World’s most lovable surfer Jonah Hill raises banner for body positivity, strikes back at brutalist tabloid: “This is for the kids who don’t take their shirts off at the pool. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect!”

Putting the V in VAL.

The just passed weekend found me, my best friends and our children (aged 4 – 7) smashing pickup trucks over boulders, camping near abandoned mines, skipping along a dried lakebed where the rocks move by magic in California’s Death Valley.

Very off the grid and I was loving every second. The children happy and filthy, danger lurking around every hairpin mule track turn, the nearest cell signal miles upon miles away.

I thought, “If only we could stay out of range forever…” while driving back home, phone registering “no service”… until the town of Ridgeway where its shattered screen fired to life, messages stacked upon stacked, buzzing furiously.

A sense of dread overcame me.

Through squinted eyes, I thought I made out the name “Jonah Hill” involved, or adjacent, to one.

I clicked and read the headline attached, “Jonah Hill slips into his black wetsuit for surf day in Malibu… before showing off his tattoos while going shirtless to towel off,” an informative, albeit slightly wordy, offering showing exactly what was professed.

Scanning further, I discovered that Hill had responded to the story, via Instagram, and slowly read his caption.

I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30s even in front of family and friends. Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers. So the idea that the media tries to play me by stalking me while surfing and printing photos like this and it can’t phase me anymore is dope. I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself. This isn’t a “good for me” post. And it’s definitely not a “feel bad for me post”. It’s for the the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect. All my love.

Instantly I knew that surfing’s power of balance had fundamentally shifted.

Hill has been the face of surfing’s recent meteoric spike in popularity but has seemingly been reluctant to be its voice… until this just passed weekend. His message of inclusivity, of positivity, of empowerment sent shockwaves through the media landscape with celebrity after celebrity praising, average Joes and Janes sharing their own stories.

Surfing as vehicle for dialogue.

As vehicle for change.

An entirely beautiful moment that I missed thanks to dumb nature.

A sentiment so pure not even the grumpiest local can begrudge.

The VAL apocalypse transforming into a VAL utopia.

Note: I know that brutalist is a sort of architecture that does not reflect the Daily Mail’s overall aesthetic, which leans toward gothic, but “gothic tabloid” just don’t have the same ring.

Surf Fans raise $30,000 for Hard Knocks world surf champ turned bus driver: “I don’t have sponsors, because I don’t have big boobs, blonde hair and blue eyes!”

An ancient wrong gets put right!

Ain’t nothing ever came easy for lil Bondi shredder Pauline Menczer: five two, one hundred pounds, crippled by arthritis, taxi-driver dad murdered, a mama on welfare looking after four kids on her own. 

But she shredded.

Won the world amateur title as an eighteen year old, turned pro and hit fifth in her first year on tour.

Four years later, sponsorless (“I don’t have sponsors, because I don’t have big boobs, blonde hair and blue eyes”), the kid spent twenty-five of her thirty gees in prize money that year just to contest the tour. 

And, won it. 

“Menczer’s 1993 championship remains one of the sport’s great underdog stories, writes Matt Warshaw in his thoroughly indispensable Encyclopedia of Surfing. “Menczer won three of the first 11 events, and had a slender ratings lead going into the 12th and final contest in Hawaii. Two weeks before the event started, the 23-year-old Menczer had an arthritis attack that put her temporarily in a wheelchair; seven days later she began paddling her surfboard in a pool as a warm-up; on the day of the contest—held in windblown eight-foot surf at Sunset Beach—she scraped into the finals, and won the title. “I couldn’t even brush my own hair,” she said of her pre-title attack. “My body just shut down.”

The prize? A busted trophy. 

A little over a week ago, surf industry legends Sophie Marshall and Mimi LaMontagne put together a gofundme with the aim of raising twenty-five gees for the champ, now fifty and driving a school bus in Byron Bay. 

“Pauline helped pave the way for all women in the surf. So, as a collective group of women in the surf industry – who owe everything to these women – we decided it was time we help pay it forward to Pauline. Let’s come together as an industry, as women, and get Pauline Menczer the financial support that she never received!” 

