Cocaine + Surfing Review: “Stupid idea for a book!”

And, "BeachGrit a fake version of original Stab!"

Earlier today, Outside magazine published a review of Cocaine + Surfing to coincide with its American launch. 

Its author, Daniel Duane, is a noted writer of adventure books of climbing and surfing as well as gorgeous personal essays for the New York Times Magazine as well as Outside. 

“Although Cocaine + Surfing makes for a catchy title and a smattering of salacious anecdotes, it’s a stupid idea for a book,” writes Duane, before tightening the noose. “It’s an even stupider idea for a book conceived in the way that Smith initially (although not ultimately) conceived of it—as, to quote his equally-catchy subtitle, ‘a sordid history of surfing’s greatest love affair.”

What cruel torments lie ahead?

“Despite this horribly misguided premise—or, rather, because of it—Cocaine + Surfing is a dazzling page-turner, highly-recommended beach reading, and absolutely the funniest book ever written about surfing.”

“Although Cocaine + Surfing makes for a catchy title and a smattering of salacious anecdotes, it’s a stupid idea for a book,” writes Duane, before tightening the noose. “It’s an even stupider idea for a book…”

Oh, a volcano of praise! It continues. 

“To hold those contradictions together in one’s mind, it helps to recognize that Smith’s literary models do not include serious works like my man Warshaw’s scholarly History of Surfing or William Finnegan’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Barbarian Days; A Surfing Life.

Cocaine + Surfing belongs, rather, to the honorable lemons-into-lemonade lineage that begins with Ross McElwee’s cult-classic 1986 documentary film Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, in which McElwee tries to make a film about the civil war but ends up interviewing all his ex-girlfriends instead, and Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence, an unforgettable book about not writing a book about D. H. Lawrence.

“In the same spirit, Cocaine + Surfing is a book about a self-loathing surf journalist getting the seemingly-brilliant idea to write a book about cocaine and surfing, hitting the road for research in various corners of the surf industry, discovering that it’s actually a stupid idea, and wondering how his once-promising life came to such a sad pass.”

“The surprising joy of this book, though—and it really is a joy—has nothing whatever to do with cocaine. It lies entirely in Smith’s brilliant skewering of surf culture, the surf industry, his own complicity in both, and the frailty of the human ego.”


“The surprising joy of this book, though — and it really is a joy — has nothing whatever to do with cocaine. It lies entirely in Smith’s brilliant skewering of surf culture, the surf industry, his own complicity in both, and the frailty of the human ego.”

“Smith also delights in deep inside-baseball stuff like his repeated reference to the formerly-terrific Australian surf magazine Stab as ‘the fake version of BeachGrit’ when everybody knows that his own BeachGrit is in fact a fake version of the original Stab.”

Oh for fuck’s sake. 

Read the full review here.

In case you didn’t know, or didn’t read the first line, etc, Cocaine + Surfing is released today.

Australians, buy it here.

The rest of you sons of bitches, get it here. 

Today is the official release of Cocaine + Surfing!

Thank you. Thank you all.

Books are strange creations. It’s difficult for me to even remember sitting down and starting the one that officially releases today. It was last spring, maybe, though I can’t recall the weather, nor what I was wearing, nor my state of mind. I do remember going to stay a weekend at The Charlie in West Hollywood mid-way through to make real progress. It is how I write, I suppose. Fumbling around, interviewing, researching, compiling, finding a rhythm, then going away for two days and trying to write an entire book.

I got way too drunk the night I checked in but forced myself up at 4 am so if the whole thing feels like a giant hangover that’s why.

It is probably not the best process but it is mine.

Anyhow, as of today it is out in the world in both Australia, The United States, iBooks, Audible, Kindle etc. I hope you, of every group of potential readers, enjoy it. You are my favorite.

I am doing a reading at Warwick’s in La Jolla tonight at 7:30 if you are around. Before the reading I am going to thank all those who suffered my questions, who suffered me, as I wrote. My wife, above all. Derek Rielly, who I love. Matt Warshaw, Nick Carroll, Brad Melekian, Scott Hulet, Ian Cairns, Pete Taras, Jimmy Wilson and the rest of the dysfunctional surf industry.

I don’t know if people want to be thanked in a book titled Cocaine + Surfing but without them there is nothing. And without you I am bored and uninspired.

So thank you.

Thank you all/this is your fault.

Oh! And if you try and order on Amazon it says 1 – 2 months delivery but it’s not true. They just sold out their entire stock this morning but more is on the way as of today.

chanel surfboard

Buy: $15,000 Chanel Carbon Surfboard!

A sweet 74-inch long rhino chaser!

Are you given to impulse? Do you like to stand in corners engaged in “surf” conversation with other men?

Is hanging a surfboard on a wall or mounted on a stand in perpetual repose something that appeals?

