BeachGrit's mascot is poor.
And we also look at Jordy Smith sobbing on the shores of Jeffrey’s Bay, blubbering openly, with great joy. Jordy is only slightly older than Gabriel and has only slightly more professional experience but the way he has given himself over, completely, to emotion makes it impossible to criticise.

surfers who weep like gals!

Winning a contest or even second is the best! But to weep? Like gal?

Crying is a poignant reaction to life’s cosmic drama. Diane Warwick, singer and champion of psychics, said, “Crying is cleansing. There’s a reason for tears.”

And she is right but she is also a she. Crying for a man, however poignant, whatever the reason, is a dicey proposition. Crying for the sporting man even dicier. Crying for the surfer, who practices the softest sport of all, the diciest. Which is not to say crying, for the surfer, is always wrong. We don’t believe in cruel blacks and whites at Beach Grit. We believe in open hands and open hearts. We practice a severe benevolence.

But we also look at Gabriel Medina’s watery eyes, beret perched on Rip Curl cap, with disdain. He is rubbing away the tears like a toddler after losing to Julian Wilson in Portugal. His expression is dour. Gabriel is, without doubt, very competitive but, and here is the irony, he is not old enough to cry after defeat. He is not old enough to cry after victory. He dwells in those tender years when crying is not appropriate because, quite simply, he has not experienced enough ups and downs to justify it. When he felt the watery sting begin to boil behind his eyes he should have marched off the stage in a huff. Being a bad sport is much preferred to being a bad sport and a baby.

Gabriel crying after coming second to Julian Wilson at Portugal Rip Curl Pro
When Gabriel felt the watery sting begin to boil behind his eyes he should have marched off the stage in a huff. Being a bad sport is much preferred to being a bad sport and a baby.

And we also look at Jordy Smith sobbing on the shores of Jeffrey’s Bay, blubbering openly, with great joy. Jordy is only slightly older than Gabriel and has only slightly more professional experience but the way he has given himself over, completely, to emotion makes it impossible to criticise. Jordy is crying like he has just accomplished the hardest thing on earth. He is crying like he alone, through sacrifice and great effort, brought lasting peace to the Middle East. His face is a mask of unimpeded emotion and it is so out of line with just winning J-Bay that it shall forever endure as Beach Grit’s icon.

And we also look at Kelly Slater weeping into the microphone in Puerto Rico after his victory and Andy Irons death. This was a dark, dark day in surfing’s relatively bright history and Kelly’s torture mirrored that of so many. It was a fine reaction to real loss. Kelly took the burden of tears and allowed others to be remain solemn and sad without also weeping. Through thick and thin, Kelly Slater has always been our ambassador. Our great totem.

Yes, the crying surfer is the diciest proposition but, as Diane Warwick said, “The problem with fame is you no longer belong to you. You lose your persona and become the object of other people’s obsession.” Amen.


(Editor’s note: The photo of Jordy weeping like gal is by English/Surf Images)

Bruce Irons


Thirty-something Bruce Irons was once the best "free surfer" in the world. Then he turned philosopher in this archival interview!

What are your favourite sounds? Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! The sound of my ten-reel getting screamed by a Yellowfin [tuna]. This year we’ve had one of the best Yellowfin seasons ever. Officially, I’ve caught seven all from 150 to 200 pounds and one 500-pound marlin. All right in front of our house. My baby is making all these little noises that are priceless. All these little eee-eee, ooo-ooo, ah-ah. Goo goo, gah gah, that kind of shit. Everyday is a different little noise.

What is the most curious album in your collection? A GG Allin album that Nathan Fletcher put me onto. He’s an old-school punk guy, long dead. He’s a crazy, crazy old punk rocker (Allin was famous for his live shows in which he would often defecate on stage, perform naked, cut himself and sometimes, when hunger beckoned, he would eat his own shit).

What is heaven for you?  Getting stand-up shacks, catching big Ahis [another name for Yellowfin tuna], watching my baby grow and um, Kauai. Wait, I’m in heaven right now.

What is hard for you? Communication is hard. Sometimes I don’t want to pick up the phone and return calls for a week. Getting back to my so-called ‘responsibilities,’ is hard. Leaving Kauai. You get in a groove here and you don’t want to leave. It’s a little island, with a real tight island community where everyone knows everyone and it’s hard to leave your friends and family.

What is right with the world? We haven’t had a total nuclear-fucking-mayhem-weapons-of-mass-destruction bomb test yet. All this nuclear-fucking-mass destruction talk and still no one’s pulled the trigger. If one person pulls the trigger, we’re all fucked. Who wants to be the first idiot?

