VF Corp CEO Bracken (left) tells Vans employee to beat it. Photo: Bad Santa
VF Corp CEO Bracken (left) tells Vans employee to beat it. Photo: Bad Santa

Vans parent company celebrates annual holiday mass sacking by shredding 500 workers ahead of Christmas!

Ho ho ho!

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, the joyous season when children make lists of what they wish to see under the tree, old friends reunite over a warm mug of nog and Vans parent company VF Corp holds its annual mass layoffs. This year Christmas came early for 500 employees who were executed before the calendar even flipped to December.

Likely dressed as jolly old Saint Nick, CEO Bracken Darrell “looks to speed up the turnaround of the company’s Vans division and overall North America business, while cutting costs,” according to Shop Eat Surf.

The official statement read, “As part of VF’s new Reinvent strategy, and with the aim of improving operational efficiency, we have eliminated approximately 500 salaried positions across the company globally. While these decisions are never easy, they will give us the financial flexibility to invest behind our brands and better position us for long-term growth. We’re committed to handling this restructuring with dignity and respect for all involved and want to thank those impacted for their valued contributions to VF.”

Like the sound of sleigh bells jing-jing-jingling.

But, quickly, what sort of name is “Bracken?”

Anyhow, back to Shop Eat Surf, “VF in the quarter ended Sept. 30 reported revenue of $3.03 billion, down 4% in constant currency. The company’s net loss totaled $450.7 million, compared to $118.4 million net loss in the year-ago period, with the widening partially attributed to the ruling on a tax case stemming from the acquisition of Timberland.”

Woulda been a lot cooler if they acquired Timbaland instead.

Oh well.

Happy Holidays!

"Jake Howard." Photo: A computer?
"Jake Howard." Photo: A computer?

Sports Illustrated leaks possible “fake AI-generated writer” into surf world!

All hell breaking loose.

The media landscape was rocked, yesterday, when it was revealed that Sports Illustrated had published stories using fake AI-generated writers. Our surf world, frankly, was less than surprised as Sports Illustrated’s owner, The Arena Group, also counts Surfer Magazine amongst its titles.

There is, of course, no need to re-acquaint with Emily Morgan who was introduced as Surfer’s new trending news writer soon after The Arena Group acquisition. She enjoyed spicy food, strong coffee walks with her dog and lived in the shadow of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains though was disappeared quickly after her quirky AI-styled verbiage was called out.

Our surf world is small, however, and her ripple didn’t spread beyond these shores.

The Sports Illustrated brouhaha, on the other hand, has exploded. Major news outlets are covering the story with Sports Illustrated’s own staff raging mad.

In a letter to ownership, the writers issued a public statement reading, “We, the workers of the SI Union, are horrified by a story on the site Futurism. If true, these practices violate everything we believe about journalism. We deplore being associated with something so disrespectful to our readers. We demand answers and transparency from [parent group] Arena Group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name. We demand the company adhere to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people.”


And yet, one of those Sports Illustrated “fake people” might have leaked into surfing. This morning a piece titled “Highlights: Hawaii’s Black Friday Swell Delivers Massive Surf On Maui” was published by “Jake Howard” who might be described as a “neutral white young-adult male with short blonde hair and blue eyes.”

“Seasoned big-wave surfers in Hawaii, from Kai Lenny to Mark Healey, all described the giant northwest swell that hit the Hawaiian Islands the day after Thanksgiving as unexpectedly big and power,” it began. “Forecast models indicated it was going to be big, but it’s always interesting when swell events like this exceed expectations.”

Suspect certainly and more work must be done to uncover whether this “Jake Howard” is real or simply a machine with cute dimples and eyes that melt even the coldest of hearts.

The yeoman’s labor of true, honest, human surf journalism.

More as the story develops.

Bobby Martinez (pictured) near sainthood. Photo: Morgan Maassen
Bobby Martinez (pictured) near sainthood. Photo: Morgan Maassen

Tributes pour in for Bobby Martinez as onetime surf tour standout’s bold prophecy fully manifests!

Come honor the legend.

Augury is not an easy game. The variables in life, near infinite, can make a sure bet go very quickly sideways. Oh it is easy for the average fella to mumble something they think might happen in the future if this or that also occurs etc. etc. with many caveats and hedges in place. It is equally difficult to stand in front of the world, microphone in hand, and prophesy loud enough for everyone to hear. For everyone to know where the marker is and be able to hold account.

Over twelve years on, Bobby Martinez’s presage there on the sands of New York rings truer and truer and truer with each one that passes.

“I don’t want to be part of this dumb fucken wanna be tennis tour.”

Now he could have said “I don’t want to be part of this dumb fucken wanna be dog show.” Or he could have said, “I don’t want to be part of this dumb fucken wanna be rodeo.”

But he did not. He said, very clearly, “I don’t want to be part of this dumb fucken wanna be tennis tour.”

Surf Fans Bow Heads in Front of Bobby Martinez

Understandable, then, why tributes are pouring in today, praising Martinez, offering fealty to his wisdom.

For hours ago, the sitting World Surf League CEO Cherie R. Cohen (She/Her), who must not like that poisoned title so continues to operate as “Global Chief Officer & Advisor,” took to social media to declare “Our very own, takes the court. So proud of you Sarah Swanson! Excited to collaborate. Surf + turf.”

Swanson held the position as the World Surf League’s Chief Marketing Officer bringing us gems like “It takes a tour to make a title” and the Bailey Ladder Leaderboard.

What cross pollination between tennis and surfing do you image we’ll see as the new season gets underway?

Are you brave enough to loudly predict?

Kelly Slater questions the narrative on Hamas invasion of Israel.
"It makes no sense," writes Kelly Slater.

