Anastasia Ashley reads sensual poetry!

The surfer and Sports Illustrated Swimwear model reads the classic, Song for a Lady… 

I’m such a sucker, and maybe you are too, for a gal of better-than-average looks reading poetry, ideally in a backless canary yellow swimsuit.

Last year you’ll remember Ms Ashley socking us with Funeral Blues by WH Auden.  I haven’t cried so much since Anne Marie was cornered into surfing Pipeline (after a wipeout that nearly killed her) by her cruel ex-boyfriend Drew in Blue Crush.

Last month, Anastasia reprised her poetry jams with a recording of the feminist poem What Do Women Want by the American Kim Addonizio. The poem “explores the risk that women have of being stereotyped.”

Today, we present the far more subtle, but, then again, more sensual, poem Song for a Lady, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anne Sexton in 1969. This poem comes from her collection Love Poems, described somewhere as “a celebration of touch… physical and emotional touch.”

Read along!

Song for a Lady by Anne Sexton (1969)

On the day of breasts and small hips
the window pocked with bad rain,
rain coming on like a minister,
we coupled, so sane and insane.
We lay like spoons while the sinister
rain dropped like flies on our lips
and our glad eyes and our small hips.

“The room is so cold with rain,” you said
and you, feminine you, with your flower
said novenas to my ankles and elbows.
You are a national product and power.
Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose,
even a notary would notarize our bed
as you knead me and I rise like bread.

Adriano De Souza world title
A beautiful moment tween Mason Ho (third!) and Pipe Master/world champ Adriano De Souza. Even in waves so terrible it must now force the WSL's hand to shorten events, the game's stars sure did shine… | Photo: WSL

Parker: Pointless Speculation Re: 2016

Adriano ain't gonna back up the title, paid premium content is on its way and… drug scandal!

I lost yesterday, somehow. I didn’t drink that much on New Year’s eve, but I’ve been off the sauce for a while, so I’m a bit of a lightweight. And I can only assume I decided to pop a couple benzos at some point, not a great idea. Mixing that shit with booze is an easy road to a pathetic lights out.

So I survived another series of bad decisions, not a terrible way of ending/beginning a new year. I vaguely recall planning on firing some of those spinning ground flower fireworks into the air with my slingshot, but the pack is full, so my wife must have talked me out of it. Or I was just so fucked up I forgot my terribly dangerous and irresponsible idea.

Whatever happened, my brain still ain’t working so good. No surf news to “report,” the creative well’s run dry, still need to get something on the page. It’s my job, right?

I just don’t see it happening two years in a row for De Souza, if ever again. The twenty-fifteen tour was plagued by garbage surf, conditions that play perfectly to his approach. But in the coming year we’ll either see the criteria revamped (probably not), or better surfers mimic his steez and usher in a new era of three-to-the-beach hell.

So here’s a low effort attempt at content. My predictions for 2016. Pretty much what everyone else is doing, but worse.

ADS won’t win the title: I just don’t see it happening two years in a row for De Souza, if ever again. The twenty-fifteen tour was plagued by garbage surf, conditions that play perfectly to his approach. But in the coming year we’ll either see the criteria revamped (probably not), or better surfers mimic his steez and usher in a new era of three-to-the-beach hell.

2015 WSL world title contenders

The WSL will finally unleash the might of their production house: Rent ain’t cheap in Santa Monica and up until now it seems like the WSL has used their “production house” for… I don’t know what. Providing a place for unpaid interns to show up every day?

Thus far we know they’re pumping out a Laird documentary, a brilliant decision because there’s only a million other people more relevant to competitive surfing.


My money’s still on premium content. Going whole hog PPV ain’t gonna work, but the WSL needs to find a way to suck money out of our pockets if they plan on staying solvent.

There will be a doping scandal: There’s no doubt that modern high-performance surfing is hell on your joints, and last year saw a ton of missed heats and events thanks to wrecked bodies. Recovery is a drag, and takes forever, a real problem when the clocking is ticking and there are only so many injury wildcards to give out.


Someone is going to give in to temptation and take the easy way out, get a scrip for ‘roids and rebuild at a breakneck pace. Lots of guys left on tour in their thirties, and speaking from personal experience, the road back to health is a hell of a lot longer when your bones don’t bend anymore.

The world champ won’t be from the USA: Kind of a no-brainer, right? Slater’ got other shit going on, Nat Young will never win a title. Kolohe doesn’t belong on tour, scrapping for ‘QS points to avoid the cutoff portends poorly.

Nat Young, Alana Blanchard and Kolohe Andino, as so beautifully photographed by BeachGrit's favourite print magazine What Youth!
Nat Young, Alana Blanchard and Kolohe Andino, as so beautifully photographed by BeachGrit’s favourite print magazine What Youth!