Describe a scene from a movie that moved you? Wave Warriors III changed my whole perspective when I was nine years old. To see Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher and Pottz, at that time, doing airs and high-performance surfing – it changed my life forever. Archy at Trestles doing big backside grab airs. Christian Fletcher doing the fucken biggest airs. Johnny Boy was doing these backside back flip snaps. That was in ’89! I watched that section a week ago and it still pumped me up. It’s got the sickest soundtrack and the baddest airs. That was the beginning of innovation in surfing.

What is your motto or words to live by? My mum always said, respect your elders and treat someone, as you would like to be treated. Respect your elders is a Catch-22. If you respect someone and they don’t respect you back, fuck them. If someone is gonna shit on you, fuck them. Which is where the other part of the saying comes in.

What remarkable things have you found in remarkable places? I just came back from Mexico and it was a good reality check to see how good we have it compared to them. I was hanging with this crazy gnarly local gangster guy. He had three kids and he’d been in a Chicago prison for five years, for having a lot of drugs and a machine gun, I think. Heavy duty shit. He’d taken over this broken-down abandoned home and hooked it up with electricity and water. I walked into a room and there were his three little girls sleeping on a hard concrete floor on a towel. To talk to the guy and see how happy he is, with his chick and his three kids, just to be alive, made me appreciate that I’m spoilt.

“If you respect someone and they don’t respect you back, fuck them. If someone is gonna shit on you, fuck them.”

What do you wonder about? I’m more cautious about living and staying alive. I want to see my daughter grow up. Little things like wearing a seat belt and not driving drunk, which I overlooked before I had my little baby. I still make those dumb decisions but I try to cut back on them. (Does that cautiousness extend to surfing?) No. In those situations I feel comfortable because I’m confident that I can control what’s happening.

What’s your most thrilling surfing experience? Surfing Teahupoo at 15-feet plus with some bigger ones… you’re looking at waves that can kill you. We surfed a tow session in Kauai with my brother, Kamalei [Alexander] and Parko. It was one of the sessions of my life. Reallly big, big day, and this one spot that people usually paddle was randomly holding it. We had a window of just us four for two hours. I got the best waves of my life. Priceless.

dane reynolds does a backhand cutback in californina

what you should be reading according to Dane Reynolds

If a gal's going to read, John Fante, Chuck Bukowski and JD Salinger ain't a bad place to start.

Dane Reynold’s is jazzy. I meant to speak with him about Fante’s semi-autobiographical creation Arturo Bandini. (John Fante is an American author, 1909-1983, who wrote, impressively, about depression era life in Los Angeles without being hard-bitten. He was not as recognised in life as he has been in death. He lost both his legs to diabetes.) I meant to get real specific about scenes in the books Ask the Dust, The Road to Los Angeles, Dreams from Bunker Hill and Wait Until Spring, Bandini. Dane and I had spoken before, briefly, about Dane resonating with Arturo and I wanted to get real specific. 

In the books, Arturo Bandidi does things. He masturbates in a closet full of art photos. He kills crabs and falls in love with the crab queen, before killing her. He has crazy delusions of grandeur. He goes to the beach with a Mexican waitress and can’t get it up and she mocks him. He later cares for her as she is overcome by a craze for marijuana and runs off to the desert to die.

I wanted Dane to give me his interpretation of such scenes and how they reflect back on him. But we didn’t get real specific. Dane riffed on other topics and I didn’t want to stop him.

“Ummmm. Oh. Holy shit. I just had puppies and I found some shit in the corner. Oh. Ummm. Arturo Bandini? I don’t know. A friend, Jamie Tierney, recommended The Road to Los Angeles and I was really put off by Arturo at the start. But about 50 pages in he started making sense I guess.

“I guess his craziness.

“I guess there is a crazy dynamic going on but it’s not always that. He is kind at different times and honest in a strange way. And I don’t know. I don’t like to analyse this bullshit. I just like reading it.

“Holden Caufield, but we’ve already talked about that. Both of them are crazy but likable. Sweet, sugary villains. No, not villains. Bad kids.

“I was really put off my Arturo at the start. But about 50 pages in he started making sense. He is kind at different times and honest in a strange way. I don’t like to analyse his bullshit. I just like reading it.”

“Yeah sure, there are parts in Arturo and Holden I find in myself. I find little parts of myself in reading all kinds of stuff that has nothing to do with me. There are always parts.

“I hate watching movies. There have been three movies I’ve ever enjoyed. Movies kind of creep me out. They take too much commitment. They tell you all the information and you can’t find it for yourself. Reading is different.

“There’s this roachy dude at Rincon who gave me four books. I picked one to read based soley on the cover art. The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker.

“No it wasn’t really good. It was by John Keats.

“Any random book you read trips you out. There is always something in there that makes sense, that you see reflected, like, back to yourself.

“Bukowski make a big influence on me. That’s what I needed at that time.

