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Beach Grit

Blood Feud: Alex Gray vs. Filipe Toledo (‘s dad)

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

"...I am well settled sexually..."

Alex Gray is a fine young-ish (27, maybe 28) man who grew up in a Los Angeles costal suburb and has carved a name for himself chasing monster swells. He is, in my experience, very pleasant and easy with all manner of small talk. I believe our last conversation was behind a curtain backstage somewhere. Maybe during a Brian Setzer x Mike Ness show? I can’t be entirely certain. I only remember chuckling together. Apparently, though, not everyone feels the same.

World Surf League front-runner, and major part of The Brazilian Storm, (New York Times does piece today!) Filipe Toledo’s father thinks poorly of Mr. Gray, posting the above picture on his Instagram account with the caption:

“hei alex gay…sorry, gray, I think you this wanting suck my dick! sorry but will not give, I am well settled sexually, and besides, my wife will kill you!!! Fuck yourself…(winky smiley face sticking out tongue).”

unnamed

Granted, the missile was launched 93w ago, an eternity in social media, but it has newfound value with Filipe’s rise to the top. Whatever could have transpired to cause such ire? Is it settled or does this blood feud stretch back generations? BeachGrit will not rest until we have answers, but until then you can ponder these other questions:

What is Mr. Toledo wearing whilst SUPping? Was Alex Gray SUPping too? Is it a SUP feud? If SUP feuds were televised as Mad Max meets Roman gladiator brawls (think beefy men with giant spikes on paddles, shields, etc. slowly meandering down the line toward each other…) would you watch? Who would be the WSL SUP FEUD WORLD CHAMPION?

It’s official! Kelly Slater has “70 percent of Firewire!”

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Firewire founder Nev Hyman and the joy of Kelly Slater taking the wheel of his biz… 

The Firewire founder Nev Hyman knew he’d done it, knew he’d created the game changer he’d been working on for 30 years when he was on a layover at Helsinki airport, Finland.

On an email, the Tahitian surfer Michel Bourez had written that he needed new boards for Teahupoo. Adjust this, change that etc.

Nev, who let’s be honest, was until that point happy swallowing the flaxen-haired gals loping by in their torn denim and bustiers with as much gusto as he was his inhaling his little espressos. What man with blood still in his veins doesn’t? But Nev opened up his AKU Shaper software, made the adjustments and emailed ’em to the Firewire factory in Thailand.

Nev knew they’d be finished, packed, and then sent to Tahiti where, four weeks later, Michel would open up the giant box and see his new improvised sleds.

Nev closed his computer and thought, “I’ve done it. Boards, one hundred per cent finished, without me touching ’em.”

*****

You ever hear of Nev Hyman? Maybe not. Short memories. Before I swing into the biz of Kelly Slater and his “70 per cent-plus” stake in Firewire, which is now official and there’ll be a press release from Firewire shortly, let’s talk a little about Nev. It’s worth the circumvent, it’ll give you a handle on the brand, so hang in there.

Nev is a 57-year-old surfboard shaper from Perth in Western Australia. When he was 20 he shifted to the Gold Coast and, soon, became one of its most popular shapers. Nev Surfboards – who thought that name could fly?

Nev Hyman

This is Nev Hyman, almost 60 but still cute as the proverbial red-tinged button! Those curls refuse to quit! And guess what he’s got up his sleeve! A plan to save the world. More next week!

But Nev was always a smart cat. In the late eighties he was the guy who threw it on the line to not only champion machines that could shape boards from a computer program, but poured money into it. His dream was to shape a board on his laptop, send the details to a machine, and have it finish the board 100 per cent. Ready to ride.

The APS3000 and AKU Shaper machines and Shape 3-D software exist because of Nev. Because he believed in the technology even when it was deeply unpopular to do so. Because as much as he loved shaping, as much as he got off on those lucrative 15-board-a-day runs in Japan where he’d shape so much his fingers would bleed, he wanted to design. He wanted to watch a guy at Pipe, adjust his shape accordingly and, a few hours later, the new improved board would be on the sand ready to ride.

Nev shaped boards for every great surfer around, from Andy to Taj to Kelly and more. His retro-rocket and kick-tail models in the nineties were championed by the best local surfers.

