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.”

Wiki Post Project: How could we forget about airs? (Archival)

(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. I do recall it being a rather large chunk of your overall grade.)

While I don’t exactly remember the prompt, the basic gist of it was this: find an article on wikipedia and add to it based on your knowledge or knowledge you would find that was absent from the page. It was a cool out of the box assignment that would have you etch your name into the Wikipedia archives. 

Initially, when I learned about the Wikipedia project and that we were going to be editing a page within our discourse community, the gears in my head began turning. At first, I thought about making a page dedicated to the chop hop, maybe one of the grossest maneuvers in surfing and a facet of surfing that should never get any exposure (besides the ones mason ho does).

Here is a video depicting what I am talking about:

Note: the comments on the video show the surf community’s distaste for the maneuver.

When I got over the idea of doing a sarcastic page for the chop hop, my next initial idea was to edit a favorite athlete of mine in the sport. Kolohe Andino is one of Americas hopes for a world title in surfing since Kelly slater is becoming less of a competitive threat over the years. Kolohe has been in the surf spotlight for almost 10 years, starting to gain lots of exposure in his teens. While he doesn’t have the most competitive success, I definitely expected his Wiki page to be a little more developed than it is. I thought I would be a hero and give my favorite surfer the credit he deserves. Scope his wiki HERE.

When I sat on the idea of editing Kolohe’s page, I realized one thing that could potentially be problematic. I asked myself, “what can editing this post do for the surf community/how relevant is it to the overall sport?” On top of this, I only know Kolohe from a fan perspective. Sure, he faded me that one time out at Lowers before the Hurley Pro years ago, but that’s about the closest I’ve ever been to the guy. I figured there had to be something better I could edit and maybe know some more knowledge on. I headed over to the Wikipedia page for surfing, and braced myself for the kookiness that ensued.

Believe me, I could probably edit half the page. It also is just weird seeing all these terms in there most proper form. Everyone knows the slang surfers uses to describe certain things could almost be translated to a whole new language. While I thought most of the page was trash at first sight, there honestly I suppose is a lot of good information for someone that didn’t know jack shit about the sport I surround myself with daily. So as I scanned the page for something I thought was lacking for the sport, I stumbled upon the maneuvers section.

While there were some cringe worthy explanations most likely written by someone that can’t even perform the maneuver that well, the one that crossed my mind as the weakest part of an essential aspect of modern day surfing was the air/aerial. The first air was landed around the 80s or 90s and they really have come along way. Check out these clips to see the evolution from early on to modern day:

Here is a clip of Christian Fletcher, regarded as one of the pioneers of aerial surfing. This is earlier in the evolution of the air, notice the lack of rotation and low height in comparison to the ones below.

Kelly Slater doing one of the most innovative airs to date, a 540/720 depending on how well you can count (there is a longstanding argument between surfers and skaters alike on whether it is a 540 or a 720). Kelly is the best at every aspect of the sport, so including him is imperative.

John John nabbing one of the biggest if not the biggest alley oop to this day. It graced the cover of Surfing magazine and was one of the last clips in his critically acclaimed film “View From A Blue Moon.”

Felipe Toledo, one of the best modern day aerialist and is known for a crazy completion rate for airs in and out of a contest singlet.

So, we can see a lot has changed in the world of surfing in the aerial department, and new surfers post clips to instagram same day as they landed a massive air. My feed is always clogged with boosted airs and crazy rotations. It only seemed right to elaborate on an aspect that is pushing the sport in an innovative and crazy direction, since before my edit there were 2 sentences on the subject matter.

After my addition, I believe the community will easily be able to identify airs they see or even if they are competent enough figure out what to call the air they pulled last session to tell their friends. It has taken a long time being around the sport for me to be able to call airs based on grabs and rotations, but once you get the hang of it its not the worst thing in the world.

