Tyler Wright's 439 second knee and raised fist in support of BLM was the most noteworthy thing by a country mile on the opening day of the Tweed Coast Pro held in head-high, join-the-dots gurgle. It marks a complete transformation of the Sport from reactionary backwater to woke darling. | Photo: WSL

Longtom on the WSL’s woke pivot: “I want to honour the intent but the corporate embrace of woke culture makes me deeply queasy; a commodified product to sell in the guise of moral purity”

Would they back an environmental protest against bulldozing floodprone wetlands to develop canal estates and power-hungry wavepools? What about Brother if he wanted to wear a MAGA hat in a heat?

Surfing has had a reactionary edge to it, at least in popular culture, since Day Dot.

The Hawaiians were hierarchical to the core, Kilgore’s napalm-loving Colonel loved dealing death cards before go-outs, Puberty Blues was full of blokes munching on chiko rolls and telling shielas they should stay on the sand.

Matt Branson used to bash queers before realising he was gay himself, never coming out as a pro.

Point Break’s Bodhi was a quasi-fascist spiritual criminal. The one truly progressive act surfing, especially pro surfing can claim is the boycott of South African apartheid by Tom’s Carroll, Curren and Cheyne Horan in ’85.

Which makes Tyler Wright’s 439 second knee and raised fist in support of BLM the most noteworthy thing by a country mile on the opening day of the Tweed Coast Pro held in head-high, join-the-dots gurgle.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFFxvQVnGzD/

It marks a complete transformation of the Sport from reactionary backwater to woke darling.

Worth counting the ways, I think, for the historical record.

Pro surfing has long been considered famously homophobic. Gay surfers, especially women, dare not come out without risking sponno dollars. Long-board World Champion Cori Schumacher claimed her achievements were silenced and erased due to her being openly gay.

Keala Kennely claimed sponsors deserted her after she came out.

The reaction to Tyler Wright coming out last year?

Silence.

Absolutely nothing.

Not a word written, no nasty internet comments, no censure whatsoever – not that anything overt would happen – from sponsors. Total support from WSL.

This, of course, after raising the pay of women pros to equal the men, despite a smaller field with less heats to surf.

In one fell swoop, pro surfing went from the back to the front of the pack, if you dig equality.

The BLM embrace seems a slightly more dangerous pose, with much greater chance for blowback. Not so much in Australia, where the push for indigenous recognition is not tainted by the screaming images of cities burning nor the Marxist undertones of the American movement.

How far the WSL’s support for other political statements which make claims on the humanity of the athlete, as Wright suggested, is up for debate. Would they back an environmental protest against bulldozing floodprone wetlands to develop canal estates and power hungry wavepools? What about Brother if he wanted to wear a MAGA hat in a heat?

But in America, the home of the WSL, the pushback against BLM, is real.

Andrew Stark was all over the media this morning, giving interviews where he expressed the WSL’s “total support” for Wright’s gesture which Bede Durbidge claimed was “totally remarkable”.

How far the WSL’s support for other political statements which make claims on the humanity of the athlete, as Wright suggested, is up for debate. Would they back an environmental protest against bulldozing floodprone wetlands to develop canal estates and power-hungry wavepools? What about Brother if he wanted to wear a MAGA hat in a heat?

As for the statement itself, I guess we have to take it at face value. No doubt the blackfella in Australia has been subject to terrible program of racism.

But it’s not racism that keeps black kids out of the water.

Racism is not the sin to blame when it comes time to ask why the WSL has barely featured indigenous surfers. Black kids barely surf because they can’t afford to live near the ocean. Rich whities have bought up all the coastal real estate and flipped houses and turned them into Air BnB’s.

Would Tyler look at her own real estate portfolio?

Would WSL consider letting black kids use wavepools for free, like basketball courts and truly “democratize” surfing, as Kelly promised.

If they intend to honour Tyler’s wish that “surfing is for all” then you can’t have a sich where only rich white kids can get near it.

How’s it sitting with you?

I want to honour the intent but the corporate embrace of woke culture makes me deeply queasy. Another commodified product for the corpos to package up and sell in the guise of moral purity.

It feels hard not to gag on the hypocrisy.