As far as Igarashi and Coffin? Yeah, they both surf real good, but I don’t see the genius. Like top-tier college recruits they’re gonna find out it’s a whole new game at the highest level.

Where have you gone Bobby Martinez?

Our surf nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

I’ve have just come up from underneath 300,000,000 lbs of American football and the fresh air smells sweet! No more (except Oregon later today and and Seattle vs. Arizona on Sunday)! For our non-US friends, this week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is crammed with football from sun up to sun down. I’ve watched bad teams and I’ve watched good teams and I’ve watched good teams play bad (Jimmicane, what happened to your ‘Noles?) but what I haven’t seen is any interesting interviews or post-game press conferences.

The NFL invented bland when it comes to serving up their personalities. Sideline reporters say into the camera, with a completely straight face, during some quarter of the game, “I just talked to coach and he says the team has to work harder at stopping the run.” Or. “Coach just let the players know that they need to stop the run.”

It is annoyingly bad, utterly drained of value or meaning. Isn’t this supposed to be entertainment? The same is true after the game. Players step to the mic and say, “Coach drew up a good game plan. He told us we needed to stop the run.” Or. “My teammates around me did a great job at stopping the run.”

Humility is a virtue on the American sport’s scene and especially so in football. The American, on the couch, wants his athlete humble and especially his football athlete. Apparently, he also wants to know nothing at all, no gossip, no insider news, from reporters during the game.

Surfing, with a number of employees coming over from the NFL and most notably CEO Paul Speaker, has seemed to adopt this ultra bland approach as its own. We still talk about Bobby Martinez lighting off on the tennis tour and that was so so so many years ago. Mason Ho is pure pleasure to watch surf, partially because when he wins heats he gets to talk and who on earth knows what will come of that man’s mouth? Entertainment!

I wish the product, out of the water, would be a little less NFL and a little more pro wrestling. I wish our heroes would call each other out, complain about the judging, make snide comments about their competition. I wish Pete Mel and Strider, though I love their work, would tease out some funny underlying gossip. I mostly wish the humble would get tossed. Humility is not generally part of the professional surfer’s DNA and when he puts it on for the camera it is ill-fitting.

Can a new Bobby Martinez rise this year and put on a show? Who might it be?


Filipe Toledo wins Quiksilver Pro
…a revolutionary, a poet, a mystic. "God helped me win the whole event!" says Filipe. | Photo: WSL

Remember: Filipe Toledo owned 2015!

Even if his year was forgotten amid a surprising world champ and Kelly Slater's pool fever… 

“I don’t care if he is a Brazilian; he’s the best surfer in the world.”

This, from a surfer wrapped in an Australian flag after seeing Filipe Toledo drive Julian Wilson around the hill in the final of the Quicksilver Pro, Snapper Rocks. Nineteen-year-old Filipe’s near-perfect 19.60 combo-ing Julian’s 14.70.

Do you remember that final? Filipe coming through the air and hitting and bouncing off lips as if he was weightless while Julian looked as if he was doped up, in comparison. Didn’t matter who surfed against Filipe in that final. He blew his cookie!

Do you remember that final? Filipe coming through the air and hitting and bouncing off lips as if he was weightless while Julian looked as if he was doped up in comparison. Didn’t matter who surfed against Filipe in that final. He blew his cookie!

Hit play!

A few months later in Brazil, Filipe beat Bede Durbidge with the same night stick he wielded on Julian. Almost same scores, too, 19.87 to 14.70.


Two wins from four events.

By mid-year, Filipe Toledo was an orange-hot sunbeam filtering down through a tour that had become repetitive and slow. How could you watch the little man surf a heat and not be struck by his bolts of lightening? Here, there, drool running down his chin, eyes bulging and crazed like a madman undergoing withdrawal symptoms.

Sure, there was the low moment in Tahiti when he became the first surfer in history to score a perfect zero heat in a WCT event. You can watch that below or you can read about it.

A month or so later, he was back dismantling the beachbreaks of Portugal for another dazzling win. Watch his 10-pointer here! Best surfer in the world? Yes!

But despite his game-changing performances in 2015, Filipe’s dazzling year has been lost in the smog of Adriano’s world title and Kelly’s wave pool video.

Ain’t it crazy? That this beautiful boy with skin the colour of buttered cocoa, eyes a soft clubhouse green, who brought holy terror to the tour in 2015, and who is the hottest thing since Kelly Slater in 1992, could be overshadowed?

Our memories are lousy like that.

But, remember, eight weeks until Snapper Rocks, 2016.

Filipe will re-take the spotlight, gloriously, divinely. He’ll entertain the crowd while his competitors  smile painfully as he shucks ’em one by one.