If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you will find it very difficult to ignore the sale of one of the two surfboards the French shaper Philippe Barland (his daddy Michel was one of the first shapers to work with machines) made for a Baz Luhrmann-directed Chanel shoot with Gisele Bündchen three years ago.

As advertised on eBay recently, you have the option of buying an unused (of course) Chanel x Phil Barland shooter that is upholstered in carbon and is “74 inches long and nineteen inches wide” for fifteen-thousand dollars.

The seller, Justin Reed, is a curator of high-end secondhand clothes, mostly, including a six thousand dollar Saint Laurent Glam Rock jacket.

Here is the surfboard in a lounge room.

channel surfboard
Imagine, peering over your tortoiseshell half-moon spectacles at this gorgeous sculpture.

And Gisele on set.

Gisele bundchen surfboard
Here is Gisele Bündchen with blade by Chanel.

Tell me,

Do you think the buy of such an object would fill you with joy every time you saw it (on wall, in stand etc) or after a short period of time would you be filled with a sort of amplified post-coital gloom?


Biolos: “Sorry. Blatant rip off.”

Is the World Surf League striving for diversity in an ethical way?

Professional surf is one of the roughest games in town and nobody not nobody from any other sport’s league or union or association would dare disagree with me. There is the agony of paddling out in the best conditions mother nature/K. Perrow can muster against one, or sometimes two, other professional surfers. There is giving it your best shot, your honest to goodness best shot, in front of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of professional surf fans dotting the globe. There is the arbitrary nature of judging even when you are giving it your honest to goodness best shot.

There is Instagram where your legacy can be laid to ruins by a few choice comments.

And a heat at just wrapped Uluwatu, home of the Margaret River Pro, featuring two professional surfers in their prime is catching more heat than any other. Maybe you watched it. Maybe you watched Julian Wilson vs. Kolohe Andino bash each other’s tenderloins in that heat. Longtom described thusly:

Kolohe got absolutely cooked by this phenomenon (the overcooking of Julian’s scores). He was clearly the better surfer, on the better waves doing the better surfing against Julian in semi one. It seemed that at some sub-conscious level they were going to pay whatever Julian did with big scores. Kolohe’s presser was meek. He had nothing to say, no fire to let out, as Joe would put it. Even Strider was shocked at both the call and Brother’s obsequiousness to it.

Matt Biolos agreed with Longtom, commenenting on disposable fin FCSs Instagram page, “Sorry. Blatant rip off.”

But do you agree? Was it blatant? And a rip off?

(And do you think Julian Wilson’s fan page Instagram account feat. two lines of loudly crying face emoji is directed at Mayhem or indicates the proprietor’s sadness?)

Watch for yourself.

And now let’s chat some more. You know that I have been pushing for a Julian Wilson championship for many, many years but is the World Surf League nefariously pushing now too? Do they want the current number one, chased very heatedly by no less than four Brazilians, to stay world number one no matter the cost or ethics? For diversity’s sake etc.?

Is this professional surfing’s separate but equal moment? It’s Plessy v. Ferguson?

Something to ponder.

Laird Hamilton
One of the most exquisite dishes ever cooked, even as a wild baby. Laird, ten, in Mex. | Photo: The late, great, sorely missed Warren Bolster

Revealed: Laird Hamilton’s 10 secrets to eternal youth!

Or how to draw the stares of lunching women…

Laird Hamilton is an impenetrable mystery, wouldn’t you say? A well-proportioned fifty-four-year-old who draws the stares of lunching women and who, if inclined, would be capable of wolfing down a fifty-pound salmon in a few breathless mouthfuls.

The sort of man who changes the channels on a television impatiently and very fast.

Laird Hamilton is a man incandescent with passion and emotion and addiction to dangerous exhilaration. He is also a man who demonstrably knows how to delay the onset of ageing.

Recently, he revealed his ten secrets to Roy Wallack, from the Guardian and which I’ve thoughtfully cut and pasted below.

1 Forget age. Just keep driving the car I take better care of myself today not as an accommodation to age but to maintain continual high levels of performance and just to feel good. I have a friend, Don Wildman (above), who’s 83 – an absolute stud who works out with weights, mountain bikes, paddles and surfs every day. Don’s a living example of what it’s like when you keep driving the car. What happens is we decide we’re old and we just stop, and everything stops working. There’s so much stigma and weirdness around being older. Don and I were watching a tennis match and the announcer was saying, “He’s 34 years old!” Get over it – and keep moving. Don’t wait until you have a health scare or collapse. Get off your butt and feel better now.

