Surfers (right) pictured being the worst even though a historically significant home is being threatened.
Surfers (right) pictured being the worst even though a historically significant home is being threatened.

Monster California surf threatens Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece!

And surfers don't even care.

Now, surfers are undeniably and indubitably selfish. Leaving families behind without care or thought when the waves pump. Catching one, back paddling the poor soul bobbing for hours and catching another one. Lying, cheating, fibbing and fudging all to “get theirs.”

And, thus, it is not surprising that California’s surfers are entirely unmoved by the fact that the recent “monster swell” is threatening the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece The Walker House there on Carmel Point.

This is the only house that the revered architect ever built ocean-front and just sold, recently, for the low, low price of $22 million.

According to Artnet:

The famed architect designed the house to resemble a ship’s bow cutting through water, a nod to his distinctive practice of integrating structures into their natural surroundings. The striking feature is made possible by the hexagonal floor plan of the triangular living room, allowing for spectacular views of waves crashing onto rocks nearby.

Alas, those waves have gotten bigger and meaner. Funner, though, for surfers who don’t care that a house neighboring the Wright gem recently had its windows bashed out due “heavy surf.”

Surfers, man.

Total dicks.

A peasant’s guide to the Palm Springs Surf Club

Getting real.

The Palm Springs Surf Club wave pool is now open for business, and reservations for any “public” sessions in January sold out within hours of going live. You’ve no doubt seen the promotional videos with tiny little professional/semi-professional surfers packing tiny little barrels and boosting airs off of tiny little end sections. You can also book a private session for the low low price of $3,500 – $5,000 per hour, depending on the day and the demand.

But what is the experience of a public session like for your average peasant of average surfing ability? Is it really worth the $150 – $200 per hour? Is there really a god and an afterlife, or does an empty void await us after death? These are the questions I asked myself as I reserved three hours in the pool shortly after reservations opened up last month. And having recently returned from PSSC, I now have the answers. All of them. The following is the progression of the day’s highlights and lowlights.

6:15 a.m. I breakfast on coffee and 800 mg of ibuprofen. I have booked three, hour-long sessions for today—an “intermediate wave” hour to hopefully get the hang of things, and two “advanced wave” hours to hopefully get a few little pool barrels. We all know these aren’t real barrels, but by the same token, weirdos have “intercourse” with sex robots in this day and age and likely walk away with the impression that they got laid. Little do I recognize though, I have committed surf hubris by assuming that I might get some cover ups today, however artificial said cover ups might be.

8:45 a.m. After a 1.5 hour drive, I arrive to check in early and take inventory of the place. I am informed at check in that the wave machine is having issues and the pool can only run the intermediate A-Frame wave. No barrels for Com today, but that’s what I get for going into any surf session, pool or ocean, even so much as thinking about getting barreled. Such are the consequences of surf hubris.

Given a niggling injury I’ve been carrying for the last couple weeks, perhaps a day of intermediate waves is not so terrible though. I wonder whether I’ll get a refund for the combined additional $100 I’ve spent for two sessions of barreling waves (to date I have not).

The pool and the entire complex are far bigger than the videos I’ve seen would indicate. There is ample space to lounge, several other heated pools and hot tubs, a lazy river, and a couple quasi-restaurants. It’s a place that you could easily convince non-surfer friends and family to hang around and watch your shitty surfing were it not the middle of winter. Come Coachella season, this place will be packed and the surfing will be an afterthought for most of the patrons.

9:00 a.m. The first session of the day kicks off shortly after I arrive, which I am informed is a private session. A group of upper middle-aged guys that appear to be acquainted with one another is surfing the intermediate wave, well, intermediately, and even less than intermediately in some instances. Many are attempting to crouch for a little head dip even though the wave isn’t even close to barreling.

The wave at this setting looks barely two feet from my vantage point (Surfline two feet, not Hawaiian) and I kick myself for leaving my groveller at home despite bringing two pointy thrusters and a weird little asym. The private session crew nevertheless appears to be having a ball, hooting for one another and high fiving after every 3-wave set. I watch the Da Hui Pipe contest on my phone to pass the time and resign myself to the fact that these will be the only barrels I will see all day.

10:40 a.m. I suit up given the prior instructions to be ready 10 minutes before the 11:00 a.m. public session. As soon as I am ready to go, the announcement is made that all sessions are being pushed back an hour because the private session didn’t get its full two hours. To hell with it, I am not changing out of this wetsuit, and to hell with it, I am getting a getting a goddamn beer.

