Warshaw, under a canopy of sun-kissed yellow hair. Old photo etc.

Just in: Surfing Icon’s devastating act of kindness in face of coronavirus pandemic!

As panic sets in to a world under siege by invisible bug, one surfer stands tall…

I doubt, by now, if I have to press upon you the bona fides of surf historian Matt Warshaw, a former surfer who is currently confined at home in Seattle, Washington.

A peerless writer, researcher, thinker, owner of The Encyclopedia of Surfing, the very thread, no, the single thread, that holds surf culture together in the face of the WSL’s VAL onslaught.

On matters concerning the sport’s atrophying culture, there is no one else to turn to.

If you’ve yet to drink from his fountain, dip into,




In today’s weekly EOS mail-out, where his subscribers are treated to one thousand seamless words on whatever topics Warshaw has been into that week and in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, he writes,

In exchange for you guys cutting me some slack, I make this offer: if anybody out there in EOS-land takes enough of a hit during the impending economic plunge that your subscription becomes a burden, let me know and I’ll pick up the cost until things get better.

I will continue to pull frivolity from our viral pandemic, in keeping with a whistle-past-the-graveyard response that, surprise surprise, is already the default setting for surfers and memers alike. On the other hand, there is no whistling away the fact that COVID-19 has literally hit home in Seattle. Schools closed here last week, meaning that in addition to being CEO of the world’s leading nonprofit surf history and cultural preservation website, I’m now a full-time stay-at-home Dad. Expect more typos and misplaced, commas, in other words.

In exchange for you guys cutting me some slack, I make this offer: if anybody out there in EOS-land takes enough of a hit during the impending economic plunge that your subscription becomes a burden, let me know and I’ll pick up the cost until things get better.

Social distancing means we are all going to have more time alone with our computers and phones. Between refreshing CNN Live Updates and watching our stock portfolios contract like a hot panful of Shrinky Dinks, we might as well kill time together on EOS. So hit me up. You guys rallied and kept EOS going when we were on the brink. I’m glad to carry anyone who needs it from now till vaccine day.

And to go out on a high note, remember that surfing, in these tense and unsettled times, is practically a life-saving act. Barring some kind of open-mouth collision with another surfer, riding waves is the safest thing this side of trail running through the Falklands. In other words, we just became half as selfish and twice as righteous.

No one quite like Matt Warshaw is there?

Put him in a shimmering white silk micro dress and a blue-black wig that hangs to his shoulders and jam his size ten feet into white square-toed pump with rhinestone buckle and I’d marry the bastard.

Subscribe to the Encycopedia of Surfing here. 


The Magic Elf Syndrome: Is the WSL fetishising People of Colour?

"A kind of saintly, adorable ET whose sole purpose is to remind us only about tolerance and our prejudices…"

Transformed is a documentary series from WSL Studios, currently into its second season, that tells “stories of surf ambassadors whose lives were transformed through surfing, and who are now transforming their communities through the power of surfing.”

The first series “sparked an emotional response from surf fans and resonated with a broader audience,” said the WSL’s CEO Erik Logan.

It’s a good spin.

The YouTube numbers were terrible, between four thousand and six thousand views an episode, a handful of comments.

The second series, between three thousand and thirteen thousand.

On a medium where Jamie O’Brien gets two-and-a-half million views for riding softboards down a sewer drain’s steep incline, the numbers are catastrophic.

Why the lack of engagement?

These are pretty, well-made films with every emotional button pushed: brave women fighting patriarchies, a legless Colombian, cruel Taliban overlords in Afghanistan and a focus on People of Colour.

Of series two’s four eps, the first three feature,

India’s First Female Surfer,

How Women In Surfing Are Changing the World, with Senegal’s Khadjou Sambe

And, A Surfer From South Central,

All gorgeous stories, break out the tissues etc.

I watch ‘em all over and over, big fan, especially chubby LA guy gets out of gangsta lifestyle  via surfing, a real weepy.