2 Take care of everyday priorities The stuff you do every day – your sheets and towels, the food you put in your body – these are your priorities. Not a fancy car or fancy clothes. For instance, I used to drink red wine every day – nothing like a good Bordeaux – but haven’t had a sip of wine or beer in nine years. Sugar is not good for your body and alcohol is one of the biggest culprits. Alcohol doesn’t taste good anyway. The reason people drink it is to have some sort of sensation, right? So if you’re not into that sensation, it’s a waste of time. It’s a discipline thing, too. As proof to myself that I had the willpower, I don’t do it. Bottom line: if you want your rocket to fly, put rocket fuel in it. I want to be able to do certain things at a certain level.

3 Be a fat-burning monster I don’t eat energy bars when I’m out on the water all day. In fact, I don’t need to eat anything. My body runs off its body fat. That’s because I’m paleo. I consume hardly any refined sugar, a few raw dairy products and almost no wheat or grains. I eat plants and animals. I grew up that way in Hawaii. Paleo researcher-kineseologist Paul Chek taught me that your body has enough fat on it to run for days… and that sugar fouls up your machinery. So after I cut alcohol, I began eliminating sugar and sugary fruit. I refined it over the past two years listening to primal lifestyle guru Mark Sisson and other paleo people. A triathlete can go for hours on a little almond butter and their own body fat. But if you eat refined carbs, your blood sugar spikes up and down. I love espresso. You could give me five shots of espresso, a quarter stick of butter, a quarter stick of coconut oil and other fat, and I’ll drink that. I could go for five or six hours and not be hungry, because I’m burning fat.

4 But don’t be a zealot I have a saying: “Every-thing in moderation, including moderation.” I make it achievable, not stressful for me and people around me. I’ll use a little coconut sugar. I’ve got friends who have to stick to a diet at all times, and the stress of that almost overrides the quality of the way you eat. My eating is not such a hassle that I can’t go anywhere.

5 Golf-ball your bare feet I grew up barefoot in Hawaii and didn’t give a thought to walking on gravel, but people who’d been in shoes their whole life couldn’t even cross the driveway. The feet are loaded with nerve endings and are the key to balance – and I’m in the balance business. In fact, we all are. I also believe the earth is charged with an electrical frequency that matches your nervous system and immune system. Bare feet allow us to absorb that energy. To restore dexterity and balance after I’ve been in shoes too long, I warm up by standing with one foot on a golf ball. I roll it around, poke it, put weight into tender spots. It’s amazing how your system will be stimulated through working your feet.

6 Watch your back I’ve had back issues and injuries over the years. When your back goes out, you’re out of commission. Give it relief with stretching and inversion, and strengthen it with core work. Someone once said, “If you did 20 minutes of headstands a day, you probably wouldn’t age.” Gravity is always pulling us down, and inversion fights it. I do it on a teeter board or an upside-down hammock. I do planks and rotational exercises with medicine balls and kettle bells on a Swiss ball. Any natural pick-lift-twist-drop movement pattern, like picking something off the ground and putting it on a shelf, builds core stability. Best one of all? Stand-up paddleboarding.

7 Do the water workout from hell To me, swimming laps in a pool is like punishment – being in a cage. Out of my disdain for lap swimming, I’ve developed what in my opinion is the greatest exercise routine you can do: a no-impact, high-intensity strength and cardio workout that is a cross between swimming and weightlifting. Holding small waterproof dumbbells, jump into a fairly deep pool and sink to the bottom. Then jump up as hard as you can to pierce the surface and gulp some air. As the weights pull you back, blow it out. Exhale as you fall, inhale after you shoot up. The exercise blasts your legs, which consume five times the oxygen as your arms. It’ll make you a stronger swimmer without having to swim laps.

8 Get role models It’s monkey see, monkey do. It’s hard to be the monkey that doesn’t see. We all need an example, a road map, to tell us what’s possible – a Jack LaLanne [the US fitness surperhero]. Am I going to fret that I’m old and washed-up when I’m mountain biking and paddling alongside Wildman, who’s 83? He lives, wears and eats a youthful lifestyle. And, by the way, who does Wildman use as his role model, since all his friends are dead? Me! So get younger buddies, too. When your friends get older and say: “I want to go play some bridge,” you tell them, “I don’t think so – I want to go jump off the bridge.’”

9 Be innovative in all aspects of your life Coming up with new ideas keeps me young and excited. [Hamilton and Wildman invented the GolfBoard, a kind of skateboard for golfers that won the PGA’s New Product of the Year award in 2014.] I think travelling to unique places gives you an opportunity to be active.

10 Make it fun Having as much fun as humanly possible is one of the keys to staying young, so find activities you love. I forget about time when I’m out there on a stand-up paddleboard. Activities are better than the gym because you’re not looking at the clock. You’ll do more reps in nature than you’ll ever do in the gym. You’ll go for hours and hours. And you’ll be thinking healthy thoughts – not about how old you are. As told to Roy Wallace.