11:40 a.m. I make my way to the far side of the pool and have friendly conversations with the other middle-aged surfers who will be joining me in the first public session of the day, which now includes slightly more diverse gender representation with a couple female longboarders. The wave actually looks kind of fun from this angle for like, two turns. We have an extremely brief safety brief.

11:45 a.m. I jump in and HOLY HELL, I don’t recall 55-degree water ever being this cold, my 4/3 and booties notwithstanding. The pumps start up and sounds like a jet engine about to take off, and the guy in front of me misses his first wave. My first wave is a right, and hey, it’s actually about stomach high off the first turn! I manage a weak little wrap and then bog and fall on the second turn when what appears to be a close out end section evaporates. Still, there is more than enough push even with the intermediate setting to get all 230 pounds of me going at a decent clip down the line for a turn or two. And, at least I didn’t miss the wave or fall on the takeoff on my first wave—there is a lot of that happening, and even surfers who obviously rip (present company excluded) are struggling from time to time throughout the day.

I eventually realize that trying to take the high line from the takeoff is just not going to work. For how small the wave is, you have to drive down straight off the takeoff and project back up like it’s a much larger wave, or you will get hung up in the lip given how narrow the pocket is. This is something I will routinely forget to remember throughout the course of the day when I kook it on the takeoff on every few waves. That being said, 12 waves in an hour is a fair amount of surfing even if there’s only room for two or three turns.

It also occurs to me that, save for surfing with a bunch of people you might know, there is zero difference between the public and private session if the intermediate setting is the only wave available. Shit yeah, I have stuck it to the man!

1:15 p.m. I’ve rolled straight through into another hour-long session, which was supposed to be one of the slab sessions, but, whatever. I’m still having a good time on the rights after swapping for one of my shorter boards. A half hour later when I switch to the lefts, I am cramping up on every takeoff, and the aforementioned niggling injury is about the size and shape of a half plumb. Waves are missed. Takeoffs are blown. Rails are bogged. This is not pretty.

2:10 p.m. The sensation of being able to feel my fingers again returns. Beers and a hot tub never felt this satisfying.

2:45 p.m. I notice a guy on a soft top is trunking it. TRUNKING it in 55-degree water, and with a bit of wind to chill things down a little further to boot. I have not seen him successfully get to his feet, but holy hell, he is far tougher than I am and/or was sired by a sea lion.

3:15 p.m. Groms and dads are in the water and an “offshore” wind is holding up the wave faces a bit more. A micro grom is pushed in by his dad gets a little shampoo on the inside. Everyone watching poolside hoots. This is the closest thing to a legitimate barrel that has occurred today as far as I’ve seen.

3:55 p.m. I plop back into the pool for my third and final hour. There’s no more sun warming the surfing area and the water seems even colder. I spend the next hour either missing waves or mostly going straight, but I finally figure out the left by the end of things, which has this weird flat section on account of one side pumps beings down.

4:50 p.m. The horizon on the far end of the pool might substitute as an aspect of an impressionist painting as the sunset, punctuated by wispy clouds, emits a rosy glow that slowly gives way to darkness as the lights surrounding the pool are switched on. Part of me wonders whether someday, people will pay to see an artificial sunset when they could just as easily see the real thing, much like I have paid to surf an artificial wave when I could just as easily have paddled out in the ocean. All things considered though, I wanted to hate this place, but I’m riding waves in the middle of the damn desert.

This would be much easier in warm water and trunks in the summer time, but I’d almost prefer the venue being relatively empty save for surfers, their families/significant others, and the two European guys in speedos sprawling in one of the hot tubs for most of the day who did not exactly appear to be there for the surfing. And in truth, I’ve actually enjoyed surfing with the strangers I’ve met and surfed with today, all of whom were far more pleasant than the pathetically annoying wretches that mostly haunt my local.

7:00 p.m I am at The Heyday with a burger in one hand and a very dry vodka martini in the other. I take inventory of the last ten hours and consider how I might answer the questions I asked myself when I booked these reservations in the first place.
What is the experience of a public session like for your average peasant of average surfing ability? Pretty fun, just so long as you recognize that this is not surfing—it’s riding waves in a pool.

Is it worth really worth the $150 – $200 per hour? I would like my $100 back for reserving slab waves that were not delivered, and I’ve no idea what the other wave settings are actually like, but $150 for 12ish intermediate waves in an hour seems like a fairly even trade given the $80 million dollar investment in this place.

