Matt Wilkinson is Lemoore ready! | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Matt Wilkinson: “The wave pool should be… fun?”

Are any pros excited for Lemoore?

I have always been a fan of Matt Wilkinson though became very much less so when he jettisoned the good-natured, blue-collar thing for front-running, weight-lifting, no-cocaine-sniffing potential World Champ.

Do you remember? A few seasons back when he won three events in a row? It seems like he lost his sense of humor during that run. Like it drowned at the bottom of a protein shake. Like when the great Australian journalist Fred Pawle called him a “yobbo” and Wilkinson took great offense threatening physical violence etc.

What a strange time it was and sad for what is surfing without being laughable?

Today, sitting outside the qualification bubble after a tough luck stretch, Matt Wilkinson feels back. Honest, real, though semi-depressed. His post-heat interview with Rosie after his loss to someone is a study in manhood.

I would imagine he would rather not talk through his frustrations but he does, eyes betraying genuine feeling, soft voice working through the pain. The most interesting part of the chat, though, is when he speaks about his prospects for the rest of the tour.

Rosie: Matty you are outside of qualification at the moment. How are you gonna turn your season around?

Matt: Yeah, I’ll keep plugging away and the wave pool should be… fun? I kinda don’t really know what to expect there. I’ve done a few days there and put some practice in and hopefully put more than a five on the board and… I don’t know… do the wave pool…

His voice loses all steam as he goes along, deflating entirely by the end. There clearly seems to be no relish in going to Lemoore and, now that I think about it, I haven’t heard any pros talk with gusto about the Surf Ranch event.

Why? Are they hedging bets in case the performance is found wanting? Genuinely not excited about four days in Lemoore? It is a known quantity by now. There are no surprises left and I wonder if the woke feel the tug of history pulling away from tubs.

Or maybe the deflation has directly to do with how the World Surf League has marketed the event. Inside sources tell me ticket sales are lagging far behind expectations but this information came before the blink-182 announcement so who knows.

Whatever the case, I’ll be there cheering for the Matt Wilkinson I used to know and love. High-fiving Tom DeLonge (emotionally).


Travis Ferré: “We’re defending our favorite dive bar from being gentrified by a surfing fraud with a Blink-182 contact!”

"Call everyone you’ve ever rocked out to Blink with and let’s do this."

I surfed Bolsa Chica with my dad today. Bolsa Chica being the much mushier and grumpier California State Park on the north end of Huntington Beach. I love it there. It is the local dive bar of beaches. It’s also where I learned to surf, but more importantly, it’s where I learned to “be a surfer.” The way you operate in that parking lot is a tell-tale sign of how you will operate in the lineup. And at one time, that was important. 

It is also precisely where I was this morning when I received an email from the WSL that read (and I kid you not, this is the exact header of the email verbatim: punctuation, capitalization, hyperbole and all): 

What’s my age again! All the small things! Kings of the Weekend!

Get ready for California’s own blink-182 to light up the Surf Ranch Saturday night. Epic surfing. Epic sundown show. Call everyone you’ve ever rocked out to blink with and let’s do this.

Let’s not. Well, unless Chas and I are “somewhere around Lemoore when the drugs begin to take hold.” 

Let’s return to the Bolsa Chica dive bar for a second. 

For me, surfing Bolsa Chica comes with memories of jumping out of my dad’s toxic fume filled Chevy Astro Van (he’s a painter) with all my other friends who’d “quit the team” to infest the lineup with our attempts at roundhouses and 360s on boards that were way too long and narrow for the waves. On the drive over, we’d play tapes of bands no one else at our school knew about — bands like Bad Religion, Offspring, AFI, Social Distortion, Minor Threat…even Blink-182. 

