John John getting filmed!
John John getting filmed!

Rumor: John John Florence fires agent!

Is the world's favorite surfer becoming a prima donna?

I finally finally saw the masterwork View from a Blue Moon last night, on a biggish screen with wonderful sound, and it is everything already written. Gorgeous. Stunning. Jaw-dropping. Bravo to all.

The only issue I had was with the title lock. View from a Blue Moon hovers mid-top screen in a perfect font. Design team Wedge & Lever delivered a spectacular look/feel though out and should be applauded. Below that and smaller reads “A film by John Florence and Blake Vincent Kueny.”

John John is, of course, the star and I’m certain very involved in the production but it is a story about him more than it is a story by him. Mr. Kueny bobs and weaves through a chronological narrative, banging to snatches of culture, segueing to surf porn with such a deft hand that his name should stand alone. He is the film’s director and John John would have done better to leave his own name out of the slot where a director’s goes. If John John wants to direct he can and should but maybe in the vein of Dane Reynolds who directed a film about someone else, namely Craig Anderson.

John John is magnificent but has being so magnificent maybe gone to his head? An industry source (not Hurley) tells me that the world’s favorite surfer parted ways, allegedly and recently, with super agent Terry Hardy. Terry has represented Kelly Slater forever, guiding him to unprecedented success, making him as close to a household name as a surfer can be. It seemed a match made in heaven but apparently not? Before Terry, John John rested in the stable of other super agent Blair Marlin who represents Dane amongst others but those two parted ways two-ish years ago.

Again, only a rumor and, if true, maybe justified but swapping personnel frequently ain’t a good look in sport or show biz. It smacks of perpetual dissatisfaction and dear John John should not be dissatisfied. His career is a speeding freight train, fueled in large part by those around him, and only he can derail it.

The Surfer Drug Fuelling ISIS!

Turns men into remorseless killing machines…

Before over-the-counter Viagra and Xanax became the drugs of choice for surfers in Bali, a popular buy was the drug Captagon.

Caps! Do you remember?

I do. I was a little boy of seventeen, first trip there, and one night some older men I had attached myself to tapped out pills from a yellow bottle into my palm.

“Try these,” they said.

I danced all night! I had no need to eat and boy could I drink! Glory days etc.

In case you don’t know, Captagons are a relatively weak amphetamine, a mild version of speed. If you’ve ever thrown Ritalin or Adderall down your throat, you’ll know the buzz.

Which is why it surprised me to read today that Captagons were “fuelling Syria’s civil war,” according to The Guardian.

Let’s examine the breathless copy.

“Separate investigations by the news agency Reuters and Time magazine have found that the growing trade in Syrian-made Captagon – an amphetamine widely consumed in the Middle East but almost unknown elsewhere – generated revenues of millions of dollars inside the country last year, some of which was almost certainly used to fund weapons, while combatants on both sides are reportedly turning to the stimulant to help them keep fighting.”

And if we jump over to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, the 18-month-old story has been re-purposed with the catchy headline: TINY PILL CREATES SUPERHUMAN SOLDIERS.

“A powerful amphetamine tablet based on the original synthetic drug known as ‘fenethylline,’ Captagon quickly produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing Syria’s fighters to stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon.

The story reads, in part:

“A powerful amphetamine tablet based on the original synthetic drug known as ‘fenethylline,’ Captagon quickly produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing Syria’s fighters to stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon.

‘You can’t sleep or even close your eyes, forget about it,’ said a Lebanese user, one of three who appeared on camera without their names for a BBC Arabic documentary that aired in September. ‘And whatever you take to stop it, nothing can stop it.’

‘I felt like I own the world high,’ another user said. ‘Like I have power nobody has. A really nice feeling.’

‘There was no fear anymore after I took Captagon,’ a third man added.

“According to a Reuters report published in 2014, the war has turned Syria into a ‘major’ amphetamines producer – and consumer.

“Syrian government forces and rebel groups each say the other uses Captagon to endure protracted engagements without sleep, while clinicians say ordinary Syrians are increasingly experimenting with the pills, which sell for between $US5 and $US20,” Reuters reported.

“Captagon has been around in the West since the 1960s, when it was given to people suffering from hyperactivity, narcolepsy and depression, according to the Reuters report. By the 1980s, the drug’s addictive power led most countries to ban its use.

Do Caps really enable you to kill with numb reckless abandon?

Did I get bad batches in Bali?

Have Arab fighters tried MDMA?

WSL drones
If you've been around the Haleiwa Contest site at Ali'i Beach Park (not to be confused with Haleiwa Beach Park, across the harbor, fronting Pua'ena Point), you may have seen the signs the WSL has decided to post. | Photo: @joeseegs

WSL Tries to Own Hawaiian Airspace!

…but maybe they don't have permits. Uh oh!

Aren’t unintended consequences hilarious? When you come across, say, a fun story about how the WSL is attempting to flex its muscle and keep outside sources from flying drones during the Triple Crown, so you call up the Hawaii Film Office with a few questions, only to have things kind of run away from you, and end up setting in motion what looks to be a clusterfuck on their end. Utter comedy.

Which is exactly what just happened. Literally. Like, five minutes ago.

If you’ve been around the Haleiwa Contest site at Ali’i Beach Park (not to be confused with Haleiwa Beach Park, across the harbor, fronting Pua’ena Point), you may have seen the signs the WSL has decided to post.


Something smelled fishy. Obviously the WSL is not a governmental body. To suggest that they have the authority to vet applicants and approve or deny permits is a power move, meant to intimidate people into compliance with their desires.

Which, you know, annoys the hell out of me.

