Discovered: The progressive librarian who coined the term “Surfing the Internet!”

“I said, ‘That’s my metaphor.’ It’s hard. You need some skill. You never know if there are going to be sharks."

I woke up today bright-eye’d and bushy tail’d, a cloudless mental sky. It has been twenty-four hours since a ceasefire between one-time “rude surf tabloid” and Santa Monica’s World Surf League and not one ill-word written. Not one subtle jab. Oh there was almost a breakdown last evening when it was revealed that the presenting sponsor of the just wrapped Freshwater Pro, OuterKnown also known as OK, had just been designated a hate symbol but the line held and, twenty-four hours on I feel the immense joy of life behind the Wall of Positive Noise.

Everything is truly awesome.

Surfing is the biggest thing ever. So big, so widely accepted, so broadly understood that we use the word “surfing” for every day tasks like using the internet but have you ever wondered where the actual phrase “surfing the internet” came from?

I librarian in upstate New York, it turns out, and let us turn to Syracuse’s favorite local website for more about Jean Armour Polly.

If you’ve ever said, “Surfing the web,” you’ve got Polly to thank. It was the title of her 1992 guide for a library journal about how to use what would become the web. “Surfing the Internet: An introduction,” was published in the Wilson Library Bulletin.

Polly was sitting at her computer, thinking about what title to use when she looked down at her mousepad. There was a surfer, a wave, and the phrase, Information surfing.

“I said, ‘That’s my metaphor.’ It’s hard. You need some skill. You never know if there are going to be sharks,” Polly said.

Shortly after writing the article, Polly left the library world for a time to work for NYSERnet, a nonprofit research group that was one of the state’s first internet providers. When she worked there, she shared the surfing article and it went as close to viral as something could go in those days.

“The idea of surfing went around the world,” Polly said. And with it came the wrath of surfers.

They thought Polly was equating their sport with something trivial and easy.

“I got some hate mail from surfers,” she said.

So when Polly went to Hawaii for a conference, she paid a visit to the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing.

“I threw myself on his mercy and apologized for this lapse in judgment,” she said. She laughs, but that’s just what she did. The librarian does not make things up.

Then she went into the surfing internet forums and retold the story of her apology.

That is wonderful, inspiring, kind and benevolent. I too have stood in front of that Duke statue in Waikiki with an offering. A small baggie of methamphetamine I had procured while working a story I did for early good Stab called The Ice Storm.

I left it at his bronze’d feet.

Extremely rude when I think back.

Ceasefire between WSL and BeachGrit falters; OK revealed as hate symbol!

The right side of history. I mean left. Or... good. The good side of history.

The detente between our World Surf League and your BeachGrit got off to such a wonderful start this morning. Principals Derek Rielly and Chas Smith, chastened by a populist movement brewing amongst The People™, each woke up on different sides of the Pacific determined to contribute in meaningful ways to the Positive Wall of Noise. Derek hurriedly tapped into an important economic media site with a slight left lean in order to effusively praise the face of Olympic surfing and current world number 6 Kanoa Igarashi.

Chas Smith, meanwhile, wrote no caustic, sarcastic, rude things but instead reported on current world 5 Italo Ferreira’s shoe/sock choices while gazing at pictures of his new leader WSL President of Content, Media, Studios and Shoulder Rubs Erik “ELo” Logan.

Both Derek and Chas felt the warm glow of belonging, of a purposed unrelenting positivity until a revelation derailed those good feelings and that warm glow.

Apparently OK, the nickname of surf brand OuterKnown, has been branded as a hate symbol.

BeachGrit will not be on the side of hate, disavowing at every turn, and the potential conflicts with the presenting sponsor of the the just wrapped Freshwater Pro are something that must be addressed heretofore.

As reported by NBC News:

The “OK” hand gesture, a mass killer’s bowl-style haircut and an anthropomorphic moon wearing sunglasses are among 36 new entries in a Jewish civil rights group’s online database of hate symbols used by white supremacists and other far-right extremists.

The Anti-Defamation League has added the symbols to its online “Hate on Display” database , which already includes burning crosses, Ku Klux Klan robes, the swastika and many other of the most notorious and overt symbols of racism and anti-Semitism.

The New York City-based group launched the database in 2000 to help law enforcement officers, school officials and others recognize signs of extremist activity. It has grown to include nearly 200 entries.

“Even as extremists continue to use symbols that may be years or decades old, they regularly create new symbols, memes and slogans to express their hateful sentiments,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

Bowl cuts too which means Harry Bryant and Alex Knost will also be excluded until they visit a barber.

Negotiations as to possible name changes for OuterKnown have put the ceasefire back in place but the situation remains fluid.

More as the story develops.

Derek Rielly (right) and Chas Smith pictured in new WSL uniforms very excited to be "on the right side of history."
Derek Rielly (right) and Chas Smith pictured in new WSL uniforms very excited to be "on the right side of history."

