Mitch Coleborn tries to buy wax in Brazil

Wild hilarity ensues.

He began to push his cart slowly down the beach walk, calling again, “Surf wax!”

Mitch Coleborn, who was wandering up the beach in Rio de Janeiro with a fresh slicked decked surfboard, heard the cry and went up to the gargantuan vendor.

“Hey, stop. Gimme one of these, mate.”

He looked sternly at the young boy, brunette boy, who placed himself in the wagon’s path. His valve protested against the boy’s nipples, the surly face that seemed to hang from the long well-lubricated hair, the cigarette behind the ear, the aquamarine jacket, the delicate boots, the tight trousers that bulged offensively in the crotch in violation of all rules of theology and geometry.

“I am sorry,” the wax vendor snorted. “I have only a few bars left, and I must save them. Please get out of my way.”

“Save them? For who?”

“That is none of your business, you waif. Why aren’t you in school? Kindly stop molesting me. Anyway, I have no change.”

“I got a real,” the voluptuous Australian lips sneered.

“I cannot sell you wax, sir. Is that clear?”

“Whatsa matter with you, mate?”

“What’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with you? Are you unnatural enough to want a bar of wax this early in the afternoon? My conscience will not let me sell you one. Just look at your loathsome complexion. You are a growing boy whose system needs to be surfeited with good books and the morning’s newspaper and whole wheat bread and spinach and such. I, for one, will not contribute to the debauchery of a minor.”

“Whadda you talking about? Sell me one of them bars of wax. I wanna surf. I ain’t been out yet.”

“No!” the wax vendor screamed so furiously that the passersby stared. “Now get away from me before I run over you with this cart.”

Mitch pulled open the lid of the compartment and said, “Hey, you got plenty of stuff in here. Gimme one.”

“Help!” the wax vendor screamed, suddenly remembering his boss’s warnings about robberies. “Someone is stealing my wax! Police!”

The wax vendor backed up the cart and rammed it into Mitch’s crotch.

“Ouch! Watch out there, you nut.”

“Help! Thief!”

“Shut up, for Christ’s sake,” Mitch said and slammed the door. “You oughta be locked up, you big fruit. You know that?”

“What?” the wax vendor screamed. “What impertinence was that?”

“You big crazy fruit,” Mitch snarled more loudly and slouched away, the taps of his heels scarping the sidewalk. “Who wants to touch anything your fruity hands touched?”

“How dare you scream obscenities at me. Someone grab that boy,” the wax vendor said wildly as Mitch disappeared into the crowds of pedestrians farther own the street. “Someone with some decency grab that juvenile delinquent. That filthy little minor. Where is his respect? That little guttersnipe must be lashed until he collapses!”

This Simple Surf Tip Could Save Your Life!

…wait, no surf tip can save your life. But your sanity! Yes, this could save your sanity!

For the better part of a quarter century, I’ve enjoyed the flexibility and convenience that removable fin systems offer. In fact, I can’t remember the last board I owned that had glass-ons.

Which is to say I’m well acquainted with the issues that arise with removable fins. I’ve sat on dark Caribbean sand and watched, speechless, as a lapis lazuli blue cylinders spiraled endlessly off a palm-lined point, my brand new EA quads lying impotently in my hand, my fin key a three hour’s drive away and in some twist of tragic irony not another surfer around.

But mostly instances like were my own fault. I brought them upon myself. Neither FCS nor Future can help with stupidity.

But for all 25 of those years I have had the unfortunate experience, when it comes to Futures specifically, of dealing with tight, sticky, stubborn fins. Fins that will not budge, will not sink, will not come the fuck out of the box. Fins positively stuck in there.

I have smacked my palm against a fin’s leading edge so hard it chipped bone. I have on occasion raised a rubber mallet at my beloved and thumped an AM2 out of its box, praying the box holds. I have done this around hundreds of other surfers, on five continents and a dozen or so tropical islands, in dozens of surf shops. I have watched hundreds of other surfers subjected to the same misery, the same rejection, pounding on their fins in Kafka-like desperation.

And then just this week, in a panic of southern-hemi juice, I found myself struggling to get a trailing fin in my precious Mayhem round-pin quad.

A cloudy-haired old man watched me desperately prying the fin into the box. A set made it’s way through the Central California lineup — bumpy and raw, but gorgeously interesting.

