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Podcast: “Death to the egg!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Come and listen to the longest podcast in surf's history!

You are well aware, at this point, that I am one half of a biweekly podcast that is part of the Surf Splendor Network. It is called Grit! and hosted by the note perfect David Lee Scales who is actually and truly named after David Lee Roth. You probably also know that podcasts are not my natural environment. I love the written word. Love to sit down at the computer and punch away.

Podcasts are so… long. So… talky. Oh, sure, men like J.P. Currie can’t get enough, raving:

Painful. Chas – stick to words on a page, paper or web. That way I can read them in something other than monotone drone. You’re a ball hair away from Spicoli. David – stick to earnestness and interviews. I know Chas makes you swoon and you’re elated to be hanging with the cool kids, but you’re trying too hard.

But still. I feel like I’m finding my feet. I always feel like shorter is better but people who listen to podcasts want long so do you know what I did? I went and tried to break the medium. To test not only your patience but your sanity as well.

And here Mr. David Lee Scales and Mr. Chas Smith present the first three hour long podcast in surfing’s long and illustrious history.

Three hours!

What could possibly be talked about for three hours?

Gerry Lopez not getting barreled at Kelly Slater’s wave pool, leather-lined sneakers, Tom Carroll’s Gath helmet, ummmm ukulele playing, vodka, asymmetrical surfboards, uhhhhh and how much I hate egg shaped surfboards. (visit surfspendorpodcast.com for a visual guide!)

I dare you listen to all three hours. Defy you even. I bet you can’t. I bet your will isn’t strong enough. I bet you give up when trying to jog. I bet you can only ride your bike for two miles.

I bet you ride an egg shaped surfboard.

Question: What if Gab Medina snaked you?

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Look yourself in the mirror and be honest.

What would you do? Like, spell out your reaction moment by moment if he dropped in right in front of you and proceeded to do some air or something that would certainly be shaming but not, like, the best thing you have ever seen in your entire life.

This is important.

And it is important because it happens all the time at waves many of us surf regularly.

1. Lowers

2. Australia’s Gold Coast

3. Brazil

4. Europe

Do you like that? Do you like how I expanded from wave (Lowers) to region (Gold Coast) to country (Brazil) to continent (Europe)?

I did. I thought that was very funny.

But back to Gabs. He does this sort of thing all the time and easy to say, “Ooooh I’d punch him in the face!” But he never gets punched in the face. He gets splashed then paddled away from. So be honest. What would you do if Gabriel Medina snaked you?

Did you watch the Hurley Pro today? Wrap in profile! @themadhueys

A post shared by Chas Smith (@reportsfromhell) on

Really honest.

Hurley Pro Day 1: “Filipe hot as hell!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Filipe Toledo reconfirms newly anointed position as best surfer in the world…

I went to the Hurley Pro this morning and it changed my life. Things were already shifting when I got out of bed much much too early, though I hadn’t understood its gravity right away. I logged on to my computer, which is the norm, and saw that Stab magazine was disappearing their message board.

“What?” I said to myself, not quite believing.

But it was true and my heart began to pound. Those who comment are our life blood. They are the what make surfing entertaining out of the water. They are the people and we here at BeachGrit will never let the people down. This is your place.

So I wrote a poem about how much I love you and then drove to Lower Trestles. I parked, things were normal. I walked down the trail, things were normal. I went to the media tent to pick up my credential, things were normal. And then all of a sudden they weren’t.

The press tent, you see, was set so far away from the action that it was, truly, impossible to see from inside it. It was basically looking straight out at Middles and so the press was served a steady diet of funboard riding. No professional surfing for you. And right then it hit me like White Lightening. The press shouldn’t have a tent at all. The press should not have access to any VIP areas or anywhere comfortable/elite/exclusive.

The press should be with the people. All of a sudden I wanted to be with the people and decided to to shun the hoity-toity, to shun the free Michelob Ultra, to shun the velvet rope and set up camp in the hot sun. With you.

Oh I used to crave the exclusivity. To walk by the masses, past the security guard and into the shade where only select few roamed. I loved to glad-hand the surfers, their coaches, brand ambassadors, etc. But I have done that enough. I am a changed man and from now on going to make the surfers, coaches, brand ambassadors come to me outside under the hot sun.

