Vacant: GQ plumbs the shallow depths!

The men's magazine spends a day with John John Florence!

Do you miss Ross Williams as much as I do? Oh don’t get me wrong, I love the spice that Kaipo brings and want him to stay but I still miss Ross Williams. And I miss him even more after reading a long feature on John John Florence in the newest GQ magazine.

The writer, who is neither surfer nor pretends to be, describes John John’s North Shore world through a non-jaded lens. All the color, all the character. Let’s read his description of Ross real quick!

(John John’s) been surfing the same boards—a sleek, slim model Pyzel calls the Bastard—for the past three years, but today he’s trying out a couple of new Pyzel designs. Trying to find that magic one, as Ross, a sardonic, powerfully built former professional surfer who is presently coaching John John, explains to me.

Sardonic and powerfully built! Can’t you just picture Ross’s military haircut right now? The bulge of muscle beneath tight WSL polo? Come back to us Ross! Come back!

My favorite part of the whole feature, though, was when the writer tried to ask John John an emotionally charged question about his father who ran off, leaving the family behind. Let’s pick it up in the middle!

(John John’s mom Alex) was married to a man named John L. Florence. An unhappy story, though I know this more from his account than hers. In 2014, he self-published a memoir, F.E.A.R., with two explanatory subtitles: Fuck Everything and Run and Face Everything and Recover. Though he does not seem to have recovered at the time of writing. The book is disorganized and determinedly self-lacerating—a strange document of a guy listing all the ways in which he is terrible, and yet not quite believing any of them. He describes himself as an alcoholic, a criminal, and a thrill-seeker—“I am an ‘egomaniac with an insecurity complex,’ ” he writes—and questions whether early head injuries led to his lack of impulse control. In the book he tells of meeting Alex, whom he calls Surfer Girl, and their Bonnie and Clyde-style courtship. I will not repeat the demeaning, unverifiable details here. Suffice it to say the book ends shortly after John John’s birth, with a present-day cry for help: “I sit here with an overwhelming sense of DOOM as I try and figure out how to pay for my DUI attorney. The attorney wants $15,000 dollars that I don’t have. Here, at the end of the first part of my life story, I return to the beginning: I always have been and always will be doom

When I ask John John about his father and namesake, this is what he says: “I spent a bit of time with him for a while before he moved, because he used to live in town. And then he remarried and had another kid. We have a half brother. Super nice. Yeah. Super cool. But they live on the East Coast now.”

Do you guys have a relationship?

“Yeah. It’s good.”

This is maybe not the entire case, but I understand. His options here, in front of a reporter, are not great. Especially once I bring up the memoir.

“I have no idea,” John John says. He’s visibly uncomfortable. “I haven’t even seen it.”

It’s called ‘F.E.A.R.’

“Really? Interesting.”

So you haven’t read it?


It depicts a guy in a tough spot.

“Yeah. He’s in a funny situation. But just, my relationship with him is good and whatnot. But I’ve just kind of grown into myself and focused on my own thing, you know? I’m pretty comfortable and happy with how my life has gone.” I believe him. John John and Alex and their family are far from the first to take shelter from the world here, on the North Shore, and to build something purer in its stead.

And ha! The buzzsaw of surf journalism! A completely shallow answer to an emotionally charged question! I think, in most fields, completely shallow answers to emotionally charged questions just mean the subject is blowing off the journalist. In surf, though, there is a shallowness so amazingly deep that I’m sure John John’s answer about he and his dad being cool was honest.

I have spent the better part of my professional life plumbing the depths of these shallows. There is literally nothing there! Nothing at all! Nothing! Nothing in me. Nothing in you. Nothing in John John. Nothing in his dad. Nothing in any of us.

Let’s surf! And read the rest of John John’s Wavy World here!

WSL: This is what a 9.73 looks like?

Four comfortable turns and a closeout twitch an almost-perfect ride in 2017?