In an episode of Dirty Water last year, the superstar surf journalist Sean Doherty, who is the author of MP: the Life of Michael Peterson and My Brother’s Keeper: the official Bra Boy’s story, described Pauline as his favourite interview.

Listen here. 

And swing to a cinema to watch Girls Can’t Surf, “a wild ride of clashing personalities, sexism, adventure and heartbreak, with each woman fighting against the odds to make their dreams of competing a reality.”

Pauline stars.


Yaz and Gaz, heavenly bodies. | Photo: @yasminbrunet1

Shock: Brazil media reporting rift between Gabriel Medina and step-dad Charlie, mammy, after wedding to model, “Their fear is that after so much sacrifice, everything will fall apart because of the marriage!”

“They have always lived through Gabriel's career. Imposing discipline, giving strength and controlling everything closely. Now, he is no longer a boy and shares his life with his wife."

Only one month after wild speculation that Gabriel Medina had formed a loving union with soccer superstar Neymar Jnr, Brazilian media is now reporting on a rift between the two-time world champ and his family after his surprise marriage to actress and model Yasmin Brunet.

Media there is reporting that “Neither the surfer nor Yasmin follow Charles Medina and Simone Medina, Gabriel’s stepfather, whom he always called his father, and his mother. The two also stopped participating in the networks of the model and her son” and speculates that parental sadness over losing their lil man, the ol empty nest syndrome, may have driven the split. 

For those who know the Medina family, Charles and Simone would be concerned about their son’s future on the waves. Although Gabriel opened the 20-21 calendar well, with a runner-up in December, they fear the boy’s focus has shifted.

“They have always lived through Gabriel’s career. Imposing discipline, giving strength and controlling everything closely. Now, he is no longer a boy and shares his life with his wife. It is undeniable how passionate they are,” says a friend.

Yasmin and Gabriel met at the beginning of last year and soon went to quarantine together.

The internship ended at a wedding in December in Hawaii. Without the presence of relatives. Charles and Simone are also afraid, according to people close to them, of the type of exposure that the marriage between Gabriel and Yasmin has.

In a brief search on the internet, most news related to the athlete is about the couple and not their profession. At 27, Gabriel Medina, one of the greatest surfers in the world, still has a lot of waves to catch.

“Their fear is that after so much sacrifice, everything will fall apart because of the marriage,” says one of the sources.

Star German beach volleyball duo brings Middle Eastern monarchy to its knees as Qatar reverses bikini ban: “There are no restrictions on female players wearing standard uniforms!”

Twists. Turns.

The most exciting international storyline of 2021 took another wild turn, hours ago, as the Middle Eastern monarchy of Qatar reversed its ban on bikinis ahead of a volleyball tournament in Doha.

Star German duo Karla Borger and Julia Sude had declared their intention to boycott the event, saying, “”It is not about wearing little, it’s about not being able to do our job in our work clothes. We don’t want to go along with that. This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job — we are criticizing that.”

The Qatar Volleyball Association had an extremely tense meeting in the wake of the declaration, changed course and issued a terse statement. “Following further discussions, the QVA has confirmed that there are no restrictions on female players wearing standard uniforms during the event in Doha, should they so wish.”

The Federation International Volleyball, which had initially rolled over to Qatar’s demands, also issued their own newly empowered decree. “The FIVB believes strongly that women’s beach volleyball, as all sport, should be judged on performance and effort, and not on uniform. Therefore, during the competition in Doha, should players request to wear the standard uniform, they will be free to do so. The FIVB and QVA are united in their commitment to host a welcoming, safe and inclusive event that allows athletes to compete at their very best.”

It is uncertain if Borger and Sude will use their new power to change neighboring Saudi Arabia’s law prohibiting women from traveling without permission from husbands or male relatives.

More as the story develops.