It obviously did Tyler no harm, not only did she suck all the oxygen out of the WSL’s return to competition, she won the event as well.

Who’ll be the first male surfer to take the knee?

I’d love to say Kelly.


Listen: Superstar TED-talk photographer Chris Burkard on buying Icelandic citizenship, the ghost of Brigham Young and dying of hypothermia on an Arctic Beach: “I saw a seagull circling above me…and I was thinking, cool, this is how I’m going to die.”

A life lived rich and beautiful.

Today’s guest on Dirty Water, Chris Burkard, is to surf photography what Galileo was to astronomy; he is a man who was courted by TED talks, an organisation that has hosted Alain de Botton, Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Gates, who warned us in 2015, of the certainty of a pandemic.

Burkard is thirty-four years old, comes from San Luis Obispo in Central California, and made his name, initially, as a surf photographer via work with Transworld Surf, Surfer and Surfline, before swinging into filmmaking (See Netflix’s star-porn film Under An Arctic Sky).

He has been swamped by innumerable photography and filmmaking awards, has published half-a-dozen books and made four feature-length films, including the aforementioned Under an Arctic Sky.

Best of all, Burkard brings the spirit of Brigham Young into the modern age, although we hope, like Young, he isn’t brought to a premature end by cholera morbus and inflammation of the bowels. 

A highlight, of the interview, at least for me, is Burkard describing how he had to barricade himself in his hotel room on magazine surf trips to avoid collisions of the flesh etc.


Kelly Slater with faith healer pal Charlie Goldsmith from an episode of the WSL's excellent Sound Waves series. | Photo: WSL

JP Currie analyses Kelly Slater’s performance on Tim Ferriss podcast: “Please tell us more about this random friend who happens to share a name with the author of a book you haven’t read…”

"I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Kelly hasn’t actually read many books, including the two he recommended. Call it intuition honed by listening to high school kids lie about reading."

I love deconstructing Slater’s attention whoring. I’m like a dog, rooting around its scummy blankets before curling up, happy.

It’s my genre.

And he listens. I know he does.

Zach Weisberg fielded his ire on my behalf. Ashton Goggans recently mailed me a lovely little ditty. It goes like this:

“So probably my best day of surf last year was the evening after they called off Jeffrey’s, the day before the final. Like six-foot, bigger sets, a little stormy and lurchy but just fucked up fun. Jed Smith and I were surfing Supers and Kelly was surfing past us over and over again, on a heater, while Jed and I just sort of hunted inside scraps, super stoned and just kind of tripping on the whole scene. Everytime he’d paddled by he’d make some little remark, and I kicked out kind of close to him on one of the better waves I think I’ve ever caught in my life, and he yelled at me: which one of you is fucking JP Currie, you or Jed?”

I loved Slater once. I wouldn’t say he was my hero. I didn’t love him like Steve Shearer does, or Negatron, and almost certainly not like Nick Carroll. And absolutely, definitely, 100% not like Eric Logan. But I did have a deep admiration for him. Not

Oh, Kelly Slater, what are you thinking?

But more to the point, why are you thinking about it?

You ought to be better than this.

I loved Slater once. I wouldn’t say he was my hero. I didn’t love him like Steve Shearer does, or Negatron, and almost certainly not like Nick Carroll. And absolutely, definitely, 100% not like Eric Logan. But I did have a deep admiration for him. Not so much anymore.

The coup de grace is long overdue. But his acolytes quiver around him, knowing they’ll never deliver the blow.

It’s a sad truth that the older we get, the less visible we become. Our glory days are all relative, but for those who have tasted adulation, like Slater has in spades, it’s tough to fade away.

So they shout louder, views become more extreme, opinion becomes spittle-flecked conviction. Social media accounts burn with white hot nonsense.

Notice me. Talk about me. Love me.

When a mate Whatsapped me – Kelly Slater on the Tim Ferriss podcast, check it out – little frissons of excitement ran from my fingers to my toes.

Yes, I thought. More Slater puking conspiracy theories and half-baked thoughts into the airwaves.

I readied the popcorn, and Slater went full chameleon.