The man approached my truck and extended his clenched hand, waiting for me to extend mine to receive whatever gift he’d brought. He dropped into my hand a nub of wax. I stared at him, my face flush with frustration, anticipation, and cheap wine.

“Rub a little on the base of that fin,” he said. “The bottom and the sides.”

I did nothing. I looked at the man, and then again to the wax he’d gifted. The man smiled, turned, and walked away. The fin stuck out of the box crudely, the base’s leading corner sticking out a half-inch. I thumped the fin out with my boot. It went clanking into my truck’s bed.

Another set passed through. I took the fin and gently waxed its base, massaging the wax smooth with my fingers. I wedged the rear tab and pressed down. The fin dropped smoothly, silently into the box. Perfectly flush.

I took the other three fins and did the same thing. Each one dropped into its box. I looked to where the man’s truck had been parked. It was gone and so was he.

I wanted to thank him. I wanted to tell him how much what he’d taught me meant to me. I wanted to shake his calloused hand and tell him how hard, how thoroughly bruising life had been before he came into my life.

I wanted to do all that, but I also wanted to see if he had a motherfucking fin key.

“Drugs are great and you should take them!”

Except maybe coke (pointless), weed (too panicked to surf) and meth (bad skin)… 

“I used to do drugs.  I still do, but I used to, too.”

A great man once said that, and it’s as true today as ever. Drugs and surfing go together like peanut butter and bananas and while we like to pretend we’re a culture of hard-body vegan sun worshippers the truth is that more than a few of our heroes have hoovered enough illicit substances that a simple blood test would earn them a Balinese death sentence.

We acknowledge the hard partying eighties, but the notion that drug use on tour ended the day Kong became Elko is about as realistic as the belief that Volcom’s B-team house is the safest place for a single woman on Oahu’s North Shore.

Now let’s discuss.

Opiates: Oh, opiates, the silver lining to injury’s grey cloud. I should write a love sonnet expounding their merits. They’ll make you feel motivated, euphoric, and popping a 5/325 Norco first thing in the morning will alleviate those early morning aches and pains that are a result of a childhood spent eating shit on your skateboard. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last. Soon enough you’ll develop a healthy tolerance, start upping your dose, and end up a bloated waste of space with a clay filled colon.

A little known fact: the proper dose of hydrocodone will give you a semi-numb, rock-hard boner that’ll leave your girl limping.

 Mushrooms: Best served with a summer bodysurf, mushrooms are the greatest thing to ever sprout from a pile of shit. Of course, psychedelics aren’t for everyone. If you’re battling personal demons there’s a good chance they’ll bring ’em to the forefront of the ol’ psyche and you’ll spend the rest of the day curled up in a corner reliving that time you asked Kim Peterson to the fifth grade sock hop and she said, “Ew!’ and all her friends laughed at you. Fuck that chick.

But most of the time they’re a blast. Just be sure and avoid the dreaded double dose. Just because they haven’t kicked in yet is no reason to take more. Unless, I guess, you want to experience a hellish polygonal reality that seems profound but is really just empty nonsense.

Weed: Marijuana is great, but I’ve never understood the guys who get lit before surfing. Weed makes me lazy, slow, and fearful, a terrible combination in anything but gutless burgers. It’s great for, literally, everything else though.

Coke: I hear that blow was great back in the eighties, but I’ve never really understood the modern day appeal. It’s a great way to trick yourself into thinking you’re sober enough to drive, and you can use it to lure a certain type of slag back to your house when the bars are closing, but it’s otherwise useless. It’s a once-or-twice-a-year drug, when you’re drunk enough to think a bump is a good idea, only to quickly realize that all it does it cancel out all the good downers you’ve already taken.

Crack: One time when I was in college a guy I knew came over and asked if I wanted to smoke some opium with him.

“Of course,” I replied, soon followed by, “This is fucking awesome!”

I felt so alive!  I immediately grabbed my board, drove to the beach and had the best session of my life in overhead closeouts. The next day I asked him if he could hook me up with his opium guy.

“Dude, that wasn’t opium,” he said, “That was crack.”

In summary: Crack is fucking awesome.

Meth: Like coke, I just don’t get the appeal of meth. It burns like a motherfucker, turns you into a sexual degenerate and leads to hours long conversations with skin-picking shitbag losers about nothing at all. But an entire generation of Santa Cruz surfers put it to good use while heaving themselves over the Maverick’s ledge and into the history books, so there’s gotta be something to it.

