I beat it out of the terreiro late, maybe too late, maybe just in time, though I don’t know how, man. The drums, swaying, clapping, chanting, doves gripped by wings and held up high had put me in quite a state and I thought, for a moment, that the ruthlessly fired former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan was going to materialize in the body of a tween girl, eyes rolled back, and tell me his secrets.
Then it hit me like an axe-shaped scepter to the head. Of course he wouldn’t be out here, with The People doing The People things, senhor inteligente. Logan is quintessentially American in the most zhuzh’d corporate way possible. There is no way his smarmy voice could rise above the drums and the claps and the chants, nor his pearly white veneers inhabit anything but pure corporate executive so I stumbled out onto the street, far, far away from anything remotely “tourist” and it was louder still.
Cars with massive speakers cruised slowly up tiny half-paved roads with half-finished buildings teetering above. A gaggle of tank top’d men and Haviana-shod women sat drinking Heineken under bright fluorescent lights while moving their hips to music blasting at stadium volume.
Logan don’t sway his hips.
I somehow snagged a cab, the driver utterly confused at finding me, had him drive me back to hotel and purposed to go to the beach the very next morning and try to sort the where and the why as they related to the former World Surf League CEO’s cruel erasure more sensibly.
The Atlantic in this north and east corner of Brazil is surprisingly rough and as I pulled up to a beach club, the next morning, packed to the gills, I was surprised to see three younger boys out amongst it, taking off on closeouts, boosting sloppy airs into the churned soup. It was ugly but infectious, their joy evident, and I sat and stared longer than I should have. It felt like a direct challenge to a scratchy broadcast of the X Games, live from Ventura, playing over the bar with ancient relics Sal Masekela and Tony Hawk calling the action.
Masekela claiming the “level” of skill at this failed iteration of extreme sport broadcasting to be bigger and better than ever in the history of the world.
I don’t understand how, after all these years, he can keep the dial at perpetual eleven, never even trying to find nuance, only able to amp, amp, amp, amp but vainly amp. Everyone in the audience looked bored. Nobody at the beach club was paying attention.
A silly and pointless man.
And even though what was happening in the water, here, was nothing new, Brazilian boys burnishing beachbreak bonafides, it felt fresh.
The delight felt fresh, as if it was being experienced for the very first time.
Like a virgin.