cyber bully

Tears: “BeachGrit readers bullied me!”

Debut writer thrown to the electronic wolves!

Last Wednesday, I sent Derek a story I wrote about the one time I beat Dane Reynolds in an amateur surf contest. A couple of laughs, maybe some sort of accidental insight into your favourite surfer. A mostly meaningless pre-Christmas treat.

Life’s too serious, right?

I wrote it in one take, didn’t edit it, and knew it ran too long. To my surprise, he liked it. Too my surprise he hardly deleted a word. Too my surprise he said he’d run it live on Friday night to see what the BG readers thought of my work.

Right on!

Let’s just say the comments were less than nice. I had expected as much. BeachGrit commenters are  brutal. And many were still reeling from Rory Parker’s sudden departure.

Also, the piece ran over 1,500 words which rattled the short attention span of those looking for their usual bite sized dose of dirt, of gossip and grit.

A brief sample of the forty-six comments.

“This shit makes me want to kill myself!”

“Rory leaves and the comments turn to absolute fuckery, and the articles become even more so. Not so anti-depressive now. Just a bar full of angry drunks with no pennies left screaming at each other with spittle flying everywhere. Me included.”

It may shock those who described my story as “shite” and that my yarn added “zilch” and “nada” to the Grit, that I have been a surf journalist for over ten years. Print media. I’d been able to make some decent coin writing about surfing so I thought I wouldn’t  care as to what some keyboard warriors had to say about me and my story. Sure, I’m no Nick Carroll. But I’m having a swing, right?

I was enjoying the comments, laughing even, until I…was…triggered.

BG commenter “Chaz Michael Michaels” wrote, “This is like junior English essays I used to grade about ‘My Best Holiday’. You’re 1k words deep, they haven’t got off the fucking plane yet, and when they eventually do it turns out to be the dullest trip ever. Maybe you could try Granny’s Funeral next?”

A good point? Yeah it was.

Yet it brought back memories of my grandma’s funeral, which was recent enough to compel me lash out in the comments. Bad idea. One of my dear editors saw the comment and was kind enough to tell me this, “A lot of writers have a ‘never read the comments’ policy … it’s a rabbit hole!”

Unless, of course, the comments are coming from someone like Nick Carroll, “I’d write short on pieces like this. Too many words, not enough point.”

I’ll take that on the chin too.

Watch for me on slow news days.

Revealed: Music’s best surfer!

Jack Johnson rides a wave you wouldn't even paddle for!

A few months ago I wondered, out loud, who surfing’s best musician is/was. Do you remember that? I kind of don’t but mostly because it Christmas Eve night in Cardiff by the Sea and I am multiple tequila lime juices in and I googled “surfing music beachgrit” to try and remember but only came up with the 10 best surf songs you’ve never heard! by Derek Rielly which I never saw but totally loved just now and where did he find the time to listen to 10 surf songs and…. what was I talking about?

Jack Johnson!

I just now saw on Instagram a photo by the dear dear and SON OF A BITCH!



(sorry I am multiple tequila lime juices in)

Jack Johnson wins!

He is music’s best surfer!

Dear Santa: Gimme a mobile KS wave pool!

That my friends can chill on while I'm rippppppping!

The sun is long up in Australia. Christmas day! And the sun is on its way down in America. Christmas eve! Oh did you get what you asked Santa Claus for? Will you?

I’m hoping, beyond hope, that when I rip down my stairs a Sea Ray SLX-W 230 is wrapped under the tree!

“What’s that?” you ask.

“A mobile Kelly Slater wave pool!” I shout while jumping up and down. “A mobile Kelly Slater wave pool!”


But, real quick, why is Josh Kerr the only person on earth who has made wake surfing look worthwhile? Is it inherently lame? Lame in its very DNA or… what?

What’s going wrong?


Revealed: Surf’s missing link!

The way to grow the money and shrink the crowd!

It is Christmas morn in Australia, eve in America, and good cheer trickles into the even crustiest of hearts. Do you feel joy? Merry? Oh but you should! A great gift has just been given to us by The New York Times! A key to surf industry growth that has eluded for years while not crowding lineups! A way for the World Surf League to reach CEO Paul Speaker’s heretofore absurd projections!

I was reading The Times, see, and stumbled on the story Surfing and Sondheim: What’s on Josh Radnor’s Mind. It intrigued me because I was once married to a musical theater actress. Stephen Sondheim is a big name in that world, having written the music to West Side Story, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, etc. etc. and I loathed it all. I despised both his rhythm and his rhyme. If a piece of Sondheim music comes on when I’m shopping, say, or out to eat I’ll start to sweat  and my eyes will twitch. I’ll feel murderous. Suicidal.

