal drinking age), free snacks, and access to premium VIP-only food options for purchase. In addition, you’ll get access to the Longboard Expression Session and evening concert on Friday, and the Air Show Expression Session on Saturday. Note: onsite parking pass not included. Includes parking in the offsite parking lots with shuttles to the Ranch.

$199 gets you one full day of the above.

$99 is the cost for general admission, per day, no fancy tent or all-you-can-drink Michelob Ultra and includes parking unless you prefer to drive through the magical gate and that will cost an extra $50. In addition, though, “you’ll get access to the evening concert and Longboard Expression Session” (if you go Friday), the airshow expression session (Saturday) or simply CT level professional surfing (Sunday).

The “Surf Ranch Experience” costs $9500 with a nifty $280 fee.

How does this stack up to the region’s other theme parks? Oh, it is generally much more expensive! Magic Mountain costs $84 at the gate, Knotts costs $50 if you buy online, Universal Studios costs $90. Disneyland costs $90 if you purchase mid-week and do you know what this means? Surf Ranch is better* than all of them!

I always knew professional surfing would be more popular than the NFL someday.

*better, as used in this post, only means more expensive.


Surf Rage (Part Two): Mauritius Locals Beat Hell out of Dad and Son!

Tourists surfing Tamarin Bay get gang-banged!

We all know about the White Shorts in Mauritius, and there is so much terrible examples of their uncivilised behavior all over the internet.  

There’s a whole lot of really bad stuff here.

It escalated at Tamarin Bay recently.

Kyle Kahn, a Cape Town surfer who is married to the grand daughter of John Whitmore – the doyen of South African surfing – saw his 13-year-old son get a smack from the crew and went in to intervene.

The results of this altercation can be seen here.

The 13-year-old was emulating one of his heroes in Jamie O’Brian, by surfing on a pink foamie with a GoPro on his mouth. Not acceptable. Hit the child, hit one of his friends, then gang up and wail on the dad.  

Is the wave good?

Fuck yes, and it’s a rare kind of beast is Tamarin, but there are so many other waves around the world that have sorted their shit out and understand how to deal with crowds through hierarchy and respect.

Supers in J-Bay has a pecking order and it’s hard enough to get a wave, but you will not see children getting punched out here.

Keramas is busy with blockings, and with locals getting barrelled, but there are few legitimate fisticuff incidents, much like Uluwatu.

In Hawaii, the rules are fierce, and one step out of line and you’ll have the boys on your back, but in USA and in Australia for that matter, the threat of litigation is massive and throw a punch at a kid or to anyone, and get on the wrong side of a zealous legal team and you’re going to find yourself in a world of shit. 

What is a crazy is that the White Shorts, from all accounts, are not even pure locals. They are blow-ins who arrived years ago and took over the Tamarin domain. The true locals barely surf at Tamarin, and anyone who knows the island and who knows all the variables knows that there are many other waves around. There are waves in the north-west, there are a bunch of waves in the south, and there are a few others on the Le Morne peninsula.

“It gives Mauritius a bad name and it doesn’t help me because I am from Mauritius. When people find out where I come from, there is anger pointed at me and it just makes my career path that much more difficult. These guys do need to know the far-reaching consequences of what they choose to do. Many people are affected.” Brian Furcey, a WQS surfer from Mauritius.

Most waves on the peninsula, however, have some sort of White Short dominance. You’ll get chased out the water at One Eyes on the odd day, and you’ll even get chased out the water At L’Ambulant if you happen to be out there when a local posse arrive. 

WQS hopeful Brian Furcy is a Mauritian surfer who has been travelling through South Africa over the last month or so competing in the WSL Africa series. This situation is not ideal for the travelling professional.

“Of course this does much damage to me and makes my job so much harder,” Furcy told me. “It gives Mauritius a bad name and it doesn’t help me because I am from Mauritius. When people find out where I come from, there is anger pointed at me and it just makes my career path that much more difficult. These guys do need to know the far-reaching consequences of what they choose to do. Many people are affected.”

It’s a bummer.

There are enough waves for everyone, but the vibe is horrendous. On my third to last trip I got heavily vibed at One Eyes by the other guy in the water. That’s right, there were two of us in a perfect line-up, and he had to tell me that this “‘isn’t fucking South Africa.”

We surfed excellent waves together, with him glaring at me and paddling past me after every wave. He didn’t make many of his waves because he wasn’t that good a surfer, but wouldn’t if have been cool if we had chatted about surfing, about our families, about the absolute non-real idea of surfing a perfect reef-pass on an island with one friend and no one else? If we had hooted each other into set waves, warned each other about approaching sets and claimed each others’ bombs all the way to the channel.