Alcohol: Booze makes you more clever, more confident, and better looking. It greases the wheels in awkward social situations and lowers your standards enough to make sexual conquests far easier. It also made me fat so I don’t get to drink anymore for a while.

Benzodiazepines: Better known by their brand names, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan- benzos are a must have for any international surf trip. A couple of Xanax before boarding is like flipping your mind’s off-switch, making a six-hour coach-bound hell flight feel like a ten minute nap.  Beware. Mixing them with alcohol dangerously lowers inhibitions. So, unless you feel like showing the flight attendant your dick, it’s probably best to skip the pre-flight cocktails.

Heroin: A drug dealer I befriended while in Egypt offered me some heroin one night and, well, I didn’t want to be rude.

Heroin is the best thing ever. Better than sex, surfing, or a mother’s love. Dangerously so, in fact.  Stay the hell away from heroin. Unless you don’t plan on living much longer, then I say go right ahead. I know that, if I somehow make it into my seventies, I plan on riding that horse straight into the grave.

Hashish: On an somewhat related note, did you know that Egypt has killer hash? The stuff is everywhere and Egyptians are more than happy to share with their visiting American friends.  There’s not much better than sucking down a huge spliff and going for a freedive in the Red Sea. I’m not really sure what BeachGrit‘s stance is on the country, because of, you know, the whole Israel thing, but I fucking love the place. Morocco sucks though, nothing but a bunch of underemployed Berber thieves. I don’t get why Chas loves it so much.

LSD: I’ve never taken acid, the opportunity never presented itself. But I recently officiated a wedding and was paid in a couple hits of what is supposedly some super high grade stuff. It’s in a plastic bag, stuck to my fridge with a magnet, calling my name.

In conclusion, drugs are great, and you should take them. Just don’t get caught and for the love of god, don’t try to smuggle them into any third world countries.

New: “Grandma, tow me in!”

4-6+ feet has never seemed more accessible!

The French are good at many things but mostly good at being French, which is the same as being fabulously useless. From Gothic art (1100-1200) to the world’s first electric keyboard (1759) to photography (1822) to the roulette wheel (1843) to neon lighting (1910), the French have invented wonderfully impractical contrivances. They can now proudly add the world’s first all-electric carbon fiber jet ski (2011).

The Exo Wat, dreamed up by, Philippe Fretel, is really more of a bodyboard as the user lies prone whilst driving. It is very sleek, in traditional Batman black, and leaves almost no carbon footprint. “I used to rent out professional jet skis in Florida…” Fretel tells “…when I arrived, it was a dollar per gallon and three years later it was two dollars per gallon! So first of all there was this economic factor linked to the rising price of petrol: my profit margin had become too low.

The second factor is, of course, ecological: we really wanted to be able to offer fun leisure activities with an environmentally friendly vehicle, using an ecological means of power. In addition, the vehicle is lighter (no trailer).”

Aside from being astonishingly fruitless and great for the environment, the Exo Wat does not require any sort of permit so either your grandma or four-year-old nephew can tow you in to slightly overhead set waves at your local beach for at least an hour. That is how long the battery lasts.

Bon appetit.

This is how it really looks.
Graham Stapelberg enjoying a day on the sea.

See it here first: Leo Fioravanti dazzles!

It's an Italian storm!

Crispy Grindz from James Graham on Vimeo.

Kelly Slater is an international surf star but I would say we have not had one since he and I would also say that John John Florence will not reach international surf star level (he surfs so well, so gloriously but……the intangibles, you know?). In any case, my money for the man who will take Kelly Slater’s spot, when Kelly finally begins to age, is none other than Leonardo Fioravanti.

Leo is, of course, Italian, for uno, and speaks fluent French, English, a little Japanese and more French. His English is also inflected with the cutest continental accent. Girls melt into puddles when they hear. He is tall, for due, not the short little things the surf world generally churns out. He is blonde, for tre, with Romish curls. He has wonderful teeth and a wonderful smile, for quattro. Girls melt into puddles when they see. He has very ideal bone structure, for cinque, and he is brave, for sei even breaking his back on a heaving Pipeline bomb.

I was with Leonardo, recently, at Teahupo’o and he paddled fearlessly into many waves that left me quaking in the boat and he did it with style. He has small wave game and big wave game. He would be given a role in Baywatch if it still existed. He has all……..the intangibles, you know? Just watch this video and try to argue.

Viva Leo!