Live debate: BeachGrit vs Stab!

A battle five days in the making!

You have now read the accounting of the physical altercation that happened today in bucolic San Clemente, California (click here). A town that is not known for violence, by the way, but rather happiness and open goodwill. A town that mirrors icons Richard M. Nixon and Christopher Ward. And now here is the podcast. I haven’t listened yet but from memory the salient bits, in no particular order, are:

1. Ashton saying two things at once. “I love/am inspired by/enjoy…” while also completely denigrating whatever it is that he’s talking about.

2. The abject paternalism Stab feels toward its readership.

3. (I would imagine) The hideously ugly tone of my rage-choked voice.

4. Ashton explaining what Stab means to him in gorgeously rococo language.

5. Me telling Ashton that I like Stab in the Dark.

6. Ashton telling me that Stab has broken every single story since he arrived.

6. Ashton saying there is no official policy at Stab not to talk about BeachGrit before saying there is an official policy at Stab not to talk about BeachGrit.

7. The 15-year-olds at Stab who get protected from vile commenter speech.

8. Ashton trying to parse surf media and claim that BeachGrit, Stab, Surfline etc. are all completely separate things that cannot be grouped together.

But take a few minutes and listen. More importantly tell me what you think. Am I borderline retarded chimp or is it not even borderline?

Did Ashton’s ridiculously mealy mouth sound worse in person or does it pour through the radio too?

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!