I am currently somewhere between Salt Lake City, Utah on the way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming holed up with family in a roadside hotel while a winter storm rages outside. All things considered not a bad situation or not as bad as it could have been.
A big storm hit Maui just a few days ago, for example. A huge storm and created maybe the biggest Jaws ever. Unsurfable sure but still a spectacle and people drove from near and far to see the extra-large breakers.*
Maui police responded to reports this evening of multiple parking violations at Hoʻokipa Beach Park with reports of hundreds of vehicles at the location throughout the day.
High surf of up to 60 feet was being forecast for the north shores of Maui, attracting spectators and “triggering a multitude of illegal parking on the Hāna Highway” according to Nāpua Hūʻeu, a Resident Volunteer Organizer with The Kua Hawaiʻi Project.
The organization website describes the group as a resident volunteer program to enhance visitor safety and protect the sacred sites of Hawaiʻi.
Group organizers say the motorists created delays and hazards at various points along the scenic North Shore route. “High winds and rains added to the fragility of the scene with visitors traversing down the beach cliff side to, as one visitor noted, ‘photograph the surf up close,’” said Hūʻeu.
So see? My current situation could have been worse. I could have gotten a parking ticket.
*How do you feel when folk refer to waves as “breakers?” Have you ever used legitimately?
Mark Richards, in the foreground, and Shaun Tomson in Free Ride's most famous sequence. Bill Delaney
Warshaw on Bill Delaney (RIP): “It may be shameful, but every time a famous surfer dies I get this initial rush, almost like a fire alarm going off.”
In these instances, when a pivotal figure in the culture slips into the loving hands of god, one must create some sort of obituary, yes?
This interview took place an hour or so ago, between Bondi Beach, Sydney, and Seattle, Washington, where Warshaw lives.
BeachGrit: How’d y’hear?
Warshaw: An EOS viewer emailed me day before yesterday. Randy Rarick and PT confirmed. Bill had been in pretty poor health the last few years.
Describe for me your first thoughts?
It may be shameful and wrong, but every time a famous surfer dies I get this initial rush, almost like a fire alarm going off. Can I bang out a video? Do I have an interview? How fast can I post? Then when I dive into the material, like I did all day yesterday and this morning with Delaney, I feel the loss. I knew Bill, going back to when I worked a bit on Surfers: the Movie. We stayed in touch over the years. He was all-in with EOS, basically gave me the keys to his film library, which in turn helped me leverage a bunch of other people to let me use their stuff. So my memories of Bill have to do both with his movies, and how good he made us all look, and also with him personally. When I started playing the interview reels with Bill yesterday, to make the edit, it became real and sad that this smart, generous, very classy, very creative person was gone. Same thing when Bruce Brown died last year.
A sweet man, yes?
Yes, mostly. But he took no bullshit, and let you know quick if you put a foot wrong. About 10 years ago he lit me up for something I wrote about Free Ride; I think I said he’d poached the music and that was why the film never came out on DVD, which was totally wrong. Bill and his wife worked really hard to clear rights for all the songs, but apparently he didn’t have permission to re-release outside of the theaters. Something like that. Which is why Free Ride to this day is a black-market-only treasure. But again, he didn’t burn the bridge, he took my call right after, we talked it over, I apologized, he accepted, and we were good.
Free Ride, from 1977, defined a generation, a time, as much as Morning of the Earth did a few years earlier, yeah?
Absolutely. Where Earth was more impressionistic and stoney, Free Ride was a bit more pointed. It had narration. We got that great long loving look at Rabbit. Whereas Alby made a choice not only to skip the narration, he didn’t even bother to ID his surfers. I loved Earth as a kid, but when Free Ride came out, we were so ready to move on from the trippy stuff into something with harder edges, something we could get a grip on. Which of course was MR’s top-turns, Rabbit’s pinball-playing, and Shaun’s tuberiding. That said, the Free Ride photography, especially Dan Merkel’s water shots, were as mesmerizing and ethereal as anything in Morning of the Earth.
Shaun Tomson owns Free Ride. MR and Rabbit were still on the rise, but Shaun at Backdoor and OTW was life-changing, beyond progressive. There’s a slow-mo shot of him at dusk, coming out of a long tube, and his face just breaks into this huge grin as he heads for the beach. What Shaun was doing right then, at that very moment, inventing a better way to ride the tube, was new to HIM, as well as us, and he just can’t help but smile at what’s going on. MATT WARSHAW
Best moments: The pivotal scene of MR and Shaun weaving an Off the Wall tube together, which was painted as a moment of symphony when it was MR who had the shits with Shaun hence the drop in, and Rabbit on the swing. Talk to me. Your best moments and why.
Shaun Tomson owns Free Ride. MR and Rabbit were still on the rise, but Shaun at Backdoor and OTW was life-changing, beyond progressive. There’s a slow-mo shot of him at dusk, coming out of a long tube, and his face just breaks into this huge grin as he heads for the beach. What Shaun was doing right then, at that very moment, inventing a better way to ride the tube, was new to HIM, as well as us, and he just can’t help but smile at what’s going on. Not in a claiming way. It’s just pure joy. He’s thought about surfing a certain way, worked really hard at it, and here he is making it happen, and it’s like waking up inside a dream. And Bill Delaney caught it! Every time I see that shot it cheers me up.
An undervalued film is Surfers: the Movie, Bill’s film for Gotcha. The Miki Dora interview is still being used in popular culture: on the Anderson Paak album Malibu, there’s a couple of samples.
