THE LAWLESS CITY THAT IS LAS VEGAS

Upon recent reflection, I’ve discovered that Las Vegas truly is a place that could have been drawn up in a fictional piece of literature or the setting for a hollywood blockbuster. If you’ve ever been, you know just how outside of the real world it can be at times. If you haven’t, I am going to try my best to paint you the picture (or atleast the one I know of [which is probably even on the tamer side than some devout Vegas goers]).

Enter a tall, bright light, hot, industrialized city plopped in the state of Nevada. Sure, there’s towns and civilization out there (shoutout to my roommate KC who grew up over there), but you have to think the idea to plop this crazy international attraction in the middle of the desert is a strange thing to dwell on. Just imagine nothing and then snap your fingers and you have big, bright buildings that never close down. I am sure it wasn’t built overnight, but this ideal alone can kind of get the gears turning. 

The second thing that really just makes you feel like you’re living in some sort of screwed up netflix series is the rules-or lack of them. It seems like just about everything is legal in Las vegas. Walk around with beers or open containers of hard liquor on the streets? Check. Having people trying to blatantly sell you all the drugs under the sun as soon as you exit your hotel and walk on those same streets? Check. Having go-go girls dressed up waiting to handcuff you and give a good time for a monetary payment? Check. Combine all of these along with the strange characters that inhabit the vegas streets and you can really easily see how things could go astray quickly. As all this is going down, there are still cops regularly arresting people and breaking up street fights.

Now on the polar opposite end of the spectrum-gambling is very legal but heavily monitored. There’s big money floating around even the common folk tables, and then there’s even the high roller zones where people put up stupid amounts of cash just to take a ride with luck and probability. In the casinos, rules are not meant to be broken. You have to know how to act. No phones on the table. Dealers switch every 15 to 30 minutes. It’s a well oiled machine and it’s kept that way so the gambler rarely has the upper hand on the casino. Which tends to work out well in their favor. The streets can be lawless, but the casino keeps things very buttoned up.

No matter the regulations, Las Vegas is a gambler’s dream. If you fly in, get ready to hit the slots at the airport, because there’s plenty there and you know you have time to kill while waiting for a cab or an uber. If you drive it, from where I live you spend 4 hours give or take with not much scenery just to arrive and most likely make that initial bet. You gotta spend money to make money here. And whatever money you have, you have to be very comfortable losing it all. Play it safe or suffer the consequences. 

These are all the attractions that pretty much come free of charge, and then you have to factor in the mecca Las Vegas is in the entertainment industry. Big shot DJs, rappers, and comedians all have residencies (or pretty much hotels they call home) in which they get paid boatloads of cash to perform. Either during the day, during the night, weekend or weekday, there’s a party going on. Like most things in vegas, you’re going to have to pay the premium, whether that’s a cover (girls get in free), a stupid expensive mix drink, or just something going wrong and throwing a wrench in the system. 

It’s easy to see how some people love this place. If you want my personal take on vegas-a weekend is typically enough. But I could see how you could get sucked in and stay a while. There’s just something in the air that’s different. I’m an early to bed and early to rise kinda guy, but in vegas I push the bedtime back a little bit and take in the big bright lights. 

The Great Equalizer That Is Sunset Beach

Out of sight, but in this instance I took the first one on the head and then was greeted by a second beatdown moments later.

If you are an avid subscriber to this site or subject yourself to my instagram spamming on @gqgio, you probably know that in February I took my maiden trip to Hawaii. Specifically the North Shore. AKA the epicenter of the surfing world. With many waves to tick off my personal bucket list, there was one that I knew I could potentially have an interesting connection with: Sunset Beach. Now, my pops and I are very different surfers (mostly because we grew up in completely different eras of the sport), but we’ve always had some similar styles when it comes to certain things and even mimic the same movements on occasions. On top of this, we also share the same love for some spots along the California coast, all while being one goofy foot and one regular foot. My dad’s love for Sunset Beach is one that I’ve always known about-as he claims it as his favorite wave in the world.

When there’s a shit ton of swell on the North Shore, there are a lot of spots that get overpowered with swell and don’t really work. Two breaks that can take pretty large amounts of swell are Pipeline and Sunset. Both as different as can be, I’d be lying if I said they were of equal consequence. Pipeline is probably the gnarleist wave on Earth, so it holds a bit more terror to it’s power than Sunset. With that being said, the beach and the point at sunset both know how to deliver a proper flogging. 

A massive playing field with a long paddle out, multiple peaks, and sneaky sets that can come from what seems like every angle, a longer board is pretty much demanded, not recommended. Paddling is the name of the game, and for most booking it to the channel when you see mountains of water out the back can be a common occurrence, and you’ll be thankful you are packing the extra inches. With that being said, unless it’s tiny, you can still get smacked around in the channel. In a sense, nowhere’s safe. On Top of this, unless you ride a massive board, you need to sit more inside to catch the wave on the ledge, making you even more prone to copping one on the head. I think of all my sessions, there was only one I was able to dodge every set. It’s a bit of a write of passage to take a set on the head out there. 