Is there really a god and an afterlife, or does an empty void await us after death? The answer to that, I have realized, is that once human beings become proficient enough at playing god and you have the financial means to pay, it won’t really matter. You might just live forever in an artificial world of your own fashioning—perhaps with some artificial waves, artificial sunsets, and dry martinis to keep you occupied.

Great White sharks attack surfer at Blacks in South Australia.
Great White shark hits and bites surfer at Blacks in South Oz. Main photo, Great White in action, little photo, the surfer's shooter after the attack.

Surfer attacked by Great White shark in South Australia as horror season continues

"Spread the word. No one goes in the water." 

As one below-the-line sage remarked a couple of weeks back when fifteen-year-old grom Khai Cowley was killed by a Great White in front of his dad at Ethels on the Yorke Peninsula, “In South Australia, you can have sharks or you can have surfing. You can’t have both.” 

(Or words to that effect.) 

Two months ago, 55-year-old surfer Tod Gendle was killed and disappeared by a fifteen-foot Great White at Granites, twenty clicks out of Streaky Bay, South Australia, seven hundred clicks north-west of Adelaide. 

Earlier in 2023, and just a hundred clicks south, local school teacher Simon Baccanello was killed by a Great White while surfing at Walkers Rocks in Elliston.

A brave soul, Baccanello warned others to split as the Great White started swimming towards him telling terrified kids in the lineup, “Don’t worry, get yourself to shore”.

Now, a sixty-four-year-old surfer from Elliston has been bitten between the ass and leg at Blacks by a Great White. He paddled in, climbed the cliff, refused an ambulance and drove himself to hospital, reflecting the chaotic nature of a Great White hit and the difference just a few millimetres can make.

Still, a Great White hit is a Great White hit. Substantial.

A message bouncing said the surfer, named Murray, “needs stitches but will be ok. Spread the word. No one goes in the water.”

Surfboard bitten by Great White shark at Blacks, South Australia.
Great White attacks surfer at Blacks in South Oz. This is what his shooter looked like after the obligatory attack–from-below.

Blacks, which is near Elliston, is the archetypal South Australian slab, swells swinging onto shallow limestone shelf before evaporating in uncomfortably deep water, notorious for Great Whites. In 2000, two surfers were killed in two separate Great White attacks, one at Blacks, one at Cactus 140 miles west. 

I remember sending a few pro’s to Blacks years back and laughed, but understood, when I heard a story of ‘em paddling onto the dry shelf when a couple of dolphins surfaced.

After Khai Cowley was killed on December 29, the South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas said,

“The reality is there are sharks along our coastline around the southern part of our nation. When people venture out, particularly where they go quite far away from the shoreline, there is a risk associated with that.

“But we’ve seen 11 fatal shark attacks in South Australia since the year 2000 so the fact we’ve seen three across this summer is startling and it is of concern.”

Sharks or surfing? Which way do you swing?

(More on the attack as it comes.)

Plus sized girl surfer.
Now, here, is what you’d call an athletic, though slightly bigger, gal. Big boned as we used to say. A helluva long way from fat and not, I’d suggest, represented on the Fat Scale. | Photo: Billabong

Billabong pivots to plus-sized surfers to extend “reach to important demographic of underserved consumers.”

A range of sizes including small fat, mid fat and large fat but no super fat or death fat. 

The once iconic surf giant Billabong, now effectively cuckolded by the Authentic Brands Group which also owns former arch enemies Hurley and Quiksilver, has been partnered up with another brand to produce plus-sized womenswear.,

Profile Enterprises, specialists in big gal’s gear, will take the reins of the plus-plus sizes, “manufacturing, wholesale and the distribution of Billabong Big & Tall mens as well as Plus women’s apparel across the U.S. and Canada.”

From the Authentic Newsroom,

“We are proud to partner with Authentic to bring this active lifestyle brand to our robust distribution platform,” said PROFILE Ent. President, Frank Riech. “Billabong offers PROFILE the opportunity to extend our reach to an important demographic of underserved consumers.”

The first Billabong Big & Tall and Plus collections will be available in Spring 2024 at major Big & Tall and Plus retailers as well as across various retailer e-commerce channels.

It’s a wise move, clearly.

Half the US spends its days eating and crapping although what constitutes plus-size will, obviously, shift with the prevailing winds.

What’s fat today might be skinny tomoz.

Do you know about the fat spectrum? 

It’s wildly fascinating.

Y’see, there’s small fat, mid fat, large fat, super fat and death fat.

By my reckoning, Profile will be selling Billabong clothes all the way up to large fat, but not a helluva lot happening for the super fat and the death fat.

Linda, from the epic site Fluffy Kitten Party, explains its myriad complexities here.

