Propaganda: Brave politician superimposes self getting barreled at Jaws!

Or maybe Mavericks!

Political propaganda used to be much more of an art than it is now. Today, a candidate or political party must merely hire a room full of Russians, Ukrainians, Indians, whomever, spend a few thousand dollars on Facebook and blast out some less than accurate news. Hell, I don’t even know that the room needs to be full.

It is an ugly job lacking nuance or appreciable style. Like a Thomas Kinkaid painting compared to the Picassos and Rembrandts of old. For in the past, physical photographs were altered. Men disappeared. Whole families disappeared. Cigars disappeared.

The Nazis did it well but the Soviet Russians did it better. For example:

Where’d the cosmonaut in the back go? Like magic, he never existed. Scrubbed from history.

Dana Rohrabacher, Republican incumbent serving greater Orange County, decided to go old school but also improve on the art. Instead of disappearing an erstwhile foe he added himself to the scene in a dynamic moment right before getting barreled at either Jaws or Mavericks. Pipeline? Do you know the wave?

It doesn’t matter because it is a job of which Goebbels would be proud. That Molotov would stand and applaud.

There Dana Rohrabacher is, crouched on his gun maybe built from American-made soft-top. Eyes pointed toward the exit. Buttocks tensed and ready.

To further drive the point home, Rohrabacher boldly declares in all caps (favorite of propagandists), “I RIDE WAVES HERE, AND MAKE WAVES IN WASHINGTON.” (real quick is the comma necessary in this sentence? Ben Marcus? Are you there?)

“Here” clearly being Jaws. Or Mavericks. An Oahu outer reef?

It doesn’t matter.

The best propaganda floats above question.

From the we-know-nothing-about-surfing department: Are you an “expert” surfer?

Come try the WSL's comprehensive survey…

I’ve had a visceral hatred of surveys and focus groups and whatever other marketing that presumes the consumer knows what he wants since I worked on a fading men’s magazine back in the early two thousands.

Watched twenty-five grand disappear as I sat behind a one-way window looking at twenty-somethings paw at the mag and say, “Yeah, nah, yeah”, “More girls, maybe”.

Focus groups. Surveys. Bullshit after bullshit.

No one knows what they want until it slams ’em in the face. People will say what they think you want ’em to say or what they think makes ’em look smart. Put hip-hop through a focus group in the disco era and it never would’ve happened. All those great movies that were made on the back of some crazy genius, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather?  Too slow, too opaque.

According to surveys, Mad ol Hillary Clinton was going to be the forty-fifth prez and Britain wasn’t gonna Brexit.

Now, as has been mentioned in the comments, the World Surf League has a survey doing the rounds. And she’s a doozy, as old-timers like to say. Obvs, it’s a feeler to see how we’re coping with the idea of pay-per-view but it also calls for a comprehensive self-examination.

Paired attitudinal statements where you hit a slider,

The little game, below, where you’re asked to respond to the statement “I am an expert surfer” is a curly one ain’t she?

What is an expert surfer? Is it someone who knows how to carry their board, insert their fins in the position suggested on the packaging, stand up on an unbroken wave and combo a couple of turns?

Or is it, as I would think, someone who can, or could before they got too old, take a set at Pipe and beat a small wave to hell. Some sort of shaping skill would help, too.

Kelly Slater is an expert surfer. John John too. Gerry Lopez, I suppose. Barton Lynch.

But a clown fan punching buttons on his laptop?

Other important questions: Do you spend a lot of money on surfing gear? 

Are you always talking about surfing with your friends? 

Do here! (Fifty percent off WSL merch if you do before October 24, too.)

Revealed: The complex and bizarre triangulation of Erik Logan’s hashtags!

Could the WSL be tangled up in Russian intrigue?

Where are you right now? At work in Australia, the prospect of a dull but brutal Friday stretching out before you? Just home from work in America, the prospect of waking up to face a dull but brutal Friday stretching out before you?

The World Surf League President of Content, Media and WSL Studios elect, Mr. Erik Logan, is in Namotu maybe taking an extended vacation. He begins his new job in January and has been social media-ing from his old job as President of the Oprah Winfrey Network.

On Instagram he writes: @namotuisland Keep The swell coming for 21 more days! #kalamakamp #wilks #tbt #rightsfordays #blinebrotherhood

Oooee when was the last time you took a 21 day vacation? Very fabulous but maybe a red herring, as it were, to distract from the hashtags?

Let’s read the other ones not in the main subject line.

#sup #standuppaddle #paddleboarding #paddleboard #paddle #standuppaddleboard #standuppaddleboarding #stand_up_paddle #suplife #paddlesurf #supsurf #standupjournal #paddling #standuppaddling #standup #isup #surfing #vdk_insta #ig_vladivostok #surf

Traditional SUP fare, I suppose, but what is this #vdk_insta? My heart thought “vodka insta” but upon further review it does not relate to vodka, at least not directly. It is, in fact, closely related to #ig_vladivostok and boom.

