Validation: The Rock loves Huntington!

The world's biggest star waxes on about, "...your bronze skin and bikinis and baby oil …”

Nothing gives a municipality a shot of pride like a Hollywood production coming into town. Nothing gives surfing a bigger smile than being recognized by someone, anyone, outside of surfing. And so when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnston took his HBO show Ballers to Huntington Beach in order to film an episode about surfing than SUPER WOW!



Let’s read the Orange County Register.

The pro wrestler-turned-movie-star was hanging out in Surf City all day Wednesday, Jan. 24, shooting a surf scene for the hit HBO show “Ballers,” in which he stars as a retired football superstar trying to reinvent himself as a financial manager for current players in Miami.

The filming created a buzz in the town south of Hollywood, though irked some locals who weren’t able to catch waves on the south side of the pier.

But having a major TV production with the likes of the Rock in town helps keep Huntington Beach in the spotlight and generates a chunk of revenue that goes back to the city, say those who helped bring the production to the city.

Johnson talked about the “hundreds and hundreds of extras” who were shooting for the Season 4 episode during the big surf tournament scene on the beach. Among the extras were pro surfer Teddy Navarro, a regular at the Huntington Beach Pier, and Hawaiian pro surfer Kalani Robb. Photos from the filming showed the two surfers in jerseys among the cast.

How excited is Kalani Robb whenever anyone is putting surf in their advertisement/movie/show? Now is a perfect time to re-read Derek Rielly’s classic Kalani Robb is the Happy Hawaiian Waiter!

This also very much reminds me when the Christian rock n roll band Petra came to Coos Bay, Oregon when I was 11 years old to film the mini-movie music video Beyond Belief. My father was cast as the “track coach” and for one brief moment I knew how Drew Barrymore felt.

Kid stares into telephone, and into the eyes of Kelly Slater, his fat lips murmuring, "This ain't official… but…"

Feel-good: Shane Dorian’s Keiki Classic!

Watch as Kelly Slater presents one kid with the prize of a lifetime! Oooeee, it's beautiful.

I get a real kick out of kid contests that grow out of the dirt of good intentions. That have tradition. That have a vitality you don’t get from those events manufactured to push a marketing angle. (Kids as gullible consumers and so forth.)

Last weekend, Shane Dorian held his twenty-third annual Keiki Classic at Banyan’s, a rippable peak, on the Big Island. No entry fee, just bring a tin of food for the poor, for the homeless. Lifeguards teaching the kids how to belt a heartbeat back into an unconscious pal. Low-level sadomasochistic games. Laughs.

Good vibrations, as they used to say.

The highlight of this four-minute reel by Peter King (a BeachGrit staple who’s appeared in such notable stories as, Peter King: “This is terrorism”, Blood Feud: Peter King vs Climate Change, Peter King: “It’s time to kill the WQS” and many more) is the announcement of the sportsmanship prize at the end.

The winner, a fourteen-year-old boy, Luke Heflin, is handed a telephone by Shane, who has FaceTimed Kelly Slater.

“This is unofficial,” says Kelly, “But…”

Oh it’ll make you weep! (Unless your heart is calcified, of course.)

(From left) Longtom, Chas, you, our web developer Shaun, our biz guy James, Derek, Negatron.
(From left) Longtom, Chas, you, our web developer Shaun, our biz guy James, Derek, Negatron.

Tech: Pro surfing ain’t that bad!

We are entering a golden age!

BeachGrit is just over three years old now and what a wild adventure it has been, particularly as it relates to the World Surf League. When we first started the World Surf League was called the Association of Surfing Professionals and lead by the handsome + capable Brodie Carr. Soon, though, a no money bid was made + accepted and one Paul Speaker was introduced to us all. Clearly a tool from the start, Paul buttoned up his polo and headed on to business shows, spouting nonsense about how many people watch professional surfing, how much money Kelly Slater makes and how shallow Cloudbreak is.

All of a sudden the World Surf League was the easiest thing on earth of which to make fun. Completely out of touch with and dismissive of the poor wretches too desperately smitten by professional surfing not to watch.

We were caught in a bad romance and the WSL mocked us, rolling out the Channel Four News Team minus the laughs as our commentators while Paul Speaker went out seeking big-dollar non-endemic sponsors because why wouldn’t they want access to the 25 billion people around the world that he claimed were tuning in?

Things reached a critical nadir when title sponsor Samsung’s phones started blowing people’s faces off before pulling out entirely. Other sponsors fell away and the endemic brands continued on in their surf industry apocalypse unable to pick up any slack.

And then a spring. A thaw. It seemed the WSL gave up on attracting the mythical masses, recognizing it a failed strategy, and through nonstop needling, I got Paul Speaker fired. He was replaced with a Sophie Goldschmidt who seems kind enough and also not petrified of a one-one-one interview.

Most importantly, though, our own Steve “Longtom” Shearer became, de facto, the main voice of the League. His coverage over the past season is the envy of all other surf media and he has become the literate, fun, irreverent, knowledgable personality so desperately missing.

