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Beach Grit

Just in: Chas Smith Goes to Tokyo!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

I know I once wrote bad things about surfing and the Tokyo Olympics but now my heart soars!

The 2020 summer Olympics, to be held in Tokyo, are almost here and it will be surfing’s biggest moment ever! Our debutante ball! Our Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah and quinceañera and christening all rolled into one!

I know I wrote the brilliantly titled The Olympics Made Surfing Lame, Somehow just last year for The Daily Beast. Would you allow me to read some of my own work?

Surfing is probably going to be in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is stupid and everyone I know agrees.

Oh it sings! It sings like the most shimmeringly intelligent angel in all of heaven picked up a pen and started scribbling a chorus but the beauty of the language obscures its messaging. That surfing shouldn’t be in the Olympics, which is just wrong.

And can’t a gal change her mind?

The laughs we are going to have! The costumes surfers will wear in the opening ceremony! John John Florence surfing for the newly seceded island nation Hawai’i! Gabriel Medina leading the Brazilian contingent in a cleanly shorn version of Girl from Ipanema pre heats.

It will be glorious!

And I just had to come early. To see this Tokyo that will stage our big coming out. I’ve been once before but it was a long time ago and I had a fat orange man as my friend and guide.

The flight from San Francisco was uneventful save United charges for booze and I racked up a rather large bill on Titos and first ginger but then the sweetness overpowered so shifted to soda. My seat was littered with tiny bottles and I wondered what Kelly Slater would think about my footprint but then remembered he flies private to Europe and that is a heavy personal load to carry. Much guilt etc. Our surfers should think about this and either bring their own vodka in glass bottles from Duty Free or just not care about Mother Earth for 10 hrs. Kelly Slater, anyhow, would be a better source of advice on this point.

Everything worked smoothly once we touched down at Narita and our surfers are in for a real treat. The Japanese are polite and helpful. I was first dubious, trying to sniff out a scam, and this lead to confusion as the nice lady at the train station was just trying to save me some money.

One hour later, I arrived cleanly in my hotel near the Shinagawa station and maybe our surfers should stay here as well. It seems both high class but in the heart of the action.

A short time after this I found myself seated at Gonpachi. It is the restaurant that hosted the final flawless scene of Kill Bill. You recall. When Uma Thurman savaged all the little men with black masks. And, at the Olympics, who will our surfer version of Uma Thurman be? Will it be John John Florence flourishing his blade? I think likely but am also practicing my Hawai’ian nationalism.

kill-bill-vol-1-e1450271047319

The restaurant, in any case, was truly fantastic with wonderful service and delicious miso soup and sake. Our surfers should try and I would make specific menu recommendations here but feel I’ve already gone on too long about contrivances that add very little to the general fund. Am I trying to be the next Rory Parker or something?

I joke, I joke! There will only be one Rory Parker. Noted writer, national treasure etc. etc.

In any case, so far so good for our surfers. Tomorrow I’ll head to the beach. Or Harajuku.

Chris Burkard’s Effervescence for Expression

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Frozen fingers capture the best moments!

Chris Burkard describes arctic photography as Type-Two fun. The kind of experience that is dreadful in present but memorialized in the highest regard. Comparable to surfing big waves, road trips, high school.

Burkard grew up chasing the windblown blahs of Cental Cal, only to discover that its hilly and diverse terrain was better geared towards photography than high quality surf. Picking up a camera at 18, he conceived a new form of expression that would come to redefine him and his bank account.

Burkard was quick to realize that surf photos don’t pay for shit, so he expanded his interests and captured the world as a whole. He’s now one of (if not) the most coveted and successful surf photogs in the world. Cold and stormy are his M.O., making this Icelandic sojourn something of a peak moment for Chris. “This is maybe one of the most insane things I’ve ever seen in my life,” says he.

I found this video to be simultaneously inspiring and destructive. I don’t generally get all mushy about surf, but gliding under the Northern Lights might be the pinnacle of our art. The whole ordeal appears so palpably spiritual, even existential (hey Chas!) in nature. That said, it’s hard to conceive of  circumstances that would lead to my experiencing it. I just don’t want it bad enough. The cold, the waiting, the trying to fit my Beachgrit boardies over a 6-5-4 — it’s too much!

