Penny, a surfer, pairs Vans with suit. | Photo: NYTimes

Vans-wearing surfer charged with death of Michael Jackson impersonator Jordan Neely on New York subway!

Murder or a public service gone wrong?

A very tragic story, continuing to unspool, is that of former Marine Daniel Penny and his run-in with homeless Michael Jackson impersonator Jordan Neely on a New York City subway, leaving the later deceased.

According to bystanders, Neely entered the train around 2:15 in the afternoon and began shouting that he was hungry, thirsty and had little for which to live.

As his actions grew more erratic, Penny and two others restrained him, Penny applying a choke hold that was caught on camera by an independent journalist. The 24-year-old was interviewed by police but not arrested.

Neely was pronounced dead at a local hospital by way of homicide.

Hours ago, though, Penny was officially charged with manslaughter, appearing at a Manhattan court.

His attorney told CNN, that he will be “fully absolved of any wrongdoing,” and released a statement reading, “He risked his own life and safety, for the good of his fellow passengers. The unfortunate result was the unintended and unforeseen death of Mr. Neely.”

The Neely family, on the other hand, wishes that Penny was charged with murder declaring, “We believe that the conviction should be for murder because that was intentional. At some point, when people are screaming, ‘Let him go, you’re going to kill him’… He could’ve chosen to let him go, but he didn’t. And what did he think would happen if he didn’t? He had to know he would die. He had to.”

Neely, whose rap sheet featured forty two arrests, as well as an outstanding warrant for assault, beat hell out of a sixty-five-year-old woman in a random attack at a New York deli in 2021 and a few months later left a sixty-seven-year-old woman in the East Village with “a broken nose, fractured orbital bone and bruising, swelling and substantial pain”, an assault that got him a year at Rikers.

This extremely unfortunate business is, in any case, surf related as Penny has been described by all media outlets as “an avid surfer.”

His blonde curls certainly lend credence to the characterization as well as the Vans he paired with his suit for his court appearance.

All raising the question, when a surfer is charged with a crime, are you more likely to give him or her the benefit of the doubt (we’re all part of the same tribe etc.) or presume guilt (surfers are the worst)?

More as the story develops.

Now he’s going to Ocean Beach and he’s going to get so shacked. Good thing he just got the Sprinter detailed. Road tripping is so much better in a clean van. Surfline Man carefully packs his boards in the back. He just bought a new CI Pro. He’s heard so much about it! He just has to try it out.

Surfline Man chases swell to San Francisco’s fabled Ocean Beach, “Another wave shoves him under. The water is dark and churned with sand. This must be what drowning feels like!”

"There’s waves breaking everywhere. And, they’re big. He’s beginning to think that this is not the best idea that he’s ever had."  

Surfline Man is back at the coffee shop, back sitting at his laptop, back writing code. He is not a proud owner of the World Surf League and he does not go to Surf Ranch every weekend to get barreled. Life can be so disappointing if you let it be. Surfline Man is determined to overcome these negative feelings.

It’s not like it was his fault the deal failed.

Surfline Man was right there with his $50k ready to go. It turns out the rest of the investment team was not that ready at all. A big chunk of the funding was tied up in FTX, and Surfline Man is not about to guess where it is now.

Anyway, no deal means no barrels at Surf Ranch for him. Surfline Man is trying not to be too sad about this outcome. While the barrel is very, very fun, it does smell a lot like cow shit out there. Surfline Man did not love that part, actually. In fact, he’s been eating vegetarian lately, and he’s pretty sure it’s the best thing he’s ever done. Tofu, it’s so good for you!

What’s more, an authentic surfer like him should stay near the beach. That’s where the real surfing happens. Surfline Man should not be tempted like some kind of Greek mythology guy with fire or technology or whatever. Keep it natural. Keep it real. That’s what an authentic surfer like Surfline Man does.

He takes a sip from his Hydroflask in the new Mesa colorway. Surfline Man knew he shouldn’t buy another water bottle. He already has so many! It is getting to be a problem.

But he couldn’t resist the bright orange color. It reminds him of his favorite fish — not the red surfboard that shaper Mike made for him, but the actual fish that swims in the ocean. Surfline Man can never remember what it’s called. But it’s orange like the HydroFlask bottle that he just had to have.

If Surfline Man can’t own a surf league, at least he can have a water bottle he likes. It’s the little things in life. Surfline Man’s day, so bright now!

Idly, Surfline Man scans the forecasts. He doesn’t expect to see anything that exciting. Winter’s past and summer’s not here yet. Nothing much to do.

