The Doc is Alive! It’s a Hanukkah Miracle!

Yesterday we pronounced the great Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz dead! But he ain't!… 

I’ve never been happier to’ve been so wrong. Y’see, BeachGrit had it from a usually good source that Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, the 93-year-old surfer who developed the most common-sense guide to eating (“Pinch an inch of fat anywhere on your body and you’re overweight”) and living (“Don’t screw another man’s wife!”), and who was still surfing until a few weeks ago, was dead.

But he wasn’t! Not even a coma, as reported.

Just got off the phone with Josh his youngest son and he said he’s actually doing better!” said a more reliable source.

But, while you’re here, let’s revisit his remarkable life.

I bought Doc’s famous book Surfing and Health a few years back and was turned onto his fabulous ideas. In the intro, Doc says  “This is a book about Health – a new and entirely different definition of Health. Health is much, much more than just not being sick. Health is the presence of a Superior State of Well Being – a vigour, a vitality, which must be worked for each and every day of your life.”

It came a few weeks after I ordered it (from here) with the inscription, “I can’t tell you what a kick is gives me to send this book all the way to Australia.”

Lately, I’d been trying to get hold of Doc for weeks for a piece I wanted to write called “A 93-year-old man tells you everything you need to know about sex” and, so, me and his son Mo started a little back and forth via email.

“Doc is thrilled at the idea of meeting you and helping you with an original article.There is only one catch, when you come here to shoot/write this… You have to feed TheDOC….”


“Bring Black Card. For Snacks.”

Just as it was about to happen, I got an email from Mo, saying:

“All on HOLD. Will give more info later…”

Damm, ol Doc, the Russian Jew, who went to Stanford, became a doctor, threw it all in to chase surf, introduce surfing to Israel (and later to the Palestinians of Gaza) rear children, surf up and down the American coastlines with nine kids in a 21-foot van, following his philosophy that wisdom comes not from formal education but experience, write books, teach at community college, inspire the hell out of cats like Rob Machado and Kelly Slater and, still, in his nineties, surf the waves of Hawaii’s South Shore, albeit on his knees after his hinges gave out.

A documentary of his life was made called Surfwise (Click on the photo to watch) and, even if he comes across as a little tyrannical, maybe crazy, the stories of him and his wife fucking in the van while the kids blocked their ears and living on gruel and beans and surfing their lives away, is an example of life as an experiment, as a Great Dream.

Doc’s legacy for most of us, maybe for you, will be his book. It’ll change your life, swear to god.

And keep rooting for the Doc! Maybe it really will be a Hanukkah miracle!

A Real-Life Surf Goth Reviews the Pro Tour!

Such a halloween treat. Professional surfing has never been so evil!

Rarely do goth kids get in on surf prognostication. We are, therefore, very lucky to have SinDie of Irvine as a fan and contributor. Read and learn about the ASP’s top surfers as the tour heads to the scariest place ever. Oahu! Without further ado, we present…SinDie.

Chamber Divine is the favorite club of my ilk. We materialize like visions each Tuesday, trancelike to hear Roderick spin his ethereal music: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Specimen – all divine! In a halo of clove cigarette smoke we dance until dawn.

Then! The sun destroys the night and we must return to our lairs of Irvine and Mission Viejo.

How may I, SinDie of Irvine, be expected to assess those who earn their gold from sea-nymphing on the World Tour?

This art of surfing has not one apothecary jar’s worth of dark divine, but I will do my best to make the jockular nature of surf relevant to those of us who dwell in the shadows of the night.

Title hunt:

I’ve often had this fantasy that Gabriel Medina and his family are really vampires traveling the world, claiming ASP events and victims. A tour stop in France, a few bloodless corpses found in the alleys of Bayonne. Brazil is the home to the practice of Barradaci, the drinking of blood to consume the power of one’s victims. I, SinDie, dream this dark fantasy to make bearable the testosterone-laden droning that is the ASP world tour machine of old.