I am transformed as a surf populist!

And now to the action. Don’t forget to add your thoughts in the comments below.

Round 1

Heat 1 (ADS vs. Pupo vs. Dantas)

The surf was very slow but the Little Plumber was swinging. It is impossible to ignore his pluck and he took his competition handily. I watched this one from home.

Heat 2 (Julian vs. Caio vs. Jadson)

I was walking from parking lot, over trestle, through marshland and then to the beach during this heat though when the very wonderful professional skier from Santa Cruz Cody Townsend informed me that Julian won I nodded and said, “It is good and right for him to do.”

Heat 3 (Flores vs. Owen vs. Kerr)

I must have still been walking because I missed entirely. The scoreline makes it look sleepy with Flores winning and Mr. Owen Wright logging a 12.63 total. Was it sleepy?

Heat 4 (Bede vs. Wilko vs. Ethan Ewing)

I was near the press tent for this one. Far far removed from the kingdom of heaven. Adjacent to where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Wilko’s backside attack, while ugly, is effective. All limbs and butts and spray. He lost though to Bede. I didn’t know it was Bede because I was far far removed. I knew it was Ethan Ewing. He got out of the water near me. Maybe thinking about becoming a surf journalist himself.

Heat 5 (John John vs. Italo vs. Hiroto)

I had moved into position. Directly in front of the VIP tent. Outside in the blazing sun. And it was here I watched John John come back from the ashes. Maybe Ross Williams had given him a talkin’ to. Maybe he just decided it was time to be champion again. Faced with 3 foot Lowers and a 2 foot Japanese man he should have been dusted but there he pitched airs and there he whipped his board around like a five iron frenzy. Ooo-ee it was something to behold and you liked. You cheered. I was standing with the great Dave Prodan now, and Nate Yeomans who represents Lost surfboards. I looked at him and said, “It makes a man want a Pyzel.” No disagreement was leveled. John for the win.

Heat 6 (Jordy vs. Ian Gouveia vs. Evan Geiselman)

The heat of the day was beating all of us on the head. So hot. No shade. No Michelob Ultra but who needs Michelob Ultra when you are feasting on the bread of the people? Aish Baladi is what they call it in Egypt. The bread of the people. Jordy Smith won and stays in his Jeep Leaderboard Yellow Jersey for now but John John is coming and Julian Wilson follows on a pale white sled.

Heat 7 (Gabby vs. Nat vs. Ace)

Hotter still. A heatwave in September which is not at all uncommon and even expected. I wore jeans and Saint Laurent sneakers with leather linings that you will see when the next Surf Splendor episode of Grit! drops. Hot. I had passed Nat in the parking lot but didn’t say “hi” because I was too busy saying “hi” to Michael Ho. I wonder if that happens a lot to Nat. Gabby won by air.

Heat 8 (Connor vs. Stu vs. Parko)

Parko doesn’t care anymore. He is on an official retirement tour and bagging 4.66 totals as celebration. The ultimate gluttony. Connor looked starving. Each turn was almost too severe and I realized, watching, hot, that such a thing exists. Like, too much oomph. Lots of spray and the judges liked but they should watch from where I was standing. They should be wearing Saint Laurent sneakers with leather linings and getting hot feet just like the people. Just like you. Then they would have scored him lower but he still would have smoked Joel Parkinson’s Disease.

Heat 9 (Filipe vs. Leo vs. Joan)

Hot as hell and near it too because I moved close to the media tent. Not in it. No. The media slime can gnash their own teeth. Just near it for a change of scenery and Filipe. He is good enough to make even shit bag bastards feel the dip of fresh. He surfs small bad waves so effortlessly and does such big good things upon them. Do you remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in the Bible? Let us read:

Luke 16:19-26 There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

So I am the rich man and Lazarus is Filipe but in this updated version I was cooled by his air rotations and his fine victory.