Note: my wiki name is surfbro808 (Here is the LINK to the page I am talking about. If you don’t want to scan on the wiki for the piece I wrote, here it is below)

Airs/Aerials: These maneuvers have been becoming more and more prevalent in the sport in both competition and free surfing. An air is when the surfer can achieve enough speed and approach a certain type of section of a wave that is supposed to act as a ramp and launch the surfer above the lip line of the wave, “catching air”, and landing either in the transition of the wave or the whitewash when hitting a close-out section.

Airs can either be straight airs or rotational airs. Straight airs have minimal rotation if any, but definitely no more rotation than 90 degrees. Rotational airs require a rotation of 90 degrees or more depending on the level of the surfer.

Types of rotations:

  • 180 degrees – called an air reverse, this is when the surfer spins enough to land backwards, then reverts to their original positional with the help of the fins. This rotation can either be done frontside or backside, and can spin right or left.
  • 360 degrees – this is a full rotation air or “full rotor” where the surfer lands where they started or more, as long as they do not land backwards. When this is achieved front side on a wave spinning the opposite of an air reverse is called an alley oop.
  • 540 degrees – the surfer does a full rotation plus another 180 degrees, and can be inverted or spinning straight, few surfers have been able to land this air.
  • Backflip – usually done with a double grab, this hard to land air is made for elite level surfers.
  • Rodeo flip – usually done backside, it is a backflip with a 180 rotation, and is actually easier than a straight backflip.
  • Grabs – a surfer can help land an aerial maneuver by grabbing the surfboard, keeping them attached to the board and keeping the board under their feet. Common types of grabs include:
    • Indy – a grab on the surfers (inside rail going frontside, outside rail going backside) with their back hand.
    • Slob – a grab on the surfers (inside rail going frontside, outside rail going backside) with their front hand.
    • Lien – A grab on the surfers (outside rail frontside, inside rail going backside) with their front hand.
    • Stalefish – A grab on the surfers (outside rail frontside, inside rail backside) with their back hand.
    • Double grab – A grab on the surfers inside and outside rail, the inside rail with the back hand and the outside rail with the front hand.

 

How Instagram Ruined Surfing: No more secrets and trying to prove oneself

(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. I do recall it being a rather large chunk of your overall grade.)

Instagram can be used as a news source in a sort of way. I am saying this because very relevant things tend to be posted rather quickly in comparison to on a website. Obviously, news outlets for global events and such is most informational in its website form. However, by way of experience, if you tailor your news feed to a certain genre, you can have very timely news feed pertaining to what is going on in that genre. One example is the amount of different hip-hop Instagram pages. Follow all these pages and you’ll know about all the rap beefs and new songs that come out daily and are posted same day. It’s all about being the first to post, so it’s a race against the competing pages.

This theory of using Instagram as a news outlet can be seen in many different genres, especially surfing. If you were to follow these essential Instagram accounts of the surf world (@stab @Surfline @surfer @theinertia) you could essentially know what is going on all over the world in terms of surf. You would see posts of who won the most recent surf contests, what countries and places are having exceptional swells, and some of the craziest surf clips that would maybe not see the light of day had they not been posted. For the most part, surf media outlets post where the waves have been firing. This is where the problem resides.

This may sound cliché, but secret spots are becoming a lot less secretive since the birth of Instagram and the geotag. Prior to surf forecasting sites and the social media boom, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of spots photographers aren’t allowed in and are held sacred to the people who have kept them secretive for this long. Secret spots would soon start dying out as soon as everyone becomes Instagram crazy.

It would give a sense of a fragmented reality, as we see all these crazy good waves but don’t really know the story behind them. Since the world is so large, multiple different places can have really good waves at once, but the only people that really know the truth are the ones posting it. I know of one friend that when the waves are only O.K. he will post a photo claiming it was from the day but really was from a far better day, stoking people out and making them feel like they might have missed out (FOMO).

