Ben Gravy and Jamie O'Brien before AI tried to tear them apart.
Ben Gravy and Jamie O'Brien before AI tried to tear them apart.

Surfer magazine robot accuses Jamie O’Brien of “overestimating Ben Gravy’s talent” thus nearly killing him!

Artificial intelligence gone wild.

Artificial intelligence, man. One minute it is the greatest thing ever, writing term papers in the style of Sylvia Plath, the next it is dangerously out of control, throwing libel at surf phenom Jamie O’Brien, accusing the carrot topped Pipeline swinger of attempted murder.

Live by the bits, die by the bytes, as the old saying goes, and the new owners of Surfer Magazine are learning this lesson hard. You certainly recall months ago when The Arena Group came under heavy fire for utilizing bots, complete with computer generated pictures and biographies, to “write” stories. The public rage was quick and fast, Sports Illustrated receiving the brunt of the attack. Surfer, its “Emily Morgans” and “Jake Howards,” mostly spared.

And, so, the machines continued to generate stories which might very well end with the once respected “Bible of the Sport” in court opposite the aforementioned O’Brien and another libel victim Ben Gravy.

The movie star handsome vlogger, you. see, was on podcast Camp Gagnon recently sharing a spot of trouble he found himself in whilst surfing Pipeline. Gravy describes how his leash snapped and he was getting pulled under until feeling sand then saving himself. A fine, if not basic, tale.

Well, the Surfer bot described thusly:

It all happened back in 2022, when Gravy – a New Jersey native – went to Hawaii to spend some time with a fellow surf vlogger, Jamie O’Brien. But JOB, being one of the best to ever do it at Pipeline, perhaps overestimated Gravy’s ability at the world’s deadliest wave. And Gravy nearly didn’t make it out alive.

Big accusations lobbed at both O’Brien (intent to harm) and Gravy (ability that can be overestimated).

Will either seek justice?

Damn that robot, son.

Korean magic (pictured) center of frame.
Korean magic (pictured) center of frame.

Armchair astronomers rub eyes in disbelief as “surfboard-shaped UFO” captured zooming through space!

Is the Silver Surfer real?

Yesterday was a wonderful one for the northern hemisphere’s armchair astronomers. As you certainly read, large swathes of Mexico, the United States and Canada were treated to a full solar eclipse as the earth’s moon blotted out the sun, leaving star gazers thrilled and giddy. While the celestial dance played out only partially in surf rich California, the state’s sky lookers, many whom appeared to be surfers, witnessed something “pretty cool” as well.

I just so happened to be in rustic Orange and was hoping to secure special eclipse glasses from the local library in order to share the wonders of the universe with my young charges. Alas, California’s city libraries didn’t have any though I was assured that county libraries did so raced to the nearest in nearby Tustin. They were out too and so I returned to Orange and glumly took the kids outside to witness a very slight darkening while telling them if they looked at the sun, directly, their eyeballs would fry in their skulls.

When I wandered for some lunch, later, thinking the event long over, a man thrust some eclipse glasses into my chest and said, “You can still catch the last second.”

I did and it was, in fact, pretty cool what with the rim of the moon covering up a sliver of sun. I then ordered a wagyu burger with a spicy miso sauce, crunchy cabbage and a fried egg. It was, also, pretty cool.

Not as cool as the surfboard-shaped UFO zooming though space, though.

NASA scientists discovered it yesterday and thoughts immediately turned to the gender bending Silver Surfer though, as often happens in science, magic was replaced with Korean technology.

Per the Daily Mail:

While some had speculated the sighting was nothing more than a digital artifact, others were sure NASA had captured aliens visiting close to our world.

But the American space agency later revealed LRO captured Korea’s lunar orbiter, Danuri as it soared just a few miles away. The LRO has been orbiting Earth’s moon and snapping photos since 2009, when it was NASA’s first moon mission in a decade.

And it turns out the craft is on a nearly parallel orbit with Danuri, which was launched in 2022 by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

The relative speed of the two objects to one another is a whopping 7,200 miles per hour, so the LRO operations team had to have lightning quick timing to capture it on camera.

In the end, Danuri appeared 10 times longer than it really is, hence its surfboard appearance.


Do you have any pretty cool eclipse stories from yesterday?

Please share.

