Lines are as perfect as a rapt baby rocking gently on a swing…
Two months ago, the surf writer Mr James Brisick, sometimes of Malibu, sometimes NYC’s lower east side, wrote a story for TheNew Yorker that read, in part, “(Mike Feb’s) hand jive, soul arches, and toreador-like flourishes play to the camera in a way that breaks the spell of the itinerant surfer in far-flung solitude. His style is as self-conscious as the duck-face selfie.”
I think, correct when Mike’s on a throw-back craft because what else is there to do except go straight and be sexy, but, as you can see below, on a regular board, in this case a CI Happy, his lines are as perfect as a rapt baby rocking gently on a swing and as hard to argue with as a Saint Bernard dog guarding his master’s bicycle.
Mike’s surfboard, if you care about such things, which I do, measures five feet and eleven inches long, nineteen and three-sixteenths inches wide and is two and three-eighths inches thick for a grand total of twenty-nine litres.
Your favourite vagabonds, in the one spot, at the one time!
Looking out, open-mouthed, at very square tubes at Pipeline and Mason and Coco and Uncle Dez and Daddy Mike trading sets, well, it reminds me I’ll never be anything more than a vibration rather than a solid.
In this five-minute edit by (the fabulous) Rory Pringle, Lachlan Peanut Mckinnon, Chaddy Witz, Andrew Schoener and Justin Rutherford and scored to a Hendrix soundtrack from Mason’s mammy, Brian (yeah, yeah, it ain’t a traditional name for a woman), we see the fam treading a familiar pasture.
A little history of the Ho’s, if it’s necessary. Mike Ho, with his Chinese-Hawaiian-American heritage, was 30 years old and on his last tour circuit when his girl, Brian, a Caucasian American, became pregnant.
Mike’s dad was pure Chinese. His grandmother pure Hawaiian. Mike’s mom, Mason’s paternal grandma, was from Oregon. The brother of one of Mike’s good friends was named Mason. Mike dug it. He threw a little Hawaiian in there, Kaohelaulii, a middle name that’s been carried by the Hos since Mason’s paternal grandfather. It means: “New little bamboo shoot coming out from the old. It bends and it’s hard to break,” says Mike.
Mike had bought land up there at Backyards, Sunset, and a small house was constructed. The marriage broke up after the birth of Mason’s sister Coco, two years later. And soon, the jokester and former-pro surfer was in the serious biz of being a single parent to two kids.
“I was ‘fun dad,’” Mike says. “I’m like, ‘Surf is good, let’s go surfing. Okay, no school today.’ Yeah, I was bad. I was a bad, fun dad.”
Unless it was Pipe. “‘Go to school. Dad’s going to surf Pipe today.’”
Mike plays it down though.
It ain’t easy when the spigot of cash from pro surfing is off and you’re thirty-something-years-old and your marriage is done. But, says, Dino Andino, “No matter how hard it got, no matter what he was going through, or doing, he always had ’em to school on time, dressed and fed. He never faltered. Ever. Mike Ho is an awesome, awesome dad.”
And, look at ’em now, all meticulously walking the Pipe tightrope.
Whatever you think of wave tanks, y'gotta admit, this is about as dreamy as a lineup gets. And it's Bristol.
Bristol wavepool: Watch Kanoa Igarashi and Travis Rice in “Robust enjoyment at a very expensive sanitorium!”
A new angle on the British Wavegarden tank. Better, worse, than you might imagine.
After eight months of cold labour in the English city of Bristol, one of the better cities in a country populated by people with fish smell on their breath, hideous raven hair and guinea pig faces, we have The Wave.
Last year’s wetsuit film was A New Jersey Wetsuit Fairytale starring slab-hunter Tommy Ihnken surfing around Asbury Park and cut to covers of Springsteen songs.
The conceit of this year’s film is time travel.
To wit, what if a surfer from the future time travelled back to Raglan in 1984 with 2019’s best wetsuits?
What would it mean thirty-five years on?
Would we be wearing wetsuits with wings? Purple wetsuits? Invisible wetsuits?
The film features suits from Billabong, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Feral, Quiksilver, Vissla and Xcel whose donations made this film possible. It’s a measure, a reflection, I think, of a company’s connection to surfing when they cut generous cheques to make little culture bites that may not bounce straight back onto the bottom line but do add to the game, as a whole.
A fascinating study of a man with everything who still wonders why…
“How did I get here?” wondered eighties band Talking Heads.
Watching this new episode of the WSL’s excellent Sound Waves series, which features Kelly Slater at the Freshwater Pro, his backyard pool, you get the feeling that it don’t matter if a man has a late-model Cadillac, flawlessly tailored ice-cream silk suits and a Kewpie Doll wife with a reddish tan and platinum hair, he will always be beset by feelings of inferiority, anxiety, confusion.
To wit, Kelly Slater.
Eleven titles. Millions of shekels. Sweet girl.
Owns a piece of the world’s most perfect wave.
And, yet, the terror of losing aches his gullet.
It’s a few hours to Portugal, so let’s watch the behind-the-scenes machinations of the greatest surfer ever dealing with the internal torment of a career in its twilight.