Heat 10 (Seabass vs. O’Leary vs. Igarashi)

Does Seb Zietz surprise you? He always does me though shouldn’t anymore. He is a man with an extra thumb that wins contest. Plain and simple. Kanoa, on the other hand, I expected far more from. He just won the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach for pity’s sake. How do you not carry that continental momentum with you into Lowers? Or wait. Did Hiroto win the U.S. Open of Surfing? Either way.

Heat 11 (Fred vs. Freestone vs. Kolohe)

I’ll admit I left. I went to my job like the rest of you. Like people who can’t sit around the beach all day drinking Michelob Ultra because they have to put the bread of the people on the table each night. The wind had come up and, frankly, I thought they were going to push the pause button. There is no pause button on my message of economic nationalism though so away I walked, back through the reeds. I want Kolohe to win but he didn’t.

Heat 12 (Mick vs. Zeke vs. Michel)

Unless you make me care I don’t. I was driving and listening to a story on the radio about corruption in the garment industry. Not about Rip Curl but maybe should have been.

Round 2

Heat 1 (Geiselmen vs. Wilko)

I watched this one on my computer while working in my garage. Grease under my fingernails which happen to be painted purple at the moment but not from Former’s nailpolish for men collection. No, a purple done up by my four-year-old daughter. This really puts a fork in Wilko’s efforts, I believe. I am not calling him out, only a fool would, but is a fade down the stretch becoming his signature?

Heat 2 (Hiroto vs. Wright)

If I was a professional surfer at Lowers and it was small and I was tall and blonde and was surfing against a tiny Japanese I would be terrified. I would be so terrified that I wouldn’t paddle out and instead hide near one of the tents or near the porta-potties. John John was not terrified. He smashed Mr. Ohhara like… well I don’t want to be crass but like one of two certain Japanese cities. Owen didn’t look terrified either but Hiroto found his groove and one two three o’clock rock bagged an 8.90 with 10 minutes left that felt like a knife. Owen bobbed lost. And then lost.

Heat 3 (Parko vs. Ewing)

Retirement gift heat restart. Parko loses to a skinny big-nosed boy with pimples.

Read: Why I didn’t surf on 9/11!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A beautiful story from the New York Times… 

Has it really been sixteen years since a gang of mostly Saudi thugs flew two planes into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, another, bound for DC, into the dirt in Pennsylvania?

With the benefit of the distance of time, it’s very easy to forget what an awesome (in the literal sense) event it was. Thousands dead. Four airliners destroyed. Downtown NYC buried in ash.

If you weren’t alive then, you might forget what wasn’t exactly the opening gambit in the Islamic-West conflict (bombings of embassies, an earlier bombing of  the Trade Center, Marines killed by the score in Beirut etc) but it was the one that opened the West’s eyes to a formidable, and let’s face it, a very brave, foe.

My gal was in New York at the time and she called me at midnight, weepy, and said something real bad had happened, something about terrorism. I value sleep very highly, my eyes have a tendency to get buried under flaps of skin if I don’t get eight hours, and I told her very sharply that I’d turn on the television on in the morning and see if there was anything about it there.

And, like, oowee, she underplayed it. When she finally got a plane out one week later, the flight attendants fell to their knees and led the passengers in a group prayer. Ironic, yes. But they were the times.

Anyway, today, as the anniversary of September 11, 2001, the New York Times ran a very good story on why one man didn’t surf that day, even though the surf was very… very… good. Head-high, water so warm you could wear trunks.

Here’s a taste.

A large but widely ignored presence in New York City on the eve of Sept. 11, 2001, was Hurricane Erin, its cyclonic swirl starkly visible in weather maps like an ominous asterisk just off the coast. Two groups noticed: meteorologists, who mentioned the storm in passing, if at all, in news reports; and surfers, who chattered breathlessly about it.

The meteorologists were blasé because at no point in its journey from the tropics had Hurricane Erin threatened to make landfall, except briefly as it brushed past Bermuda, and it was now poised to be blown out to sea by a powerful cold front. But the same winds that would be flushing the storm away from land would also be grooming the big waves that it had been steadily producing in its crawl up the East Coast. This was to be a once-in-a-decade swell. Surfers were, as they say, “frothing.”