But wait. What’s that blob? Surfline Man sits up in his chair, his chakras, his new orange HydroFlask, and his oat milk latte forgotten.

Surf! Surfline Man is totally sure that blob means surf. He must chase it! Surfline Man simply must score this last northwest swell, and he knows just where to go.

Surfline Man has never been to Ocean Beach, and now is the time! After this winter, Surfline Man is so totally ready to take his surfing to the next level. Surfline Man rode so many good waves that he’s going to remember forever!

Like this one day, he was out at Cardiff and it was totally double-overhead. Surfline Man was riding his 6’0” Ghost, which is his new favorite board for super good waves. He caught such a good one! A total set wave, and he made it all the way down the line with, like, so many stylish turns.

Too bad when he went to watch it on Surfline Rewind, he couldn’t find it at all. Probably the internet went down or something. But Surfline Man remembers! He could never forget such a perfect wave.

Now he’s going to Ocean Beach and he’s going to get so shacked. Good thing he just got the Sprinter detailed. Road tripping is so much better in a clean van. Surfline Man carefully packs his boards in the back. He just bought a new CI Pro. He’s heard so much about it! He just has to try it out.

Surfline Man adds the red fish shaper Mike made for him. It would go so good at Pleasure Point, and Santa Cruz is totally on the way. And really, he should definitely bring his turquoise midlength just in case.

You never know! It might just be the perfect board. Surfline Man would never want to get caught without the right board. His authentic surfer brand would never recover!

Cooler crammed with snacks and van stacked with surfboards, Surfline Man hits the road. In San Luis Obispo, he turns north on Highway 1. Gotta make it epic! As he drives, Surfline Man eyes each curve of the coast. I bet that spot would be good on the right swell, he thinks. Maybe next winter, he should come back and check it out.

In Big Sur, Surfline Man pulls off the road. Good thing about the Sprinter, he can just camp anywhere. He snacks on his salad and take-out sushi — avocado and veggies — from Whole Foods. He’s feeling so healthy right now. A good night sleep, and Ocean Beach, here he comes!

Surfline Man wakes up bright and early, just as the sun is rising. He makes the perfect coffee in his AeroPress. Organic beans! So the best ever! He pours the beautiful brew into his favorite Yeti mug and sips appreciatively. This is the life!

Then he spots a slip of paper on his windshield. Someone left him a note! They must have liked his Sprinter. Maybe they want to know who did the build-out or the name of his detailer.

Oh. A parking ticket. $250.00. This is so unfair. There weren’t even any signs. How was an innocent guy like Surfline Man supposed to know he couldn’t park anywhere he wanted? Sometimes the world is a super confusing place.

Still, Surfline Man refuses to be daunted by this setback. He climbs in the Sprinter and points it northward. He is going to Ocean Beach, where he’s going to surf the surprise swell and get totally shacked. Nothing can get in the way of this super important mission, not even a stupid parking ticket.

Arriving in Outer Sunset around dusk, Surfline Man is too bleary-eyed from the road to take in the view. It turns out Ocean Beach is much farther away than he realized. Next time, he’ll have to plan this whole road trip thing way more carefully.

At least Surfline Man won’t get another parking ticket here. His old buddy Brett from Elevate! said he could park in the driveway. Brett’s been surfing Ocean Beach for, like, five years or something and knows everything about it.

Surfline Man is so stoked to know an actual local. This how you do it. Surfline Man has this surfing thing so dialed. He’s going to score so many good waves tomorrow. He can feel it!

In the early morning fog, they drive down to South Sloat. Surfline Man is getting so excited now! He’s actually here. He’s going to surf the Beach. Gotta say it like the locals do, you know! Surfline Man is so tapped in now.

The fog begins to lift. Standing in the parking lot, Surfline Man gets his first glimpse of the lineup. It’s big. At least, he’s pretty sure it is. Mostly, all he can see is white water. A hint of uncertainty flashes through his mind, there and gone before he quite realizes what it was.

Surfline Man has come all this way. And he’s not about to allow Brett to see that he’s having second thoughts. Looks fun! Surfline Man tries to sound like he means it.

Brett pulls a slim 7’6” out of the car. It looks fast. Surfline Man pictures his boards. He has a 6’0” and a 6’2”. It’s possible that he’s made a bit of a misjudgment here. Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Surfline Man pulls on his hooded Feral. He figured it’s a good idea to blend in as much as possible. Then he waxes up his 6’2” CI Pro. He’s never ridden it, but it has Pro right there in the name.

It’s so much longer than his 6’0” Ghost. Surfline Man is going to paddle so fast on this thing. He’s definitely going to have the best session ever.