The Dora bit is for sure what Bill liked best about the movie. He filmed it in his living room, just him and Miki, nobody else, and I’m not sure that anybody but Bill could have pulled that rant out of Dora. People trusted Bill, and felt comfortable around him. But I don’t think he has totally happy overall with how Surfers came out. He wasn’t specific, at least not on record, but there may have been some creative differences during the edit. I do know that he talked about making one last film, a third film, before quitting altogether. But that never happened.
Tell me how he’s going to be remembered.
Free Ride, obviously, is the signature work. Surfers is great too, if for no other reason than the Dora bit. I’m always so impressed by people who set and keep their standards as high as Bill did. Which has nothing to do with output. He made just the two features films, so you might think he left something on the table. But I think just the opposite. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill, deep down, wished he hadn’t done Surfers. Free Ride said everything he wanted to say about surfing. For it’s time and place, it is perfect. Part of being really good at something is knowing when to let it be.
Hot from the desk of WSL’s SVP of Global Identity: “Ron still on team!”
Earlier today, a press release slip, Freudian or otherwise, indicated that the world’s number one surf commentator, Aaron “Ron” Blakey, had been cut from the WSL roster.
In a list of “current announcers”, the presser announced,
Longtime WSL play-by-play announcer Joe Turpel and former World Champion Martin Potter call the action from some of the most remote and exotic surfing locations in the world. Rosy Hodge (former Championship Tour competitor) and Strider Wasliewski serve as commentators reporting from the water. In addition, Ross Williams and Big Wave Champion Peter Mel round out the commentary team.
The response from fans was immediate.
The former pro Mike Lambresi, wrote: “I already spend half the broadcast yelling at the computer. If the big dog is gone my yelling time will probably go up as well. 🤯🤬😡”
From another fan of Blakey, “I’d rather clap my hands in shit than listen to a full seppo team.”
Another, “How will I get the missus to let me watch more now ? It was my trump card.”
Happily, a few moments ago, the WSL’s SVP of Global Brand Identity, Mr David Prodan, released a three word text message.
“Ron still on team.”
The best news, yes?
Breaking: World Surf League announcer Ron Blakey mysteriously cut from the booth!
Imagine that you are Ron “dog” Blakey with me for a moment. Imagine that you just woke up in your Byron* home, put on the kettle to make some coffee. Everything around you is clean and modern. Subtle elegance. Stainless steel where it’s appropriate. Eggshell subway tile where it isn’t. The kettle whistles, you pour over your Chemex, crafting a mug of perfect second wave. Ahhhh. The taste of… dare you say success?
Oh of course you dare. Throughout this last World Surf League Championship Tour season you became the consensus best commentator on the World Surf League airwaves. Peter Mel never quite reached his potential. Ross Williams went away. It was revealed months ago that Martin Potter has actually been dead for a year and a half.
Your golden baritone, touched with broad Australian charm, has become the standard. The stainless steel standard.
You take another sip of coffee, flip open your Apple MacBook Pro’s lid and log onto [email protected] (password: Attackdogtits36).
Email, email, email, press release from the World Surf League that you haven’t seen before. Something about an upcoming Nazaré Challenge and Jaws Challenge.
You click and read…
“Longtime WSL play-by-play announcer Joe Turpel and former World Champion Martin Potter call the action from some of the most remote and exotic surfing locations in the world. Rosy Hodge (former Championship Tour competitor) and Strider Wasliewski serve as commentators reporting from the water. In addition, Ross Williams and Big Wave Champion Peter Mel round out the commentary team.”
Wait. Something’s not right. Something is clearly wrong. You read again except the same problem sits there like terminal cancer.
Your name is gone.
You throw your Chemex against the nearest wall, shattering it into a million pieces. The shards fall into the grout between the eggshell subway tiles and you curse the universe. You told her wife that everything should be stainless steel. You told her that cleaning glass shards, spilled rice and quinoa from between the tiles would be a total pain. Why didn’t she listen? Why doesn’t anybody just listen for pity’s sake?
Where did Ron Blakey go?
Why isn’t he included?
Coaching John John?
Sad that even though he rules the WSL airwaves his brother Vaughn is better at calling live surf action?
More to come!
*I don’t know where the Ronald Blakey’s actually live. They might live in Byron but they might also live in Lemoore. Who’s to say?
Breaking: Australian Rules Football star saves cousin from “surf rage sucker punch!”
Well, now we can add a deliberately broken surfboard, two black eyes, a sucker punch (or king-hit) and one of Australia’s most beloved sporting stars to the list.
AFL superstar Patrick Dangerfield has been forced to step in to save his cousin from a surf-rage attack which left him with two black eyes.
The Brownlow Medallist rushed to the aid of the 29-year-old, who was reportedly king-hit at Fairhaven Beach on Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road on February 2.
Dangerfield’s cousin is understood to have had his surfboard deliberately broken during the altercation.
The Geelong star was in the water at the time and didn’t witness the attack, but was involved in a non-violent confrontation with the man on the sand, 3AW reported.
Witnesses told the Herald Sun the man behaved irrationally throughout the incident, before police were called to the scene.
Oh. A non-violent confrontation on the sand doesn’t sound so bad. Sounds like a good time even. Like, I imagine it could easily have lead to a post-surf rage BBQ in someone’s backyard. Ice-cold Carlton Draughts being handed out and enjoyed. A few bags of cheese Twisties to go along with and maybe even some jelly slices for dessert?
Did Mr. Patrick Dangerfield just stop the madness for all of us?