Mick Fanning: Release us from this mortal coil. Mick looks like a circumcised phallus. His neck runs from his shoulders to his earlobes with nary a piercing in between. He reminds me of the football players in high school who tormented me each and every day with shouts of “Hey it’s not Halloween yet.” A thousand curses on your tanned, hairless, muscled backs!

Kelly Slater: The blood of the ancients courses through his veins. How else could one so long in years play so with the seawolf pups? As the world title will go down at Pipeline I know this: The gods are alive and magic is afoot!

The Rest!

John John Florence: The boy-man has much to learn in the ways of the world, so we watch and are fascinated by his water dancing. Yet he reminds one in looks of the Vampire Lestat. He can’t be all bad.

Joel Parkinson: Among the shadows dancing he does not, he has stepped into the bright spotlight unawares that future glory waits for him. Future glory not bound to this earth, but to the sea!

Josh Kerr: Oh mid-level pro of confusion! Absinthe will take this one from air-dances and California dwelling into the realm of those who can truly see what awaits them! Grand, grand plans are afoot and Lord Kerr will rise from the ashes of his former self. Drink the absinthe Josh and claim your future!

Julian Wilson: This lover of life hath not the wherewithal to soar into Top 10 reality. Pourquoi? Because his mind has not tasted the darkness that lay waiting for those who doubt themselves, for those who live in the shadows, for those who lock themselves in their closets and cry! cry! cry! all night.

Jordy Smith: Perhaps closest in spirit and awareness to the tethers that bind us to the mortal coil that is life on earth, this African prince knows love, life and the horrors of being ripped apart by jackals.

Matt Wilkinson: Curse the gods for not making him top 10! His cherubic skin stays pale even after a Winter in Hawaii. In SinDie’s fantasies I dress up as Malefocent and he dons wings and we soar through the pleasures carnal… and… well, do excuse me now I have to go write some poetry.

Now how about a little Beach Goth?

The Cleanest Men in Show Biz

Two drug-free athletes in their forties own board sports. Tell me that ain't a coincidence… 

One man is 46-years-old. The other, 42.

Tony Hawk and Kelly Slater. One causes mayhem with a solitary spin; the other drops 3.26 minutes worth of… what’d you even call that? Kelly calls it an 810 (click here to read interview).

Granted, Hawk’s latest video edit, Perched, was pieced together over months while Slater’s single 540 was simply a moment in time.

But, Christ, looking at the two of them, at that age, doing that… who’s suddenly ashamed at blaming their lack of skill on age? What inspiration Tony and Kelly are!

Two totally different men, of course, but there is one defining characteristic they share. Both were marginalised from within their own sport early on in their careers for their clean living and refusal to hang out and sink piss.

Hawk drew the ire of skating’s coolest, including Duane Peters, the child prodigy turned tattooed, tooth missing, pot-bellied, booze-and-drug-addled punk rocker who recalls spitting on The Birdman “a lot”.

And do you think Slater won any fans when he was quoted on the cover of the now-defunct Waves magazine stating, “Being an Aussie is a poor excuse for getting on the piss”.

But both stuck to their guns, continuing to rack up wins, fame and glory while the detractors either disappeared, snuck off to rehab, or worse still, got a job in the industry.

But isn’t life just like that? And to some degree it’ll start on the school playground. The cool kids and the weirdos. Those bathed in glory and/or pussy from an early age and those gifted an awkwardness that’ll go one of two ways. A vengeful school shooting or… the creation of Apple.

Stumble upon any school reunion and the funny little algorithm will be plain to see. The once-were Mr and Mrs Cool, clinging onto 1985 or whenever, usually sporting a couple extra kilos and a bad tattoo. “Oh, that’s your children’s names? How cool. Do I want to do some… speed?” 

Then there’s the weirdo, primed and pumped (if not incarcerated for said shooting) ready to dazzle with a list of achievements and, often, a trophy wife to boot.

Kelly Slater and Tony Hawk. Never cool, but forever cool. Kids. Don’t do drugs.


American surfers hate the world.

Or to quote Kenny Powers, "I'll fucken sponge this whole entire ocean up with my big ol' dick."