Yesterday, this IG post appeared.


I hadn’t noticed, too busy sniffling and jazz-handing, although it did make me wonder,

Is the sentiment of Transformed the same as the media’s canonisation of the Gay Man as Magical Elf, a theory held by superstar eighties author Bret Easton Ellis.  

“The sweet and smiley and sexually unthreatening elf with liberal values and a positive attitude is supposed to transform everyone into noble gay-loving protectors… a kind of saintly, adorable ET whose sole purpose is to remind us only about tolerance and our prejudices,” he writes.


Is the WSL festishising people of colour and is it this patronising approach masquerading as progressive values that has its potential audience staying away in droves?

Or not?

Surely, cannibalism is only days away. | Photo: 9news

Indonesia locks down ports: Twelve Australian surfers stranded on charter boat off coast of Sumba!

Booze, food, fuel, running low.

Ramifications from the world’s response to coronavirus are far reaching. Yet to be fully understood.

Border closures. Enforced quarantines. Essential social services in many countries suspended. Macro decisions that hit on a micro level.

The biggest social upheaval since World War II plays out in myriad ways.

As I write, twelve surfers from Newcastle, Australia, are in limbo off the coast of Sumba, east of Bali. Stranded by a political decision that sees them unable to disembark from their boat nor allowed to return home.

While they were out chasing waves in a mobile reception dead zone, local government authorities decreed no foreigners could set foot on land in any of their ports for fear of spreading the mildly lethal virus further.

Upon their return, they found the world had shut up shop.

No back to life, no back to reality.

At one stage, the dozen were down to the final meal and running dangerously low on basic supplies. The skipper they’d use the last of their fuel to travel to nearby Flores, but there was no guarantee they could land there either.

Many have already missed connecting flights home (and will now face a two-week quarantine for their troubles when they do finally make it).

“We’ve had one boat come out to speak to us to basically tell us we can’t come to land,” one of the surfers, Brydon Roper, told 9News.“This is a ten-day surf charter so the guys that run this boat stocked it for ten days only of food and water.”

Dire times east of the Wallace line.

Yet surf travel companies in my Facebook feed are still advertising business as usual in the Ments, up the other end of the archipelago. Freedom of passage assured, lack of crowds guaranteed. Social distancing to be enforced on the trip, allegedly. But any person that’s ever stepped foot on one of those testosterone-soaked love boats knows how that will play out

Cheap deals for you, mister.

Special price for today only. Shred the apocalypse.

But the situation is evolving as quickly as the virus spreads.

The only knowns are the unknowns and a real-world, geopolitical unravelling that would rival any right-wing-left-wing conspiracy fantasy.

So what would you do for love in the time of coronavirus?

Risk a dirt-cheap trip and uncrowded perfection for the chance of quarantine, forced berthing, or worse?

It’s a yeah, nah, for me.

Heedless surfer-father and young daughter enter Coronavirus travel nightmare; forced into boutique Parisienne hotel like “filthy refugees!”

A vivid dream.

“Would you rather be here or back home waiting in a mile long line for Trader Joe’s canned beans and…banana chips?” I ask my young daughter as we drop luggage off in our Opera-inspired, Jacques Garcia designed Paris hotel room.

“Ummmm. What’s Trader Joe’s?” She responds while washing her hands with the supplied Hermès soap in the bathroom.

“Exactly.” I say and it’s the right answer though we are now, officially, Coronavirus refugees. Instead of being allowed on to our scheduled Air Tahiti Nui flight tomorrow we are forced to cool heels in Paris for extra days, near the Palais Garnier, a stone’s throw from le Chapelle Expiatoire.

Brutal but like our brothers and sisters fleeing war torn Syria, war torn Afghanistan, conflict ravaged west Africa we will survive.

