Tragedy: “Leading federal meteorologist” drowns in Outer Banks surf after issuing warning.

Not ironic.

Rip-currents can be real sons of bitches. Growing upon Oregon’s wild and wooly coast, I was no stranger to their clammy grasp. I lost a very sweet Nev potato chip with much rocker, once, as I clung to the barnacle’d rocks while the the ocean tried to steal me. The current was a raging river hurtling to Japan and I snagged the rock at the last second but my New potato chip was not so lucky and the leash plug popped right out and I watched it bob up and down, violently, until it was lost over the horizon.

Very sad.

But not as sad as the tragic story of a leading federal meteorologist who drowned in rough Outer Banks, North Carolina surf after his agency issued a warning about rip-currents in the area. Not to be glib, but if Alanis Morissette was still writing her hit single ‘Ironic’ I feel she would include this incident even though none of the incidents in the song were actually ironic as, like this, they were all just bad luck.

But enough about Alanis Morissette and let us turn to NBC News for more.

The director of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration division for predicting weather died Monday in North Carolina while swimming in dangerous conditions that federal forecasters had warned about.

William Lapenta, head of the NOAA‘s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, drowned Monday while swimming at Pelican Way beach in the town of Duck, according to a statement from the town’s director of public information, Christian Legner.

An off-duty ocean rescue supervisor spotted Lapenta, 58, struggling in the ocean, and lifeguards responded within minutes to pull the scientist from the water, the statement said. He was unresponsive.

Emergency responders tried to save Lapenta, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Monday’s surf conditions and a rip current in the area were likely a factor” in Lapenta’s drowning, the town’s statement said.

And we all know what to do when caught in rips, don’t we? Swim parallel to the beach etc. but I suppose it’s good to refresh our memories. Like shuffling feet during stingray season. Speaking of, I went for a cute little surf this morning. It was small but very fun and the water was crystal clear. After a little runner, I paddled back out, sat on my board and peered through that crystal clear. There were no less than ten stingrays swimming below me.

My feet did not touch the sand after that.

The Master at work.
The Master at work.

Kelly Slater throws impressive shade: “I tweaked my back a little bit and it distracted me to not think so much!”

Dropping hammers.

Kelly Slater’s dominant performance in the Quiksilver Pro France’s seeding round was the talk of the town from Hossegor all the way to my once-pastoral Cardiff by the Sea. Longtom put it best in his end-of-day wrap. “How can a nearly fifty-year old be the best guy in the water in a three-foot beachbreak?”

And it’s true.

Kelly is surrounded by wizards less than half his age. Surrounded by a whole next generation of professional surfers who came out of the womb pitching air reverses, who were built for this, as they say. And yet there the 11 time World Champion was, all fifty years of him, grabbing one of the day’s highest heat totals with seeming ease.

What was his secret? He shared during the post-heat interview with Barton Lynch and I’ll provide the transcript right here.

I actually had a little sciatica from a deep massage I got. I kinda tweaked my back a little bit actually and uhhhh I think it distracted me enough to not think so much. I just went out and surfed and had fun.

A hammer from the God of Shade.

Oh it may seem innocuous but nothing Kelly Slater does is innocuous and would you like to know which other professional surfer was struggling with a “tweaked back” and who clearly let it affect his performance?

That’s right.

Filipe Toledo.

And when Filipe hears word of Kelly’s sly remark, that a tweaked back leads to improved, bold performances, how do you think it will affect him?

I truly hope the two meet up in the quarterfinals. The Great Back Off of 2019 will be one for the record books.

"Man-eating" Great White overcome with passion asks young woman where her boyfriend is so he can rock him "all night long."
"Man-eating" Great White overcome with passion asks young woman where her boyfriend is so he can rock him "all night long."

Shocking: Genderqueer supergroup Kiss to play benefit concert for “man-eating” Great White sharks!

Is this the actual end?

And I never thought I’d see the day. I never thought I would pour my fifth afternoon cocktail to a headline declaring that Kiss, the genderqueer New York supergroup that brought us such hits as “Love Gun” “Lick it up” and “I was made for lovin’ you” was actually made for lovin’ “man-eating” Great White sharks but I did and it’s true.