At the time, these bands were ours. Surfing was ours. And this parking lot and lineup would be ours, but not quite yet. Not until the roundhouses had whitewater rebounds and “Archy” knew our names. And the path to achieving those ridiculous goals has been the greatest journey of my life. And I must say, introducing us to this parking lot and beach is still the greatest gift my dad has ever given me and my friends. I hope you all have a Bolsa Chica — for us, that was him handing us surfing’s launch codes. And as we grew up, surfing became the reason we had a better shot at the cheerleaders than the quarterback did. It’s why we’d see Chile before we saw college. And it’s precisely why we’re all fucking grumpy and defending our favorite dive bar from being gentrified by a surfing fraud with a Blink-182 contact.

Sorry Dirk, but you’re getting vibed.   

Today as I read the email and thought about the fragments of the speech he gave at the Waterman’s Ball directed at “haters” before using Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto as human shields, I noticed that the Bolsa Chica parking lot looked exactly the same today as it did back when Blink was a thing we actually listened to.

I didn’t see one RinseKit. I didn’t see one Audi.

There were no surf academy bred groms whipping up to check it in a fucking golf cart. It was nice. Grumpy old guys. Soft top beginners (welcome to the journey!). A few underground and silent rippers. It was wonderful.

And while my friends now all have jobs, back injuries, girlfriends, wives, kids, financial troubles and bee hives in their eves, I’d like to think that if they saw Dirk Ziff walk into our local dive bar to order a Michelob Ultra before putting Blink-182 on the jukebox that they’d be very grumpy and would send him right back to the parking lot to try again.  


"Surfing gives me different thrills on different days. Sometimes it’s just habitual, transactional, daily bread stuff; to get to Y I do X…. X being a go-out and Y being a whole range of things to taking my daughter surfing, scrubbing the edge off a bad day, splashing around in babyfood on a new board, grabbing a half-hour on the right tide etc. It rarely fails on that practical level of making the day go better. At the least, you feel clean for having gone in the ocean.'

Meet your WSL Correspondent: “I feel zero kinship with the entire body of surf writing published to date and am deeply ashamed to have been ensnared in it!”

Feel the electricity of the subhuman redneck scum who reports every day of each WCT event. Steve Shearer aka Longtom.

Steve Shearer is Bribie Island subhuman redneck scum who writes surf at the Grit under the name Longtom, after a Pacific Ocean fish with a long snout full of needle sharp teeth that once attacked his friend in the lagoon at Lennox Head and made the front page of the local papers. He subscribes to the losing doctrine of anarcho-primitivism, feels zero kinship with the entire body of surf writing published to date, is in fact deeply ashamed to have been ensnared in it. Without the existence of BeachGrit he probably would have been able to make a clean getaway.

A guiding light is the statement: “There a thousand paths that have never yet been trodden, a thousand forms of health and hidden islands of life. Man and Man’s Earth are still unexhausted and undiscovered” which will surprise no-one by being attributed to German philospher Fred Nietszche.

He has always had a real job, usually something backbreaking like commercial fishing or banal like bus driving which has allowed him the great luxury of never having been fatally compromised by commercial considerations in writing about surf. Fucking stupid though, because in so doing he missed many paid trips to Indo and elsewhere.

He has always had a real job, usually something backbreaking like commercial fishing or banal like bus driving which has allowed him the great luxury of never having been fatally compromised by commercial considerations in writing about surf. Fucking stupid though, because in so doing he missed many paid trips to Indo and elsewhere. He managed to fund 20 years of round the world surf vagabonding by serial working binges and low level hustling of varying degrees of legality. He harbours great fidelity to the people he met along the way and considers them his natural readership.

He is father, husband and stewards a small goat herd, as well as chickens and vegetable beds in Lennox Head; which used to be a working man’s paradise but is now under the jackboot of the developer’s bulldozer. He rockfishes religiously in his spare time, which, when surfing, writing and family duties are subtracted is minimal – usually solo and at night – and is currently working on two books: a memoir titled Big Tits, Blue Water and a book on the reality of surfing with sharks titled Predatory Disruption.

