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:
-Dakota Motor Company
-the onetime cast of Glee (minus pedophiles and the departed)
-Dave Matthews Band
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.
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.
Breaking: Kelly Slater doesn’t hate the Waco wave pool!
The world’s greatest surfer is an accomplished man by any standard. Kelly Slater has won professional surfing 11 times, launched multiple brands including but not limited to K-grips, Purps, OuterKnown, Slater Designs surfboards, Gisele Bundchen and The Surfers. Most recently he has handcrafted, alongside USC engineer Adam Fincham, the most famous wave pool to date called Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.
Of course wave pools have been around since the turn of the century but Kelly’s was far and away the best with its green barrel and delightful dairy farm scent. Nothing like it had ever been seen.
Since its debut more wave pools have come online using different technology, most notably the Barefoot Ski Ranch Cable Park in Waco, Texas. Many professional surfers have enjoyed and many non-professional surfers too who can pay the almost too reasonable $60 to $90 per hour for barrels and airs.
If I was Kelly Slater, a different inland wave pool pulling focus from my Surf Ranch would infuriate. I would burn with rage each and every night, laying in my Hawaiian bed plotting its destruction. I would loose spies to go and surf it and throw sand into its gears. I would write very nasty things about it on Instagram.
Humans everywhere are lucky that a pettily jealous man like me is not Kelly Slater.
For the real Kelly Slater went on to the BSR Cable Park’s Instagram feed and provided unsolicited advice on the following video of a surfer testing out wakeboarding.
It is a good point as the corners on the jump do appear needlessly deadly. He followed his advice with praise.
kellyslater: I’ll definitely pay you guys a visit. Congrats on it all. No hate here. I appreciate what you guys have done. But round those corners down! Especially for this kook on a wakeboard (me!)
Kelly is almost too good to be true, a model for all of us, but the fact that he drops “No hate here.” gives me small hope that he does spend at least some time laying in his Hawaiian bed plotting BSR Cable Park’s destruction.
Like I would do.
Bad Eggs: “Surf writers stuck in the friend zone!”
Surf writers are idolaters. Sycophants. Failed scions of the surfing family tree that trade on their only worthwhile commodity to bask in the reflected glory of the demigods that they can never become.
Or so I thought as I finished up watching The End of the Touron Netflix the other night, a crumpled quiver of tins at my feet.
Have you seen this fillum? It’s a biopic about the late American novelist David Foster Wallace, who at one stage in the nineties, was considered to be the greatest living writer in those United States. He was an unwilling literary darling, brilliant but flawed (aint we all?) and the movie details the burgeoning friendship between he and a Rolling Stone journalist who’s been assigned to write a hard-hitting piece on him and his alleged drug use.
Only thing is, the journo, David Lipsky, is an aspiring writer and DFW fan himself. Lipsky struggles to move in for the kill – how can he tear down something he loves? – and eventually abandons the story completely.
In typical Foster Wallace fashion the movie is intended as insightful expose of the contemporary American psyche yadda yadda yadda. But for me, sitting there half drunk in the half dark as the credits rolled and the next flick queued up (a documentary on Tickling? Por que no?), it got me to my previously outlined observation: surf writers are just a big bunch of Lipskys. Fan boys. Unwilling to write anything inflammatory lest it ruffle the feathers of the surfing elite they so adore.
Because, I thought to myself as I kicked away the cans and headed for bed, most surf scribes have not reached the competitive or talent levels of their subjects. Instead they leverage their craft to increase their own surfing time and subsequently rub shoulders with the movers, shakers and shape shifters of the surf industry.
Their assimilation leaves us with three basic categories of acceptable surf story. There’s the new school freesurfer eschewing the mainstream competitive career. The old school competitor eschewing the played-out freesurfer mould. And the rags to riches battler/phoenix rising from the ashes. They’re the only narratives we can muster. Because they’re the only ones sponsors want us to hear.
At least the Rolling Stone editor pushed Lipsky to ask the hard questions where necessary. Surf journalism is, for the most part, one giant bro-down. I put myself to bed, wrapped contently in my new found realisation. Those fucking two-bit hacks. All recruited through social connections, comments sections or kitsch Instagram accounts. The only source they’d ever double check is their coke dealer .
And yet, and yet. Something didn’t feel right. A foul nor-easter blew up through the open window as I fell into a deep sleep under a blood red moon.
It was on this night that Nick Carroll came to me in a dream. A ghostly apparition, he was dressed in a Greek toga with an olive leaf behind his ear and with a David Foster Wallace-signature bandana over his bald head. He stood at the foot of my bed. He clutched old copies of Deep magazine to his breast.
