Seeking “Naomiso”: The profound artist who came up with this provocative design for profitable* collaboration!

*You and Hong Kong split all the profits!

So you might have read earlier that surf/skate sneaker Vans pulled a leading shoe from the brand’s online competition Vans Custom Culture that alluded to the months-long protests in Hong Kong. I trust you are aware of the situation there and don’t need to stumble over the news here but China is currently acting egregiously toward historically brave Hong Kong citizens unwilling to bend the knee and give up all rights.

Vans, historically “rebellious,” issued a statement declaring:

“As a brand that is open to everyone, we have never taken a political position and therefore review designs to ensure they are in line with our company’s long-held values of respect and tolerance, as well as with our clearly communicated guidelines for this competition.”

Freedom ain’t free, as they say.

Anyhow, the stable genius Superworm came up with a brilliant idea in the Sacred Comments™ writing:

So Chas, contact the designer, and run the design on a BeachGrit Tshirt or deck grip. Take the win. Virtue signal, promote and profit in one hit.


And I’ll even contribute all the profit to Hong Kong protesters and the designer.

So, who are you? All we got is “Canadian-based designer Naomiso”.

Where are you?

Email [email protected]

Rebellion Lite: Vans pulls shoe design that irritates ruthlessly authoritarian Chinese masters!

"Behind the Wall!"

These Hong Kong protests, I’ll tell you what, are the very picture of “put your money where your mouth is.” What began as an infuriated local roar against Beijing attempting to alter extradition laws in the “Special Administrative Region” has morphed into a pitched battle between those who actually believe in freedom and those who simply profit off the idea.

Western company after western corporation has either remained mum, tiptoeing around silently in order to do business with billions of Chinese by bowing to authoritarian desires, or straight up capitulated.

Apple was the latest to mock its own ideals. The Bay Area-based tech giant has, since its inception, traded on being “different.” Recent campaigns have celebrated Colin Kapernick, every nuanced LGBTQ victory, women’s soccer. The brand’s most lauded advertisement ever featured Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. etc. but when it came to providing apps for Hong Kong citizens looking to get around their city without getting eaten by dogs, Apple vanished it quickly along with any other sort of anything that frustrates Beijing’s ruling class.

Vans, the shoe with its very roots in surf and skate culture and with marketing that depicts living “Off the Wall,” has also been utterly hypocritized and, as the story gained national news, we must go to CNN for the very latest.

Skateboarding brand Vans is facing a boycott in Hong Kong after it removed a shoe alluding to the city’s anti-government protests from a sneaker design competition.
The company’s decision to withdraw the proposed design was met with outrage on social media, where users began uploading videos and photos of themselves throwing their Vans sneakers in the trash, and even setting them on fire.

Held annually, the Vans Custom Culture competition invites the public to submit their own shoe designs, with the winner of an online vote receiving $25,000 and having their sneakers manufactured by the brand.

After voting opened last week, one entry quickly rose to the top, reportedly garnering tens of thousands of votes — a shoe themed around the monthslong protests in the semi-autonomous city.

Like Apple disappeared their app, Vans disappeared the Hong Kong shoe, releasing the following statement once the uproar reached volume.

“As a brand that is open to everyone, we have never taken a political position and therefore review designs to ensure they are in line with our company’s long-held values of respect and tolerance, as well as with our clearly communicated guidelines for this competition.”

Amazing that freedom of expression is considered a “political position” especially from a brand that uses our world for its inspiration. That “respect and tolerance” includes respect and tolerance for China’s hideous totalitarianism. Vans hosts a punk festival, for pity’s sake. A punk-ish festival and the U.S. Open of Surfing.

I would really love if there was more to the story, more to Van’s reasoning than pure, bald-faced market considerations, licking lips at a new potential billion plus customers. I reached out to Vans but haven’t heard back and this piece will likely come with a substantial financial hit for the Biggest Little Surf Website in the World but what the hell?

The thought of life behind China’s totalitarian awful makes me shudder.

It should make Vans executives shudder as well unless they want to change the tagline to “Behind the Wall.”

Chris Cote live behind the Wall of Positive Noise, with the biased judges (dressed in Surf Ranch swag).
Chris Cote live behind the Wall of Positive Noise, with the biased judges (dressed in Surf Ranch swag).

Brilliant: Ivy League student seeks to uncover “nationality bias” in World Surf League judging!

Blame Australians (I think)!

I sometimes wonder how the world would be different if I had been born smart. Could I have written a Pulitzer prize winning book about The Surfing Life? Could I have discovered the cure to some heretofore uncurable disease? Might I have been able to write the phrase “…discovered the cure to some heretofore uncurable disease…” without trying and failing to spell uncuralbe six different ways before looking it up and realizing it’s incurable thereby saving twenty-odd seconds?

We will never know because I was born me but if I had been born smart, like super Ivy League smart, I can assure you that I would have employed my brains to uncover inherent bias in World Surf League Championship Tour judging.

Thankfully, Cornell’s Jojo Aboaf, who will graduate in three years, is doing the Lord’s work and let’s go straight to The Cornell Daily Sun for more on his findings.

According to Aboaf’s initial calculations, not only did the scoring panel reflect traces of bias, but the application processes and interviews did as well.

Aboaf also noted that “correlation does not equal causation,” and said that other factors, like event location, might also be relevant to his results.

He created his model by collecting data from the World Surf League website sifted through thousands of data points and web pages using a web scraper — an automated software that extracts data from websites.