BeachGrit joins Wall of Positive Noise™: Calls moratorium on World Surf League slander!

"There's a lot of athletic, gifted surfers..."

After a stunning rebuke from constituents, BeachGrit principals convened through the night and made the decision to call a moratorium on World Surf League slander and join the “Wall of Positive Noise™.”

Underneath a piece lightly chuckling at an elderly Dutch professional surfing superfan/bot, Wiggolly’s Paddling Style, long known for a caustic wit and no-holds-barred directness, commented, “I’m kinda getting over reading articles criticising the WSL. It’s just a bit too easy. Can one of you go and do something remotely investigative. I am not asking for much. Even if you just find out what style g-banger Sage runs or something. I’m getting bored shitless here.”

Derek Rielly got right to work, making himself available to Bloomberg news for a glowing report about the WSL’s beautiful boy Kanoa Igarashi titled The Non-Stop, Endorsement-Packed Life of Japan’s Surfing Superstar:

“There’s a lot of athletic, gifted surfers but not many as driven as Kanoa,” says Derek Rielly, co-founder of the surf website BeachGrit. “He seems to love all the machinations around pro surfing—the companies, the people, the attention, the cameras. He thrives off it.”

Chas Smith, meanwhile, is working the phones, frantically trying to find out what style g-banger Sage runs. In the meantime, he can report with full confidence that current world number 5 Italo Ferreira pairs white Billabong athletic socks pulled taut with fluorescent orange and pink Nike Monarchs.

More as the story develops.

Pools for the People, right on. | Photo: KSWaveCo

From the milk-a-wave-tub-story dept: Are Kelly Slater wavepools the new socialism for the one-percenters?

Subsidies for wavepool builds, yes?

Last article on wavepools*, promise.

We all remember the Occupy Wall Street movement who wanted to, um, and um…. I have no idea, but whose main beef was that the culprits of the GFC: Wall Street bankers had gotten off not just scot free but had in fact been bailed out by the public to the tune of billions.

Privatising the profits, socialising the losses etc etc. They also popularised the famous and fabulous slogan decrying the bailed out suits as the “1%”.

We’ve also seen the stunning volte-face of the Kelly Slater Wave Company’s only operational wave system from the original pitch as a high-performance training centre to a cash cow corporate retreat.

That creates a few problems for the biz model moving forwards, as they say. Those golden, glorious words of three years ago where Kelly promised us that the tubs would “democratise” surfing look a bit threadbare now.

What we got is the opposite of that: a little playground for the rich and famous. Which is fine.

I’m an eat-the-rich guy by temperament and taste but a filthy capitalist at heart.

I love the hustle.

Nothing feels as good as making a tidy profit, especially from the fruits of your own labours. So we can’t really begrudge WSL and Kelly from changing tack on the biz model of the tub.

Even just a year ago, as the Founders Cup wrapped and wossle suits were high on the kool-aid, Nick Carroll identified the direction of movement as “not a country club for slightly chubby ageing rich people  but a serious mega-sporting facility designed to raise the next generation of young super-surfers”.

What was missing from that analysis, of course, was who pays? The tub ain’t cheap to run and even if you suck out solar power from a facility that could be powering schools or hospitals to run the green line the market still decrees the joint has a serious potential profit margin attached to it. Fifty-five thousand a day is a nice little earner, probably the best one the WSL owns now that the Facebook deal has been wound back.

The answer to who pays, if and when the KSWC does begin their aggressive global roll-out has already been answered, at least in Australia.

Us! Us being the antipodean taxpayer.

The reason George W Bush’s Sheriff Nation of the South Pacific can sustain three (oceanic) CT events with our piddly twenty-five million population while the USA with three-hundred-and-forty million can sustain none is because we put pro surfing up there with universal health care and education for all.

We back it with taxpayer money.

Socialised pro surfing is the greatest innovation in its storied history, more powerful and enduring than the backing of a Floridian billionaire.

Socialised pro surfing works!

Or it did until the rise of Brazil. Now it looks more and more like a dud investment.

But we can recoup.

Pro surfing’s Aus socialism experiment includes the Hurley High Performance Centre. High-performance Director Kim Crane confirmed to me that the centre remained committed to using wave pools as training centres, but that no training sessions were currently booked. When asked if Team Australia surfers were charged at the $US55,000-day rate for training sessions at Lemoore over the nine days they used in 2018 Kim said the rate was “significantly lower”.

Half a million Aussie dollars to train! Crazy cats!

The results from the training?

Two out of the three male CT surfers, Connor O’leary and Matt Wilkinson, dropped off tour.

I don’t want to bitch and moan. I love free health care and education for all. If we need to tap the taxpayer for a few million to get some Slater tubs up then so be it.