“Yeah, I don’t know what I think about reading being fashionable now. I mean, I don’t know. For every one kid that reads there are 100 who aren’t interested. Who aren’t interested in anything at all. It’s cool that a kid like Kolohe (Andino) is into reading though. He is in a position to actually influence what people do and how they think.

“I trip out on how many people are not interested. I don’t mean interested in bad shit. I mean people not interested in anything.

“Shit, I don’t really like cities.

“I’ve had some good experiences in Melbourne.

“I don’t even need good surf.

“I don’t need perfect reef breaks.

“Ummmmmm deeeeeeedadeeeedaleeeeee ba ba ba ba boooooooooooom ummm ummmmmmmmmmmm. Yeah, like, yeah.”



Sterling Spencer portrait
Someone wrote me that if I come to their town they’re going to rape me under my Dad’s van. | Photo: Morgan Maassen


Funny guy Sterling Spencer on prison rape (yes, but only in certain circumstances!), bunk kissing and the most grievous of bodily harm. From the archives!

From the archives: Virulent self-promoter Sterling Spencer is a 26-year-old Gulf Coast native and owner of a sense of humour that likes ever so much. This following interview appeared in Surfer magazine in the column The Hot Seat, which I wrote for a time.

To be hot seated, in theory, means to be embarrassed publicly for a burst of ego or stupidity. But, how can anyone embarrass the only person in the world who has seen a Centaur, the creature from Greek mythology that is half-man, half-horse, and who once landed an air on the back of another human?

And so the interview begins…

BEACH GRIT: Is that Sterling, half-man, half-beast?

STERLING: Yes, it is. The reason I am the Centaur is, I saw a half-man, half-horse when I was five years old, at my house, out in the woods. And, I was telling my friends about it and I didn’t know what it was called and they were like, it’s a Centaur! And, then, people just started calling me Centaur and then it grew from there into a world phenomenon.

Do you believe you saw it? 

Yeah, I really saw it.

How did the visit affect you?

It told me I’d never be famous and I’ve been out to prove him wrong and that’s now my life’s goal, to be famous

Do you have an active imagination?

No, it really happened. I was just talking to my mum last night about it and she was, like, freaking out, she remembers when it happened, but she doesn’t know what I saw. She was trying to tell me that I was just making it up, but I still saw what I saw.

What other things do you believe in? UFOs?

No. Maybe. I’m not against it. But, I haven’t seen a UFO.


Yeah, I think there’s a spiritual realm. But, I haven’t seen any ghosts either. But, I have seen a half-human, half horse.

 What about the human board slide? Not only have you stared into the eyes of a creature from Greek mythology, but you’ve also ridden on the back of another surfer. 

The human board slide was the smallest thing blown into the biggest thing. I was at Lowers and it was a crowded day and I did an air and accidentally ran into a human and someone got it on film and said I was putting a stop against people cutting off and all of a sudden I was this cult. People either loved me or people wanted to punch me in the face.

Did the police take an interest?

A policeman called me from my town and he said, hey, you need to take it off your website because a friend of his from the Academy in fricken Southern California called him and he was a surfer and said, “The county could press charges against him because they could make an example out of him”. You never know nowadays, because people wanna sue for anything.

America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Were you scared you’d wind up in the pen?

It was on my mind for a second, but I told my dad and he said, you’re crazy if you think you’ll go to prison over this.

If you were forced to choose between having your leg hacked off in jail and being someone’s bitch for the duration of your six-month sentence, what would you choose? 

I would be someone’s bitch because I would simply black out the rest of the six months.

It would be nice to have a companion inside, anyway. To share thoughts, for afternoon bunk kissing etc.

Yeah, it would nice. Everyone wants to be loved.

Tell me about ego and self-promotion.

It comes natural when no one wants to promote you because you’re from the Gulf of Mexico. I hung out with Donovan (Frankenreiter) in El Salvador and he opened my mind about just being yourself. He told me, you need to do something fricken different. I don’t think he knew how weird I was. I took it to my own extreme.

Do you polarize people? 

Yeah, f’sure. I get hate mail, like everyday. People leave comments on my website. Usually people say, that my moustache is gay. Like, I got like 100 messages that said, you’re stupid and your moustache is gay. I’ve had horrible stuff. Someone wrote me that if I come to their town they’re going to rape me under my Dad’s van.

What town are you going to be raped in?

That was from a guy in Alabama.

Have you been back?

Oh yeah! I was actually surfing Alabama yesterday and it was actually really good. But no one was surfing! I always get hate mail from Alabama but I never see people actually surfing there.

Were you raped?

I didn’t get raped. The waves raped me.

5 surfing secrets the pro’s won’t tell you! (Drink bull’s milk! gender fluidity!)

