"We're all just in shock," says Kelly Slater. "I loved this man. Can't believe we won't be seeing you as expected at every event. I can hardly remember an event without you. Always in everyone's corner on tour...it's really difficult to believe you're gone. Rest in peace, my friend and our thoughts go out to your children." | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Surfing Photo Union Worker

Head of WSL security dead of suicide

Can we speak of the unspeakable?

Anyone who has been around more than one professional surf event (either ASP or WSL) would have seen Woody. He was the head of security and looked it with shorn head and severe goatee. Unlike most security guards, though, he was quick to laugh. He seemed to know he was in on the joke. That surfing was “professional” and needed “security.”

This morning he was found dead in his San Clemente hotel room.

Stab has already posted a thoughtful and sensitive piece but bury a key element in the URL and Kelly’s Instagram post without really touching it themselves.

The likely cause of death was suicide.

And why is it so impossibly hard for us to get our heads around suicide? To even say or write the word?


We brush it away, into the URL or onto someone else’s shoulders as quickly as we can. It is a poison. A horrible, unspeakable blank.

Jamie Tworkowski, a surfer and best-selling author from Florida has spent his life dirtying his hands in these freezing cold, uncomfortable waters.

I met him a lifetime ago in his hometown. He started and runs the foundation To Write Love on Her Arms which deals directly and head on with suicide. With its stigma and with letting the light in, the air in, so maybe, just maybe, other suicides won’t happen. Read all about him and TWLOHA here. He is a champion.

And so I call him for more. Because how do we talk about it? How do we look it in the eye? How do we not brush suicide away anymore?

His voice is warm.

Look, these folks who knew him, who loved him are hurting. It hurts beyond anything. But how do we talk about it? How do we talk about suicide? Well, the leading cause of suicide is untreated depression. Can we talk about that? Can we talk about our problems? Problems that we all have and carry with us every day? We are not really allowed to go there but that’s where we need to go. We have to go to the headwaters and really deal with the issues.

Woody’s death is super hard news, it’s super painful but there’s still a way to honor him. He lived, he had a family, he impacted so many people. The way he died doesn’t take away from any of that and I’m not interested in speculating on the causes of his death. None of that goes away because of how he died.

But what do we need for the living? For the people struggling under depression or the burden of problems they think are too great to escape?

You are not alone. There are great resources and I talk with people every single day who are alive even through the struggle.

There is hope.

There is hope.

If you need a little kick today go here.

And God bless you Woody. Thanks for letting me get right in the middle of Damien Hobgood vs. Dingo Morrison leash pull incident freak out at Pipeline’s showers without shoving me aside. It was a thing of beauty.

leash pull?… from thegoods:CJ and Damien Hobgood on Vimeo.

Revealed: Nixon spied on Surfer Magazine!

A blood feud that beats 'em all!

William Finnegan’s much-lauded Barbarian Days has, of course, taken the literary world by storm. President Barack Obama put it at the very top of his summer reading list, it won the Pulitzer Prize, every bestseller list many times over, etc. etc.

One of the greatest side benefits of all its success, though and in my opinion, is an increase in quality writing about surf. Bill made it ok to take it seriously! And there is a story in today’s New York Times that fascinates!

Richard M. Nixon, noted dickhead and asshole and paranoid creep, actually spied on Surfer magazine founder John Severson! Let’s read about it!

Southern California surf culture is rich with such tales from this period. Growing up in San Diego in the ’80s, I heard stories of Marines confiscating (and even destroying) the boards of surfers sneaking onto the beaches of Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base just south of the Nixon house. A famous Ron Stoner photograph from the ’60s shows a Marine M.P. wearing a sidearm, storming off the beach with a single-fin shortboard.

Severson soon found himself in hot water over a series of photographs he took of Nixon in La Casa Pacifica that he sold to Life magazine in 1969. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Life photos prompted Nixon to build a six-foot wall around his property. It wasn’t long before the Secret Service took a hard look at the Severson abode. Severson and his friends were convinced it had been bugged. “They knew everything that was going on at that house,” Steve Pezman, who ran Surfer magazine for two decades after Severson, recalls. ”Nixon knew what he had for dinner, how it came out and what he said to his wife in bed.”

At the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, Calif., I recently found a 1969 letter from Severson to Nixon, apologizing for the photos. “I’d like very much to speak with you for a few minutes,” Severson went on, “regarding the surfing, public beach and access problem that faces us in Southern California. Unfortunately, your summer home has intensified the problem, but I believe a solution can be reached without jeopardizing your security.”

In his memoir, Severson recalls that he was invited over to La Casa Pacifica to negotiate a truce with the White House counsel John Ehrlichman. “He was one tough cookie,” Severson said. “I tough-cookied him right back.”

