"I used to work at a magical place called Surf Ranch, dear children, where waves could be conjured on demand. Then one day people stopped coming. I mean they never really 'came' in the first place but, you know, it was a good idea. As good as pets.com."

Bubble Watch: Georgia wave pool paved over and turned into a parking lot!

"Surf is over! Again!"

Do you recall the dot-com bubble burst of 2002? Well of course you do. Even millennials were alive then, though likely not paying attention. As a refresher, everyone thought this new internet thing was a can’t miss money guaranteer so threw dollar after dollar after dollar at Pets.com etc. and then everyone realized this new internet thing was fake and lost all that money.

Very reminiscent of wave pool technology today. Oh the World Surf League has hitched its entire wellbeing to Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch. Surf Lakes, in Australia, has sold another property even though the first model broke while making two-foot waves. The Waco facility is back open after a gentleman likely contracted brain-eating amoeba there and died.

Still, big talk is being made. Wave pools are the future. A great new arms race. Surfing everywhere. Surfing the world.

But is the bubble set to burst? Let’s read about the “Surf Lagoon” in suburban Georgia. Let’s learn of its fate.

Jay Patel, one of the owners, didn’t want to comment on why the water park is closed, but instead focused on what’s to come. He says they’re still in the blueprint stages of the apartment project, so he couldn’t give a timeline of when construction is set to begin.

“With surf lagoon being there, it didn’t really show the peaks in the business. It kind of stayed steady all the way across. We were just hoping for higher numbers, but that’s business,” said Arshad Beckett, Ms. Polly’s Cake Giants.

Beckett also says the new apartments would be good for Pooler and businesses as a whole, because that means residents and people who aren’t just coming and going into this area.

“With them bringing a new apartment complex there, I feel like that’s cool. More people would have to pass us, so it would give us that visual for them to bring us a little recognition back here, and we just hope that it brings more clientele.”

Surf Lagoon will be used for parking this weekend for St. Patrick’s Day shuttle parking in Pooler.

And now let’s sing together.

Kelly Slater, at left, and his shaper Dan Mann, talk switch-hitting in the unisex locker room.

Watch: Kelly Slater’s outrageous switch-hitting shaper!

Meet a man who never rides backside…

It is a winter’s day in Lemoore, California. The day after Kelly Slater’s forty-seventh birthday, if you want specifics, which makes it February 12, 2019.

It’s cold. The air and the water is 48 (nine degrees celsius).

There is quite the pack at Surf Ranch, including Momentum-era vets Kalani Robb and the Weatherley brothers Jason and Benji, commentator and steroidal-tit owner Strider Wasilewski, the photographer Todd Glaser (whose wife will ride a “hot left” from launch to evacuation), a crew filming for Outside magazine and Dan Mann, the head shaper for Slater Designs.

Mann, who is forty-six years old (“Nine months younger than Kelly,” he says), thrills the crowd when he rides a right as a regular footer and, on the return leg, takes it as a goofy.

“The frontside warrior,” says Kelly.

As it transpires, Mann doesn’t know how to ride a wave backside. He became a switch-hitter when he was a kid learning to surf in Hawaii. His pal was a goofyfooter; his dad was regular.

He copied ’em both.

“That was the late seventies, early eighties when Jeff Hakman and co were doing that thing. It was cool. One of the tricks,” says Dan. “And, then, where I live now in south San Diego, the left barrels kinda bend so it’s easier to pull in frontside. When I hit twenty-five I think I realised I’d actually been a regular-footer the whole time. Ever since then I lost my goofyfoot comfort but I can’t go backside. I’m more comfortable frontside both ways.”

Does he identify as a regular-footer now?

“Yeah, that’s what I identify as and that’s what got Kelly all mad at me. He said, ‘You’re missing half the excitement of what it’s like to go backhand!’ I didn’t know what to say. Now I’m old and you can’t teach an old dog a new trick.”

I ask, how many waves have you caught backside in your life?

“Probably a dozen, if that. I would never even think to go backside, especially on a barrel. The only reason I would go backside would be to cutback and go right.”

