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Real life: “I deserted the US Navy to Surf!”

Grey Baker

by Grey Baker

Navy stud splits military for a little self-awarded rest and recreation… 

I turned thirty this year. Had a bitchin’ birthday in the Basque coast of France, surfing Biarritz, Hossegor and anywhere I else I could find a wave.

First birthday I’ve spent not on a goddamn ship. After twelve years in the Navy, it’s been hard to get a birthday to myself. Or one of my kids’ birthdays. Or an anniversary with my wife.

That’s what we sign up for, right? See the world (it’s all water). Figure out who I am (an asshole, apparently). Protect the country (not once).

Hitting thirty really got me thinking. Twelve years of my life spent in servitude to the man. Answering the calls when they came. Leaving on a moment’s notice. It was time I packed my shit and did my own thing. Problem was, I had three years left on my naval contract. And I have bills to pay. Car, rent, all the normal suburbia bullshit. Not the most convenient time to chuck the deuces.

Things were pretty much normal for awhile. A port visit here and there, harassment from Russian fighter jets, missile scares from Syria. You know, the norm.

So my birthday came and went, and the time came for the ship to leave on another four month cruise (deployment). I said goodbye to the wife and kids for the fifth time in two years, crammed my boardbags into a corner on the ship and left our home in Spain to go give the world another dose of freedom (bullshit).

Things were pretty much normal for awhile. A port visit here and there, harassment from Russian fighter jets, missile scares from Syria. You know, the norm.

Then came our port visit to Marseille, France. I rounded up my drinking buddies (did I mention we like to drink during port visits) and told them, no worries, I learned some French this year on my surf trip (right).

When you visit ports with the Navy you have all sorts of restrictions, like having three people in a group at all times and one of the people can’t drink. Oh yeah, and a midnight curfew (I take exception to being thirty and having a midnight curfew).

So off we went into the sprawling projects of Marseille. Fistfuls of beer turn into whiskey, glasses of whiskey turn into more glasses of whiskey, and one thing leads to a blackout.

I wake up in a hotel room by myself. Awesome. I know I’m in deep shit when I get back to the boat so what better to do than to go tie one on again?

I get day drunk. I mean, for real day drunk. I get talking to the bartender at the Olympique Marseille official bar and I figure out the train station up the hill will take me back to Spain. To good old southern Spain: my house, the beach and far away from the boat and all the douche bags contained within. I try to shake the idea, cause its crazy, and I could go to jail. Military jail. Fucking military jail.

So I left. Well, almost. Its five and there aren’t anymore trains to Spain. There’s one to Biarritz, though. Tried to get a ticket to Biarritz, but either their machines were fucked up or I was too drunk to operate them. Got a hotel room, woke up early the next day, was back in Spain by noon. I didn’t make it all the way home until about midnight, however.

After three train rides and a taxi, still in the same clothes from two days prior, I rang the doorbell to my house. My wife answers the door, sees my face, and damn near faints. After a lot of crying and indiscernible yelling, I learn that there are multiple government agencies searching for me, from NCIS to the French Police, and they’re out in droves from Biarritz to trawling the surrounding waters in Marseille.

The night I didn’t return, they started to worry. It is no secret that our friends in that organization called ISIS, or something, are pretty active in the Marseille area. To make matters worse, since my cell phone had broken a few weeks prior, and I had been incomunicado for a few days, I checked my Facebook, and I had 40 messages from people trying to figure out where the fuck I was.

After talking to some friends after the fact, there were more than a few who figured there would be a youtube video of me losing my head being broadcasted sometime soon.

I called the captain of the ship, who just happens to be a great guy from South Africa (of all places), to let him know I was alive. We had a talk. He was really cool about the whole thing. I went back to the boat after about a month of paid vacation to face the music.

I got threatened with jail time and death penalties. I told them, fuck you I want out, and pretty much got out of the military that easy. In hindsight, they were probably a bit scared about keeping me around. None of the leadership on the ship had ever heard of anyone doing what I did.

