Australian beach towns under siege from flesh-eating bacteria; US news network calls it, “A slow-moving horror show even more baffling to infectious-disease researchers than the novel coronavirus” and asks, “How long will Australia be liveable?”

"Their necrotic limbs reek of rot…"

If it ain’t raining it’s pouring for the inhabitants of Australia’s second most populous state Victoria, home to Bells Beach and the country’s sole commercial wavepool.

After a second hit of COVID infections, the capital city, Melbourne, has just shut down for six weeks, locking the poor and wretched away in ghetto towers, shutting gymnasiums, restaurants, the wave tank etc.

And now, according to The Atlantic, that august literary relic from Boston, beach towns on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula are under siege from a “flesh-eating bacteria” called Buruli, so-named after a former county in Uganda, where it was first identified.

It really is a horror show.

“Untreated, the pathogen slowly worms its way under the flesh before breaking through the surface, maiming and disfiguring its victims. Their necrotic limbs reek of rot,” writes The Atlantic‘s Brendan Borrell.

But Uganda is a world away from pretty, first-world Victoria, yes?

The Atlantic’s reporter flies from Los Angeles into the infected zone and “Wherever I went, everyone, regardless of their social standing, seemed to know someone who’d had an ulcer. No one was immune from the disease, and everyone had an opinion on it—whether it was something they’d read in the newspaper or a rumor they’d heard from a friend or just an idea they’d come up with over a pint of Victoria Bitter.”

(Note to writer: beer ain’t served in pints in Australia, it’s a British thing.)

And the treatment is ghastly.

The process is more traumatic than one might expect: (The doctor) had to plunge a cotton swab into the maw of Mikac’s open wound and scrape out the gunk inside as Mikac cringed in pain. Johnson put Mikac on two powerful antibiotics, clarithromycin and rifampicin, which turned Mikac’s urine the color of orange Fanta…He warned Mikac that the antibiotics had shut down Buruli’s defenses, and now the body would launch an attack on the infected tissue. The pus was building up under the skin, and it was about to blow. “Once it breaks through,” he said, “it will feel a lot better.”

It goes on to explain that the mycobacteria that do the flesh-eating are also the “culprits behind tuberculosis and leprosy.”

(Read more here. Fascinating etc.)

If flesh-eating bugs aren’t enough to convince you Australia has gone to hell, The Atlantic warned in January that y’might just be better off splitting the joint completely.

“How Long Will Australia Be Liveable” is a January headline, “Facing a future of fire, drought, and rising oceans, Australians will have to weigh the choice between getting out early or staying to fight.”

But what happens after the fires have passed through, and Australians return to either their intact homes or smoking ruins, dead cattle, a blackened moonscape where crops once grew? The lucky ones give thanks and get on with their life. The unlucky ones grieve, rage, shake their fist at Fate—and defiantly rebuild on the same ground. The battler spirit triumphs again, but for how long.

Get buzzed on that here. 

New evidence suggests it is highly unlikely that Julia Roberts “begged” husband Danny Moder to quit surfing in order to save their marriage!

A relief.

Does your significant other love that you surf? That you have nice triceps and a tan face? That you have a hair-trigger temper and bring sand into the bed, are often late to pick up kids and/or dates, sometimes cross into oncoming traffic because you are rubber necking the lineup, drain the family accounts on Surfline memberships, etc?

Yes, surfing is an enviable trait but not everyone appreciates.

OK! Magazine recently reported that famous actress Julia Roberts begged her cinematographer husband Danny Moder to stop surfing in order to save their marriage.

According to the popular British tabloid, Moder’s surfing was seen as overly dangerous as he was too much of a “thrill-seeker” and she would have preferred that he would have worked out in their home gym instead of “blowing off steam” in the ocean but he refused to give up and kept “getting his fix.”

Very sad.

Thankfully, though, Gossip Cop has debunked most of OK!’s story.

First, Roberts posted a loving tribute to Moder on Father’s Day featuring him walking with what appears to be a swallow tail’d fish.

If she was really so anti-surfing, it seems unlikely she would use this shot.

Second, the two vacation in Hawaii.

That’s mostly it.

Does anyone know when Ultimate Surfer is supposed to air again?

If this particular post frustrated you with its lack of depth, direction, meaning, value etc. don’t worry. I’ve got a fiery rebuttal from Surfline over the charge that the surf forecasting website gouged its customers during a pandemic.

It will be exciting.

Watch: Large sneaker wave rips blushing bride, her loving groom, off rocks in Southern California as jilted ocean seeks revenge!

Happily Ever Aft....

How long has our beloved ocean been used and abused for its good looks, golden sunsets, warm caresses? Oh we enjoy, certainly, and Instagram our enjoyment but then go and try to build wave pools on land and crow about how much more “consistent” with “better air sections” they are.

Bastards, the lot of us.

Well, has the ocean finally had enough?

