Some time in those free-wheeling 2019s, pre-Covid, the brand Hurley was sold by Nike to Bluestar Alliance for an undisclosed sum. With a team consisting of John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson etc., innovative design year over year and a corest of the core executive team, Hurley represented the very best of what the surf industry was, of what it could be.
The axe fell quick, executive team jettisoned, designers too, team cut and then relative quiet… until a line of men’s skincare product was teased four-months ago.
It almost seemed like a joke, like a very canny bit of performance art.
Today, the video selling that line of men’s skincare product has been released and it is more than I could ever hope for. Words cannot describe.
"Why would you want ownership of this art? Why is it crypto?"
One week ago, in a sprawling thought piece, the best surfer in the world years 2007 until 2016, Dane Reynolds, wrote about being accosted in the water by a man pushing NFT’s.
A long haired fellow on a soft top asks if he can have thirty seconds of my time for a business pitch. You can’t really say no so he proceeds to inform me that NFT’s are all the rage and they could be right up my alley.
What are NFT’s? Well shit, I still don’t quite understand but someone is creating something called crypto punks which are 8 bit digital art files that are being traded for millions of dollars. Fuckin crazy. My brain does not compute. Fascinating and foreign. Why would you want ownership of this art? Why is it crypto? What the fuck?
The man on the softie was John Caldwell, the thirty-seven-year logistics and marketing guy for Martin Daly’s Indies Trader and his surf heaven resort on Beran Island in the Marshalls.
Last year, there were two-hundred fifty mill, US, in NFT transactions, up from under a hundred mill the year before.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen, what’s going to fucking take off,” says John.
He tells me the story of one of these NFTs called MoonCat Rescue. Twenty-five thousand virtual space cats that needed rescuing from a long defunct website. Real cute. You wanted one? Totally free apart from the fifty-dollar transaction cost. Somebody tweeted about it and they were all gone in a few hours. Want one now? Four grand.
FOMO, of course, is an old art trick.
As Tommy Wolfe wrote in The Painted Word, his book from 1975 that jams a skewer right into the high-falutin art biz’ guts.
“First you do everything possible to make sure your world is antibourgeois, that it defies bourgeois tastes, that it mystifies the mob, the public, that it outdistances the insensible middle-class multitudes by light-years of subtlety and intellect…”
You buy one of these things and you get a sorta certificate of authenticity.
You can’t put it on your wall, unless you live in some virtual meta-verse and you want to decorate your beachfront casino.
Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and his one-time best man’s wife make New York Times as action sport pandemic icons: “During a time when many families have struggled with the chaos of working and taking classes under the same roof, Mr. Hawk and Mrs. Goodman have found grace in their 5,080 sq ft oasis!”
And the world’s most married skateboarder Tony Hawk was just profiled in that august New York Times with his now wife, who was once married to the best man for an estimated three of his four weddings.
With the increased time spent at home, Mr. Hawk and Ms. Goodman have witnessed an improvement in their relationships with their children and also gained a lucid understanding of their interests and needs.
A Stronger Sibling Bond
Being home together has also made the couple more pleasantly aware of the strength in their children’s relationships with each other. Ms. Goodman, who has two children from a previous marriage, and Mr. Hawk, who has four children from previous relationships, value the compatibility of their mixed family, especially during such restricted times.
“It’s been refreshing to really realize how well all of our kids get along and how great they are together. Not all siblings have these dynamic bonds — especially stepsiblings — so we’re thankful for that,” Ms. Goodman said.
Grateful for Space
During a time when many families have struggled with the chaos of working and taking classes under the same roof, Mr. Hawk and Ms. Goodman have found grace in their 5,080-square-foot oasis. At different points, three of their children contracted Covid-19. Luckily, the size of their house allowed everyone else in the family to spread out and avoid getting sick.
The family was able to have Christmas dinner together on their large outdoor patio and still remain socially distant while two of their children were both tested positive for Covid-19. “Christmas was especially challenging, making sure that nobody felt left out even if we couldn’t be near each other physically. Cathy and I were a good team as co-parents, dividing responsibilities and making time for each other amid the chaos,” said Mr. Hawk.
“Caring for my sons while they were in isolation in my home had its own strange issues. Not being able to be close with them and being in a constant state of emotional check-ins, food delivery, and contamination management was a new and unexpected role as a mom,” said Ms. Goodman. “I am just endlessly grateful that they were fine. Mostly the experience made me very aware of how hard this must be in homes where families have to share small spaces, plus the countless inequities that this virus highlights.”