Later, I was topside having a smoke and I crossed ways with captain. He told me he respected what I did and wished me luck.

If there is a moral, or some point to this story, it’s that no matter where you are in life, or how much bullshit you are in, if you don’t like where you are, roll the fuck out.

There’s always car payments, mortgages, and everything else to tie you down. But sticking around just because of those things will ultimately make you miserable.

To summary, fuck that. 

Chris Coté’s Action Sports Podcast!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

BeachGrit approved!

Chris Coté is something of a legend in the surf industry. Love him or hate him, you’d recognize his boyish and bespectacled profile just about anywhere. He’s like the white Masekela or the skinnier Drew Carey.

My introduction to Coté was through his work at Transworld Surf Magazine, where he helped build the most fun-loving surf rag in the States. I was pretty young at the time, but I vividly remember Coté getting grilled monthly in the Letters to the Editor section. He’d then reply with some sort of self-deprecating but inevitably victorious quip that would leave me rolling.

I don’t know this for sure but, based on his background in skating (and skating’s marvelous invention, King of the Road) Coté was likely the mastermind behind Transworld Surf’s Cali Rally — the high watermark in surfing extracurriculars.

But then Transworld went under in 2013 and Coté, the longtime Ed. in Chief, was without work. So what’d he do, sulk around aimlessly? Probably. Cry? Definitely. But eventually Chris recovered and leveraged his position in the surf world into a new profession: action sports broadcasting.

I use the term “action sports” because he covers both surf and skate, plus it’s in the name of his new podcast. I said his new podcast!

Monday M.A.S.S., or Monday Action Sports Show, although I’m fairly certain there’s an acronymical issue there, is the only podcast (to my knowledge) that offers weekly news on all things surf, snow, and skate. He’s currently five episodes into his new gig and, I’ll be honest, the first few aren’t so sexy but they’re getting better each time!

I’m particularly fond of Coté’s tone, which has the perfect blend of zest, ambivalence and satire. Much like anything written by Chas Smith, it’s hard to tell if Coté is praising or viciously roasting his subjects.

My favorite parts of Monday M.A.S.S include Coté’s downright assault on hi-perf longboarding (March 20th episode), his ongoing but unexplained feud with Robert Kelly Slater (most episodes), and his ability to lock in obscure sponsors like a standing-desk brand or a weed dispensary (every episode).

Peep it on iTunes!

The Inertia: “Weed steals your dreams!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Alt-right mountain blog stokes fear! Sows discord!

Alt-right sometime surf blog The Inertia has a list of enemies that stretches into the sunset. It includes, stories that don’t include lists, progressive shortboard surfing, Dane Reynolds, any lack of passive-aggression, enjoyable writing, getting to the point and above all marijuana.

Seven months ago, the Venice-adjacent gang entered into an official blood feud with marijuana, offering alternative facts in an attempt to create panic amongst the population. It is a tactic known as reefer madness. Shall we read and remember?

Yep, it ain’t all rainbows when it comes to reefer. There’s that little thing called addiction. And whether it’s mental or physical, addiction is very much a reality in the legalization movement. Dr. Samuel Ball, the CEO of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, sat down with Tech Insider to discuss the realities of today’s manufactured marijuana and its dangerous potency. Aside from the addictive mental properties in the plant, there’s also the damage it does to the lungs when smoked, which scientists still don’t know much about. Something to think about.

Yesterday, the Distributor of Ideas pushed out a questionable story pulled from an “expert” who claims that marijuana steals your dreams. Shall we read and laugh?

Business Insider recently spoke with pharmacologist, Dr. Samoon Ahmad about the effects of marijuana on our dreams. He goes into REM sleep and the fact that pot actually suppresses dreams. Beware of the rebound affect: stop smoking herb before bed and dreams can become wildly vivid.

Hmmmmm.

I mean ha!

