The "hyper-ironic surf journalist, author and bon vivant" and BeachGrit principal Chas Smith, left, and Ashton Goggans of Stab. "I spend my days chasing peaks up and down San Francisco's Ocean Beach; writing; or lavishing attention upon my dog, Lemon," writes Ashton.

Candid: “I tried to wring Ashton’s neck!”

Chas Smith uses strangulation to silence Stab editor Ashton Goggans!

This morning, at approximately 10:40, I leapt over a reclaimed wood coffee table in the Surfrider Foundation’s well-appointed San Clemente headquarters and tried to wring Stab editor Ashton Goggans’ neck.

We were in the first third of recording our bi-monthly Grit! podcast. I didn’t get a good grab, maybe not even any grab, as Ashton is a robust man, and was soon pulled off by host David Lee Scales who was also half looking out the window to see if any Surfrider Foundation staff had heard the commotion.

What precipitated this violent outburst?

Well. Today’s episode has been in the works now for a week and I was very excited to debate Ashton on a variety of surf media topics. He arrived, late, in a transparent overcoat, the gooseberry fuzz of his skin peeking through, toenails showing remnants of cherry red polish, delicate long boned monkeyish feet, jabbering about some unrelated matter and then Mr. Scales pressed record.

Things were moving along until we came to the topic of Stab’s predominantly ex-BeachGrit staff and how we refused to pay a living wage while Stab, out of the goodness of its very heart, supports these bright young artists.

I contested and firmly believe that any writer, but especially the surf writer, shouldn’t really expect money out of the gate. That he should work another job while toying around with words because he can’t help but write. Because she loves to write. Because without writing everything else would be bland and monotone.

Eventually, I think, if the love remains strong the writer will find his true voice and might also find employment as “a writer” but the end goal of writing should never be to get paid. It should be about love and if money follows then fantastic.

Oh I know this sounds like a very poor excuse for not paying writers and in truth Derek and I have paid every cent of our paltry earnings to our exes (and in Rory’s case, five per cent of the company) but anyhow Ashton continued, claiming that I had never worked a day in my life and only did what I did because my wife has money.

Something inside me snapped and I was across the coffee table madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly reaching for Ashton’s windpipe; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other’s soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do so.

But why? What in me broke? Let me try and explain. I purposefully don’t write much about my little family here because they didn’t ask for, nor deserve to be in, this crazy little spotlight. I am wildly proud of my wife, and daughters, what they do, who they are but they are not fodder for my BeachGrit work. Also, because she happens to be in our extreme sport universe, we keep a wall up.  She never feeds me rumors and I never try to leverage her contacts.

Ashton’s charge was, furthermore, insulting to her. To think that she would suffer a fool doddering around the house posting cheap surf stories is ridiculous. I make my salary through book advances/royalties/film options etc. and even not married to her would still be doing exactly what I’m doing in some inland shack. Maybe Las Vegas. It frustrates me greatly to even have to mention any of this.

The fact that he brought up my family, anyhow, made me lose my mind and over the coffee table I went and almost again, 30 minutes later, when he said I should be spending more time with my daughter.

Was I wrong? Silly? Ludicrously out of control?

Certainly yes but I would do the same thing tomorrow and the day after that too. Making fun of Stab’s look, its content, it’s behind-the-scenes threats to advertisers, what it chooses to cover and not cover will remain good fun.

But families? They have always been, and will always be, out of bounds.

Or am I still wrong?

Am I drawing a completely arbitrary line in the sand?

Just so I can justify embarrassingly bad behavior?

At the end I watched Ashton Goggans leave after refusing to shake his ring adorned fingers. Rage still percolating.

Well, comrade, what do you say about Filipe now?

Watch: Filipe Toledo in Hawaii!

And you thought he was a frail little sleeper?

The miracle I’ve hankered for, visual proof of Filipe Toledo’s magic in Hawaii, was delivered today by his filmer pal Bruno Baroni.

Did you think Filipe, who is twenty two years and the world number ten, was a frail little sleeper? A man whom, if conditions were right, could dominate a contest but who would always be stymied by Polynesian power, his lips forever parted in a slightly foolish smile?

In this four-minute short, Filipe scratches stutter-free lines at Haleiwa and Pipe, even mid-sized Waimea Bay.

It isn’t just the blood rush of his monster airs, although we see those, but stripes of down carves and geometrically perfect bottom turns. The Club Sandwiches do look a little dated, and such complicated exclamation points, but this is only a criticism for the sake of criticism.

Watch Filipe raise his shoulders here.


What? Now you want me to wrestle with evil?

NY Times: “Surfers must wrestle evil!”

So much existential guilt!

Do you wrestle with evil? No, no, you do, or at least you must, says The New York Times.