Tim Ferriss is not Joe Rogan. He’s earnest. His bag is life-hacking, health, performance, experimentation. So, in inimitable fashion, Slater delivered a Tim Ferriss podcast rote perfect.

It was a little too earnest for my tastes. Some of it was even, dare I say, interesting?

But there was some stone cold bullshit, too.

To the layman Tim Ferriss listener I’m sure it flew under the radar, but my ear is tuned to Slater.

So what did we learn?

We learned that he likes to take two-hour baths and drink hot water with lemon in the morning. (From this we can infer that his social media outbursts are likely menopausal.)

He didn’t rate Parko as an adversary. “I felt very confident I could beat Joel and would beat Joel.”

He refers to his battles with Andy as “light and dark, good and evil.” (But which does he think he is?)

He was awfully shy as a boy. (What a transformation!) He remembers his first autograph as a mildly traumatic event that he spent a long time over and didn’t know what to do. (No shit, Kelly. You were ten years old.)

We learn that he has scoliosis. Sounds serious. Is this news?

He loves Jackson Dorian (henceforth to be known as “My Godson”) and is almost certainly to be credited for some of My Godson’s talent because My Godson has learned all his skills in My Wavepool.

Everyone he knows is one of his best friends.

He’s not ready to quit competition because he doesn’t feel the need to go out on top. He’s not concerned about being the best anymore. (LIE).

Ticking off a Ferriss trope, he says his message and goals are no longer centered around his ego. (MASSIVE LIE).

He desires personal growth, he’s magnanimous and willing to imbue strangers on the internet with his wisdom. He embraces humility. He believes teaching is the best way to learn.

And none of these things are in any way connected to the key phrases and themes of nearly five hundred other Tim Ferriss podcasts.

He’s done “courses” and “learning”.

You know, metaphysical stuff.

No?

Me neither. And I suspect Kelly least of all.

Just as Kelly came front loaded to Joe Rogan ready to blast off the latest viral memes, UFC stats and big scary animals to shoot/get eaten by; so Tim Ferriss gets both barrels of self-help, learning and growth.

But he did drop some fucking clangers.

Like when he was asked about books. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Kelly hasn’t actually read many books, including the two he recommended. Call it intuition honed by listening to high school kids lie about reading.

Try it for yourself.

All you need to hear is four words from Kelly just after the twenty-nine minute mark, when Ferriss asks him about The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. A book Kelly references in his contribution to Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors.

“It’s a great book.” Kelly claims.

But the tone of it, the inflection, screams: I HAVE NOT ACTUALLY READ THIS BOOK AND NOW I’M PANICKING.

This gut feeling is compounded by Kelly’s response: “God, that’s so weird you brought that up…”

Is it, Kelly? Because I thought he introduced it by saying it was a book you told him about?

In a desperate attempt to tread water and steer the conversation away from books that have influenced him that he hasn’t actually read, he offers “one of my best friends is called Kahlil…”

Fascinating, Kelly. Fucking riveting in fact!

Please tell us more about this random friend who happens to share a name with the author of a book you haven’t read…

One of his best friends (what other type is there?) Big part of his life. Ex drug addict. Nearly died etc. Now owns a “bunch of smoothie stores in LA”.

Apropos of absolutely nothing.

But then…it comes flooding back: his mum gave him the book. It became his bible. A Cliff Notes for life. You only need to read one or two pages every couple of years, apparently.

Appropriately symbolic of Kelly’s depth of knowledge on every subject except surfing, I would suggest.

I’d be surprised if Kelly has read any whole books. He doesn’t have the concentration. He flits merrily from idea to fad to viral sensation. There’s no depth, not really. He’ll say he reads, but only because it’s cool to seem intellectual and informed. He’s probably in triple figures of unused Audible credits.

He‘s dipped his toe in a million pools.

He’s tried everything, spoken to everyone, been everywhere.

In closing, Ferriss asks him what’s next?

What does he still want to do?

Kelly says he’s addicted to watching van conversion videos on YouTube. He fantasises about living on a van or a boat, stripping things back, making life more simple. Yet with the very next breath he says that he has too many surfboards and golf clubs, and there are too many different countries he likes being in.

I’m not Kelly’s brain nanny, nor am I expert in anything in particular.

