Re-enactment on real surfboards not SUPs.
Re-enactment on real surfboards not SUPs.

Breaking: Two teenage boys practicing appropriate “social distancing” viciously attacked by malicious Great White shark in Santa Cruz!

No quarter.

We’re all doing our best here to at least look like we’re being respectful, staying away from others, vigorously washing our hands and/or squirting hand sanitizer in front of others so they can see how seriously we’re all taking this Coronavirus pandemic. This absolute horror above/beyond anything ever seen in human history. Sneezing into our elbows. Using those same elbows to “fist bump.”

Two teenaged boys in Santa Cruz went the extra social distancing mile yesterday, for example, hanging scarlet S U P’s around their necks. StandUp Paddleboard. A device guaranteed to keep people well over six feet away and likely cause denouncement from friends and family members. More “social killer” than “social distancer” as these boys will likely never find a partner who forgives but there they were, doing their part, standup paddleboarding out beyond the kelp beds ringing Santa Cruz’s Pleasure Point but did nature reward their self sacrifice?

Their taking one for the team?

Let’s turn to Santa Cruz’s local news affiliate for answers.

Two teenagers who said a shark thrashed their Stand Up Paddle board in waters of Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz on Friday walked away unscathed.

The close encounter happened while they were in the water in the evening when one teen said his SUP board was suddenly and aggressively pushed by a shark.

They were paddle boarding past the kelp beds when he felt a jolt and was knocked off his board.

While there was thrashing in the water, he scrambled back atop his board only to see a shark taking a bite of the back of the board.

The teen then punched the shark causing it to let go of the board. The friends got out of the water quickly with the board, which now has visible bite marks in the SUP board.

Uncalled for and horrible, proving once and for all that sharks do what they do on purpose.

That they love to be stone-cold bastards

That they hate men and/or boys.

No surfing in Santa Cruz for both moral high horse reasons but mostly related to deadly, malicious Great White sharks.

More unforgiving than your glaring neighbor when you step out for a waltz in the sun during this Coronavirus Apocalypse.

More as the story develops.

Kelly and phallic rock. A prize possession.

Longtom on HBO’s 4 x Emmy-nominated 24/7 Kelly Slater: “You can see why he plays now in this end of the pool. An increasingly belligerent surf media is as likely to mock as worship the eleven-time World Champ”

It's soft focus hagiography, Kelly is treated with a gentle reverence, adored by every camera angle.

There’s no great reveal moment into the character of Kelly Slater in the Emmy award winning HBO doco Slater 24/7, nothing as gobsmackingly compelling as the tête-à-têtes with healer Charlie Goldsmith in the WSL Soundwaves short.

Maybe the greatest reveal was Kelly learning from that expose to be more circumspect and hence less vulnerable to the public slaying he copped after the Soundwaves episode was broadcast.

HBO’s doco is very good.

Very, very good.

As you’d expect.

Slick, high production values, a super abundance of emotional cliches which hit all the right spots. Pretty much perfect fodder for mainstream audiences.

You could show it to your Granny and she’d now “get” Slater. We get the ultra-competitive war horse, with a self-confessed case of small man’s syndrome from an upbringing on the wrong side of the tracks in small town coastal Florida, writ large.

I see it as being of a piece with the great meta-narrative of Kelly’s life which has run parallel with his competitive surfing career: making him a main street sporting star and celebrity in American life. He reached that point easily and effortlessly in the Australian public imagination almost from day one, first as anti-hero when he relegated a generation of Australian surfing stars to the status of second rate supporting acts. Then, as genuine economic hero to a generation of tourism bureaucrats who saw in his power to draw a crowd the answer to their prayers to hit key targets. An official in the WA Tourism department cited, by way of example, Kelly’s appearance in the Margaret River Pro when it was a QS, as the chief metric and reason the government was willing the spend to up the event to CT level.

Sadly, Kelly has never reached the same level of stardom in his native country. Driving a couple of Floridian gals from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast airport I was stunned they had never heard of our guy Kelly. Mid-Twenties, bright as buttons. You will not find specimens of any part of the sexual spectrum in Australia who are unaware of Mick Fanning, nor Kelly for that matter.

