Surfing’s two great polemicists face-off in epic Coronavirus blood feud: “I can’t wrap my head around anyone that would spend their entire life riding beginner boards!”

And, "You're a total kook who ran home to the shoulder at Mavericks!"

It’s been too long between the bloodying of computer and telephone keys, as warlords face off online. 

A respite today, and a timely respite given the cholera, or whatever it is, epidemic.

Earlier, the noted big-wave surfer from Santa Cruz, Ken Collins, fifty-two, also known, variously, as Skindog and Skin Dizzle, a man who once received a citation for the “bitch slap” of two bodyboarders, was set upon by the original retro-fabulist, and kung fu expert, Joel Tudor. 

Joel, who is forty-four, is no stranger to online blood feuds. 

You’ll remember, Bullfight: Joel Tudor vs Shawn Stussy? Blood Feud: Joel Tudor versus the World? Blood Feud: Joel Tudor versus Kelly Slater? Tudor: “Crying is for baby girls!

Here’s another, “I make fun of shit because I can” and another, again, with Kelly Slater.

Skinny ain’t afraid to light up, either.

Here, he, also, lays down a gauntlet to Kelly Slater. 

Good times. 

To comprehend today’s blood feud, a little background.

Skindog is of the school of thought that if the state closes the beaches, one must respect the law.

Joel is of the opposite frame of mind, a libertine. If you can squeeze a little solo time in, sneak under the wire.

We begin, 

Joel has a swing at stay-at-home, Skinny, noting in comments,

“Kenny Collins this is you ….would of tagged ya …but you blocked me you huge wuss hahahahah.”

Oh, reader, you can almost hear the pounding of keys up there behind a locked and barred door in Santa Cruz.

Joel makes a lovely cameo in Skinny’s comments,

You at pipeline was pretty funny ….total kook who ran home to the shoulder at Mavericks! Bwhahaha love you and thanks for unblocking me hahha.

Skinny jabs,

Who you kidding? I don’t partake in the great migration each winter with you and your massive heard of semi-pro sheep. I went to Mexico all through the 90’s to present. I think it paid off not to follow on that path.

It goes on and on for days, the two various camps firing virtual salvos over virtual bows.

I’m in the Joel camp, if you’re wondering.

Question: What is the actual toll of forcing human beings to be mortally terrified of one another?

The horror. The horror.

I have not been to the grocery store in a couple of days which means I have not been to the grocery store in an eternity as experienced through our current Coronavirus Apocalypse. Last time, a couple of days ago, there was a limited amount of toilet paper and the checkers were wearing medical gloves.

Today, I had to line up with red tape indicating where I could stand and, once ushered in, there was also red tape indicating where I could stand. Confused grandparents who had lived through World War II wore ironic, disbelieving smiles.

Completely healthy millennials wore medical gloves plus masks and ran away from me like I was the physical embodiment of terror.

And what the honest hell.

What the honest to goodness hell.

I understand that we’re supposed to socially isolate etc. and do our part and am doing my part but has anyone stopped to ponder the toll this wildness will take on society?

Humans fleeing each other terrified?

Especially younger, healthy humans?

I went to the refrigerated zone to get a Mexican Coke. A man no older than Ashton Goggans, maybe 33-ish, and just as heavy but twice as fit stood there, in full medical gloves plus masks and fled, turned tail and sprinted toward the produce, when I came near-ish.

I spent the rest of my shopping minutes angling toward younger men, giggling internally as they peeled away in panic.

Then my wheels began to turn.

The future of surfing.

The glorious future.

I’m paddling out exactly where I want tomorrow and surfing exactly where I want.

But what happens to the rest of humanity? Mental states etc.?

More as the story develops.

The two surfers were apprehended by security and police, and were both given their options: R5,000 fine (three hundred US) or six months in jail.

Two more surfers of “extraordinary self-confidence” run gauntlet at J-Bay; captured, threatened with six months jail: “Round them up and bring them to the locals. Lots of spare energy to sort them out!”

Locals, again, red with indignation etc.

The online commentary in yesterday’s article on the Doctor who surfed at Supers and wanted to apologize was brutal, as only it can get on BG.

(Read here.)

Luckily, not too much was aimed at me, and it was mainly directed at the interloper, who really wanted to express his regret and move on.

What I did take to heart though, was that there wasn’t enough context in the article, and commentator Jordy’s Pout helped out a bit there.

Mr Pout described the South African situation perfectly, and I quote (but edited to suit me),

The article didn’t give proper context to the extent of the lockdown. It has nothing to do with beaches being closed, or surfing being banned. We literally have to stay in our homes, except to buy food or medical supplies (or if you work in related supply chains). All non-essential businesses are closed. There’s no allowance for exercise or recreation outside of your own home. The president specified that any visitors still in the country when lockdown started would have to stay in their hotels for the 21 days. Clear as daylight.

With that as context, when two local surfers paddled out at Supers on Sunday afternoon, the other locals obeying the rules and staying at home were pissed off, again, and the two surfers were called many names on social platforms, none of them flattering.

They surfed for a while, and a few people grabbed a few clips from the phones from balconies overlooking the waves.

It is heartbreaking for them all, watching from their homes, but the general consensus, much like yesterday’s theme was, “What makes these two so fucking special?”

These two laaities are locals, and they will be dealt with by the older locals.

As one of the more notorious older locals said on Facebook, “Round them up and bring them to the locals. Lots of spare energy to sort them out. Name and shame.”

Another local mentioned, “It would be nice to know who these guys were. Name and shame them cos you are right, lockdown means fucking lockdown for everyone… No exceptions.”

There are enough people who are taking this all as seriously as it should be, and are fully aware of what is coming.

The two surfers were apprehended by security and police, and were both given their options: R5,000 fine (three hundred US) or six months in jail.

They both took the fines.

They were unceremoniously marched into the back of a police wagon, and driven down to the local station.

Next offence is six months in a cell.

Was it worth it?

Well, the waves were ok, average. It wasn’t anything like the final at last year’s Corona J-Bay (between two Brazilian goofy-footers, both have world titles, read about it here) but is sure as fuck wasn’t a R5,000 per person session.

In the big picture, it’s not an outrageous amount of money, but in a world that is broken and there is no more income forthcoming, it’s a huge and stupid waste.

It’s not the point though.

The point is that there are hundreds of surfers in the area, and in the country, there are also hundreds of fishermen, and divers, and open water swimmers, and kayakers.

We all want to surf, to be in the ocean.

My boy is eleven years old and all he wants to do is surf.

All the groms want to surf. It’s what we do.

We surf.

But we can’t, because it’s the law during lockdown.

It’s the fucking law.

So don’t be a poes.

Be lekker, ekse.

Chill. Relax.

Have a massive dop, or have a skyf or a gwaai or whatever it is that you need to do to get over this kak time in our lives when we can’t go surfing.

Just don’t be a poes, seriously.

We will all be surfing again, if we all work through this together.

The alternative is too heavy to think about.

Laaities = young surfers, a bit older than groms, but younger than the established crew. Haven’t done their hard work yet.
Poes = meaning female genitalia, it is typically considered a foul word as it is often used to refer to or describe someone with utter disgust.
Lekker = cool, good.
Ekse = I say
Dop = alcoholic beverage
Skyf = marijuana rolled up neatly inside some rizla.
Gwaai = tobacco cigarette
Kak = faeces

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.)