I wish this were surf-lit, but it ain't. It's my life and those around me, now and forever.

Longtom on surf nihilism and the mental illness epidemic: “There’s no shame in celebrating our old friend surfing, our soul corrective, our anti-depressive medicine”

Feeling blue? If you can surf, you've won the cosmic lottery.

You may have noticed your old pal Longtom, third favourite post-modern Antipodean surf writer, has been a bit slack lately.

Productivity down, AWOL below the line etc etc. I think, in this age of total transparency, an explanation is owed.

Maybe blow up a few mental health myths in the process, in an anti-depressive way, if that is possible.

Y’see things were cruising along pretty OK in the early stages of the Covid drama here when it became apparent, at first slowly and then all of a sudden, that someone very close to me was suffering a severe mental health crisis, possibly lifelong, possibly life threatening.

Dante got it just about right in The Divine Comedy: Life is a vale of tears etc. Seneca even moreso when he said the people we love are on loan from fate and can be taken at any time. It brought on a savage realisation straight off the bat.

It’s hard to suffer. It’s even harder to watch someone close to you suffer.

Especially when they are lost in an internal world of pain.

I wish this were surf-lit, but it ain’t. It’s my life and those around me, now and forever.

Despite that I’ve always been the most cheerful pessimist in the room. And the surf Gods, if there are such a thing, threw down the most outlandish run of surf in a decade. It’s the fashion, mostly in reaction to the VAL led kookocracy, to view surfing in nihilistic terms, understandably.

I have a different view, especially now. Derek Rielly on a recent Dirty Water ep.called surfing an “old friend” and that is much closer to the mark.

A corrective of the highest order would be another way to put it.

Anxiety is worry about the future, depression is the feeling that everything has gone to shit, dread is that immoveable rock in the pit of your stomach warning that something terrible is about to happen. Danish miserablist Soren Kierkegaard might have called them the three horseman of despair*.

All three march on me during the dead of night. Force me to take up arms. Leave me awake in the early hours tense and exhausted. The mind can’t escape the rabbit holes of its own making.

I used to lay awake in the half light before dawn and have a little waking dream about surfing. It was a little ritual that I used to fantasise helped me improve.

That went, there was no time to think about surfing. Days were spent with medical appointments, having difficult conversations, helping someone get through the day as best they could.

In between I could still get a go out. Ironically, despite the stress and pressure, I surfed better than ever. The close range suffering robbed me of white hot joy but even a joy bled white contains within it enough of a spark to make a life worth living. It helped me take the three horsemen and give them a burial at sea.

As far as the corpo takeover of surfing goes, nihilism is a trap, not a solution.

The raised fist is better than the resigned shrug. Pardon the French but “fuck you cunts” seems the appropriate phrase to employ.

I ain’t giving it up.

Why should we?

JP Currie called surfing narcissistic, effete, selfish to which I would reply: that’s just the conventional wisdom rehashed.

I’m no emotional champ, marriage caught me off guard, parenthood has been a minefield I’m scarcely prepared for, let alone having to guide someone through a crisis I can scarcely comprehend.

I just have to learn on the job, day by day. Keep walking beside someone, step by step. Surfing helps me be the shepherd and not the sheep. Helps me face up to life day by day.

To those who would rough up our old friend and leave her defenceless in the gutter I’d also add, check your privilege bitches.

If you can paddle out you won the cosmic lottery, even moreso if you’ve got the skills and sleds to hang when the waves go alpha.

My comrades in the surf have been magnificent. Kings and Queens to share the water with.

One stormy grey afternoon when wedges detonated along the inside sand-bar a local chalkie, shredder of QS standard, found himself inside me on a wave of the day. He motioned to me to take it and surviving a free fall drop I got spat out of a stand-up backside toob. A wave to make a winter.

Fred Nietszche was no nihilist. After the publication in ’84 of Ecce Homo, on what he called a “perfect day” he mused, “I looked behind me, I looked before me, never have I seen so many good things together”.

What was rescued, he claimed, in the process of creation, “is immortal.”

He would have made the same claim, word for word, after a wave like that.

Why even talk about it?

Our mental health is fucked. Too many kids jumping off cliffs.

Why? I don’t know.

My personal theory is the hyper-consumer capitalist model is profoundly inimical to the human soul. Atomised human beings feel profound alienation and that alienation leads to dark urges and even darker actions.

Maybe the spectre of climate change and species extinction; a world run by AI just puts too much fear into the minds of the young to function. You’ll have your own take and it’s as likely to be right as mine. There’s no shame and no stigma putting it out there.

There’s no shame either in celebrating our old friend, our soul corrective, our anti-depressive medicine.

Especially if it helps you get through the day, helps you help someone else.

Suffering has no meaning, other than the one we give it.

Why the fuck should surfing be different?

*He didn’t, but he might as well have.