It ain't pleasant to read. From bull-guzzling to drug smuggling and trans-gendering…

With the ability level on tour growing ever higher it’s never been more difficult to make a living as a professional surfer. Modern advances in training, diet, and steroids, have allowed the current crop of pros to hold onto their world title aspirations long past the age where they were previously relegated to lives of addiction, depression and sales representation.

So you can try it the traditional way: amateur contests, sponsor me videos, rich parents, and luck. Or, with a little out of the box thinking you can skip to the head of the line, using your cunning, rather than talent, to get a chance to grasp at that brass ring.

1. If you want a shot, you may need to take one

For millennia the Sambia tribe of Papua, New Guinea have helped ensure their young boys become strong men by practising ritualized homosexuality. Once a boy is on the cusp of manhood he is encouraged to ingest large quantities of “man milk,” selflessly offered up by the older males of the tribe. This has been proved to work over uncounted generations and is demonstrated by the robust, successful, and modern, civilization that has sprung up around them.

Of course, it’s not the 80’s anymore, so luring a wasted member of the top 10 back from a bar isn’t nearly as easy as it once was. Luckily for you, drug use is still a large, if unacknowledged, facet of professional surfing. While a couple wine coolers, some romantic music and a gorgeous sunset aren’t likely to earn a mouthful of ability, an eight ball well-cut with Rohypnol just might.

Start frequenting tour stops, earn the trust of your favorite surfers and, when the time is right, offer up a few lines. You just may be able to convince your favorite pro to blast a load of ability down the back of your throat.

Now, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t attest to the efficacy of the aforementioned treatment. But, I mean, who knows?  Maybe there’s a bevy of pro ho’s floating around out there who would kill it in a heat, if they only tried. But, just in case it doesn’t work, you’re going to need a backup.

Fortunately, this one is simple enough. If a stomach full of Wilko’s by-blow leaves you digging rails and bogging cutbacks, turn your gaze to the industry. Those dudes are easy pickings and a few well-framed cell phone shots of a mover and shaker skull fucking your prone form should do the job. Upload those puppies to the internet then use the inherent homophobia still present in the surf industry to extort your way into a multi-year contract.

2. Just don’t get caught

You’d be surprised how many titans of the surf industry got their seed money shuttling horse and/or hashish between Asia and the first world. Back in the bad old days all it took was a few surf trips to Bali, followed by a couple white knuckle return voyages, to raise enough capital to start a successful board short company or to buy the first vessel of what will eventually become a fleet of luxury yachts.

Why let them have all the fun?  Sure, because of the cruel realities of inflation, it’s not like a keister full of hash is going to make you any real money anymore, but a creative mind can always find a solution. Look to maximize your return on investment and serve your market. Introduce your local oxy freaks to the joys of full blown H addiction, choke down a few dozen rubbers full of North Korean meth and spend a Winter on Oahu, pack your colon to the pucker with Eastern European ecstasy and hang out with spoiled SoCal pre-teens. Modern advances in recreational dope manufacturing mean that you could spend a few years smuggling drugs and dodging customs agents and then start your own company and pay your way on tour without ever being beholden to some blonde cocksucker with a BA in marketing.

3. Embrace the joys of gender fluidity

It’s the 21st century, who’s to say what is, and is not, a woman? Sure, you may have hairy chest and a big ol’ dick but that’s nothing a waxing and half-hearted tuck job can’t handle. Don’t want to bang dudes? No problem, just self identify as a lesbian who presents male. Granted, it’s harder than ever to pick up a sponsor if you’re not a plucked and waxed piece of top-tier trim, but you’ll be more likely to make heats since you really only need to surf half as well. And, who knows, maybe you’ll get to spend a lay day or two teaching the ladies the joys of sexual experimentation? Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

4. Why bother trying?

Don’t quite possess the balance to rip on a shortboard? Don’t sweat it, tons of dudes these days are making a career of riding terrible boards and not turning them. Stand up straight, grow a scraggly beard, swivel those hips and watch your Japanese career explode.

5. Play the game   

Maybe you’re like me, and despite decades of trying your damnedest, you just aren’t that good of a surfer. Sure, when your game is on you can blow up a few lips and maybe land a hail mary air or two but, truth be told, no amount of semen or cross-dressing or extortion is going to get you through a heat. Why set yourself up for humiliation? Rather than doom yourself to a short lived and ultimately fruitless run at the title, join the assorted hangers-on who get to travel the world and live the life of a pro, without ever having the ability to be one.

Start off judging local contests, it shouldn’t be overly hard to find a spot. Establish yourself as a pay-to-play individual. Find the kid who got dropped off in the nicest ride and have a few words with mom and dad between heats. In no time at all you should expect a call from the ASP. The largely anonymous point shaving dinosaurs who dictate acceptable progression ain’t getting any younger and ethical pliability like yours doesn’t come a dime a dozen.