The wind blew even stronger behind him. My linen curtains flapped, twisted and furrowed, and for a second assumed the familiar waves of the Billabong logo.
“You’re right,” I said. “Of course you’re right. And many of those guys ripped too.”
I sat up in my bed to face him.
“But even then you’re all still writing for or promoting through media outlets that rely on industry advertising to function. You’ve told some of the stories that need to be told. But not all of them. You come to me with exceptions, not rules.”
Nick shrugged his shoulders and floated out the window, muttering something about needing to visit a wayward BG commenter.
The curtains fell dead.
I woke with the windows somehow shut, soaked in sweat. The bastard’s got a point, I thought. There is good in surf writing. From Hynd to Carroll to Samuels to Rielly to Smith. Men and women with credentials in and out of the water.
Indeed, it’s a torch that’s carried by this esteemed publication.
But Andy’s is the one story we are beginning to hear. How many others have we not?
And then it hit me like a Taylor Steele boxed set. Our subculture and the industry that sustains it readily construct heroes. We feed off the mythology at all levels. It captures our imagination. It sells boardshorts. Their exaltation equals exoneration and they are protected by a corporate-media complex that has its own survival as its main concern.
How can we expect objectivity from it when we are all a part of it?
So maybe surf writers aren’t idolaters. Maybe they’re just cogs in the giant industry wheel, unable to poke a stick through the spokes. Many do try, and try well. For every Stab Style Guide there’s a Surfer’s Journal.
But still the wheel rolls on.
Yeah, it’s hardly a new notion. I’m not the first person to break through surfing’s fourth wall. And really, does any of this matter? Would anybody outside of our quirky little niche of a sport, a pastime, a lifeblood, need to know what’s going on?
Or even care?
But The Old Man On The Point was right about something else too. I was focussing on the wrong target. It’s not the writers that are the problem. They’re doing the best they can in an industry that’s still finding its feet on the big stage. And the industry, well, it’s just doing what all industries do.
The real problem is us. The commenters. This whole brain fart brings to the fore the oxymoronic nature of the contemporary surf fan.
We’re a bunch of big fucken babies.
On one hand we want our sport to be left to the core. Us disgruntled locals. Fuck the mainstream. Fuck the WSL. Yet at the same time, we’ve evolved to a point now where we demand the transparency and accountability of our heroes and the systems that support them, just like we’d expect from a mainstream sport.
Who’d have thought we’d care this much about the WSL, for instance?
So what do you want from the surf media? Cottage-industry hacks keeping everything rose-tinted? Or a fully-fledged independent fourth estate ready to tear holes in the myths and institutions we hold dear?
Of course this is a derivative, simplistic take on a complex issue.
And when it comes down the it, who’s going to pay the cheque for our very own Bernstein and Woodward anyway?
Fuck, maybe we should all follow competitive tickling for kicks instead. It’s pretty kinky.
Safety surfing so dull it will break the World Surf League!
I am a very big baseball fan. I love everything about America’s pastime and especially in America’s finest city. The smell of freshly cut grass, hot dogs, the way the sun sets over Petco Park, spiked root beer, the crack of the bat, the languid pace which allows for mindless conversations etc. It is a beautiful game with a beautiful history which, for the past few decades, has pitted traditionalists against statisticians.
You may have watched the film Moneyball. It followed the Oakland As general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) as he infused statistics into his decision making process. A walk, for example, is praised. A steal is not valuable. Making consistent contact beats swinging for the fences. On and on. Players are encouraged to do the statistically correct thing at the statistically correct time instead of going with their gut. Scouts, out observing the next generation of players, are devalued as statistics will tell managers, general managers and owners everything they need to know.
There have been a backlashes to what is called sabermetrics with recently retired player Jayson Werth saying, for example, “They’ve got all these super nerds, as I call them, in the front office that know nothing about baseball but they like to project numbers and project players.”
Super nerds indeed but I do wonder if the super nerd principles were applied to surfing could a middle of the pack pro win a title?
I would imagine there are statistics on which moves done when score the highest. Like, if you catch three waves within the first ten minutes, no matter how bad those waves are, and do three little jams and two little squirts you are guaranteed a 12.4 heat total. Or, like, if it is big and barreling forego the biggest set wave as the statistical chance of failure increases and instead aim for the second wave in each set.
Super nerds could parse everything and create computer programs that would ensure heat wins. Safety surfing to the extreme and terribly dull but I do wonder if, say, Ace Buchan was to employ a team of super nerds and surf exactly how they told him to surf, based on waves and competition, catching the exact waves, doing the exact moves, if he could easily win a world title.