On the the thrill of surfing: Different thrills, on different days. Sometimes it’s just habitual, transactional, daily bread stuff; to get to Y I do X…. X being a go-out and Y being a whole range of things to taking my daughter surfing, scrubbing the edge off a bad day, splashing around in babyfood on a new board, grabbing a half-hour on the right tide etc. It rarely fails on that practical level of making the day go better. At the least, you feel clean for having gone in the ocean. Barrels, bigger waves, epic days can elevate the thrill to any number of ecstatic/transcendental states. Then there’s all the peripherals: the oceanography, meteorology, natural history, surfboard design, carpark bullshitting, small-town politics, phenomenology blah blah, ad infinitum. Riding a wave is a tiny thrill, which is why the wave pool interests me not at all.

On what he’s trying to hit with his words: Something thats feels good to write, or sometimes that feels terrible to write, because you feel so exposed, and that others get something from reading. Who knows, really, where that comes from? Where does an idea come from? A word, or sentence? It just arrives like a song, so most of it might be just paying attention. Trying to gauge how something might be received doesn’t work. I’ve wrote things I thought were awesome that stumbled in public like three-legged dogs and other things I thought were bland which took off. No point overthinking it.

On what repels and excites in writing: Michel Houllebecq said the unique thing about writing was it gave direct access to the interior life of another person… so anytime I gain access to a place where someone has bothered to develop a lively mind with a point of view, a reason for writing in other words, I dig. Even if I disagree with the points expressed. I despise the neutral tone in journalism. Nothing is more phoney. Houllebecq also said the reason he wrote was to put down in words the scenes that played out in his mind which he found moving, or which gave him pleasure. Something like that, the interview is behind a paywall now so I can’t check exactly what he said. That’s a fair enough assessment on what excites about writing.

 


Opinion: It could have been way way worse!

Limp Bizkit was certainly also available.

I feel that the World Surf League is really getting strung up for booking blink-182 as the featured musical act. That “Backward Fin” Beth is sitting in her Santa Monica office right now, pointing at her computer and shouting, “See! Surfers are grumpy bastards! They don’t like anything… anything at all I tells ya!”

And in this one particular instance she is correct because, let’s be honest, it could have been way way worse than blink-182. It could have been:

-Imagine Dragons

-Jason Mraz

-Jack Johnston

-Eddie Vedder

-Creed

-Dakota Motor Company

-the onetime cast of Glee (minus pedophiles and the departed)

-Dave Matthews Band

-Spin Doctors

-Nickleback

-Limp Bizkit

-Drake

Just kidding on that last one. The World Surf League could never afford Drake but shouldn’t we be thankful for once? I am and have just decided to attend Saturday.

Won’t you join me?

 


Hoppus, middle, giving the man on his right a funny look because he isn't Tom DeLonge.

Dreams come true: blink-182 to play Surf Ranch!

The $99 general admission price just got a lot sweeter...

From the desk of World Surf League Chief-Marketing-Officer Beth Greve:

blink-182 is Headlining the Surf Ranch Pro.

But, let’s have a difficult and frank discussion here. blink-182, the one you know, the one I know, consisted of three magical components. Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker. They wove their particular DNAs into a sub-genre of punk and landed squarely in the hearts of teenagers everywhere.

Though the band never won a Grammy, it did win some MTV Video Music awards and multiple Teen Choice Awards.

Now, and here is the problem, Tom DeLonge decided to leave the band in 2005 over creative differences. They reformed in 2009 only to break-up again in 2014.

In 2015 Hoppus and Barker added Alkaline Trio’s singer/guitarist Matt Skiba (pictured above shooting gun fingers at you).

So. Is Hoppus, Barker and Skiba really blink-182 or… what?

Should Tom DeLonge also be given a night to play Surf Ranch or… should he go and play Waco during the same window?

I see Tom DeLonge at my local Starbucks from time to time and want to give him a hug but have so far refrained.

Much to discuss.