As an added bonus (and also annoyance), my whole time surfing out there was with the top 32 surfers in the world, as it was on the world tour schedule this year. Paddling battling them for waves? Not fun. Watching them surf smaller boards and be jealous you can? Not fun. But there is one joy I got to experience in this instance. There’s not much of a better feeling than dodging a bomb at sunset and looking over to see a world champion surfer doing the Waimea duck dive seconds before getting exploded (as bullyish as that sounds). I think everyone that’s surfed out there has been in the position, so it’s not bad karma to laugh when you see Italo or Griffin get demoed by a set. Sunset is the great equalizer. No matter your ability or alertness, it’s pretty hard to not get humbled one way or another. Not to mention it is hard as hell to surf.

The Butcher Ain’t Coming-He’s Here

If you listen to rap music, you may have heard the phrase: “the butcher coming *****”.

(his iconic tag comes in at 30 seconds)

If you happened to click and listen to that musical masterpiece, you might have an early understanding of the talent Benny possesses on the mic. In an era of beats carrying the songs, basic rhyme schemes, and somewhat lazy successes, Benny is a breath of fresh air thats been grinding on the rap scene for quite a bit. 

Under the Griselda record label, Benny and his other Buffalo brethren have blown up in the rap scene over the past couple of years with consistent projects with their own trademark sound-hard bars over simple but grimey beats by their good friends alchemist and daringer. While each of the 3 have their own strengths, Benny to me stands out as the one with the star power and relentless raps to break into the mainstream (which he already has a bit with his last single with Jermaine).

With his latest project Tana Talk 4, Benny adds another great body of work to his magnum opus to fans, the Tana Talk series. Tana Talk 3 is held in high regard to fans of the butcher, and a lot were worried about the fourth installment being a bit of a let down since the expectations are as high as they could be. As an artist, you’ll never make everyone happy. But for me, Tanat Talk 4 picked up right where the third left off. Maybe a little more polished and a little shorter in length, but Tana Talk 4 delivered classic Benny with some additions of features that cater to a broader audience like P Diddy. But don’t worry, Benny still calls on his NY and griselda clique to give features fans know them best for. 

With most music reviews, I’d rather keep the writing a bit on the shorter side in hopes for you to close out and give the records I talk about a spin. If you like rap, I think you could be sleeping on Benny. If you like melodic rhymes and catchy hooks, maybe keep napping as the Griselda crew always delivers raw, barebones raps and production.

Stream it here:

PS- I recently saw benny live and the performance was great (aside from being about an hour late). No backup vocals and The Butcher spitting a cappella made for an impressive vocal performance with minimal breaks.

How To Surf Chest High Waves (Flawlessly)

This is a post from my alternative website Welcome Progress. Before I turned off the site, I grabbed a couple pieces I liked to be redistributed here. I’ve been looking for some added inspo to grind small, cold waves back home in California. It’s been a pretty rough winter, but clips like these tend to help. 

 Surfing gutless waves is no easy task. Everywhere in the world has their off days, and more times than not you might be taking a plunge into the ocean to surf waves much smaller than you would like. Obviously, it’s all subjective to where you live. A small day on the East Coast vs West Coast vs Hawaii are all very different. But for those on the mainland, there are a ton of opportunities every year to grind less than desirable surf.

There are a couple key factors to beat the conditions and make lemons out of lemonade. First, is picking the right equipment. In recent years there really have been a lot of different small wave crafts you can hop on. From a stubbier, wide shortboard, epoxies, fishes, or whatever you fancy. Less rocker and more foam are key ways to stay afloat (literally while riding the wave). There is a sweet spot in the board design for small waves: a little more foam than a shortboard, the right size so it fits into the smaller wave face, and the rocker helping in both creating speed and catching waves. Another big factor is practicing being light on your feet. Getting up and immediately shifting weight around on your board definitely helps build that first bit of speed and get moving. Depending on the shape of the wave, you might want to surf more out of the pocket or keep it tight if it’s a reform/mushy wave in comparison to a racey beachbreak.

So when you put it all together, you get this new clip from Brother surfing his fabled T-street. One of those waves in SoCal that always has a little bump, the T is a grindy wave. Most of SC’s top talent surfs here when need be. In the above clip, it looks pretty damn fun. Chalk it up to the sight of peaky little teepees or the fact that Kolohe puts in an impressive session for the dribbly surf. But this isn’t his first rodeo- Kolohe and the T have been a winning combo for years now (see below).

Handwritten Posts 001

The scene of the crime.

Initially, I didn’t want any words typed-just the handwritten note. but there should be some context.

I decided to handwrite a post for the hell of it. It wasn’t any sort of structured post, just a free write with a pen and paper. In classic writer fashion (or at least how I picture them in my head), I had to write on the back of 3 seperate to do lists since i had no classic line paper. Upon beginning, I got instant flashbacks to my writing prior to actually enjoying it. Standardized tests and high school english assignments. But that’s enough. Read it below.