In 2018, there were 6,600 waves ridden over the course of the entire competition circuit, Aboaf said, and was able to get information on 6,300 of the wave time frames using his software. Although Aboaf is very tentative on making decisive conclusions because he is “a third of a way in[to]” his project, here’s what he says he’s found so far:

“Most of the people who surf internationally in competitions come from the US, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Portugal and France,” Aboaf said. “The judging panels are made up of that same core, compact group of countries.”

As he delved deeper into his research, though, Aboaf uncovered “nuances in statistics” that contradicted his earlier predictions and further enriched his findings.

“The data might tell you that an Australian judge on average gives Australian surfers higher scores than non Australian surfers,” he said. “[But] you also have to analyze how Australian judges perform generally speaking because Australian judges could just like to give higher scores.”

“No matter what the outcomes are,” Aboaf said, “there needs to be an emphasis on diversity on judging panels.” From the hiring processes to the review boards, Aboaf deduced that “promoting diversity in those contexts … reduces the chances that biases have true effect.”

Aboaf hopes to publish his findings in an academic journal and inspire Cornell students to take a critical eye to existing systems.

Oh man, I’m so lost. Can you explain to me using what my fifth-grade teacher called “li’l words?”

I’d be greatful.




Question: What is the greatest compliment you have ever received in your life (up to this moment)?

Who do people think you are?

I’ve been Tony Hawk’d my entire teenage’d life ’til now life. Skinny, tall, a bird-like nose. Stringy. Shifty. Well-meaning folk have stopped me in the airport. Arby’s employees have asked if “Charles Smith” ain’t but a nom de plume. I’ve signed autographs for thirty-year-olds who loved playing video games and I wasn’t about to burst their hideous bubble. Tony fucking Hawk has haunted me like an AIDsy scarecrow. An honest-to-goodness Grim Reaper and who wants to be that oft married man? Who wants to cheat on his third wife with the wife of the best man at his first three weddings then marry her too making a hat trick plus one?

Tony Hawk has been my cross to bear.

Until today.

For today I shuffled my six-year-old daughter to Party City in order to purchase her school Halloween costume (different from regular Halloween night obviously). She was prepping to be a zombie Pink Lady from the musical Grease. Zombie obviously again because what right-minded person doesn’t zombie Halloween? She’ll be zombie Marie Antoinette for real Halloween with a red stripe across her delicate neck etc. but I digress.

So there we were in Party City buying zombie makeup and a Pink Ladies jacket (official Grease merchandise). I sauntered to the checkout man, arms full of wares, and he said, “Do you know who you remind me of? I mean, look exactly like?”

I winced and responded, “Yes.”

He answered, “Yeah. I bet. Matthew McConaughey in True Detective. The moustache. The hair. The whole thing.”

And I have never been more elated in my life.



A look I can actually aspire to.

But it made me think. What is the greatest compliment you have ever received in your life (up to this moment)?

Also, I surfed a bunch of knee-high closeouts yesterday. It was fun.

So surfing. But more importantly who do people say you look like?

President Aguerre. Cool.
President Aguerre. Cool.

International Surfing Assoc. president lectures Olympic colleagues: “The ‘old sports’ need to adapt, be ‘cool’ and ‘young’ like surfing!”

Change or die.

One thing people universally love is for someone new to come into their ranks, be it school, at work, in sport, and tell them what’s wrong, outdated, needs to alter. Much like early-2000s dot-commers whipping in and informing the blue-chips that the economy had fundamentally reformed, man. Exactly like International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre instructing the Olympics, running intermittently since 776 B.C., to “change or be changed” as surfing comes swinging in to Tokyo this summer.

Cowabunga, hodads and barns.

And we must discuss more but first let’s get all the spicy talk straight from President Aguerre himself in Reuters, which has been around since 1850 and began disseminating news by utilizing homing pigeons.

The additions are part of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) bid to reach a younger audience and International Surfing Association (ISU) President Fernando Aguerre said the impact of the changes could not be overstated.

“The IOC, and I think the world, wanted youth,” Aguerre told Reuters at last month’s ISA World Surfing Games in southern Japan.

“So in the beach and ocean, coolest sport? Surfing. Streets, coolest sport? Skateboarding. Outdoor coolest sport? Climbing.

“So suddenly, in one giant stroke they add the three environments; the outdoor, the ocean and urban.

“It will be the single most important program change in decades, probably ever.”

Instead of leaning on the experience of established Olympic sports in preparing for Tokyo 2020, Aguerre thinks some of the traditional disciplines could learn a thing or two from surfing, which has also been provisionally included in the program for Paris 2024.

“The old sports need to adapt,” said Aguerre.

“(IOC) President (Thomas) Bach is very clear about that from the first speech he made when he accepted his election he said ‘change or be changed’.”

“The evolution of the species is one of those that change… or the ones that didn’t change that are nowhere to be found.”

And President Aguerre just dropped hammer after hammer as “cool” sports start a rockin’ and a rollin’ and HELL YEAH!

Change or die discus, get out da way pole vault, screw you 100 meter dash. Surfing is here with groovy pals skateboarding and rock climbing. It’s like a boy band of pure rad and steeplechase better be quaking in its soggy sneakers. Steeplechase better be thinking of ways to add ‘gators wearing wrap-around shades to the water if it has any hope of survival. Greco-Roman wrestling better incorporate some YouTube influencer-style. Like, “Subscribe to my suplex #KatyPerry.”

Marathons better…

Wait, is surfing “cool?”

Is “cool” still “cool?”

And how do you think President Aguerre’s comments went over with his Olympic colleagues? Was everyone busily taking notes or…?