August 6, 2009

Both Financially and In Spirit

MJ main image

A Michael Jackson estate spokesman draws similarities between the two icons

Like the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, who died at 50 years old last month, the surf world’s “Bible” finds itself long past its glory years, unable to perform, and unrecognizable to fans.

A spokesman from the Michael Jackson estate, who says the star didn’t surf but followed the magazine, couldn’t help but mention the coincidence while delving into Jackson’s archive of Surfer.

Reaching toward a 50th birthday this year, Surfer magazine and its parent company filed for bankruptcy—a situation Jackson had also been teetering on for many months. But it was the magazine’s moral incontinence and lack of loyalty to fans that caused the Jackson estate spokesman to comment publicly. At the media conference, increasing similarities came to light; like the fact that the two icons went through young people to such an untenable extent, that in later years, both were forced to rely on interns and foreign labor.

Surfer forced to sell coveted WhateverLand Ranch property

Surfer forced to sell coveted WhateverLand Ranch property

Sadly, both Jackson and Surfer tried unsuccessfully to reverse course in their final days. In an effort to shore up his finances, Jackson scheduled a series of concerts in London he was clearly unfit to perform. For its part, Surfer forced its staff to take two weeks of unpaid leave and 20-year contributing photographer Tom Servais was dismissed simply because the magazine owed him money it didn’t want to pay. These actions, the spokesman claimed, reveal the nature of the magazine’s decline—examples, he said, of deadbeat practices much like Jackson’s hundred thousand dollar pharmacy bill left unpaid.

One of the world’s greatest performers in his prime, to the credit of his later years, Jackson held enough dignity to die when his star had faded to such a weak glimmer.

Questions of Surfer’s longevity remain.

Bernie Madoff to Back Kelly Slater’s ESPN Tour

July 30, 2009


Jurors From O.J. Simpson’s First Trial to be Head Judges

Most surf news agencies learned that talks had been held between Kelly Slater’s agent Terry Hardy and ESPN representatives concerning a new competitive surfing tour to rival the current A.S.P. Dream Tour from a blog posted by long-time Australian surf journalist Phil Jarratt three weeks ago. Since then, Slater has been adamant that though talks have occurred, nothing has been pinned in ink. ESPN remains silent on the subject. Brobot has learned that discussion of a new platform for pro surfing began in earnest well over a year ago, involved major U.S. corporate backing, and former jurors from O.J. Simpson’s first trial. The over-riding shocker Brobot uncovered this week was that the strongest financial guarantee for Kelly’s new tour came from convicted swindler Bernie Madoff.

Always the insider (in an effort of full disclosure, Brobot’s charity fund, the “Earth Robot Alliance,” invested with Madoff), Brobot caught up with his former acquaintance in jail (see end of article for Brobot’s prison-time difficulties), for what was to be the billionaire grafter’s first media interview. Following the initial pleasantries, the two MENSA members got down to business on the current state of competitive surfing:

Brobot: How is it that a New York financier convicted of bilking billions of dollars from friends and clients emerges as such a potential force in the surf world?

Madoff: Once I got to prison and saw how the Mexican Cartel runs a drug distribution empire from their cells, I thought, hell, the least I can do with my retirement years is run a silly little hobbyists’ tour.

Brobot: Still Mr. Madoff, what element of the story influenced you to come forward as the tour’s backer long before ESPN or Slater confirmed an agreement or further details?

Madoff: When Kelly came to me and said he wanted to replace the tired old system for a new and exciting one, it reminded me of when the Republicans and their friends deregulated the banks. I mean, there’s tons of opportunity there. When you’re rich, old and gray (or bald) some people will believe anything you say. That’s when I like my odds.

Brobot: Didn’t you have any doubts, though? In surfing circles, the Dream Tour has had tremendous moments, and die-hard fans continue to see the A.S.P. as the vehicle to take surfing to the top of the American sporting stratosphere.

Madoff: Well sure, there are a lot of questions. If Kelly starts this tour, and beats all of his competitors, where’s the objectivity? Or, what if Kelly wins a title on his own tour next year, will it count as his tenth? What about the jurors from O.J. Simpson’s first trial, what do they know about surfing?

