Surfing’s Olympic debut, as you know well, is mere weeks away and as of time of writing, there is no typhoon headed Japan’s wave in the forecast. Can gold be won on two-to-three-foot lappers without flying? | Photo: Florence Marine X

Can a just-out-of-surgery John John Florence win gold at Tokyo Olympics without flying?

Eyewitness on the North Shore says Florence surfing very fine with many hacks, carves, wraps and hand jams. Everything but everything but airs. 

Miles Davis is playing on the radio and I am eating eggs lightly dusted with parmigiana plus a potato, red pepper, onion medley while gently rocking in front of a Tyrrhenian cave just a stone’s throw from Positano.

The water is a ridiculous cobalt blue and clear, turquoise near the cliffs and while my life has entered a comically decadent period Hawaii’s John John Florence’s has not.

Eyewitness accounts from the North Shore suggest he is out daily and shredding.

Surfing very fine with many hacks, carves, wraps and hand jams.

Everything but everything but airs.

No board leaving lip.

Surfing’s Olympic debut, as you know well, is mere weeks away and as of time of writing, there is no typhoon headed Japan’s wave in the forecast.

Can gold be won on two-to-three-foot lappers without flying?

I think no. I think not at all. Kelly Slater likely thinks the same as me but he will have to think that from his couch while watching history like the rest of us.

John John and Kolohe will be part of this history.

I think Kelly will be sad. I think sad and lightly depressed.

Italian fans markedly different to the British.

Chas Smith anchors on the island of Ischia in the Tyrrhenian Sea; goes to bar; helps Italy win Euro 2020: “A bottle of Belvedere was brought to our table in a bucket of ice but this time the ice had glowing cubes!”

"Italy won by blocking England’s last attempt and the Pescatore exploded and its staff collapsed on us, smothering us in hugs and kisses."

Arriving in Napoli before noon, we were underway by two and anchored off the isle of Ischia, terraced and quaint, by four. The Mediterranean air a perfect 80. The water an equally perfect 75.

The bay fronting the small hillside town of Sant Angelo was alive with Italians curating perfect tans on million dollar motor yachts and house wide catamarans. Our 48 foot sailboat an outlier.

We dinghied into town before sunset, tried to get a table at the blue-awning’d restaurant Pescatore but were denied by a catlike Sri Lankan.

“No tables. Full.”

Not one table was full but we skulked off without making a scene to the nearby yellow-awning’d bar and ordered vodka sodas.

After a few, jet-lag spinning, hunger took hold and we wandered around the miniature streets looking for a better dining option but Pescatore was clearly the spot and I had to try once more.

This time an older Italian manager looked me in the eye. I looked in his. There was some odd frisson of understanding and he had table brought over and set up overlooking the patio with a perfect view of a movie screen that had just been hoisted. He explained the menu for the night was prix fixe and all of a sudden it made sense.

The Euro Cup Finals between Italy and England set to air at nine in the evening.

Waiters bustled around dressing the tables with finery, managers overseeing their work barking orders. The Sri Lankan pounced by prix fixing us with a playful sneer.

At eight, perfectly tanned and now coifed Italians began filling in. By eight-thirty the patio was packed. The waiters were now at a furious pace, the managers sweating rivulets and running to and from the kitchen.

Children dressed in team Italian blue, faces painted red, white and green, marched around blowing horns.

After we had landed in Rome, the people seemed listless, like they had lost their love of soccer. I even wondered if sport was officially dead but now I realized it was just too early in the morning to be excited about anything at all and also too hot.

Everything in Sant Angelo’s warm evening was alive and tense and alive.

The manager who had seated us came by right as the game was starting. We looked each other in the eye, again, and suddenly I knew what the odd frisson of understanding was.

As long as we stayed at this table, Italy would win.

Without a word he nodded then I nodded then a bottle of Beluga was brought to our table in a bucket of ice.

England scored almost right away and the crowd groaned a sick groan. Heads thrown back, hands gesticulating, tables pounded in frustration. It was a dominant goal and England, in white, looked proud and dominant but I knew it didn’t matter. Knew like I’ve never known anything that those proud hearts were on a collision course with disaster.

The manager knew too and said, “My wife told me Italy would win 2 -1.”

I responded, “I don’t know about the 2 – 1, but they will definitely win.”

He nodded while placing our first course, anchovy, octopus and tuna crudo, on the table.

Another manager brought me a sort of powered horn. “Press this when we do good,” he said pointing to some odd pump mechanism.”

The game continued, ball moving from side to side, up and down. Italy looked disorganized and frantic, missing clear opportunities, not passing crisply. England looked strong but could not put the ball into the back of the net again.

The crowd on extreme edge as halftime came with the second course, a stuffed pasta.

England still 1.

Italy still 0.

The manager stood near our table as analysts analyzed on the movie screen. Many slow motion clips of England’s goal but more of Italy’s blunders.

An Italian woman in a calf length Gucci wrap dress walked by and flared, stopping to say, “Where are you from? English?”

“California,” I answered but that was unsatisfactory too.