BeachGrit TV: Girl Goes Into Orbit #3

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Lakey flies to Mexico with Filipe! Lesson one! Open your shoulders, turn head!

Sometimes, what the hell, go out and have a swing. Right?

And, so, here it is, Colima, rancheros country south of Manzanillo where Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels fight over control of the port. Where houses are surrounded by electric fences and a knock on the door causes the master to stiffen, look around, and whisper,

Is anybody expecting a visitor?”

Where the army blocks highways, soldiers outfitted with bulletproof vests and the sexy-as-anything Mexican-designed assault rifle, the FX-05.

At the airport, the customs officer says, “Stay safe.”

In the town that serves as the base for our project where Filipe Toledo, and Brett Simpson, attempts to coach, and coax, Lakey Peterson into a full-rotation air, fire crackers pop from dawn to midnight, mimicking machine-gun fire.

The beaches are empty. A series of wanton peaks, begging you to swallow their spoonfuls.

In this, the penultimate episode of our Girl Goes into Orbit series, Filipe and Brett instruct Lakey on how to erase a too-low bottom turn, why she shouldn’t grab her rail pre-flight, how to open the shoulders and why a face in an armpit ain’t necessary the stuff of kink.

Watch here!

(And if you missed ’em, here’s episode one – how to build a board that flies, and episode two – A brief history of full-rotation airs.)

WSL: What’s My Seed?

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Hope you brought your abacus!

The WSL has released the Margies heat draw and it is a doozy. I’m particularly keen for heats two (Kolohe vs. Fanning vs. Leo), six (John vs. Wiggolly vs. wildcard (#prayforJackorJay)), and eleven (Julian vs. Italo vs. Ethan).

But thinking about the event’s seeding, an important question comes to light. Why is world number one, Owen Wright, in the seventh seed? He’ll be wearing the yellow jersey in WA, but he won’t be facing wildcards. Instead, John retains the number one seed, followed by Gab and Jordy at two and three — though they actually switched spots since Snapper.

So, if Margie’s seeding isn’t based on this year’s standings nor last year’s end of season’s ratings, how does the WSL decide to rank individual surfers? Surely all the CT surfers must be asking, “What’s my seed?!” I contacted the WSL’s velvety mouthpiece, Dave Prodan, to find out.*

As it goes, beginning-of-the-year seeding functions within a specific algorithm. It looks like this:

Event 1 (Gold Coast): 100% 2016 / 0% 2017
Event 2 (Margaret River): 80% 2016 / 20% 2017
Event 3 (Bells Beach): 60% 2016 / 40% 2017
Event 4 (Rio de Janeiro): 40% 2016 / 60% 2017
Event 5 (Fiji): 20% 2016 / 80% 2017
Event 6 (Jeffreys Bay): 0% 2016 / 100% 2017

Because Owen started the year in the #1 Wildcard seed of thirteen and went on to win the Snapper event, his Margies seed will come 80% from the number thirteen and 20% from number one. When averaged and compared to the other surfers at the top of the rankings, Owen falls into the seven slot. Meanwhile John, who is working off 80% of one and 20% of three, retains the top seed.

The scale is slowly shifted throughout the season until JBay, when the 2017 standings take over the current seeding structure.

I will say, tentatively, that I agree with this system. Much like round three’s questionable reseeding plot, it’s a bit capitalistic in nature — the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor etc. But for the sake of the world title race it’s probably better than letting Snapper wholly dictate the seedings. Though, I can see how a 2017-centric seeding system would create more interesting heats earlier on in events, which is always a plus.

Now I’m all ears, kids. Is the WSL correct in maintaining the status quo, or should they open up the seedings and let all hell break loose? The latter is beginning to sound infinitely more fun…

* Technically this convo took place in 2016, and a similar article was written for Surfing Magazine (now residing on Surfer‘s site), but I figured this topic was worth rehashing on BeachGrit’s enlightened forum!