Ask Doctor Jen: The advice column that we don’t deserve but get anyway because our Jen loves creeps!

Your life made better!

Advice columns are the beating heart of print media or at least used to be. The place where the experts crashed into the people, giving their very fine opinions on all manner of whatnot. And where would we be without Dr. Ruth, Dear Abby, Ann Flanders? I’ll tell you where. In a world of hurt. Leaving the toilet seat up (or down… I can never recall proper toilet seat etiquette). Burying our cremated parents in pet cemeteries for inappropriate laughs.

Doing lame things.

Well, times change and The People™ now rule or alt least rule here but you don’t think we still need advice from experts? We do and desperately. Oh not me, Derek or Longtom. We’re all dipshits (sorry Longtom) but can I tell you a little something that is probably a secret and maybe was supposed to be kept that way?

Jen See, the byline you see above some our best stories, is an honest to goodness doctor. She has a PhD in….. history I think but is honestly, truly, really Doctor Jen See. She’s smart, proper smart, and willing to help you navigate your life.

What help do you need?

What therapy do you crave?

What are you curious about?

Nothing is off limits. Dr. Jen is here to help and and all you need to do is ask. Toss a question into the comments, she will pluck the best (worst) and use her mighty brain to solve.

You’re welcome.

Who does this wave belong to? Which is paddling first?

Epidemic: “I was paddling first” disease spreading like wildfire through VAL population!

Are there any doctors out there? Help! 

There is much talk of disease, epidemics and pandemics in the United States of America with almost vanquished measles, mumps, etc. making a comeback. The rabidly fearful blame an anti-vaccination movement but since when did getting sick become such a horrible thing? Aren’t our immune systems there to beat away the naughties? I mean, I understand being all freaked out about polio but measles? Chickenpox?

Well, let’s not turn this into a vax vs. anti-vax debate because there’s an even more deadly plague raging through the VAL population. One that if we don’t stamp out today will destroy us all.

“I was paddling first” disease.

I’ve seen the symptoms in the wild more in the last week than I have in my three decades in the water. A few days ago, for example, I was out enjoying a little run of swell. The lineup was uncrowded, featuring only a woman riding a Lost Puddle Jumper and three college-aged VALs on softtops. A wave came, breaking left. The woman was inside but all three VALs paddled anyway. One of them caught it and was hollered off. As he made his way back out I heard him loudly remark to his friends, “I don’t know why she yelled at me. I was paddling first.”

It was more than I could take and growled, “She was inside you damn kook.” He tried to argue his point, that he paddled first and I told him to shut his mouth, which he did, but that wasn’t the proper response. I fear I rammed the disease further down his throat and now he’ll begin paddling even earlier in order to avoid being in the wrong.

Is there a cure? A vaccine? A proper way to address or is the only solution a mass culling?

Are there any doctors out there? Help!

The lady and the tramp! As the century-old saying goes, "use a picture, it's worth a thousand words." | Photo: Justin Jay

Crowdfund: Justin Jay’s Magnificent Decade-in-the-making North Shore Tome!

Help breathe life into a piece of surf history…

Always a good to help a brother out, wouldn’t y’say?

Of all the cameras and phones floating around the North Shore each season, it’s only the photographic reportage of Steve Sherman and Justin Jay that, well, how do you say it…sing.

Justin is photographer from New York city’s Lower East Side, a master portraitist who works with a Nikon film camera, an ancient manual-focus 35mm prime affixed to the beak.

Jay takes his work extremely seriously. Every year when he flies to the North Shore to independently cover the contest season, he carries a box of prints in his backpack to give to surfers he’s previously shot.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” says Jay, who has previously shot Jay Z, Outkast and P Diddy. “A picture does take a little bit of your soul in a sense, it’s why famous people wear sunglasses all the time. So if you take someone’s photo, you need to give something back, you have to make sure they get a print. Everyone has a fucking iPhone and no one has any physical prints any more. When you give someone a print from a year ago, they feel amazing.”

Justin’s approach is simple enough.

“Whether I’m shooting Diddy or Jay-Z or Kelly or Joel I put myself in the eyes of a 13-year-old fan,” he says. “What would they like to see? There’s plenty of photos of Dane and Kelly ripping, but that’s not my game. I want to see the surfers before and after they surf, getting in fist fights, partying, eating breakfast.”

He calls himself the Switzerland of photographers because he has no allegiance to a magazine or company.

My favourite shot of Jay’s, maybe of all time, is this image of Dane Reynolds, excluded from a Bruce Irons make-out session at a North Shore party.

Justin says his game works ’cause he’s an outsider, because hasn’t been in the industry for so long that his eyes cloud over the minutiae of this awesome multi-generational gathering of the world’s best surfers.

After ten years, Jay is finally going to sling it all into a fine hard-cover book.

As he says, “my style of stuff lends itself to ageing. These are historical shots, rather than standard portraits. Plus, going back each year is like going to summer camp or winter camp, in this case, all the same faces, this great fraternity.”

Like a lot of hot shots, he ain’t doing it through the usual publishing route. Hence the Kickstart he’s chasing.

Jay needs 22k (Australian dollars) to make it happen.

There’s some good incentives to kick in.

Eighty five bucks and you get a book and a signed print.

