The Bane of Our Existence

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade.)

As human beings, we tend to judge people by their cover like books. Whether you like to admit it or not, you’ve definitely made an assumption about someone purely based on what they look like, how they talk or act, or both. And on top of this, all the new media we have surrounding our lives makes it even easier to make a preconceived notion. We all have judged someone for a selfie they took on instagram, a tweet they posted weeks ago, and my favorite, the overly political Facebook post resulting in a comment battle between the person and one of their friends (in which we judge both of them for arguing over Facebook). For the most part, being a surfer usually didn’t ignite any of these preconceived notions and people didn’t expect you to be much different from them. All it said about you is that you like to spend free time in the ocean instead of the golf course, and maybe that you had a little be more of a mellow/hippie vibe to yourself. You were just a regular old guy or gal and no one went crazy at the fact you liked to float around in the ocean. This all ended around 10 years ago when a very local news video went viral…

You’ve definitely seen the video, and if you haven’t, you’ve been living under a rock. Especially since the setting is in southern California, specifically seal beach, just a half an hour away on the 22 freeway from Chapman. Here it is in all its “glory”:

We can look to see how porters 5 components of digital delivery to decompose how this video made its rounds and effected every singles surfer in existence. The body and identity of the video identifies the surf culture and paints the negative picture of your classic stoner surfer. We already had an association with this character with our good pal Spicolli, the super fried surfer from Fast times at Ridgemont High. These two representations of the surfer lifestyle are completely innacurate but are what a stereotypical “surfer” imagined as (I put surfer in quotes because aside from a few, most surfer that act like this tend to suck at the sport, there is one exception).

The distribution and access for this clip is what really helped solidify it as a worldwide viral video. Initially a news clip, it would be posted to YouTube, and this is when the snowball effect occurs. It would fit into a Facebook video, and Instagram post, and pretty much any other sharable content. Id be surprised if someone who surfed had never had this video DMed to them or posted on their Facebook profile at the height of its popularity.

As for how the video was interacted with, we saw remixes of it, it being posted on tosh.0, and even becoming a popular meme. Since it was a public clip and had no copyright, it was free range for those who dwell on the interwebs to do what they do best: make every possible joke/remix of the original clip. I swear I still find new renditions of the classic.

Once this video made it’s rounds, the jury had reached a verdict: every single surfers was as fried as this guy and just loved getting pitted. Lets rewind a second however and talk about how many rounds this video made. It has been made into memes, quoted all over the internet, viewed probably over a couple million times, and even has a remix of the audio (which I do recommend listening to). It even was featured on tosh.0.

Click here for the REMIX

Click here for the tosh.0 segment

Anyone from southern California or from a small surf town on the east or west coast related to this video. They remembered the one of out probably hundreds of surfers they met that was almost as fried as this guy. That person stuck out in their mind purely based on the fact of how idiotic they sounded in conversation. But if that person surfed, they would just laugh at this kook and move on not judging anyone, knowing this guy was the one in a million (well maybe thousand, because I have met a handful of surfers almost as fried as this guy).

Unfortunately, I feel like I suffer some of the most agony compared to others in dealing with this video going viral. I try not to openly talk about surfing too much, but if it comes up in conversation I will divulge my opinion and state that I surf quite frequently. If you happen to follow me on social media you can also get all the surfing you want up in your face. People see this and for a while before people would even say hi they would just come up and say “so pitted” or “wapow so barreled.” It was a lot more prevalent a year or two ago, yet to this day I still get some random ones thrown into conversation. At one point people who didn’t even know me would blurt it out upon meeting me when they learned I was a “surfer bro.”

Surfing but not in the ocean?

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade.)

With the 2019 Freshwater Pro approaching, I thought this piece was fitting.

Surfing to me is one of the things that can get you closest to mother nature. Already surfing at a base level, you feel very one with nature. As you excel and gain more and more confidence when standing on a surfboard, the experience turns up a notch and becomes a whole new beast. The barrel (when the wave covers you up and then you get spit out of the tunnel of water that was just around you) is the apex of this feeling. Literally the only thing around you is nature. It is an experience that is tough to explain, because words don’t do it justice. What happens when nature is replaced? Technology these days has been constantly making nature substitutes, and one recently was made that could totally change surfing.