Listen: “Professional surfer Kolohe Andino’s management team makes strategic blunder certain to cost him millions!”

Mistakes were made.

So there David Lee Scales and I sat per the norm, talking about this and that. About how surf culture is a coal mine. A bleak, dark, unhealthy coal mine that has been thoroughly stripped leaving surf journalists in the deepest part, desperately searching for a vein, anything new, breathing in dust and getting black lung.

About how naming your dog after a surfer is lame unless you name your dog Wendy after Wendy Botha like Devon Howard did.

Then, in some inspired turn, we wondered about websites and which surfers owned their own URLs.

kellyslater.com was obviously taken as was gabrielmedina.com.


Lo and behold available for $12 a year.

David Lee Scales instantly purchased.

What should koloheandino.com be?

What should it feature?

Exciting times ahead.

Listen here.

Oh damn it. David Lee Scales bought koholeandino.com.

Being always anti-depressive where mistakes become opportunity, what should koholeandino.com be?

Two good ol boys Matthew Blew and Ryan Wetjen-Barry have created a thirty-five-foot electric motorboat with the “largest displacement wake surfing hull ever built which they say will create a continuous, head-height wave (that) matches the size and feel of ocean waves. It’s big, powerful, and clean; delivering a massive barrel that will take the sport to new levels.”

Miracle of ingenuity: Inventors claim ability to create head-high barrels on flat-water using specially designed $US600k boat with “wave manipulation hull”!

Cheaper than a wavepool; more expensive than using existing ocean…

Does the race toward wavepool superiority have an eerie Cold War arms race vibe? Each country frantically rezoning land and raising money to build the next three-storey plunger, hydrofoil, air powered system in order to cash in on the Heartlands desire to get wet the cool way. 

To push the country metaphor, we got the Soviet-like Surf Ranch, with its famine-like supply and unchangeable wave; the giant rusted plunger hammering madly into the earth like the dystopia of the US in 2020 and the nimble, easily customisable American Wave Machines and Surf Loch, mimicking perhaps the clever Japanese. 

Now, two good ol boys Matthew Blew and Ryan Wetjen-Barry have created a thirty-five-foot electric motorboat with the “largest displacement wake surfing hull ever built.” The pair say the hull will create a “continuous, head-height wave (that) matches the size and feel of ocean waves. It’s big, powerful, and clean; delivering a massive barrel that will take the sport to new levels.” 

(The sport referred to is wakesurfing. But, still…)

The Gigawave 350 GW-X creates its moving wave by putting three-and-a-half tonnes of ballast into the hull of a boat running two three-hundred horsepower electric motors. 

Cleverly, the lithium boat batteries form part of the ballast, and because the boat is open with the helm well forward, there’s room for twenty-eight passengers. 

Top speed will be 18-24 knots, with a surfing speed of 9-14 knots and a run time of 4-5 hours. Six hours plugged in to charge.

The hit is six-hundred thou’. 

Genius, yes?

(The clip below ain’t on the Gigawave 350 but it does show how wild y’can get even with a little boat and the parallels with ocean surfing etc.)


New Jersey surfer Fabrizio Stabile, dead at twenty-nine.

BeachGrit Investigation (Part two of four): Former BSR employee alleges sewerage and trash in unfiltered Waco pool, “Hair and debris and nastiness”

“Because there was no filtration, and the pool was so cloudy, you couldn’t see it, but you’d be standing there and a big ball of hair and debris and nastiness would come across the pool when a wave went across."

Editor’s note: Was New Jersey surfer Fabrizio Stabile’s death at the celebrated Waco wavepool in 2018 caused by negligence and the matter covered up, as alleged by his family in their ongoing wrongful death lawsuit? Was the pool’s water, dyed a fabulous blue-green, coloured to cover “a pathogen soup” in which deadly bacteria thrived? Today, in part part two (read part one here), a former employee details a pool without filtration and awash with filth.

According to Stuart Parson Jr.’s deposition, he began buying the property that would later become BSR in 2004.

The park was bought in several sections.

Parsons transformed the property, building out a lake for barefoot skiing and installing pumps into the aquifer.

In 2012, Parsons began work on the commercial water park, known as the cable park.

In 2015, the Royal Flush, a vertical slide, and the Lazy River were added to the park.

Parsons began to consider the idea of the surf resort in 2016. Discussions with American Wave Machines began in 2017.

The surf resort was financed independently through a bank and American Wave Machines. The bank, according to Parson’s deposition, loaned him $2.5 million for the structure. AMW financed $3.3 million for the actual wave.

In November of 2019, Parsons testified that he still owed $2.2 million and $1.6 million, respectively.

The pool opened in 2018. Cheyne Magnusson, a former pro surfer, was tasked with working out the kinks.