In an opening gambit before the review of various ocean-related books, recently, and wrapped in the headline What’s Bad News for Coastlines Can Be Good News for Surfers, we learned:

“Surfers, like theologians, must wrestle with the problem of evil. For the theologian, the question is how to reconcile the malevolence and suffering of the world with the existence of an all-good, all-powerful god. For the surfer, the problem is slightly less profound: How do you justify the enjoyment of perfect waves when they are generated by destructive storms hundreds of miles away? In September, Hurricane Irma and Maria posed this question with some vividness, producing the best run of swell seen in years along the East Coast while unleashing chaos and devastation down in the Caribbean. Surfers, to judge from the throngs who gleefully paddled out from Florida to New England, make for unreflective scholars of the divine.”

For the surfer, the problem is slightly less profound: How do you justify the enjoyment of perfect waves when they are generated by destructive storms hundreds of miles away?

Has it occurred to you to feel guilty?

To  justify yourself for kicking around in hurricane or cyclone swells while thousands of miles away wretched souls are cowering in cellars or bear-hugging coconut trees lest they be stolen by away by the wind?

And the guilt don’t stop there, says The Times.

“The combination of rising sea levels and some form of increased storm intensity ‘spells doom’ for the world’s coastal regions. For surfers, rooting for hurricane swell may be increasingly difficult to rationalize. Along with the moral questions of climate change, the surfer may have to confront the political issue of cultural appropriation.”

And, here, we learn of an essay by ‘cultural studies scholar’ Colleen McGloin in The Critical Surf Studies Reader (which was edited by the BeachGrit commenter Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee if you wanna know).

Even though no one knows whether or not Australian’s indigenous people surfed, McGloid writes that it’s “reasonable to assume”. And that indigenous surfing is a “form of resistance” to the legacy of colonialism.

So many moral questions!

Guilt over hurricanes.

Guilt over climate change.

Guilt you’re white (unless you’re not).

Are you suddenly overwhelmed?

Crowdsource: What do you want from Stab?

A once in a lifetime opportunity!

And tomorrow I meet, face to face, with Mar Vista’s very own Stab (no longer a) magazine’s very own editor Ashton Goggans. We will be debating, like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the various truths surrounding surf media with Surf Splendor’s David Lee Scales acting as moderator. Which is website is better, for example? Which is worse? Should Stab pull the plug and admit that it is a not very good catalogue? Tomorrow all will be revealed.

But quickly before tomorrow I come to you hat in hand wondering, is there anything specific you would like to know from Ashton Goggans? Any salient points or deep questions?

Negatron wonders, “I have suffered some mild paranoia as the only BeachGrit staffer that was not approached for a STAB job. I fit the team player, company man STAB ethos so why not me Ashton?”

Julian’s Postie asks, “How low can badvertorial go?”

Chazz Michael Michaels enquires, “What’s with the cunty little hats?”

But what about you? Anything you would like to know?

The episode will air tomorrow, in any case, and I have one suggestion for you. If you live within Santa Monica’s city jurisdiction, as opposed to some far flung inner neighborhood like Stab, I suggest you pair the episode with free marijuana from Pot Valet. All you have to do is click the sidebar ads and there you go!

The surf journalist (pictured) trying not to swear.
The surf journalist (pictured) trying not to swear. | Photo: Steve Sherman

Damn: Bad words not good for surf writing!

Also self-awareness is good for surf writing!

Yesterday late I was forwarded one of Kelly Slater’s Instagram stories wherein he is doing the “PETA Challenge” and becoming a vegan. I giggled all night thinking about the title for this morning’s offering. Either Shocking: Kelly Slater NOT already vegan! Or maybe Revealed: Kelly Slater once ate meat! This morning, however, I realized I had posted the same basic story underneath a dull headline and only just days ago.

Depression washed over me and stayed over me until I stumbled upon How to become a surf writer on the Portuguese website Surfer Today. It was a longer article completely lacking in annoying flourishes, just laying down the facts. Here is a snippet.

Surfing is a highly visual sport. And because it relies on an enigmatic symbiosis between human and nature, you rarely need words to describe what you see – a perfect solitary wave, a giant mountain of rolling water, a freak backwash wave exploding near the shore break. And on top of that, a man or woman riding it for the simple, yet addictive pleasure of doing so.

But precisely because it gets so visually attractive, surfing weaved its own web of connections. From its historical background and surfboard building techniques to its musical, cultural, scientific, and sociological diversities, surfing became the subject of a wide range of analysis.

Therefore, writing about surfing is a natural process, and something it should and will be done as long as there are waves to be ridden.

Oh how my life path felt validated if even only a moment and I hurried to where it promised me further guidance.

If your goal is to become a well-respected surf journalist, there are a few things you should know before submitting your work to potential publishers or employers. One of the first things you should take into consideration is that you need to make choices.

1. Are you someone who prefers quality over quantity or the other way around?

2. Build a surf media chart

3. Build personal awareness

4. Adopt a no-swearing policy


I continued reading.

While it can sound cool to younger audiences in some circumstances, bad and offensive language will immediately narrow down your chances of attracting mature readers and employers.

Shit. Well, there goes that moment of validation. I’m officially back to where I started with not a mature reader or employer on the horizon. Tomorrow morning, though, I debate Stab’s Ashton Goggans on air.

That will be fun.