Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Andy Irons, Master Of Whine

Ok, I'm a bit late on this one, but it needs calling out...

Andy Irons did his first "real" interview a few months ago. It basically consisted of the former 3x World Champ basically blowing his fuse for 20 minutes.

You can read it here.

During his rant, which didn't really touch on any of the specifics of his competitive fall from glory, he complained rather passionately about the surf media and all the lies and slander they've printed about him over the past couple of years, not to mention all the shit us "internet bloggers" were talking about him.

At the prompting of the interviewer, he actually compared his life-under-a-lens to that of Kobe Bryant and other professional athletes.

If this were a movie, that would have been the point where I sprayed Starbucks out of my mouth.

Quick note to Andy: The backup catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays gets ten times the media scrutiny that you do.

Professional surfers are the most non-criticized athletes on the fucking planet. Period. Which is bad enough...because listening to and reading the surf media, which is just the PR arm of the surf industry, is boring and repetitive. But having to listen to professional surfers actually complain that they're the targets of critical, mean spirited journalists, is...fuck...I don't even have a word for it.

It's idiotic.

It's inane.

It's so fucking delusional and pathetic it makes me want to tie them up with leashes, stuff them in boardbags and bury them in the desert (sorry, Gator, didn't mean to steal your idea).

Andy, do you have any clue what happens to real professional athletes who have spectacular competitive flameouts amidst endless rumors of alcohol and drug abuse?

First off, the don't stay rumors for very long. They become FACTS. Legions of reporters and journalists start sifting through your trash and calling your cousins on the phone in Kauai and showing up at your father's job and interviewing your 3rd grade teachers. Every time you leave a strip joint or a bar or a westside plate lunch stand, a half dozen photos get snapped. You wind up on the cover of Sports Illustrated with headlines like "Wipeout!". You have 7 page exposes written about you in the LA Times and Vanity Fair with photos of you in mid-yawn, looking bloated and hungover, and that nasty white clag in the corner of your mouth.

The only professional surfer in history who has gotten even a taste of true sports celebrity is Kelly Slater, and even Slater, the NINE TIME WORLD CHAMPION, is still more well known outside of surfing as the guy who had a bit part in Baywatch and once dated Pam Anderson. He's not even C-list. At red carpet events they tell Kelly to get out of the way so they can get a shot of Andy Dick.

Know this, Andy Irons: the entire surfing industry is on your side. You're good for the sport and you're good for sales. When I met with the head of marketing for Hurley while back, he couldn't stop talking about how many pairs of "rising sun" boardshorts you had sold for Billabong. They are the best selling boardshorts EVER.

So quit your fucking whining. When you've got Evan Slater drilling you about hookers and blow and your wife is telling Chris Mauro about what a distant limpdick you've become and how she's going to dump you for Derek Jeter, you may complain.

Until then, you are a professional surfer who gets paid very well to travel around the world and ride waves. You are part of a billion dollar industry, with virtually no independent media outlets, that provides you with more privacy and less criticism than in any sport in America.

Have a Bintang and a smile and shut the fuck up.

The Colonel says, "At ease."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How Much For That Hole In The Wetsuit?

Funny how there is absolutely zero unbiased information available about ANY surfing related product.

Ever thought about that?

I mean, surf gear is not cheap. It's not Formula One racing, but it's not soccer either. The average board is $500 and the average wetsuit is probably $250+. Toss in leashes, traction pads, wax, board bags, racks, and you can easily plunk down a cool grand before you've even touched saltwater.

It's especially weird when you realize you can read professional, unbiased reviews of tennis rackets, running shoes, golf clubs, crampons, movies, tacos, wine, even toys. There are literally dozens of websites and magazine that scrutinize, evaluate, and rate every six dollar Star Wars action figure that Hasbro spits out every month.

So why is surfing exempt? Why do we, as surfers, plunk down hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, every year on expensive, high performance sporting goods with nothing more than a "It's killer, bro" from a zit-faced 17 year-old surf shop employee who's probably flunking social studies?

It's fucking retarded. WE'RE retarded. I'M retarded.

To either prove my point or to fight back against it, or both, I bought an O'Neill PsychoFreak yesterday. On the off chance you didn't commit last Fall's Surfer Magazine "2008 Wetsuit Guide" (AKA a 22 page advertorial written by the wetsuit companies themselves) to memory, the PsychoFreak is the mainstream surf industry's first $500+ wetsuit.

Psycho Freaky Expensive
Why is it $500?

Well, it's full of holes. Literally. Some R&D genius at O'Neill decided that if you took neoprene rubber and carved a bazillion little divots in it, you'd have a wetsuit with a bazillion little air pockets sandwiched inside. Or as they call it, "Air Insulated XDS Neoprene". The air pockets, in turn, make the wetsuit lighter and warmer.

A Bazillion Pockets Of Warmth

Okay. I guess. Sounds, um, sort of plausible. I think. Maybe.

But I was intrigued. I couldn't get it out of my head. It was either the most brilliant innovation in 50 years of wetsuit design, or the biggest marketing gimmick since the same company released the first $300+ wetsuit back in the late 80's, the short-lived "Animal", which primarily consisted of their highest end wetsuit at the time with a bunch of Darth Vader panels glued on.

Luke, I Am, Like, Your Father, Bro

Now, I did not actually spend $500 on my holy wetsuit. Thanks to the economy, Jack's Surfboards is having a 30% off sale on all wetsuits, so I successfully got my bad self all freaky and psycho-y for the bargain price of $350...about the cost of a decent higher end suit. A pittance, really, for the honor of becoming the first David Horowitz of the surfing world.

But let's cut to the chase: is the PsychoFreak warmer and lighter than O'Neill's next most expensive suit, the Psycho II? And if so, is it a buck fifty warmer and lighter?

(And before I answer that, just savor for a minute the sad fact that NO ONE has asked this question before. There are FIVE mainstream surf magazines in America alone.)

The short answer is, big surprise, no.

It's a great suit, don't get me wrong. O'Neill, to their credit, make fantastic wetsuits. They're incredibly warm and flexible and they don't disintegrate into wet toilet paper after six months like Rip Curls (another media-ignored topic we'll address later).

Yes, the PsychoFreak 3.5 is a tad lighter than my Psycho II 2/3. And it might be like one degree warmer.

But is the PsychoFreak suited for "frigid" conditions as their website claims? Are holes in the rubber really another "Revolution Courtesy of Area 52?" (Area 52 being O'Neill's not-so-humble euphemism for 6 guys in a shop carving up neoprene swatches.) Is it a wetsuit "ready for the harshest of conditions?" And is it worth five HUNDRED recession era American dollars?

Kind of. No. Kind of. Definitely not.

And sadly, you heard it here first.

The Colonel says, "I am not an Animal."