That subject isn’t touched upon in the HBO doco.

The principal animating force is Kelly’s drive to compete and his battle with an ageing body that houses a mind that still throbs with the passion of competing and, as the elegant opening voiceover insists, shows a “stubborn unwillingness to let time dictate his story.”

It’s soft focus hagiography, Kelly is treated with a gentle reverence, adored by every camera angle. You can see why he plays now in this end of the pool. With the disintegration of the surf industry/media model an increasingly belligerent surf media is as likely to mock as worship the eleven-time world champ.

Any jagged-edged rocks could be carefully sieved out either in pre or post production; there is nothing approaching the openly cringey moments we got in the Soundwaves Ep.

It seems to me the conflict in the film comes from the question which remains unasked in the film, but yet lurks in every scene like Chekhov’s Black Monk. In that story, a brilliant scholar is convinced by a black monk that he is chosen by God for a special purpose.

As the scholar becomes more deluded he becomes convinced that without the Black Monk he is doomed to a lifetime of mediocrity instead of genius. By that analogy, Kelly’s battle with time and his determination to only go out when the “battery is done” has a tragic edge to it. In the Chekhov story the scholar succumbs to one final hallucination, the Black Monk guides him to incorporeal genius and he dies with a smile.

There’s no such tragic ending in the Doco.

More an extended meditative foreplay leading up to last years Pipe Masters. Which, according to Kelly, if had won, would have been his final victory, his genius now immortalised and he could go out with a smile. The film ends, bizarrely, before the Pipe Masters, an extended foreplay with no denouement.

We know how the story ends of course. A semi-final loss to winner and world champ Italo Ferreira.

We know Kelly keeps the Black Monk close by, commits to his genius.

The question, unasked in the doco – will he keep going and for how long? – is answered in the affirmative. At least for one more year.

While the film may be superficial for the aficionado there are many wonderful moments to savour. A sweaty Kelly rolling on the mat with Joel Tudor in a ju-jitsu scene is compelling, for many reasons.

Despite my intense dislike of golf, I found the golf scene marvellously entertaining; Benji Weatherly heckling Kelly during a golf swing was gold. Even I could see Abe Lerner was there to make Kelly look good. There was something expressive and yet incredibly enigmatic in girlfriend Kalani Miller’s Mona Lisa smile, whilst watching Kelly compete at Haliewa. The four-fin with nubster Cymatic surfing at six-to-eight-foot Haleiwa is a flashback to the 2011 New York high point.

In the end, Kelly’s monstrous yet utterly necessary self-obsession is tempered with the awakenings of self-awareness. He’s alien to us and yet we have to accept him. Reflecting on his life he realises how “it’s all gone my way” and then credits himself for the luck by suggesting that maybe “it’s just looking with the right perspective, the right lens.”

He hesitates when suggesting life advice to others, realising that pursuing your passion and making some kind of living out of it is a rare outcome available to the few, not the many.

Chasing the spectral shadow of pro surfing success is our man Kelly born with the rainbow wrapped around his shoulders.

This madman’s delirium is no lofty ideal but it gives his life purpose, making it joyful and happy.

For most, chasing a pro surfing dream is, on the contrary, an evil genius who entices with vile flattery and spits you out shaken and confused. A true black monk.

For us, the spectators, we imbibe the dream at our leisure, in the hope and mostly vain expectation of being relieved of the burden of depressing reality.

For that reason, we hope Kelly is the rarest of the rare: the one who never dies.

(Editor’s note: If you don’t live in the US, it ain’t an easy film to get on your screen. If your country doesn’t have HBO, or won’t share, get y’self a VPN and sign up for a free-month’s trial at Amazon HBO. Bonus is you’ll get to watch Momentum Generation, a truly brilliant film, for free, too.)

Photo: Mediadrumimage/Harry Stone
Photo: Mediadrumimage/Harry Stone

Photographer captures up-close image of Great White shark’s “sinister sneer” thereby proving apex-predators’ penchant for “sadism and evil!”

South African Psycho.