Mick Fanning with brother Ed and, inset, daughter Lyla.
Mick Fanning with brother Ed and, inset, daughter Lyla.

Mick Fanning announces birth of daughter two days after farewelling brother Ed at rollicking Gold Coast wake

In much needed, if bittersweet, news for the surviving members of the Fanning family, Mick and wife Breanna Randall announced the birth of their daughter Lyla Skye Fanning.

Two weeks ago in a tragedy as unimaginable as it was sad, Mick Fanning lost his last surviving brother Ed in a freak accident at a remote surf camp in the Indian Ocean. 

Ed Fanning was working as a surf guide in Anakao, Madagascar, when a reef cut turned septic, killing the forty eight year old. 

Over the course of the weekend, Ed was farewelled in spectacular fashion at Snapper Rocks. 

“Today we gathered to celebrate the life of Ed. I want to thank my family and friends for all the amazing support they have shown not only me but everyone that loved Ed. It was a beautiful day with so many amazing people coming together,” Mick Fanning wrote.

“I know Ed is always with me. The memories and good times we shared for so many years will always be with me. I give thanks for that. Some incredible stories were told today as people telling their versions of the funny and wild shit he used to do. Please keep telling them as Ed would want you all to laugh.”


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Nine years ago, and on the eve of a dramatic world title showdown at Pipeline, Mick Fanning received news that his older brother Peter, a daddy to three who had been suffering from a “serious hyperthyroid disease” had died in his sleep.

In 1998, Mick’s twenty-year-old brother Sean, along with another talented local surfer Joel Green, was killed in a car accident. Mick Fanning was seventeen.

In much needed, if bittersweet, news for the surviving members of the Fanning family, mama Liz, daddy John and sister Rachel, Mick and wife Breanna Randall announced the birth of their daughter Lyla Skye Fanning.

It’s the second kid for Mick and Breanna, lil Xander Dean was born in 2020 four years after Mick’s divorce from interior designer Karissa Dalton.

Both kids names reflect the three-time champ’s well-travelled life, Xander the diminutive of the Greek Alexander, “defender of mankind”, and Lyla a variation of the Hebrew Lilah, a shortening of Delilah.


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Surfer editor-in-chief helping "Jake Howard" with human slang.
Surfer editor-in-chief helping "Jake Howard" with human slang.

Surfer magazine desperately seeking human overlord for AI “staff”

"Jake Howard" needs a hard reset.

Did you imagine, ten or such years ago, that you would, today, be living in the future? Self-driving cars zipping up and down freeways, electric bicycles no longer requiring human legs, artificially intelligent surf writing bots who cover this Sport of Kings from the shadows of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.

Yes, the future is now with formerly respected institutions like Surfer Magazine leaning on bits and bytes named “Jake Howard” and “Emily Morgan” in order to give you, or rather Google’s algorithm, the information you crave.

Though is all not perfect with the machine?

In an overnight move stunning technology watchers, Surfer is openly casting for a human to keep its bots in check.

Per LinkedIn:

The Arena Group is looking for an experienced, dynamic, passionate and creative Editor-In-Chief for SURFER. This individual will be tasked with the exciting venture of relaunching the SURFER brands, as well as overseeing the content, direction, and future of the publication. Candidates must be self-starters who can thrive in both a start-up and corporate environment.

Very exciting though not without much responsibility listed here:

-Managing and leading the SURFER editorial team, including assigning stories and overseeing the writing, editing, and production process to the various AI bots.

-Ensuring that the content is accurate, relevant, and of high quality, and making final decisions on any controversial or sensitive material the bots might happen to mistake as “humanspeak.”

-Maintaining and growing surfing and adventure sports industry relationships whilst collaborating to bring more top robot talent to SURFER – such as “writers,” “photographers,” “creators,” “videographers,” and other digitized “media professionals” and building relationships with potential new sources including, but not limited to, ChatGPT.

-Consistently ensuring high standards of excellence, collaboration, and creativity across robot teams.

-Working with the business or management team to develop and implement strategies for growing the audience and increasing revenue through tricking readers into believing SURFER is real.

-Representing the publication or organization at events and in public, serving as the human face of the largely fake organization.

-Keeping up to date with industry trends and developments and using this knowledge to guide the editorial direction of the publication or organization seeing as the robots are often misguided, sometimes purposefully.