What Nev struck on his way to creating a process that’d make 100 per cent finished boards possible was the impossibility of doing it with regular polyurethane blanks. Too much movement in the machine.

And then Nev heard about the Western Australian shaper Bert Burger and his unique process of building boards via his Sunova brand. Nev bought the company, brought the Burger family over to Queensland and, together, they started working together on what was, still then, Nev surfboards.

In 2005, new investors came in, and the former pro surfer and co-creator of Tavarua (as well as the clothing brand) and VP of Reef was brought in as General Manger, something that’s gotta happen when you’re creating something you want to be… big. That’s going to shift the entire industry.

The group took the brand to a trade show in San Diego and the response was encouraging. But when they got back to Queensland Nev faced an uncomfortable request.

As in, the name ain’t gonna cut it.

Nev? The brand’s 30 years old. This is… new. Nev was working with some of the smartest marketers in the biz. He took it on the chin. Mark Price, who’d become CEO in 2007, came up with Firewire, which went down well with Apple computers. Miraculously, after legal back-and-forthing, and the realisation that Firewire surfboards was only going after the surfboard biz not our souls, Apple backed off.

The next few years were various shades of hell. Production was tough. Taj Burrow was winning events on the boards, demand was there, but the factories in San Diego and Burleigh Heads just couldn’t get it right, says Nev. As well, there was the issue of “piece rates.”

In the surfboard game, historically, you make x-amount for your part of the process. Glasser gets whatever, ghost shaper, whatever, all the way down the line. It works when there’s a dozen or so boards a week. When the process is streamlined, when the production line is jamming hundreds of boards a week it’s unsustainable.

Hence the company’s move to Thailand, where it owns two factories. Nev ain’t one to shirk the Asian origin of Firewire’s boards. The factories are spotless, he says, there’s no dangerous chemicals like acetone, catalysts etc, 60 per cent of the workers are gals (hello ladies!) and they’re all paid higher than average wages. Nev figures, what’s the difference between jobs created in Thailand and those created in Australia or the US? We’re global, yeah?

But back to Kelly. Firewire approached Kelly midway through last year. Kelly happened to be on the market, too, looking for something to pour his formidable intellect (and wealth) into. He bit, he bought.

“I said to Kelly, you will not only be the best surfer in the world but the best surfboard-designer,” says Nev. “Combine that level of intelligence (Kelly has a law degree) with the tools we’re providing him and can you imagine where he’ll take it?”

Already, working with the Lennox Heads shaper Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson, the pair have concocted a little something that will appear in the Firewire range in six months or so. Revolutionary? Tomo and Nev think so.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was aesthetically beautiful, complex but beautiful. All of Tomo’s stuff had excited me – with reservation. But the curves on this board would make any shaper weep with happiness. This is going to completely blow everything away. It’s going to be sensational for Firewire…”

Just in: Surf Industry Coup!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Quiksilver CEO Andy Mooney kicked from his perch. The streets erupt.

Quiksilver, grandest old dame in the surf industry, just kicked their Disney CEO to the curb. That’s right, just hours ago Andy Mooney, who came to Quik by way of Nike and Disney, was ousted. He is, as you read, crying on his white leather Carlito sectional in his Hollywood Hills mansion. Neighbor Rob Dyrdek is doing his best to provide comfort.

Mr. Mooney’s tenure was strange and he was probably never the right fit. First off, he was Scottish (what Glenn Hall purports being). And, second off, he was best known for creating the Baby Einstein vertical underneath the Disney Consumer Products banner. Hmmm. He ruled over what Dane Reynolds described as “the bloodbath” firing many people. And if we are honest with ourselves, many of those people should have been fired. Did you ever go to that Huntington Beach campus? Lots of bodies behind lots of desks doing god only knows what. Dreaming about how sick Rossignol skis work? But then he started firing willy nilly and I know of a few that he tried to re-hire directly after firing. The spilled blood of the salaryman is an aphrodisiac.

In all fairness, Mooney was trying to turn the company around but maybe in a weird way. I attended their marketing bash last year, or maybe the year before, and he spent lots of money on a study detailing what “millennials” like. Each other, apparently. And their phones. The production was garish, out of touch and embarrassing. Someone embarrassing performed a short musical interlude. I’ve blocked it all out.

