Surf Movie Icon Loses Leg to Booze, Pills and Brawlin’

Jan-Michael Vincent used to be the hottest surfer on earth. Then the good times got him… 

There was a time in that belle epoch, late-seventies til late eighties, when any man, woman or sophisticated animal, would’ve thrown their gates open to the American actor Jan-Michael Vincent. A golden ball of muscle and flaxen hair and cheekbones that were as sharp as birds.

Bite into my delicate flesh, you would’ve begged, as your heart palpitated and your knees quivered.

JMJ dazzled surfers in the John Milius movie Big Wednesday where he played Matt Johnson, the gun surfer in a small Californian town who hangs on to his best-surfer status long after the rest of the town, and the world, has moved on.

Johnson becomes the town drunks and only redeems himself on the day (a Wednesday!) when the biggest swell in his life arrives. Watch it here!

Anyways, Vincent’s life since Big Wednesday has mirrored Matt Johnson’s. Booze, drugs, brawls, car crashes, dumb court cases and now, in an interview with the National Enquirer, he tells how he had to get his leg amputated ’cause of his years of self-poison. (Click here for the interview)

Jan-Michael Vincent in 2014
Jan-Michael Vincent in 2014 and, inset, when he was the highest-paid TV actor in the world, inhaling 200 gees an ep for Airwolf.

Gregory Harrison, who played master shaper Chandler in the film North Shore (1987), wrote to Peter Townend, the ’76 world champ and one of the surfing stunt doubles on Big Wednesday, on Facebook this morning.

Jan and I started at nearly the same time in “the biz”, the early 70’s. Various choices we’ve made over the years have dictated what kind of third act each of us are having now. I toyed with the same temptations that Jan did, but somehow pulled out of every tailspin before the crash. Not sure why that is, but man, I’m so grateful I did.”

Ian Cairns was one of those Australians who kicked open to the door to Hawaii in the winters of 74 through 76. He wrote: “Jan was a great guy and ultra fit. As we all get older it’s a daily struggle to get off the couch and go surfing, not drink the extra beer and step away from the table. Getting older is not easy and seeing this is so sad.”


How was Morocco, Noa? "It was pretty fucking dry. It was so hot there and we kept getting calls that the banks were ruined by the Hercules swell or some shit that had hit earlier. We kept driving around, thinking we were blowing it all the time that we ended up blowing our minds. And now I look at the shots and there the best shots I’ve ever had. So what was I worried about? Jay nearly punched me because I was getting under his skin so bad, being so negative." | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Why I Just Love Morocco to Death!

Noa Deane says the people are the best (Muslims! Of course!), there's a city that's all blue and the waves spin for miles!

And it’s late now, but not too late to be promenading in the great square in Marrakesh. The air is warm, balmy for February and the indigo sky is spangled with bright stars. And here is Noa Deane, all black, including his normally yellow hair, and from his seal-brown countenance gleam two rows of pearly teeth.

Jay Davies, the other Australian with whom Noa is touring, is dressed in tight-fighting wool jumper and jeans, and therefore reveals his sinewy figure to all who gaze upon him, and all gaze, especially the famously repressed Moroccan man.

Monkeys on chains, bent men selling so much of that famous hashish that you vow never to smoke before lunch time every day but you find yourself pecking at by nine, mint tea, dusty rugs, red sunsets.

And Jay and Noa are good now, good now that Noa has recovered a modicum of positivity after showering the gang with complaints for days. And the sickness that felled everyone on the trip, except Noa who beat it by staying high, has gone.

Now it’s time to buy bottles in night clubs and draw fingers across skin that is clear and soft as velvet, with soft brown eyes that seem to beg. Later, rhythmic clapping as you dance and hammering on portals!

What a trip! Waves that ran for a mile; a house in the snow ruined by drug-addicted hookers; murders; secret alcohol runs. Noa says that he loves Morocco to death. And who wouldn’t! Oh, to be cradled by the loveliest people in civilisation.

Now let’s shove that microphone into the talk to co-star of the trip, Noa Deane…

DR: I want you to describe your experience in Morocco, a kingdom I adore for its contradictory nature, for its repression that makes even the tiny kinks a pleasure palace!