And I did not want his cursed name near the word “Surfing.”

Josh Radnor? I looked up at his picture and saw that he was this guy from that one show.


Anyhow apparently now he is in an Off Broadway production and blah blah blah and the article was a list of things he was interested in. I skimmed quickly to get to the surfing part which read:

William Finnegan’s “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life”: Mr. Radnor tends to read many books at once, “which is actually a problem,” and he was still in the middle of this memoir. “It’s a lot about surfing, which I’m kind of weirdly obsessed with without knowing how to do it well at all.” He had to learn a few years ago for the Jill Soloway movie “Afternoon Delight.” Now, he said, “I just love to sit and watch. There’s something so meditative about it.”

And I thought “Here it is! The missing link!”

The industry/WSL should push surfing onto the masses like meditation! Self-help and not something you do but something you sit and watch. Beach mats would fly off the racks as the population runs to the beach looking for meaning! Surf watching shorts too with pocket zips that keep sand and pesky crabs away!

The WSL would have to change the programming a bit. Maybe score heats with Krishna Das music and lose the singlets and also maybe lose the entire commentary team besides Joe Turpel who’s voice is like warm honey dripped into an ear and as empty as the wind but Paul Speaker’s billions would tune in because of surf viewing’s restorative qualities!



dane reynolds

Shocking: “I surf better than Dane!”

Do you believe Danger Mouse Reynolds is the best surfer in the world? Think again!

Memory. I was a ten-year-old wanna-be competitive surfer living in Santa Cruz. I forced my Mom to drive me down south every month for the NSSA contests which, back then, were like the WSL of amateur surfing, minus exploding phones and #TourNotes.

But, National Scholastic Surfing Federation…tha fuck?


My buddy couldn’t keep a 2.0 GPA and was stripped of his open men’s Western Championship victory ‘cause he wasn’t “scholarly” enough. Side-note: the guy who placed second, Travis Mellem, began listing the title on media as one of his accolades. That’s worse than setting up a GoFundMe account to mount a WQS campaign!

We became pretty good friends, but it was more like “I saw that Surfing cover of you in South Africa…how gnarly was that!” instead of “Dane! You got dinner plans?” He was always very quiet and nice, but he and another few competitors would hang out inside the officials’ tent in between heats. That was weird.

Regardless, if you wanted free shit and cool guy stickers on your board, you had to compete. Despite the association with school, our Santa Cruz crew did our best to tip toe around that ugly word and please our sponsors while still being little punks: packing chews, taking bong hits in the sand dunes, wrestling and thrashing around the parking lots on our skates. We had some contenders, guys like Bud Freitas and Noi Kaulukukui. Mostly, I would head back up Highway 1 with a plastic fifth place trophy and sunburn. If I was lucky.

I did have my moment in the sun, however. I beat the star of Dear Suburbia, of Cluster, of Chapter 11, Dane Reynolds!

Let me set the scene. I’ve known Dane for twenty years. The first time I saw him surf in was my very first NSSA event, held at Ventura Harbor, a truly world-class break. Before the heat I saw this little buck-toothed kid standing around in his jersey wearing a hole-ridden O’Neill wetsuit but with Rip Curl and Hardware (remember them?!) stickers on the nose of Channel Islands board. Believe it or not, this was a big deal. Fuckin kid thinks some stickers on his board’s gonna take me out? Poser!


The hooter sounded and our heat was on. Reynolds was first up. Any notions I had about this kid’s legitimacy were silenced as I watched from the back. Dane blew his fins out six times on a two-foot left.

Being ten days older than Dane, we were locked into the same division for the following seven years. As he grew in stature and profile, the whiz kid would perform, every contest, as though he was blindfolded and we were riding inflatable zebras instead surfboards. Crazy, inverted backside carving 360 on a six-foot close out at Pismo Pier. Searing gaffs and big airs. It was like he was alien or, perhaps “touched by an angel”. I know people have claimed this kind of shit about Slater, but when you consistently crank out the most mind boggling shit imaginable every time you paddle out, people are going to shout “reptilian”. So when Dane talks about losing all the time in Chapter 11, he’s full of shit. He could have filled a pick-up truck with all the trophies he collected as an amateur.

So I continued to compete. I crafted a DR voodoo doll and ritually gored it with needles. My efforts were in vain. Every month, he’d show up, limbs and vision intact. I gave up on the black magic and just accepted my lashes and the fact we were men among the company of a god and we had front row tickets to his performance.