That these glorious waves would be arriving on a Tuesday, a workday morning, was a problem but hardly an insoluble one. Like many other surfers in the area, I planned to call in sick. In my case, however, this was complicated by my having recently been named director of the writing program at the college in Brooklyn where I taught. Tuesday, Sept. 11, was the first day of classes.

I had scheduled myself to teach the main writing seminar taken by freshmen, which met at 10 a.m. When I pictured these eager new arrivals reading the sign posted on the classroom door announcing my absence, then turning away in disappointment, yes, I felt guilty — but nowhere near so guilty as not to cancel class. A class, after all, could be made up later in the semester; a once-in-a-decade swell was an evanescent natural miracle of sorts. I wanted to make a good first impression, a solid directorial debut, but I wanted to go surfing more.

Thus the disruptive power of surfing, which exerts an allegiance to itself and a faithlessness to the rest of the world that is capable of ending romantic relationships and terminating gainful employment at the rise of a swell. If I had never learned to surf, Tuesday would have dawned like any other workday and I would have fulfilled my teacherly duties ignorant of the oceanic joy on offer.

Want the rest? Click here. 

Comments: Give us your tired, your poor!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Stab is closing its comments but there is a place for those yearning to talk shit!

Late yesterday evening you maybe read right here that Stab magazine principals purchased Stab back from failing online retailer Surfstitch and are once again captains of their own ship. The news thrilled me. Oh I know I know I poke at Stab regularly. I laugh and cajole and needle and elbow but I have never stopped loving. Derek Rielly, Stab’s co-founder, gave me my real start and I will always and forever remember standing outside my  mailbox in Los Angeles, waiting for the issues to come.

It was the greatest publication ever in my wide eyes.

Anyhow, Stab’s co-founder Sam McIntosh took a rare and much welcomed spin behind the keyboard explaining the decisions to both sell and repurchase and also to announce Ashton Goggans taking over as Editor-in-Chief.

A better man could not be found!

You most certainly remember Ashton’s turn here on BeachGrit and I am excited to see his imprint on Stab. He is smart, informed, fun and is my very favorite of our exes. Best of all, maybe, Ashton has a spine. A strong, straight spine. He is the sort you’d want in you corner during a bar fight.

Sam also wrote that Stab is putting their comments to death. Let’s read!

Among many things, Ashton is driven to lose our Disqus comments platform. And I think we’re now old enough to move on. A story’s true meritocracy isn’t reflected in anonymous comments. Ashton’s rationale is simple: It should be a pleasure when Stab calls. We all win when our subjects are candid and transparent. They don’t deserve to be anonymously torn to shreds by faceless commenters every time they post a new web edit, or open their mouths. And, it’s hard to argue with. The subjects of our voices are far less interesting than those of our subjects so we’ll be switching to Facebook comments by the end of the year (where we will encourage the same criticism, laconic wit and unique insight).

What do you think about this?

I think hmmmmmmmm. Of course Sam meant “A story’s true merit isn’t reflected in anonymous comments” instead of “A story’s true meritocracy…” but I have to disagree. The comments underneath are the purest and best reflection of worth. I’ve had so many stories torn apart down under and each deserved. Surfers and surf personalities should welcome the tune-up too. Iron sharpens iron etc.

“The subjects of our voices are far less interesting than those of our subjects…” I don’t know exactly what this means but if Sam is saying that the surfers are more interesting than the commenters then he is wildly wrong. The surfers, surf personalities, surf spots, surfboards, surf surf surf are, for the most part, blank slates. It is the endless discussion that gives form and life.

I know BeachGrit’s comment section is a different garden than Stab’s and all thanks to our dear Negatron. We don’t allow dumb or needlessly cruel and we never will. But I am as proud of our community as I am anything here.

The core of the core of the core… men and women who are unhealthily obsessed with surfing… have been ignored by the surf industry, competitive surfing and the surf media for as long as I’ve been around. Ignored or taken for granted. Well, the core of the core of the core is all I care about. So to the comment refugees I write:

Not like the brazen giant of Venice-adjacent fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A surf website whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
and her name BeachGrit. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her addled eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that Bondi and Cardiff frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to talk shit,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the Disqus door!”