Today is the day that the World Surf League’s President of Content, Media and WSL Studios sheds the “elect” and takes the public-facing reins of professional surfing. Since his appointment, some months ago, we have thrilled at each pronouncement, every press release and especially the Instagram posts from @elo_eriklogan, a robust look into the life of our leader.
And it was on Instagram yesterday, New Year’s Eve, when celebrations around the globe mark a turning of the page, that Mr. President loosed the greatest work yet. A heartwarming piece of insight.
He listens to The People!
He cares what we think!
Can you believe? It is like a fantasy, a boyhood dream but here, I’ll show you.
@jcbcrz wrote, “@Beach_Grit (Oh that’s our nasty account filled to overflowing with social justice warriors and extra amped adult learners. Stay far far away.) is hating on you hard… let’s call it constructive criticism from your peers. My advice for success at your new position in the WSL, watch some ASP content from the early 2000s. Surfing was like F1 back then… as in badass.”
Mr. President responded immediately, “@jcbcrz Jacob, thank you for the note. 100% will be looking and have been for some time now. Also a LOT of reading… excited for what’s ahead. Happy New Year to you…
Isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t it make you feel?
Oh, I know that many if not most of you doubt. You think that Erik Logan is an adult learning SUPper from the Oprah Network with an entourage of photographers and severe lack of shame and you are right. He is all of those things but he also listens and that is a first in the World Surf League era.
Ex-CEO Paul Speaker couldn’t be bothered, imagining millions of potential new fans and actively marginalizing existing ones. The great “Backward Fin” Beth refused to understand the joke. Current CEO Sophie Goldschmidt attempted to listen but, during media day at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch her eyes were beyond glazed and I’m sure for good reason. Who could stand the incessant prattle of Vaughn Blakey, Nick Carroll, Derek Rielly, Chas Smith etc.? She came to us from professional tennis, if you recall, and I’d imagine her trying to listen to surf talk from surf journalists would be like any one of us attending Merfestand getting hammered with the most efficient way to dry a tail.
Plus, the media is only part of her purview but it is all of Mr. President Erik Logan’s and I cannot wait for our first sit down. Our first face-to-face. It’s why I haven’t driven up to chilly Manhattan Beach and accosted him in his extraordinary Power Wheels. Because I believe. I believe he cares about us and won’t shirk from a proper, through-the-front-door interview.
Might I be wrong? Might he continue to bastardize our favorite water pastime besides sailing in a series of tone deaf moves while actively and aggressively marginalizing grumpy locals? Maybe but there are signs that he is different. He never blocked me or Beach_Grit (that cursed place) on Instagram, for example. It took Street Fightin’ Man Ashton Goggans 4 minutes, literally 4 minutes, to block when I tagged him in a photo the other day. Plus he listens. He really, truly listens.
And if I am wrong? Well, I’ve got two scalps on my belt (Speaker + Backward) and a third would be welcome.
Australian surf royalty’s six-day party (inc NYE) on $US145,000-a-day yacht!
Hawaii has the Ho and the Aikau families and California the Fletchers and Andinos as surf kings and queens. Australia, which was founded as a prison, has, implausibly, the impossibly regal Mad Hueys and ilk.
No foreplay, no kissing on the mouth, no cuddles at the end.
I promised this to Derek a few days ago, but it has been a struggle. I’ve struggled to find enough hatred this Christmas.
I’ve had years of practice hating Christmas, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Blame the kids, making holidays fun again. Little pricks.
As I said to Derek by way of excuse, every time I opened this I ended up hating myself. I’ve swooned under the weight of the irony. You wouldn’t believe the kind of bilious, muck-raking yellow tripe (as someone once perfectly described my writing) that I’ve battered out then backspaced away. Unnecessarily cruel and hurtful, I’ve found myself thinking, in an uncharacteristic and deeply unsettling way.
Anyway, I’ve soldiered on.
Here are the 5 Worst Things in Surfing in 2018.
No foreplay, no kissing on the mouth, no cuddles at the end.
1. Chris Cote/The air debate
Picture a meerkat, emerging from a little hole into bright sunshine.
Picture beady, bespectacled little eyes, darting this way and that, surveying the landscape.
See his little snout, twitching keenly, as he sniffs the warm air.
Now imagine him pausing briefly, puffing up his little chest, and squeaking obnoxiously “540! 540!”
You are standing above that hole. Your arms are raised above your head, and you are holding a shovel.
