Privilege a photographic plus for us plebs

THE Simpsons occurred to me when I first laid eyes on  There’s a scene in which Bart tries to steal some friends from his sister Lisa by skateboarding superhumanly well – at one stage while skimming across a fountain – near them.  They dismiss him as having tried too hard.  And he blames their rejection of him on the fact they must have seen his nerdy friend Milhouse, who was hiding in the bushes.

Anyway, the point is it’s reasonable to say the overly-tanned, gym-addicted, barely-dressed and on-a-boat-and-proud-of-it people featured in the website’s photos are trying too hard.  And hard to say whether they’d blame their nerdy friend hiding out-of-frame – but not necessarily in the bushes – for their overexertion.  Some of them might want to.  It’s entirely possible nerds out there are of the opinion that revenge is a dish best served humorously and are scouring wealthy eastern-suburbans’ photos for giggle-worthy Tumblr fodder.

The above paragraph should be balanced by raising the point that it’s unfair to assume these people are wealthy.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Whether rich or not they’re obviously conscious of post-GFC Australia and are ensuring the economy keeps ticking over through excessively-purchasing alcohol, accessories, fake-tan/solarium time, gym memberships and boat charters, if not the boats themselves.  Thanks to our vengeful nerds these things are also being further advertised.  Or undermined.  I can’t remember.  But there’s so many unknowns on this thing called The Net that has taken over our lives.  Suspicion grows, when you scroll down this photographic museum of modern excess, that many people featured in the photos have actually submitted them.

It’s got to be pretty cringe-worthy for even the many people scrolling through who don’t feature on it.  Have I ever done disco arms?  Am I a photo duck-face?  Does the fact I spend two-hours of each day lifting weights justify the fact I hardly ever wear a shirt?  I mean, you’re more likely to be an eastern-suburban with serious privileged problems if you’re in these photos.  But putting your arm up in the air, being well-tanned, wearing a bee costume (for some reason) and sitting on a boat while surrounded by a sun-dappled Sydney Harbour are not exclusive domains of the rich.  Unless you partake in all of them at once.  Only the rich would be that ostentatious.

It’s vital in almost all cases not to take this photo-blog too seriously, unless you’re unwittingly featured in the photos and take offence to it.  In which case just send them an email and they’ll probably take the photo down.  And if they don’t?  You’re over-privileged, so just throw money at a legal team to make the problem go away.  For the rest of us it’s quite literally a hilarious snapshot of moments in the lives of people who probably have too much money, often while also too young.  There’s a satirical song by Brisbane-based band Ball Park Music called Rich People Are Stupid.  Trust me: if you listen to it while scrolling through, you’ll feel “mighty fine” too.


Dinosaurs won’t be dictated their sexuality

Asexuality revealed itself to me last night.  It’s amazing how long it took for me to find something that by its very definition is about as complicated as sitting on the couch.  Which funnily enough was what I was doing when I learned of the sexual non-predilection.

As much as I’d never, contradictorily, desire asexuality it’s an appealing concept for at least one reason.  It requires absolutely no effort.  In fact while sitting on the couch next to my male neighbour after the footy had finished and watching the British television program about sexuality, I realised something.  I’m asexual, right now.  In fact I also am as I’m writing this, unless you’d like to argue writing about sexuality is a sexual act.

Apparently one per cent of Brits are asexual.  Do you think there’s some out there who adopt it flexibly?  As in: you’re walking down the street, entering a bar, having a drink, speaking to an attractive female or male and even beginning to touch each other or kiss.  You’re still asexual, right?  But then you get into bed with each other and bump uglies.  Sexual.  Flexasexuality?  It was interesting watching an asexual couple during the show – touching and flirting and kissing but never, ever, ever will they have sex.  Apparently.  Fascinating.

There might be an evolutionary development in these one per centers.  I remember watching the movie Jurassic Park and one of the scientists mentioning all the dinosaurs in the island zoo were female so as to avoid un-controlled breeding.  Of course puzzling eggs were discovered.  The quote which explained this phenomenon in highly scientific Hollywood script-speak was: ‘Life will find a way.’  Based on this if your motivation for asexuality is a fear of pregnancy, then watch out.  Though you might be ok as long as you’re not a dinosaur.

Obviously the asexual woman concentrated on during this program said people had asked her ‘How do you know you’re asexual if you’ve never had sex?’  Clearly this question was about as relevant as asking a Chinese man if he’s sure he’s not Sri Lankan because he’s never tried, as the woman was an asexual.  Not a bloody flexasexual.  She should have responded by saying ‘I’m pregnant’, to which the original questioner would reply ‘But you’re not a dinosaur’.

‘Twas Just a Dream – Part Five

Our token and fearless New Zealander ventured forth first toward One Palm’s maw, after which we followed.

The break looked tame in photos we took, which couldn’t be more deceiving.

Waves would rise from the ocean with a silence that served only to heighten the dread inside our heads.

Then the lip would throw onto the reef toward us and he with priority would paddle decisively into a drop while depending on himself to ignore reef below him partially exposed by the wave’s suction.

I’ve heard other surfers recall the thunderous sound of such a heavy wave breaking behind them while standing on not reassuringly thin fibreglass and foam.

