Rumor: Surf photogs to form union!

Bringing back the glory years of Jimmy Hoffa!

The worker hasn’t kicked his employer in years and years, or so it seems. In the United States wealth continues to concentrate in fewer and fewer hands. Most people just feel lucky to have a job and so don’t agitate. Unions have turned into bloated bureaucracies that do nothing but feed the chunks at their top.

But guess what? The glory years of 1930s organized labor might be back and all thanks to surf photographers! There are very many people with cameras these days, you see, and some are not very talented. Or principled. They stand on the beaches and shoot pictures of surfing etc. Brand managers see them and say, “Hey little boy, you wanna be famous? Gimme that picture and I’ll hashtag you.” The picture is given for a hashtag and, voila, the price of art drops for everyone.

It is a problem and a bummer but rumors swirl from reputable sources of unionizing. The photographers will band together, demand a fair price from buyers and muscle down on those who get out of line.

Just think how fun it would all be! Beaches from Snapper to Trestles to the Banzai Pipeline will be dotted, periodically, with scab busting men wearing, probably, wifebeaters and suspenders and fedoras, smashing the Canons and Nikons of those underselling images.

No one works harder than the surf photographer and if they really do unionize it would be glorious. I would even join though the best shot I’ve ever taken is of a flamboyant twink watching a fashion show. You can’t use it for free anymore. (but if you do please @beach_grit and #beachgrit)


Kelly Slater with Tomo surfboard.
"Slater Designs number one! Always number one!" says Kelly, while the great surf journalist Nick Carroll prostrates himself before his pro surfing equivalent. | Photo: Steve Sherman/Surfing Magazine/@tsherms

Just in: Kelly Slater’s new surfboard Co!

Launches January 15, Orlando! With Pyzel, Tomo, Webber and… Rob Machado!

It ain’t no secret that the 11-timer Kelly Slater is a vast, unfinished masterpiece. You thought he was going to tap out from the tour, rated sixth, heading towards fifty, a fading legacy his only takeaway?

As obediently as we might like to conform to an idea of what an athletic icon might do, Kelly continues to surprise, and to delight.

Let’s backtrack a little, and quickly.

In April, Kelly Slater bought the third biggest surfboard company in the world Firewire Surfboards. Two, maybe three mill.

Firewire, if you didn’t know, is a surfboard brand that builds boards in Thailand, sells ’em for almost $1000 apiece, and counts Michel Bourez as one of its surfers, and Matt “Mayhem” Biolos and Daniel “Tomo” Thomson among its guest shapers.

The launch range will include four surfboard models from Jon Pyzel, Greg Webber, Daniel “Tomo” Thomson and Kelly’s ol pal Rob Machado. Running the show will be former Channel Islands lynchpin Travis Lee, a secret weapon in Kelly Slater’s later world title campaigns.

(Read the story about Kelly buying Firewire here)

This January 15, at Surf Expo in Florida (January 14 through 16, 2016) Kelly will launch his new surfboard company, which is called Slater Designs.

Got a ring don’t it?

The launch range will include four surfboard models from Jon Pyzel, Greg Webber, Daniel “Tomo” Thomson and Kelly’s ol pal Rob Machado. Running the show will be former Channel Islands lynchpin Travis Lee, a secret weapon in Kelly Slater’s later world title campaigns.

Do you hanker for the sweet throbbing surfboards that come from Slater and these shapers?

Would you give years of your life to touch one of these nymphets?

Sterling Spencer Gold

Watch: Sterling Spencer’s Gold!

Pensacola's gift to the world has done it again!

Sterling Spencer’s Gold! dropped this morning and accomplished an amazing feat. It got me to sit through a half hour long surf video without skipping forward, or losing interest part way through. (WATCH HERE)

Like most of us, the constant inundation of online content has given me an attention span that’s best measured in seconds. Gimme the hits, the best clips, all killer, no filler. Dispense with the fucking lifestyle shots. I’m over slow pans of swaying palms and back-lit tropical sunsets. I live that shit every single day, they’re about as interesting as the life insurance policies my wife is suspiciously insistent I read.

I adore Sterling Spencer. I dig his take on the surf world, groove on his never serious approach. I’m not too surprised to learn he’s been depressed and suicidal over the last few years. Full on clown, laughs on the outside, tears on the inside.

I’ve been looking forward to Gold!, more so than JJ’s flick, which also dropped today, but which I won’t likely see until it hits the torrent trackers. I like to watch great surfing, but I crave something different. A window into John John’s life isn’t that intriguing. Apart from the fact he surfs better than me, there’s not a lot he has that I want. In truth, I think I’ve got the better gig. Way less money, sure, but nowhere near the pressure. And he’s still gotta get through his twenties, I didn’t like mine so much. All the responsibilities of adulthood, none of the wisdom.