With all your strength, you swing the shovel down, flat side first, and splatter that meerkat’s face wide open, cracking his little skull like a watermelon.
That’s literally what I see on a loop inside my head when I hear Chris Cote’s voice.
Dumb debate about degrees of rotation, championed by Cote, was a particularly unsightly tumor in 2018’s surfing zeitgeist.
I don’t hate Chris Cote. I just never, ever want to hear his voice ever again.
2. Erik Logan, President of Content, Media and WSL Studios
He makes shakas look as comfortable as a colonoscopy.
He hashtags like a 12-year-old girl. A stupid one.
He SUPs. Hard.
He appears to have a photographer who follows him around, yet neither he nor his photog can identify a good surf photo.
If his Instagram output is any sort of marker for his vision of surfing – and I would suggest it absolutely is – then I see no reason to give him any benefit of any doubt as he begins his tenure with the WSL.
Erik Logan is an adult learner. Not all adult learners are bad, it’s true, but there is an ilk, of which Elo is very much part, that need a good slap about the head. Or bundled into an unmarked van and dumped off a bridge.
From the press release announcing his appointment: Logan will also oversee the creation of WSL Studios, which will deliver a broad range of high quality scripted and unscripted surf and lifestyle content.
Surf and lifestyle content.
Erik Logan is in charge of surf and lifestyle content.
Say it again, slowly.
Is in charge.
And lifestyle content.
HAVE YOU SEEN HIS “LIFESTYLE”?!
HAVE YOU SEEN HIS IDEA OF “CONTENT”?!
HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT HE THINKS FUCKING SURFING IS?!
WHY HAS NO-ONE AT THE WSL SEEN IT?
3. JEEP adverts
Very nearly went on my 5 Best list. Someone once told me the point of advertising was to be so annoying that you couldn’t get it out of your head.
In that case Bravo, Jeep. Bravo.
It’s the “That’s What She Said…” of surf culture. It can be deployed at any time, in any context.
I surf meth amphetamine.
I surf child pornography.
I surf kiwi fruit.
I surf necrophilia.
I surf cunt muck.
I surf saggy tits.
I surf shifting spanners.
I surf it all.
I’ve never been to California, but I’ve seen the adverts. Girls in yoga gear tell me living there is an easy stretch. Guys with shiny teeth and mini mals stuffed up their oxters tell me about (winky face) “board meetings”. The Terminator is in charge. And it’s sunny.
I should work for the marketing department because I’ve got a more succinct way to represent California. It’s a simple tag line. It goes like this:
California: The Lung Cancer of Surfing.
Let me present to you some horrific visions of a future where California is left unchecked:
Elo and Soph recreating Laird and Gabby’s ESPN Body Issue shoot…
Backwards Fin Beth and the Surfing-Is-Politique girl commentating on the adaptative black gender fluid SUP world tour…
Huge stadiums of fat, pasty-faced American kids, wearing top hats and cheering Zoltan Torkos doing kickflips in a pool. Over, and over, and over…
We’ll leave a seat on the ark for the Malloys, Rob Machado and Curren (and Chas, Jen and Zach Weisberg – but only if Chas and Zach sit together) but otherwise let’s cheer for wildfire, rising sea levels, and T1000s. I think surfing might be better for it.
5. Me. You. Us. The Internet.
The Internet is the great enabler. Some of what it enables is great; but most of it is tragically shit, especially when it comes to surfing.
The problem with surfing is that there’s not really much to say. It feels like it should be interesting, but really it’s not. Not what most of us do. A teeny, tiny world of aquatic poncing, as someone (perhaps Oscar Wilde?) once put it.
But people insist on communicating all of it. There’s no vetting process. It’s a free for all made up of utter shite. Instagram pages of the likes of Erik Logan’s should be shut down by the Thought Police before conception. But they’re not. They’re allowed to exist, brazenly and with no apparent self-awareness whatsoever.
So here we sit, in various states of mental health, sobriety, undress and Ben Marcus, and we criticise and we deconstruct and we slander. Everyone. It gives us little moments of laughter and smugness at our own cleverness and wit, and that of our comrades. But at the end of the day none of it lasts, none of it really matters, and no one important is there to witness or congratulate us. And in that sense, it feels a lot like surfing.