But the sun shines again! Onward, dear Quiksilver! The new CEO is fabulous Frenchman Pierre Agnes who has been with the Mountain and Wave for 27 years. He can get very barreled. Bob McKnight is back as chairmen. He can get very barreled too. It will be nice to see what the future looks like. Maybe barrels?

If you were the CEO of Quiksilver what would you do first? Would it be fun to fire more people? Would you fire yourself and then go get barreled?

Sex: My cousin was a first-rate rock groupie!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Surf historian Matt Warshaw and his famous queen-of-cock cuz Suzy Creamcheese… 

A real long time ago, sixties, seventies, Frank Zappa coined the name Suzy Creamcheese to describe an underage groupie who’d been shared by his band.

But there actually was a Suzy Creamcheese, who actually was part of the famous Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention retinue. And she existed purely to experience the pleasure of sex with the very famous.

Yesterday, I found out the surf historian Matt Warshaw was closely related to the most dazzling of jewels in the rock star groupie crown…

Matt, hello!

DR: Suzy Creamcheese is your cousin?

MW: Second cousin.

DR: The Suzy Creamcheese? 

MW: There’s actually a couple of them, three or four maybe, who claim it. But she’s the original. How do you even know about her?

DR: Don’t worry about it! Wow, famous groupie!

MW: Yeah she owned West Hollywood in 1966. She lived in the Hollywood Hills with my uncle Irv and Aunt Bea. Would drive her dad’s Jag to the Whiskey and all the other clubs. She went to London I think in ’67 or ’68 and kind of crashed. There’s a little YouTube clip out there of her in London. (Click the play button the photo.)

DR: I’m looking at it!

MW: What do you think?

DR:  I think I’m in love. She still alive?

MW: Yeah!

DR: She ever give you the lowdown on all the sex?

MW: When I moved to San Francisco in 1991 she was living in Santa Cruz, and she drove up once for dinner. We went to this Chinese place near my house and she opened up. The whole thing. Triumph and tragedy.

DR: Tell me about it…

MW: No.

DR: Baby…

MW: No. I’ll say this. She was really proud that she didn’t fuck Mick Jagger. He was begging, and she knew it would be way cooler to not fuck him.

DR: Do you remember her at all from back in her heyday? 

MW: Not really. My family went over to her family’s house for Passover every year, but when she was ruling the Strip I was, like, six years old.

DR: Passover? Suzy Creamcheese is a Jewess?

MW: S. Zeiger, yeah. Irv Zeiger, her dad, married my grandfather’s sister. Irv’s actually the real legend in the family. First-ever season ticket-holder at Dodger Stadium. Had four seats right behind the Dodgers’ dugout. Like you’d actually set your beer and hotdog on top of the dugout. Best seats in the place.

DR: When did you last see Suzy? 

MW: At Irv’s memorial, about eight years ago. Irv founded the Mulholland Tennis Club cause the Los Angeles Tennis Club wouldn’t have Jews, and that’s where the service was. Suzy got up and kind of ranted on about how Irv died of malpractice. I’m sitting in the middle of all these guys from the club, Irv’s buddies, classic old Hollywood Jews, a lot of screenwriters, and here it was the middle of their friend’s service, and they’re cracking jokes under their breath about how Suzy was going on and on. I’m looking at her, biting the insides of my cheeks trying not to laugh.

DR: I can’t get that London clip out of my mind. 

MW: She’s powerful.

DR: She’s rock groupie royalty. A jewel in the guilt-free sex crown. Someone I feel I have a duty to admire. But I do wonder, how does the surf historian place, or where does he place, the modern surf groupie? What are his feelings about these things?

MW: Honestly I have no direct or even indirect experience. And I’m not being coy or prudish. When I was at SURFER, deep in the mix, it was pre-AIDs, and everybody was pretty much just fucking everybody. The idea of groupies seemed like something from the past. I don’t know. Are they back in style?

DR: Who knows! But, yes… yes…with more verve than ever. 