I’ve removed the “White Fragility” framework because WOW that did not age well, and I should never have used it. I know better now, and I’m sorry. I updated the definition of “deathfat” and credited author and fat activist Lesley Kinzel with creating the term (with sincere apologies to Lesley for causing misunderstanding). I included history and context for the term “super fat” that I did not understand when I wrote this (h/t to the fats who educated me on this after this piece was published), and I changed the format to be more of a neutral explainer. I’ve also updated the image because, frankly, it was hard to read! I tried to cram everything into one image, but it’s just impossible to include everything in one image and not make a cluttered mess. So now, you have a big infographic.

Fat Categories
Fat Categories explained!

Logan (insert) wrecking stuff. Photo: Amazon Prime
Logan (insert) wrecking stuff. Photo: Amazon Prime

Surf Girls Hawaii officially cancelled as former WSL CEO Erik Logan’s “poopoo touch” reaches out from beyond the grave!

The gift that keeps on giving.

Erik Logan, former Chief Executive Officer of the World Surf League, is a gift that keeps on giving. The Oklahoman with a magical wetsuit of armor came our way via Oprah Winfrey less than ten years ago but his impact reverberates. Hired to lead the newly formed WSL Studios, which was shuttered immediately after he gave it the cheese touch, Logan failed upward and onward. His initial promise was to make “shoulder programming” around the tour.

His one project, there, a Billy Kemper miniseries, was a non-success by any and every metric.

Branching out, Logan helped push The Ultimate Surfer to air, considered by most to be the worst reality television program of all-time. He then broke Box-to-Box, a star machine that could do no wrong… until Logan came ambling along, by tanking Make or Break. Not finished, and from the grave, he turned the beloved Surf Girls Hawaii into World Surf League pap for Amazon Prime and it was, of course, cancelled after one lonely season.

Its creator Monica Medellin announced the end, penning, “Creating and producing Surf Girls Hawaii has been a 5 year process with many ups and downs but it was 100% worth it. I hope my work can open up possibilities for girls, woman and people of color through the power of sports.”

Her version, pre-Logan, was gold. As Jen See reported:

About two years ago now, the women’s media platform Togethxr made a four-part film called Surf Girls Kaikaina. Owned by Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim, Simone Manuel, and Sue Bird, Togethxr has created a killer platform for women’s sports. Surf Girls Kaikaina painted a group portrait of teen surfer girls coming of age in Hawai’i, and focused on Hokulani Topping, Vaihitimahana Inso, Ēweleiʻula Wong, and Puamakamae DeSoto.

As the Surf Girls Kaikaina series progressed, it centered the girls’ Hawaiian culture and their efforts to find themselves both in and out of the water. Though contest surfing formed a piece of the story — Moana Jones and Carissa Moore both appeared — it was not foregrounded. Instead, director Monica Medellin centered the young womens relationships with surfing, the ocean, and their culture. The interviews, which took place in bedrooms and skateparks had a raw authenticity. It felt real.

Enter the aforementioned Man with a Poopoo Touch.

Surf Girls Hawai’i puts contest surfing at the center of the story. The narrative arc becomes the effort to qualify for the Championship Tour and the stresses of competing. There’s a sequence devoted to training that predictably involves carrying rocks underwater. It’s like Ultimate Surfer got stuffed on a plane and flown to Hawai’i.

Surf Girls Hawai’i plays like an extended advertisement for the WSL, and that’s almost certainly what Logan set out to make. In her original, Medellin trusted her material. She believed that this coming of age story about girls surfing in Hawai’i had something to tell us. There was less lip gloss and shine in Surf Girls Kaikaina, but far more authentic story-telling.

What’s frustrating about Surf Girls Hawai’i is that it grew from a compelling concept. These women are plainly strong, engaging, and passionate characters. Tell me the story of these women, growing up in Hawai’i, finding their way in some of the world’s toughest lineups. Tell me about their fears, frustrations, and joys. Tell me about what it means to them to be Hawaiian and how their heritage shapes their relationship with the ocean and the wider world.

That’s the story Logan steamrollered in his desperate effort to sell contest surfing to the masses. And I think we all know by now, that they aren’t going to buy what he’s selling. The story that didn’t get told, that might have drawn people to follow these women and their journey, that might have shown the world something beautiful about women’s surfing and Hawai’i — I’m not sure he even saw that story and its value. And that’s a shame.

Well, now it is dead, buried and forgotten. Another giant idiotic feather in the cap of the man Jen See rightly called “spectacularly untalented.”

What a succubus.