We promise this won’t (really) hurt.

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Close READER POLL 2017
We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

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Rory's Rumblings: Psychedelics And 12 Dollar Stew

The acid peaked during the presentation of the Heavy Water award. It made for one of those magic moments I've only felt in the grips of a mind altering substance. That feeling of connection with everyone in the room. The crowd was invested, cheering loudly for every nominee. The video projected against a wall sized screen roared with massive waves, amazing animation. The live music built to a roaring climax. Kai Lenny won. It didn't matter, I was hardly invested in the outcome. But others seemed pleased and in my mental state that seemed important.

It's always a fleeting thing, that sense of connection. Not real, just drugs. No less fun for the fact. Grab the moment, file it away. Use it to make your life a little more beautiful. What's real? Not this. I think. But every experience is just a matter of perspective. Ersatz or genuine, I'll take what I can get.

Michael Ciaramella sat next to me for most of the show. He was my anchor, helping me navigate a packed room full of distractions. It was a useful service. Midway across the venue, searching for a table to commandeer, my mind locked up. There was too much stimulus, too many decisions to make. Deer in the headlights I stuttered to a halt. Maybe this was a bad idea.

Mike cares about these awards in a way I do not. He's the reason I know that Albee Layer's win was controversial in a way I do not fully understand. I stole Mike's drink when mine ran out. Ignored his suggestions of what notes I should be taking.  Couldn't understand why he kept drinking the water provided when all present agreed that it tasted strongly of bleach.

We shared our table with an elegant older woman in black pearls and a shawl. I don't know who she was, failed to introduce myself. But she was a pleasure on the eyes. Something about her spoke to me. 

I spent a healthy portion of my night fixated on stew. In the midst of a well executed set piece, an obviously overwhelming logistical endeavor, someone had made the decision that the best possible option for food was a cash only $12 beef stew bread bowl. Served with a scoop of white rice on the side.

It was perplexing. Has anyone ever said, "You know what I could go for on this warm tropical night? A big hearty bread bowl of stew!"  

It was a problem. I hadn't eaten beforehand, poor planning on my part. The thought of shoveling a brick of meaty carbs down my gullet was terrifying. I needed to decide whether to choke down enough to make it through the night, or just accept I'd go hungry.

Morgan bought a bowl, declared it terrible. I tried a bite. It wasn't great. The gorge rose a bit. Hunger it would be.

But the mystery of the stew persisted. Was this a last minute fix for an off screen dilemma? Did someone blow the food order? "A feral cat got into the delivery from Tanioka's! What are we going to do?"

"Don't worry. I got a stew guy. He'll be here in the hour with a barrel of the stuff."

Or did they come across a crate of tins, buried deep in the bowels of Turtle Bay? There was no other option, it was too late.  

Over the course of my night I kept running across the same young man who looked like a character out of a Brett Easton Ellis novel. He wore an over-sized knit sweater, rocked a well considered coif. He looked like his name was Blaine. He's tortured by ennui, doesn't feel much of anything at all.

Alex Knost has a decidedly feminine stance when relaxed. Billy Kemper was wearing a cowboy hat. Carissa Moore choked up during her acceptance speech and made my heart swell. Albee Layer reminds me of Nick Swardson.

I was hiding in the shadows out front of the Turtle Bay, smoking a cigarette, when Kelia Moniz walked past and stated, "It's the worst party I've ever been to in my life." A bit hyperbolic, I've been to far worse. Warm beer and ugly people. But there were plenty of attractive souls in attendance. Fit women dressed to the nines, tugging self consciously at their hemlines when they thought no one was looking. Professional athletes of both genders still well in their prime.

Still, rubbing elbows in the Surfer Bar is hardly a great time. Most of the action took place in the hallways. People gossiping and making small talk and Ashton Goggans getting into arguments all night long.

Matty Matheson was hanging out with Danny Fuller. I dig his cooking show. I meant to ask his opinion of the stew but was distracted by something.  

Dane Reynolds won two awards, accepted them via a pre-recorded message.  

The Mattson 2 stole the show. A live score for the show was a brilliant decision. The music swelled and ebbed. Kept the action moving and move my muddled mind to rapture.

You can't call the Surfer Awards anything but a resounding success. The crew behind it deserves to feel a deep sense of pride. The animation, the score, the edits. Everything was clean and pretty and grabbed my addled brain with both hands. The night was an Experience, capital 'E'. Bravo!

I can almost forgive the stew.

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