Shockingly true.

And there I was pouring my sixth afternoon cocktail when I read Kiss to Play First-Ever Show for Great White Sharks.

I rubbed my eyes, took another sip, clicked and sallied forth.

This November, KISS will play the first-ever show for great white sharks. (Turns out, they’re big fans.) Human fans can reserve their spot for this one-time-only concert event starting October 14. Brought to you in partnership with Animals On Airbnbexperiences.

What you’ll do: Welcome to “Shark Rock City,” where KISS will perform a live set off the southern coast of Australia to entice sharks, who love the low-frequency sounds of rock and roll.

This once-in-a-lifetime ocean concert takes place on November 18 in Port Lincoln, where you’ll board a boat at 6:30 a.m. and cruise along the coastline looking for birds, dolphins, and other wildlife. For the main event, you’ll head out to the deep waters of the Indian Ocean — one of the biggest feeding grounds for great whites.


Though I suppose Kiss has always been progressive but do Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and the boys understand the current state of siege we are living under?

Are they not aware that these “man-eating” Great Whites they shall be performing for have turned my once-rustic North County, San Diego into a teeming hell? Not cognizant that around Cape Cod men, mostly surfers, are being eaten like pesce crudo? Not conscious of the truth that “man-eating” Great Whites have traveled to Rhode Island for the first time in recorded history?

Rhode Island is but a three hour drive from The Spotted Pig in New York’s Manhattan. Too close for comfort, if you ask my now expert opinion but are you speciesqueer?

Do you want to share a plate of bibb salad with radicchio, shaved radish and mustard vinaigrette with “man-eating” Great White sharks on their way to the already hammered Boogie Room?

I didn’t think so.

More as the story develops.

The rebel's rebel Ira Opper on ground (obviously).
The rebel's rebel Ira Opper on ground (obviously).

Exclusive: Miki Dora and the lawsuit that changed surf journalism forever!

A true story.

Miki Dora’s gilded stool in surfing’s Great Valhalla is next to Michael Peterson’s, near Andy Iron’s with Button Kaluhiokalani’s but a few ale horns away. He’s iconic, legendary, emulated, even worshipped by a handful of die-hard nostalgists.

Me, I’ve never found the man that compelling. Sure, his gilded stool is there in surfing’s Great Valhalla and his name looks good in print. Miki Dora. Mickolas Dora. Even Mickey Dora and his face looked good in photograph, like a discount Pete Taras, but other than that he never cranked my shaft.

He was a rebel and an asshole, two traits I hold dear. A con-man, outlaw, ne’r-do-well. Three more. He should be my favorite surfer instead of Ryan Callinan but I can’t even be bothered so what’s my problem?

I’ll tell you.

The 1989-1991 Superior Court of California case presided over by the Honorable David Horowitz which pitted one Mickey Dora against Frontline Video Inc. A company owned and operated to this day by surf cinema stalwart and multi-Emmy award winner Ira Opper.

Now, Ira Opper had grown up next to the Clark Gable estate in Encino, idolizing the whole Malibu crew and especially Dora. “He was a hero to me as a kid…” he says. “Back then in the early 1960s it was a 9 – 5 world. Everyone was getting jobs and going to work and here’s this guy surfing Malibu all day long. Malibu was like the Yankee Stadium of surfing. It was the epicenter and Miki owned it.”

Opper and Clark Gable’s step-son Bunker Spreckles would lay on the floor of Bunker’s valley home (he had entire house to himself on the estate) flipping through the then quarterly Surfer magazines and dreaming, eventually finding rides over the hills and into the hottest scene on earth.

“They knew I was Jewish…” he says of those early walks past the famed wall and through the famed pit before a long pause. “It was a tough world to enter and pretty intimidating. Dora shoved me off a wave at First Point when I was a grom. He’d come right up behind you and then just shove you off. He also called me all sorts of names. An ugly, skinny shit and unprintable names too. All the other guys were cool in the water. Dora was just… mean but also so good that if you knew he was in the water you’d just get out and watch.”

