I have been a paying member since- I’m pretty sure- day one. There was a period when being a premium member meant you didn’t need to see ads before getting the content you were after. Then that changed and paying members were forced to see ads- at that point, mostly from other surf companies. I wrote you a letter back then about this, but nothing was changed, and obviously, I’ve just accepted it and moved on. When I went on this evening though, the first thing that caught my attention (much to your and your paying advertisers pleasure I’m sure) was an ad not for something relatively benign as a boardshort company, or beer, or something hyping up a football game (who are these people???). What I did see was an ad, just below my home cam- the first place I look on the site- for Glock handguns.
This is wholly despicable. Where in surf culture- even what is now considered surf culture, which every day resembles more and more something closer to jock culture (not coincidentally rhyming with Glock)- is there a place for this utter lack of taste, decency, and value of human life?? Tell me how it’s possible that I’ve never seen a single ad for any weapon, on any website, until now- on a website for SURFERS??? How greedy you must be to allow such imbecilic garbage to play on a loop on your homepage- or any page. Or, maybe it’s part of a larger story- a reflection of who surfers actually are now. That’s for an entirely different letter, to an entirely different entity than Surfline- preferably one with even a slightly higher intellect than the majority of your editors (a daily scan of the captions of your photo features will showcase some of the worst usage of the English language). I’m sure shame is the last thing you feel while you sit in your oceanfront McMansion in Seal Beach, but it’s the first thing you should feel for taking money from a company whose sole purpose and generation of profits is the act of killing. I dare you to donate all of the profits of the sale of that ad to the Newtown Memorial Fund, or the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, or one of the multitude of organizations pushing for stronger gun control. I dare you. In the meantime, that $70 a year that I pay to thread my way through such drivel as surfers moronic Instagram photos in order to see what kind of swell might be heading my way? That money will be going straight to a charity with the intention of banning any ads like that, anywhere. Furthermore, I am forwarding this letter to every user of Surfline I know (to use one of your favorite appropriated Aussie terms, HEAPS), and will encourage them to do the same, and ask that they too cancel their membership and/or stop using Surfline.
People simply empty out
In 1969, publisher John Martin offered to pay Charles Bukowski $100 each and every month for the rest of his life, on one condition: that he quit his job at the post office and become a writer. 49-year-old Bukowski did just that, and in 1971 his first novel, Post Office, was published by Martin’s Black Sparrow Press.
15 years later, Bukowski wrote the following letter to Martin and spoke of his joy at having escaped full time employment.
(Source: Reach for the Sun Vol. 3; Image: Charles Bukowski, via.)
Thanks for the good letter. I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.
You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”
And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.
As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?
Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”
They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.
Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:
“I put in 35 years…”
“It ain’t right…”
“I don’t know what to do…”
They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.
I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”
One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.
So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I’m gone) how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.
To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.