But for me, one thing remains clear: somehow, Kelly Slater still doesn’t quite know who he is or what he wants.

Obviously mastery of surfing isn’t enough, and maybe that’s his real lesson to us.


United Airlines sued for crewing planes entirely with young, tan, blonde, “surfer-like” attendants: “Airline bases value of workers entirely on racial and physical attributes and stereotypical notions of sexual allure!”

The unfriendly skies.

Let’s be quite frank in admitting the world has absolutely gone to hell in a hand basket. Just one year ago, this would have been deemed ecologically friendly, as hand baskets are reusable and save the earth.

Today, though, it’s all just a gargantuan flaming mess. A raging inferno where single-use plastic bags and thoughtful hemp carryalls with reinforced handles get smelt in the same vat.

Take, for example, the just-released lawsuit against United Airlines which claims that surf-esque adonises and adonias, mostly adonias, are being given the most plum jobs in the steward/stewardess biz.

National Football League charter flights.

“Young, tan, blonde…” Like they’ve just spent their morning hours “paddling around the Trestles, picking the waves of the day, making many combination turns.”

Like Laura Enever.

The two attendants who are suing are not young, blonde or surfer-like in the traditional ugly Beach Boys/surf magazine/un-woke/California/Australia stereotype. Both have been in their jobs for many decades and declare that, “United has adopted and continues to implement procedures that are designed to ensure that young, white, blond/blue-eyed, female employees receive positions with the charter program, while more senior, and Black and Jewish employees such as plaintiffs, do not.” And that the airline bases the value of workers, “entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure.”

The NFL charter flight gigs are, apparently, desirable because attendants who work those flights earn more, are provided with premium accommodations and sometimes get tickets to games, including playoff and Super Bowl tickets.

United Airlines, though not detailing specifics, released the following statement:

“While we cannot comment on this ongoing litigation, the flight attendants included in our sports team charter program are largely representative of our overall flight attendant population in regards to age and race. Importantly, flight attendant eligibility to work a charter flight is based solely on performance and attendance and has nothing to do with age, race or gender.”

And I wonder, if the World Surf League was an actual league, like the National Football League, and chartered flights, etc. which airline it would use?

I think maybe Spirit. Possibly Allegiant. And I think there would be no attendants at all save CEO Erik Logan who would entertain the cabin with stories about things he heard Laird Hamilton did.

Very exciting.

Follow along with the lawsuit here. Guillory v. United Airlines, Inc, 20-civ-03889, in Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo.


Rest in Power etc. | Photo: WSL

World champion of “historically white supremacist sport” drops knee at contest funded by white American billionaire to protest systemic white-racism, capitalism etc.

A vexing issue…

In case y’didn’t tune into the Tweed contest, the two-time world champion Tyler Wright dropped a knee for four hundred and thirty-nine seconds in solitary with Black Lives Matter, the number representing “one second for every First Nations person in Australia who has lost their life in police custody since 1991.”

The response on the WSL’s twitter feed has been, mostly, negative.

black lives matter .. but supporting a marxist group that is calling to defund the police.. shame… people can’t just do sports anymore… no room for racism and a link to the latest child shot by violence … ??

Do you support Marxism?

Perpetuating a complete falsehood…sad…uneducated surfer does not even understand that the BLM organization is an extreme racist, Marxist, anti-family radical group, using violence and extortion to get their lie out. If she stands with them, so be it.

What about the rest of the ethnicities that have been persecuted. BLM isn’t about black lives it’s about riots and funneling $ to Act Blue. How about Polynesians Lives Matter. or Latin Lives Matter. Don’t drink the Kool-aid WSL.

And, so on.

A few fans fired back.

Hahaha. The amount of racists in the comments.

Comment section definitely didn’t pass the vibe check. An athlete isn’t just an athlete, they are an individual Soul. Using their platform to speak on what they believe.

Tyler correctly raised the issue of black deaths in custody, something that’s been in the public consciousness in Australia since a royal commission was called in 1987 after a horror run of indigenous Australians dying while in police custody.

The result wasn’t quite so clear cut.

The four-year long Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody “did not find higher rates of death of Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people.”

