Chas Smith, Nick Carroll and Sports Illustrated AI bot
"Devastatingly realistic AI-generated avatars walk among us. Some borrow accredited human bylines to produce their work. Others are seemingly concocted from scratch; their entire online existence only a facsimile of a shadow of a soul’s echo." But can you pick what is real and what isn't?

Surf journalism in crisis as tight-knit community “infiltrated by insentient, ethically-blind copy farmers”

"Before, there was a general consensus that surf stories were at least written by real human beings. No more!"

Revelations that Surfer magazine and its parent company The Arena group are employing AI bots to both curate and write content have rocked the tight-knit surf journalist community to its core.

What was once a proud, well-respected profession of learned scholars and literary giants has been infiltrated by insentient, ethically-blind copy farmers.

While the last decade or so has seen a rise in Nick Carroll’s “new sarcasm” generation, many hiding behind anonymous handles and pseudonyms to produce morally spurious content, there was a general consensus that the articles they were producing were at least written by real human beings.

But now, devastatingly realistic AI-generated avatars walk among us. Some borrow accredited human bylines to produce their work. Others are seemingly concocted from scratch; their entire online existence only a facsimile of a shadow of a soul’s echo.

This is to say there is now an existential crises among the international surf journalist scene. No longer do writers congregate in small editorial offices where they can smell, taste, touch their comrades. The world is now so dispersed, that many writers may go their entire career yet never even meet each other in the flesh.

Furtive glances shoot back and forth the digital divide amongst even well-established scribes as to who is real, who is not.

Indeed, some are so contorted, so self-consumed, they may even be questioning their own existence.

To answer this fundamental question, a new approach is required.

You may remember the Voight-Kampff test from the science fiction classic Bladerunner. It is set in a near-future dystopia where androids live amongst humans, indistinguishable only to the most discerning of eyes. In it, the The Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test is designed to determine androids from humans by articulating the subject’s ability to empathize; something still impossible for the artificial mind.

I propose here a similar test, designed to specifically target the surf journalist community, and determine once and for all which were born kicking and screaming into this world and which were created on a desktop somewhere in Silicon Valley.

A sample of questions below. Do you dream of electric sheep?

Question: You are offered a full-time writing position with a well-known surfing publication. It is secure, cushy, and handsomely remunerated. However, it does require you to forego certain editorial liberties when it comes to particular sponsors and surfers.

Do you:

A. Refuse the offer and tell the bastards they’ll prise your independence from your cold, dead, amyl-nitrate stained hands; before reneging and re-accepting soon after receiving your next child support bill.

B. Accept the offer as long as you’re allowed to do key bumps before zoom meetings.

C. Accept the offer as long as you’re allowed to meet Gerry Lopez.

D. All of the above

Question: you receive an anonymous tip-off that the parent company of the publication you write for is bankrolling the development of a major hotel-marina in a developing country that will result in the destruction of a once-secret heaving reef slab. Keeping silent will mean you have to betray various moral and ethical boundaries you had committed to when you first became a surf journalist, but reporting the story will mean you lose your job.

Do you:

A. Write the story, only to have it withheld at the last minute by a former friend who is now the COO of the mooted project. You have a fist fight at the hotel bar in front a group of bewildered tourists, blood flying across the room like a sprinkler under the summertime sun, before he finally forces you to sign an NDA feat. a handsome hush payment. You walk back to your hotel room, spitting crimson shaded teeth onto the tastefully-tiled walkway, wondering what your life has become, before immediately booking a four week trip to the Ments and three new Arakawas.

B. Withhold the story, accept shares in the new development, and marry one of the local women because at least they know how to treat a man right. Also, what’s an ethical boundary?

C. Not even consider doing the story, and instead write an article promoting the development titled ‘Top 5 outdoor sports for when the ocean waves are flat.’ Also, what’s a heaving reef slab?

D. All of the above

Question: You’re offered an opportunity to surf in Kelly Slater’s new Dubai Wave Pool as an official guest of the UAE government.

Do you:

A. Tell that shiny-headed dilettante that he can take his environment-destroying, civil-liberty-depriving wavepool and shove it up his arse; without admitting you’re actually just scared of bogging a rail on your first turn.

B. Accept and wonder if this means you can now take on a harem.

C. Accept, as long as he can keep it on the intermediate setting.

D. All of the above.

If you answered:

Mostly A) You are indeed a living, breathing, grizzled surf journalist. You are free to continue raging against the machine while turning a blind eye where needed; your life a booze and pill-festooned monument to compromise. Hey, at least you still have that novel to work on.

Mostly B) You’re the best kind of surf journalist: an industry-embracing, grammar-eschewing advertorial hack who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about journalistic integrity. And why should you? It’s just fucken surfing after all. Ignorance is bliss.

