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™.

Stud: Chris Hemsworth for VF!

Bruce Weber tells star to, "Put the pussy on your head!"

Is Chris Hemsworth not the dreamiest man alive? Tell me he’s not. Watch this Bruce Weber for Vanity Fair clip and tell me he’s not almost too good looking. In any case, if you listen very carefully you can hear Bruce telling Chris to “pet the pussy…” and to “put the pussy on your head…” And then you can listen normally and hear Chris talking about Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning like a regular every day man, not the dreamiest man alive. Isn’t it funny that gods still have heroes?

But mostly, where does Morning of the Earth rank on your list of greatest surf films ever?

Surf fiction: Don’t call me dad!

Rory Parker says goodbye to single moms!


God damn it.

I knew it was coming. Told her this wouldn’t work, couldn’t work. Kids build these attachments, regardless. I’m present. I’m kind, enough. I’m big enough to pick her up, buy her a gift without too much thought. But mainly present. In the end that’s all that really matters. Kid sees you every day, nearly, you become a part of its life. There’s no stopping it. Thing doesn’t have the perspective, can’t understand that a large portion of its life is just a small fraction of yours.

It’s why everything is such a big deal. Why petty slights hurt so bad. Don’t have the experience to put things in perspective. Each hurt’s the worst you’ve ever felt, can’t imagine a crueler world.

You figure things out, though. Shit happens, keeps happening. Does the pain stop? Do you just become numb to it? You’ve gotta, right? Or eat a bullet, because there’s always more. Just how things go.

Don’t call me dad, call me a lesson.

“You don’t need to worry, she knows you’re not her father.”

“She doesn’t know shit. She’s a child. This isn’t going to work. I’m sorry.”

I’m not. This is her own fault. I saw it coming. She should have.

“I can keep you separate. I’ll get a sitter, it’ll just be the two of us. You don’t ever need to see her again.”

Great mom. Good job. Got those priorities right in a row.

I can be a band aid, off and gone. Stings like a bitch, the memory fades. But become a ghost? Linger in the eaves? She’ll know I’m there, just don’t want her. I can’t do that. Don’t have it in me.

She’s got a real one out there somewhere. We never talked about him, her mom and I. Not a subject I wanted to broach. Not my business.

He’d sure make it easier. Swoop in on weekends, fill her with candy and half-assed love. Weekend dad, two days of affection. Mom at home raging, the kid a pawn in her bitter game. But not bad for me, an outside observer. Palms raised, stepping backwards, ain’t my job to interfere. Be a good time, a fond memory. Some kindly fellow who fucked her mother then flew the coop. Simple, fun, what I was promised.

I knew she was lying. She had to be.

She’s a piss poor cook. Boiled hot dogs, microwave bullshit. Too self involved to spare twenty minutes to make something decent. It’s her own fucking daughter, always too much effort.

“You don’t know what it’s like! Raising a child on my own, the pressure! Every single day, it’s what she wants! What she needs! What about me? Don’t I get to have a life? You can’t leave me alone! You can’t! What will I do? I need someone, someone who cares about me! It can’t all be about her!”

But it is. And I’m not that someone. Can’t be. Won’t. Don’t care to, not with your true colors bleeding a selfish black from every fucking pore. You made this thing, signed up for it. It’s not the fifties, you wouldn’t’ve bled out in some back alley abattoir. Sterile and trained and safe and easy. Unpleasant, yes. A hard thing to admit, to place that primacy on your own happiness. Self interest at the expense of another life. But worse to ride it out because of unearned guilt and spend the rest of your life awash in resentment. Like a selfish owner, too weak to put your pet down. Letting it suffer away its final days in an agony you ignore. Cursing the clean-up, hating that it just won’t end. But still too weak, too selfish, to do the right thing. Doom another to pain in order to avoid your own weak twinge.

If I don’t say goodbye she’ll cry. She’ll wonder where I went, what she did wrong. Why don’t I love her? Then she’ll move on. Too much in this world to learn. Everyday a different adventure, filling her little head and pushing me out of it.

Mom’s her own problem. We’re adults. We each and always suffer alone.

I’m not going back. I’ll block her number, she’ll figure it out. There’s a jacket I really like hanging on a hook on the backside of her bathroom door. Small price to pay to cut things off cleanly. And the kid will be fine. They always are. Or they aren’t. Gotta keep that vicious cycle turning.

