Saturday, August 04, 2007

Giraffes, Tiki Monsters, & Oompa Loompas

Surf journalism is one of the lowest forms of journalism, or even writing for that matter. It ranges from smoke-to-colon-blowing fan mail to shameless corporate marketing disguised as reporting.

(Hey, I may be a corporate shill, but nothing I get paid to write pretends to be anything other than a grammatically incorrect sales pitch.)

Anyhow, one nice slice of irony related to surfing's embarrassingly endemic (i.e. "inbred") culture, is that every once in a while some decent surf writing appears in print. And it's almost always by the pen of a non-surfer, or at least a non-ex-pro surfer, which in surfing's cousin-fucking bro/brah network, is right up there with a bobsled team from Jamaica.

Anyhow, today's bit of outsider art comes from Cintra Wilson, a regular Salon columnist, and via Matt Warshaw's very decent collection of surfing called, "Zero Break." In 1999 Wilson attended the Lacanau Pro in France (and the Pipe Masters in 2000) and wrote up what are still the funniest, most dead-on descriptions of pro surfers anyone will ever have the pleasure of reading.

If you will...

Ken Bradshaw & Layne Beachley
Bradshaw seems to have built Layne Beachley, his much younger girlfriend, out of the refuse of his own frustrated ambitions. He coaches the living shit out of her. She is his creature; they walk around the beach smug and tan like the Tom & Nicole of the watersports set, and he shapes her surfboards with obnoxiously classified measurements and she publicly gushes over him whenever she wins anything and its all kind of grimy."

Andy Irons
Andy has a knack for showing up on videos half drunk and talking in an especially depraved-sounding Hawaiian patois -- a nearly unintelligible melange of surfer dude-isms and mangled English -- and coming off like a real parking lot alky with a big foam head. But on the positive side, he's a really exciting surfer with the kind of brute animal energy that makes your blood pay attention. You can find Andy on the last page of the latest issue of Surfer, charging the tube holding a can of Bintang Pilsner, with his eyes rolling half up into his head, looking red, bloated and poisoned like fat Elvis."

Megan Abubo

"Megan Abubo had a quietly bratty manner and big Walkman earmuffs on her head, and dressed way down in shapeless casuals like a sullen teenage raver, looking like she needed to be grounded or spanked or something."

Brock Little
"Brock Little looked like a piece of animated driftwood. He'd been absolutely chiseled by the teeth of the ocean, physically and spiritually -- he had the look of somebody who's died six or seven times already and is now a project of voodoo scientists, running on some whole other ghost chemical. All the blood in his body has been removed and replaced with concentrated adrenaline and a clear, high-octane bionic fluid made from denatured testosterone and the distilled essences of his dead friends, which makes him beautiful and creepy to look upon."

Pro Surfers
"A vast majority of surfers are built like sea turtles -- short as hell. Most of the women are barely over 5 feet; many of the men are barely over 5-5 with wide torsos and really short legs and arms with wide hands like flippers, and long, rubbery spines that seem to have too many vertebrae, like the Ingres Odalisque. Extremely low center of gravity. The Brazilian pros are practically Oompa Loompas - they weigh little more than the chicks, and it does nothing but magical things for their wave ability."

"There are the odd bullheaded tantrum-throwers like Hawaiian tiki monster Sunny Garcia, who had a couple of colorful shit-fits and poked some guy in the chest while we were there, but for the most part, all the petty parts of surfers' brains seem blasted away by the overpowering waters and they have the weird, gentle majesty of giraffes or monks."

You can read the Lacanau Pro article here and the Pipe Masters article here. You will laugh until you spew Primo beer from your nose.

Surf jounalists, hear me now and believe me later (thank you Hans, thank you Franz): your writing is girlie-man shit and not one of you has ever written a thing that wasn't corporate co-opted cheerleading crap. You write for trade magazines that aren't even as even-handed as trade magazines.

You are also a bunch of pansies. Before you even finish reading this you should pull your free Hurley boardshorts up your ass as hard as you can - a well-deserved wedgie which would have hurt a lot more back when you were stuffed in nylon Katins.

Cintra, you rule. Daniel Duane? You rule, too. Weisbecker? Rules.

The rest of you? Get back to work. Isn't your "wetsuit guide" almost due?