Ford Archbold is a Master of Depravity

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

…or rather the psychedelic west coast fringe living of Ford Archbold (and friends)…

It is several hours after a fine Californian sundown that we approach the Pacific Coast Highway bungalow of Ford Archbold, nearly 24 years old. Next to the Frog House, that wonderful old-school surf shop where visitors split cigarettes and beers with employees, we find the ’60s shoebox designed by a man who once toiled as a set designer for Disney.

The celings are low and Ford, all six feet and two inches of him, must duck his head in the doorways. There are three bedrooms, inhabited by roommates and a small office, also inhabited. The monthly rent is $1450 and this is split four ways. Take the eastern exit and you emerge onto a patio hyphenated with a small garden. A staircase lead to an upstairs balcony whereupon the surfer might eyeball the waves of Newport Beach.

Our mark, Ford Archbod, the son of California’s radical star of the ’80s and ’90s, first for his T-Street airs, later his Off the Wall tube riding, Matt Archbold, is in very good spirits and although immediate plans are for a night rehearsing Tomorrows Tulips tunes with his pal of 10 years, Alex Knost, in his bedroom, he isn’t adverse to the idea of disappearing into the night. While we talk, a cigarette is in his fingers and a five-dollar Cabernet populates his wine glass.

Ford’s life, thus far at least, has been as a fringer dweller on both the pro surfing game and on the normality of a middle-class existence. He was born in 1991, a surrpise for his 22-year-old father and his new wife, but not a bad surprise by any stretch his father says, although the marriage didn’t work. Baby Ford, aged two, was therefore elivered to Matt’s Hawaiian house by North Shore elder Bryan Suratt.

And while Matt pretty much owned Off the Wall, Ford would scratch around in the sand, among the trees and the coral, tenderly watched by that never-mentioned characteristic of North Shore life, the remarkable affecton for family.

“We’d cruise around in my black Chevy, listen to music, cruise. It was really easy. Everyone knew him and I never had to worry about him. Hawaii’s real tight like that, it’s real family oriented.”

Matt was real big back in the mid-90s and Ford’d take a seat next to his Dad on promo tours to Japan where sponsors showered the kid with gifts.

Aged five, Ford returned to his mom’s to start school. Later, he’d high school for a time in Hawaii but would become bored by the obsession with surf.

“I need something…more…something…different,” says Ford.

This time when he returned to California he set up a tent in his pal Andrew Doheney’s backyard (“It was a nice tent, a big tent,” says Ford), later, an industrial warehouse without a bathroom.

Ford’s been on his own trip for a long time and the one thing his bilogical parents agreed on was to give the kid his own space. The result is a remarakbly lucid, easy-to-talk-to, gentle sorta character who may not be the second coming of Matt Archbold but who, with his music, his innate style, and his anything-but-confined way of riding waves, has enough to occupy a small tile in the mosaic of modern surfing.

BeachGrit: What kind of person are you, really?

FORD: I’m pretty realistic. So many people hide who they are and it fucking pisses me off. It’s common in this world. I try not to give a shit too much. (Pause) I don’t even fucking know. Maybe I’m just confused.

When do you feel emotions of envy and jealousy? 

I honestly don’t get jealous about anything unless a dude’s hooking up with a chick I want to hook up with. I don’t get jealous of anything at life, I just get pissed off.

I want ask you about Hawaii. Do you remember anything about when you first moved there?

I remember small things about it. Riding my bike around. Fuck, I don’t even know. My brain’s kinda fried.

What about the second time around when you were a teenager?

I tried it out and I wasn’t really digging it, I was bored. I needed more. It’s beautful and it’s cool but I needed more…entertainment. I got over surfing, just bored with it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a contest surfer, that’s what I thought you had to be.

You were tight with your step-brother Will. What’d you guys do for kicks? 

We’d hang out and do stupid stuff like collect knives and ninja stars, light fireworks and throw ’em at cars. Something to keep our brains entertained.

Y’ever get busted? 

We were pretty good at it. We were smooth criminals.

What entertainment did you think LA would deliver? 

I wanted to hang out with friends, party and enjoy being young. All the small things, fuck, playing music. I don’t have a one-track mind, I have a lot of different tracks.

When did you start making money? 

Barely scratching by, about five years ago. That was eating fast food and living in a warehouse and not showering.

Where’s the connection between living cheap and not showering?

