rob gilley

Long Live Barlo

| posted on May 08, 2011

Barlo, on assignment, filming "Wave of Compassion" documentary.

Rob Gilley

As the sting of his recent SURFER firing begins to fade, Rob Gilley now turns his blog attention towards memories and stories garnered from his long lackluster career.

Steve Barilotti’s name is not an entry in Matt Warshaw’s The Encyclopedia of Surfing.

This, in my opinion, is a glaring oversight.

For the last 25 years, Steve has traveled the world and written about surfing culture at the highest level. Compared to much of the surf drivel out there, Steve’s stories are diamonds in a rhinestone world.

The real reason we should acknowledge and celebrate Steve Barilotti, though, is for the intangibles:

—His shit-eating smirk, especially when inappropriate.
—His Freak Brother, Keep On Truckin’ gait.
—His ability to take on surf journalism’s toughest assignments and remain alive.
—His fear-reducing Mr. Magoo eyesight in bigger surf.
—His uncanny ability to rock puka shell necklaces.
—His method journalism techniques when studying pro surfer party habits.
—His willingness to embrace cultural rites—and dead fish—simultaneously.
—His postulation that absinthe should only be consumed while wearing a silk kimono.
—His undying love for The Simpsons.

Mention Steve Barilotti’s name to a professional surfer that has traveled with him, and you’ll get a universal response, “Barlo? Oh my god, that guy’s classic. How’s he doing?”

Unlike some other writers, Steve Barilotti leaves a warm afterglow in his wake, and for good reason. He may have never been a professional surfer, but he can write his way around a wave with Curren-like ability, and adds a positive, unexpected dimension to any surf journey.

So the next time you’re on a surf trip and tilting a few at the end of the day, make a silent toast to Steve Barilotti.

And then write a drunk, angry letter to Matt Warshaw.

Skilled with more than just a pen, Barlo races a groomed wall in New Zealand. Photo: Gilley

  • http://n/a zeno malan

    Anyone that understands the handicap that poor eyesight affects the beginning surfer and can write about it with aplomb deserves credit.

  • Mario R. Maggio

    Thanks for showing me.

  • Matt Pruett

    Barlo was always one of my favorites. His ’90s Europe stories were intoxicating on many levels. Between Barlo, Hawk, Ben Marcus, and young Evan… there was a dream team right there. Bummed I never met the guy, even more bummed I rarely see anything written by these greats anymore.


    Winging palm, please stop.

  • SeanDavey

    yes, Barlo was one of my faves too. Matt made a good point there in that you just don’t see the greats anymore. It’s all about saving coin these days. Look at Surfer’s “Senior” photog’s these days. Nothing senior about them…..

  • ADR

    Good on you for this post, RG.
    Barlo is a true champion.Not sure what of, but he’s a champ nonetheless.
    I miss his dry-as-fuck sense of the ridiculous, his perceptive, observational journalism, and his occasional ability to actually wash up when crashing in someone else’s house.
    Barl’eau, I know you’re reading this. Send your next story, you old hack. It’s way overdue!

  • Joam

    who is this guy?

  • Cyrus


  • bob war

    Sean Davey is a bitter man!

    • SeanDavey

      Nah, not bitter. Just not going to be slave to the surf industry.

  • duncan campbell

    Barlo is always at the secret meeting. Matt on the other hand never knows where they are, never did never will.

  • robot

    barlo was one of a limited number of surfer staff members that was down to earth and a great writer. matt warshaw was a good guy and great writer as well. they can work this out and we’ll all carry on.

  • Nor Cal locc

    can you write anything not ending in a terrible attempt at a one-liner?

    god, that is like writing kook rule number 1.

    i wont even lie. im jealous you have a writing job, when you obviously have not had an ounce of education on the subeject.