Which brings us to this new Facebook deal. Maybe it is exactly what we need. A simple, no nonsense media partnership that provides more bandwidth than YouTube but mostly for the already existing and/or genuinely probable fan. There will be more time, I would imagine, for interstitial programming and I would recommend that BeachGrit be given a show. It will star Longtom and there will be appearances by Nick Carroll, Negatron, Ashton Goggans (a rematch made in heaven), Derek Rielly, me and you.

Tell me it wouldn’t sparkle. Tell me you wouldn’t at the very least hate watch.

Kismet: A chat with the Monster Madam!

The most chance meeting!

My flight to Aspen today was absolutely plagued with trouble. Oh my, you certainly know the feeling well and in between delays, broken plane parts, a reroute to Fort Collins before finally and miraculously being sent on to Aspen I read a story about how Monster Energy is being sued for sexual discrimination and wrote a story about it on my phone that I emailed to my partner and inspiration Derek Rielly just before second take-off.

Of course the piece segued into the iconic Monster Girl and how could it not? The young-ish spandex short/halter top enthusiasts are the lifeblood of the brand. Its consumer-facing heartbeat. I have seen them performing at all manner of action sport events, chatting up lonely fathers, shooting t-shirts from cannons, being “Monster” as it were. As for the energy drink, I have never even tasted it and never met anyone else who has either. But the Monster Girl, she springs eternal.

I wrote about the sexual discrimination lawsuit anyhow and when I say “wrote” mean cut and pasted a Business Insider article and then posted a picture of the Monster Girls on my Instagram account because, again, what is more Monster than the Monster Girl?

Three or four hours later, finally in Aspen and waiting for the luggage after yet another malfunction I heard “Is that Chas?” through the din. Next thing I knew I was chatting with THE Monster Madam, the woman responsible all the young-ish charges. She had seen my Instagram post and might have been slightly off-put that I was equating the Monster Girl with the sexual discrimination lawsuit. In her mind the two were entirely unrelated. She was only concerned that I was suggesting the Monster Girls had something to do with the lawsuits.

I explained that it was a) funny (most importantly) and b) a testament to her hard work as madam. I never think of the “claw” when I think about Monster. I never think about energy or even action sports. I think of the Monster Girl. She had elevated them all near Swoosh or Mickey Mouse status. She had created icons.

American symbols.

The fact that Monster’s particular American symbols play very much on the idea of sexual exploitation in the #metoo era was anyhow entirely beside the point (albeit funny). We parted after a good five minutes, me hammering on about how nobody has ever tasted Monster but everyone knows the Monster Girl. She passionately defending the Monster Girl and the Monster Girl’s un-involvement in the current legal challenges and it made me sad for a moment because where does it all go from here?

Has sexual exploitation lost its home?

"When the live experience is as good or better then there'll be full migration to the the Facebook platform," the WSL's gloriously titled Senior Vice President of Global Brand Identity, Dave Prodan told BeachGrit. "Before that, it exists on the WSL platform." | Photo: WSL

Facebook Buys Exclusive WSL Broadcast Rights!

But no panic! Webcast still lives on the WSL site, at least for a little longer… 

Earlier today, the WSL announced they’d signed a two-year exclusive broadcast rights deal with Facebook.

All of the WSL’s big events, the men’s and women’s WCTs, the big-wavers, the WQS 10,000s and the World Juniors. Facebook has got ’em.

“This is game-changing for the sport in many ways and, with current and new fans front of mind, we can retain the free offering to fans, and it allows us to deliver the world’s best surfing to even more people on Facebook’s platform,” said the company’s lovely, if non-surfing, CEO Sophie Goldschmidt.

“We’re excited to help WSL continue to serve and grow this vibrant community and usher in a new era of surf broadcasting on Facebook Watch (the company’s US-only video platform),” Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships, Dan Reed said.

Which means, eventually, you’re going to have to sign up for a Facebook account, along with all its voyeuristic time-wasting and addictive stalking, to watch WCT events.

But not just yet.

“When the live experience is as good or better then there’ll be full migration to the the Facebook platform,” the WSL’s gloriously titled Senior Vice President of Global Brand Identity, Dave Prodan told BeachGrit. “Before that, it exists on the WSL platform.”

Prodan said there’s no time-frame on when it’ll become Facebook only, “Suffice to say that the current product is sophisticated. Facebook have talented developers so we’re excited to see what they come up with.”

Did Facebook cough up a little cash in the deal?

“It’s a media rights deal so a revenue component as well as promotion across the two-billion person platform. The WSL rights are very in demand.”

Of course, a Facebook-only broadcast kills the fun when your progressive workplace stiffs FB during operating hours, and only opens the gate for an hour at lunch.

If you live in Australia and have become panicked that Fox Sports won’t be running WCT events, you can relax. This is a digital-rights deal only.

“Linear broadcast ala Fox Sports in Australia won’t be affected,” said Prodan.