North Shore photographer’s two-day shoot with Kobe Bryant: “It’s hard to process the eerie and poignant connotations these photos now have.”

And tells wonderful story of "unique interaction between fame and authority."

Justin Jay is a photographer whose name, like the great Steve Sherman, has become synonymous with the North Shore.

His book, HI 1K, which you can buy here, snatches the glamour of the North Shore over the course of ten years, many candid moments etc.

Jay, of course, ain’t just surf.

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

Shoots Sean Combs, Jay Z, Outkast, Kanye.

Big time. Big clients.

Three years ago, Jay spent two days shooting NBA god Kobe Bryant for a Nike basketball campaign, an experience that was suddenly brought into relief with Bryant’s death yesterday.

“At one point, I found myself driving in his car from the Staples Center to his house in Newport – just the two of us,” Jay wrote this morning.

“We casually discussed topics of marriage, real estate and fans until he saw a pair of flashing lights in his rearview mirror. He had been weaving out of the HOV lane and we were being stopped by the CHP. Before pulling over, we joked about the possibility of him making a run for it and splitting the money for the exclusive story and photos.

“As the officer approached the car, he glanced at her and nonchalantly informed me that she was new on the job. He obviously knew this stretch of the 405 extremely well.

“Additionally, he didn’t appear the least bit nervous. He seemed to have a subtle smirk on his face like he knew there was no way he was actually going to get a ticket. Sure enough, despite the officer’s best intention to maintain professional and composed, there was the unmistakable look of awe and surprise the moment they realized who they had just pulled over. Needless to say, he only received a polite warning. I felt so lucky to have gotten to witness this unique interaction between fame and authority.

“Later that afternoon, I went with Kobe to his church and shot these candid photos of him at a service. I haven’t looked at these images in quite a while, and it’s hard to process the new eerie and poignant connotations that they now have.”

Possibly a racist action, depending on if owner of bare feet is Hawaiian or not.
Possibly a racist action, depending on if owner of bare feet is Hawaiian or not.

Cultural Sensitivity: Hawaiians bigotedly “passenger shamed” at excessively high rate for being barefoot on airplanes!

Not woke.

Surfers, by which I mean you and me, travel via airplane more than our non-surfing peers. We fly to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia’s Gold Coast, Australia’s west coast, Reunion Island and Hawaii. Oh we see all manner of things when we fly, many of them disturbing, like open-mouth sleeping, headphone-less movie watching, clapping vigorously upon landing and bare feet.

Now, we surfers, we know that not all bare feet are the same. There are, to name a few:

White businessman bare feet… pale white and wrinkled as if they were just in warm water. Toenails not nice.

Chinese businessman bare feet… usually uniform in color with better toenails but worse overall vibes.

Young adult traveling around Europe (male and female)… peak disgusting.

Hawaiians or various other Pacific Islanders… the very pictures of health. Brown, hearty, a symbol of national pride.

Hawaiians or various other Pacific Islanders wear slippahs and only slippahs. Toes, spread wide by lack of constraint, like happy turtles sunbathing, cannot even go inside shoes anymore.

Well, our non-surfing peers unaccustomed to such things lump all bare feet on airplanes together and then “passenger shame” with modern gusto. This unfortunate bigotedness even made it in to the august pages of The Wall Street Journal and let us read together.

THE CLIP IS CHILLING. Stephen King couldn’t have crafted a more skin-tingling scene. I am talking about the recent viral video of an airline passenger using their bare big toe to swipe across their personal TV screen. In the clip, which was posted by Twitter user Erik Olvera on January 1, the sockless flier toe-scrolls through the movie options with a disturbing level of ease.

I almost, almost, admire how little this passenger seems to care about her exposed tootsies. But should I be so surprised by this sockless wonder? Not at all, according to Shawn Kathleen, the former flight attendant behind the over one-million-follower Instagram account, @PassengerShaming. (She goes by her first name to maintain partial anonymity). The account is a catalog of ludicrous on-plane behaviors, as witnessed and submitted by fellow travelers and flight attendants. Recently, Shawn Kathleen has received a high volume of foot-related footage.

But how did we get to the point where bare hooves are the norm in the sky? “There’s a really strong sense of entitlement where people are like, ‘Hey I paid X amount of money for this plane ticket so I can treat this aircraft as I wish,’” she said in a phone interview. And it doesn’t stop at simply brandishing a bare foot. Passengers now throw their feet up on tray tables, inside the seat-back pocket and even on someone else’s seat.

That’s precisely what happened to A.J. Henning, 38, a teacher in Santa Barbara, Calif. On a recent flight to Hawaii, a seatmate “thought it was cool to take her shoes off and then put her bare feet” on his young son’s seat. He said something to the woman, who eventually removed her feet. “The lack of thinking of others was what got me,” said Mr. Henning.

In all sincerity, Mr. Henning should have been honored by the actions of the Hawaiian woman who graced her young son with those badges of virility. He should have thanked her, not shamed her and it’s our duty, as surfers, to pave the way for acceptance since we have culturally appropriated their Pastime of Kings. The very least we can do, really.

Unless, that is, the aforementioned seatmate was not Hawaiian at all but a young adult traveling around Europe by way of Hawaii.

Profoundly disturbing in that case.

While we’re together, what is your least favorite thing to see on an airplane?