So I’ll continue to chase tropical perfection until my skin cancers and dilapidates. But something tells me I’ll never be fulfilled until the light at the end of the tunnel screams green and blue and blood orange. Take me with you, Chris Burkard!

Kepa Acero Narrowly Escapes Death at Mundaka!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Busted neck. Saved by pals!

Kepa Acero almost died on Monday. The Basque-country native and jovial globetrotter took an exquisite tumble at his home break of Mundaka, breaking his neck and temporarily losing the ability to move his arms and legs. He was saved from drowning by some of his close friends. Below is a translation of his Instagram post on the matter.

I can only start this post by thanking everyone that has been by my side in these past couple days. It’s been a really hard time for me and those close to me. I would especially like to thank Lander and Iñigo who saved my life at Mundaka. I will be forever grateful.

The second of January, at midday, I had a near-fatal fall at Mundaka. I fell and hit my head against the bottom, and at that moment I lost consciousness. The only instant that I can remember was under water – wanting to break the surface, but my hands and legs wouldn’t obey commands.

At that moment I thought I would never come up.

I don’t remember anything else. I then found out that Lander and Iñigo put me on their boards and took me out of the impact zone. I even lost vision.

My friends <3 @natxogonzalez1 @nando_arostegi @eukenimasa and @aletxugironi got me out of the water, and after hours of agony I got to the hospital. They told me that I had broken my neck, broken and displaced my cervical, and broken a dorsal. Miraculously the spinal cord was not damaged so I can be thankful for feeling and being able to move my body, legs and arms. I have the sensation of being born twice in the same day. My thanks go to everyone that has kept me company, to those who rescued me, doctors, all the ones who have cheered me on, to fate and to life – especially to life.

Thank you again, and now more than ever I am going to enjoy life. Devour it, ‘cause it’s ours.

I get surgery on Wednesday.

A big hug to all <3<3<3<3

Scary moments for Spain’s second biggest tube-hound. We wish Kepa the best through his surgery and road to (hopefully a full) recovery. Left hand points wouldn’t be the same without him.

Oh and just for kicks, here’s a little edit of the swell that almost nipped him. Kepa is the primary slider!

Créme: 2016’s Most Blistering Short!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

We've got the best moving pictures!

Créme – French word for cream. Also denotes something of top quality in modern-day English.

From here on out I’ll be delivering the Créme a la Grit, in the form of curated surf videos and their principally biased descriptions. Who do I think I am, Rory Parker? Hardly. In basic terms, I am a Surfing Mag reject, hell-bent on stoking the ashes of a five-day career in the surf biz.

For the sake of this extended series (I’ve signed on for a month!), consider me your Cousteau of the cinematic seascape. I’ll be scouring the web in search of deep-sea treasures, sometimes Titanic, others pure Gold. Either way, you can trust not to find any Larry, Curly, or Moes on your beloved Grit. As our manifesto states: “We believe in recycling plastic and paper and St Laurent jeans but not clips from B-ish surfers.”

Without further ado, your first installment of Créme — a retrospective glance at the best short of 2016: Luke Hynd and Darcy Ward’s The Set Menu

First, Darcy Ward.

The 21-year-old Gold Coast filmmaker is talented beyond his years. If The Set Menu didn’t moisten your muffin, then 1. you have poor taste (Staff Picks don’t lie) and 2. take a gander at Darcy’s Vimeo page — there’s something here to please even the most grizzled weblord.

Next, Lukey Hynd.

Genetic traits follow one of two presets: dominant or recessive. Derek Hynd is the fortuitous by-product of a recessive gene orgy, one that created an icon of eccentricity and flair. He is the physical manifestation of good luck. A fin-forsaking anomaly. A generous uncle.

Yes, Luke Hynd’s personal brand of cool can be directly linked to Uncy D. The laissez-faire approach, long flowing locks, and greed for solitude are built into the Hynd DNA. Being too young to have experienced Derek during his explosive twenties, I relish in the good fortune of sharing an era with his second-coming.

