Piha Beach, on the west coast of New Zealand, is one of our planet‘s high-end waterfronts, I’m told. Long, rugged coastline of fine black sand — a couple million of us saw stretches of it in Jane Campion‘s The Piano. From Glen Eden, take West Coast Road, turn right at Scenic Drive, then left onto Piha Road. Long ago, my friend Sam lived in nearby Auckland. He visited Piha on many occasions, on two of them to surf. Not alone. Here’s what Sam‘s inadvertent companions forced him to digest between waves:

Gidday. Gidday. Gidday. Gidday. Shit hot. What did you do last night, mate? Got pissed, chundered, got really stoned, Got laid, flaked, yeh. What did you do? I got really pissed, pranged the car, Got stoned, got laid, flaked. You? Got laid, got pissed, passed out. Shit hot, mate. What are you doing tonight? Thought I’d get pissed, Maybe try to get laid, Probably pass out.

It seemed to Sam that the conversation he overheard on the second day was an exact replica of the first day‘s. The participants, he reasoned, had spent the night memorizing the day’s platitudes on drinking, fucking and sleeping, and repeated them verbatim the following morning, from just past dawn to midafternoon, for reasons unknown or unknowable. It didn‘t seem a likely scenario, but neither did anything else. So at the end of that second day, Sam left Piha Beach, never to surf again. Until about two weeks ago.

Prior to the current baroque (in terms of mass and arrogance) period of corporate logoism, I used to be able to tell where televised sporting events ended and their sponsorship began. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but I used to watch sometimes as much as 45 minutes of televised sports each month and could always locate the borders: Until about five years ago, it was possible to find a surface — a uniform, a fence, a marquee, at least one significant surface — not defiled with a logo. When that changed, I stopped watching.

Then, a few weeks ago, Sam got my competitive juices dribbling when he told me he‘d surfed again, up at County Line, for the first time since his mid-’60s Piha adventure, and had had a wonderful time. I resolved to watch some televised sports again — give the waves another try — just for 10 minutes or so. How much could it hurt?

This much: A receiver catches a pass in the end zone. People cheer. Gidday. Two cute kids squeal over the release of some Disney movie on DVD. Dr. Dre‘s new album, 2001, is available now. Shit hot. Southwest Airlines is a proud sponsor of the NFL. Chevy trucks . . . like a rock. Get pissed, chunder, get really stoned, get laid. Change channels. A point guard dribbles downcourt. Passes to a forward. Whistle. A wet spot is identified on the court; mopfolk start mopping. Gidday. Men at some sort of exclusive if not secretive meeting are amazed to learn that Merrill Lynch’s fee is based on the value of its clients‘ portfolios. Shit hot. Our Boys at the Virginia Military Institute discuss their reactions to experiments with Norelco electric razors. Only NicoDerm CQ offers the power to help you quit. Get stoned, get pissed, get laid. Change channels.

If you have $5 million, you can buy 60 seconds of airtime during the upcoming Super Bowl, well over twice last year’s price. If you don‘t have $5 million, here’s how you can have just as much fun: Download (1) a WAV of some airport ambiance from Wav Central (http:; (2) an AU clip of Jack Kerouac reading one of his ”American haikus“ (www-hsc.usc.edu~gallaherk_speaksemptybaseball.au) from Kerouac Speaks; (3) a zipped WAV of the Beach Boys‘ ”Help Me Rhonda“ (http:forsite.netkimhaprrhonda.zip) from some Beach Boys fan site; and (4) an animation depicting the effects of artificial-light pollution on the Mount Palomar night sky (http:astro.caltech.eduobservatoriespalomarpublicmoviespollution.mov), courtesy of Caltech. Unzip ”Rhonda“ with Stuffit Expander, PKunzip or whatever’s around. Open the resulting rhonda.wav and the other three files in your registered QuickTime Player. (Unregistered versions won‘t play simultaneous files.) Stretch the pollution movie as big as all get-out and tuck the audio clips somewhere out of the way. Set the video file to Loop Back and Forth, set the other files to Loop (normally). Extract a can of cold horse-urine substitute from the refrigerator, and a bag of fried salted anything. Go to the Movie menu and select Play All Movies. Watch the screen for further instructions.#

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