NOA: It was pretty fucking dry. It was so hot there and we kept getting calls that the banks were ruined by the Hercules swell or some shit that had hit earlier. We kept driving around, thinking we were blowing it all the time that we ended up blowing our minds. And now I look at the shots and there the best shots I’ve ever had. So what was I worried about? Jay nearly punched me  because I was getting under his skin so bad, being so negative. He told me to fucking shut the fuck up. Half an hour later we were sweet.

Can you describe this mood that enraged Jay? 

Oh fuck! I was trying to bail on the surf trip and go shoot photos and he didn’t want to do it, really. He wanted to do that lifestyle shit a couple of days later. The surf was doing my fucking head in. I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I was, I wanna get outta here, I fucking hate this same shit, it’ll be fucked, let’s fuck off. And we left to go to Marrakesh and he was bummed but then we got there he was fucking psyched. We had the best time ever in the last five days. We went everywhere. Up in the mountains. Driving eight hours to a new place every day and we’d hang out at night and shit. It was the coolest thing.

Give me a little timeline on this trip…

Well, we went for two weeks and the first couple of days it was fucking eight foot or 10 foot. Matt (O’Brien, the photographer) got so sick he couldn’t get out of bed. Everyrbody got sick apart from me. I got sick for an hour. I puked once and I was sweet. Matt was sick for three days. He was fucked. Me and Jay surfed this point and it was the most fucking pyscho-est thing ever. The wind was 100 knots and it was eight foot. I got the fucking craziest barrels, the biggest cave. Shane (Fletcher, the filmer) was filming but the wave was two kay’s long so we didn’t get it but I was still psyched. We’d fucking catch waves for a million kilometres, step off down the line after riding the wave for a minute then a car would pick us up and drive us back up the point.

Anything adventurous happen in these difficult conditions?

Jay got stuck in a rip and thought he was going to die. The wind was blowing him out even further, half a kay out from the lineup. You could go forever on these waves. It was like skiing. It was so fucking wild. And I randomly saw Rasta and Ryan Burch out there. It was fucking weird.

The name of the wave references an evil character in fiction. Can you paint a picture for me of the wave? 

You pull up to this carpark in front of a wave called Boilers and it’s up from that. It wedges off this thing and then it fucking breaks. It’s longer than Snapper to Kirra. When it’s huge it breaks out the back and and there’s a wedge way on the inside, a psycho wedge beach. The next day when it got real big there were 20 waves in a set and you could jump off your wave and catch the next one. Fucking crazy, right? Matt couldn’t even shoot it. You might do nothing for a hundred metres and then your window in front of the photographers is done.

How was your personal ambience? 

I was having a shocker. I kept getting drunk every night so I wouldn’t get sick and then I stopped and got sick for 10 minutes. I was in it from the start of the trip to the end. I didn’t have a day off and I was so fucking cooked We started to surf out the front of our place, then the long point, then this wedge place and then we went down and surfed this Trestles-kinda wave. It looked about four foot and it was eight foot. We got this acid shit in our eyes when we paddled out and it felt like it was eating our eyes away. There’s an acid dumping factory there, right there! So that was fucked. I was paddling out and just like looking at Jay, saying, what the fuck are we doing out here! We thought there were ramps but we were swept into the beach. We tried to surf a little right. Me and Jay would come in from these surfs blowing up at the same time about how bad it was and Matt would be psyched. We were still doing good shit but having fucking trouble landing shit. And he was saying, this is epic!

Around this time I was going to Israel and you were so on but then you pulled ’cause you heard, oowee, them Muslims hate Jews and if I get an Israel stamp I ain’t getting in to Morocco! 

Apparently there’s a fuckload of Islamic countries that don’t want to let a Jewish person in. I was super bummed.

What was the best thing you saw in Maroc?

The blue city called Chefchaouen. We drove in there at night and when we woke up we walked up to the top of our terrace and everything was blue. The road was blue. The houses were blue. The whole thing’s blue! We went walking around and everything was rendered and painted either light or dark blue. It was the weirdest place I’d ever been to, in this random valley, six hours inland, closer to the Med than the Atlantic and in this big fucking crater hole.

What was the worst thing you experienced? 

We were walking through the streets and we had this Moroccan surf guide and the government has a law that you’re not allowed to be shown around by a Moroccan because they think you’ll get ripped off, and we were walking down this super crowded street and this super fucking gnarly undercover cop grabs him and runs off with him. I couldn’t even remember where we were staying and suddenly our guide was stolen by the police! We followed him back and told ’em that he was our friend and eventually they told him he could go. He was so lucky! He would’ve been screwed if he’d been locked up.