There is much more in the article, worth reading as performance art, as a tableau playing out on a glorious stage.
Much related to Ms. Goodman, self-proclaimed playwright sans play who took on unexpected role of new mom in spite of birthing Tony Hawk’s two-time best man’s children decades earlier.
But also to an extreme lack of awareness.
Man pictured in first leash advert on crusade to get helmets on surfer heads: “I’ve got the solution, I just need to get it out there!”
“You know, I saw him that morning. That surfer who died out at Rincon. He drove past me and I swear it was him,” Terry Simms, surfing jack of all trades, tells me on unseasonably cold Southern California afternoon. “It just breaks my heart because I’ve got something that can help, I just need to get it out there…”
One-time Coastie-turned-professional longboarder, coach, surf tour guide and the man who appeared in the very first advertisement for the revolutionary leash has crafted Simba, the world’s first surf-specific helmet, and every time he reads or hears of head injuries out in the lineup it boils his blood.
“Look, I know that surfers aren’t going to wear helmets every time they paddle out but it should at least be a consideration sometimes. Like, if you’re surfing over shallow reef, out in a crazy crowd… all kids should be wearing them.”
“What makes your helmet different?” I ask.
Simms lights up.
“Well, it’s based on a Roman gladiator design and it has no straight edges, nothing for the water to grab so when you break the surface of the water your head doesn’t get ripped around. The water just channels through and runs out the back. Again, I really just want for people to know this is here because with the crowds the way they are, people bailing their boards, running into each other… it’s just becoming more necessary.”
A year ago, I would have thought Simms was wonderfully eccentric but mad in his assessment. Now, with the wild influx, the VAL utopia, I think he may be right. I recall when I first started snowboarding, two and a half decades ago, zero people wore helmets.
Now, only kooks don’t.
Will the same happen in surfing?
Will the helmet become like the leash before it?
Girl's Can't Surf
Right-wing Australian press slams beloved and empowering Girls Can’t Surf as “a shallow documentary” that “dodges” issues “as fast as it can”!
"Blanket sentiments that some men said and did some unpleasant things, that some of the women were likely wronged by their female contemporaries without the specifics of who, doesn’t serve these women, or the audience."
A week or so ago, much noise was made, correctly, about the 1993 world champion Pauline Menczer who was “the victim of maybe world sports’ most brutal and blatant sexism. A world champ who could not raise a dime in sponsorship, who received a trophy that would not make the grade for the second-hand shop at the dump. Lesbian, when that was taboo, lacking the physical accouterments that were classically assumed to stimulate the desire of a presumed male audience and thus moreorless discarded by the companies that largely funded the sport. Bad old days.”
The film Girls Can’t Surf, which has just hit cinemas Australia-wide, “follows the journey of a band of renegade surfers who took on the male-dominated professional surfing world to achieve equality and change the sport forever.”
Pauline, obvs, an important element of film.
Reviews, universally, excellent.
“A story as shocking as it is awe-inspiring.”
“The force of their impact maintains a thrilling interest that persists through its subjects’ hardest moments dealing with homophobia, anorexia, and domestic violence. It’s in passages devoted to these elements that the film reaches its emotional peak.”
One reviewer has taken the film to task, however, describing it as “ultimately shallow”.
Girls Can’t Surf frequently hit on issues and events that made a pro surfing career near impossible but then dodges it as fast it can.
Jodie Cooper’s revelation that she was outed as gay against her choice by the women on tour with her and the homophobia that followed was ultimately glossed over, without any reckoning for the individuals responsible. Ditto Pam Burridge’s recounting of her battles with anorexia.
When the documentary touches on the successful attempt to have the female representation on the governing body reduced from two seats to one, there’s no accounting for who on that board voted in favour of the resolution.
It’s also hinted that many of the women didn’t like or support each other at the time and maybe wouldn’t even take a call from them now, but that’s all between the lines.
Maybe there were legal entanglements that prevented director Christopher Nelius from naming names, or maybe the filmmakers were trying to play nice and keep everyone in the surfing community on side.
But blanket sentiments that some men said and did some unpleasant things, that some of the women were likely wronged by their female contemporaries without the specifics of who, doesn’t serve these women, or the audience.
Girls Can’t Surf wants to be celebratory and empowering, and that is fine, but it’s also what makes it ultimately a shallow documentary that feels like the introductory summary of a book with many chapters to follow.
If only it was as fearless as the women riding those monster waves.