-Continuously looking for new ideas and opportunities to improve the publication or organization.

-Managing the budget for the editorial department, making sure that resources are allocated in the most efficient and effective way to the right machine.

-Continuously improving the skills of the editorial team by cleaning spam out of filters etc., providing guidance and mentorship by making sure robots are installed with the latest software updates.

-Ensuring a robust editorial calendar and pipeline of future content, whilst continuously uplevelling all imagery, advising on content experiences and collaborating on all social, commerce and experiential formats via advancements in artificial intelligence.

The lucky traitor will receive between $90,000 and $100,000 for helping further destroy humanity.

Do you have what it takes?

Apply here.

Question: Does Elon Musk quietly loathe chubby surfers?

Strong evidence presented.

The death of surf a business is often times, a mirror of our own earthly existence and eventual demise. More often than not, it is a slow and gradual decline until the body can no longer function, everyone knows it is coming, and is therefore emotionally prepared for it. In this instance, the trademark and branding might be shorn from the body (e.g., the Authentic Brands portfolio) and worn about by someone else, much like a pre-Columbian Aztec priest stepping into and adorning the flayed skin of a ritually sacrificed prisoner of war.

Other times (e.g., Clark Foam), someone might just decide to punch their own ticket without warning while leaving dependents and loved ones wondering why, sadly confused, and perhaps blaming themselves.

Alternatively, something abrupt might occur beyond anyone’s control, and the body ceases to exist rather quickly by virtue of some catastrophe and/or an aggressively fatal medical condition. The sudden demise of Varial foam announced publicly on April 6th but non-publicly known to USA West Coast shapers for at least a couple months ostensibly appears to be in this third category.

This has seriously bummed me out as an average surfer given that Varial was by far the best all-around board construction (trust me, I’ve tried them all) for average surfers surfing average waves in terms of performance, longevity, and durability. Sure, their price tag was between $200 – $300 more than a PU board, but they last exponentially longer and don’t ever go dead.

As a heavy surfer, I have abused my Varials on the daily without them creasing or the boards losing their flex/spring, while preserving my PU boards for prime conditions and/or travel. These boards also handle chop far better than EPS and don’t become a kite in offshore conditions.

It is nevertheless understandable why this construction never caught on with the pros or in the competitive context. In spite of its other advantages, Varial was a slow moving foam that didn’t respond quite as quickly as a PU or EPS. But slow moving surfers (i.e., yours truly and 99% of other surfers) aren’t going to be held back by a limitation that was never going to apply to our skill set in the first place.

So how did a company that has been in existence for nearly two decades and holds two patents go belly up almost overnight?

According to its farewell email to customers, Varial’s “partner” in the aerospace industry through which it was sourcing and/or licensing the foam decided that it was done with producing the foam for non-aerospace sporting applications.

I, however, am not buying this given Varial’s owners’ affiliation with SpaceX, an Elon Musk owned company. Granted, I have no idea whether or not SpaceX was actually the supplier, but the timing of this coupled with the disastrous roll out of the Tesla (another Musk-owned entity) Cybertruck certainly cannot be a coincidence.

SpaceX also did not reply to my email inquiry on the matter, so there is clearly something that is being covered up here. And, Musk is precisely the kind of guy who would create an elaborate distraction in killing off Varial foam to draw the public’s attention away from the fact that Cybertrucks are breaking down the moment they drive off the dealership lot.

So, I think it’s safe to say that, without question, Elon Musk killed Varial. Goddamn you, Elon Musk.

Will this board construction ever be available again through a different supplier? It’s hard to say. I certainly hope so. Perhaps Elon might be convinced to work with a certain 11-time world champion to have child slave laborers in Thailand start popping out Varial-constructed boards. These wheels might even be greased by Elon’s fellow South Africans such as Jordy Smith and/or Mathew “Did You Know He Base Jumps?” McGillivray pleading the case for Varial (though Shaun Tomson probably wouldn’t move the needle in that regard given Musk’s history of casual antisemitism).

For now, however, all I can do is to cherish the moments I have with my current small quiver of Varials with the time I have left with them (and the time they have left with me), and hope that Elon Musk does not someday come for them too. This is as much as any of us can do with the time we have with our loved ones.