The Sri Lankan skipped by, elbowing me, whispering, “I’m for England”

I punched him in the shoulder.

The main, a white fish in lemon, was brought and I noticed ours arrived before anyone else’s with special care. More waiters were hovering around our table now, both managers too, all feeling that frisson of understanding for themselves. Knowing we were tied to the fate of their Italy.

And, like that, their Italy scored.

It was a messy ricochet but a score nevertheless and the patio exploded while I smashed my power horns pump

A bottle of Belvedere was brought to our table in a bucket of ice but this time the ice had glowing cubes in it.

The game, now knotted, had entered gridlock. Neither England nor Italy could gain the advantage and the crowd’s elation returned to pure tension.

Back and forth.

Back and forth.

Nothing and regulation time ended.

England 1

Italy 1

More analyzers analyzing on the movie screen but this time the slow motion clips were all Italy.

The first overtime began with the players looking exhausted. We were exhausted too having been awake for well over 30 hours now, traveling from home to Rome to Napoli, setting up the yacht and sailing to Ischia but had to hang on.

If we left, Italy would lose, our dinghy would get sunk and our anchor cut by the woman in the Gucci dress so we did the only thing we could and ordered double espressos.

Both managers, now in charge of us exclusively, snapped and yelled. They came within minutes.

The first overtime ended with no score.

Analyzers analyzed. The crowd restless and nervous and tense and gesticulating and swelled. A verge of tears everywhere.

The second overtime began with players looking crazed and us feeling crazed and the crowd near insanity.

It, too, ended with no score.

Penalty kicks to end a soccer game is one of the sweetest tortures in all sport. The entire universe resting on one foot and one goalie.

The crowd ready to implode and I wished that could hug them all and tell them it would be ok, that we had not left, mustering every ounce of our fortitude, and therefore Italy would win and therefore I would hug them all soon but that would also rob them of that sweetest torture.

Both managers, most waiters, the entire cooking crew, having abandoned the kitchen, surrounded our table. The Sri Lankan too looking positively giddy.

Every time Italy score, or blocked a score, the mangers, waiters, cooks could smash our backs, grab our hands, rub our shoulders. Every time England scored, or blocked a score, I would punch the Sri Lankan’s shoulder.

Italy won by blocking England’s last attempt and the Pescatore exploded and its staff collapsed on us, smothering us in hugs and kisses.

The owner was brought over, booming, “Show me the men who brought us the luck tonight!”

We shook his hand and dipped our heads accepting his thanks, complimenting him for hosting the best night on earth, then we slid out back to dinghy un-sunk out to boat with anchor firm feeling like magic.

Steve-O reveals extent of Poopies’ injuries in shark-jump stunt for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week gone wrong, “He had surgery to reattach the tendons and two arteries in his hand. He would be so fucking dead if they didn’t dive on him as fast as they did!”

"Jesus, he got wrecked by a shark! For a Shark Week episode!"

Last week, we reported the exciting news that Jamie O’Brien’s former fall guy Sean “Poopies” McInerney had made what appeared to be a stunning debut for Jackass, the reality comedy TV and movie franchise created by Johnny Knoxville and his skater pals. 

In a piece for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and which may feature in Jackass 4, new Jackasser Poopies “appeared to get attacked by a shark after a jump attempt. Someone’s heard yelling for medical assistance and a tourniquet as the teaser ends” reported TMZ of the sequence which aired today at 10 PM ET/PT. 

Like most of these sorta stunts, y’figure a lot of noise, not much damage.

(Watch it here.)

Jumping the shark with Poops.

But in an interview with Nelk’s Steve WillDoIt, Steve-O, aka forty-seven-year-old Stephen Glover, has revealed that ol Poopies nearly bought the farm. 

“My buddy got his hand mangled by a shark, man,” says Steve-O.

“Did it come off?” asks Steve WillDoIt.

Steve-O pantomimes a flopping hand and wrist and describes the tendons and two separate arteries having to be surgically reattached.

“He would be fucking dead if they didn’t dive on him as fast as they did. Jesus, he got wrecked by a shark! For a Shark Week episode!”

Watch here, hits at five minutes.

Yeah, I'd pay to watch John John at ten-foot Teahupoo. | Photo: ASP/WSL

Pro surfing: Would you pay $54.95 to watch a one-day world title showdown?

No dead air, no silly quasi-environmental campaigns that stink of hypocrisy, critical commentators, tough questions, next-level graphics. Would you pay?

Yesterday, me and two million other lovers of cartoonish violence, paid $54.95 apiece to watch six hours of mixed-martial arts fighting. 

Didn’t think twice and I ain’t one for loose spending. 

Dana White’s UFC is a sport that is bizarre and shallow, a detached strain of realism with shocks and silliness, as all good spectator sports should be. No greenwashing, no virtue signalling comic in its hypocrisy.  

Trump, Bieber, Nelk boys, a Kardashian. All of ‘em in the front rows. 

Real simple rules. 

Beat hell out of person in front of you. 

Don’t stick y’fingers in their eyeballs and don’t hit ‘em in the nuts or pussy. 

If you get hit, you keep coming back. 