We became pretty good friends, but it was more like “I saw that Surfing cover of you in South Africa…how gnarly was that!” instead of “Dane! You got dinner plans?” He was always very quiet and nice, but he and another few competitors would hang out inside the officials’ tent in between heats. That was weird.

Dane was gnarly. Not Geoff Brack gnarly but Kelly Slater gnarly. However, I would have my day. I would surf better than Dane Reynolds. My mom told me to get into yoga, to work on my competitive strategy, meditation and maybe, just maybe, I’d get to his level.

I didn’t buy it. The kid was just too damn good, breezing through wins with his eyes closed. Every once in a while he’d ride an egg or a weird fish just ’cause he could.

However, I did best himand I will carry this victory close to my heart until the day I die. Even more than my equal seventh at the Kustom Tahara Pro Junior in 2005 in Japan. Is Kustom still a thing? I remember thinking it was so edgy when they came out. I mean, they spelled custom with a K. Genius.

Back to the aforementioned victory. It was the year 2000. Eminem was shocking the world and N’SYNC were wetting the panties. The location was Port Hueneme in Oxnard. WhyyyyKneeMe? WhynotSilverStrand??!! For how much quality surf on the stretch of Oxnard to Santa Cruz, in the NSSA Goldwest Explorer Division (whatever that hell that means), we would routinely get skunked. This event was no different. Shit wind. Shit tide. Shit waves. Standard issue. I had just moved up into the 15-to-17 year old junior division. And that meant I was just a minnow among nearly grown men. I’m not too sure of what I did to make it through to the final, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say luck factored pretty heavily.

The only other person I remember being in that heat was Nathaniel Curran, who still surfs really well, likes to go fast, and babysits the Channel Islands surfboard team. Nathaniel was really the only one who could give Dane a run for his money. That didn’t last too long, but in this heat, Nate Dog was Regulating. I was surfing the peak to the south, which was providing a few chippy lefts. Being a goofyfooter from the land of righthand point breaks, I figured this would give me a chance to hone my frontside attack. Actually it was just an attempt to give me some breathing room from Nathaniel and Dane, who were surfing the rights about 100 yards north.

Nathaniel owned the final. I remember watching in agony as he tore the shit out of wave after wave. For once however, I was in the zone. I caught a little wedge left and did a few snaps and buckin’ bronco butt wiggles. Where was Dane? I saw him catch a pretty decent right, but as the time ran out (fifteen minutes is not a long time to catch two quality rides when it’s flat dogshit), it was clear that he didn’t have a good backup wave.

With about two minutes left in the heat, another wedge came my way. I scratched harder than Adriano De Souza, popped up and began to string together another pair of gaffs with a little drop wallet on the end section.

The ocean went dead and the buzzer hooted. I felt pretty confident with my two keepers. Still, I saw Nathaniel murder at least three waves and the thought of beating Dane did not compute in my adolescent, drug-muddled mind. There were no live scores so we had to wait until the awards ceremony to find out how we placed. The fateful hour arrived, and Dane, Nathaniel, myself, and the three other competitors all lined up in front of the scaffolding for the awards ceremony.

Janice, the beach marshal began announcing the results. Name after name began being called. Not another fifth place? My arse puckered. Fourth place, not me. Then, by the grace of Satan, Dane was awarded the third place trophy! I’d slayed Goliath! Of course Nathaniel won, but for a brief moment, I had felt like I’d won the Eddie or Pipe Masters.

better than dane reynolds
Dane was gnarly. Not Geoff Brack gnarly, but Kelly Slater gnarly. However, I would have my day.

Of course, I’ve never surfed better than Dane Reynolds. A random fluke. Stroke of good luck, call it what you may, but I will carry this result as a badge of honor until I’m pushing up daisies.

I saw Dane at Keramas in 2008. I paddled up to him to rap out and he looked at me like he didn’t know me. Maybe it was just a momentary lapse of memory, but I felt like it may have been due to the fact that he was being worshiped worldwide at the point in his career. Then again, maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m just a cynical and sensitive bastard. After reintroducing myself, I paddled away feeling hurt and confused. Why wouldn’t my old chum greet me with enthusiasm and open arms?!

Wait! Maybe it was because I bested him that day at Port Hueneme! Blood Feud?

I paddled away and saw him do a six-foot lien grab air from the back. He looked like an alien blasting off to return to his (reptilian?) planet. That air scored him the cover of Transworld Surf. So yeah, for fifteen minutes, in the shittiest of surf, I surfed better than Dane Fuckin’ Reynolds.


Dane Reynolds Transworld cover
Dane’s lien air at Keramas in 2008.