The ISA, or International Surfing Association, World Games are happening right this minute in Peruvian surf. It is chunky and the sky is dark, but it also looks very fun. Overhead and slow enough for you or me to practice needlessly aggressive cutbacks.

This is, in fact, the 50th anniversary of the games, which truly showcase the universal appeal of surfing. Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Scotland all field teams. Hawaii, the United States and France do not. Why? Is it pride? Jingoism? Not wanting to see surfers from Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Scotland practice needlessly aggressive cutbacks?

The United States has a history of not joining international bodies. In 1920, at the Paris Peace Conference, the global community gathered to end World War I and form a consolidated assemblage called The League of Nations with the principal goal of maintaining world peace through disarmament and settling international disputes through arbitration. Theoretically, all winning ideas. But the United States did not join because Republicans, who had gained control of the senate, tend to think the rest of the world is crap.

The United States charted its own course, the League of Nations fell apart, the United Nations grew in its ashes and the USA joined that body in order to bat around ineffectual ideas and throw up roadblocks just for the fun of it.

It makes sense, therefore, that the United States did not field a team at the ISA World Games. Arrogance born of the fact that it is the only nation in the world that really matters. And it makes sense that Hawaii did not field a team. If you could surf Pipe, right now, would you want to surf Peru? But France loves chunky slow surf and, equally, loves any and all entangling alliances. It makes no sense for them not to be bogging rail at the Games.

In any case, the official reasons for no Hawaii, USA or France will remain a mystery. Calls to the ISA headquarters in La Jolla, California went unreturned.

Sean Doherty at the bar in Fiji
At the close of each day of surf competition, the sport's fans turn to Australian Sean Doherty for his daily analysis. Why does he do it? How can he squeeze such beautiful prose out of his fingers when the money and conditions are so poor? "The great conundrum in writing surf online for chicken feed is that when you’re being paid $150 for a story you fall into the trap of writing $150 worth of pure mediocrity. The problem then comes when the Internet keeps your horseshit contest report alive for eternity with your byline stuck to it in 40-point type. The trick is to write like your story is going to hang around and either help you or haunt you forever." This photo was taken during the Globe Fiji event a while ago and demonstrates Sean's indefatigable spirit. Always up late, always hunting stories. | Photo: Derek Rielly

Revealed! The best surf reporter in the world!

Maybe you can guess, maybe you can't. He ain't pretty like Chas but he's good!

Sean Doherty! Did you guess already? Of course you did! There ain’t a surf fan who doesn’t pine for Sean’s spiked analysis of each day’s surf competition.

If you haven’t seen, met, or sighted a photograph of Sean, you must let me describe. He’s a little under the old six-foot measure (more than a little, but let’s be kind! Short people ain’t got the humour us regs do), he has the strong torso of a lifelong surfer (which is surprising because he likes to put away beer), must be very close to forty years old, his crown is relieved of the burden of hair, and as for his surfing ability… yes. He surfs!

And he’s good enough to combo a wave from mouth to ass and enter and exit a tube. On his passport are enough stamps for Hawaii to guarantee his bone fides when it’s over four foot.

Sean is also the author of the definitive biography, MP: the life of Michael Peterson. I feel so bad when I think of this book because when it came out in 2003 I was just launching Stab with my friend Sam McIntosh. We both worked with Sean at emap and while we enjoyed, very much, his company, we felt his style at Tracks was on the wrong side of the surfer-as-patriot line. All those old-school metaphors!

And so when I reviewed the book, which is something like an historical artefact in hindsight, I concentrated not on the skill of the man who pulled it all together but on the character failings of the surfer it covered. And when I saw Sean at some kinda movie premiere shortly afterward he wore his heart on his sleeve and it was bloodied as all hell.

“I was disappointed with what you wrote,” he said.

I acted tough (“Well, fuck, man, that’s what I felt”) but I burned inside. What book had I written? What compelling paragraph had I constructed, even?

Anyway, times change, and over the last couple of years, in particular, I’ve grown to love Sean’s reportage. He’s been in the biz long enough to have good contacts. People trust him. He listens. He watches. He’ll drink at the bar all night if the bro’s are in a fever and so he is included among the pro surfing fraternity, unlike me who constantly frets over his weight and panics if he isn’t asleep by midnight.

