Bun Fight

The bun fight.

Sitting in my luxurious Toyota Highlander, my home, I am watching true primal nature unfold.  Steamer lane is one of the most scenic surf spots on the entire planet. It is a point break, meaning it is a point of land that juts out, protecting the bay, by creating waves that crash over the rocks.  It has a natural viewing area, 20 feet above the surf on normal days, and when the surf is big, the surfers will be seen rising above the horizon. A wave is created deep in the ocean, when large swaths of high temperature air collide with the cold water of the ocean, evaporating millions of gallons of water, and creating a jet stream. I don’t know how flat earthers justify the dynamic of waves, they likely think it has to do with tides, so I guess the round cheese in the sky is accountable for the waves that crash close to shore on an inconsistent basis.  Any storm collectively finds a center, the eye, and the eye is vacuuming up all the cold air from the ocean on its way toward shore. After thousands of miles of a consistent directional breeze, the wave can be large enough for a human to ride.

Riding a wave is harder than hitting a baseball, which is often coined as being the most difficult athletic feat known to man.  Baseball players and surfers both understand discipline and experience are necessary for success, but a baseball player will likely be less coordinated than a  surfer. Catching a wave is like hitting a home run while balancing on an exercise ball, with a wiffleball bat. Not only do you have to time something that has been rising from it’s 2-dimensional path toward shore, you also have to position yourself in the correct spot to rise with the wave that is being pushed above the horizon due to the increasing shallowness of the shoreline, but you also have to position yourself within the bun fight.

A bun fight is the name given to a wave that has a lot of surfers on it.  A certain location, Steamer Lane for example, has 3 take-off areas. The point is the furthest part north, where I have seen surfers smash into the rocks competing in the bunfight.   In the summer months, the point is the only surf spot with decently shaped waves, so it is common to see 100 people in the water fighting for position. The surfer on the wave takes priority, and somewhere along the way in surfing lore, taking priority gave a surfer ownership of that wave, during its brief death crashing into the shoreline.  Steamer lane breaks from right to left, and only the one on the wave first, and the furthest right, claims temporary ownership of this miracle.

It is a display of our culture to know that a couple generations before me, a wave was shared because it was a miracle.  Surfers were often hippies, feeling a deeper understanding of the world. Most surfers have come closer to death than someone who spent their childhood in the kid gloves that parent use to reduce their fear of the thing they love being injured. Surfers ventured beyond, and met mother nature head on.  Surfers don’t always win, and I love watching them fail as much as I love watching them succeed. Any surfer that has come close to drowning has a deep sense of confidence and calmness not found in someone who spent their entire life in a cubicle and went bungee jumping once. But like people, surfers are diverse, and some never shared the experiences of others.  

Once position became commonplace, the bunfight began.  I have been punched by a girl, had a knife pulled on me, and seen surfers get attacked by more than mother Ocean.  The bunfight is nature, size wins. Old men with their huge 14 foot wooden boards measure their dicks as bigger than the pre-teen kids sitting on the inside weaving up and down the face of the wave, while the salty old man, who is salty from sitting in the ocean for hours to wait for a single wave, stands, frozen in stature, but having the world zing by.  The old man is never in the bunfight, he will barrel through with his phallic wooden missile, and split the bunfight into pieces as he will gladly run over all those damn kids on the inside.

There are learners, kids, old men, women, and professionals in the bun fight.  It doesn’t discriminate, everyone is invited. Herd mentality is important in surfing.  It wasn’t uncommon logic to want to surf where people were already surfing, for safety. A wave could be promising with no one on it, but why is no one on it?  Is it breaking on inches of water? Is there a natural rip, where there is a deep channel under the water, causing a river like effect pulling people out to sea?  Or are their known predators who are not intelligent enough to distinguish a man dressed as a seal from an actual seal?

Not only does every surfer have to worry about one of the few predators of man, because we killed all of the ones on land, surfers also have to worry about the thugs and assholes that have attempted to scorn the definition of what it meant to be a surfer.  But, it is a natural paradigm, a place free from artificial nature of society. All of the surfers entered a social contract, and there are waves that do not abide by the rules of position, there are waves that must require social capital in order to enter.

Stockton avenue is where I had a knife pulled on me. It is a small wave, about a mile north of Steamer Lane, where  a handful of professional surfers were allowed to utilize the waves ability to create a tube, or barrel, as the wave spiked up on a large rock imbedded in the ground, creating a ramp-like effect, or barrels for the surfer to try to slide into during his time on the face of the wave.  It is in a wealthy neighborhood, in price, but a real broke area for social capital. Hell’s Angels and other biker gangs are known to throw parties in the area, and there is a legacy of white trash that laid claim to Stockton avenue, despite it being across the street from the surf break.  It would be like a gang of stupid ex-convicts taking over a municipal softball field. Sharing was only allowed within their tribe, and the guy told me to leave, flashed his knife at me, and I treated him as if I had just seen a Brown Bear, I didn’t make eye contact, I kept my distance, and found a way out of there.