Can he describe, as a switch-hitter, the feeling of riding backside?

“It’s awkward. Probably how a normal person switching stance would feel. But in that clip, I was faking it on the left. If you watch it again, I’m not that comfortable in that little carve but pulling in, barrel riding, I’m comfortable as a goofy.”

Over the course of the day, Mann was there at the pool’s seven-thirty opening, rode it for five hours until it shut for one hour for lunch, and was still riding waves at five pm, when it was just he and Kelly trading waves.

“I got a ton in that last hour,” he says.



When the climate or nuke apocalypse comes, what's your surf plan? Y'gonna be the captain of your fate?

Quiz: What’s your doomsday surf scenario?

The earth is cooked! So watcha gonna do when the apocalypse comes?

The past week is as close as I’ve ever come to what wankers might call “an existential crisis.”

It was brought on by a perfect storm of fiction and non-fiction. I’ve read two things this week that have violently affected me.

The first was a novel called Under the Skin by Michael Faber. It’s the story of a women who drives around the north of Scotland, on familiar roads, looking for well-muscled male hitchers to pick up. Except it transpires she’s not really a woman, and that she’s working. She’s an alien and her job is to capture humans so they can be harvested for meat.

The specimens she captures are “processed” by cutting out their tongues, removing all hair, then neatly slicing open their scrotums to extract their balls. Then they’re left in pens with straw, deep underground, to be fattened. Eventually, the naked, mute-but-screaming eunuchs are shipped off to another planet to be eaten as a delicacy.


The specimens she captures are “processed” by cutting out their tongues, removing all hair, then neatly slicing open their scrotums to extract their balls. Then they’re left in pens with straw, deep underground, to be fattened. Eventually, the naked, mute-but-screaming eunuchs are shipped off to another planet to be eaten as a delicacy.

It’s the most convincing scenario I’ve ever come across for turning vegetarian.

But the thing is, the alien doing the harvesting starts to realise that Earth is really quite beautiful. On her planet trees are tiny things grown in labs under intense lights. Her species spend their time indoors with sex, drugs and other vices because they can’t go outside. They don’t have rain, or ocean, or birds or free oxygen.

The second thing I read was an academic paper about climate change that has gone viral. It’s called Deep Adaption: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy by Professor Jem Bendell.

You can download a PDF of the paper here or you can shortcut to your panic stations and get the gist from this Vice article.

Basically, we’re fucked.

Even in the event of ovenight wholesale changes to culture, attitudes and government policies, we’re probably still fucked. According to the paper, we might have as little as a decade before we start to see the effects of climate change impact the structures of our societies. A short while later, we’ll be hacking up our neighbours for meat to feed our families.

The paper is a little sensationalist in places and perhaps tends to hyperbole. (“You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.”)

But I kind of think that’s fine.

The author concedes this, too. He admits that the language used is “to elicit an emotional response” because the situation we are facing requires us to “communicate emotively.”

I agree.

David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth, reports that a study into the effects of air pollution, which is likely to cause of 1.5-2 degrees centigrade of global warming, would cause 153 million deaths.

The equivalent of 25 Holocausts. And that’s just air pollution.

When you start using multiple Holocausts as analogies, you might hope someone takes notice.

The problem with terms like “Climate Change” and “Global Warming” is that they’ve been bandied around since I was a kid. In the beginning they were grand, far-off concepts that were impossible to imagine. Over time they’ve become platitudes. Terms like “mass starvation”, “inevitable social collapse” and “mass extinction” are far easier to comprehend, and far easier to react to.

Global warming is something I’ve always paid lip service to, but never really worried about with any conviction. And I believe 99% of people are probably the same. Everyone has heard of it. It’s just no-one really gives a shit. But conclusive facts are hard to ignore. Like the fact that 17 of the 18 hottest years ever recorded on our planet have occurred since the year 2000.

I’ve got a little piece of land mapped out. There’s a beachie nearby that picks up every swell going, a left and a right point and a couple of other little nuggets. I’ll have an alfalfa patch and a rabbit hutch and some chickens. And the cream on the milk will be so thick like you can hardly cut it. I’m working towards it. Jus’ trying to raise a stake. If the world comes tumbling down then that’s where I hope I’ll be.

