Back To Top
Beach Grit

banner

Hello Superpower! This is Australia!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A letter to America on the incessant romancing of a superficial stereotype… 

Dear America,

Is there any good blood in our veins? Do you really want to know? We might beat our tambourines in glory, but glory there ain’t.

For all of your romanticising of this island continent, this sparsely populated desert land with the cartoonish indigenous creatures and white sand beaches strung together for thousand of kilometres…

Australia… hates you. 

As a nation imprisoned by television, we see the USA as a land of Honey Boos and Kardashians, of Fox News and school massacres, derelict cities and a government driven into ruinous debt by the famous military industrial complex. And they’re the good bits. We grasp conspiracy theories as if they were written on ancient parchment. We worship at the feet of Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky.

America, the warlord, America the champion of terrorism finally having a mirror held up to its pockmarked face.

Yes, we are an ally in war. From the atolls of the Pacific to the mountainous ridges of Korea and the tunnels of Vietnam, the dunes of Iraq and the valleys of Afghanistan, the Australian dies for the American cause. When a trigger-happy neocon president (Jeb?) eventually strikes at China over some pointless cause like Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands, our tiny army will again climb the parapet and charge toward oblivion.

Don’t be flattered.

We died for the British cause in world wars part one and its much better sequel. Australians are like that. We tough talk about our inherent anti-establishment nature, our supposed larrikinism and mateship, but there ain’t a thing we like more than to be a bitch to the powerful and mighty, warming our little paws under your skirt and in your privates. In public we bark contemptuous; behind closed doors we moan and gasp.

Yeah, the modern version of Australia began as a penal colony for the British a couple of hundred years back. Convicts, mostly, but free settlers too. Under Governors Macquarie and, later, Bligh (yep, the same one), the European fought famine, the cruelty of 19th century justice and tamed a rough land.

We may’ve stole this hostile ancient land but that doesn’t make us unique. The American screwed the Red Indian, the Spanish did it to the Brown Indian, the New Zealander stole the Maori land (but gave it back), the Canadians, the Russians, the British, the French, the Italian… it was all part in the Imperial playbook.

What makes us unique are the advantages given to us and response to it. Because for all our geographic isolation (astonishingly difficult to invade – as experienced by the Japanese 70 years ago) and with massive stores of natural resources and the perfection of British-led democracy, and all under the long, warbling persuasiveness of eternal warmth and blossom, we’re a nation of bored, sissy bastards.

How did we get here? How about you imagine the Australian as the child of celebrity parents, the Pitts/Jolies, maybe. The Australian is gifted everything he could ever want. Money. Attention. Good looks.

But does that develop and refine his character? How can it? Character only grows in the troughs of great suffering. You’ll find more within the skin of a kid diving for pennies at a Filipino port or an ice-cream seller on the beaches of Gaza or the father of six massaging the squishy bones of Australians on Kuta Beach.

Open the door and look inside. Australia represents selfishness wrapped in a banana leaf of good times.

Sunny: “If you’re my friend I’ll go to war for you!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Let's open the confession box of Mr Sunny Garcia, a world champion and six-time Triple Crown winner. More than Kelly!

Sunny Garcia is the just-turned 44-year-old former world champion (2000). Perhaps more significantly, he has won the Triple Crown of Surfing, the title given to the best-performing surfer of Hawaii’s three events each year, six times. More than Slater. More than anyone. In comparison, Kelly Slater has won it twice.

Sunny is one of our legends. And while his arms look of hardened tough and his fists have pounded many faces, his voice sounds of educated professor. It is soft. Sweet. His sentences are well thought. He doesn’t fall into traps of over-using swears. Each time he does swear it carries authority and passion. His cadence lacks almost all island inflection. And it is wise. Sunny Garcia has lived. He has surfed professionally for a quarter century. He has been to jail. He has been married thrice. He has three children. He is known, in surfing, by one name.

Now let’s open his confession box.

On being an icon: Ahhh, I don’t think about that, you know? I believe people everywhere, all around, guess whatever they want to about me, about my life. I don’t know them and I don’t try to create anything necessarily or change anything about myself. I don’t think of myself in any particular way and people might just fill in the blanks. But I am just me. I just do what I want to do and have fun.

On winning the title:  I was just so relieved, you know? I seriously thought that I had squandered the early years when I was capable of beating anyone. But I was young and partying and just having fun instead. Then fucken Pipe in ’95…So when I won the title it felt great. Good. I was relieved to have it finished. I am thankful for it.

On modern surfing: This can be a trick question. Are you talking about the judging or what? Just the surfing? Ummmmm. Shit. As much as I don’t want to say I think it looks pretty terrible. Every single one of the new kids looks the exact same. They do the same things on the wave. Some kind of bad style to the end section where they punt. It looks fucken bad. In the past you knew the style of everyone who surfed. All the guys had their own styles and you could walk up and down the beach and pick guys out. Now they are all doing the same exact fucking thing. All these fucking kids just go down the line looking for the air section and punting.

I love watching Dane and Jordy. To me that is fucking great surfing. A lot of the new kids just can’t surf with any style. And I blame the judging, in part, for that.

On Kelly Slater: Kelly is one of my favourite surfers even though I don’t like to admit it. He is the greatest surfer that has ever lived. I couldn’t say anything about it when we were competing because I wanted to beat him so bad. And he was my main competition. I love the way he surfs. He can do whatever he wants on a wave. And consider him one of my best friends.