When I was growing up as a young surfer, something like this was fairy tale talk. Never had anyone given a thought to the perfect wave, let alone it being a manmade one. Wave pools starting gaining popularity when I was in high school, so the magnitude they are being created at today is a fairly recent feat. Sure, there have been plenty of wave pools, and some really good ones at that. The wave garden, another wave pool, makes a wave any surfer would love to surf. It’s a performance wave that has lots of variety in the types of waves and sections that present themselves. The thing that sets the Kelly’s (Kelly Slater, the most accomplished surfer in the history of the sport) wave pool apart is that Kelly’s pool is actually the closest thing on earth to a perfect wave. Some waves in nature can be considered “perfect”, but Kelly’s is literal perfection, even to the point where he can alter the wave at his wish, making it perfect for everyone. Below is a video that breaks down what’s going on under the hood of this milestone for surfing.

Like stated in the video, does the search for the perfect wave end here? Just for the case of argument, here is the closest thing we have found to a perfect wave. Its in Africa, and requires a whole lot of prep work to get there. From flights to driving on dunes, all to arrive and potentially see the wrong tide or swell angle. This wave is as perfect as it is finicky. Even when it looks perfect, pros often admit its a lot harder, with underwater currents moving super fast, and the unpredictability of the wave breaking over sand.

This wave is the closest thing to perfection, and like stated above, hardly is ever perfect. This is also leaving out the fact it is only a left, where a regular footed surfer would maybe enjoy it less since he has to surf it backside. Kelly’s pool can go both ways (left and right), and literally comes down to a science.

Contrary to what you would believe, not everyone is stoked on the wave pool. Is it the perfect wave? Is it even a wave since it is not in the ocean? Lots of people are up in arms about the debate. Personally, I think anyone who is against it just is jealous they can’t surf it (like in the video earlier, it is a private property/prototype, and not open to the public). But, I have to say I somewhat agree. Since surfing at its finest is bonding with nature, would feel the same way coming out of an artificial barrel as we would a real one mother nature sent us? Only the people who have surfed it know the answer to this one, and most of them say it feels just as good. One thing that also had the surfing purists infuriated was that Kelly’s pool has replaced the Lower trestles contest in September on the 2018 WCT (World Championship Tour) present by the WSL (World Surf League.). Never should a wave pool replace the only surf contest surfed in America (it’s a world tour; Lower Trestles is located in San Clemente, CA; no other wave in the United States can support a world tour event).

This made many people angry, and many people began to say this:

(The person who said this, Noa Deane, faced heavy scrutiny and ended up apologizing for the statement.)

Kelly ran a test even earlier in 2017, and I would say the surf enthusiasts were split. Some thought it was an awesome event. Some thought it was boring, watching everybody surf the same wave. Nonetheless, the surfers in the event were stoked, and whether the public like the idea or not, everyone is going to be watching in September to see what unfolds on the artificial wave. It is such a perfect wave, it will be similar to slope style snowboarding, in which surfers can plan their run out ahead of time. This hyper reality is uncharted territory in the sport of surfing, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

It Starts With Us

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade.)

Here are a couple cold hard facts just to preface this conversation:

  1. Everyone that surfs more than a couple times a week really enjoys the sport, whether it’s the act of surfing or being surrounded by mother nature
  2. Everyone thinks the ocean is beautiful and loves even just gazing at her horizon.

So, we can see the ocean is something not to take for granted and is really a precious jewel in the beautiful place we call earth. Speaking of earth, the ocean makes up <75% of the earths surface, so obviously it demands our attention.

Over the years, we see plenty of surf companies taking a proactive, initiative step in reducing waste. Recycled board shorts and surfboard blanks (reusing the foam so we don’t have to dispose of it) are just two forms we see surf companies realizing the bigger picture and trying to keep their practices as environmentally friendly as they can. While this is a great step towards helping the environment, it definitely does not suffice.

Let’s step back and take a look at the two facts at the top of this passage. Adding 1 and 2 together tells me that the ocean is something we need to hold onto. The sad fact is, pollution of the ocean is ever prevalent and getting worse and worse thorough the years. Let’s first take a look at it through a local standpoint. Situated literally as the dividing line of Newport beach and Huntington beach lies the Santa Ana river jetties. A local standout surf break, this spot can produce barrels some surfers could maybe claim as the wave of their season. Known for being shallow and hollow, it produces one of the best A-frames in the area on a good swell. The only bummer? Surf it after a rain and you are guaranteed a nice sinus infection at least, going all the way to extreme illness. Even when I’m driving over the bridge to go to Huntington because I know not to surf there after a rain, I can smell the urban runoff even with my windows up. Gnarly. Only 2 times have I been stupid enough to ignore the danger and surf. Both times I woke up with a violent illness I’d rather not get into detail about.