Of all the things to be scared of in today’s world, pandemic disease, economic collapse, rising violent nationalism, the European Union’s perilous teetering, the Great White shark and his many teeth continues to hold pole position.

There he lurks, monstrous and large, just out of sight, waiting to nibble toes, waiting to feast on feet.

The apex-predator is scary enough even without intention but a just-released photo from famous British photographer Harry Stone proves the Great White sneers like a serial killer, like a remorseless child snatcher thereby proving what has long been assumed.

Great Whites take sadistic pleasure in their vicious misanthropy.

And examine the above close-up. Examine those teeth, that grin.

Now examine Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.

Examine Jack Torrance from The Shining.

Examine the aging white male’s other worst nightmare Greta Thunberg.

Undeniable and terrifying.

Photographer Harry Stone tells The Daily Mail:

‘Like many people I grew up with the movie Jaws, which started a lifelong fascination with sharks,’ explained Stone, who has spent over a decade in the water with sharks.

‘I also had an Australian Godmother who told me that the creature in the movie actually existed, because they had them where she came from. I was hooked!

‘I think being the largest predatory fish in the sea and having such a fearsome reputation made them endlessly interesting. When I grew up everyone thought white sharks were literally the scariest things on the planet, hardwired and sculpted by evolution to be the ultimate deadly predator. However, if you are lucky enough to spend time with them you realise that they do not deserve such infamy.

No they do not. They deserve much, much more.

Iron Fist: Manhattan Beach surfer cops $1,000 fine for “disrespecting a lifeguard” during “Reign of Coronavirus Terror!”

"What are you going to do about it?"

As a child, I often dreamed about being on the wrong side of the law for a righteous cause, like smuggling much needed medicines past East German Stasi or Bibles into Red China. The thrill, of course, though also that beautiful sense of risking it all not for personal glory or riches but rather an ideal.

Something big and grand.

Well, now that surfing has been made illegal across much of the world, being on the wrong side of the law for a righteous cause has come to all our very doorsteps and let us go straight to Manhattan Beach, California where a brave young man attempted to sneak past the jackboots for some closeout fun. Shall we turn to the local Easy Reader news?

Yes, we shall.

A Manhattan Beach surfer was issued a $1,000 citation Saturday morning after ignoring a lifeguard’s order that he not go in the water.

“F… you. What are you going to do about it,” the surfer said to the lifeguard who confronted him, according to sources who were present during the encounter.

A Manhattan Beach police officer responded by issuing the citation.

All Los Angeles County beaches were ordered closed yesterday to deter the spread of the novel coronavirus. Saturday morning dozens of surfers in the three beach cities violated the order to enjoy a small wind swell .But there have been no other reports of non-compliance from surfers ordered out of the water by lifeguards. Saturday was the first decent day for surfing since all day onshore winds kicked in last week.

Manhattan Beach Police Sergeant Steve Kitsios said Saturday afternoon that no other beach closure violators have been cited and that his department is relying on voluntary compliance.

Now, I understand that police, lifeguards etc. are frontline-adjacent in our global fight over the Coronavirus pandemic. I understand that social distancing etc. will theoretically “flatten the curve” as it relates to hospitalizations etc. but surfing is the most socially distant pastime on earth, after Ned Flanders’ solo fog walks. A pastime that not only breeds loathing for our fellow man but also low-level rage, distrust and stink eye.

A glorious model of misanthropic isolation.

I would be all for police officers and lifeguards standing on the beach fining any surfer who paddles out near another surfer, or better for surfers to self-police screaming at interlopers and splashing violently, but no surfing at all? I must cut hard against Surfline’s royal edict here and also paranoia. We were made for this. It is our time.



Tell me!

Doc Joe in happier times. | Photo: @jomohardeman

US doctor responds to insane fury after solo-surfing Jeffreys Bay during Coronavirus lockdown: “I hate that I provoked such anger!”

"The only thing keeping this guy safe was social distancing."

Jeffreys Bay, South Africa: It was tough enough for the hardened surfers to stand down during an epic swell at Supers on Friday, March 27, but it was made intolerable by the fact that an American surfer paddled out, twice, and surfed it by himself.

(Read local report here.)