Eight years ago when Derek Rielly was editor-in-chief of Stab magazine he emailed me about a brand new website called The Inertia and asked me to write a piece on it. The following has lead to an almost decade long affair…
Come to adult website theinertia.com and be accepted into the warm, hairy, bearded embrace of the “thinking surfer”…
There is a place, online, that amazes. And it is called theinertia.com and it is the planet’s largest network of thinking surfers. The best kind!
The topics endlessly fascinate. Some recent include, “Understanding the Alaia and Finless Revolution” “Life is Better When You Surf” and “Man Dies Surfing Near Hollister Ranch.”
The humour is side-splitting. The health tips practical. The watchdog role it takes related to the rest of surf media so necessary!
But, and again, it is the constructive critical thinking embodied in each post and each comment that amazes. Thinking surfers!
And, who are the thinking surfers?
Thinking surfers have shitty haircuts and wear lousy clothes. Thinking surfers are dogmatic about pointless contrivance. Thinking surfers can and do write endlessly about minutia. Thinking surfers are zealots. Thinking surfers are Leninists. Thinking surfers are out of touch. Thinking surfers are old both mentally and physically. Thinking surfers love to read their own words so much. Thinking surfers feel picked on.
Thinking surfers only support progress that aids old men catching more waves. Thinking surfers hate making money. Thinking surfers complain that they don’t have enough money. Thinking surfers take themselves more seriously than anything on earth. Thinking surfers hate that they aren’t taken more seriously than anything on earth.
Thinking surfers are socialists. Thinking surfers like you, if you are a thinking surfer. Thinking surfers don’t like you, if you make money and/or disagree. Thinking surfers don’t rip. Thinking surfers are Trotskyites. Thinking surfers hate popular films. Thinking surfers hate French shoes. Thinking surfers hate French films. Thinking surfers hate fruity cocktails. Thinking surfers love bad, thick coffee. Thinking surfers believe in George W Bush’s vision of democracy taking root in the Middle East but attribute the vision to T.E. Lawrence.
Thinking surfers are hypocrites. Thinking surfers don’t know how to synch their fundamental belief in the poor working class with their desire to have a home on the beach. Thinking surfers don’t know how to synch their communist ideals and their belief in George W Bush’s vision of democracy taking root in the Middle East. Thinking surfers cry while watching The Cove. Thinking surfers mock those who cry while watching Valentine’s Day. Thinking surfers drink beer at a party. Thinking surfers complain if the beer at a party is not from a small batch brewery. Thinking surfers never bring beer to a party.
Thinking surfers are Marxists. Thinking surfers would be social Darwinists if they were fit.
Thinking surfers are the exact sorts of people that flourish underneath the fluorescent lighting and prepared bedside meal deliveries and incontinence and visiting hours of nursing homes. They are the exact sorts of people that flourish when nobody, except for people exactly like them, is listening. How fun! How the best kind!
Raise your glass to the full rubber clad, longer surfboard riding, backward fin utilizing, leash getting pulled, cop calling, World Surf League loving adult learner nearest you right now!
And here we are, New Year’s Eve in Australia almost New Year’s Eve in America, the most exciting nights of the entire year besides Surfer magazine’s Surfer Poll and the World Surf League’s Opening Night Ball (or whatever it’s called).
BeachGrit’s Man* of the Year.
Who could it be besides the adult learner? Men* who picked up surfboards in their late twenties or late thirties and decided then and there, “Surfing is life, the rest is just details!” and/or “Old Men* Rule!”
Surfing is being remade in his* image or at least professional surfing. The World Surf League is run by adult learners dead-set on creating a new, vibrant community of other adult learners. It’s the growth market with millions and billions of promised eyeballs/participants from adult pre-learner and ex-WSL Dear General Secretary Paul Speaker.
A fabulous re-imagining?
A once-in-a-lifetime rebirth?
The adult learner’s go to twin sources for content (Stab x The Inertia) certainly think so and a hot rumor on their union coming soon!
In the meantime, surfing has been a cloistered, impossible to navigate little world. I have spent my entire life trying to negotiate it as an Oregonian youth and am now trying to negotiate it as an adult re-learner.
Oh sure the grumpy local is our mission. To shrink surfing to the smallest possible market until it is literally just me, Derek Rielly and you in the lineup but that is a future-less model.
So raise your glass to the full rubber clad, longer surfboard riding, backward fin utilizing, leash getting pulled, cop calling, World Surf League loving adult learner nearest you right now.
You, adult learner, are BeachGrit’s Man* of the Year!
*All masculine nouns and pronouns are gender neutral.