Max Weston don’t like what’s happening to the world with its rapacious consumerism and waste. But Max ain't weeping about it. He's doing something.
All lives are precious, but are some worth more than others? Max Weston is a twenty-seven-year-old chemical and biomolecular engineer, and surf rat, from Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches.
While the rest of us eat, drink, surf, fuck, talk shit, work enough to earn cash to keep us in data and shelter, and try and snatch a wave here and there, Max has thrown his life into solving society’s problems through ingenuity and technology.
I meet up with Max in a beachside shelter at Sydney’s Bondi. He pulls up in a small black Japanese four-wheel-drive, the back seats folded down to fit his nine-six Gato Haroi, a five-seven Haydn Lewis twin and his five-five Lost Catch Surf softie.
He’s alterno-man, as you might’ve guessed or if you watched the O’riginals clip here, first. You might’ve even written him off in the opening minute when you saw ol twinkle toes dance up to the nose.
(You remember the last two O’riginals films? Beau Cram, here, and Reef Doig, here.)
But Max is that rare alterno-man, a retro ripper who grew up through boardriders contests and pro juniors, wanting to be a pro surfer like everyone else.
“I was a normal kid in Sydney, riding a fucking five-eleven thruster competing through high school,” he says.
His surf DNA is solid enough. His old boy got into surfing lateish, sixteen or so, but got so hooked he moved to the South Australian desert to gorge himself on those famous cold-water reef waves, slabs jealousy guarded by gun-toting locals and fleets of Great White sharks. Even though he moved his family, a wife and four boys including Max, the youngest, to Sydney thirty years ago they still keep a shack in the dunes, which Max vacations in every year.
When you watch Max on his Gato Haroi his easy to see his innate ability to put his board in the right part of the wave, his feet where they can jab the rocker up and down depending on his speed and turning requirements.
A good surfer. And a good surfer with other things on his mind apart from whether or not anyone can stop a rampaging Gabriel Medina.
Right now, Max is working on his doctorate thesis on the development of bio-sensors, a body of work made up of six projects, and how it can relate to sharpening the use-by dates on food.
See, Max don’t like what’s happening to the world, his world, with its rapacious consumerism and waste.
But Max don’t lay down in the street or perform theatre for the cameras. He’s a hero not a halo.
“Man can solve things,” he says. “Everyone thinks, the way we used to lives was beautiful but breaking down systems and going back to the past isn’t the solution. The solution is something we’ve never seen before. Technology is the solution.”
Max is in a research group of ten at the University of New South Wales working on the tech that would put millions of cellular sensors that mimic biology into food. So, instead of looking at that bottle of milk, noting the use-by date printed on the label has passed and throwing out the remaining quart, you’d be notified by a change in colour as the sensor interacts with toxins.
“I’m interested in mimicking nature and tweaking it,” he says.
And it’s not just a consumer thing. Reduce waste across the entire food industry and billions of dollars worth of food that is eaten instead of discarded means less resources consumed, fewer animals lining up for the abattoir’s knife and so on.
Max also discovered an enzyme in body fluids that’s a marker for cancer.
Still, Max is never far from the surf.
He just moved down to Bondi after a bust-up with his girl (she’s in the movie, check her out in her band The Buoys) and had to split from her joint in the inner-city.
So what does surfing give him?
“Lots of different stuff. It’s therapeutic at times, creative, social, it can be competitive, and, longboarding, especially is particularly expressive ‘cause otherwise you’re just standing there going straight trying to look cool.”
Max says he likes to change up his boards, longboard to five-ten, to twinny, to Beater, even a little bodysurfing.
“I like getting refreshed,” he says.