So when the lockdown hit on Friday, many local surfers, some with line-of-sight of Supers were shocked, dismayed and then eventually outraged that this guy decided that he was special enough to surf it, while the rest of the country was in lockdown.

When they discovered that he was also a blow-in, things didn’t improve much. 

The surfers in J-Bay and surrounds are a proud and robust bunch and are recognized for their solidarity and standing tall when the shit hits the fan. 

At the moment the shit is heading for that fan in South Africa and it’s coming in fast. COVID-19 has just hit the St Francis Bay community, home of Bruce’s Beauties thirty minutes drive from J-Bay, and local surfers everywhere are doing what they can to help by working together.

One of these things is obeying the law.

It’s a national state of disaster, and beach access as well as surfing is outlawed. Breaking the law could see fines or jail time. Going to jail in South Africa right now would be a grim proceeding. You’d sit until after the lockdown, timeline indefinite, and you’d probably emerge with a funny walk.  

When word filtered out about the American doctor surfing Supers the local surfer community Whatsapps were flaring.

The one phrase echoed over and over: “What makes him so fucking special?”

The only thing keeping this guy safe was social distancing. 

We tracked him down.

His name is Joseph Hardeman, thirty five years old, from San Francisco California. 

BeachGrit: You surfed at Supers during the lockdown. How long did you surf for?

JH: When I surfed the day before the lockdown, I had spoken to some of the brus, and they had talked about cracking it at first light. So I paddled out in the dark and surfed for a bit, but it had morning sickness, so I figured that’s why no one joined me. I had breakfast, and the waves were so pretty, and I went out again. I didn’t know surfing was not allowed yet. My girlfriend came down on the beach, and when I came in my host family told me that the town was Whatsapping them in a rage.

But you must have known about the surfing lockdown? Every man woman and child in JBay knew about it. It was being blared out from every screen and every piece of printed paper.

We had just got to J-Bay, weren’t settled and didn’t have wifi.

What about your hosts (a very sweet surfing family from JBay) getting the abuse? The fact that you paddled out a second time is most likely what pissed everybody off.

You’re right. I am ashamed and sorry. There was no way that I thought I was putting that family in any sort of risk. I thought one thing, then I learned, and now I feel completely different. It sucks being a visitor and having the town mad at you. I don’t think highly of myself; I just love surfing. Most would probably say that I’m an idiot.

We all love surfing.

I wish I could take it all back. I hate that I provoked such anger. My girlfriend hated the fact that she was the ‘chick’ on the beach and that she dates an idiot. I got my ass handed to me through WhatsApp and through the community.

Are you still going to go with the thread that you didn’t know about the lockdown?

I knew about it; I just didn’t think it included surfing. I’m committed to social distancing. I do appreciate the opportunity to tell my story, even though it sounds bad. Being out of the loop is hard to know what the hell is going on. Being a visitor is a much different experience than being in communication with the crew. I can totally understand how me paddling out looks entitled and self-centred, disregarding the community stance. The day before the lockdown there were so many rumours, it was pretty confusing. Now not so much. The whole situation is shocking. We had no idea what to expect. It would be nice if we could have a little understanding that we just arrived in JBay, knew no one, and had no wifi.

I’m sure the locals will hear you out and accept your apology. You’re stuck here now, and we’re all in this thing together. If shit goes down, you might need to volunteer your medical expertise.

I’m also going to volunteer to do some work in the prepping for COVID-19. Maybe I have some skills the community could use.

By the way, what stance, and what board were you riding?

I’m a regular foot, and I was riding a 6’3″, SOS Scarlet Letter, swallow-tail.

What else do you get up to, when you’re not pissing off locals?

Well, I have a Professional big-wave career.

Really? Do tell.
I tied second place with Tazzy (Anthony Tashnick) and Nick Lamb at the recent Nelscott Reef event (won by Jojo Roper). I am also in the running for a Mavericks Surf Award for Biggest Wave. I hope this hasn’t messed up my aspirations to surf some big waves in South Africa, and I hope my mom won’t get too bummed out by this article. Thanks again for listening. I’m totally jealous of this community here and ability they have to stick together.