No more single moms. I said that last time, I mean it now. Too much mess. Divorced is fine, maybe good. No kids, no ex, at this age? Spells trouble in my book.

Still talk to my own, occasionally. My ex. Remarried, with the kids and dog and mortgage, whole shebang. Good for her, truly. She got what she wanted, says she’s happy with it. I hope so.

We met young, loved, planned a life together. But they don’t tell you how you’ll change, either or both. That blissful naivete, the notion things last forever. It was easy in the end. No acrimony, mainly mutual. She said she wanted to grow up. I said I was, liked things fine how they were. How much weight you can bear isn’t the measure of a man. Or shouldn’t be. Isn’t for me.

It didn’t break me, nor her. Young enough to start again, smart enough to end it before we burnt through our youth. Sometimes I wonder if I’d, we’d, hung on, made it work, if one of us would’ve come to the other side. A stupid question to ask. Things are what they are.

I let her have the car, the only thing we owned. It was a piece of shit, I looked magnanimous. Win/win.

I had a weak moment, sent her a text. Not my past ex. The one soon to be present.

This isn’t going to work. I’m sorry. You’ll find someone else.

From raving to pleading to ranting to begging. Little dick, piece of shit. I’m so sorry, I love you. We can make it work, I swear. Fuck you then, I hope you die. Don’t do this to me!

Let her get it out of her system. Catharsis is fine, she has every right. Howl at the moon, if that’s what it takes. Empty that pit, find someone else to fill it back up.

It’s easy to move on. Easy-ish. I miss the kid, a little. She was sweet. In some other world, some parallel universe that built me differently, I’m probably still there. For birthdays, Christmas. Teach her to ride a bike, build a little tomboy, the type that bloodies noses. If she were mine I’d have hung around. Even when I’d had enough of mom, moved out, found a place of my own. Through school, through college, give her money for a Summer abroad. Try not to think about how often she gets fucked. If I were her real dad. Which I am not.

The time we had together will have to be enough. If it isn’t, wasn’t, I can’t say I’m sorry. I can’t remember truly feeling sorry, no matter how often I may mouth the words. We do what we have to, all of us, all the time. It’s rarely as clean or pretty as we’d like.

Back in the dating pool is no fun. We’d never talked about monogamy, but I fall into it. Out of sheer laziness, unforced.

The internet makes it easier, if awkward, every meeting a first date. A random encounter in a crowded place is always best. Nothing replaces that magic. Fumbling at a stranger, waiting for morning to see if the click is still there. It usually isn’t, but it was damn fun while it lasted! Sometimes not. Sometimes the room stinks of shame and you can’t wait to get the fuck out. But that has its own charms.

The phone calls and texts and long, crazy, nonsense social media messages slowly taper off, until I’m free and clear. Really starting to feel like I dodged a bullet. Put my dick in crazy, snuck out just in time.

Got a hot date tonight. Off Tinder, of all places, some kid. Which is who it’s for, not some divorced asshole who recently kicked a lonely single mother to the curb. But you’ve gotta fail to succeed. Someone told me that once. Or I read it somewhere. I figured trolling for daddy issues might get a few bites. Looks like it did.

She’s fat, I can tell from her picture, no matter how she frames it. But she’s young enough that it works. Skin’s still taut at that age. And the fat ones are grateful, I remember that. Usually willing to push a few boundaries, because of that gratitude.

I wonder if I should shave. There’s a few grays in my stubble. Does it make me look old? Or edgy, cool, dangerous, experienced? Fuck, she’s still in college, what are we going to talk about? Her class schedule?

I don’t know why I worry. She’s just looking for a fuck. Or should be. At that age.

I’m not gonna shave. Just a quick shower, change of clothes, maybe put some shit in my hair. Not worth getting dolled up. Short sleeved button-up and clean jeans and sandals.

There are reds and blues flashing in my driveway, and my date isn’t happening, and I’m feeling sick to my stomach because I know why they’re there.

Should have seen it coming.

I got the text earlier, saw the name, didn’t read it. Just swiped at my phone so I wouldn’t keep chiming. But it must have registered, because it’s in my mind, I know what it says.

I think we all pray in these pointless moments, when we’re wrapped in terror. Minds shut off, existential fight or flight. Nowhere to run, no thing to confront. Please, no, it can’t be. Anything but this. Please!

Pointless, an empty grasp at nothing.

I know what I’ll see. I just have to look. I could be wrong, I know I’m not.

I did it. She’s gone. We can be together. I love you so much!