As the former world-number-one-rated surfer Brad Gerlach told me after Snapper when Filipe looked as he might win every event: “Filipe’s technically superior. And he’s not thinking. He’s surfing so spontaneously you don’t know what he’s going to do. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do. And that’s fucking awesome.”

Fucking awesome. Yes he is.

Mason Ho Post Heat Interview
Mason: “This is going to sound weird, but for a second, I think you took on the shape of a unicorn.”

Rory Parker’s Fond Memories of 2015

Freddie P melts down, Mason Ho is everywhere, the New Yorker loves BeachGrit and more!

Another year of living the dream gone for good, an ever dwindling number left. I always get a little maudlin on New Year’s eve, feel like I’m racing the clock to get in as much fun as I can until my body finally breaks down. Probably got at least another twenty good ones left, but I’ve noticed that life speeds up as you get older. Pretty cliché, that realization.

Lists are easy, end of the year lists are lazy. But like Chas mentioned yesterday, there ain’t a hell of a lot going on. But I don’t feel like dredging up a video and clamping a half-assed paragraph to it, so I’m gonna write one. Not for you, for me. I smoke maybe a little too much weed, it’s always good to write shit down so you can look back and manufacture the memory.

Here’s a few fond memories of 2015.

Freddy P’s retirement: His Snapper meltdown was legendary.

Going out on a ten at Trestles even more so.

Surviving: A skull infection came damn close to killing me in 2014. That sucked, rattled my cage hard. But that type of shit doesn’t happen often, once in a lifetime for most.

But I’m special, so this year I got to go under the knife for an infection in my shoulder, then spend a hellish week locked in the hospital while a series of nurses poked, prodded, and pumped me full of a melange of opiates and antibiotics. Pretty sure one of them caught me jerking off, late one night.

But I’m still here! Maybe immortal? Whatever the case, life doesn’t seem so crucial anymore, much easier to let the small shit go. After all, it could be lights out at any moment.

William Finnegan: This just happened, but did y’all hear Finnegan name check BeachGrit on Surf Splendor? 

Pretty cool, a New Yorker level scribbler reading our stuff, and liking it. Definitely gave me a little ego boost, even if the discussion centered around Chas and Derek. I’m a hard working part of this thing too, you know!

Oh well, maybe next year, instead of “Derek and Chas’s site” it’ll be “Derek, Chas, and some dude named Rory’s site.”

Mason Ho: Clip after clip after clip after clip. Each one different, magic, adorable. His post heat interviews, the best in the business. A semi-final finish at Pipe! Here’s to hoping we ain’t seen nothing yet!

The WSL: Plagued by bad surf, constant injuries, terrible calls, and a total inability to lock down sponsorships, 2015 was not good for professional competitive surfing. Which sucks for me, as a person who truly wants to watch the best surfers in the world go head to head. Bit it’s also great for me, as a person who loves to write critical shit on the internet that’s read by a handful of people.

Sustainable: Such a great buzzword! Sounds nice, but really just means that something can go on for forever. Like poverty, or American cops shooting unarmed black people. The Turtle Bay Resort scored a sustainable PR coup when they got permission to develop a parcel of pristine land, but spun it as a conservation effort. Well done, bravo.

#vanlife: Being a bum has never been hipper. Sure, living in a car sucks, and there’s a huge chance you’ll get robbed, maybe raped, definitely hassled by cops. But it birthed an entire group of people who will soon self destruct as they realize their terrible decision, and it lowers rental prices for those of us who enjoy hot showers, fast internet, and a place to shit that isn’t frequented by degenerate hobos.

Kauai: My first full year on the Garden Isle, and, man, do I fucking love it here or what? Best place on earth, my wife’s gonna have to drag me kicking and screaming if she ever wants to move off island.

Money: For the first time in my life, and all thanks to my lovely wife, I’m not broke as fuck all the time. It’s an amazing thing, paying bills on time, fixing your car when it breaks, buying food you want instead of what’s on sale.

And, yeah, I’m anti-capitalist, loathe anyone who self identifies as an entrepreneur, recognize I’d be among the first against a wall when the revolution comes. But I’m a creative type, so I’m sin free. I get to benefit sans accountability, and having your cake while eating it is a beautiful thing.

Beach Grit: It’s corny, lame, and more than a little self-congratulatory, but I’m so fucked stoked to be a part of this gig. When Derek asked me, out of the blue, to be a part of it I was pretty amped. The way it’s grown over the last year has been amazing. I think we’re making something special here, and we’ve somehow got a community of commenters who actually say intelligent shit. On the internet! And some of them are people who I grew up reading, sucking down every word, hoping to one day be a part of the pack. Fuck, Matt Warshaw sent me a complimentary Facebook message the other day, Derek hooked me up with Surfer’s Journal.  It’s, literally, a dream come true.

Twenty sixteen will be here soon, I’m gonna get drunk and light off some fireworks.