Let us travel to Laguna Beach, California home of Cocaine + Surfing (buy signed paperback, just released, here), where we see a blushing bride and her loving groom ripped from the rocks in front of maids and men whilst completing the age old photoshoot ritual.

As you can see, the cameraman points them to a precarious spot while the ocean builds, protecting himself as the wave sweeps the beautiful couple into the deep.

Thankfully, Laguna Beach’s finest were on hand and performed a daring rescue but, quickly, could Mason Ho make a business out of this sort of thing?

Couples taking wedding photos on rocks, getting swept out to see while he surfs right over them and captures it all via GoPro?

It’d be very popular, I think, further frustrating the ocean.

Thankfully we truly don’t need it anymore as we have Kelly Slater.

Massive Great White Shark gets caught in New Zealand fishing net and dies; experts say not the famed “Taranaki Terror!”

"Tourists splattered with blood..."

Shark experts and enthusiasts will recall, pre-Covid-19, when it was reported here that an “apocalyptic mass human extinction event” was amassing off New Zealand’s once-bucolic shore in the form of “thousands of Great Whites.”

Well, the beasts have arrived in even greater numbers than the nightmare scenario and in greater sizes too.

But maybe you’ve heard of the “Taranaki Terror,” what has been described by eyewitnesses as a 20 foot Great White Shark that swims as fast as a bullet and eats seals in front of sheet-white tourists, covering them in red, red blood.

The Terror has been cruising for three-weeks, though some don’t believe, calling it a “complete load of bloody hype.”

I stand with the surfers, however, who have seen it leaping into the air and the bounty hunters who are out trying to catch it, as it’s jaw is worth a reported $30,000.

Another massive Great White was recently tangled in a New Zealand fishing net and perished. It was not the Taranaki Terror and its jaw was donated to science.

Where will your jaw go when you finally expire?

I hope mine is used as a weapon to strike down the next 1000 CEOs of organized professional surfing.

JJF and Mark Cunningham. | Photo: Justin Jay/@justinjayphoto

Warshaw: The bodysurfer Mark Cunningham is “mindful Zen-infused chinchilla-trimmed Ferrari perfection from takeoff to beach landing!”

The king of the sea!

Sunday is Matt Warshaw day, when surfing’s sole historian and its most quotable writer looses a sprawling stream-of-consciousness email upon his subscribers.

Today, Warshaw riffs on the North Shore bodysurfer, Mark Cunningham, a man who is to the North Shore what Churchill was to his besieged people in 1940: an unwavering symbol of determined righteousness and with a sorta off-kilter brilliance.

Read and learn:

Cunningham is of course the world’s most revered bodysurfer. For many of you, he is the only revered bodysurfer, but that is because so little attention has been paid to bodysurfers over the past 50 or so years.

Bodysurfing got way more attention in the earlies; Ron Drummond wrote a whole book about it, and Russell Hughes’ one brush with fame came with this long board-free ride in the ’68 World Surfing Championships, as seen on Wide World of Sports. Bruce Jenkins, in this excellent Mark Cunningham profile, highlights some of the first great bodysurfers.

The surf leash broke up surfing and bodysurfing, which up to that point had been united since the beginning—wipeout, lose board, bodysurf, repeat— and not long afterward Cunningham more or less became our one-man repository for what some people think of as the purest form of wave-riding.

It is often said that Cunningham is amphibious, which is true but incomplete.

It is often said that Cunningham is amphibious, which is true but incomplete. Yes, he is amphibious. He is also Ferrari. Photo: DaFin

Yes, he is amphibious.

He is also Ferrari.

He is chinchilla fur, knee-length and silk-lined.

Cunningham is as powerful and smooth as he is fish-like, in other words.

He wanted to bodysurf Pipeline the way Lopez board-surfed it, and that is what he did. No tricks, no wasted motion. Just mindful Zen-infused chinchilla-trimmed Ferrari perfection from takeoff to beach landing.

I have to tell this last story, even though it is self-serving and makes it appear as if Mark bought his way into EOS, which of course he did not.

While roaming a distant corner of the Surf Expo tradeshow in Orlando two years ago, I found Mark sitting alone at a booth, his magnificent head of white hair full and lofty, looking every bit the hawk-nosed crinkly-eyed younger brother of Nick Lowe.

A perennial EOS subscriber, Mark clapped me on the back and raved about the site and the importance of surf history and whatnot, and maybe because I did such a good job at maintaining cool he suddenly reared back and said, “Are you still taking donations?” I nodded. He pulled out an ancient two-tone Velcro wallet, ripped it open and fished out the only bill therein, a twenty, which he looked at for a moment then folded once and handed over.

He frowned.

“That’s not enough,” he muttered.

With a snap of the fingers, he squatted down, rummaged through a duffle bag, and came up with a shrink-wrapped box of Mauna Loa chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, which he also handed over, then once again clapped my back and sent me off with more uplifting remarks.

Dammit, he did buy his way onto EOS!

(Mark’s EOS page went up this week, as did his Above the Roar interview, and here’s his own short but wise bodysurfing primer.)