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Beach Grit

Stab ed tells police: “Chas Smith assaulted me!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Ashton Goggans visits Orange County PD to press criminal charges!

Shortly after 10:30 in the morning, January 11, 2018, the surf journalist Chas Smith, aged forty-one, lunged across a reclaimed wood and brushed nickel coffee table toward Stab magazine’s Ashton Goggans, born some thirty-two odd years ago.

The unusual occurrence took place at the Surfrider Foundation offices high up one of San Clemente’s many winding suburban hills. David Lee Scales, host of a popular surf podcast network, had invited both men debate the relative merits of their online surf publications, Smith with BeachGrit and Goggans, with the aforementioned Stab.

The lunge, which was really more of a hurtle, brought Smith face to face with Goggans. He had grown increasingly agitated during the course of the debate with the high register of Goggans’ voice as well as its combination of ingratiating and demeaning statements. To Smith’s mind, Goggans could shift instantaneously from false praise to bald-faced condescension genuinely believing each one of his pirouettes. There he sat uncomfortably in his seat trying to make bold counter-points but being stymied by his own lack of verbal dexterity.

Then, just over thirty minutes into the podcast, Goggans brought up Smith’s wife. He claimed the only reason Smith was able to write the way he did was because Smith’s wife was wealthy and supported him. Smith felt his blood reach a boiling point. He was tired of the stilted narrative that a wealthy woman would gladly suffer any fool for the sake of companionship.

“When a husband makes more than his wife nobody says anything,” Smith thought, “but when a wife makes more than her husband all of a sudden she is a sugar mama?”

Smith warned Goggans to shut his mouth, Goggans persisted and Smith launched out of his chair.

Scales described, on the podcast, as Smith having “his hands around Goggans’ neck” but in truth it was more akin to a slap with an empty silken glove. Smith fumbled and missed, grabbing a handful of shirt while Goggans staggered forward. The two were easily separated by Scales and continued debating bringing the embarrassing episode to conclusion 40 minutes later.

A photograph taken shortly after the alleged assault. Chas, at left, Ashton, right.

Smith drove home, heart still pounding, but as the adrenaline receded he realized what a poor job he had done and was fundamentally embarrassed. He had warned Goggans to shut his mouth but when push actually came to shove, as it were, he had failed horribly. What’s more he had sounded like a dolt. He had done a poor job all around and was sad but hoped the episode provided some small entertainment for others.

Three weeks later, Ashton Goggans went into the Orange County Police Department in order to press assault charges against Chas Smith.

Detectives interviewed Smith, Scales and the people who work in the Surfrider’s San Clemente office. The case may still go to trial but Chas Smith doesn’t care.

Instantly his fumble looks fierce and vicious. Instantly Ashton Goggans looks exactly like what he is. A man concerned with proper civic decorum.