If leg snaps, scream at your opponent that you’ll be tooling his wife later at the after party.

Raw but professional.

Slick as fuck. 

And, I was watching, thinking, man, how good would it be if I’d slung the cash at an epic day of pro surfing, eight-to-ten-foot Teahupoo or Cloudbreak, a full day of head-to-head cards, first light to dusk, a winner crowned at the end. 

Use this is as a template, and, yeah, it’s an obvious one. 

The ASP’s (this was one year before Dirk Ziff re-branded pro surfing as the WSL) Billabong Pro in 2014. Teahupoo. Kelly Slater, John John Florence faced off in eight-to-ten foot Teahupoo. The two best surfers in heavy lefts walking a tight-rope more deadly than an uppercut from Francis Ngannou.

 Imagine a day of it. 

Two-week window in season. 

One day. 

Kelly, John John, Gabriel, Italo, Jack Robinson, Griff, Brother, Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, maybe. 

Have six of ‘em a year. Grand Slams tour. The current WCT tour becomes a feeder into the Grand Slams with Slater being an obvious wildcard. 

You know it’s coming so you have viewing parties. You and your buddies chip in say, ten bucks apiece to watch.

Tell me that wouldn’t excite just a little.

It ain’t gonna happen in a hurry, I know, but, coming up in two months is finals day at Lowers?


The WSL puts a pay-wall up for finals day.

Fifty-five bucks to watch.

There’s no dead air, no silly quasi-environmental campaigns, “diversity and inclusivity” is given a needed rest, commentators are encouraged to be critical, tough questions are asked in post-heat interviews and the on-screen graphics game goes next level.

A southern-hemi whips up the most shreddable three-to-four-foot waves y’ever seen.

Would you pay?

If no, what if it shifted to Tahiti in 2022 and you got to see Filipe deal with his demons at ten-foot Teahupoo?

Oui ou non?

Much heteronormative provocation!

The Ultimate Surfer shows “Kelly Slater and the WSL staffers to be Trumpian in their profound ignorance of their own ridiculousness!”

And so much heteronormative provocation!

I felt nice and validated by the time I got to the end of The Ultimate Surfer trailer yesterday.

Occasionally in the back of my mind, when ridiculing WSL-ism and post Surf Ranch Kelly-isms, I have considered just saving my breath.

Maybe I should just live and let live?

Fuck that.

This is too fascinating.

Kelly Slater and the WSL staffers are almost Trumpian in their profound ignorance of their own ridiculousness.

And Koa Smith, incredible.

Is Koa Smith’s martial arts-esque throwing of the Shaka the heaviest things ever done in or around surfing?

I can’t believe Koa Smith, “It’s go time babeehhh!”

He out Spiccolis Spiccoli.

He is like a blond and necklaced Frankenstein engineered to perfection by all the cliches and stereotypes Hollywood’s portrayal of surfing has collectively mustered.

It is worse and much funnier than anything I could have possibly imagined.

Do you agree?

Surely this trailer has been a force for unification.

Something to ignite a more full-blooded and broad-based dissent against surfing’s smiling undertakers.

If you were ever on the fence about the state of Kelly Slater’s mind or whether Eric is actually as kooky as he seems or whether the WSL’s plan is actually to pivot pro surfing to reality TV geared towards non-surfers, here it is in cinematic perfection.

And yet it came with a deep sense of relief, like the last few years have been the tense and freaky build-up in American Psycho and now the veil has been drawn to reveal the sweet release of splattered blood and relieved tension.

The murder scene.

Gruesome and shocking yes, but at least now the depravity of our villain is known, and we are released from the purgatory of speculation.

Surely now, finally, we can all agree that pro surfing’s new bosses are designing what has become a darkly hilarious horror show?

I want to know what Adriano De Souza thinks? A kid who surfed his way out of the favellas, through the brutality of the QS, now watching B and C-grade surfers have quick running races down the sand and inevitably float Zeke Lau a place back on tour.

I feel like just like Patrick Bateman, perplexed as to why he has not been seized for the horrors he has committed, but it is not my crimes I am professing, it is theirs.

Like that Bateman scene, the whole trailer has a distinctly hallucinogenic quality to it.

There is a glimpse of someone hula dancing in a sarong surrounded by flaming torches drinking from what looks like a wooden goblet, a beautiful blonde woman winking and talking about kissing, a set that looks like they hired the art director from Survivor etc.

Now, it’s fine and a bit fun for me/some of us to celebrate the humour in watching surfing pivot to a kind of Jersey Shore model of televised engagement/recruitment to bolster viewership, but I can’t help but get a little bit sentimental when I think of the kids out there who are being deprived of a pro surfing future they can idolise.

In era’s past it has taken until at least the age of 20, or 18, or maybe 16 at the earliest, to become jaded with surfing’s commercial trappings, but yesterday I spoke to a 12-year-old kid who was tripping as much as I was about the trailer, “That show looks heavy hey.”

I think it is a little bit cruel and selfish of Kelly to be complicit in the discrediting of surfing just as he readies himself to sign off from competition.

Do you?