In the summer of 1986, 20-odd years later, the first Malibu Legends event was held as a sort of homage to the glory days. Opper, having gone to film school, decided to document both the event and the historical epoch. Tubesteak, the Karate Kid and the other Malibu personalities talk story and laugh about the bygone era in a sweet, simple ode. Opper also licensed a bit of Dora footage and some audio of Dora explaining various nuances of the surfing life.

Legends of Malibu (must watch here), hosted by an effervescent Corky Carroll, was broadcast on ABC and all was going well until Miki Dora filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Court for unspecified and punitive damages.

Miki was wildly, legendarily litigious. He’d sue, sue, sue, sue and when he got tired of suing he’d sue some more. In David Rensin’s classic All For A Few Perfect Waves he is quoted telling his lawyers that these suits were an attempt to squeeze the blood out of a billion-dollar surf industry that he’d “…not seen a red cent out of. It’s not fair. I have to live in a Third World country… The country in which I grew up as a free spirit is now ransacking my name and tearing my reputation to shreds by making films, videocassettes, clothing, books, advertisements, magazine articles, sports equipment, and all sorts of paraphernalia without my knowledge or permission.”

And he wanted Opper’s head.

While it is unknown how large the Miki Dora black market actually was, Opper wasn’t attempting to monetize Dora’s image or story. Dora’s image and story were simply essential components to the story of early 1960s Malibu. How could they not be?

In 1991 the Honorable David Horowitz agreed with Opper that the story of Malibu was newsworthy and that Miki Dora was essential in its retelling as Dora “reached a position of public notoriety because he was one of the best surfers who ever lived.”

A furious Dora immediately appealed the decision and, two years later in 1993, lost again, this time with the presiding judge ruling, “Whether Dora is considered a celebrity or not, whether he is seeking damages for injury to his feelings or for the commercial value of his name and likeness, we conclude that the public interest in the subject matter of the program gives rise to a constitutional protection against liability.”

That was that. A massive victory for The People™. A gift that keeps giving.

“The case defined what we can and can’t do in a public space with a public figure…”Opper says. “…and I wasn’t going to bend over. Dora pushed me off a wave but I wasn’t going let him push me off this. The public’s right to know supersedes a private person’s right to privacy. The public’s right to know is paramount… as long as you tell a true story. That’s what the judge ruled.”

Well thank goodness.

It was the last frivolous lawsuit that Miki Dora ever filed, having been so roundly defeated, and also broadened journalistic freedoms across the board sticking a second knife in his curmudgeonly heart. Storytelling smashes narcissistic ego.

Every time.

And I love my rebels and assholes. My con-men, outlaws, ne’r-do-wells but I don’t care for aggrieved whiners who run to the ‘law’, who attempt to use the same ‘law’ they love to flaunt as a stick to beat others.

True rebels don’t sue. Real assholes don’t whine or at least the best real assholes don’t.

Miki Dora was complicated, all people are to varying degrees, but those who choose to worship his visage should do so with full knowledge of who he was as both a man and a surfer.

They get to thanks to ugly, skinny shit Ira Opper. Eat all the epic surf movies you can handle here.

Riding the same Dan Mann FRK he rode in the tub, in early afternoon sunshine, 70 degree air, 70 degree water as Bruce Brown would say, he was scintillating. The heavy track off the bottom was as raw as Dane Kealoha, the combinations off the top progressive, or powerful, or both. Sometimes just a huge straight lip stab – a surfer's turn as Strider called it. | Photo: WSL

Quiksilver Pro France Day One: “Kelly Slater the star attraction at banquet where all hearts opened and all wine flowed!”

How can a nearly fifty-year old be the best guy in the water in a three-foot beachbreak?

Gabe Medina kind of ruined the opening day of the Quik Pro France; not personally, but by how he made the rest of the field look.

I know it’s sport, and it’s surfing and anything can happen but each appearance now has an air of inevitability about it which makes his peers look lifeless. Gabe rode sixteen waves in heat six. There were multiple airs, club sandwiches, sharp vertical punches, glide-ins, kick-outs and tube-rides.

Enough surfing, in short, for the whole day.

