Listen: Big-wave storyteller Mark Mathews on the intellectual dark web, kicking opiates and the extravagance of evil, “There’s darkness in you and if you don’t manage your life and frame it with meaning, you can become bitter… very fast.”
Crippled innumerable times, told he'd never walk again, now a keynote speaker of considerable note…
Today’s guest on Dirty Water, Mark Mathews, presents, irresistibly, as a keynote speaker of considerable fame and even a little fortune who came from the bruising circuit of Maroubra, Sydney, via the cutthroat athleticism of professional big-wave surfing.
He is a ruminative man, as you’ll soon hear.
Give him one little opening for the point he wants to make and down he comes upon you, in under your guard, flashing and relentless as a rapier.
Mathews has been crippled and winged innumerable times,
Told he’ll never surf again,
Never walk again.
A cracked plate that can never be warmed on the stove nor brought out for company. Good only to hold crackers late at night or to go into the fridge under the leftovers.
But where a lesser man might sink into the velvet lazy chair of opiates and pity, descending, eventually, into a hell of despondency, he is optimism radiant and roaring.
Vice-ridden 15-foot Great White Shark knocks man out of kayak in Northern California, attempts to “smoke it like a cigar!”
"I’ve had a good life. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much."
The shark apocalypse entered a dangerous new phase, over the weekend, one that social scientists and normal scientists did not see coming as it appears Northern California’s “man-eating” Great Whites have discovered heretofore unknown “pleasures of the flesh.”
David Alexander, superintendent of a local school district, was out fishing in his kayak in Shelter Cove, enjoying a bright day. As he rounded the lighthouse he heard a “thud” which lead directly to a truly disturbing moment.
“It felt like the front of my boat was lifting up.” Alexander told a local blog. “I heard a sound sort of sandpaperish, a grinding sound. For a second I thought I was being lifted up onto a wash rock. I saw grey and then I said, ‘That’s not a rock. That’s a shark!”
The Great White was estimated to be fifteen-feet long.
“He had the front of my kayak literally in his mouth,” Alexander continued. “It was like he was smoking it like a cigar. It was surreal.”
The impact rolled the superintendent into the water and he was certain of his demise, thinking, “I’ve had a good life. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.”
Well, the Great White didn’t attack, finished smoking the kayak then swam off likely in search of brandy, maybe a nice satin robe, a fine dame in pearls, Frank Sinatra’s Someone to Watch Over Me on vinyl.
We each know that moderation is key for all these things but I don’t imagine sharks have much self-control and worry that they will traipse into a vice-ridden life with much debauchery, many broken hearts, etc.
World Surf League’s grand December re-start plans thrown into turmoil as Covid-19 cases spike 10-fold in Hawaii!
But oh my goodness things were going along so well for our World Surf League, whom we have not heard from since a wildly successful Rumble at the Ranch. Santa Monica had rolled out the restart plan weeks earlier that included an exciting mid-season something and also something else about the Qualifying Series.
And the whole shootin’ match was set to get underway this December on The Gathering Place.
Well, somehow Hawaii has bungled its Coronavirus response and now the state that once had the least infections is near the top, spiking 10-fold in the last few months.
Surfer and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard blamed Governor David Ige for the current mess.
“Back when our cases were very low, in the single digits, our leaders were talking about how we can’t be complacent and had to prepare to do all we can to prevent a second wave from occurring and prepare for it if it comes. That would have been the moment to execute on all this. If [Ige] had done his job back when our numbers were low, we wouldn’t be in this position.”
New stay at home orders have been issued throughout Oahu as well as well as a cap on how many people can hang out together at one time. Currently the number is five which would still be OK for the World Surf League as there are only four employees left (CEO Erik Logan, podcast impresario Dave Prodan, photographer/ELo hypewoman Jessi-Miley Cyrus and somebody else) but it is all too close for comfort.
Along with keeping people away from people, many tests are being flown to the island etc. but will the situation turn around within the next few months? The head of Hawaii’s health department has been fired for misleading residents about the state of preparedness so… doubtful.
Still, Kelly Slater’s girlfriend is Chinese which is a great win, overall.
Breaking: John John Florence coach Ross Williams injured in bicycle crash; suffers “bizarre” injury! “2020 can suck it.”
If you saw Ross Williams waiting for a bus you’d never guess he used to be one of the best surfers in the world.
Almost fifty, a lazy hairline that holds a haircut like a dust-mop, a chubby figure that changes weight according to his mood.But put him behind a microphone, at the helm of a prized athlete or in the water and he glows.
Lately, father-of-three Ross has been riding a bicycle around the North Shore, prepping an injured knee for the coming winter. Or he was until he clipped his riding partner’s wheel at forty clicks an hour, hit the bitumen and got…degloved.
The gruesome injury, which is called a Morel-Lavallée lesion, is an “abrupt separation of skin and subcutaneous tissues from underlying fascia.”
Skin ripped off limb to reveal underlying mechanics, like the little leg of a butchered dog.