Urban runoff is especially brutal around the OC and LA area, since it is so densely populated. Check this video out detailing what goes into runoff entering the ocean from rain.

Last time I Googled this stat, it was recorded that there are 23 million surfers worldwide. I mean, the earth has a massive population, but this just shows the sheer interest in the sport. That’s a huge collective of people that can really make a difference. Sure, every now and then a beach cleanup is performed and everyone feels like they have done their part. The surfers come out, show their support for their community, and return to day to day life. There are two problems with this formula. One, beach cleanups need to be done more than monthly. Try weekly. Literally day by day I see new pieces of trash on the shoreline or floating in the lineup. Lately when I’ve been doing a run around between paddling out (due to a big current the last couple of swells) I see trash and I got out of my way to run it to the dumpster. I try to pick up the biggest piece I can see or apiece I know an animal in the ocean could mistake for food. If I stopped to pick up every piece, I wouldn’t surf; I would just be picking up trash. Yes there is that much on the shoreline alone, not to mention the trash in the water and up on the actual beach.

Even if everybody picked up all the trash they saw, this still would not solve the problem. The problem traces all the way back to the house of the surfer or even the workplace of the surfer. Recycling the right things and staying away form certain items can really make a difference. The only thing is that some of this is easier said than done. Here are two examples.

  1. Using body wash with exfoliating beads feels great and gives you a new dimension of clean, however most of these beads don’t dissolve and go straight down the drain into the ocean.
  2. Singles use non-biodegradable utensil likes forks and straws have tricky recycling practices, and when not disposed of properly can end up like this (viewer discretion advised).

Solving the problem of beach and ocean pollution is going to require some work. I think it all boils down to one thing: education. People need to know what practices lead to cleaner oceans and less urban runoff, and this is how I will be using my voice and platform for. A call to action to inform and encourage people to take care of something that when it goes away will change the way we live our lives. Surfing will be the last thing we are thinking about.

The call for a good surf video game (SKATE will do).

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade.)

When posed with the task of writing about a video game culture surrounding the genre of this blog (if you haven’t figured out that its surfing, you should probably stop reading now and go scope the previous blog posts) I was a little concerned. Historically, there have been few surfing video games on consoles and a couple on websites. For a core surf enthusiast, there are only two that stayed relevant for a period of time and were dubbed as “good enough.” These two were Kelly slater pro surfer (2002) and Transworld Surf (2001). Sunny Garcia’s pro surfer is positioned as third relevant, but the point is none of them were extremely successful or complex in gameplay. So, I decided to stay in the sphere of action sports. Now many of the readers of this blog (or just about anyone) would be familiar with the Tony hawk video game series depicting the world of skateboarding. Similar and derived from surfing, I chose to pick a game from this extreme sport, but not the critically acclaimed Tony hawk series.

The tony hawk franchise appealed to almost everybody, in comparison to the more core skateboarding videogames. The main problem with the tony hawk series was the unrealistic aspects of the gameplay. In Tony hawk you can jump off just about anything and stick the landing, grind for thousands of feet, and do many more incredibly unrealistic skateboard stunts. I tie this similarity to the surfing games that came out on consoles. In Kelly slate pro surfer for example, a surfer can kick flip as an aerial. This is out of the realm of normalcy for even the most experienced professional surfers. Just enough aspects of the game gave it the Tony Hawk syndrome, making it appeal to a lot less surfers. On top of this, Kelly slater was before my time, so if I wanted to play it I had to hunt for a PlayStation 2 or an OG Xbox. The amount of people (especially kids) playing video games when it came out was probably far less than current day trends.

So you may be asking, what game will we be dissecting? If you have ever skateboarded for more than a month you would be familiar with the game SKATE 1 2 and 3. A game for core skateboarders, doing tricks required you to simulate foot position or “flick” (for example, a kickflip required you to push the right stick down then up, just as the front foot does in real life when performing a kickflip) and had realistic ceilings to what you could do in the game. I think the “flick” aspect is one of the things that catches people’s attention and makes them enjoy the game even more. If you play the game enough, you still will be able to do things a real skater could dream of, but it still required some skill. On crazy skateboarding video parts on YouTube (like this recent Nyjah Huston part) you see people in the comments comparing his skateboarding to that of SKATE, referencing the crazy tricks he put down in his part.