Brobot: You know as well as I do, that they no nothing. But the contention is, either do the current A.S.P. judges. Are you saying that at least Kelly can rely on O.J.’s jurors to understand an exciting media event when they see one?

Madoff: Too true. But as for the “American sporting stratosphere” as you call it, surfing was already being covered by ABC network television in the 1960s. Remember the Invitational? I’m mean, it’s been nothing but a pack of dope smokers and thugs who’ve run surfing into the ground. Look at that Rabbit, whatchuma’callem . . .

Brobot: Bartholomew.

Madoff: Yeah, him. I gotta hand it to that rascal. From one schemer to another, I say, he saw the writing on the wall and knew when to get out. That’s a heck of a lot better that I did.

Brobot: Mr. Madoff, I can honestly say that it’s a surprise how passionate you are about surfing. But to be frank, there are bigger concerns to organized competitive surfing than Kelly’s potential 10th title. For example, the ownership of web casting for each event has created considerable controversy. Billabong, RipCurl and Quiksilver, etc., own the media they create for each event, and thus in work-a-day matters, also own the A.S.P.

Madoff:: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that before goyum.

: Actually, I’m a robot, which is not Jew nor Gentile. Just steel, aluminum, micro-chips, LCDs . . .

Madoff: Okay, Brobot. Sure the surf mafia own the surf comps. But what Kelly’s supposing is, let’s say they don’t. The internet reception inside my cell isn’t the greatest, but even still, the last three A.S.P. surfing events I’ve watched were terribly narrated by prejudiced commentators, required new software each time, and quit on you just when you’re getting ready to watch that good lookin’ Dane Reynolds do his thing—and that’s gold behind these bars. Have you seen how tight those wetsuits are?



Now, I happen to know that McDonalds was interested in getting involved in competitive surfing last year. Big time. Not only did they want to fund events, but they wanted to create theme-based sandwiches and happy meals. I saw the mock-ups for the “McJimmy Slade Bottlenose Dolphin Fish Sandwich.” Do you know how upset Slater was when that didn’t happen because the “surf” companies ran a blitz—simply because they’re terrified of real businessmen getting involved. The steam coming out of Slater’s ears could have cooked a thousand of those sandwiches.

Mcjimmyfish-sandwichMcDonald’s Prototype Cuisine – McJimmy Slade Bottlenose Dolphin Fish Sandwich

Brobot: Interesting, Jimmy Slade cooking Jimmy Slade sandwiches . . .

Madoff: You’re missing the point here. Brobot, you seem to be solely considering the mechanics of the situation.

Brobot: Well, I’m a robot.

Madoff: So are the rest of the surf industry. But I’m here to tell you that this is a revolution, one in which the progression of surfing will come out on top.

Brobot: I understand your progressive point of view in this matter, Sir. Thank you for the interview.

Madoff: You betcha. Watch your ass out there, Brobot, you can’t trust anyone these days.

Brobot: No worries, Sir. I’ve got a metal keister. I wish the same too you.


Brobot’s Prison Interview Difficulties:

• Prison official sliced finger on internal shrapnel during Brobot’s cavity search

• His chassis sounded each of the 34 metal detectors

• A prison inmate tried to remove Brobot’s wind-up mechanism to use as shiv

• Madoff thought Brobot was an Eastern European Jew who invested money with Madoff’s firm in 1999, but hadn’t heard the news

Trash Talkin' Monkey

Fletcher's Monkey chimes in

Wardo Appalled by Dream Tour Literacy Rates

July 24, 2009
Cracking Code

Cracking Code

Establishes ASP’s First Reading Group

After five years struggling to qualify for a top 44 berth through the WQS, San Clemente’s Chris Ward was shocked to discover a massive lack in reading skills among his new ASP Dream Tour cohorts. Ward later recalled that at his first event in the big-time, one competitor asked him how to spell “uh.”

“What do you mean, ‘uh?’” Ward asked.

“You know,” replied the current #4, “like ‘uh’ dog, or ‘uh’ cat. Just tell me how to spell it, Seppo.”