Have you felt the thrill of mob anger? Under the flimsiest of pretexts becoming enraged at who knows what, exclamations of ribald encouragement yelled as you tear down a sign, throw a rock at the damn police or kick someone you’ve never met?

Oh I’m so…so…angry with the WSL.

I got such a tick in my groin when it was announced Filipe had officially interfered with Kanoa Igarashi. Oh I knew it was coming. It strained my nerves so much because I knew those judges in their loud shirts would thrust their thumbs down at Filipe.

But, I think, much worse, was this almost 10-point ride from Owen Wright in round four. When I read that morning’s WSL press release (who can stay up so late to watch live?) I threw back why sheets and opened my laptop to watch the wave.

An almost-perfect ride on those odd, backwash-ridden waves?

What bag of bon-bons did Owen serve?

Four identical backhand swipes, none presenting any difficulty or risk for Owen, and a closeout re-entry on a wave you would only generously call three feet.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, presenting what passes for an almost-perfect ride on the WSL in 2017.

Cue to 4:58.

Caveat: I know, I know, waves are scored heat by heat, scale is set on the first wave etc, put it into context and so forth. But this is nearly a ten?


WSL throws Brazilian down the well!

Filipe Toledo banned! Is the WSL racist?

Both Derek Rielly and Michael Ciaramella have already written beautifully about the wonderful Filipe Toledo being suspended by the World Surf League for being smaller than Zeke Lau and I have nothing really to add but felt left out.

But is Filipe Toledo your favorite professional surfer now? He is mine and by far! Like Bobby Martinez in a more sophisticated, more talented package with better eyes and better everything. What perfection. What absolute perfection. He is the synthesis between Australia’s Gold Coast, Brasil and San Clemente. He is the future of surfing.

Yet the World Surf League felt compelled to kick him out before Fiji because he is not intimidating like Hawaii and this miscarriage of justice must be addressed (for the third time) (and in poorer form).

You’ve read World Surf League head judge Renato Hickel’s statement twice already:

Filipe is a really good kid and an incredible surfer. The WSL is very fortunate to have someone of his caliber on Tour and he is constantly progressing the level of surfing in the live arena. It’s disappointing when we have to pass disciplinary action for any of our surfers, but that behavior is not acceptable for the sport. Filipe knows this and we look forward to seeing his talent back on Tour very soon.

And isn’t this the most mealy-mouthed garbage response of all time? Shall we go sentence by sentence?

“Filipe is a really good kid and an incredible surfer.”

Paternalistic pants on. Belt tightened. Check.

“It’s disappointing when we have to pass disciplinary action for any of our surfers…” 

Ummmmmm nobody gives a shit. Don’t “pass disciplinary action” at all if you are so disappointed with it. Are you worried that Roger Goodell and the National Football League won’t approve? How is that drug testing going by the way? And the Owen Wright Helmet Rule?

“…but that behavior is not acceptable for the sport.”

Sport? Sport? SPORT?

“Filipe knows this…”

Paternalistic pants double checked. Belt double tightened.

“…and we look forward to seeing his talent back on Tour very soon.”

Sons of bitches. Let’s sing the World Surf League’s official theme song in protest!

In my sport there is problem And that problem is the Brazilian. They sometimes storm the judge tower. But they smaller than Hawaiian.

[Chorus 2:] Throw the Brazilian down the well (repeat line) So my sport can be free (repeat line) You must grab him by his De Souza (repeat line) Then we have a big party (repeat line)

[Verse 3:] If you see the Brazilian coming You must be careful of his De Souza. You must grab him by his Red Bull. And I tell you what to do

[Chorus x2]

Michael Kocher
The writer and ex-US marine Michael Kocher, who was shot dead by police, photographed back when he was under the vibrant desert sky.

DA Report: How BeachGrit Writer Was Killed!