As well as a fragmented reality of we never really know if the waves are pumping unless we are there or know of some one in the area, we see a breaching of the private space involved in the sport of surfing. Surfing has always been an activity that in practice is somewhat private and just involves you and the ocean. Besides the people you tend to surf with and a couple people you can recognize by their face, it’s overall what seems to be a private space. However, we see increased posts of waves here and sandbars there that more and more people begin invading the private space. Now, when I surf I expect to have to interact with a stranger, which I don’t mind but sometimes just aren’t in the mood for.

With more people’s spaces being invaded, we see more people who do mind interacting with people they aren’t familiar with. We can refer to these people as “salty loc dogs.” These are older people and even some younger guys who just can’t stand new people surfing their spot. They typically tend to be loud and vocal about their dissatisfaction, and tend to act like they own the place. Here is a comical example featuring the late great Andy Irons being heckled for surfing a spot he wasn’t native to in a skit for a surf movie. (The irony is that usually the people who claim local status aren’t that good of surfers, and telling Andy not to surf a spot would be like telling Kobe you can’t shot on my court.)

Everyone needs to brag about how good of waves they scored. As a surfer, getting a good swell to surf is the ultimate challenge, and when you achieve this it is hard not to let others know. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see someone’s Instagram story perfect empty waves, and I am guilty of this as well. At first it seemed harmless, until the effects of the app really started changing the lineup.

I have a particular experience with one of the only waves I’ve ever missed from where I grew up (New Jersey). I would surf this wave before school junior and senior year of high school, and the crowd would be minor. Either it was only for good surfers or people who were known by the locals who would surf the wave. It wasn’t uncommon to hear someone getting yelled at along with the words “I’ve never seen you out here in my life.” I always was a little more cautious surfing this spots since I wasn’t born in the area, but was from a town down the road. However, my surfing would do the talking and people would notice I was just trying to surf good waves. Minding your p’s and q’s at a localized spot coupled with respect for older people at the spot can get you in the local crowd pretty quick. It was like a well-oiled machine: only people who were supposed to be there were surfing there. It’s a little selfish, but some waves should be this way, making it a lot less crowded.

I would come back to this spot winter break of my freshmen year, after being in school in SoCal but itching to surf this spot again. I heard from a friend down the grapevine it was doing its thing and made my way up the road. I arrived on the beach to see my favorite surf spot on the east coast going off. One thing was different: it seemed a lot more crowded, and seemed to be increasing in numbers out surfing by the minute. I went to take a snap to send to my 2 friends out in CA that grew up surfing the wave and was greeted with a “HEY NO PHOTOS” by a boogie boarder on the shoreline. I wasn’t too fazed since he was a boogie boarder (I now salute draggers but in my youthful ignorance definitely did not) and went on with my day. I would suit up and by the time I was in the water it was the most crowded I had ever surfed the wave. Probably 20 surfers, 20 boogie boarders, and 10 people bobbing in the water with GoPros. This made my surf session more dodging people in the water rather than actually surfing.

However, secret spots do still exist, again as cliché as that sounds. Check this clip of a wave only 4 people have surfed, and it might just stay that way if people keep their lips shut and put their phones away.

On top of the ruining of certain spots, people can get caught up in posting lots and lots of photos on their profile, even if they are not what they seem. We see the constant “who can do this better” on Instagram, and the surf community is no different. Everyday people are posting photos whether they authentic or not to make the illusion they are always scoring waves or always landing tricks in the photos they post. It can be a separate world, or act as a public diary of someone’s surfing progression. We can see it as “that different place,” where people can show their surfing talents when not actually surfing right in front of you. Instagram is changing the way we view media of the sport in many ways.

Overall, is Instagram going to kill surfing? No. Will it make it more public and “cool?” Yes. Exactly like the Olympics coming up in 2020. We can see popularity rising, but the ocean isn’t getting any bigger so I guess I should surf as much as I can before Huntington beach starts to look like this. (I swear some days it is pretty damn close.)

 

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.