Marrakesh? Talk to me about it? 

We were went there and me and and Jay smoked some hash and we were so high we went and ate snails.

It’s a surprisingly delicious treat, a remnant of the French influence.

They’re so sick. Like abalone, a little chicken-esque, too. Then we went up and cruised on top of this rooftop bar and watched the city. After that I went to a super club.

How super was the super club? 

Fucking huge, man, it was psycho. I got pushed up against the wall by four security guards. I was kinda drunk and didn’t know what was happening but it turned out some sheik from Abu Dhabi had arrived. I was in that club for a couple of hours then another one.

Were you a dancing bear? 

Kinda. You weren’t even allowed to go in unless you bought a bottle. It’s gay but I bought one, anyway. I was hanging out with some Moroccan chicks. They were brown-eyed and had brown hair. Something weird happened but I can’t remember what it was.

What about Casablanca, an Islamic Paris on the Atlantic. How was it for you? 

We stayed there on the last night and didn’t do anything cool. Maybe next time I’ll session on that place.

The hash is delicious, too, and even though I’m normally opposed to it, and weed, on a number of grounds, I find myself enjoying it in Morocco.

It’s fucked, huh! Hey, I’ve got a good story for ya! We went to this place called Ifrane, an alpine snow town in the Atlas mountains. The day before we were online picking a house to stay out. There was this one that was real sweet but it was 200 euros and I was, like, fuck that, that sounds too expensive for one night. It would’ve been sweet once we’d split it up but, then, fuck, we went to this other joint. It looked sick. Old school. It fucking had a garden. Snow out the front. We turned the fireplace on and everything started going downhill from there. Why are the window’s boarded up? Jay goes to the toilet downstairs and sees all these lipstick kisses on the back of the door. On the terrace there was graffiti that said, you died tonight! And in the backyard there was this creepy dude cutting up wood. All the mirrors were smashed. One bed had all these weird stains. It was so sketchy. The lady who rented us the house kept asking us if we wanted hookers. Are you sure you don’t want hookers? And the lady pointed at one door and said, don’t go in this door. It was wigging me out that we were obviously staying at a haunted hookers house. I slept with my fucking shoes on and shit and tried to green out but I totally kooked it. But I got to sleep for one second and felt this thing poke me in the back. Are you fucking kidding me? I started stressing out for hours, trying to put alarm clocks on to wake everybody up. By the time we got out, it was, fuck yeah, we survived that. Fucking hell, that was the heaviest thing that’s ever happened to me. I was so tripped out the next day but psyched that it happened, just cause you got that story to tell.

You love beer, but it’s a muslim country. Did this present problems? 

It was kinda hard but we ‘d go to this supermarket down in Agadir and just buy a bunch at once. I bought a shit ton one day, four cartons, so we didn’t have to do it again. It sucks that you can’t get a beer on the water. You just wanna grab a beer and watch the surf and you can’t do it. You gotta creept into your place and have a beer and fucking hide the can.

And tell me all about your airs! So much tweak! The theatre!

It’s a style thing, the more tweaked out, the better style and the better it is. Obviously, it’s harder to do, but I used to watch Dane when I was a little kid and it was all I ever wanted to do. And then when I saw Creed and he was doing it, I knew that was the fucking titties. (Thom) Pringle used to do it too, indy grabs, and put his crane arm over the head. It looked so sick. I think if you do a big air and you bone it, it shows how passionate you are about airs. It’s so much harder to bone it. You can do an air and not bone and it land it all the time. Christian (Fletcher) used to do it and he’s fucking sick.

There’s elements of ballet in your airs 

Yeah, there is, with the crane arm, with the legs tucked in. What shall we call ’em?

Theatre airs? 

A good theatrical air. Like airs flying across the stage. A Swan Lake air!

 


“You’re fired!” ASP lashes out

Star surf commentator sacked, maliciously, by the Association of Surfing Professionals.

Paul Evans was affectionately known as the “Luscious Limey” in surf commentator circles. His posh British accent combined with quick wit and encyclopedic surf knowledge made him a rising star in the ranks. And even though he was calling one star WQS events in strange countries and girl’s junior pros in lakes the consensus was that he would end up in the big leagues.