Carefully locking the Sprinter, Surfline Man hides the keys in the secret place that no one is ever going to find. He gives his leash one last tug. It’s important to check your equipment carefully before surfing! Then he walks down the sand toward the water.

Total chaos greets him. Surfline Man has never seen a lineup that looks like this one in his life. Water moves everywhere in every direction all at once. He can’t see a channel or really anything at all.

There’s waves breaking everywhere. And, they’re big. The shorebreak looks head high, at least. And, Surfline Man can’t even see what’s lurking farther out. He’s beginning to think that this is not the best idea that he’s ever had.

Surfline Man watches as Brett paddles out, and tries to follow him. Brett quickly leaves Surfline Man behind.

Duck dive follows duck dive. No matter how hard he paddles, Surfline Man doesn’t seem to move at all. There’s water in his eyes and up his nose. Another wave shoves him under. The water is dark and churned with sand. This must be what drowning feels like. It feels exactly like this.

Clutching his precious board, Surfline Man feels like a leaf in the stream, tossed and turned and flipped every which way. He’s no longer sure which way is up or where the lineup is. He takes a deep breath, puts his head down, and keeps paddling.

Somehow, he makes it to a calm spot. For a moment, there’s no waves crashing on his head. No water up his nose.

This is it! This is the surfing life! Surfline Man is living the dream right here in the lineup at the Beach. Looking around, he doesn’t see anyone near him. Solo sesh, in the middle of the city. So perfect!

It doesn’t last. Surfline Man duck dives again. And then, again. Looking up, he sees a wave coming to him. He should just go. There’s never going to be another chance like this one. He turns and paddles. As he gets his feet on the wax, the wave detonates around him.

Down he goes. The white water tumbles him over and over. Surfline Man feels his leash stretch. No, not now. You can’t break now. He feels the pressure slacken. The leash holds. A series of waves roll over him. Finally, they stop.

Surfline Man looks around. He’s sitting in the sand. His board is right there next to him, floating lazily in the shallows. Well, he rode that one all the way to the beach.

Trying to play it cool, Surfline Man stands up, tucks his board under his arm, and walks up the beach. No one saw that, he tells himself. No one saw that at all. At least, he didn’t break his new board.

Walking through the parking lot, Surfline Man searches for his precious Sprinter. Finally, he spots it, but the van definitely isn’t looking as pristine as when he left it. There’s a pile of glass on the pavement and a gaping hole where his window used to be. The back doors hang open. More broken glass.

In a panic, Surfline Man looks inside the van. All his boards are gone! His beautiful turquoise mid that he dropped on the tail, but you can’t even tell now, it’s gone! The red fish that shaper Mike made just for him, well, that’s gone, too.

The only board Surfline Man has left is the one under his arm. The lock’s broken and there’s an empty space in the glove compartment where his wallet used to be.

Hurriedly, he looks for his clothes. It would be too much if they stole his clothes, too. Surfline Man likes his new wetsuit, but he doesn’t want to live in it. His clothes, still there. Fortunately, he left his phone buried in his pants. He has his phone and his underwear. A man can go pretty far with that.

Surfline Man looks around and hastily changes out of his suit. He tosses his board in the back of the Sprinter. He hates this place now. He can’t wait to get out of here. At least the thieves didn’t take his favorite Yeti coffee mug. Even better, the coffee’s still hot.

Sipping his coffee, Surfline Man fires up the Sprinter and pulls out of the parking lot. Brett is still out there somewhere. Surfline Man doesn’t care. He’s done with the Beach and done with this city. The whole thing can fall into the sea for all he cares.

The wind roars through the broken windows, drowning out Surfline Man’s favorite reggae tunes. He’s gotten really into reggae lately. It makes him feel so chilled out.

Passing through Pacifica, Surfline Man remembers the stupid dodgeball game and sleeping on the office couch at Elevate! and living with ten room mates. Surfline Man is so over San Francisco.

The whole thing really made him want to quit surfing. But even now, Surfline Man knows that surfing is his favorite thing. No, he would never quit. Some waves just don’t suit him, that’s all.

The fog blows back in, blotting out the sun. Surfline Man thinks about his lost surfboards, his stolen wallet, and his broken windows. He tries to forget about all that duck diving and the water up his nose. He tries to forget about how it felt like he was drowning, how he tumbled over and over and over, how it felt like it would never end.

Surfline Man shivers. Never again. Driving along the coast, he bops along to his barely audible reggae beats. One thing’s for sure. Next time, he’s going somewhere warm.

Sporting Valhalla (pictured).
Sporting Valhalla (pictured).