There were some good heats in surf that changed from flabby on the high, rippy and weird on the dropping and finally, as rippable as it gets on the premium part of the tide. Leo Fioravanti was back after the dislocated shoulder at the Box, which feels like yesterday but which is five contests and a surgery ago now. Leo went from last to first, Andino from first to last and Yago Dora stayed happy in the middle. Less than a point separated them at the end. It could have gone any way.

Filipe looked snappy and stylish, which means his back is not right. He hit the sand with ten minutes to go , nursing a slim but significant lead over Duru and Lacomare and held it when the buzzer went.

I had a bad back too, from digging a grave and burying my goat, who passed into goat heaven this morning. Turns out the stories about the indestructibility of goats are urban legend. This one, despite being a rescued feral goat who left goat hoof dings on my surfboards, destroyed gardens and loved to dance on cars, was felled in a single day by… something. A paralysis tick, a toxic substance.

We’ll never know. A faint bleat this morning, a last rallying against the forces of death and then he left us. Cold and stiff and in the ground. Which made us all very sad.

I felt slightly better, as I always do, looking down the heat draw and seeing K.Slater written there. A goat who is indestructible. He surfed his best small wave heat since Trestles 2012, when a twelfth world title seemed pre-ordained.

Riding the same Dan Mann FRK he rode in the tub, in early afternoon sunshine, 70 degree air, 70 degree water as Bruce Brown would say, he was scintillating. The heavy track off the bottom was as raw as Dane Kealoha, the combinations off the top progressive, or powerful, or both. Sometimes just a huge straight lip stab – a surfer’s turn as Strider called it.

Leo was in the booth, Slater had kept the family up practising putting at 2.30 in the morning. I’m sure Kelly won’t feel disrespected if we request that the B urine sample is carefully tested. He looked insane, but we’ve seen Kelly blow up and then fizzle out early this year so no big calls.

How can a nearly fifty-year old be the best guy in the water in a three-foot beachbreak?

Not many other surprises. Owen looked very precise, Jules got through. Italo had a few moments of brilliance. The biggest innovation, tied I think to the Fox broadcast, was the first all-female commentary booth I’ve ever seen in pro surfing. Maybe the first in history. Shannon Hughes, the gal doing the beach pressers, and who had made zero impression on me, and Rosie Hodge. Turned out Shannon did good in the booth, I thought much superior to the beach pressers. Rosie sounded a little like she’d been media coached by Pottz, with her insistence on “points of difference” etc etc but Shannon correctly identified the absurdity when Deivid Silva, needing a 6.01 was awarded a 6.00. “What do you even do, walking away from that?” she asked incredulously.

The energy in the booth was raised considerably as the two-some became a threesome with the addition of Wasilewski. The surf was deteriorating, lot of rails bogged and bad body language from Flores and even Bourez, the best epoxy surfboard rider on Earth, according to Strider was poking noses. Jack Freestone always looked in control of the heat, a D-bah onshore analogue in which he flew above lips. Why not more, Jack, wondered Shannon, voicing a question we’d all been long asking about Freestone. One of the best aerial attacks in the game and barely uses it.

Medina dominant, yes. And a strange back to the future moment in French sunshine where Kelly was once again the star attraction; a banquet at which all hearts opened and all wines flowed.

Quiksilver Pro France Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
HEAT 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Marco Mignot (FRA)
HEAT 2: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Marc Lacomare (FRA)
HEAT 3: Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
HEAT 4: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)

Quiksilver Pro France Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
HEAT 1: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.50 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.90, Soli Bailey (AUS) 8.07
HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.94 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.10, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.60
HEAT 3: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.40 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 14.33, Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.00
HEAT 4: Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 12.67 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.66, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.26
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.63 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.60, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.74
HEAT 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.40 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.87, Marco Mignot (FRA) 11.04
HEAT 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.10 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 13.34, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 7.94
HEAT 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.44 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.57, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.47
HEAT 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.84 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.67, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.94
HEAT 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.24 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.50, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.13
HEAT 11: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 13.84 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.67, Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.67
HEAT 12: Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.77 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.10, Michel Bourez (FRA) 8.90