Erik Logan Visits Toonalook
SPECIAL REPORT: World Surf League top banana Erik ‘ELO’ Logan has been secretly embedded in the humble surf village of Toonalook for the last week, Ding Alley has learnt today.
While it’s unclear how Mr Logan managed to circumvent current international travel restrictions, it’s believed the purpose of his visit – scouting vital content for the WSL Studios’ many and varied series of productions – has qualified him for exemption under the Humanitarian Services Act.
Regretfully, the Toonalook mission appears to have been in vain, with the only storylines of note generated during evening role-play workshops conducted in Mr Logan’s suite at the Toona Gardens Budget Motel.
For readers not familiar with the WSL’s agenda, professional surfing’s governing body, unfulfilled by merely running contests, set itself the task of ‘owning’ as much of surfing’s cultural and storytelling space as possible. It’s worth bearing in mind that this plan was activated well before COVID-19 put the brakes on international competition,
Those who’ve tuned in to the WSL’s free-to-view, technically-brilliant competition webcasts over recent years have doubtless seen promotions for several WSL-produced programmes aiming to cover surfing’s spectrum beyond the competitive arena. Here are just a few:
‘Brilliant Corners’ visits rarely-seen coastlines and communities such as PNG, Madagascar and India, and contains uplifting scenes of Caucasian visitors high-fiving local youngsters – eyes wide with excitement, and in some cases, malnourishment.
‘Unboxing things with Koa Smith.’ A series dedicated to the unwrapping of shiny new products and conceived, presumably, as perfect counterpoint to ‘Brilliant Corners’. One episode is synopsized on the WSL site thus: “Koa Smith opens up, rides, and almost lands a backflip on a fresh Hubboards boogie board that basically breaks the Shaka Scale. He then catches and releases a pesky backyard rat with a new humane trap.”
‘Transformed.’ Tales of the intensely healing power of surfing: where the more wartorn / minoritised / bleak the setting, the better to demonstrate the magical elixir of waveriding.
Such productions that capture surfing’s nuance are in constant need of replenishing, hence Mr Logan’s undercover sojourn to the sleepy East Coast hamlet.
As this internal WSL memo reads: “The archetypal surf town of Toonalook, with its rich cast of surfing characters, is sure to provide compelling material for several of our WSL Studios series.”
To Ding Alley’s understanding, Mr Logan’s efforts to source tales of salty authenticity have been thwarted at every instance, with surfing seeming to occupy a distinctly unremarkable place in Toona’s social fabric.
“Yeah, that Seppo caaarrnt with the teeth hit me up last Tuesday,” notorious local enforcer Barry Cornell told Ding Alley. “Asked me if I knew of any Down Syndrome kids nearby who’d be up for a surf lesson with a Pommy longboarder, or if there were any reffos in the area he could get the Gudaskas brothers to run a second-hand board-drive for.”
“Told the Caaarrnt to Fark Orf back to Disney-Farken-Land, Farken Seppo Caaarrnt.”
Josh Cassidy, local electrician, found himself in conversation with the Santa Monica creative powerhouse while attending a callout to Toona Gardens Budget Motel.
Noticing Cassidy’s canine companion ‘Nugget’ barking genially from the Hilux tray, Logan enquired how often Toonalook’s dog owners strapped their pets into life vests, paddled them out on longboards and posted clips on Instagram of their hounds “enjoying the glide”.
“I told ‘im, nah mate, dogs here just hang out, eat and chase each other 'round, ya know, do what dogs do… But it’s like he didn’t hear me, just started bangin’ on about how if ya can strap a pair of sunnies on ya dog surfing ya get heaps more shares and likes or whatever.
“That’s when he tried to whack his sunnies on Nug’s noggin.
“Deadset mate, I’ve never seen Nug seriously go someone like that hey.”
Wherever the architect of surfing’s global narrative has turned, Toonalook’s surfing populace has provided nothing but disappointment.
The area’s female surfers, for instance, insist on wearing wetsuits and turning their boards, thus breaking every rule in the WSL’s social media rulebook, where lithe cross-steppers wearing as little as possible on tiny runners garner pervy eyeballs while still ticking the #empowerment box.
To compound matters, surfers of both sexes and all ages have been observed regularly picking up plastic off the tideline and placing it in carpark bins without being compelled to first instagram a mandala of the detritus whilst bleating about awareness and ‘being the change’.
“What kind of madness is this?” Mr Logan was heard wondering aloud, “I’ve got a roster of surfers who’ll fly thousands of miles to make a plastic mandala on a beach in Bali and raise awareness about our fragile planet.”
And though it cannot be confirmed, anecdotal reports have Mr Logan co-operating with local law enforcement after approaching young surfers outside ToonaPies Bakery and asking to film them unboxing some prototype WSL surf-action figurines.
Mr Logan’s hopes for a ‘Transformed’ episode were raised one morning witnessing several of Toona’s Koorie contingent tearing a backbeach bank, but when approached on exiting the water, charismatic Koorie spokesperson Jarrah Day sighed, smiled wearily, and said, “Yeah… Nah mate …”
Perhaps the only ray of light was found in a brief carpark exchange with area realtor Matty Sherman, where a common history of relentless self-improvement, penchant for dental veneers, and the core strength brought about by SUP paddling was candidly shared.
A leaked email reporting back to WSL headquarters from Mr Logan indicates the level of his frustration.
“Toonalook adds no content of value to the WSL’s representation of surfing. Though the men, women, girls and boys of this area appear to enjoy their surfing very much, I have seen no evidence of it empowering anyone to ‘find their voice by speaking truth to power’. No-one unboxes products to camera and young surfers of all races and creeds appear indifferent to my high-fiving overtures.
“I fear we must abandon Toonalook as a lost cause: Surfing plays a large role in many lives here, yet no-one feels the need to convert it into any useful currency.
“‘Content’ here appears to be an adjective, rather than a noun, and as such is useless for our purposes.”
In an interesting late development, however, local soul surfer Shane Reid reports seeing Mr Logan late yesterday afternoon with a freshly purchased 6’2” Toonastix shooter under one arm, carton of Toona Ale longnecks under the other, swag and supplies strapped to his back, determinedly marching in the direction of the National Park’s deserted stretch of beaches.
This latest confirmed sighting of Toonalook’s illustrious visitor suggests his quest for Content may still be in progress.
“Sold him an ounce of bush buds, by the way,” smiled Shane.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and aspiring writerer Gra Murdoch. This article is looooong enough already, so no longwinded reminisces this time round!