I moved to San Diego because beach breaks are less likely to have  a bunfight. A point break, because of the design of the wave and contour of the sea floor, has a large bunfight, but not as bad as a wave on a reef.  The tribalism of the bunfight has become an international tradition, and there are websites like wannasurf.com that will explain, through their message boards, how tribal and aggressive the bun fight may be on a day when the most surfers head out to the beach.  San Diego has a couple point breaks, a couple reef breaks, and a lot of beach breaks. Beach breaks are shifty and, thus dividing up the bun, giving an even distribution, like democratic socialism. Reef breaks are full-on dictatorships. Gangs protect these breaks in places like Hawaii, and if you don’t look like their tribe, you won’t even make it into the water.  Pipeline, is a reef break that is not only known for its powerful wave that breaks very close to shore, with a stadium view having the beach being so steep from the powerful undertow sucking as much sand as it could handle. The gangs have been known to need authorization from event organizers, and have been denied for not having enough money, or political pull to satisfy the local population.  Steamer lane has as long of a surfing history as Pipeline, and both are notorious for their bun fights.

Necessity is the quintessential tool invention.  The necessity to find a wave because the idea of priority creating a finite amount of miracles forced those who didn’t want to compete in the bunfight to seek a wave of his or her own. I flew to the other side of the planet to surf waves that did not have the same competitive chaos as in California.   

We all want our slice of the pie.  Some want the whole pie, and other would take more joy in giving their piece away.  When we itemize, quantify, and commodify our entertainment, it becomes another tool for those who firmly believe in the zero-sum game.  The reason society requires social contracts, is because nature is chaotic, human nature is peaceful. Humans made it so entire safe, especially in the United States, that the most likely way he or she will die will be from the hands of another man, be it a car accident, opiate addiction, or gun violence.  Man is Man’s greatest enemy, and the bunfight displays how the biggest, angriest asshole gets what he wants, and the rest get what they can. The asshole ignores the rules, because he operates from different rules.

the 1%er ideology has made it known how much is owned by so very few. They are all assholes, or they came with a strategy so incredibly successful that they can’t give their money away fast enough.  We have CE0’s earning thousands of dollars per hour where we have people who don’t have $1000 in their bank accounts. The 1%er is the asshole disregarding the rules, and bulling through the bunfight, showing his big dick, and deflecting blame for the social disaster that is a bunfight.   The alphas in the water will take more risks of his or her own life, and will be rewarded for their selfishness. The ones happy to be there, will sit on the outskirts and hope to pick up scraps, much like our economic system. The ones on the inside, the minimum wage workers of our society, just get shit on by broken waves over, and over, and over until they climb themselves into the bunfight.  This is the temporarily repressed millionaire logic in natures form. No one is invited into the bunfight. The first surfer got there early, and others felt the safety of the group, and eventually it needed to be culled.

Culling of people is a difficult philosophical topic, but the ancients never had as many people on the planet, and much of our political philosophy on demographics and overpopulation, is founded on 19th century British logic.  We are all now connected, I could fly to China in an hour of I wanted to, the planet has become infected with humans, and we have a planet size cobweb of people and information exchange. At what point does a person become useless? At what point does he decide to fight or run?  the bunfight can only be so large, and then its value comes into question. Sit in freezing cold water, watching other claim something they had nothing to do with creation. Or compete, and risk getting hurt, or having to hurt someone who chose to violate the surfing social contract.

Since sharing has been commodified, as long as the marionettes of economy don’t decide to pull their strings any tighter, Kelly Slater will become a Billionaire, if he is not already.  He has devised a way to create a wave, using a train car, and if he gets international investors to bring his concept to scale, surfing can be commodified activity. As of now, it is primal nature, with many sheltered humans afraid of sharks in ponds, and unknowing of all the diversity the ocean provides, both spiritually and chemically Surfing will remain difficult, but consistency and monopoly are sexy words to those lovers of finance.  The best part of having a bun fight in a commercial venue is that the profit can be controlled, and ones financial capital becomes a limiting factor, creating a social exclusion via capital ownership.

Kelly Slater’s is considered the greatest competitive surfer of all time, winning world championships in his 40s.  He is a freak of nature, combing the passion of surfing like Rudy, the focus and concentration of Pete Sampras, and the experience Malcolm Gladwell requires of an expert.  He has the competitive fire of Michael Jordan, and even that deep need to win at all costs, even Kelly Slater wants to eliminate the bunfight. His vision of eliminating the bunfight was artificial reefs, designed to provide homes for sea life, but also providing recreational, or even competitive surfing, to kill the toxic virus that is the bunfight.

Surfing is a new economy, even its social capital is only steeped in a few decades.  The bunfight is toxic, and it displays how people are; generally following the rules, with a few stand outs, good or bad, and at least one asshole determined to ruin all the fun by being too impatient to wait his or her turn.  The only saving grace is that the bunfight is what inspires travel, and expansion of the culture. The bunfight is such an uncomfortable experience that it forces good people to expand their knowledge of the world, leaving the assholes to compete within their local enclave. I hate the bunfight, and I wish it didn’t exist, but like life, it is the culmination of the ability for humans to have such comfort that there are huge chunks of time human can spend not worrying about living another day.  It is the rise of comfort, and the replacement of nature.

A bunfight was coined to describe what the sentiment is like when a group of people need to fight for a loaf of bread, or a bun. Indicative of a situation where people resort to physical violence in order to solve problem.  The problem isn’t violence, as violence is only the symptom of a larger problem, not the cause.

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