September Issue 2008 Surfing Magazine

By Evan Slater

Keep your friends close and your heroes even closer. That seems to be the sentiment these days as our exposure to the world's best surfers has reached E Channel highs. Everywhere we turn now, our High Priests of Heavy Shredding are right there with us: Billboards on the {{{405}}}. Covers of Outside. Larger-than-life window displays and guest appearances on The Girls Next Door. And that's just a casual day in LA. Within the surf world itself, we've cranked the hype machine up to 11, pumping out more magazines, videos, films, web stories and daily blogs than even the creepiest superfan can consume. Wanna know what Andy Irons' remodeled bathroom looks like? We're sure there's a photo gallery out there for you. Of course, it wasn't always this way. Back when the information superhighway was just a two-lane back road, our heroes arrived in monthly doses in the mailbox and on the occasional VHS tape. There was never enough to satisfy us, which made us dig even deeper to unearth precious gems like Surfing World Magazine and underground videos like Strictly Going Off. It was all so distant, so mystical, as if places like "Kong's Island" were reachable only by spaceship. Today, that same feature on Kong's Island would likely include a live webcast presented by Snickers, global magazine distribution with a packaged DVD and an hour special on Fuel. All this access has made for a much more familiar relationship with our favorite surf stars, which does have its benefits, but perhaps we've become a little too comfortable in the presence of greatness. Make that way too comfortable. Case in point: our recent web story announcing Bruce Irons' decision to leave the tour at the end of the year. Hundreds of you chimed in on the message board at the end of the article, spouting out 9,566 words on whether or not Irons the Younger made the right decision. Most of it was full of praise: "Bruce is f–kin' pimp no matter what he's doin'," said "john." "Bruce is Love!" Some of it was typical, online, hide-behind-an-alias smack talk: "Most people would give their left nut to get on tour and this clown is too lazy to be bothered," said "Bruce G." "Good riddance!" But the ones who baffled me the most were the few who actually had the gall to call out his surfing. Bruce Irons, one of the most gifted surfers of all time...a "kooook"?For those of you who are so media-jaded that you're able to use "Bruce Irons" and the "k-word" in the same sentence, I have a simple remedy that will put him back in his proper place, on a pedestal in a galaxy far, far away from you. Just paddle out on a big day at Pipe or Teahupo'o, get as close to him as you've ever been...and watch him surf.