For me the world went silent: I knew the reef was there, crouched into the pig dog position by kneeling my right leg and grabbing the board’s right-rail then stared the length of the wave with every intention of pulling into and exiting cleanly a One Palm barrel.

But I didn’t, because I was forced three times to pull through the face of the aforementioned non-set waves which shut down too quickly.

The second of my cuts, through a wet-suit boot mind you, occurred during this session.

Our casualties list included the worst cuts of the trip and one worrying helmet crack, but nothing really that serious.

It might for most for most of us have been inspired by a malaria-mad crew member’s male-pride emotional blackmail, but we braved The Palm and survived largely intact from an experience many will never have.

The act of escaping from ordinary life is a valuable and almost vital thing if you can afford it.

I know as we all gathered our things while not enough and too hung-over, then stepped-off Just Dreaming at Anyer, I was tempted to stowaway in wait for the next trip.

It was in many ways an intense undertaking.

It was in some ways such as surfing, abundant, and in others such as, well, civilisation: barren.

Panaitan Island’s isolation may force you to examine the deepest parts of your psyche and at close-quarters over many days may force your closest friendships to the brink of collapse.

Or it might through blood, saltwater and beer forge lifelong mateships.

Its supremacy as a surfer’s Mecca and the quality of the crew serving the yacht we enlisted to explore its liquid goldmines cannot be denied.

We woke up quickly upon confrontation with the more than 10 hour transit back to Coolangatta Airport, via Kuala Lumpur.

We were almost literally just dreaming, but it was a vivid dream full of pleasure, pain, fear and fantasy we’ll never want to or actually forget.

‘Twas Just a Dream – Part Four

Four of the natives looked as if they were (but weren’t) surfing while blind drunk, two were solid surfers and the girls’ abilities lay somewhere in between.

It was still fun to be surfing with more people out, and . . . at once arousing and aggravating to see women after more than a week not.

All in all they were there for a good time, just like us.

Things only got a bit heated when one of their antipodean women-folk clambered aboard Just Dreaming, which caused them to circle our yacht with their “Feral Boat” and yell at us to return her.

I had to hear about this later though, as I’d decided on one last, after two others that day, surf.

Having a lot of time between set waves out there in lonely warm waters stretching into the Indian Ocean, I had plenty of time to think.

About not just the common appreciation of how shrunken this world is now due to humankind’s communication and travel technology, but the fruits such a fact can bear.

About a war of guilt and elation within my skull over how spoilt I was right at that moment and how stupid I was to have not indulged in it earlier and more often.

About how simultaneously tired (I barely slept the whole time), eight days of drinking hung-over and quite simply surfed-out I was.

About the fact the sun had set in a dramatic display of nature’s beauty and the equally beautiful Just Dreaming was itself setting-sail past me about half a kilometre out into the bay.

Wait, what?

That’s right: the bastards were, in jest I would find out and did anticipate, leaving without me.

I was just starting to wonder where I would get water on the island and if I needed to sleep in a tree in order to avoid a possible tiger attack while paddling futilely after the boat, when Civvy jumped into the zodiac and rescued me.

We celebrated my humiliation and a supremely successful surfing sojourn with a couple of drinks.

A couple of drinks only, because we had each somehow managed while surfing an average of two and a half times every day to drink all 600 cans of beer and five bottles of rum on the yacht.

Many of those beers were used by some of us to numb our fear ahead of surfing “The Palm”, which was of course a mistake.

‘Twas Just a Dream – Part Three

Even with a two-scoop rule attached to the rinsing water we were out so journeyed to Poochang Island to re-stock, via a peaky left breaking on the mainland named Angels.

Manto said he’d named the break so I asked why he described it so.

He replied: “It’s a beautiful area.”

And it was.

We perhaps disrespectfully surfed it all at once while at least half-drunk on Bintangs.

After cooking and eating most of a good size mackerel caught earlier in the day on the island, we camped within its bay on board Just Dreaming.

I walked up and down the beach that was greeting holidaying Indonesians, puzzling at my inability to avoid swaying like a drunken pirate from too many days at sea.

We woke Friday covered in mosquito bites despite drenching ourselves in repellant the night before, and headed to Rangers.

Think of Rangers – which sits near a ranger station – as Croc’s opposite: a long right hander on Panaitan’s outside eastern shore that was on this day blown out, and a short, punchy left that was presently breaking strong but briefly.

While journeying back around into the bay we were all conscious of our fish-deprived stomachs due to an incredible lack of bites considering the constant trawling of both a deep-diving and surface-skimming lure.

At the island’s southern tip named Pinnacles, strewn with jagged rock rising from the sea, one of us finally hooked a 15kg Spanish mackerel which was gaffed by Civvy just as it spat out the lure after a 20 minute battle.

It was enjoyed as sashimi with some laughs, beers and a delicious sauce I think may have simply been soy.

We made a bee-line back to Indies where the wave had reached the height of perfection and was even throwing some lips over anyone lucky enough.

In shifts we all attacked it savagely with fore and backhand, depending on our styles, re-entries until our abdominal muscles could pivot no longer.