In every other sport there’s a handful of writers who define a sport and who write its history, and by history I don’t mean in retrospect, I mean when it’s happening. Sean is surfing’s poet laureate. It’s man of letters.

And so I had many questions to ask. For instance, what is good surf writing?

“The act of surfing itself is quite boring to write about and few people ever do it well,” he says. “My pet hate is the over-romanticising of riding a wave – gliding like a dolphin, soaring like an albatross, that kinda shit – turning surfing into some existential masturbatory act. I like writing that illuminates the characters who do it, because most people I know who surf tend to be unhinged in some way while magnificent in others.”

Sean is  the only person that I’m aware of that actually…reports… from surf events. Why does he think this is so?

“No one else seems stupid enough. The great conundrum in writing surf online for chicken feed is that when you’re being paid $150 for a story you fall into the trap of writing $150 worth of pure mediocrity. The problem then comes when the Internet keeps your horseshit contest report alive for eternity with your byline stuck to it in 40-point type. The trick is to write like your story is going to hang around and either help you or haunt you forever. It’s the same principle you should apply to all the menial jobs in your life… lavish the detail on the small things and the big things take care of themselves.”

Does he enjoy this lack of competition?

“I occasionally feel like the last Tasmanian Tiger wandering around the cage in Hobart Zoo,” he says. “It was great for a while when guys like Steve Shearer were writing and there was a bit of a rising tide happening but those days sadly seem long gone.”

Sean’s reporting style is of the purist kind (“I’m the wanker with the notebook,” he says). He isn’t in the media scrum and he eschews the use of cameras.

“The better stories tend to gestate inside bars, in car parks and at parties,” he says. “And I like quirky observational shit. Like, on day one at Snapper this year, the first heat of the first event under the new ASP, and their quest to modernise pro surfing kicked off with Creed’s Arms Wide Open blaring over the PA. It was raining cheese and that was truly a gift from above. You couldn’t make that shit up. But it’s always fun fossicking for a crumb of meaning amongst the general soullessness of pro surfing… and even more fun thrusting meaning upon things that don’t have it. It’s like making a dog talk.”

I say to Sean, I’ve noticed your writing has become more sophisticated over the last year. Have their been external influences? Have you been reading more?

“The only thing I read growing up was the back of an Orchy bottle so I’ve spent my later years trying to backfill the classics,” he says. “I’m pretty voracious these days trying to catch up. It’s amazing how elastic and regenerative the brain can be even after 15 years of sticky green punishment.”

I feel like the best writing comes when you can accurately record, on the page, how you actually feel. So often, I write something, and it doesn’t communicate exactly what I want it to communicate. What about Sean? Is he happy with his results? The cat is honest.

“Not particularly. It all seems a bit disjointed and lost and I don’t really seem to have a voice. I also tend to fall into the habit of plagiarising narratives from whatever book I’m reading at the time and overlaying it on whatever the fuck is going on in the water at the time. It works sometimes… other times not so much. I was reading Mailer’s The Fight during Pipeline last year with Mick and Kelly going for the title and it fitted snugly. Mick and Kelly resolved nicely into Foreman and Ali respectively. One of my favourite characterisations ever came from this book when Mailer described how Foreman dreamed of pummeling Ali and turning him into a “long thin dying clown”. Other times it doesn’t work quite as well. I was reading Morrissey’s autobiography during Snapper this year, but sadly there’s a shortage of misanthropic dandies on tour these days to play the role.”

Is there any ultimate aim in his writing?

“I never really work with a higher purpose, which may explain why I’m stuck writing about surfing,” he says.

What are the keys to becoming a great reporter?

“I suppose you have to highlight the distinction here that you are reporting on surfing and not on American interventionism in the Middle East or a car crashing into an orphanage, so you got to make it fun. Again, it’s just surfing.”

And what advice could first-class surf reporter Sean Doherty give someone wanting to break into the game?

“For the love of God, don’t.”

Read Sean Doherty’s work on and at Surfer magazine. Click here!