We have Russian intrigue.

Vladivostok, as any student of history knows, is a gorgeous Russian city very near North Korea. It is most famous for being the main naval base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, one or two famous oligarchs and the dreams of a Russo-centric world. Let’s now read the Failing New York Times.

MOSCOW — Compared to the sunny, palm-lined offshore tax havens where Russians typically stash their fortunes — think the British Virgin Islands or Cyprus — two chilly, windswept Russian islands would seem to offer little.

Yet October Island, a glorified swamp in Russia’s European exclave of Kaliningrad, and Russian Island, a former cow pasture facing the far eastern port of Vladivostok, were highlighted by Moscow this week as potential alternatives.

Washington’s imposition of unexpectedly tough sanctions against several leading oligarchs is in many respects a game changer for Russia, with repercussions that are only slowly coming into view. Establishing tax havens within the country was just one reaction by the Kremlin, seemingly caught off guard as aftershocks rippled through currency and financial markets.

“Russia has no strategy on how to react to this situation, to these new economic circumstances,” Evgeny Gontmakher, a prominent opposition economist, said.

Etc. Etc.

Which seems maybe possibly to me that either the World Surf League is going to build a Surf Ranch in Vladivostok, Russia where oligarchs stashing their cash will come and barrel or…. it’s probably just that.

But what do you think?

Do you think this intrigue goes deeper?


Day 3, MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro: “Toledo brittle, Medina ruthless!”

A title wrapped in Portugal is Dirk Ziff's worst nightmare…

Sleep deprivation is a nasty drug, second only to a seasick hangover for bringing on a sour, joyless vibe. Seen Captain Jack Sparrow’s vision of hell in Pirates of Caribbean? The one where all the rocks turns to crabs and he tows his ship endlessly in a salty desert? That’s covering Portugal for me.

Yet watching round three heats at the Supertubos this evening I found my spirits elevated and a single rhetorical question: “how fucking good is this?” kept repeating. If you like, or even love surfing, watching live surfing from the best in the world is a total no-brainer.

How can the WSL alienate surfers from a product featuring surfing? Thats a special kind of talent. It should be the ultimate shooting-fish-in-a-bowl scenario.

New boy Erik Logan has been bought on to introduce some kind of pay per view. Will you pay? Me? A qualified yes. Most definitely on a contest by contest basis. Most definitely for some kind of Grand Slam leg featuring Indo, J-Bay, Tahiti and hopefully Fiji. Most definitely for any kind of slimmed down Super Event in the Ments to determine a World Champ.

Pipe, yes.

Would I pay a year-long subscription to watch the Tour in its current iteration and format? Probably not. Too much dross and long arduous slogs to whittle away the deadwood and get to the good match-ups. It’s punishment I’m not willing to pay for.

Looking back on the year and, inadvertently, the Tour has stumbled on some portals to a future product that appeals. The back to back Bali leg was sick. Especially because the field for Ulus had already been whittled down and we cut straight to the chase. Reduced field, Indo leg Doesn’t need to be G-Land, doesn’t need to be Deserts or No-Kandui’s. Ulus is fine. That should be carved in stone.

Surf Ranch was boring but the leaderboard and finals day after the cut was the format of the future. Will they have the vision and balls to take the opportunity to grasp that or will they stay mired in a product rejected by the market for 40 years and suffer another humiliating retreat?

The time is now. Got to be. You can’t expect people to pay for the same thing they have rejected when they get it for free. That’s a special kind of madness.

The first heat of round three was announced by Strider in a soft pink scarf and beanie. To my eye, a nice offset to the weathered head with the attack dog tits well sheathed. Mendes started strong. Italo looked over-caffeinated. With Mendes enjoying a solid lead Italo greased a far reaching air reverse. The first of many passion claims for the day followed. 7.33.

Mendes was over-scored on a chunky right to take back the lead. With 30 seconds to go, Italo aimed a solid two-turn combo into the lip of a groomed semi-close-out. In the presser that followed the close victory he announced a disdain for the human judges.

“Only God can judge me,” he said.

Strictly speaking Italo, those judges do too. But they sometimes get it wrong.

Not this time.

Heat two with Zeke and Kolohe was a classic. Zeke over-powered Kolohe. Brother answered back. There was a helluva lot of body language communication with the judging panel. Zeke rode a wave with 45 seconds to go and the judges awarded it a perfect tie. Which meant, highest score wave went to Zeke and he took the heat. A vision of surfing as jock sport heaven isn’t for everyone, true. But I think Noa Deane would have quietly applauded, in his heart of hearts.