Especially considering the ridiculous amount of special treatment they get from the Honolulu Dept of Parks and Rec in the form of the illegal variances granted for the Pipe contest every year.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the snail’s pace at which Hawaiian bureaucracy typically crawls, a quick call to the Hawaii Film Office got me a very friendly, and very helpful, person who requested I not use her name in this story, but was more than willing to shed some light on the situation.

“Are they using a drone? They’re supposed to get a permit from us. They probably have the drone insurance, whatever the FAA requires, but to film you need to have a permit with us. I do all the permits and I have not issued a drone permit to anyone.”

My suspicion that they could not have sole right to the airspace around the contest proved to be possibly unfounded, then the conversation took an interesting turn.

“Are they using a drone? They’re supposed to get a permit from us. They probably have the drone insurance, whatever the FAA requires, but to film you need to have a permit with us. I do all the permits and I have not issued a drone permit to anyone.”

When asked whether they had the authority to require permits be submitted to them, “I would say no. I’m not sure what they did with the FAA. The FAA might have given them a ‘certificate of authorization,’ and that’s to operate your drone and do all that, but once the footage becomes commercial, and I’m pretty sure that’s commercial, they need to acquire a filming permit from us.”

When asked whether they had the authority to enforce the “No drone zone” policy, she speculated that they might. Kinda.

“If they got a permit from the FAA it’s like getting a permit from us. If you apply for it first you can say that, ‘I have a permit here, I have the right to say no shooting here or whatever.’”

However any violations would fall to the FAA to enforce, meaning the WSL would need to contact them, after which the FAA would go after violators.

So while they may have the permit to fly the drones, the question remained, do they have permits necessary to use them for commercial filming?

“I am positive that they do not. The FAA would not get involved because they probably have all the necessary certifications with the FAA, it’s more our film permits that they would need to acquire. Do you have a contact number I can call?”

Uh oh!

And, you know, what could I do but give one to her? After all, she was very nice, and is only trying to do her job. Which, in this instance, seems to be shutting down the WSL’s ability to film with drones while in Hawaii this year.

Praise: “That board looks fun…”

Is this the greatest compliment the average surfer will ever receive?

I miss our Rory Parker. He is in Nicaragua, surfing on his wife’s dime I presume, and not posting stories. BeachGrit has come to depend on his salt-of-the-earth musings so much so that, in their absence, I have them running through my head. Today, an overweight man walking a dog and I, in car, arrived at a stop sign at the same time. Beach towns, of course, pulse with pedestrian traffic and this is good because pedestrians are saving the environment. He was on a bluetooth headset talking to someone and I would have waved him across before me except he did not see me and proceeded to walk anyhow.

It took fucking forever. Each fat plodding step slower and more deliberate than the step that proceeded it. He was not decrepit, maybe 50, not injured. There was absolutely no reason for him to move so slow and it drove me crazy. Just think if all the fat fucking people in the world hustled across crosswalks. Just think if they put a pep in their step only when crossing the streets. Their hearts would thank them. Their muscles would rejoice. I suppose the same reason that they are fat is why they walk slow across streets, holding up skinny people with places to be. They just don’t care. Fuckers.

In other news, I surfed a fun wedge today on a little 5’2 quad that I surf too much. But today demanded it. Perfect, in fact, for its curves. There were only two others out where I surfed and after I caught a wave in front of one he paddled over and said, “That board looks fun…” I smiled and said, “It is very fun.” And realized “That board looks fun” is the greatest compliment I will ever get in the water. No one will ever tell me that I rip, because I don’t, but if they tell me my board looks fun after watching me loop from top of wave to bottom then it means I didn’t totally bog rail.

Now here’s Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher. Come back soon, Rory. I’m not as good at this as you.

Travis Rice doing what you can't. Or won't.
Travis Rice doing what you can't. Or won't.

The best surf film ever is on its way!

The Fourth Phase will make you want to get barreled or maybe jump off a mountain.

Blake Vincent Kueny and John John Florence’s masterpiece View from a Blue Moon is the topic du jour and it is receiving high praise from all corners. GQ says, “Best!” The HuffPo says, “Wowest!”

Of course it deserves the superlatives. Mr. Kueny is a visionary director, Mr. Florence a surfer at the very top of his game. Their collaboration will live on and be well remembered. But what of technical 4k guts? The look/feel? the soaring spirit? All from the souls of Curt Morgan and Travis Rice.

Mr. Morgan, if you do not know, is the founder of BrainFarm Cinema and, if not a genius then a wildly progressive innovator. The whole action sports game, the entirety of the way we experience film today, is due in large part to him. His mastery of the tools, manic drive to push beyond logic in capturing visuals, love of spending wads and wads and wads of cash has set a bar which he continues to elevate.

And his perfect muse is Travis Rice. I have had the privilege of spending much time with Travis over the past five years. My wife has represented him since he was 19 and the three of them have crafted a truly game-changing narrative. It began with the film The Community Project then That’s It, That’s All before The Art of Flight. They are films which live on a different plane than others. There is something about them that absolutely crackles and they each add a piece to a larger puzzle with Travis at its center.

Travis is unique, I’ll tell you, because he is starving. Starving for experience, starving for knowledge, starving for nature. He wants to see how far he can push it in every situation and there is never a moment of rest. I was with him last in Mexico on Cabo’s barren east cape and there was a fun wave out the front of where we were staying. Travis kept trying to look around the corner. He said, “There’s for sure a wave over there. It’s faster than the one here and barrels…” I went to surf the one I could see. He, somehow, commandeered a jet-ski and went around the corner. Hours later he came paddling back. He did not, in fact, find anything but that is what sort of man he is.

The Fourth Phase, their next movie will certainly elevate the bar once again. It will give birth to more stellar surf sessions than anything that has come before because it will be that sort of film. The sort that makes you want to do something big.