So, surfing.

What the fuck has this got to do with surfing and anti-depressive etc?

In the context of civil breakdown and ecological dystopia I think it would be fair to say that surfing probably isn’t all that important.

But what would your Doomsday prepper surf plans look like?

Have you got a spot in mind where you might hole up?

I do.

I’ve got a little piece of land mapped out. There’s a beachie nearby that picks up every swell going, a left and a right point and a couple of other little nuggets. I’ll have an alfalfa patch and a rabbit hutch and some chickens. And the cream on the milk will be so thick like you can hardly cut it. I’m working towards it. Jus’ trying to raise a stake. If the world comes tumbling down then that’s where I hope I’ll be. And if I get to share a few waves with my boys (currently two years and eight months old) then I’ll die happy.

We’ll be rightly judged by our children for our ecological fuck-ups. We’ll be judged for our ugly, capitalist agendas. Our selfishness, our greed and our willingness to step on people.

But I’ll tell you what: the every-man-for-himself-and-fuck-everyone else nature of Capitalism isn’t going to prepare anyone for when it’s every man for himself for food, water and shelter.

There are glimmers of hope. There are inspirational young women like Greta Thunberg. There are the girls from my second-year class who stand outside the school with their banners and their youth and their conviction. They believe they can force governments to take notice, to take action on climate and I believe they can.

When I see kids of 12 and 13 who are so focused, so unencumbered by ego and social pressures and so articulate in communicating what needs to happen, it bowls me over. They amaze me. They are a generation with the wherewithal and the savvy to stand up for what they want.

Seeing them gives me hope that this stupid pastime of surfing can continue to be a stupid pastime and that one day I will get to share a few waves with my boys.

"Thanks for asking. I do like Kelly Slater but have to admit, Ross Williams really does it most for me."

Revealed: Momentum is a “punk rock movie!”


I truly enjoy the legs that the HBO film Momentum Generation has grown. Legs that don’t get tired. Oh it’s been featured everywhere from The New York Times to The Atlantic to Breitbart to Fox News and now it gets to be on Fake News CNN.

The title of the piece, ‘Momentum’: How Punk Rock Movie Changed Surfing For Ever first seems grammatically incorrect. Shouldn’t it be ‘forever?’ And second made me snort. Punk rock movie. Pffftt.

But then I read introduction and I’m sorry for doing without you but, here, let’s read it together. Don’t worry, I won’t silently mouth the words. I’ll patiently wait until you’re finished.

His upstart surf movie and its punk rock soundtrack crashed through the sport like a barrelling wave and changed the game forever.

Taylor Steele’s 1992 film “Momentum” pioneered a new rockumentary-style approach to surf films, turning a traditionally gentle artform into an explosive experience for the video generation.

Almost three decades later, the multi-billion-dollar global surf industry remains inextricably tied to a film that showcased new stars and inspired a new demographic of surf fans.

“I remember the first moment I put punk rock music to it and it just popped,” recalls Steele, whose film revitalized surfing as a sport. “The surfing seemed to accelerate and pop off the screen.”

For the surfers, appearing on Steele’s camera was a rite of passage, a reputational boost arguably greater than professional competition results. It also heralded the arrival of Kelly Slater, perhaps surfing’s most famous name.

“Being in the film pushed you,” says the Florida-born Slater, who won an unprecedented 11 world titles, starting the same year “Momentum” was released.
“I think the whole filming process definitely made me a better surfer.


You know the rest of the story but back to the punk part, I suppose it is a punk rock movie, or at least has a punk rock soundtrack, even though I have never thought of it that way.

Have you?

Do you think real punks, like skinheads and their main antifa rivals, would consider it a punk rock movie?

Much to consider.

Dear diary, mood, apathetic. My life is spiralling downward, I couldn't get enough money to go to the Surf Ranch concert. It sucks cause Blink 182 play some of my favourite songs like stab my heart because i love you and rip apart my soul and of course stab me rippie stab stab.

