Yves and Kelly, custodians of the planet. | Photo: Slater by @sensitiveseashellcollector

Pressure builds on sustainability activist Kelly Slater to gift Outerknown to environmental causes following Yves Chouinard’s shock decision to give away his $3 billion surf and climbing company Patagonia, “I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really, really pissed me off”

"The whole river is completely filled with floating fish, for miles and miles and miles. I have seen pictures and it makes me wanna cry," says Slater.

You might’ve seen in the press already, Yves Chouinard’s decision to give away Patagonia, the company he spent the last fifty years building into the multi-billion dollar operation it is today. 

I’ll admit. Patagonia, the brand, don’t do a hell of a lot for me. The ritual use of dull browns, the lingering smell of piety, the full silhouettes suited to the fashionably retarded.

I live in the city where the climate is temperate. I don’t climb, don’t fish, use a little of the ocean close to shore and what little nature I get is from the television. Fornication, perhaps, is the closest I get to God.

And, yet, I’ve always found Yvon Chouinard, the climber and surfer who founded Patagonia, deeply interesting. One of those men whom you would’ve loved as a childhood mentor. 

“He who dies with the least toys wins,” says Yves. “Because the more you know, the less you need… I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really, really pissed me off. I don’t have $1 billion in the bank. I don’t drive Lexuses.”

True to his word, instead of selling Patagonia or taking it public, Yves, who is eighty-three, has transferred his family’s ownership of the company into a trust and no-for-profit, “created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.”

And, now following the decision, pressure is mounting on renowned environmentalist Kelly Slater, whose work with Queensland wetlands and Californian deserts is the stuff of legend, to do the same with Outerknown, which, like Patagonia, was created as a bulwark against cheap, mass-produced clothing. 

“I am pretty depressed about the state of the world to be honest and our future in terms of pollution and humanity in a lot of ways,” Slater told Tracks magazine. “It feels like politics and religion and all sorts of things are pulling us apart more than they bring us together.

“I am pretty sensitive to it … it weighs heavy on my heart to be honest. I think about big things in the world a lot and for me it’s difficult to see and be ok with it. When you become aware of something but then you don’t know how to fix it, that’s when it becomes frustrating.

“I try and raise awareness with social media. I wish there was more time for myself to be able to just focus only on that. All the rivers in my hometown right now have completely been destroyed by the sugar cane and fertilizer industries. All the fish in the river outside my house just died, every single fish. The whole river is completely filled with floating fish right now, for miles and miles and miles. It’s the saddest thing you will ever see. I have just seen pictures and it makes me wanna cry.”

Don’t cry!

Be like Yves!

More as it comes.


Sexism (pictured).

Tasteless surf tabloid viciously slammed by Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing for ugly pattern of wanton sexism: “Per usual BeachGrit is disrespecting women. What will your daughter think?”

Many tears.

Reckless surf tabloid BeachGrit’s twin desks were sent reeling, this morning, after one of its principals was publicly accused of continuing a disturbing pattern of wanton sexism. The latest in a series of offending posts was carelessly uploaded to the website’s lightly trafficked Instagram account and featured a sixty-ish-year-old woman in a full wetsuit and jacket getting extremely barreled on a nine-foot longboard, blown out with the spit and sent into the atmosphere where she rode an airplane before doing a hands-free full rotation.

The Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, with a mission of supporting access, inclusion, equity and equal pay and promises to be “new wave of professional surfing,” immediately pounced on the ugly piece of content, declaring, “Per usual @beach.grit is disrespecting women. What will your daughter think @surfjournalist?”

Surf journalist Chas Smith had not considered asking his young daughter before sharing the video and immediately apologized to her for perpetuating such bigoted trash and promised he would be better.

Many tears flowed thereafter.

Smith thought about calling his older daughter, who plays soccer for Vanderbilt, to apologize to her as well, hoping beyond hope that she hadn’t seen the thoughtlessness which might have led her to believe she could do backflips to the atmosphere and ride an airplane after scoring a goal but couldn’t handle any more shame.

He is currently seeking help.


Nude surfing is ok for all ages!

In shock communiqué, holistic health expert encourages surfers to bring kids to nude beaches: “The innocence, honesty and normalcy of bodies is celebrated on a naked beach and most people are very welcoming to children!”

Freedom.

Now, every surfer worth her salt knows there are many nude beaches that also feature fine waves, Blacks in San Diego, Privates in Santa Cruz, Gunnison in New Jersey, Trail Six right next to Lower Trestles etc., but many, if not most, might be lightly tentative to bring their young children with them for a shared session.

Too much weird.

Yuck yuck parts.