Wilko edged out Jordy. Morais was just a whisker too good for Connor. Bourez survived a miracle tube-ride, the first deep dark drainer of the event but was judged incomplete. He got a three for a ten but still won against M-Rod.

The Medina-Callinan heat did not disappoint after a slow start. Medina laid the biggest upside down backside hook of the event into the wind to take the lead. As the heat wound down he started living all over Callinan, smothering him like an elephant seal. That forced Callinan into an interference and it was game over.

The tactic was not Fanning approved. “If the wave’s not there I don’t think you need to be that close,” he said.

With the anti-hassling rule brought in after the Zeke/John John incident, it could have backfired spectacularly for Medina. With black eyes glinting in the presser, he gave Callinan, he told Rosie “no space.”

Medina’s win put extra pressure on Toledo. A loss means Medina can clinch in Portugal. He hasn’t looked the same since that close loss to Callinan in France and against Joan Duru he again looked brittle and flaky. It was tight, and his best ride was lowballed. It could have been a low seven and not a mid six. Have a look and see what you think. The door was left open for Duru and he slammed it with a six with a minute to go.

Wilson got through. One long deep sand sucking tube was enough, with a minor back-up to get past Gouviea.

Close-out beachbreak ain’t really my bag, but you couldn’t deny the challenge. The tide dropped and the predicted North wind started howling.

Italo smashed round four heat one with a pair of sevens, the second a seriously throaty one. Wilko through, Zeke bounced.

Medina through in heat two.

The tide bottomed out, raggedy closeouts finally forced the hand of Trav Logie. He called it off after the third heat of round four.

The title is still live. Wilson out, Medina wins is Ziff’s worst nightmare.

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.66 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 13.30
Heat 2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.40 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.40
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.83 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.77
Heat 4: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.33 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.40
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.33 def. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.14
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.60 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.33
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.50 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.10
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.60 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.77
Heat 9: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.17 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 5.30
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.27 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 6.97
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.66 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.03
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.90 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 7.17

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 4 (H1-3) Results:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.60, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.30, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 6.00
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.67, Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.84, Frederico Morais (PRT) 3.63
Heat 3: Joan Duru (FRA) 11.50, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 9.10, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 7.93

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Remaining Round 4 (H4) Matchups:
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS)

Facebook, surf media, the WSL and the Great Lie!

It's a lie multiplier!

Yesterday it was revealed that Facebook had allegedly knowingly lied about the numbers of people watching videos on its platform for years. The Wall Street Journal uncovered that the possible malfeasance was much larger, and much greater, than previously reported.

And let us turn to Wired for a quick recap.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

But advertisers aren’t the only ones seething over the prospect of Facebook knowingly inflating its video viewership; members of the press are, too.

According to the complaint, which Facebook has dismissed as being “without merit,” the company may have been alerted to the analytics error as early as 2015 by advertisers who reported seeing an unrealistic 100 percent average viewership rates on some videos. It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become snarkily known as the “pivot to video.”

Now, of course this relates to surfing because everything relates to surfing but also because just last year the World Surf League announced a partnership with Facebook that it called “groundbreaking.” The subsequent roll-out was marred with troubles and grumbles and odd explanations for the number of viewers that is still impossibly murky.

Beyond the World Surf League, the surf media, alongside the lame-stream media, began its almost exclusive relationship with Facebook years ago. It is difficult/impossible to grow any sort of audience without the publishing giant and “likes” and “shares” became the new currency, with certain properties better at juicing those “likes” and “shares” than others.

All publishing, it seems, geared itself solely toward attracting a mass audience, a completely oddly unrealistic audience in both size and scope and Facebook fed this beast.

So, who cares?

Well, I do because I hate bullshit and Facebook is bullshit. Oh I know it’s just a tool and railing against a tool is tool-like but I still don’t understand why everything has to be such bullshit?

So damned fake and fraudy.

Everything is so damned fake and fraudy. I know it has always been sort of this way, that surf magazines used to print way more than they could ever sell, burn the extras and claim massive subscription numbers but that seemed like real work. Like, going to a burn bin and catching physical things on fire.

Facebook has streamlined the fraud and maybe even convinced people that it’s real. Like, the World Surf League. Do you think the powers that be in Santa Monica’s gilded offices really believe that there are millions upon millions of potential surf fans because Facebook has taught them that millions upon millions of “likes” and “shares” are out there or do you think the powers are in on the game, juicing the “like” and “shares”, lying about engagement to advertisers just as Facebook lied to them?

A lie multiplier.

Hell if I know and hell if my caring about it will make any difference but since when did a few hundred thousand people really loving something and engaging with something become so… small? So… immaterial?

Gimme the hardened little core and fuck the potential trillions.