And, now, “Overall, the rate of Indigenous deaths in custody has reduced since 1991, as of June 2020 lower than the rate of death of non-Indigenous people.”

Of 2608 total deaths in police custody between 1979 and 2018, roughly five hundred of ‘em were indigenous.

Deaths in police custody doesn’t just mean getting hell beaten out of you by psycho pigs. It includes natural causes, driving yourself into a tree in a police pursuit, suicide etc.

A vexed issue, of course.

Indigenous Australians are overrepresented in prisons (so are short, bald men and transgender hotties, according to an ex-con pal) and subject to the attention of over-zealous cops.

Last year I wrote a book on the great Australian actor David Gulpilil, and even he, a movie star, instantly recognisable, feted at film festivals from Cannes to Venice, still gets heat.

Below, the relevant passage.

We talk a little about the opening scene in Charlie’s Country, the interaction with the cop Luke. I tell Gulpilil it gets me every time. The laughs, the pathos, the summation of black-and-white relations in Australia wrapped in a minute of dialogue.

“I’ll say something for the cops up north. They’re very lazy,” says Mary. “In the community, aren’t they David. They’re lazy. I know more about what’s going on illegally in the community than the bloody cops that live there. Yeah. They’re just lazy.”

What sort of lazy, I ask. I’ve never met a cop who didn’t balk at taking a report or define new standards of slowness when swinging on over to the scene of a crime.

“Going fishing, don’t they, David.”

“Yeah,” he says weakly.

Mary asks Gulpilil permission to tell a story about when he first came to Murray Bridge. They arrived home one day to a note on the door asking Gulpilil to report to the police station immediately.

Mary rang ‘em and the cops told her it was “something to do with the bank.”

Three days later, when they eventually got around to interviewing their suspect, the cops explained that an “Aborigine man” had grabbed a woman’s credit card from her while she was standing in line in the bank and had fled to the nearby bottle shop where he used it to buy booze and cigarettes.

“They showed us a photo and no way was it David,” says Mary.

“No way it was me,” says Gulpilil.

“Blind Freddie could’ve seen it was a desert man,” says Mary, who explained to the authorities that the distance between bank and bottle shop was too far for an invalid like Gulpilil, who has to crouch over a walking stick to make it from TV room to kitchen, to cover.

“But they said, ‘Someone said it looks like David.”

Mary fumes.

“Well, it wasn’t.”

These sort of accusations aren’t new to Gulpilil. He’s felt it his entire life.

His own regent’s uncle, Prince Edward VIII, who famously abdicated the British crown to marry the divorced American Wallis Simpson, wrote in 1920,

“They showed us some of the native Aborigines at a wayside station in the great plain yesterday afternoon, though they are the most revolting form of living creatures I’ve ever seen” and “the nearest thing to monkeys I’ve ever seen.”

Still, in the enlightened year of 2018, surely a black man can enjoy freedom of movement without molestation from authorities.

Mary looks serious.

“Want me to tell Derek about the night we got pulled over?”

“Yes, yes. Please.”

“We got pulled over one night, driving. It was about half past eleven, twelve o’clock at night, coming home, and they tried to get me to use a breathalyser and… I can’t… I have never been able to do it. Most cops are really good about it and then one of ‘em points at David, who’s asleep, and says, ‘Is he alive?’”

Mary told ‘em he was and shoved Gulpilil in the ribs, telling him to wake up.

“Is he drunk?” said the cop.

Mary explained that he didn’t drink.

“He looks drunk to me,” said the cop.

“And then they’re carrying on about this breathalyser that I should be able to do. They worked it out that I couldn’t physically do it after ten minutes. I was ready to faint. Then they asked for a licence. Not mine. David’s. They took it, went back to the car, checked it and…nothing. I was almost asleep at the steering wheel. Next minute, I heard the licence smash down on the dashboard, they told me we could go and they shot off like a bat out of hell.”

Mary darkens at the memory.

“And that same guy was telling us the week before that his friend was working up in Ramingining. ‘Oh he has a wonderful time,’ he said. He goes…fishing!”

Mary says she didn’t complain about being hassled ‘cause why bother when karma is going to spin its wheel and, besides, Gulpilil didn’t want any more trouble.

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