John John Florence gazes out at the uncontrollable sea.
John John Florence gazes out at the uncontrollable sea.

John John: “I like it like this!”

World number 1 delivers stunning rebuke of wave pool!

Yesterday’s Pipeline would not have been considered “ideal” by the lofty standards the North Shore’s premier wave delivers time and time again but I do believe it was one of the more entertaining round 1s this season. Of course there were the various storylines, Josh Kerr’s last event in a remarkable professional career, Kelly’s return, the title race, but mostly there was the wave, shifting this way and that, opening then closing, keeping the competitors on their toes.

The sand, as the announcers reminded us time and time again, is off for this time of year do an atypical early season that failed to distribute it evenly across the reef and so odd things happened in the water but how fun was it to watch? Knowing that traditional Pipe tactics no longer applied? I thought very fun and John John Florence agrees, telling the World Surf League’s Chris Mauro, “I feel like a little kid again doing this event, just getting to surf Pipe with no one out. I was just getting so many waves like, ‘This one might barrel!’ I like it when it’s like this, it changes it up, a peak here and peak there, you can kind of sneak underneath ones.”

I read the quote and realized instantly it was a subtle yet stunning rebuke of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch. Again, “I like it when it’s like this, it changes it up, a peak here and peak there, you can kind of sneak underneath ones.”

Variety. The Hand of God. Chance. Knowledge. Skill. It was John John’s reading of waves during his heat was wildly entertaining yet that element would disappear entirely when perfect ones are pumped out time and time again. When the only variable is physical ability. I suppose, at next year’s Surf Ranch event, we will see how much pleasure the uncontrollable ocean brings to professional surfing but I think it is a lot. I think maybe even half the fun.

Well, tomorrow or maybe the next day will see Gabriel Medina vs. Dusty Payne, I think, and it’ll be very exciting. We will also see the world’s 4th favorite surfer Frederico Morais.

Get ready!

Pipe Day 1: John John Florence wins!

The North Shore's first son takes a victory lap!

It was destined from the beginning wasn’t it though? John John Florence coming home to win the World Championship cup the last time it will ever be offered on his North Shore. Wait. I always get confused. Is Pipe still the season finale next season or does the new order take effect and does the season end at Karamas instead? Wait. Is it effect or affect?

No matter.

I knew John John was feeling it when he slipped into his very first wave of the day during Round 1 Heat 3. Did you see? He actually slipped. Oh of course the score was low, the judges always have pristine Pipe and/or Backdoor in their minds’ eyes and judge accordingly, not wanting to destroy the scale, but his very first wave. Did you see? He literally slipped down the face of the Backdoor wave into the barrel in one simple motion. Sideways then forward in a way I’ve only seen Jamie O’Brien ever do.

It was magnificent.

And I knew John John had this thing by the throat. Oh sure he had better waves in that heat, stand ups, coming out with the spit, even pumping his arms a little bit once in what might have been a claim.


And I could also write about the very fine surfing of Josh Kerr, Jeremy Flores, Julian Wilson (minus interference). I could write about the abject failure of nearest-to-John-John-in-the-title-race Gabriel Medina but why? To what end?

John John won the event that first slip, that first wave, and nobody makes surfing look more fun.

Except Jamie O’Brien.

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.17, Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.67
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.17, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.10, Owen Wright (AUS) 3.37
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) 10.56, Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.57, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 1.50
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.57, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.43, Ethan Ewing (AUS) 3.00
Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.83, Benji Brand (HAW) 12.64 Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.43
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 13.50, Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.83, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 5.63
Heat 7: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.83, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.27, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.04
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.47, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.90, Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.60
Heat 9: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.50, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 2.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.00

Billabong Pipe Masters Remaining Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Watch the whole four hours here!

Stab magazine
Hey advertiser, stop spending money at BeachGrit you freakin' idiot.

Stab: “Get Chas on a leash!”

Stab magazine's owner hurt feelings! Makes demands!

The Chinese say that this is the year of the rooster and they might be right seeing as I sure have been cock-a-doodle-doing a lot of existential nonsense lately. About why we do what we do. About the greater point. About meaning. About doubt and regret.

I suppose it comes from being buried in writing a book. This second one was absolutely gut-wrenching. Every single minute of every single day. I sat in front of the computer and felt death blowing in my ear, whispering sweet nothings. I thought cocaine plus surfing was going to be stupid and funny, a logical extension of my entire “career.” Instead I had to dig into my own soul, every single minute of every single day, and sit with that empty wind.

At the end of it all I came to believe that truth means something, or at least transparency. That this damned surf world has been too cloistered, secretive, afraid for too long and the only way for new life to grow is if we open the windows.

And in that vein, I want to have more stupid transparent fun with Stab magazine right now. It’s co-founder Sam McIntosh has spent the last few years quietly and secretly telling the brands that dare advertise on BeachGrit that they are locked out of the vast SurfStitch empire pre-collapse and various projects post-collapse.

Most recently he called a partner and told him that their relationship was going to be strained/ended if I wasn’t “put on a leash.”

Well Sam, I warned you and don’t be such a goddamn pussy.

You don’t like me making fun of your bad advertorial? Don’t make bad advertorial. You don’t like when I henpeck this or that? Hit back. Punch me right in the mouth. You’ve gone and hired our entire staff. I’m sure one of them can make BeachGrit look like the barely limping along junk show that it is.