Mostly C) You are an insentient, asinine, malignant copy-bot. Artificial unintelligence. The harbinger of humanity’s downfall. Or you might just work for The Inertia. Please report to me for further testing to determine where there’s a difference between the two.

Mostly D) You are Matt George. Keep shining bright, you crazy animal.

Hawaiian (left) upending conventional wisdom (right) with bountiful island snow (bottom right).
Hawaiian (left) upending conventional wisdom (right) with bountiful island snow (bottom right).

Climate change science thrown on head as surf-blessed Hawaii receives more snow than New York, Boston combined!

"Hey everyone! I'm currently visiting the islands, and I've noticed an abundance of ridiculously lifted pickup trucks."

It times back, the weather was a solidly safe holiday dinnertime conversation. Unlike politics or religion, the sun shining, or not, clouds raining, or not was a simple matter of observance. Easy. Clean. No longer. Any mention of the elements, these days, will ignite the table into full civil war. Daughter yelling at mother that the government is seeding the skies with chemicals. Son yelling at uncle to shut his gross polluting mouth.

Very uncomfortable.

The two broad camps, of course, are those who believe man is changing the environment through his consumption of fossil fuels and those who believe earth gonna earth and our smoking cigarettes etc. doesn’t make a dent.

The polite society thing to profess is, of course, the former except new details from Hawaii are baffling the most ardent climate change activists.

Hawaii, currently, has more snow than Boston and New York combined.

Per Newsweek:

Meteorologists described Hawaii as a “winter wonderland” earlier this season after a late November snowstorm dumped approximately half a foot of snow at the Mauna Kea Weather Center on Hawaii Island. The weather center is based on the Mauna Kea volcano. The peaks at Mauna Loa also saw snowfall. Meanwhile, Boston has only received a fraction of its average snowfall, with .2 inches falling on December 6. Snow has yet to fall this season in New York City.

While this should prop up theories that mans’ gas guzzling has irrevocably altered “normal,” Hawaii is home to this:

Peak gas guzzle.

Lifted V-6s and V-8s are a national treasure on the archipelago, praised and honored. A plume of holy smoke puff puff puffing out of polished exhaust pipes.

Glorious things but back to the snow issue, what to make of it?

This is the sort of vehicle popular in bone dry New York:

How to square with current theories?

Certainly more questions than answers.

Fast Eddie Rothman
"We kept it a lot safer. Send 'em in… what's the big deal. We used to that from V-land all the way down the coast," says Fast Eddie.

Hawaiian strongman Fast Eddie Rothman delivers home truths on gentrification of hallowed North Shore

"There's no consequences because it's so diluted. The local people don't have that…clout… that they had before."

The North Shore strongman Fast Eddie Rothman, daddy to big-wave world champ and ukulele prodigy Makua and almond-eyed vlogger Koa, needs very little introduction.

Although if you did swing into the sport late, and who didn’t I suppose, the following story, from the old Chas Smith book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, where Fast Eddie slaps everyone at the Billabong House might be instructive.

He had left his compound at Backyards, a famously localized surf spot, after the sun set and drove south on O’opuola street before turning east on the Kamehameha highway, gripping his steering wheel with scarred knuckles.

He passed Ted’s Bakery, known for its plate lunches, its cream pies, and its impossibly slow service. He passed the only Chevron for miles, run by a family of transgendered Samoans who flirt freely when handing over packs of cigarettes or change. They are each over six feet tall, two hundred pounds, with the daintiest touches of eye shadow and blush.

He passed the rotting fruit stand selling fresh passion fruit and pineapple, Ehukai Beach Park and its just erected “Billabong Presents the Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons” scaffolding, set up for the contest that would run the next day.

He passed sunset Beach Elementary school and then he abruptly turned right, without signaling, onto Ke Nui Road.Ke Nui is the size of a small alley and runs parallel to the Kamehameha for a rough mile. Banyans and palms hover over it like a frescoed ceiling.

There are no streetlights. Night can feel thick on Ke Nui. Dense. Eddie drove over the speed bumps without slowing and then slammed to a stop at its end. Directly in front of the Billabong house.

He got out of his car, went through the wooden gate and up the rock stairs and straight inside without ringing the doorbell and without the customary removal of slippahs.

Inside the house he paused briefly, glancing around, before walking up to Graham Stapelberg and fixing him in his dull gaze. Looking through him. Before reaching a scarred knuckled hand through time and space and grabbing his throat. The surfers and executives, those who had not yet left for Surfer Poll, froze. The horror. This horror.

And Eddie reached his other hand back, back, back, and then, as if it was a slingshot, launched it forward. It smashed into Graham’s cheek with a painful thud. Eddie kept slapping him and then dumped him in a pile and went on a tear through the house.

I have very fond memories of being welcomed into the Rothman compound on one of my early forays to the North Shore, meeting little Makua and baby Koa, and being granted an audience with Fast Eddie himself, of whom I wrote many complimentary things.