The Coronavirus Zombie Apocalypse has reached full tilt, or a much fuller tilt than any sane person could have ever imagined. I thought the flu-esque paranoia would grip Europe and we’d shred empty palaces, empty restaurants, empty plazas, parks, zoos and museums and that has been true, all of that and more, but Europeans, or at least the French and Germans, seemed generally lassiez-faire/lass los about the whole business. Nobody panicking. Nobody over-purchasing. Life as normal but… decidedly, gloriously less crowded, or at least until midnight tonight when all restaurants shutter and theaters screening The Best of Brigette Bardot turn black.

Aside from the elderly, who pull away in horror from my own personal walking immune system booster, we have lived a vivid dream but then, overnight, flight delayed. Postponed until the next day and who knows what then? Into an America hoarding nightmare? Otherwise healthy people crushed to death by cans upon cans of Trader Joe’s beans?

Honestly, what is going to happen to all the hoarded foodstuffs, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks? Has stockpiling suddenly mainstreamed and will awakened Americans begin digging bunkers as soon as this virus passes or will it all end up in landfills, hastening the Global Warming Zombie Apocalypse?

Well, we may as well learn French in the meantime.

“Oh can we please learn to speak French… ples vous? That’s how they say please. I’m serious.” My young daughter says while pulling me out the door for a steak frites.

Oui Vuitton je ne sais quoi.” I respond. “That means yes.”

My phone rings at that very moment and it is my wife, back in California.

“When are you guys coming home?”

“I don’t really know. The French are sending us to the Caribbean, theoretically, tomorrow.”

“What?” She does not sound happy. “You are NOT getting sent to some crazy quarantine island in the Caribbean with OUR daughter!”

Minutes later she’s busted us free and has us direct without even paying a gouged fare.

Charles de Gaulle to Los Angeles International.

“Your mama is better than Papillon.” I tell my young daughter as we push out into the almost warm night, the City of Lights glowing in puddles as the French, seeming to ignore social distancing norms, continuing to see life in pink.

“It took that bro a decade, or something, to escape from his crazy quarantine Caribbean island. Your mama is, historically, legendary.”

“What did Papillon do to go to the crazy whatever island?” She asks.

“Not cry when his mother died…” I respond. “Or wait. That’s my other favorite Frenchman. But your mama, classically legendary.”

Watch: Audi and Stephanie Gilmore recreate Kai Neville’s epoch-defining 2010 wavepool session!

Obvious question: who did it better?

In 2010, the filmmaker Kai Neville was shooting for what would become his, and the epoch’s, defining masterwork, Lost Atlas. 

That golden period. All collaborative artists have ’em.

It’s only years later, upon reflection, that we can trawl through their work and call it.

Kai Neville, the now thirty-seven-year-old filmmaker and sunglass company co-owner had grabbed the performance surf film space after his debut Modern Collective.

But for Kai, it was his second film, Lost Atlas, that built his reputation into a profitable exercise.

A decade later it’s still his masterwork. It came at a time when he had John John Florence, Jordy Smith, Dusty Payne and Dane Reynolds in his pocket.

And, in the middle of 2010, Kai joined your ol pal DR and the Stab gang to shoot Oakley teamriders Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Adam Melling and Evan Geiselman in a Canary Islands wavepool, with lighting and stills by master technician Richard Freeman. 

The clip, which starts twenty-eight minutes into Lost Atlas, is most surreal, an ethereal interlude in a most prosaic film.

Recently, the German motorcar company Audi, employed the surfers Stephanie Gilmore, Coco Ho and Leah Dawson to, and one must suppose here, recreate the Lost Atlas sequence, and which you can watch below.

The obvious question is who did it better?

Do bear in mind that Kai shot and edited his sequence solo, and using a seven-hundred dollar Canon 7D camera, while the Audi team hired the noted Australian filmmaker and artist Daniel Askill (Chanel, with Kristen Stewart, Dior, with Jude Law, BMW, Air France) and a cast of many.

(Watch the behind-the-scenes clip of Audi film here.)