Here’s the real truth, though. If we’re all transparent, if we’re all honest, it’s all more fun.

We’ll toss barbs, the people will laugh, light and air flood the stale room and surfing, or at least surf media, might be great again. This is what we need, what the brands need, what our god-forsaken culture needs.

But if you are not willing to man up than shut the fuck up. Once and for all.

Bruce Brown dead
Bruce Brown was the creator of the seminal movies The Endless Summer (surfing) and On Any Sunday (motorcycles). A gorgeous warmed-up hero for us all! | Photo: Bruce Brown Films

Warshaw on Bruce Brown: “No drugs, no booze, no pussy!”

Creator of The Endless Summer, dead at eighty… 

Last night, the creator of the seminal surf film The Endless Summer, Bruce Brown, died at his home in Santa Babs. Bruce was eighty, so it ain’t a surprise, but it does evaporate the owner of an important part of surf history.

Earlier today, Matt Warshaw and I back and forthed on Bruce’s legacy.

BeachGrit: Old man Bruce Brown, dead, eighty. Endless Summer clips filling our screens. How did he do what he did, anyway?

Warshaw: The four or five movies Bruce did before Endless Summer were warm-ups, kind of. He wouldn’t have viewed it that way at the time, but when you watch ES, then go back and look at the old stuff, you see him working out favorite camera angles, getting his voiceover schtick down, all of that. In 1966, newspapers and magazine reviewers all thought Endless Summer was some kind of freak home-run from this beachfront hayseed. But Bruce was so ready to make that movie. He’d been practicing for years.

Tell me about the next one he did, On Any Sunday.

It was the motorcycle version of The Endless Summer. I think it pulled in an documentary Oscar nomination! I hate motorcycles, but love that movie. There must be a half-million sixty-something motorcycle freaks out there who starting riding after seeing On Any Sunday.

What’s your learned opinion of The Endless Summer?

The Endless Summer proves that surf contests have nothing to do with how you’d present surfing to the rest of the world. Sure, you could hire Bruce to work your contest. He did color for the Duke event for two or three years in the mid-sixties. But when it came down to his own movies, he didn’t give a shit about contests. He stayed away. Never showed them. Surfing, for Bruce, meant chasing waves, and if you didn’t find waves, you had a good time anyway. The Endless Summer showed what it’s like to be a surfer on the hunt — or the family-friendly version, anyway; no drugs, no drinking, no pussy — and to me it still feels really true. Bruce and The Endless Summer are still in the back of our minds when we pack the boards and chase waves. You want Cape St. Francis, first of all. But you also, as your bumping along looking for it, you want to have as much fun as Bruce and his crew did.

Bruce didn’t give a shit about contests. He stayed away. Never showed them. Surfing, for Bruce, meant chasing waves, and if you didn’t find waves, you had a good time anyway.

Describe your relationship with Bruce?

I met Bruce Brown at the 1985 SURFER Poll. Him and Dana Brown both. Dana and I had just started working together, he wrote some articles for SURFER when I was there, and the two of them walked into the Poll, we met, then Bruce led us back to the limo he had in the parking lot. We had beers and shit-talked the Poll. Bruce was way saltier than he comes off in his movies.

He made the two movies he wanted to make, made his bundle, and quit. Went fishing, went surfing, played the stock market, collected cars. He only came out of retirement for ES II to get Dana started. Which makes him a great father, on top of everything else.

What happened to Bruce between Endless Summer and On Any Sunday and…Endless Summer II?

This is maybe what I love about Bruce most. He made the two movies he wanted to make, made his bundle, and quit. Went fishing, went surfing, played the stock market, collected cars. He only came out of retirement for ES II to get Dana started. Which makes him a great father, on top of everything else.

How’d you feel when ESII landed, and the buildup to it all?

Let down. His heart wasn’t in it.

Did you feel sad when y’heard Bruce had died? What sorta hole does he leave, if any?

Jack O’Neill, then Severson, now Bruce. Maybe I’m not processing right now, but my first thought when I heard that Bruce died was, 2017 has just been fucking brutal for surf legends.

(Editor’s note: Warshaw just told me he’d hit his thirty k. The Encylopedia of Surfing lives!)

Politics: John John seeks to MNSGA!

The North Shore's favorite son delivers a bold message!

Even the most blithely unaware know how fraught with tension our current political climate is. Facebook friends unfriending. Rants from across the spectrum. Build the wall. Lock her up. Pussy grabs back. Even the most subtle advertising of a position along the spectrum can set off peals of debate, wailing and gnashing of teeth. An avatar that looks like an AR-15. An avatar that says ITMFA.

And it is into this milieu that John John Florence boldly strode back home to his North Shore home, ready to take the crown, borrowing the same powerful hat that President Donald J. Trump made famous. Red. White lettering. The most divisive symbol of all. Trump’s hat, of course, reads Make America Great Again. John Johns reads Go John John but the messaging might be similar. There is no such thing as a design accident, you know, and I feel John John is exclaiming, “I am from here. This is my home. I, alone, will make the North Shore great again.”

What do you think he is exclaiming?

The action starts in just 30 mins. Watch here.