And deservedly so.

Anyway, during the Vans broadcast, Fast Eddie lit up with his classically ominous humour when it came to regulating, as they like to say over there.

After saying there was no way in hell the Backdoor Shootout would’ve run in those conditions (“We want it big, we want it gnarly, we want it Pipe,” said Fast Eddie) he described Pipeline in 2023 as a “shitshow.”

“There’s two hundred people out there sometimes. (Mimicking foreign accent) ‘I’m at the Pipelinnee, I love the Pipelinnee.’ You don’t even know what the bottom looks like. You’re gonna surf it, I’m here I’m gonna charge it. The respect for the local people has gone. You don’t come to other countries like, say, Brazil, paddle out at their break and start catching all their waves. You’ll get your ass beat. But over here it’s changed now. There’s no consequences because it’s so diluted. The local people don’t have that…clout… that they had before.”

Fast Eddie added, “We kept it a lot safer. Send ’em in… what’s the big deal. We used to that from V-land all the way down the coast.”

“Community regulation is a good thing,” said Makua.


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Nicolas Cage (pictured) grumpy and traditional.
Nicolas Cage (pictured) grumpy and traditional.

Ultimate grumpy traditionalist Nicolas Cage film “The Surfer” officially wraps!

"Surfing has always been about Bustin’ Down the Door — always about experimentation, leadership, individuality and innovation..."

I’ve been thinking about Dirk Ziff’s wife Natasha, this morning. Not in any sort of bad way, or even uncomfortable, just remembering when the co-Waterperson of the Year said, “Surfing has always been about Bustin’ Down the Door — always about experimentation, leadership, individuality and innovation, both in athletic progression and culturally. And this is how we want to be, and will always strive to be, at the WSL: innovative and always pushing forward. The surfers, past and present and future, are our guides — the surfing greats have never been grumpy traditionalists, but tough innovators.”

Remember that? It was five years ago, now, so you’d be forgiven for forgetting but I ponder that last “the surfing greats have never been grumpy traditionalists, but tough innovators” often.

Is that actually true?

Well, while you’re thinking, according to Variety, filming has wrapped on The Surfer, a Nicolas Cage vehicle shot entirely in Yallingup. The picture tells the story of:

When a man returns to Australia to buy back his family home after many years in the U.S., he is humiliated in front of his teenage son by a group of local surfers who claim ownership over the secluded beach of his childhood. Wounded, he defies them and remains at the beach, demanding acceptance. As the conflict escalates he is brought to the edge of his sanity and his identity is thrown into question.

Back to Ziff’s axiom, Cage seems like a grumpy traditionalist. The group of local surfers certainly seem like grumpy traditionalists. The whole movie, in fact, appears to revolve around the very idea of grumpy traditionalism. They all sort of seem sort of great too, in their own way.

Was she wrong?

More as the story develops.

Eimeo Czermak, almost crippled at Pipeline
"I came so close to losing everything but I’m alive and gonna be able to walk again hopefully soon…"

Teahupoo kingpin Eimeo Czermak gravely injured at Pipeline

"Hopefully I can walk again soon."

Ain’t it just one of the wildest quirks of surfing that Tahitian-born Eimeo Czermak would be an unbackable favourite against the reigning and two-time world champ Filipe Toledo if they ever surfed against each other at Teahupoo? Or legit Pipe?

Eimeo Czermak, who is twenty, has been throwing wild edits since 2018 since he was fifteen and putting himself inside the sorta west bowls that make better credentialed surfers tremble right down to the bones.

Now, it can be revealed, only days after world number four João Chianca was dragged unconscious from the water Pipe, Eimeo Czermak was hospitalised following a wipeout during his heat with the three Florence bros at the Vans Pipe Masters.

“This was probably one of the hardest and scariest moment of my life,” the carrot-topped heartthrob told his fans on Instagram.

“In the second slide there’s a little video of what happened and the crazy part is I don’t even remember anything of this…💔 I don’t know if I can even talk about what happened after I left the contest so I’m gonna keep it to myself but I’m so happy and grateful to be alive and looking forward to heal.

“I am really disappointed in myself for what I’ve showed in this contest, it’s really hard for me to accept but it is what it is and at the end of the day I came so close to losing everything but I’m alive and gonna be able to walk again hopefully soon so that’s what matters.

“The next few days are gonna be really hard for me so I think I’m gonna take a break from social media and work on my health.”

In the video, Eimeo Czermak is pitched head first, driven to shore by the water patrol where we find him retching on the beach.

As a testament to his brilliance in terrifying waves, a conga line of surf stars were quick to send their wishes for a swift recovery. Doz, Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, Cory Lopez, Barron Mamiya… even North Shore strongman and daddy to Koa Rothman, Fast Eddie.

U a warrior and you will be back soon. Love u boy