The Woz Awakens
So, the waiting period for Pipe kicks off in a coupla weeks. The gals at Maui even soonerer.
Pipe’ll be the first blokes ‘CT comp since – geez – Pipe last year.
Your servants at Ding Alley will log on and watch the WozCast™, no doubt, and as we do, it’s safe to assume that, like most of us, we’ll veer from fascination to indifference to frustration to admiration etc. Our reactions will be as all-over-the-place as this meandering article.
As Pipe draws closer, I’m more ambivalent about the Woz than ever right now. I dunno, maybe it’s the mixed-up year we’ve all had, or maybe you just reach an age where you get enough life experience (read: redundancies and disappointments) tucked under your belt to realise there’s not much to be gained worrying whether Gabby’s got a gammy style or not (he hasn’t), being personally offended at the lack of turns performed at tow-in Nazaré, (no-one’s being forced to watch, Clockwork Orange-style), or mapping out elaborate alternative tour structures to save the Woz, (kinda hard without knowing the circumstance and minutiae that must force their hands.)
Better instead to allocate what cerebral and intuitive resources remain to more tangible matters: family, dog, mates, scoring the point without crowds, quiet beachies, early mornings, breathing, earning, continence, etc.
Now, you’d think a total absence of flying fucks given about the world of professional surfing should disqualify Ding Alley from taking up Woz-word space in this esteemed media outlet, but it’s precisely this apathy, this complete lack of journalistic rigour, this refusal to undertake even the most token Google-search research, that’ll make us the ideal guinea-pig blank-slate control-group to sit through hour upon hour of Woz webcastery, and report on the side-effects.
If further proof of our credentials of indolence and sloth is required, this should do the trick. The next few paras explore a thoughtful concept: that whether we’re fans of the Woz or not, whether we pay attention or otherwise, the Woz’s very existence actually energises the rest of the surfing world and exerts an invisible gravitational pull on us all. Without a ‘tour’ as such, everything’s just a little less dynamic, we’re most of us a smidge less engaged, without even knowing why.
So by extension, the upcoming Pipe Masters might have more riding on it than we thought, because if it duds, the Woz will be in even more strife than it is now, (which is to say, a shitload). If it’s a balltearer, it might provide a chip shot of sorts into 2021.
OK, so the above theory was an utterance tossed by editor Stu – almost as an aside – into a phone convo the other day. And when someone’s throwaway comment forms the entire foundation of another person’s article, well, there’s a snapshot of both the keen mind of the man at the SN Helm, and the utter bone-laziness of Ding Alley.
Riffing further on Stu’s call. For all the Woz’s miscues and wrong turns, and tone-deaf god-awful content creations, it’s still THE major planet in the surfing solar system. The simple fact that it administers (administered?) the indulged travelling sideshow of elite competitors at a dozen mostly epic surf spots, and does (did?) a fantastic job broadcasting these events to our phones and lappies for free, means that purely and singularly, it’s THE most powerful generator of neat, unfolding dramatic narrative and common interest that surfing has. Daylight second.
As a result, whether we’re into it or not, the Woz provides a quiet but real rhythm track to our surfing lives, year in, year out.
Even if we don’t really care, we’re still aware.
And even if we despise the Woz, many of us still are moved to post a comment about how much we loathe the thing.
Much like a sunken ship creating a fantastic haven for fish and corals, the Woz gives surfing some kind of weird structure and scaffolding. Sure, that scaffolding might currently be in the shape of a gigantic set of Disney mouse ears, (and we may want to cut our OWN ears off after half an hour of WozCast™ commentary), but even so, we still hope that it’ll be one of those years at Chopes; we savour the prospect of seeing Eth Ewing in full flight at J-Bay, Robbo at Sunset, JJF anywhere challenging, or what have you, all in the contrived but often exciting context of combat.
Maybe the PROMISE of what the Woz can deliver, (because when it’s good, it’s great) is what actually provides that imperceptible fuel that subtly energises the whole surfing shebang, as Stu mentioned.
And because Promise is something you can only replenish by delivering, the Woz has all but exhausted its stockpile this year.
Promise – it’s kind of like The Force.
Which would make the Woz the Death Star, with Elo as bespectacled Darth Vader at the controls.
And I’m not just saying that so Macca can draw Elo as Darth Vader. (Actually, to be honest, it’s precisely why I’m making that comparison…and while we’re on the subject, yes, technically, Dirk Ziff would be Darth, but where would the fun be in that cartoon?)
I dunno, while I resent the Woz’s claim and efforts to BE all things surfing, I do know my surfing life is more interesting because professional surfing is around, and I hope the Woz finds a way to stumble forward so, at the very least, we can all continue watching Wozcasts™ for free when we should be working or reading to our children.
An epic, dramatic Pipe comp would be a great shot in the arm for the Woz. Actually, not so much a shot in the arm as the last-chance-electric-shock-the-clinically-dead-patient-back-to-life-defibrillator thingo (where the handsome doctor rubs the two electro clip clop horsey things together with some vas between and yells ‘CLEAR’.)
Jesus, how many fruity fucking analogies can one article contain?
Maybe for all their Santa Monica dysfunction and misreads, the Woz don’t totally deserve Pipe Masters of the Decade to land in their laps this time 'round. From a karmic point of view, 'Unboxing Things With Koa Smith' alone should open a giant sinkhole beneath Woz HQ. But, shit, it’s been as bad a year for the Woz as it’s been for everyone else, so let’s hope Huey clears the sand off the reef, slings some heft from the horizon and we get a glimpse of something great.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer Gra Murdoch.