Big-budget TV series that skewers surf industry’s wonderfully louche drug-money funded beginnings premieres tonight!

"Barons puts an imagined microscope to the nefarious origins of Australia’s biggest surfing dynasties. It’s a story that in many ways is still yet to be told, especially to a mainstream audience."

With all the hullabaloo ‘round the release of Make or Break, another mainstream surf offering here in Australia has slipped under the radar. One that might prove more incisive, more explosive than the Woz’s docu-drama could ever hope.

Barons, premiering tonight on the Australian taxpayer-funded ABC, is the fictionalised story of two warring surf brands developed by close friends out of the same small town in the early 1970s.

Sound familiar?

Billed as an authentic recount of the birth of surf culture – and the surf industry – in Australia, Barons has it all. Ridiculously good looking characters with names like Trotter and Snapper dressed in impeccably stylised recreations of ‘70s fashion. The soul surfer v consumer dichotomy. Spiritual connections with the ocean. Drug smuggling. Sex. Panel vans. Single fins. Copious amounts of incense and woollen turtlenecks. It’s all fucken there.

But most importantly it puts an imagined microscope to the nefarious origins of Australia’s biggest surfing dynasties. It’s a story that in many ways is still yet to be told, especially to a mainstream audience.

We want the truth. But can Barons handle it?

In my recent review of Lines to the Horizon, I talked about how easy it is for surf storytellers to drift into cliche.

Call it the Bodhi complex.

If the competent writers in that collection of essays were sometimes guilty of dipping their toe in those waters, Barons looks like it has jumped head first. Judging by the preview it’s Tim Winton meets Party of 5. But then again, this was the birth of the surf guru epoch. Cliches are born from truth.

Early reviews have been kind without being effusive. Sydney Morning Herald described it as a sexy, stoner period soapie but a slow burn.

“Selling out a counterculture isn’t inherently interesting on its own.”

It does come with some bonafides. Taylor Steele was in charge of the surf cinematography as well as being involved in the script. Producers include Michael Lawrence (Bra Boys, Fighting Fear).

Check the preview here.

I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the damn thing. But some observations:

Anybody with even a passing knowledge of the early days of the surf industry in Australia knows that an M-rated soap opera isn’t gonna tell half the story. Truth will always be wilder than fiction, if a producer even had the gumption to try. Plus it’s still living history. Too soon, for many that were there.

The fictionalised story is a good way of sidestepping any legal snafus. But is a TV soap really the right vehicle? A more apt setting might be Wake in Fright by the beach. A hedonistic, all-consuming world of inescapable vice. All the little devils, proud of their hell.

Or maybe something like Rashomon. One event told from five different perspectives.

After all, we’re all so hungry for surf history. The culture is quickly swallowing itself. Eager to turn history into lore.

But who should be telling the story?

A little while back WSL commissioned a profile on Surfline of the founding of G Land. Proudly talking of the early Boyum, Lopez, McCabe days and the lifestyle that funded it. To see the WSL effectively coat tailing off the Sea of Darkness crew was jarring. The industry’s once dirty little secret now, seemingly, being worn as a badge of pride. Barons looks like it will lean into the same territory.

Who are they to claim ownership?

The real story is still out there. Still living and breathing. There’s narratives. Counter-narratives. Bitter rivalries. Legal disputes. Some of the players have done well for themselves. Now in boardrooms and beachside mansions. Others, not so much. They’re in outer suburb living rooms. Or tiny backyard shaping bays. Or retirement homes.

All with their own perspectives. Their own stories to tell.

What would they make of it all? This sudden mythologisation of their lives?

Must be weird.

Anyway, tune in tonight at 830pm Australian EST. If you’re outside Australia, y’might need to get a VPN to get over country restrictions etc. 

Surf legend Tom Carroll (right) reacts upon hearing what Erik Logan (left) has done for the environment this year.
Surf legend Tom Carroll (right) reacts upon hearing what Erik Logan (left) has done for the environment this year.

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan to be feted at grand beachside environmental ball for his extraordinary achievements in greenwashing this year!

A night to remember.

And the platinum hits just keep on coming for World Surf League CEO Erik Logan. “The Rusty Cudgel” is coming off what must be considered the greatest run, ever, in professional surf leadership. Things were looking shaky heading into Bells with the stench of The Ultimate Surfer still lingering and sitting champion Gabriel Medina refusing to play but then wham-o.

It began with the announcement that a cheap Chinese-made SUV was signing on as a sponsor of the environmentally-progressive league. Next, a surfer protest was brutally quashed with “feelings” and “friendship” being invoked. Then, it was revealed that Apple TV’s much-anticipated program Make or Break will be airing at the end of the month, disposable furniture manufacturer IKEA joined up for co-branded shelving and Morgan Ciblic planted a bush in Torquay.

A series of slams so undeniably grand that Logan must be the envy of Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, Rob Manfred.

Well, they can go fete him in person as it has just been announced that our Man from Muskogee is the person of honor at the upcoming environmentally-forward Heal the Bay Bring Back the Beach gala.

Per the release:

Following a two-year pause due to the pandemic, we are thrilled to announce the return of our Bring Back the Beach Gala on June 2, 2022. As a fundraising benefit for Heal the Bay, this exclusive West Coast event welcomes hundreds of leaders from the business, political, entertainment, and environmental communities.

