Friend shares insight into mind of Santa Barbara “Lovewater” surf school owner accused of killing his children as community rallies around wife: “It became clear to me that he believed some weird stuff.”

"We're all pretty conservative, and this was not just conservative political talk."

The story of Matthew Taylor Coleman, the popular Santa Barbara surf school owner who, last week, drove his two young children to Mexico and murdered them with a speargun, is as tragic as it is incomprehensible and yet the human condition is to strive and create some sort of sense out of the dark pieces. To try and sort warning signs that could lead to pure horror from an otherwise idyllic-presenting life.

His arresting officers revealed, in the hours that followed, that Coleman believed his children possessed “serpent DNA” and that killing them would help save the world.

Now a friend has come forward with more insight, telling People magazine that, while their conversations used to be “normal,” in early 2021 things took a turn. “He’d tell me about stuff he read online. Conspiracies. But he’d present it like, ‘I read something really crazy. Isn’t that ridiculous?’ But then he’d start adding things like, ‘yeah, but when you think about it, it all makes a lot of sense.’ It was like he was starting to believe them. And he spent a lot of time looking at these conspiracies. He devoted a lot of brain power to them. It became clear to me that he believed some weird stuff.”

Still, even with the “weird stuff” there was no telltale sign that things would turn so dark, with the friend adding, “I need to be clear about something. He never said anything that led me to believe that he was a danger to himself or anyone else. We’re all pretty conservative, and this was not just conservative political talk. This was just out there. Stuff that made zero sense to me.”

Conspiracies are nothing new but it certainly does seem that the strains currently spreading are particularly virulent and not just the domain of  “conservatives” even though that may be an easy conclusion to draw. I have two extremely liberal friends who have gone all in on Q-adjacent business. But why? Siloed Facebook groups, fear, misinformation, etc. all seem far too hollow to actually account for a father, heretofore deemed “normal,” spearing his own children in Mexico. Was Coleman profoundly, but secretly, mentally disturbed or did “devoting a lot of brain power” to “weird stuff” flip his switch?

In any case, an account has been set up in support of Coleman’s wife, Abby, with a family friend reaching out to BeachGrit writing, “I was wondering if y’all would consider sharing the gofundme that has been created for her. It was started by another one of her friends and will provide needed financial support for Abby as she is going through this very rough time. I suspect the surf community would be interested in rallying to help her in such a difficult time.”

Give here.


Horror Day in Margaret River as popular local surfer killed at Main Break; another surfer evacuated by helicopter after suspected spinal injury at The Box!

Third death at same spot.

A popular Margaret River surfer in his sixties has died in wildly challenging six-to-eight foot waves at Main Break, his body pulled from the water at around two pm. 

The man, who is yet to be officially named was a noted local surfer whose bona fides were beyond any sorta doubt having surfed in the amateur world titles in South America a few years ago; one of his kids is a noted surf cinematographer employed by the WSL.

A surfer’s surfer.

Main Break was heavy today. 

Strong north-east offshore winds, a west swell and strong current pushing back into the peak.

The surfer was killed when he got caught inside and his legrope got caught on the cheese-grater inside of the notorious Surgeon’s Table. 

Third life claimed at the same spot. 

Visitors to Main Break will have seen the the monument to indigenous shredder Creed Barnes who was eighteen when he was killed in identical circumstances in 1989.

Name familiar? Creed McTaggart was named after Creed Barnes, who would’ve turned fifty this year.

The day began in ominous fashion.

At ten am, a man was flown by chopper to Royal Perth Hospital after suffering a suspected spinal injury at the Box. 


Woke marine scientist decries “frighteningly problematic” racist, classist power dynamics of describing shark finning as “indescribably cruel”!

Friendly reminder that when we describe shark finning as “indescribably cruel” we are also describing people who fin sharks as “indescribably cruel” and this has worrisome racial, class, and power dynamics.

Miami-based marine scientist Catherine Macdonald has slammed the British government for calling shark-finning “indescribably cruel”.

Shark finning involves removing the dorsal fin from sharks before tossing the still living body back into the ocean.

Shark can’t swim, they sink, get eaten or suffocate.

It ain’t pretty, but fishing rarely is, the lil creatures flapping around on deck or killed in nets or hook.

The animals lose the fins to fulfil a robust demand for shark fin soup in China, the delicacy real popular around Chinese New Year. It’s a cultural thing.

Around seventy to a hundred mill sharks are killed each year via finning.

Anyway,

Animal Welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said, “Shark finning is indescribably cruel and causes thousands of shark to die terrible deaths. It is also unforgivably wasteful. The practice is rightly banned in UK waters, but the trade continues, with serious implications for the future of these magnificent creatures. “That is why we are now banning the import both of detached shark fins and shark fin products.

“Our action will not only help boost shark numbers, it will send a clear message that we do not support an industry that is forcing many species to the brink of extinction”.

Pretty standard stuff.

And, you would think, right up the alley of progressives.

Well, it ain’t, not when hurt feelings now occupy the apex of the Woke pyramid.

See, hacking fins off sharks is an Asian thing ergo if you call it “indescribably cruel” it ain’t any less toxic than getting up in yellow face, taped eyelids, conical hat etc.

Responding to Goldsmith’s comments Macdonald writes,

Friendly reminder that when we describe shark finning as “indescribably cruel” we are also describing people who fin sharks as “indescribably cruel” and this has worrisome racial, class, and power dynamics.

The discourse around shark finning is frighteningly problematic. It lacks important specificity (almost always conflating the process of finning and the trade in fins). It actively dehumanizes fishers and consumers.