Calls to Andrew Stark, former CEO of Surfing Australia, a man spectacularly successful at getting the government investing in surfing, and who was hired last year by WSL to rollout the wavepools in Australia were not returned. I only wanted to ask him if the biz model had (officially) changed, where the first Slater tub would go in Australia (rumours of a build at Coolum were scotched by the Sunshine Coast Council) and who would pay.

How about a heavily subsidized build, discounted training sessions and a few free waves on the side for the rich.

Sounds like socialism for the 1% to me.

*Until next time.

Fuck Quit-Lit: “My fingers draw cutties along table tops during work meetings! And I’m going to be customer #1 at Melbourne pool!”

Dream comes true for brave little boy!

The dour outskirts of Melbourne will soon house Australia’s first fully operational, and publicly accessible, surf tub.

The URBNsurf pool, tucked in near Tullamarine international airport, is almost done. Its Wavegarden Cove tech is proven, so there should be no Yeppoon-style false starts.

The tap’s about to be turned. A church for surfing will be created. A bright red door for that grey industrial strip.

I’m gonna be customer number one, or as close as I can get to it. I’m a wavepool fiend.

I grew up a westy. Not quite Tullamarine, but relative enough to my home town. Greater than five minutes drive from waves. Surfing meant public transport, scabbed lifts.

I walked once. Mostly it was trips with dad, when he could manage it.

Years were spent oozing with jealousy at the kids that lived nearer the beach.

At night I’d dream of heavy rains or big swells and king tide. The ocean would surge inland, kicking up a playground of wave form along my home street. A right hander would coalesce off the roots of Mrs Downey’s fig tree. A standing left cascaded over the Griffiths Road lights. I’d have it all to myself, or with a couple of my other westy mates, ‘til the rain eased or the tide dropped.

A typical grom. Selfish, insatiable dreams. I was ungrateful for what I had. My envy moved mountains.

Jeez, I wanted to surf.

Nowadays, I’m a little more tempered, a little more grateful.

But I’m still selfish, and I still wanna surf. All the time. Fuck quit lit. I desire it. Long for it. My fingers draw cutties along table tops during work meetings. I get mind barrelled in the old lady’s fringe. I surf it all.

And those childhood dreams of mine have manifested into a serious wave pool fetish. I fucken love ‘em. Can rattle off names like ex lovers. Ocean Dome, Japan. Sunway Lagoon, Malaysia. Dubai. Lemoore. Waco. Yeppoon.

But I’m still yet to get artificially wet.

Until now. URBNsurf. A $59, one-hour flight away.

The thought of my first ride’s got me giddier than a junkie on payday.

But what’s it gonna be like? And how’s it stack up against the other pools flashing their wares?

The website Empire Ave shares my fetish. Like downtown pimps cataloguing the midnight strip they’ve done a write up on the different types of wave tech currently on the market. There’s no new information but it is nice to see them all stacked up together in a line.

(Note: they do omit City Wave, a glorified version of the Munich river wave. I once asked how much to set up a small one in Oz and the owner’s response was enough to make a working gal blush. Nein danke.)

There’s the first-generation pumps and dumps, old school tech. Think Rick Kane’s bath tub, or Taj and Parko Malaysian whip-ins. Easy to produce but v short with a weak ejaculate.

Then you’ve got the foil tech. Snowdonia. Surf Ranch. Sustained performance throughout the act. The story’s been told a million times over. But they’re expensive. Slow to reload.

There’s Plungers. Some freaky BDSM shit. The steam punk aesthetic is rad but the wave still dissipates quickly and bends away from the peak. Plus, when the plunger breaks costs skyrocket.

Most promising are the new generation modular systems: BSR, Wave Cove. Individual pistons and air cushions that propel the wave down the line but also allow the shape to be customised.

Barrels, open walls, ramps, pockets. Catering to the users every proclivity. (Except size.)

URBNsurf says there’ll be three sections at Melbs, a beginner’s foamy, an intermediate waist high ‘green face’, and then the outside Cove for the advanced. A refined man’s Waco. All in “iridescent blue” water breaking over a flexible cement pavement with a membrane surface. It’s even got a rip to carry you back out.

Most importantly it’ll pump out thousands of waves compared to a foil’s dozens. Cost per wave is greatly reduced ($7.50/wave v $250/wave, according to the Ave/Wavepool mag).

It’s a Cornucopia of wave form. My wet dream. I can’t wait.

But when that iridescent blue lip throws over my outside shoulder, will it be as good as my first?

Will that flexible cement pavement with membrane surface, rearing up from below as I rush down the line, engage and engorge the senses like a proper world-class reef would?

Or will it just be a dull an empty climax when compared to the real thing? A dry hump on an old pillow?

What’s the dawn of the wave pool epoch mean to you?

Maybe you’ve already dabbled? Does it compare?

And if you had a fist full of dollars and were looking for a good time, which pool would you roll the window down for first?