And the excitement doesn’t stop there, as we will also be shining the light on the incredible achievements of this year’s honoree, Erik Logan. As CEO of World Surf League, Erik has gone to great lengths to bring clean water awareness and initiatives to the worldwide surfing community. We hope you will join us to support both Erik’s work and the wide-reaching impact of Heal the Bay.

Sipping on fruity cocktails, enjoying a beautiful sunset with the salty breeze, digging your toes in the sand, and winning an amazing getaway—does life get any better? Yes, when it all benefits healthy, safe, and clean coastal waters and watersheds!

You, too, can celebrate Logan’s greenwashing by gathering twelve of your friends and providing $50,000 (perks include recognition by event speakers from the podium and a private beach cleanup).

Don’t have twelve friends? $10,000 will allow you and nine others to rub shoulders with a who’s who of environmental stalwarts from California’s oil and gas industry (though no participating in the aforementioned private beach cleanup).

A loner? A mere $1000 and you’re set, or in the words of Maurice Cole, “simply put….green washing seems to be the WSL’s Modus Operandum.”

A night to remember.

Fruity cocktails.

"That smile on my face doesn't mean I have a perfect life. It means that I am grateful for the things I have and that God has blessed me."

World surfing champion Gabriel Medina to make sensational return to tour at G-Land following break for “emotional issues” and split from Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet, “Here we go. I’m going to Indonesia!”

“I'm motivated. I'm back to my athlete routine. Everything is back to normal."

Three months ago, the three-time world champ Gabriel Medina quit the tour just two weeks before its opening gambit at Pipe.

“I have emotional issues that I need to deal with,” he told fans via IG, referring  to the breakdown of his year-long marriage to the thirty-three-year-old Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet, as well as ongoing, and various, feuds between his estranged family. 

Now, Medina, who is twenty-eight, will make his glorious return to competition in May at Grajagan aka G-Land, “one of the world’s longest and most challenging reefbreaks, and site of the original surfing camp.”

“I’m motivated. I’m back to my athlete routine, waking up early, eating well,” Medina told Brazilian news outlet Esporte Espetacular. “Everything is back to normal. Here we go. I’m going to Indonesia, it’s a new stage in G-Land. That makes me even more motivated.”


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In regards to his marriage, the split, estrangement from fam, quitting the tour and so on he said,

“I’ve learned a lot during that time that I’ve withdrawn from competition, and I feel like I’m 100%. That’s why I’m announcing my return. I’m excited, I miss competing, travelling, in that environment where I see all my friends there.”

Medina has already been awarded the 2023 wildcard for the first five events, as well as the back five events of 2022.

If he nails a couple of wins it’s a pretty good chance he’ll make the top five and, therefore, this year’s final at Trestles.

Grajagan, if you don’t know the story, was first surfed in 1972 by a couple of American surfers, became the site of the world’s first surf camp and, in 1995, a fabled stop on what was then the “Dream Tour”. 

World’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater throws his social clout behind Mike Tyson as former heavyweight champ punches ultra-annoying passenger on plane: “Got what he asked for. Idiot.”

Folksy and wise.

Kelly Slater is an icon, our icon, but soon to be made even more famous with the imminent airing of Make or Break. This larger platform will expose important segments of broader culture to what we surfers have long known. Namely, that the 11x champion weaves a tao across social media like Laozi of old.

Golden nibbles to ponder and savor.

Morsels to digest and practice.

What, for example, is the appropriate response to the ever increasing vexation of annoying passengers on airplanes? Well, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was recently treated to a barrage of bad behavior and eventually responded by smashing the dunce in the face multiple times.

Should have restraint been practiced? A peaceful ignoring? Turning inside and blocking out external noise? A meditation of sorts?

No, according to Slater, who posted, “Got what he asked for. Leave the man alone. Idiot,” not once but twice on an Instagram account highlighting passenger shaming.

Folksy and wise.

Watch dramatic moment when professional bodyboarder saves lifeguard named “Moustache” from certain death off the unforgiving coast of Rio de Janeiro!

Heroes are made.

Bodyboarders have been enjoying a star turn lately, receiving praise from surf celebrities like Nathan Florence, fighting menacing sea terrors and now flipping the script and saving those tasked with doing the saving. But we must make our way to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city, where a dramatic rescue of a lifeguard was filmed.

According to witnesses, Renan Souza, a professional bodyboarder who had just competed in one of the stops just south of the famed Copacabana saw that a lifeguard had been injured and was clinging to the rocks. Without thought for his own well-being, Souza (no relation to Adriano de) made his way over just as the poor soul was swept out into the sea.

He immediately jumped in, kicking furiously to reach the man while onlookers cheered.

“I really feared for my life there,” Souza told O Globo News, ” the sea was very strong and the stones there didn’t help. Everything was very desperate.”

After reaching the lifeguard, Souza managed to furiously kick him near shore where a helicopter completed the rescue.

Those on the beach praised his heroic, selfless act.

“I was very nervous,” he continued, “it seemed like I was watching him die in front of me and refusing to do anything when I realized it, I was already getting into the water, it was all very fast. I recognized him from the beach. We talk to each other from time to time. People call him Moustache and thank God he was fine.”

No word if swellnet, a safe space for middle-aged surfers, ruthlessly mocked Souza for invoking the almighty.

Bravos all around.