Unprovoked: Sensational San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert’s wife survivor of vicious “multiple-bite shark attack” in Florida!

3 bites, 30 minutes.

And you are certainly well aware, by now, that the breakout star of this year’s National Football League postseason, San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert was/is a surfer and was once offered a sponsorship by Billabong to surfer professionally. He turned the offer down in order to pursue his football dream though does celebrate touchdowns by “paddling” in the end zone before popping to his feet and “surfing.”

Oh our surf world is very much like Christian rock ‘n’ roll. Any mention, any wink from “mainstream culture” our way is met with swoons, with much pride and a swelling of self-worth. We matter, we really matter.

Well, The San Francisco Chronicle, getting in on the fun, traveled to Mostert’s childhood home of New Smyrna to interview his “surfing pals” about these exciting days. Lo and behold his surfing pals are Eric and Evan Geiselman with special appearance by Billabong’s own Evan Slater and let’s dip straight in together.

Evan was friends with Mostert in middle school.

“We had P.E. together and he was miles above everyone in terms of athleticism,” Geiselman said. “He was a freak of nature.”

After eighth grade, Evan was home-schooled so that he could pursue his sport. But he still kept in touch with Mostert and surfed with him.

“I learned a lot of my skills from them,” Mostert said.

He and Evan are both goofy footed (meaning they ride with their right feet forward on the board).

“He just kind of had a knack for it,” Geiselman said of Mostert’s surfing. “I love how he celebrates his touchdowns.”

“New Smyrna is a hotbed for East Coast surfing talent and Raheem was one of a handful of local kids with real potential,” said Evan Slater, Billabong’s vice president of global marketing. “Even then, Raheem was clearly a gifted athlete who would likely achieve an elite level in whatever path he chose.”

And while the Geiselmans and Evan Slater are the absolute best representatives of this surfing life, the scariest reveal in the Chronicle piece was that Mostert’s then-girlfriend, now wife, is the survivor of a multiple bite shark attack and let’s read that together too.

When Mostert took his future wife Devon to New Smyrna for the first time, on spring break from college, he said she was bitten three times by sharks in the space of about 30 minutes. The sharks in the area, hammerheads and tigers, are relatively small.

“Not like the Great Whites here,” Mostert said.

He doesn’t surf anymore, and not because of the sharks. The activity is forbidden by his NFL contract.

“But I still like to go to the ocean,” he said.

Three bites in 30 minutes?


Eddie Aikau Invitational forecaster on latest North Shore monster swell: “Did we blow it by not calling on the contest? Because this is a legitimate set!”

The answer is "Yes."

Of course you have been paying attention and of course you know. Oahu’s North Shore, home to Turtle Bay, Pupukea Grill, Off da Wall and Waimea Bay which is, in turn, home to the Eddie Aikau Invitational brought to you by… I don’t think Quiksilver anymore… has been experiencing a run of climate change induced swell so grand, so large, that 50 people were in need of rescue there just yesterday.

50 whole people and pandemonium. Chaos. Disaster. But also perfect for the Eddie Aikau Invitational brought to you by…. Yeti coolers? I truly can’t remember. In any case, the last time the even ran was in 1911 when Duke Kahanamoku outlasted Bryan Adams for bragging rights and a brand new

Could it have run yesterday?

Should it have?

Let us turn Hawaii’s local KHON news for more.

One of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational surfers and forecasters for the event was out at Waimea Saturday morning.

“Surprisingly a few 20-footers came through and it almost worried me because I’m one of the Eddie forecasters and I was kind of thinking while I was out there like ‘Did we blow it by not calling on the contest? Because this is a legitimate set,” said surfer Chris Owens.

He said Saturday’s surf models weren’t showing the right seas versus period for them to “confidently call on the contest.”

“The contest has really stepped up on the criteria, ever since Greg Long won it in 2009, and we want it to be 20-25 feet which is like between 40 foot and 50 foot waves faces and we always want the Eddie to be a memorable day, a day you look back and go ‘Wow it was huge that day,’” Owens said.

“Waimea is the best arena in the world for a big wave event and the Eddie is the greatest show on earth when it happens,” he said.

So…. what. Have the contest forecasters carved out their very enviable jobs, will “test” every swell, seeing if it’s good enough and deem it unworthy?

True surfers the lot of them.

See you when the Eddie runs next in 3467.

And by “see you” mean from heaven where I will have unobstructed views as long as extra-portly Ashton Goggans is not sitting in front of me.

Two-time Champ Gabriel Medina and Zeke Lau lead surfer tributes to NBA God Kobe Bryant (1978-2020)

"You have inspired me to be the best athlete I can be."

In the gloomy mountains above Calabasas in LA’s San Fernando Valley this morning, NBA god Kobe Bryant, his kid and three others were killed when his $13-million helicopter crashed around ten am.

Kobe was one of the greatest NBA players of all time, eighteen-times All Star, five championships, although his career stalled, ever so briefly, in 2003, when he was accused of rape, a case settled out of court etc.

Surfers including Gabriel Medina, Zeke Lau, Jadson Andre as well as the WSL have posted tributes to Bryant.

Superstar athletes killed in their own birds ain’t nothing new.

Rally car champ Col McRae and his kids died when his chopper went down in 2007; Daytona 500 champ  Davey Allison died when his three-week-old bird ate it while parking in 1993.