Thick puritanical blood pumping through unconscious minds but in a shock communiqué, a holistic health expert has declared that bringing children of every age is not only appropriate but healthy. Nadine Robinson, who raised her own three daughters on nude beaches, declares, “Scantily clad women’s bodies are on display in every aspect of pop culture. And that imagery is harmful not because it shows too much skin, but because all that skin looks the same: skinny, white and young. The mainstream media gives women a dangerously narrow definition of what is beautiful. I was much more terrified that my children would internalize an unrealistic image of women’s bodies from a Grand Theft Auto commercial than I was of them seeing a 60-year-old woman’s bare breasts at the beach. I wanted to expose my daughters to all types of bodies, at all ages and stages.”

Assuaging fears of perversion or general naughtiness, Robinson counters, “Nude beaches are about body positivity. And most people at naked beaches are trying to undo the harmful cultural stereotypes they were indoctrinated with. So, when children are there, adults are enthusiastic gatekeepers of their healthy sexuality and safety. The innocence, honesty and normalcy of bodies is celebrated on a naked beach, and most people are very welcoming to children.”

Hmmmm.

But what do you think about that? Does it change your opinion about leaving your six-year-old on Blacks’ gritty sand whilst you make barrel?

I suppose it should.


Intrepid NJ Surfboard Rescue Team.

Mystery of ghostly surfboard in swamp, unmoved by tides and currents, that had been haunting commuters for half a decade finally solved by New Jersey reporter!

Truth stranger than fiction etc.

The New Jersey Meadowlands, located nine miles from Manhattan, is a gloriously notorious swamp where one can loose, with intent, anything from overestimated, unused Union concrete to overdue gambling debts with lips and tongues. 

Old rumors from Houston street to Hoboken say there are enough pistols with duct tape on the handle at the bottom of the marshes to arm a Caribbean island. It is also said there are enough human bones that skulk the bottom, weighted with sandbags, to make the catacombs in the basements of France look like a pop-up Halloween store. 

Atop the meadowlands, runs the NJ Transit lines, connecting gritty, shitty New Jersey to the sparkling Big Apple. And it is on these trains that commuters have watched, for nearly five years, a solitary surfboard floating on a marsh. The board remained isolated and unmoved by tide, current and wind. 

Until NEWS 12 The Bronx decided to conduct an investigation. 

Reporter Brain Donohue used kayak and machete to make his way through the marsh in order to get to the surfboard and figure out the story behind it. 

Brian’s kayak becomes stuck in a shallow section and he has to hack through the tall grass that seems like a Walmart version of the Amazon jungle. The end scene and the reason to why the surfboard is there is eerily reminiscent of some perverse version of the Wizard of Oz at the end of the yellow brick and swamp green road.

And there is little doubt that environmentalists may twitch just a tinge when they hear the wild and endangered snapping turtles are being fed Cheeze Doodles off a foam core and polyurethane floating coffee table. 

Watch here. 


Kane continues his colonial trajectory where his whiteness appeals to the exotic Hawaiian princess, Kiani. Kiani acts out her own Oedipal desires on the groomed white body of Kane, fantasizing of rubbing his back with aloe, as she has done to her own family and fellow subaltern community members.

Scholar applies lens of Critical Thinking to cult movie classic North Shore, “It deserves to be excavated to see how colonial tropes are deeply embedded at the very core of surf culture!”

Understanding surfing through a postcolonial and de-colonial lens.

With the 2022 WSL season now behind us, it is an opportune time to revisit an emergent theme on this august site: that of understanding surfing through a postcolonial and de-colonial lens.

DR and Chas have created space for our collective to educate ourselves on this needed vocabulary and analytical frame.

Given the edification I received therein, I want to apply a critical theory lens, informed by decolonial and postcolonial thinking, to the 1987 surf camp classic, North Shore. This movie captured a gestalt within modern surfing and deserves to be excavated, to see how colonial tropes (and heteropatriarchal ones, but that’s another article that someone else can give us) are deeply embedded at the very core of surf culture.

We begin with the setting: an overachieving, eager to please young white man, from a broken home.

This is a statement on emerging family dynamics in white middle class America from the 1980s, as divorce was still stigmatized, and the Spicoli surfer stereotype in full effect. Rick Kane breaks the stoner stereotype with his work ethic and “wear your heart on your shoulder” approach to being an upstanding member of the community, where these character traits grant sympathies for his coming from a broken home.

This background allows Rick Kane to stand in for US entrepreneurial spirit and the naturalness of exporting this benign (on the surface) spirit to the rest of the world, via his impending trip to Hawaii to surf the North Shore.

Kane arrives on the North Shore, naive to local customs, immediately accosted by the savage temptress and seductress in a house of ill repute. Kane’s coded bourgeoisie puritanism makes the correct play and holds out against such seduction, thus arming our colonial protagonist with the moral uprightness needed to justify the exploits to follow.