“It’s an ‘A,’” Ward said, “as in A.S.P.”

“What? That don’t sound right, does it, mate?” responded the top athlete before returning to fill out his facebook page.

This conversation came as a milestone for Wardo. The problem of literacy amidst such gifted competitors simmered in the back of his mind for several seasons. At first he was savvy enough to imagine that there must be a way to use their inabilities to his own advantage.  He saw a trifecta of drugs, booze and low reading skills at the heart of the Dream Tour’s malaise. Yet, considering Kelly Slater’s relative sobriety and reading acumen, every scenario Ward envisioned still put him at numbers 2 or 3.

Then in January of ’08 Ward was arrested for beating up a couple of girls in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.  At rock bottom in the drunk tank, he realized that taking advantage of others’ weak points—like being girly and not knowing how to hit good—did not necessarily make one stronger.

Understanding that a best case legal scenario would force him into some serious community service hours, Ward decided to take action right then and create his own organization for the advancement of reading skill among top athletes: The Chris Ward Book Club. This humanitarian action just might sway the judge in his upcoming court case, or at least fulfill a community service obligation. And if nothing else, his fellow surfers reading a little bit, well, what could it hurt?

The first meeting of The Chris Ward Book Club kicked off in the competitor’s tent at Sunset Beach during the O’Neill World Cup last December. Other than the fact that it would take place during the comp, this book club was unlike others in that there was no one book to be read. Each competitor was asked to bring their favorite books and read a portion to the group in hopes that those who couldn’t read at all, would be influenced into learning.

Wardo started off by holding up his favorite book. It was titled “Drinking for Dummies.” He couldn’t help but feel pride while looking around the tent and discovering that several surfers brought their own books to read. Adriano De Souza brought “Fast Track to Citizenship,” and Andy Irons brought cult classic “Junky” by William S. Burroughs.

Ward thanked them all for participating and began to read from the chapter: “How to Survive a Bar Room Cat Fight.” Before diving in, Ward pointed out that most of the “dos” and “don’ts” were numbered in this chapter, so the others were able to follow along easily.

Just then, Bruce Irons stumbled into the tent. Ward reacted by raising his book so Bruce could see the title, and then followed by “shushing” the drunken competitor as he continued to babble. “Whoa,” Bruce exclaimed loudly, “Paper puzzles! I haven’t seen so many in one place since I was little keiki kine. I used to stare and stare and never could figa ‘em paper puzzles out.”

“Paper puzzles?” Wardo looked up to ask. “You mean books?”

“Yeah, like math and riddles. Supa’ hard to figa, and with crazy letters. But you guys must be pro readas’, shoots? There’s choke paper puzzles here, brudha.”

Andy Irons quickly stood up and grabbed his younger brother, asking him nicely to sit down and read with the group. “No way Brah!” said Bruce, “dis ‘MY Booze Cruise.’” Andy and Bruce then began to grapple.

Ward decided to read over the ruckus. The others attempted to follow. But then Florida’s C.J. Hobgood stepped into the tent. “Holy Mowly, so many paper puzzles!” said the former champ, “Me and my kin read paper puzzles in a tent every Sunday, same thang just like this. Septin’ we read the same exact book all together, call it the ‘Good Book.’ Me, I like to count to ten, turn the page, and let the preacher feller tell what was said by Jesus and such.”

Adriano De Souza pointed at C.J. and began to laugh. Then Bruce grabbed Andy’s book and threw it at C.J. The Floridian made his fingers into a cross and began to wail the word “Sinners,” over and over while backing out of the tent.  Some say he spoke in “tongues,” others say it was backwoods swamp talk. The rest of the competitors, sensing weakness, pounced on the weakling Christian by throwing their books too. C.J. ducked, the books missed him and the Floridian dodged literacy once again.

That might have been the unfortunate close of the first official Chris Ward Book Club. However, when C.J. went on to win the contest, many of the book club members approached Ward asking about this one “Good Book” of which C.J. spoke and asked, “did it really only take a count of ten to get from the top of one page to the bottom?”