Surf Anthropology: As Surfline Man defines the soul of southern California does Mid-Length Man present the personification of Australia’s wretched VAL culture

A terrifying new cultural passenger… 

Mid-Length Man lifted his head off the pillow and watched lines of whitewash zip along the inside section of the point, smug with feelings of vindication at the decision to open the Transporter barn doors after his 4:30am piss on the nearby pandanus.

If not for the crochet beanie-wearing guy on the surfboard bench seat partially obscuring his view, his head need not be lifted.

Twenty-one hours earlier, Mid-Length Man was lost in thoughts of high-lining while grinding a carefully measured portion of Campos beans.

8:45… Urgh… Karen would be in soon for her single origin on soy. He needed a break. These cash-in-hand shifts were a great top up to JobKeeper but he needed to reset. The cafe’s patronage had surged when the restrictions were lifted but his stress levels were now peaking.

He needed to escape. A strike mission to Crescent Head.

Mid-Length Man flicked a text his snuggle buddy Sammi. She was keen, but had a shift at the local Mex joint that evening. They would hit the Pac Highway closer to tenand roll into Crescent by two-thirty. He opened the Seabreeze App. Port Macquarie was reading two metres of south east and light sou-west wind for the next three days. He could already taste the coastal estuary in the gentle offshore being funneled out to the point by Killick Creek.

In the muted greys of pre-dawn he could make out three figures sitting at the top of the point. Two wore hoods. The third scratching into one riding a kneeboard.

What would he ride?

A perfect morning for his 7’6″ MOTE twinny. Those channels would bite and drive. Not punchy enough for the Josh Keogh and the Mackie flex-tail, side-cut, long fish he’d packed could wait.

It didn’t feel right surfing it now. It was ordered for the Ments, the Barrenjoy, Lances.


Mid-Length Man quietly suited up in a three-two Need before accidentally kicking over an empty stubby of Coopers Sparkling he’d placed next to the tyre only hours before. Sammi stirred, pushed a mat of golden blonde hair from her face then reached out and closed one of the barn doors. A faint waft of the face balm she applied last night drifted from the van, mango, coconut and jojoba.

Pre-purchase, he had debated internally between the Need four mm boot and the Vans Surf Hi. Need are core but Vans are Vans. Superior grip and that stripe. Even more so the offset white toe jammed perfectly with the volan deck of the MOTE. Look good, feel good he told himself. They slipped on effortlessly and he folded his wettie back down, though careful to keep the checkered pull tab exposed.

Mid-Length Man delicately placed his board on the weathered sandstone at the back end of the keyhole. He tied up his hair in a bun and watched a hooded dad-bod streak down the line on pistachio-tinted Tracker. Probably drives a Kluger he mused. He flex checked his fins out of habit. Torren Martyn keels.

A lump surged across the suck rock and he swung.

Relax. Consider your movements. Stay low. Feel the energy.

A soupy brown wall stood up and he adjusted slightly, aiming down the line.

The kneeboarder hooted and threw a shaka.

Mid-Length Man rinsed off under the public shower behind the surf club and sauntered passed the swelling crowd ordering banana smoothies round front. Two Coastalwatch Dads in Carve tees were setting up their tripods rapping about the Surfline buyout. Their sandy haired offspring – Taj and Kai – waxed their sticker-covered Pyzels. This morning they were to focus on combos.

With any luck, Sammi would have a fresh brew of Kenya Gikanda Kangocho on the portable gas stove.

As he neared the Transporter, there she was, wearing that pastel yellow dress. The lace detail resting on her knees drew his eye to her slender set of warmed brown sugar legs. Barefoot. She wore his denim sherpa jacket. A perfect messy bun of golden blonde hair held together by a tortoiseshell colored clip. Steam rose from the Bialetti capturing the soft morning rays.

She was reading a story about Lee-Anne Curren in the new Acetone mag.

It was Sammi’s turn.

Mid-Length Man sipped from his Huskee cup as Sammi stroked effortlessly into an inside runner.

Her new 9’6″ Gato supplying an ample catwalk for Sammi to traverse.

He could not be further from Sydney’s cafe hustle.

Mid-Length Man tasted notes of plum jam and grapefruit.