I care a lot about shark conservation. But it cannot be predicated on the idea that the lives of sharks are more important than the lives of people who depend on fisheries, or on arguments that other cultures bear all responsibility for a complex global conservation problem.

Dunno, what do you think?


In 2017, Moroccan-born Ahmed Erraji rebranded himself as "Hijo del Mar" (Son of the Sea) and turned the drama-speak up a notch or two. "Have you heard of the saying Fear Kills? Fear tells you: 'If you’re going to bodysurf that wave, you’ll never come back,' but with time I learned that on the other side of your biggest fears are the best things of your life." On his Instagram, Erraji called the lineup a "magnetic warzone" and compared dropping into a big wave to "the suspension of time—like taffy across a violent blue universe."

Surf historian Matt Warshaw reveals the great surfing pranks, hoaxes and scams that fooled the world! “I’m 96% sure the whole episode is bullshit, and the number goes up each time I watch!”

A glorious history of the surfing Flim-Flam man!

Last month, Moroccan-born Ahmed Erraji posted a tightly-edited YouTube clip of himself wiping out somewhere in the Canaries. He gets swept shoreward, pushed into a cave, and is trapped for over two hours before the tide drops and he is literally ejected back to open ocean and safety. 

Erraji’s GoPro survived the tumult and allowed him to film the ordeal from inside the cave, and the money shot is a selfie of his zinc-covered worried-but-not-panicked face as a wave rushes into his rock-ceilinged cravasse and turns the screen black. 

Too black, maybe? 

Watch the clip here.

I’m 96% sure the whole episode is bullshit, and the number goes up each time I watch. Surf-world opinion is divided. Tracks thinks the clip is legit. 

BeachGrit readers do not, for reasons listed in the comments section here. 

(It may not be the biggest tell—nobody else brought it up—but watch for a split-second shot at 3:23 of Erraji supposedly riding a backwash off the cliff and erupting missile-like from the far side of the next wave.)

I’ve given some thought to the difference and confluences, in a surf-world context, between the prank, the scam, and the hoax.

The prank is the fun-forward member of the trio. The prank is 15-year-old Roman Emperor Elagabalus not only inventing the whoopie cushion but also sneaking full-grown (tame) lions into the bedrooms of guests who were sleeping off the previous night’s orgy. 

“Indeed,” the Historia Augusta noted, “for him life was nothing except a search after pleasures.”

The print version of Encyclopedia of Surfing was fragged by this amazing prank from 20 years ago when a sandboarding expert in Oregon spread the word that his sport began in ancient Egypt on clay pottery fragments, and I printed that in the book.

In turn, I have written about noteworthy surf-world pranks, and three of the best are featured here. 

Great hoaxes age well, and my favorite will always be “A Surfer’s Nightmare,” in which Doc Ball not only superimposed a shot of “Nellie Bly” Brignell in full crucifixion stance atop a photo of a massive pre-WWII Long Beach storm wave, but sold it to Look magazine—and yes, I suppose that means that Ball himself, while deeply religious, wasn’t above a bit of lightweight scamming, and good for him.

“This picture has caused more controversy than any other I possess,” Ball later said, and I for one detect a hint of pride in his voice.

The scam by nature is not fun—unless you are Paul Newman or Robert Redford, in which case it is very fun indeed. The scam is conceived and deployed to enrich the scammer. Scientifically defined, the scam is three-quarters of whatever Miki Dora did when he wasn’t riding waves. (Dora of course dabbled elsewhere, and it might be said that he pulled off a scam-prank-hoax trifecta with his 1974 “Winner Take All” competition scheme.)

While I appreciate our flimflamming pioneers, I also cheer those who push forward, and this brings us to a final point.

Apart from working in a different medium, has Ahmed Erraji bring anything new to the game? 

Yes. He previewed the hoax. He called his shot. Scroll Erraji’s Instagram, and look for the April 7, 2021, post.

 There it is, all teed up in the caption.

“Find what you love and let it kill you.”

(You like this? Matt Warshaw delivers a surf history essay every Sunday, PST. All of ’em a pleasure to read. Maybe time to subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, yeah? Three bucks a month.)


Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien puts crab down two-time World Champion John John Florence’s shirt thereby infuriating animal rights advocates: “Prank videos including animals are ridiculous. Can’t believe even you are one of those insensible people doing it.”

Rage.

We live in dark days, dark hours, where fun is no longer innocent, a laugh no longer light. Various special interest groups and subgroups have invaded every corner and one, or another, is all but guaranteed to take offense at chuckles and jokes. Take, for example, the recent playful exchange between Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien and his protege the two-time World Champion John John Florence.

In an old timey prank, O’Brien found a crab on the beach, captured it and dropped it right down the back of Florence’s long sleeved rash guard, oddly Hurley branded.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CShn6ahpts8/

Animal rights activists were quick to pounce, righteously indignant.

Drone operator e1000lion led off with “No fun at all… stressing that animal.”

Manjulamoon added, “That’s cruel…poor crab.”

Mike_brody, “Poor crab.”

berrotala, “not cool at all using animals for fun like that.”

Slaidfins, “Prank vídeos including animals are ridiculous. Can’t believe even you are one of those insensible people doing it.”

Etc.

Etc.

With Shaneoooo2.0 providing the rare counter argument, replying, “i sell crabs for people to cool alive and eat.”

“Cool” must mean “cook,” in this context, but either way.

And now, here, today, are you #TeamCrab or #TeamPrank?

More as the story develops.