Friday, August 06, 2004

Kelly Slater, Dirtbag

A few posts back I mentioned how the surf media doesn't even come close to being an institution of real journalism, and that it's essentially just a stoke factory supporting the surf industry.

As an example I asked just how much you know about Kelly Slater, 6 time World Champ, media darling since the mid-80's, and all-time American surf hero.

My response to my own question is this: I've been following his career for years and that all I know is that he grew up in Florida, has a brother, is a shitty actor, and once dated Pamela Anderson (and the last two I gleaned from the non-surf media).

The surf media simply portrays him as the model of professionalism and a nice, clean-cut young man worthy of all our admiration and support.

"Buy our Kelly Slater model boardshorts because he rips and, on top of it all, little grom with a crisp twomp in your pocket, he's a swell bloke to boot."

Guess what? He ain't.

Sports Illustrated and the LA Times, two very different publications, but two of the best sources for great journalism you'll find anywhere, both scored interviews with our beloved hero last month. And, surprise, surprise, in a tiny quarter-page article in the LA Times, I learned more about Mr. Slater in 30 lines of copy than I've learned in almost 20 years of surf media fluff.

Amongst other things I learned that:

1. His father was a drunk who left him and his brother and his mom when he was very young.
2. He got married when he was in his early 20's.
3. He got divorced not long thereafter.
4. He has a daughter whom he once went 3 years without contacting.

Huh? Say that again...

4. He has a daughter whom he once went 3 years without contacting.

Are you fucking kidding me? 3 YEARS??? Think about that for a minute. This wasn't some high school girl he knocked up when he was 14 and her parents whisked her away to an undisclosed location in Mormon Reformist territory in Northern Utah. This is a girl he MARRIED when he was in his 20's, AFTER he became a wealthy surf star, and whom he CHOSE to have kids with.

3 YEARS.

I don't have the exact quote with me, but I'll paraphrase with a certain amount of spirited accuracy here:

"Um, yeah, I haven't exactly been the best father over the years...I'm trying to do better...I once went 3 years without contacting my daughter."

I'm just going to get this out in the open, right now, right here...

Kelly Slater, you are a FUCKING DIRTBAG. You are WHITE TRASH from Cocoa Beach. I don't care if you're the best competitive surfer EVER. I think every kid who buys boardshorts or a wetsuit because of you should know that IF YOU WERE HIS DAD, YOU WOULDN'T FUCKING CALL HIM FOR 3 FUCKING YEARS.

Dirtbag.

There. I feel a little better. I'll feel a lot better with a few surfs under my belt this weekend. This past week didn't work out so hot. Surfed super fun HB on Monday - shoulder high, sunny, peaky, warm - and then work reared its ugly head and everything went to hell.

Tuesday spent the day doing all the travel stuff I need to do every few months - restocking my little dorky leather travel bag with grooming essentials, getting a decent haircut from a cute girl with tattoos who massages my scalp and causes me to pass out sitting up in the middle of the day, and ironing some clothes that never get ironed because ironing sucks and the dry cleaners are even worse because all my shirts come back looking like drywall with giant collars.

Anyhow, you'd be amazed at how long doing that crap takes and, well, there went Tuesday.

Wednesday and Thursday I spent up in SF, which wasn't a total waste because on Thursday I got to play hooky and go to the Giants game. Which was great at first. Wearing my throwback 1982 Jack "The Ripper" Clark jersey (black, not orange), sitting with 3 good bros, drinking beer, eating Polish dogs, soaking up the sun and watching an excellent outing by Woody as a 2 run game against the Reds stretched into the 7th inning.

Then, the Giants bullpen does what it always does, and fell the fuck apart.

Scott Eyre, Matt Herges, and some new kid from AA named Valdez. These 3 saps gave up 10 runs in the 8th inning.

Yup, you heard right.

Kelly Slater didn't call his kid for 3 YEARS, and the Giants bullpen gave up 10 RUNS in ONE INNING.

Needless to say the Giants didn't win and, of course, the Dodgers did, so we've now sunk to 7 1/2 behind. So afterwards I caught a late flight home and, with every intention of surfing today, I wound up on 8 zillion conference calls, spinning a half dozen plates of creative, and later on, accompanying a cute, babbling tow-head to the mall to look at the fountains.

So Tuesday through Friday, no surf.

Maybe now I understand a little bit about Slater's predicament. You take your kid to Fashion Island to look at the fountains, and you don't get to surf that day. You don't surf that day and you don't become world champ. Then you don't sign a million dollar contract with Quiksilver, you don't make an ass of yourself on national television, and you don't get to tune into Tokyo on a pair of giant, extremely famous bolt-on's.

You just wind up a bloke in HB, holding hands with a toddler while he laughs and stares at the fountain for 20 minutes while you stare at him, staring at the fountain, amazed by the way his eyes follow the water up and down, over and over again, and the way he claps his hands when the little water dance is over, and realizing that the sound of him laughing and the sight of him clapping his soft hands with the little knuckle dimples is the greatest thing in your life.

Slates charges 'Chopes, hobnobs with celebrities, does cakewalk interviews with a media designed solely to promote him, and sells heaps of surf stuff with his balding head plastered all over them. A real All-American surf hero.

An All-American surf hero who didn't so much as pick up a phone or send his daughter a postcard from Tahiti or Bolsa Chica for 3 whole years.

A dirtbag.

The Colonel says, "At ease."