Kelly Slater questions “official narrative” over Hamas’ massacre of Israeli citizens

"How does an outpost get taken over close to the concert hours before and nobody is tipped off? Makes no sense," writes Kelly Slater.

Many years ago, 2015 or thereabouts, Kelly Slater was interviewed by the conspiracy theorist Luke Rudowski of wearechange.org.

The interview (called Kelly Slater: Vote Nobody 2016, Investigate 9/11 and Screw Monsanto!!!) was so wonderfully kooky and so strange and so lightweight you feared the principals might float away on a cloud of incense and paranoia.

Briefly, Slater and Rudowski both agreed that 9-11 was most likely an inside job (Zionists, CIA etc.), that Monsanto maybe has their base in Hawaii in case of a zombie apocalypse, that the Zika Virus was caused by genetically tuned mosquitoes, there’s a cancer cure and maybe Kelly has it, and the importance of following alternative media like wearechange.org.

These sorts of interviews used to enliven even my gloomiest day, as if it was a fairy tale about the glorification of pumpkins.

Not everyone was so enamoured by the entertainment. The podcast Surf Simply ran an episode, later pulled down ‘cause everyone got real sad Kelly Slater was being teased, titled Calling Out Kelly.

One of the show’s three hosts Ru Hill concluded,

“(Kelly Slater) is spreading fear, mistrust, scientific illiteracy and guilt because if someone’s getting cancer or getting sick he’s alluded in the past to connections in the past between GMOs and autism. If your child’s getting leukaemia, autism, and then you’re thinking that I might’ve caused this by what I’m choosing to feed them, it’s just… awful. That is the reason why Kelly Slater is no longer my hero.”

Although a virulent anti-flat earther, Kelly Slater is rarely afraid to challenge the “official narrative”, as they say.

In his latest foray into the narrative challenging game Kelly Slater responds to conservative commentator Charlie Kirk’s posit that the under-siege right-wing government of Bibi Netanyahu issued a stand-down order to the IDF for six hours.

“Israel was on the brink of cvil war,” says Kirk.

This allowed bad boys Hamas to go on a wild Jew-killin’ spree, ostensibly as as strike on their Zionist enemy, but also ‘cause Hamas sure do like killing Hebes. In turn, Bibi gets a spike in popularity as country unites to defeat vicious enemy. Wins all  round.

“That is a legitimate non-conspiracy question,” says Kirk.

Kelly Slater, biting on the bait offered, writes,

“One thing that really threw me off, and I’ve asked a couple Israeli friends about it to no clear answer… some of the concert goers that got shot in their car but got away went to a military outpost and were greeted only by Hamas militants there who had taken over the outpost (and presumably killed everyone there).

“This car took off and everyone in it got shot but then they sort of got away and the car died. They scaled a ten-foot fence and ran for their lives and hid in the woods for hours.

“How does an outpost get taken over close to the convert hours before the concert and nobody is tipped off? No alarms? No phone calls or texts or anything from a secured area? It makes no sense.”

The comment was run with by Ain’t That Swell (“Well observed, Goat. Well observed…”) along with an interview with trans-in-sports and equal-pay-for-gals activist Lucy Small who appeared to celebrate the October 7 massacre when she posted vision of a Hamas gunman in his paraglider en route to slaughter innocents with the caption, “Palestinians in Gaza made history as they escaped the world’s largest prison”.

From the river to the sea! Free Palestine! Yay! 

North County, San Diego stepchild Ashton Goggans (insert) displaying his keg. Photo: Instagram
North County, San Diego stepchild Ashton Goggans (insert) displaying his keg. Photo: Instagram

Emily Ratajkowski identified as “Fatphobic” throwing San Diego-area surfers into paroxysms of self-doubt!

Blame IPA.

North County, San Diego has two famous first children and one almost famous third stepchild. Rob Machado and Emily Ratajkowski as the former. Ashton Goggans as the latter during those occasions when people mistake him for Anthony Bourdain re-incarnate. This, here, above La Jolla, below Camp Pendleton, is a simple life where the Hollywood gilt don’t mean much. Hard-working salt of the earth folk who like their bicycles electric and their coffee flat and white.

Regular dudes.

Except that Emily Ratajkowski.

Ooooooh as much as “the crew” likes to keep it “real,” Ratajkowski’s perfect skin, her pouty lips make them all want to give it up, move to Soho and crush that Loewe game.

BeachGrit regulars will remember when the model-actress Encinitian became single one year ago. Swamis locals crawling all over each other to win her hand first. Chris Cote re-thinking his entire life.

Though she has gone on a series of A-list dates during that time, the San Dieguito Academy alum has yet to settle down and candles still flicker from Del Mar to Leucadia.


Emily Ratajkowski outed as “fatphobic” by Page Six

The svelte 32-year-old posted a photo to Instagram standing in one leg of a plus-sized pair of jeans sending the hoi polloi into an absolute furor.

“What in the fatphobic hell is that second picture … so distasteful and disgusting…. how did anybody okay that,” one wrote.

“Designers won’t make plus sizes unless it’s for a photo opp where a thin person can be quirky,” another added.

Now, North County surfers don’t care about the social implications of all that, but they do wonder if their drinking habits are giving them a leg down in winning her hand.

IPA beer, you know, rules here. The fattiest beverage ever crafted. And now Cardiff Reef rippers are peeling down wetsuits after sessions and pinching tummies, wondering if the shot has been blown.

Wondering if it can be melted away quickly with a switch to hard kombucha.

Paroxysms of self-doubt.

Difficult days ahead.

And sugar-content headaches.

More as the story develops.