The flick aspect and overall execution of tricks strikes home for skateboarders, as someone who knows how to skateboard but has never played the game could probably figure out the tricks if they applied it in a way as if they were outside skateboarding and not tapping buttons the controller. This simulated a realism not many action sports video games of the time had been able to accomplish, and that is pulling the strings of someone who practices the sport enough to know the mechanics behind certain tricks. While this is the most basic aspect of the game that allows the person participating to feel like they are skating, there are also plenty of other aspects of the game that alter the reality for better or worse.

The SKATE series depict also what a typical professional athlete life would be like outside of just skating. This includes things like endorsements and sponsorships. Finally a skater can get sponsored by the dream company they have daydreamed about in their high school history class. Whether it’s NikeSB for shoes and Baker skateboard decks, you can have your ideal pick of equipment down to the bearings. Endorsements are when you perform a public event or skate demo to make a company that might not be your sponsor happy. Finally, as far as professional achievement, you can compete and win real contests like the Maloof Money Cup and Xgames. While it is really fun to do all of this, some things in the game I don’t necessarily agree with how they are portrayed.

One big thing is the security aspect involved at certain famous skate spots or in places you wouldn’t particularly skate but have ideal setups for in game movies. An icon is illuminated on the map telling the player they are in a spot with security, and starts blinking when a guard starts chasing you. When the cop catches up to you, you get tackled; reenacting the viral videos of security guards harassing skaters. This reinforces the negative light cops and security guards are painted in the skaters’ eyes.

You can also film your tricks and post them to an online community. This is similar to making a video part or even just a home video to put up on YouTube or show your friends. Players can “work for a trick” like a real pro, and harder tricks require more time and effort. When you finally land the trick, you can pick your angles and edit together footage to post. Some dedicated skate fans recreate their favorite skate video parts.

Overall, the videogame can cast the shroud that you are maybe a successful or at least a better skater than you are in real life. These games make the player feel happy and apart of the experience in becoming their avatar or character. When you pick the shirt your character wears, it makes you feel like them. And when you do tricks the same way, it makes the bond even closer.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover: How the Dr. Can Help People

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. If you were wondering, I got a B on this guy.)

Horton Hears a Who. Fox in Socks. Hop on Pop. The Lorax. At least one of these books has to ring a bell. All of these books have a common author, and this man is one of the most well known authors for young readers. His name is Theodore Seuss Geisel, more commonly referred to as, Dr. Seuss. Ah, now you know who I am talking about. Arguably one of the most well- known authors overall and definitely in the category of young readers, Dr. Seuss burned a legacy into literature by writing some of the most quirky and colorful books at the time. With crazy creatures like the Sneetches and Yertle the turtle, all his books had uniqueness about them. They all were extremely different and contained different stories and lessons.  

Dr. Seuss taught us a valuable lesson in his books (specifically Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who) we learn that being different is not a bad thing. The Sneetches all have different belly marks, and Horton, a giant elephant, befriends a little human to being a good friend. All his books make the most unlikely of people friends and makes sure difference is embraced. It is good to see this in a book designed for young readers, mainly because it teaches the lesson of never judging a book by its cover (pun intended).

Theodore Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 (today, he would be one hundred and thirteen years old). He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, with his father’s occupation being a successful brewer. He would attend college at Dartmouth at age eighteen. He would pick up an editor position at the college for one of its magazines. Later in his college life he would violate the alcohol rules and be kicked off his position of editor. He decided to continue to contribute under the name Seuss. Upon his graduation from Dartmouth, he would move onto Oxford and meet his future wife. They would eventually marry in 1927.

As for the Doctor’s career as a writer, he would publish his first book in 1957. We all know this wonderful book as The Cat in the Hat. Inspired by Theodore’s response to an article about children’s reading levels, this would flourish into probably his most well known work. Today, it has sold more than 10.5 million copies. After this it was off to the races. Other notable books by Seuss include Green Eggs and Ham and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Dr. Seuss appeals to all audiences, not just young readers. Movies have been made about his books and in the audience you see all sorts of people. Young or old, male or female, everyone loves a good story from the doctor. Back to the idea of judgment told by Seuss, his books make everyone smile based on the relationships between characters and how kooky they tend to look. As a kid, someone who looks different can be a reason to be made fun of or judged. After reading some Seuss books, and seeing that the most strange- looking characters tend to be the heroes or the “cool guys,” I think America and most adults should sit back and read a book by Seuss and rethink some of the things they say or do. After all, it’s recommended by the doctor.