“About to have surgery to resolve this issue. Honestly, I feel lucky. Could always be worse. I’ll be back on the program in a couple weeks!!”
Hospital visits aren’t a novelty for thrillseeker Williams.
Five years ago at ten-to-twelve-foot Haliewa, the one-time Momentum star, “dove head first after a wave into the ‘toilet bowl’ straight into the reef. I cracked my head open and nearly ripped a piece of my nose off.”
Eleven staples and plastic surgery.
The roll call of well-wishers on Ross’s Instagram account, then, included Bede Durbidge, who had just been crippled with a broken pelvis, (“Wow! Not the way you want to finish the year”), the quadriplegic Jesse Billauer (“Sending you positive healing vibes. I’m glad you’re ok. Just stay positive and think about that sick barrel you got at Backdoor the other day”) and world champion Carissa Moore (“Oh man!!!!!! Definitely not #warmingitup”)
Today’s comments, although lacking a similar starpower, were anchored by Nathan Florence’s succinct, “Hahahaha.”
Big Joe, far right, with no-daddy boys.
Dope-running surfer gets clean, turns life coach to fatherless boys: “When they’re in their pain, in their grief, and they’re sharing, they get to that point of ‘we’re all in this together, what do we have to do to get out of this?’”
Joe Sigurdson isn’t afraid to talk about his darkest days.
“I was 28 years old living a double-life,” he says. “I was dealing dope in the parking lot while my kids were building sandcastles on the beach. I was running poundage up and down between San Diego and LA. I was pretty big, a substantial guy, so I was doing ‘collections’ for a coke dealer too… All the while I was married with a real job.”
Thirty years after turning his life around, Sigurdson is still an imposing figure.
But, his biggest threat these days are his bear hugs.
Joe turned Disney dad shortly after he got sober in the early nineties.
Pretty soon, other kids from his son’s Little League team were at his house all day after practices and games.
“They’d raid our fridge. We’d play ball in the yard. I’d play quarterback for both sides. I’d pitch. I’d take ‘em surfing… It was fun, but they wouldn’t want to go home.”
Eventually, he noticed a pattern.
“One by one, their moms started calling, asking if I could talk to their sons about problems they were having. That’s when I realized none of them had dads.”
When those calls kept coming his wheels started turning.
“I’d learned so much at these self-improvement outings like the Mankind Project. I was forty then going, ‘Man, this stuff is great. I could have used this when I was 14.’”
Joe and his co-founders are more than twenty years into their mission now, having transformed the lives of thousands of at-risk boys living in marginalized communities by providing them love and support.
“It’s not rocket science,” says Joe, when talking about why they succeed. “We all do better when we check in with loved ones and hold each other accountable.”
It’s worth noting, his mentors abide by one very strict rule.
“We never tell kids what to do,” says Joe. “Our job is to listen and understand the issues they’re facing. And if there’s a struggle we explore the options and shed light on what’s likely to happen if they stay on the current path. Mentors share their own experiences, mistakes, and lessons learned. But the choice is all theirs. All we do is take an inventory of how those decisions play out. And it works.”
Dana Wright, a former principal at Spring Valley Academy, swears by their success, and she’s not alone.
“If I had a chance to talk to every middle school administrator in the country about what they could do to make a difference it would be Boys to Men,” she says.
And what’s fascinating about Boys to Men Mentoring, is the San Diego surfing community powers their operation.
Surfers have rallied behind the cause, helping Joe and his team come up with creative ways to raise the funds needed to facilitate new programs, find mentors, and expand into new schools.
The 100 Wave Challenge, an annual Jog-a-Thon style event in the waves, is their biggest hit.
The 10th annual 100 Wave Challenge raised $430,000 last year, enough to provide a year’s worth of mentorship services to nearly 1000 kids.
Sadly, with the world going sideways in 2020 the need for Boys to Men is greater than ever. Keeping them engaged and connected is crucial to their health and safety.
Yet early this summer, Sigurdson warned his supporters that this year’s 100 Wave Challenge may not happen, and by some miracle it did, it certainly couldn’t be on the usual scale, with hundreds showing up in Mission Beach.
“That didn’t sit well with anyone,” says Joe.
His fellow surfers floated an alternative: let’s expand.
After all, they argued, Boys to Men’s impact is global now.
Sure, San Diego is where it all started, but they provide guidance to independent chapters in seventeen different states and nine different countries at HQ.
Why not reflect that?
After several Zoom calls, Joe and his team obliged, adding a new twist.
This year it’s “Your 100 Wave Challenge.”
You pick the crew, the beach, and the time, between now and November 22nd, and make it happen.
“Two months ago, we were feeling pretty hopeless,” says Sigurdson. “Thanks to our surfers, I’m starting to believe this may end up being our biggest year yet. Our big signup push doesn’t typically start until after Labor Day, but word is already spreading through surf clubs and surf shops and social media. And our surfers are getting calls from people asking how they can help.”
The answer is simple: Grab some friends, get ‘em together, and give these kids your love.