One frightful, but beautiful late August week, however, his career came to a stunning and inglorious end. He didn’t know at the time but the Swatch Girls’ Pro, France would be his undoing. Sitting next to Chas Smith in the booth, the two would laugh and drink beer and call what Bethany Hamilton termed, “The best commentated surf contest ever!!!” Chas mostly said rude things. Paul mostly said intelligent things punctuated with just the right amount of wit. It was as fun as it was funny.

Two months later he was gone. Banned. Well, not quite banned. “It was more like a deselection of a persona non grata…” he told me while eating an herb Provencal tartlet. “An email went out with a list of commentators for women’s WCT in Portugal with my name on, to which a reply came from someone at ASP saying, ‘Sorry, but we can not use Paul Evan’s on the Women’s WCT. Please let him know?’ I think I was more aghast at the apostrophe on Evan’s than anything else. I am led to believe it had to do with guilt by association with the evil, subversive Chas Smith…”

Now, in all seriousness, Paul really was far better than the ASP deserved. And his sacking, or deselection, proves the organization has lost its damned mind. It rewards anything that smacks, even remotely, of good time/intelligence/semi-adequate understanding of the English language with a swift kick to the curb. The powers that be are taking a wonderful pursuit, surfing, and layering it so thickly with bland bland boring bland in an attempt to what? Appeal to sixty-something Bible-belters? Bring more investment? Steal the “No Fun League” moniker from the NFL? Whatever the case, it is not working. Numbers are down and money is drying up and WSL sounds dumb. Multiple sources have told me that judges and commentators have not been paid for months. It is bleak.

I suppose, though, at the end of the day, ASP Chief Strategy Officer Graham Stapleberg is enjoying the fruits of his labor. If you are too, let him know he is not alone! Email [email protected]

Paul Evans (Evan's) in happier times.
Paul Evans (Evan’s) in happier times.

 


Ask Pam Reynolds: Quick and Dirty (Now animated!)

Loneliness? The ailments of modern living? The French bulldog owned by Dane Reynolds and Courtney Jaedtke solves!

How can anyone resist the titanic pull of the four-year-old French bulldog owned by the surfer Dane Reynolds and his falconer and designer girlfriend Coutney Jaedtke? Over the course of the last three months, Ask Pam, an advice column that has covered topics as diverse as the insignificance of life and the Solange-Jay-Z rift, has become a  much loved and much visited part of BeachGrit.com. 

At first, Pam’s answers were simple keystrokes. I’d send Courtney the emails; she’d fire back Pam’s replies. Then Pam wanted audio. And so we set-up a little soundcloud account for Pam to upload her answers.

And, now, thanks to the computer skills of her master Dane Reynolds, Pam has become… animated!

If you’d like to be included on Ask Pam, send an audio file (voice memos on an iPhone works perfectly) and a photo of y’self to either [email protected] or [email protected]

Now let’s toast episode one and celebrate our glorious futures before they become our dim and dismal pasts!

 


ASP changes qualifying series format. Slaps loom.

Or to quote Jules Winnfield, "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men."

Professional surfing has come to Oahu and tension hangs thick in the tropical rot and slaps are certainly waiting in the hydrangeas. Differences between the ASP and local interests have already reached a boiling point with still a month to go in the North Shore season. Issues surrounding how many Hawaiian wildcards will be allowed to surf in the Pipeline event, how the event is run and who will patrol the water scald.

Today, the ASP announced it is changing the WQS star system to some odd QS1000-QS10000 format but, structurally, it is the same thing. Issues surrounding the way points are given scald too.

“Money equals stars, stars equal points…” Eddie Rothman tells me on a bright sunshiney day, his growl seeming more angry and more exasperated at the same time. And points equal a birth on the World Tour and minor glory and very low level fame. The Sunset Pro, which is in its waiting period, is a mere 4 star (or QS3000) while the Burton Toyota Pro, in Newcastle, Australia, is a six star (or QS6000). Eddie’s beef is that the stars don’t reflect wave quality/difficulty. They simply reflect how much a sponsor paid for the event. “How many professional sports events in the world are fucken run like that?” He asks. “Those kids out there putting it on the line at Sunset, a serious wave, and they get less points than some shitty little beachbreak contest in France? Come on, how does that work?”

I don’t have an answer for him but I am sure Graham Stapleberg does and if Eddie can make it through his paid-security detail he should ask.