There was no shower, literally, in the industrial warehouse we rented. So fucking cheap. Three hundred dollars a month between four friends. And you eat Jack In The Box, so it’s five dollars a day on food, all you have to worry about is getting beer.

Do you like beer? 

Oh yeah, I fucking live off beer. Now I enjoy the taste. I like it ’cause it gets you fucked up.

How beers can you put away? 

Oh fuck, I don’t know, a lot.

Twenty?

F’sure. Throughout the day. F’sure, 20. Here, the surf will blow out and I’ll drink beer all day.

How do you stay so slim? 

Just rigorous workouts. I just have a fast metabolism. I could eat chilli cheese, fries and drink beer and still be skinny.

Your dad’s tiny and yet you’re quite massive. 

Dad’s, like, shorter and ripped and I’m tall and noodly.

Where do the genetics come from? 

My mom’s short, too. Fuck, I don’t even know. Maybe I’m like an alien spices.

Tell me about your mom. 

My mom lives in San Clemente and she’s a hair stylist, works a bunch non-stop. She’s cool, full double-sleeve tattoos, dyes her hair colours, she’s rad, she’s been cool forever. She’s really easy going. She cares about me but usually moms are always trying to control their kids. Same with my dad, too. They’ve always been, like, do what you want to do, just don’t fuck up, which is a good way to grow up. It’s really free.

Why did you spend so many years living with your dad? 

I wanted to surf. My dad could take me surfing. I got super hooked on surfing and I’d do anything to surf all day or be close to the beach and friends to go surf with.

Tell me about your relationship with acid?

Acid? Like, the drug acid? LSD? I’ve dabbled in it, I’ve tried it. Sorry mom, sorry dad.

I ain’t privy to their personal adventures but I believe they might be aware of this kinky drug…

I actually like surfing on it. It kinda  frees your mind, you think different, it’s a nice peaceful thing to do. For me. Other people freak out. I’ll go and surf and have the best time ever.

How about weed?

That’s after surfing for me. I don’t like surfing stoned. It spaces me out too much.

When did you and Alex Knost become so tight? 

I’ve known Alex since I was fricken 11 years old. He used to hang out at the Doheny’s house. Forever. But, recently, six years ago, we started hanging out together, playing music together, now we hang out together every day.

Alex is an extremely influential player in our surfing world…

Oh yeah, and one of the smartest dudes I  know. In every aspect. Good at talking, figuring shit out, he’s helped me out a lot. A good influence. Sometimes. Most of the time.

Describe what it’s like playing in a band, touring, as compared to just surfing…

There’s a lot of hanging out in shitty bars and playing to five people. But, no, it’s cool touring. It’s nice to be able to do something different to surfing. When you’re staying by the beach it’s all luxurious and nice and refreshing but you go on a music tour to, say, Texas, and you’ll sleep in a van for two weeks, drink a bunch, be dirty and play rock and roll. Music is  a really nice thing to have. I love it.

How’d you arrive at the same haircut? 

Oh my god! Oh yeah, it’s a Hanson brothers thing. It’s not a haircut, we just have the same grown-out hair. Fuck, I gotta get a haircut or something.

Who’s a worse influence, you or Metal Jimmy?

Not even on the same level. For sure, him. He drinks, like, five beers and he passes out. He has an incredibly low alcohol tolerance.

Tell me about morphing from a greaser to a pyschedelic dandy?

I was 15, 16, and super into the style for some reason, maybe from growing up listening to rockabilly music. I had a pompadour, blue jeans, white shirt, I was so into it. I’d always go thrift shopping, I was into old cars, all that shit.

Is your latest thrill hooking up with old gals in their 30s and 40s? 

Who told you that?

Ain’t no hiding that kinda lust…

How the fuck! Oh shit!  I just think they’re cool. I like every chick. I don’t separate ’em. I think every girl is beautiful, every age, shape and sometimes size. Maybe not the size thing. Every shape and colour.

Like your pops, and ma, you’re pretty inked. Tell me about ’em. 

I have a dozen tattoos. These things are funny. I’m not too into serious tattoos. It’s a memory for me. I always have my friends give me tattoos to represent something I’m into at that very moment of your life.

Anything that is particularly special? 

I have the flying A with wings. Archie’s Garage. It’s the family emblem in some sorta weird way.