Kane catches a ride with fellow colonizers, Occy and Alex Rodgers, who goad Kane into stealing sugar cane en route to the North Shore. This stands in for a classist metaphor that belies a central dynamic of colonial expansion: that of the educated, materially abundant and resource rich post-agricultural white empire, belittling and then taking the resource base of the agricultural-based dominated non-white other.

Kane continues his colonial trajectory where his whiteness appeals to the exotic Hawaiian princess, Kiani. Kiani acts out her own Oedipal desires on the groomed white body of Kane, fantasizing of rubbing his back with aloe, as she has done to her own family and fellow subaltern community members. The horse upon which Kiani rides is also a metaphor of her desire to advance her own mobility and social standing, benefitting from white capital (the owner of the horse) to escape the limitations of her own backward, uncivilized upbringing.

Kane, now bereft of his property and with no money, meets Turtle, the classic white-who-has-gone native.

Notice, though, that a turtle is a mammal with the strongest heart. Here Turtle’s nomenclature is a subversive statement that white privilege is long lived, solid, patient, stable, and able to conquer in any environment.

This is echoed when Kane meets Chandler, the latter who has achieved the colonizer’s dream: a native wife, a house on the beach, and credibility with the locals, all who defer to him in the lineup and want to buy the products of his labor. Chandler evidences total appropriation of native Hawaiian knowledge, using folk expertise and colonized traditional ecological knowledge to groom Kane in following in his footsteps to continue the colonization of the North Shore breaks via a variety of superior technologies crafted by Chandler through his industrious work ethic and his copious colonized knowledge of the various surf breaks therein.

Note there is even tension with the alpha-male, Burkhart, the uber-capitalist playing out escapist fantasies on the same colonized landscapes. Chandler opines his products are only made “the right way,” yet Chandler and Kane work together to create a logo that further will allow for the appropriation and subjugation of colonized surf knowledge and crafts, while the veneer of “authentic” stoke allays any capitalist-colonialist guilt, making Burkhart the fall guy.

This move presages the onset of greenwashing within the surf industry as a whole.

Note, too, the etymology of the word “chandler”: Middle English (denoting a candle maker or candle seller): from Old French chandelier, from chandelle. Here Chandler is lighting the way for the appropriate way to colonize the North Shore–it is not via brawn and muscles, a la Burkhart, as that is not a long-term solution to colonization. Rather, it is through charisma and ingratiating oneself into the local populace that colonization is most effective.

This dynamic is on full display as Kane battles Da Hui and the titular leader of this group, Vince Moaloka.

The character arc of Vince is Edward Said’s archetypal “Orientalist gaze” in a nutshell: the dark, exotic other, full of violence and danger, steadily pacified by the grit, superior work ethic, and rational, secularized, democratic knowledge of the West, as embodied here archetypally by Kane.

We see this, too, in the reverse arc of Rocky, the uneducated local thief and thug, who stole Kane’s property. Kane, local beauty in hand, encounters Vince and Rocky amongst the sacred fields of Hawai’i. Here Kiani had already begun the process of freely giving native secrets to the white colonizer, with her body and heart to soon follow; Kane notices his belt buckle on Rocky and challenges Rocky to get it back.

Rocky recognizes the superior military might of the West and tries to create solidarity amongst his brethren, only to be denied by the father figure and leader, Vince. The colonial project is now almost complete, and the pole is part of the metropole.

Only one last transaction is needed: the full taking of the resources from the latter, to fully benefit the former. This occurs symbolically in two ways: the first is Kane taking back his belt buckle. Note here the silver clasp is a metaphor for minerals, which were subsumed by colonial powers on the back of enslaved labor–such is the unavoidable fate of Hawai’i.

The other resource, of course, are the waves–and here again, Kane becomes the conqueror.

But unlike the transparent aggressive colonialism of Burkhart, it is by appropriating Hawaiian soul, as taught by his colonial mentor, Chandler, that allows Kane to emerge as the white victor, overseeing a now conquered empire.

Lest we be remiss and think fiction does not influence lived reality, let us remember that Makua Rothman is the child of Chandler. Here the hybrid figure of Makua, as an innocent real-life child born of a white father who helped form Da Hui, cannot be lost on viewers of surf culture.

There is a direct line from that scene to Nathan Florence and Koa Rothman sitting at a table at Turtle Bay, discussing their new podcast in 2022, further cementing the colonization of the North Shore by white descended peoples. \

To add insult to colonized injury, Koa is drinking a Coors Light–Coors is of course the business run at one point by Peter Coors, a well known supporter of far-right, conservative politics, which of course target critical theory and decolonial approaches to understanding structural and racialized inequalities.

So where does this leave us?

I must confess, it brings me no joy to undertake this analysis of such a pivotal movie in surf culture; a movie that many have enjoyed from its release in 1987 through today, myself included.

Sadly, I think it leaves us with one major question that the industry must answer, to atone for its laggardness on this front:

When the fuck are we finally getting the god damn sequel?!?!