Instead, we didn’t become friends and we surfed in silence, kind of both enjoying the waves but hating the experience. 

The thing is, if you start hitting kids, it’s not about localism anymore.

It’s criminal behaviour. That shit’s got to be sorted out.     


"I feel bad. I mean, he's a kid. We're in waist-deep water and he starts screaming, 'You just broke my jaw! You can't hit a minor! You're going to jail! I'm going to sue you!'

Surf rage: NSSA Junior attacks Italian greyhound-loving accountant at Salt Creek!

"He lost it! He threw eight haymakers! Stabbed board at me!"

Oh to be a gorgeous Millennial. Acres of perfect skin. Soft hair. Delicate gestures. A voice like a cooing Siamese cat.

Of course, anyone born in the last twenty years has also lived without criticism (medals for everyone! You’re unique!) or rejection (everybody picked for the team!) thereby making any sort of conflict a total mind-fuck.

An accountant from Aliso Viejo, Kevin Woolwine, who is thirty nine years old and who enjoys the company of his Italian greyhound when not surfing, experienced a mind-fucked kid during the NSSA’s National Interscholastic Championships at Salt Creek in June. 

A little scene setting.

The surf is two foot. The NSSA contest eats up the point. There’s a black ball at the north end. The weekend horde is squeezed into the middle.

“I got two young kids. I only surf on weekends so I need to get out even if it’s complete dog shit,” says Woolwine. “I need that two hours of sanity away from screaming kids. I don’t care what it looks like.”

He got the screaming kid anyway.

I could see this kid on the inside but it was a garbage little wave, a crap closeout, and I wanted to go home. He absolutely lost it. He gets in my face and screams, ‘What the fuck are you doing? Get the fuck out of here?’

“After about an hour-and-a-half of catching nothing I had to get out of there. So I take off on this fucking two-foot closeout. I could see this kid on the inside but it was a garbage little wave, a crap closeout, and I wanted to go home. He absolutely lost it. He gets in my face and screams, ‘What the fuck are you doing? Get the fuck out of here?’

“I was leaving but I wasn’t going to let this kid send me in. So he steps in front of me and at this point we’re pushing forehead to forehead. Just foreheads. And I’m looking at this kid and I say, ‘There’s no way in hell I can fight you but, dude, you can hit me if you want. I can handle your punches (Kevin was a collegiate wrestler). He threw seven or eight wild-ass haymakers. All I had to do was hold my hands up with my elbows. He clipped me behind the ear once, but it was no consequence. While he’s punching me a wave picks up my board and cracks him in the head.

“I feel bad. I mean, he’s a kid. We’re in waist-deep water and he starts screaming, ‘You just broke my jaw! You can’t hit a minor! You’re going to jail! I’m going to sue you!’

He threw seven or eight wild-ass haymakers. All I had to do was hold my hands up with my elbows. He clipped me behind the ear once, but it was no consequence. While he’s punching me a wave picks up my board and cracks him in the head.

Let me provide a brief detour from the narrative here. Do we live in a brave new era of lame surf assaults? And do you remember the case of Montgomery vs Burdett in Virginia Beach, the current title holder for World’s Lamest Surf Assault?

Click here for that. 

Or the time one surf editor went after another and detectives were summonsed in Goggans vs Smith?

Click here for that. 

Anyway.

“He’s playing the victim and then he throws his board, fins first, at my head. After he missed with that he tackled me and tried to hold me underwater. I got out of his grip (wrestler, y’see) and I wanted to let loose, but, he’s kid, so I let him go. Another wave came and after we came back up he started jabbing me with the nose of his board. It was unbelievable.

“And then we get to the beach. And his dad has fire in his eyes. The lifeguard steps in and says he saw the whole thing. That I didn’t touch the kid once. Another bystander came in and said I didn’t hit him. Meanwhile, the dad and the kid were trying to turn mob on me and I was thinking, what am I going to deal with in the parking lot? One of the crew from the sponsors who was at least 260 pounds and covered in tatts told me, ‘You better get the fuck out of here now. The thing is, I understand their position. If I was over there and someone told me that someone much older had hit my kid I’d have the same reaction. But it was all based on bullshit.

“All my friends are making fun of me, having a fight with a sixteen year old but, dude, the amount of restraint I practised.

Woolwine appeals to anyone who was on the beach filming to come forth with the footage, if only to share the laughs.

“I’m telling you, it’s internet gold,” he says.

As a sweetener, BeachGrit will pay $500 for any vision.