Five gees US and you’ll “Receive a signed copy of HI 1K, a signed 16X20 print of their choice from the book, and a round trip plane ticket to the North Shore during the Pipe Masters event in Dec 2019. Spend an afternoon on a private tour of the North Shore as Justin Jay goes behind the scenes to visit team houses and deliver gift copies of HI 1K to some of the athletes featured in the book. Afterward, enjoy a complimentary meal at the legendary Breakers Restaurant.”

Buy in here. 


Shaun Neff starts toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: “I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable!”

It's a great time to be a early 2000s surf industry scion!

There was a time in the surf industry’s history where anyone, and I mean anyone, could make money by starting a brand. I don’t know how or why just that it was true and I enjoy watching these men imagine it was their unique skill in “youth culture” and “rad” that led to their early 2000s riches in this the 18th year (and counting) of the surf industry apocalypse.

Shaun Neff is one of these men. The kinetic “guru” launched his eponymous brand Neff in 2002, selling a majority stake to a private equity firm a few years ago and now reveling in his position as a “brand whisperer” and shall we read some quotes from a new feature in Forbes highlighting his toothpaste collaboration with Kendall Jenner? We’d be horrible rude not to.

On high school: As a surfer and snowboarder, it was all about the brands that I felt represented my culture and what it meant the first day showing up in high school and what logo is going to be on my chest. There’s lots of options, but I had to make sure it was the right one that would represent who I am and what I do on the weekends.

On attending Brigham Young University: I was putting Neff stickers all over stop signs and I had the coolest guy at the skate park wearing it and the DJ at the party; I created this cool brand vibe in the college town.

On naming his brand “Neff”: I love that age of when you’re very entrepreneurial. It’s the time you don’t know enough and that naiveness of understanding what it takes to build a business and how you have to properly set it up and how many million things have to go right for it to catch on. I was just simple, even down to naming the brand. Bob Hurley used his last name, so I figured I’ll just use mine.

On his first trade show: I’m looking over at Burton and thinking oh that’s whack—they spent all that money and that’s not cool and I had all the cool kids and pro athletes hanging out at the Neff booth.

On being crazy dope famous: There was a good four or five years where I could not leave my house, whether I was dropping my kids off at school, going to the beach, going to work or getting on a flight, that I didn’t see my last name on someone. It was insane.

On life as a consultant after he sold his majority stake in Neff: I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable and then they apply it to their whole business. That really triggered me to want to do more.

On his brain: That’s just who I am and my brain never stops—I can’t be walking anywhere and not think of a new business I would love to start and how to make it different.

On starting a toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: When a friend is coming over you hide your toothpaste, so the idea was let’s make something that looks beautiful on your shelf, that elevates your bathroom and really stands out.


It is a truly insightful article featuring many more gems and I hope you take the time to read, highlight, take to heart, meditate upon, recite, use at TED X talks.

I also wrote about Shaun Neff in the award skirting book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here). Would you like to read?

(The U.S. Open of Surfing riots) That might have been one of the funnier moments in surf history. Drunk white boys with Neff bandanas tied around their faces pushing over porta-potties and throwing stop signs through surf shop windows to steal more Neff bandanas. Neff might be the worst brand in all of surf. On the company website founder Shaun Neff is pictured standing like a gangster except wearing two different colored shoes, tight-black skinny jeans, some goofy Mickey Mouse T-shirt under a try-hard satin jacket and a black beanie above the words: “We are like a gumball machine; spitting out endless flavors for the world to consume…” I wonder what “endless flavor” Huntington Beach riot tastes like. Like generator exhaust, aerosol sunscreen, vape pen, spray paint, spray tan, spray cheese, sand particles probably.

Fucking Shaun Neff.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

An immodest proposal: Let non-surfers judge professional surfing on an infinite scale!

A perfect solution!

And another professional surf contest is in the bag, tied shut, stored in a cool, dry place. Margaret River had its moments no doubt. That day at The Box? I don’t think professional surfing gets better than that. A John John win? Ballyhooed on a certain continent but the right man stood alone at the end. Still, ballyhooed and why? I think it is because the judges have painted themselves into a corner. We expect perfection on each score and we also expect the right surfer to win which leads to a heat like John John v. Caio Ibelli.

Now, it was clear that John John was the better surfer in that semifinal. His turns had more oomph. More of the undefinable elements that make us feel and yet the judges are locked in a garden of numbers and analysis, trying to attach arbitrary points scientifically. John John was better and barely won, the margin so slim that it should have been called a draw.

I could sense the judges cracking this contest, coming undone. That Italo 8.17 on the clearest 10 of the year, acrobatic, incredible, inhuman. The lowball was shocking but makes sense for the men in the booth are now too good and can’t see the forest for the trees. They see numbers and attach them properly but those numbers aren’t properly reflective of what we’re seeing or, more importantly, what we’re feeling.

How to fix?

Let non-surfing, never-even-seen-the-ocean folk judge our contests and give them an infinite scale. These non-surfers will get the right winner every time because they won’t be fighting against the numbers. They’ll be free to judge spinners, tacos (what my six-year-old calls barrels) and big wipeouts however they feel and honestly without thinking about precedent or wave comparison or any other arbitrary nonsense.

There was so much talk about leaving headroom in the damn scale this year but why does it need headroom? Why not continue to blow through until heats are being scored in the millions?

We’ve made it all so fussy and complex but better surfing is easy to spot and easier to understand. It’s the moments that make a heart beat faster and I wonder if the World Surf League would attract the masses they want by actually synching winners with performance.

What do you think about that? Tell me how it won’t work.