BSR receives its water from a deep water well. According to a former BSR employee, the water comes out of the ground at about 120° Fahrenheit (49° Celsius). To address this, BSR built 30-foot-high mounds of dirt, called craters, to store the water. They were 45-to-50 feet deep and acted as cooling towers.

“The water goes in the top hot and comes out the bottom cold,”  said the employee.

Parsons testified that the craters operated as a water reservoir. They were lined to prevent mixing with the clay and provided water for all the water features in the park.

According to the former employee, the surf pool was designed “to be a constant flow through swimming lagoon.”

He said the pool was rarely circulated with fresh water.

He further stated that the pool was installed with a 30-inch drain, but it was never hooked up, as the cost was too high. Instead, the pool used a pump, but it was rarely used.

They would add more freshwater, “but [they] would never pump the old water out.”

The pool did not have a filtration system prior to Stabile’s death. Parsons testified that he was unaware that Texas law required certain water features to have filtration systems.

He also testified that the pool was treated through a “shock” of chlorine twice a week. An employee would monitor the chlorine levels through a pH test strip and add as needed, similar to how private pools are maintained.

BSR did not document or monitor the water quality and turbidity (transparency of the water) of the pool.

Because it was classified as a lake and not a swimming pool, by law, it didn’t have to comply to the same standards as a public pool.

The chlorine was the only method of treatment. Blue dye was added to the pool, but it was apparently purely cosmetic.

The former employee stated that the pool was often full of trash and other debris.

“Because there was no filtration, and the pool was so cloudy, you couldn’t see it, but you’d be standing there and a big ball of hair and debris and nastiness would come across the pool when a wave went across. So you’d be standing in the lineup and this nastiness would just come across your leg and you’d reach down and pull up and it’d be like wrist bands and hair and trash and just nastiness.”

He also stated that the pool was so poorly circulated, that “anytime you drop[ped] something in that pool, it was stuck in that pool.”

There were other issues with water quality too.

The former employee said that refuse from a septic holding tank often ran through the pool.

“When it would rain, or when they would leave the sprinklers on, the water would run off that big hill . . . directly through the septic holding tank [and] right into the pool.”

According to the former employee, the septic had overflowed and ran through the pool just days before Fabrizio visited the park in September.

BSR has since installed a filtration system “much like a swimming pool,” BSR said in press release.

Super shaper Matt Biolos infuriated by California’s new mandatory holiday Covid-19 guidelines: “Mr. Newsom, do we now live in Communist Russia?”

American flag emoji.

Yesterday, whilst on the way home from buying an extra large rat trap, I heard a story on National Public Radio about how Canada is seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases and that it is being blamed on their recent celebration of Thanksgiving on October 12.

The rat, who lives in either the palm tree or the overgrown bird of paradise outside the bedroom window, makes much racket at night and I puzzled over which trap to get. The classic neck breaker? Modern poison? Worrying about my daughter’s chihuahua Thunderstruck in either case. She is small enough to get her own neck broken and has an adventurous enough palate to nibble a drugged carcass.

The only trap I was decidedly against was the humane catch-and-release sort as, a student of history, I am aware that rats were responsible for our last great human plague.

I eventually decided on the poison sort, drove home, and heard Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say, “This sucks…” regarding the spike while asking Canadians to not spend Christmas with one another.

Well, the United States of America celebrates its Thanksgiving the last Thursday in November, just around the corner, Christmas with everyone else and I wondered if our leaders would ask for sacrifice.

Lo and behold, California released very thorough new “mandatory requirements for all gatherings” including:

7. Rules for Singing, Chanting, and Shouting at Outdoor Gatherings

Singing, chanting, shouting, and physical exertion significantly increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission because these activities increase the release of respiratory droplets and fine aerosols into the air. Because of this, singing, chanting, and shouting are strongly discouraged, but if they occur, the following rules and recommendations apply:

All people who are singing or chanting should wear a face covering at all times while singing or chanting, including anyone who is leading a song or chant. Because these activities pose a very high risk of COVID-19 transmission, face coverings are essential to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets and fine aerosols;

People who are singing, shouting, chanting, or exercising are strongly encouraged to maintain physical distancing beyond 6 feet to further reduce risk.

People who are singing or chanting are strongly encouraged to do so quietly (at or below the volume of a normal speaking voice).

Instrumental music is allowed as long as the musicians maintain at least 6-foot physical distancing. Musicians must be from one of the three households. Playing of wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is strongly discouraged.

Super shaper Matt Biolos, who lives in San Clemente, was not happy asking California’s governor? “Mr. Newsom, do we now live in Communist Russia? Did this clown forget we live in (USA flag emoji)”

An interesting question.

If you had to live in a totalitarian state would you choose:

A) Russia (1922 -1991)

B) East Germany (1948 – 1990)

C) North Korea (1948 – present)

D) Italy (1922 – 1943)*

*This is a trick question as fascist Italy is not considered totalitarian.