The story is delicious, detailing Nixon’s hatred of the damned long-haired surfers surfing in front of his San Clemente home, rubbing his nose in their loose morals and looser morals. Read the rest here!

It makes me sad that surfing is no longer counter-culture in a way. That our industry’s own thin-skinned paranoia has rendered any external eye-twitching unnecessary.

The New York Times called his final work, Boner from the Stars, a 1400 page tome featuring experimental formatting and totally lacking punctuation, “A stunningly self indulgent screed that confuses at every turn. Lacking both form and substance, [Reynolds’s] latest work could have been written by a proverbial two monkeys in a mere twenty minutes.” Contrarily, The Paris Review praised the novel, saying, “Intentionally befuddling delivery aside, [Boner from the Stars] is Heinlein with half the fascism, but twice the misogyny.”

Happy Birthday Dane Reynolds!

But do you know the world's favorite-ish surfer's backstory?

Here’s a big Happy 31st Birthday to everyone’s favorite surfer, Dane Reynolds!

Conceived while his father, a demolitions expert and amateur tattooist, was on furlough from the Vietnam War, Danethon Leroy Reynolds is the oldest of fourteen illegitimate children.

Reynolds first rose to national prominence as a brash MFA student lauded for his series of groundbreaking science fiction erotica. Dane was, somewhat controversially, thrice nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards, leading Isaac Aasimov and Arthur C Clarke to publish open letters denouncing both institutions.

The New York Times called his final work, Boner from the Stars, a 1400 page tome featuring experimental formatting and totally lacking punctuation, “A stunningly self indulgent screed that confuses at every turn. Lacking both form and substance, [Reynolds’s] latest work could have been written by a proverbial two monkeys in a mere twenty minutes.”

Contrarily, The Paris Review praised the novel, saying, “Intentionally befuddling delivery aside, [Boner from the Stars] is Heinlein with half the fascism, but twice the misogyny.”

What came next was a decades long struggle with food addiction and compulsive public nudity. Reynolds largely disappeared from the public eye until he became embroiled in a series of Hollywood A-list wife swapping scandals which ended in a highly publicized trial and six month period of involuntary commitment.

The period was documented by Gay Talese in a series of columns for The New Yorker titled, Man in the Box: A Boner Falls to Earth. Talese was widely criticized for his work, which was called by various sources, “Sensationalized,” “Nearly totally lacking literary merit,” and “Unnecessarily racist.”

Following the successful completion of his therapeutic stay Reynolds spent the next few years supporting himself with a series of odd jobs. Rarely able to retain employment for longer than a few weeks Dane worked, at various times, as a little league baseball umpire, longshoreman, unlicensed contractor, short order cook, unpasteurized dairy advocate, and motivational speaker.

In 1972 Reynolds suffered a relapse and was arrested on Sunset Blvd when he was found wandering the street nude demanding change from passers-by.

Due to his high blood alcohol content Reynolds was sentenced to three days in county jail. During his incarceration he suffered from a number of terrifying re-occurring nightmares he has often publicly mentioned, but refuses to fully discuss.

For unknown reasons Reynolds believed the dreams were a sign he should pursue a career as a professional surfer. After a mere two seasons of competition he was signed to a lucrative contract by Quiksilver, making him, for a time, the highest paid professional surfer in the world.

In 2011 Reynolds retired from competitive professional surfing, announcing he would be devoting his fortune to supporting the emerging French Bulldog social media market.

Dane briefly made headlines again in 2013 when paparazzi captured footage of him urinating in a public drinking fountain. Following a plea deal, which saw him sentenced to house arrest, Reynolds retreated to his Ventura County compound.

Reynolds house arrest eventually turned to voluntary hermitage. In 2015 Buzzfeed reported he would soon be releasing the first of a series of hip hop albums loosely based on the Kama Sutra, but the album failed to materialize.

Other than a series of bizarre profanity-laced Twitter rants in January of 2016, in which he blamed “dinosaur jew monsters” for the majority of society’s ills, little has been seen or heard of Reynolds in recent months.

Happy Birthday Dane Reynolds! (09-07-1985) (Instagram) from Norwell9 on Vimeo.

Chang: “He’d probably bareback a porpoise!”

For a mere $12,000.00 you can learn the art of surf photography from master Aaron Chang!

Do you ever wish you were really good at something? Like, exceptionally good? I do. All the time! I wish I was good at cooking or organizing or cleaning or responding to calls/emails or making lots of sound business decisions or writing business plans.

Or photography.

But guess what? I can go get good at that for a quick $12,000.00 with world-renowned photographer Aaron Chang! Should we read about a new offer in Forbes?

Spending a day on a coastal photo safari with veteran surf photographer Aaron Chang is like a cinematic fast cut through everything that’s iconic about Southern California. You get gorgeous beaches, stunning views, killer tacos, even that nagging sense of being trailed by a helicopter.