On judging: When they got rid of Perry (Hatchett), the lead judge, I think it was a huge fucken mistake. The judges now overscore one air… a guy cruising and punting one air… and I think it is really hurting the sport. Kids are surfing to that standard now which is just not good. I love surfing so much that if I feel the judges aren’t doing their job I have no problem calling them out. And that is the way it should be. I’ve done it (called the judges out) for my friends and they have done it for me. Fine me. I don’t fucken care. Fine me every single day of the week. Keep my fucken money. I was born with this talent and born competing. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love it.

On being seen as a rough character: I don’t fucking care. I don’t think of myself that way. If you are my friend I’ll go to war for you. I’ll give you the shirt off my back. But if I don’t know you and you are talking shit, or messing with my family or friends? Then I will punch you in the face. I don’t care. The press has always made me out to be a rough character but it is not who I really am. I just don’t have time for people I don’t coming up to me and causing problems. You would too.

On marriage and divorce: We all get married. When I was younger I just wanted my own family. My own wife and kids. I have been married three times now and you go through the highs and the lows. With my first two wives we just never made it through the lows. Divorce? I don’t have any problem with divorce. If you’re not getting along in your relationship then it needs to change. My first divorce really broke me up a lot. My ex-wife got married pretty quickly after and I couldn’t imagine another man raising my children. So that broke me up. But 12 years later I see things in a different light. Now we are great friends. And I have a good relationship with my second wife as well – she got re-married. And I am remarried. So I feel it worked out good for all of us, you know? Everyone is happy. In order to be successful in life, in marriage, you have to get to the point where you admit things to yourself. All of my experiences have made me who I am.

On thankfulness: I say thanks to my friends, my family, and my fans. Everybody who has helped me do what I do. I have enjoyed it. I am enjoying it.

Movie: The Hebrew Hammer

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

The surf has been pumping in Israel. Jew fever! Catch it!

Who knew the Med could whip up this kinda milkshake?

Ten days ago, a four-to-six-foot swell lit up the Israeli coastline. This film by Noam Eshel captures the best of Israel’s surfers at a surfing contest in Sokolov Beach, Nahariya, right there on the border with Lebanon, a dear friend to world Jewry.

Israel has waves and not just in some oblique theoretical way. Pull out that old school atlas and swing into the middle east. See how much fetch there is in the Mediterranean west to east? Over four thousand kilometres. Enough to create swells that’ll hit, at times, eight feet plus and light up one of the most wonderful collection of reefs, breakwalls and beaches you could ever imagine.

Take a swig!

Billabong Up North 2015 – אליפות ישראל בגלישת גלים, סוקולוב נהריה 2015 from BoardShop Israel on Vimeo.

Ask Pam (Episode 3): Dance Like Happy Black Chillun!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Come and romp with Dane and Courtney's french bulldog Pam! She was sick, but now she healed!

How can you trap the exuberance of Courtney Jaedtke and Dane Reynolds’ french bulldog Pam?

Over the course of the last four months, Ask Pam, an advice column that has covered topics as diverse as the loneliness of modern life, existentialism and the Solange-Jay-Z rift, has become a much loved and much visited part of BeachGrit.com.

And, today, Pam, advises on surviving in a dirty world (“Focus on doing you!”), how to market yourself as a pro surfer (“If you can’t do a super good air I recommend getting a single fin and getting a bohemian style”) and how to tap into a new vein of music (“Watch videos of other countries’ dancing”).

Everything seemed so useless until now! She purrs!

Send your own (audio) questions to Ask Pam ([email protected] or [email protected]). That voice memo function on an iPhone? It’s perfect.  Include a photo too!

Ask Pam (Episode Three): dance like happy chillun! from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

MEA CULPA: Vissla creates! Innovates!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

"I was wrong," says Chas Smith. "I mocked Vissla but it is flying out of shops! And they just signed Eric Geiselman."

I was in college, I think, when I first got on the Internet. Having grown up in rural, coastal Oregon “technology” consisted of quality mud flaps and the local 7-11’s big gulp machine.

My guide, sitting at our shared prefab desk in a cement block dorm cell, poked some keys on his Mac and there we were. Online.
“Look. I can chat with girls…” He said with a smug mouth.
“I chat with girls in person, you fucken nerd.” I responded with a smugger one. This internet ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of socially inept turds.
Years later, I remember when people started whispering about online shopping. I was online too, at this point, reading the news and buying airplane tickets but real shopping? Like buying denim? No way! “I buy denim in person, you. This internet shopping ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of people whose clothes don’t fit and who also shop at Costco.”
Years later, Vissla came out. I mocked its prefab hipster marketing but apparently it’s flying out of the shops, helping bouy mom and pops and, recently, they signed Eric older brother of Evan Geiselman. Eric totally rips. He is really good and fun to watch but no one ever sponsored him because maybe he was from Smyrna Beach? Or because maybe he didn’t smoke cigarettes and look all cool an industry insider told me. Whatever the case, the kid, who is no longer a kid, went sponsorless.
Like about the Internet, in general, and online shopping I was wrong!
God bless you, Vissla. But your sister D’Blanc is still a piece of shit.