Gold! reminds me of Taylor Steele at his finest. Goofy acting breaking up surf segments, me cackling away like a loon. Rewind the skits more often than the surfing.

But, whereas the hilarity of Steele’s work was by and large created by the amusement I felt at seeing the pros I worshiped struggle to act their way out of a paper bag, Sterling knows what he’s doing. A calculatedly awkward on-screen presence, perfect comedic timing, self deprecation that cuts without turning pathetic. Successful comedy is damn hard to pull off. Probably unattainable without a natural affinity, but you’ve still gotta hone that edge if you want it to cut. Sterling’s got his razor sharp.

And that Bob Saget segment! Holy hell, perfection itself.

Unfortunately, where the movie falls flat is during the surfing itself. Spencer is very talented, but in a world full of double jointed super freaks dropping clips on the regular, his ability is that of the guy who is, 99% of the time, the very best in the lineup, but when the real deal shows up you see the cracks in his game. Which didn’t detract from my enjoyment, though I found myself waiting for the surfing to end so we could get to the good stuff. Which isn’t a negative. I can think of plenty surf flicks with similar formats and awesome surfing, but where I suffered through the interstitial programming only to get to the action.

Gold! is gold, worth your time, a good enough proof of concept to justify kicking down a few bucks to his GoFundMe. My only gripe is that he plans on donating the money to local charities, I’d much prefer he used it to finance his next project.

 Or maybe not. Maybe the best thing would be to parlay this project into some legit acting work, leave the surf world behind. Kid’s got the comedy chops, looks good enough for the screen, but not too good.. Attractive people can be funny, beautiful people cannot.


Blood Feud: Surfer vs. WSL!

The World Surf League plagiarizes one of our greatest artists! Will there be legal ramifications? Slaps?

Creative juice is a damned thing. Flowing in the ficklest, indeterminate stream and no one ever knows, when bottled, if it is fine or foul. The only thing to do is push a cup before the public and watch their looks of satisfaction or watch a cringe or, worst of all, watch indifference.

Matt Warshaw, when he was at the helm of our world’s flagship publication, Surfer, tapped a spate and thought it would be wonderful to put six 1988 title contenders on the cover behind the bold word SHOWDOWN!


It does look a little busy, maybe in retrospect, but not terrible? According to Matt, though, it tasted bad. “(It) was the worst-selling issue of the year for us.” He tells me from his gorgeous home atop Queen Anne Hill.

Today, some 27 years later, the World Surf League has used without credit borrowed Matt’s creativity and put the six current contenders on their cover homepage behind the words Countdown Is On: Inside World Title Race.


I am, first, totally partial to exclamation marks! And so applaud Matt for his bold use! I am also partial to Oakley Razor Blades but, mostly, I am partial to properly appropriating another man’s work!

Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal, bad poets deface what they take. That is something I always say* and it looks like the WSL stepped in it twice over, here, by imitating (notice the lack of exclamation) and defacing (notice the lack of Oakley Razor Blade) at the same time. I am very certain that Matt Warshaw is sitting in his gorgeous home atop Queen Anne Hill and readying his legal team for a showdown!

The countdown is on.

I ask him how furious he is at this egregious act of vandalism. He says:

“Semi-furious at myself. I had the chance to trademark the Grim-Faced World Tour Six-Head Grid, and didn’t take it. My mistake.”

Before dropping this bomb:

“Seven-Mile Miracle? I invented that phrase. For real.”

WHAT? I stole that phrase up one side and down the other for my award-nominated book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell. I suppose that makes me a very mature artist.

*I also never say this. I stole it from T.S. Eliot. I told you. Very mature.


Dave Stanfield: “Stoke-o-rama!”

Don't you miss his adrenalized nonsense? Be honest!

It has been a full year, almost, since the World Surf League became the World Surf League and trimmed its announcing team down to a reputable few. You know the boys now, and their -isms, by heart but what happened to the old doggies? To Pat Parnell? To Dave Stanfield?

I don’t know about Pat but Dave Stanfield is back in the booth calling Zeke Lau Jamie O’Brien and all the rest of the “whoopty-doos” going down in the “thrill-show” and you had better “close your eyes tight or your eyelids are gonna blow open!”

Does hearing his adrenalized nonsense make you nostalgic for a simpler time in the competitive game? A time when a very vague notion of surfing combined with the book How to Speak Like a Cool Dude Teenager for Dummies made for aural gold? An accidental double entendre was always but a blow away when Dave Stanfield was in the booth.

Let’s bring him back home, shall we? Raise your digital hand, dear reader, and Demand your Dave™.