The last hours of Michael Kocher as per the official DA report… 

Two months ago, Michael Kocher, the BeachGrit writer and lover of Facebook, coke and booze, roughly in that order, was shot dead by police after holding an ex-gal and her studs hostage.

On BeachGrit, Mike wrote eloquently about being a soldier in Iraq, cleaning up the detritus of suicide bombers and so forth, how he quit surfing to take up a job a a heroin salesman, and, shortly before he died, about getting into Denver’s EDM scene. 

A couple of year before soaring to heaven, Michael scammed readers out of $8600 when he said he had inoperable cancer. 

That particular story featured the lovely passage:

I have big plans for the time I have left. I’ve done more in 31 years than most people will do their entire lives. I’ve been to 37 countries, 44 states, most of the Canadian provinces and Mexican States. I’ve had dolphins play with my feet while the sun sets huge over beautiful Pacific lines. I’ve watched the sun rise over 14,000 foot peaks with people I wouldn’t replace with anyone in the world and I’ve done it all by refusing to give in.

There’s more left to be done though, more to change, more to live, more to love, more to fuck, and more to ride.

So I’ll fuck, I’ll ride, and I’ll change and I’ll do all these things while caring for the needs of everyone around me because I’m a big fucking puppy and you gotta take care of your pack.

But while I’m doing that I’ll be looking forward to that last day that we’ll call the end of pain.

The end of pain is a good thing and will be a great day.

Anyway, earlier today, Vikki Migoya, who is the director of communications at the DA’s office in the Colorado counties where Michael was shot, emailed me a link to the report on the shooting.

Her message was cold. Understandable, I guess, when drug freaks start waving guns.

Your writer

attached is how his story ended

Review of March 2, 2017, shooting death of Michael Kocher by Englewood Police SWAT officer is attached,  or view online:


Filipe Toledo

Filipe Toledo Suspended from Tour!

No Fiji for Filipe after attempted storming of judging tower!

Oh the fatal rigidity or WSL rules. I awoke this morning not to the smell of blooms through an open window or the fullness of a plump ass in my face but the hollow news that Filipe Toledo had been fined and suspended from the tour’s next event after an “incident” in Brazil.

You can guess why, right? You saw it? His paddling interference on Kanoa Igarashi in a round three heat? Where Filipe, who is a perfect salad of athletic genes, was the unbackable favourite?

A recap.

Four minute into the heat, a peak comes, more of a left that a right. Filipe paddles for the right; Kanoa for the left. Neither gives an inch. Filipe pulls off the wave as Kanoa forces the issue. The judges call a paddling interference on Filipe which means his second highest scoring wave is cut in half.

Son of a bitch. Filipe eventually loses and, shortly after, attempts to storm the judging tower.

Now, Filipe ain’t no marble mountain like Sunny or Zeke.  He’s lovely and passionate and gives off a fuzzy warmth. As non-threatening as a baby animal in distress.

An easy mark. Fined. Suspended.

Here’s the press release.

“I’m a passionate guy and surfing is my life,” said Toledo. “After getting an interference in the third round in Saquarema, I was very upset and my actions after the heat were unacceptable. After cooling down, I realized that I was not myself. I’m very sorry for my behavior. I want to apologize to the fans, my sponsors, the media and WSL. I take full responsibility for my actions and accept my suspension. I am disappointed to miss the next event, but looking forward to returning stronger for Jeffreys Bay. Good luck to everyone in Fiji and thank you all for the continued support.”

The suspension will conclude following the OK Fiji Pro:

“Filipe (Toledo) is a really good kid and an incredible surfer,” Renato Hickel, WSL Deputy Commissioner, said. “The WSL is very fortunate to have someone of his caliber on tour and he is constantly progressing the level of surfing in the live arena. It’s disappointing when we have to pass disciplinary action for any of our surfers, but that behavior is not acceptable for the sport. Filipe knows this and we look forward to seeing his talent back on tour very soon.”

See what drove Filipe nuts here.