Lastly, The Set Menu, in whole.

A surf film succeeds when it transports the viewer from his physical living space to an inescapable vortex of sight and sound. From the point when Luke makes searing eye contact with a much-too-close water camera at 1:27, I was hooked. At 2:53, Darcy captures one of the most cinematically flawless surf shots of all time. If those don’t cut it, Luke’s solo sessions at not one but two terrifying slabs are enough to make the blood run arctic.

The Set Menu was the best short of 2016. If you haven’t already, go give ’em a click.

Six Books Every Surfer Should Read!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

…that have nothing to do with surf.

…but are great pieces of literature. Foundational pieces.

1. Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh

… is the most awesome piece of racism that you’ll ever read. I love it so much. Racism is, anyhow, a social construct that is almost always funny. Even when people really mean it, it’s funny. I know, I know, it’s easy for me to say since I’m white. But Waugh elevates the idea of national building in Africa to such ridiculous heights. It’s the sort of old-timey aristocratic remove that today’s social liberal would cry about. Waugh doesn’t take himself seriously either. The well-bred Englishman star of the show is absurd. Awesome. I can’t talk about it anymore. You should go and buy a copy right now.

2. The Gallery by John Horne Burns 

…make-a-me cry. It’s not a linear tale, rather a series of vignettes told in World War II Naples, Italy. I remember going to Naples and thinking the pizza tasted delis and the men dressed like greasy wops. Burns’ impressions are much more devastating. It didn’t make me cry because it was said (you’re a jerk for thinking me a pussy!) rather the bugs of brilliance are overwhelming. I can’t do it justice. Here’s a piece. “Every five minutes she looked out the window into the swirling foggy streets to see if there were any New Zealanders coming. She remembered what Il Duce had said the Kiwis would do to the women of Italy. She had Giulia fetch the carving knife from the cupboard. She promised that this knife would finish in Giulia’s heart if ever a New Zealand tread were heard on the stairs. Then Mamma would turn the knife, smoking from her daughter’s blood, on herself: for who knew that even a matron of her age would be safe from ravishing New Zealand soldiery?” OH MAN! So good, and as a bonus, highlights the perversity of New Zealanders.

3. The Plague by Albert Camus

…is considered an existential classic. A few years ago I loved existentialism because I liked how the word looks.

E X I S T E N T I A L I S M

It sounds good when you say it and it can be attributed to almost anything. “Hmmm, that experience I heard you talking about is soooo existential.” Then I read Sartre and barfed all over his ugly face and thought maybe existentialism wasn’t so pretty. Camus was handsome to the point of ironically beautiful. The very picture of French Algerian masculinity. He had tuberculosis but smoked like a chimney and the cigarette was always at a jaunty angle. I love the absurd. And I love Camus and I love The Plague. We have no control, baby. None at all. I think that makes many people sad. It makes me happy.

4. Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis 

…is breathless. I’ll only vouch for the first half, which kicks dick. Bret Easton E’s popular culture references, shot at machine-gun speed, will blow up your mind. The way he lists celebrity names in long sentences is genius. I don’t know how he does it. He just lists celebrity names and creates a huge meaning from the list. It’s just too good. Also, the main character, Victor, is the most vacuous creation ever. Love it. You’re on your own at the point Victor is involved in a lengthy homosexual ménage. It sorta goes downhill at that point. But the first half? Fag-u-lous!

5. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer 

…is long, rambling and shot through with radiance. Set in the South Pacific during WWII. Bummer. It seems as if I have a WWII fetish. It’s going to lead to sexual role-play if I’m not careful.

6. The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

GK is one of the most fabulous men to ever live. He was big and fat and wore a cape. He loved paradox. This is a good story and two interesting historical figures counted it among their favourites: Michael Collins, famous Irish Republican white terrorist took from the book, if you don’t seem to be hiding, no one will hunt you out. And Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent who sold tons of secrets to the USSR used to give the book to his friends. Good enough for me.