At 60, Chang is one of the world’s most accomplished ocean photographers, having shot more than 100 covers for Surfing magazine over 25 years. He’s devoted himself more recently to creating fine art prints of secret reefs and abstract sunsets for his San Diego galleries. Now, as part of an exclusive partnership with Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, Chang is leading private daylong expeditions around (and above, thanks to a whirlybird) his favorite spots along the San Diego coast.

I’ve lived in California for 20 years. I’ve never surfed. Neither has my wife. We raised a theater kid. So it was with a mixture of excitement and sheer terror that Ruth, Sebastian and I abandoned our indoorsy plans for Labor Day weekend to embed ourselves with Chang and his snorkel-packing, Endless Summer-chasing adrenaline crew on a test run of the new offering, to be priced at $12,000 for the day, which includes meals, transportation, equipment and a two-night stay at the Residence Club for up to four guests.

We all meet up at dawn in the Aviara lobby for the Signing of the Waivers and sidelong glances for having kept our 13-year-old in dry dock even though we live near Venice Beach. In the Sprinter van to the ocean, Chang comes across as a genteel craftsman, albeit one who would probably bareback a porpoise if it meant getting the perfect photo. He’s that dedicated.

The family goes to Torrey Pines, somewhere and then learns to surf while dad hits the camera!

Photographing surfers is not impossible if you have equipment like Chang’s. You also need good timing. “The moment you sense something’s about to happen, just click, click, click,” he tells me as I look through his C 1D Mark lV. Chang’s 64 GB card has enough memory to shoot for hours so I basically Tommy-gun images as Ruth and Sebastian wade boldly where no Hochman has waded before. They’re both laying on their boards with instructors at their feet. Once they’re out far enough, Kyle and Connor turn their boards around, push them onto incoming waves and, lo, Ruth and Sebastian ride their first waves. I feel the emotions swelling but Chang instructs me to get the shot. “Click, click, click, click!”

Read the rest here! And are you inspired? Will you sign up?

WSL muzzles world number one!

John John silenced after criticizing 3x world champ Mick Fanning!

Do you remember when the World Surf League posted a candid interview to Instagram with the  world number one, and everyone’s favorite surfer, John John Florence?

Of course you do! It happened just three or so hours ago and was right here on BeachGrit!

The unimpeachable Derek Rielly wrote of the social media offering :

Now, as just revealed by the WSL’s social media wing, John John says that, yeah, he’ll compete at Trestles, but he ain’t gonna be throwing bombs.

“(The injury) feels fine… It’s just a matter of finding, like, where the little tweaks are and what’s going to hurt it,” says the current world number one.

“I think for the event, you know, I’m not going top be able to surf 100 per cent for sure… it’s a torn ligament in my knee… it’s going to be finding a good balance and surfing at eighty-five percent and … hopefully surfing through a couple of heats. It’s either doing that or pulling out of the event completely. I’d rather give it a try and surf like Mick to the finals.”



Apparently not! Just moments ago the WSL disappeared the Instagram post and scrubbed it from their Facebook too. I have reached out to WSL media czar Dave Prodan as to the whys and wherefores but my inquiries have yet to be answered.

In the meantime, let’s speculate!

Was Mick Fanning so hurt by everyone’s favorite surfer claiming he surfs at “eighty-five percent” that he forced the powers that be to eliminate the offending material?

Did he call WSL CEO Paul Speaker and say:

Prior to the exchange with the reporter, I had refused to speak with him because I understood he had previously published articles which I believed were racist and anti-Semitic. I strongly object to views, statements and comments of that nature.

I acknowledge that my decision to use words that were inappropriate – albeit in an attempt to be ironic, knowing they were of the type favoured by him– was misjudged and wrong. I don’t have or condone any form of racist or, more particularly, anti-Semitic view.


Or did he say:

John John thinks I surf at less than full volume? Really? Did he really say that? Even after J-Bay when a shark attacked me? No. Shut up. It did attack me. You know what…just…just…whatever.

Or did he say:

Go white lightning you’re burning up the quarter mile
(White lightning go white lightning)
Go white lightning you’re coasting through the heat lap trial
(white lighting go white lightning)
You are supreme the chicks’ll cream for white lightning.


Or did he say…wait! Here’s WSL media czar Dave Prodan! He says:

Having not seen the clip, but rather reading the transcript (on the Grit!) my guess is that John was referencing Mick’s surfing in J-Bay where he won the event despite being injured. I don’t have the background but presume he requested it removed into avoid confusion. John, like most if not all surfers on tour has the upmost respect for 3x WSL Champ Mick Fanning.

Oooooooh that is a quick, and quality, spin. It is why Dave Prodan has a job. But I’m going with the first option. The… Prior to the exchange with the reporter one…

That’s why I don’t!