Surf legend Kelly Slater seats himself between Lionel Messi and Lewis Hamilton, across from Serena Williams at sporting Valhalla’s grand banquet table!


But where do the world’s greatest athletes go when that final whistle blows, ultimate hooter sounds, forever last closing minutes tick off the clock? To sporting Valhalla, of course, where a GOAT fills every seat and electrolyte-rich health drinks fill every horn.


Babe Ruth is lounging around that long wooden table and so is Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Jesse Owens enjoying his time alongside Sonja Henie. It is a fine time, though an extremely exclusive ticket, and have you ever thought if our Kelly Slater would make it in?

If “surfing” would pass the smell test of those wolves guarding the door?

Assuming it does, the 11x world champion has seated himself between race car stud Lewis Hamilton and soccer sensation Lionel Messi, right across from Serena Williams.

Prime territory.

Taking to social media after the just-wrapped Lauren’s World Sports Awards, the 51-year-old Pro Pipeline declared:

Congratulations Lionel Messi, well deserved Laureus’s Sport Awards following your incredible achievements last year. A historic two Laureus Awards last night (joining me and my friend Lewis Hamilton each with four) and also winning Team of the Year, tying the incredible Serena Williams with 5 Laureus Statuettes.


Though did you know that Slater was a 4x Laureus winner?

Was it essential for him to bring up whilst praising Messi?

I mean, clearly it was… but was it?

David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, did not discuss the Laureus World Sport Awards on our most recent chat but we did wonder how magical it would be to have Slater bring his guitar along on a ten-day surf-seeking boat trip in order to serenade as the sun set.

Close your eyes and picture now whilst listening to conversations about surfing, I think.


Open Thread: Comment Live, Final’s Day of the Gold Coast Pro where surf fans remain wicked and naughty, very naughty, as much as they are fickle!

This is the end!

Carter Doorley (pictured) being un-grumpy.
Carter Doorley (pictured) being un-grumpy.

New Jersey youngster puts cranky old-timers to shame, surfs 1000 straight days without complaining about VALs, kooks or that dastardly World Surf League chief Erik Logan!

“My inner voice tells me to surf, so I surf!”

Many years ago Dirk Ziff was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Daddy’s favorite heir had just purchased the Association of Surfing Professionals, for free, rebranded it as the World Surf League, sat back and waited for praise to roll in from all corners.

Gushing over him and his benevolence like a geyser.

Except for some unknown reason, a subset of the surfing public poked fun at him, his fortune, his hires and his ideas.

And so he stood up at The Waterman’s Ball, or some such, and declared:

Some of you are here in this canyon. Journalists, and other influential voices who unload on social media. I wonder if some of you get up every day and stir the milk into your coffee, thinking about what you can write that day that might humiliate the WSL. It goes way beyond constructive criticism, which we all need and which the WSL frequently deserves, and into the realm of foul spirited attack, which I think we can all agree we have enough of right now in this country.

I have a message to the haters, and it is simple. Be tough. Call us out. Keep us honest. Tell us what we need to improve.

But don’t pretend you don’t know that when you go beyond constructive criticism and cynically try to rally negative sentiment towards the WSL, when you try to take us down, you are not just going after us. You are going after Kelly Slater. You are trying to take down Lakey Peterson. You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto. You are undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair, dreaming of being a world champion one day.

And I ask you: Why? It seems pretty obvious that if the WSL keeps growing in popularity, and surfing takes its rightful place among the great and elite competitive sports, everyone connected with our sport, and certainly all the members of SIMA, will prosper, except maybe a few grumpy locals who have to deal with some new faces in the lineup. So…why not work together?


As funny today as it was in 2018 but, in fairness, Ziff was not altogether wrong. We are grumpy, grouchy, nitpicky and rude. We cajole and fun make and sneer often rudely. We are not like young Carter Doorley of Brigantine, New Jersey who has just surfed for 1000 consecutive days and has 1095 consecutive days firmly in his sights.

Three straight years.

The eleven-year-old surfs through hail, snow, freezing temperatures and summer crowds. He surfs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

His mother told New Jersey Monthly, “Every day he goes out there, we’re still amazed.”

The streak began when the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered playgrounds, skateparks and other outdoor facilities. Carter started surfing to keep the wiggles out and has just kept on, donating money to SurfAid, Save the Children and the Humane Society along the way.

He has surfed with Ben Gravy, Kai Lenny, Will Skudin and Ian Crane as well.

“My inner voice tells me to surf, so I surf,” he says.

So not grumpy.

Ultra pure and wonderful.

Extremely anti-depressive.

Viva Carter Doorley.

And suck it, Dirk Ziff.