Huey the surf god had all but abandoned us on Saturday, so we returned to Pussies.

Oh, sorry: Pussies is a deeper water and consequently full but long left breaking just west of Napalms, that we surfed on the first Saturday straight after “Napes”.

We’d finished the story more or less the way it had started, only this time there was a fisherman’s boat carrying six Indonesian male and two Scandinavian female surfers there to join us.

‘Twas Just a Dream – Part Two

We woke before noon on Saturday within the Sunda Strait to see Panaitan Island, about 30km south west of Indonesia’s main island Java, rising to meet us through ocean-mist.

After rounding its southern tip post-lunch we entered what – if you Google Map it – looks like a Baseball catcher’s-mitt receiving swells beamed in from the Indian Ocean’s depths.

I went back below to read and sleep off more of the hangover before the yacht presently weighed anchor.

We’d arrived at Napalms – a medium-length and heavy left-hander.

We all paddled out into an instantly crowded lineup for some fun three-foot waves unleashing out of nowhere on the reef from deep water.

In fact the only way of knowing when a set wave was approaching was to look further up and to the left of the reef to see unrideable swells pounding on unforgiving shores.

Sunday saw us looking on lacklustre swells breaking on Croc ‘n’ Rolls: a long left breaking toward a short, peaky right-hander on Panaitan’s outside western shore.

We snorkled and spear-fished along the reef and among almost perfectly spherical volcanic rocks the size of small cars.

Hangovers dissipated the instant we all descended on the two breaks Monday morning.

The day was spent riding waves that for someone who had never surfed reef before were almost a religious revelation.

Wednesday – I’ll come back to One Palm Tuesday – we said goodbye to Olly, left the less bloodthirsty Palm and returned to Napalms which was offering four-foot barrels with a challenging and swift pinch at the end no-one could seem to master.

With our guide’s departure we were left in the capable hands of the native crew consisting of Manto – the small but imposing captain – Civvy – the diligent deckhand – and last but certainly not least Dana – the possibly former gang member cook who can’t hold his Captain Morgan OP rum.

Finally and with some of Dana’s finest (his every meal was) lunches in our guts it was time for some rights, if you don’t count Crocs.

Indicators breaks true to its name long and large from the island’s south-west tip to let those at Illusions – which further north into the bay reels quick as you like along a reef so shallow it’s almost One Palm’s antipode – know what to expect.

I’ll testify how simultaneously wondrous and dangerous Illusions was through the freight-train walling rights I received and the first of two reef cuts I suffered in the form of miraculously only a nick on my left-hand after I was caught on the inside of a barrel fail.

One Palm was hunting us; we checked it again on Thursday morning but found the beast was sleeping.

I rode Illusions again with a mate who assisted with this article I’ll identify only as The Beard.

It was shameful; not the quality of the waves, you understand, but the amount of mostly plastic rubbish and a disturbing white substance floating around in the break zone.

The zodiac launch used to ferry us to waves our surfed-out shoulders could not reach zoomed past toward “Indies” with Manto at the motor and one passenger.

The Beard and I hailed him down and clambered aboard in order to escape the trash, and surf what I would classify as the best and longest right I’ve ridden, especially when you take into account the lack of crowd.

As skilfully-scribed by The Beard, Indicators was on this day “oily, wally, dreamy blue water perfection”.

‘Twas Just a Dream – Part One

WHILE watching the wave breaking like a knife on to a breadboard of razor-sharp reef, our Australian guide tells us we’re acting as if we’re on death row.

No-one corrects him and it dawns on me at least we may all actually be imagining ourselves as potential red meat between said blade and cutting surface.

“Just wetsuit up, put on a helmet, get out there and see what you think,” he says of One Palm, reputedly one of the fastest and shallowest left-handers in the world.

“Yeah,” I think, watching six foot death detonating on coral I can almost see, “I know exactly what I’ll do when I get out there: not ride the set waves.”

Which is exactly what most of us did, ironically as the smaller swells were breaking shallower, faster and more dangerously.

Olly was taken to hospital the next day after he’d spent the past four lying around the yacht in the foetal position shivering deliriously and trying to sleep off malaria.

The Just Dreaming surfari charter had claimed its first and only victim.

Five days earlier while driving at dizzying speed through small west Javan towns toward the port of Anyer it could have easily claimed all eight of us, before we had even boarded.

We’d left Jakarta about 8pm local time Friday for the three hour drive in two vans filled with Bintang beers and a couple of bottles of overproof rum each.

That’s each van; we’re not alcoholics.

We stared wide-eyed at exotic people and buildings we could see through the darkness and blur created by our Indonesian drivers’ intense attention to the accelerator.

Then we piled out of the vans not an hour from port for a toilet break.

Seven of us were standing, watering the lawn of a foreign culture’s front yard when the remaining one jumped out yelling and waving a bottle of white rum.

I had visions of Jihadist locals descending on us almost understandably bent on machete-borne vengeance for our drunken disrespect.

And apparently so too did one of our number who yelled at him “No! Muslim area! Get back in the car!”

But we all zipped up in time and got away with it.

The rest of the night remains a hazy memory of fear and excitement for everyone.