Longtom: How to hustle as a surf writer*!

"Surf writing has never been more punk or more fun!"

It boggles the mind how quickly the internet forgets but those of a certain age will remember the infamous table jump podcast Ep where BG principal Chas Smith went for the choke out on STAB Editor Ashton Goggans.

It was a watershed moment for surf journalism/writing.

I’m not a podcast guy – I find the format too long, too much wheat to sift through – but I did listen to the whole damn table jump ep, totally transfixed. While the table jump was in the spotlight and got all the attention a lot more meat on that bone was left indigested.

One thing caught my ear and has stuck in the craw. Goggans said how much surf writing meant to him and how he wished to inspire a whole new generation of kiddies into the artform. Chas may even have agreed with him.

I thought: wow! Kids want to be surf writers? Could that be true? Surely not.

Following that I had one of my regular online beefs with surf journalist Nick Carroll, the gist of which was “Fuck Shearer, I hope you never help someone in surf writing”. I thought, most unfair.

I can help! And help with the chief skill one needs to become proficient at.

The hustle.

The Old Legacy Print media gatekeepers were bullshit. I want to mourn them, but just can’t. They locked more talent out than they let in. The gear I read on BG, generally speaking, craps all over the old print dinos. JP Currie, SurfAds, Frontwards Fin Frank, Dogsnuts, Jen See of course, Von Fanningstadt(sic) etc etc.

Funny, sharp, independent.

Surfing, once for vagabonds, now belongs to billionaires according to Derek Hynd. Hard to argue with that. But we are still at the vanguard in two things: online commenting and surf writing. A: Surfers do commenting better than any human species on Earth and B: The future of work is the independent contractor/freelancer, vainly staunching bloodflow as they lose limbs to the onslaught of AI.

Guess who will own the algorithms?

When we are all in Harari’s useless class then we’ll all have to embrace the art form and jump in the steaming jacuzzi of surf writing. How? Don’t do it when you’re young.

Young surf writers are fucking horrible. Except Sabre Norris. I hate child prodigies but she was an amazing interviewer and quirky stylist.

Millennials surf write for a year or three and then go work for the Murdoch press. Spare the people the misery of using your surf writing as an extended resume. Do it the other way round. Work a real job then come in the backdoor with some dirt under your fingernails. Commercial fishing has never been sexier. School teaching has its charms.

Getting paid is a rapidly burning bridge on the current business models. Surf writing is yet to meet its Jeff Bezos so until the day of billionaire patronage arrives it’s better to think of it as writing for it’s own satisfaction.

Or a lead into selling something else.

What leverage do you have in the marketplace of ideas? In a world where even Nick Carroll gets rejected by The Surfer’s Journal, somewhere between nothing and five eighths of fukall.

Lewis Samuels made the pertinent observation that the “house style” tended to gobble up young minds and produce a form of the written word where one piece was almost indistinguishable from the other. Especially in taste and tone.

That’s the only challenge in surf writing. To beat the house on style, or create your own.

Chas Smith beats the house style in every magazine he writes in. D. Rielly created a house style so seductive that a decade after leaving STAB every writer there comes off as a second-rate copy.

Surf media started as a way to promote movies. John Severson kicked off Surfer magazine to promote his 1960 film Surf Fever. Alby Falzon started Tracks in ’73 as a vehicle to drive Morning of the Earth to market. Ozzie Wright sustained a 20-year career on the back of Vaughan Blakey’s Doped Youth movie promoted through Waves magazine.

It makes sense, if you have something to sell, to write about it. The last 30 years of surf writing as PR for the (failed) surf industry might be nothing more than slight aberration of the historical norm.

Surf writing is a beautiful art form. I recommend it highly and thoroughly. In its current incarnation it’s never been more punk or more fun.

How to hustle: go start your own ‘zine and give it away. Fund it with local business ads. Go local then go global. You’re welcome.

*When the local High School Principal found out I wrote surf he asked me to deliver a “career” lecture to high school graduates (true!). Not long after he was caught screwing the staff and exiled to the bush. This is a slightly edited version of the high school graduation speech, never delivered.