Day 4: Scooped on Kook-gate by Surf Europe!

I'll never pull another punch again.

Now I know how… whatever The New York Times writers covering Nixon’s names were… feel. There they were, wringing their hands, hemming and hawing while Woodward and Bernstein went out and made history.

Son of a bitch.

Your new Woodward and Bernstein is a man named Billy Wilson and he is also your hero for he had the fortitude, the temerity, to carry through when I pulled my punch.

Last night, you see, I was sent the image from the brave man with the camera phone. There stood the World Surf League’s number four in command, Chief Commercial Officer Beth Greves, on a Balinese beach with a wonderful forrest green/floral bathing suit ensemble, a longer board and fins that pointed mysteriously toward her.

I gazed upon it for a good ten minutes and then went to sleep giggling about “Day 4: Explosive new kook-gate angle!” all night long. But in the morning I woke up and thought, “Am I being mean? Is this mean?” and decided to chew on a wad of morality.

Meanwhile, Surf Europe’s Billy Wilson (your new Woodward and Bernstein) had no such lily in his liver and posted the epic “Kook-gate exclusive: Handsome man with phone found.” Let’s read just a smidge:

Pepe Jose Ceballos — his surname just one letter away from “caballos”, Spanish for “horses” — is from the Basque town of Irun, to which he recently returned following a fortnight in Bali. I first met Pepe two summers ago, and have met him several times since; besides being handsome, tall, and dark-haired, he is very likeable and always struck me as the sort of person who can be relied upon, when he sees something funny at the beach, to take a photo of it and put it on the group. I don’t know him very well, I’m not on any of his groups, but I know him well enough to recognise him in a viral video, and well enough to trust him when he says he isn’t part of a of an international conspiracy or some bizarre, counterintuitive marketing ploy.

He had been at Keramas watching the comp, when his friend spotted two girls walking down the beach carrying surfboards, one of them with its fins back to front. Pepe showed admirable presence of mind. “I grabbed my mobile from my bag and went rushing down to her,” he told Surf Europe on the phone this morning, amid much laughter. “I tried to be inconspicuous so she wouldn’t notice, but when I turned around to take the photo she looked at me like, ‘what are you doing?’ So I asked if I could take a photo and she just stared at me in confusion, like, ‘but what for?’ I was just trying to stop laughing.”

Epic. Just damned epic. You must read the entire thing here and I just realized that Woodward and Bernstein are two names! Mr. Wilson? Would you permit me to be your second?


I’ll never pull a punch again.

Famous newspaper roasts The Endless Summer!

The Washington Post declares "Who wants to sit and watch 90 straight minutes of surfing?"

I think there is one, and only one, thing that surfers universally agree upon (aside from Italo Ferreira) and that is The Endless Summer is a very good film. It is fun, interesting, well shot and well cast. Bruce Brown, Mike Hynson, Robert August and the whole world sparkled beyond. I remember watching it for the first time, as a young boy, and wanting to be Mike Hyson more than anybody on earth. Cool, stylish, Californian.

Matt Warshaw, in his work of art The Encyclopedia of Surfing (subscribe here!) writes:

Long-celebrated surf moved made by California filmmaker Bruce Brown; originally screened on the beach city surf circuit in 1964, two years before it was put into general release, where it became a surprise critical and commercial hit. “A brilliant documentary,” a New Yorker review said of Brown’s deceptively simple $50,000 film, “perfectly expressing the surfing spirit. Great background music. Great movie. Out of sight.” Just a handful of surf movies are thought of as first rate; Endless Summer alone is regarded as a surfing masterpiece.

But the newspaper that took down Richard M. Nixon disagrees. In a recent Washington Post editorial mocking surfing the writer declares:

By the way, are you folks familiar with “The Endless Summer”?

I used to co-host “Reel Classics,” ESPN Classic’s weekly sports-movie presentation, with fabulously funny comedian Jeff Cesario. Just when Jeff and I thought we ran out of sports films, we discovered “The Endless Summer,” a 1966 documentary on surfing.

Who wants to sit and watch 90 straight minutes of surfing? I mean, I guess it beats watching 90 straight minutes of Rob Schneider in “Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo,” but, man oh man, freebasing Orville Redenbacher and Jack Daniel’s couldn’t save this baby for me.

Ouch. I suppose it would sting more if the writer didn’t try to be witty at the end but still. Unnecessary.

Read the rest here!

John John Florence Ross Williams
Ross: "John? John?" JJ: "I want it over and done. I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?"

Theatre: Is John John transitioning from tour?

I'm tired, boss. Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other… 

I ain’t Freud. But it don’t take much to see that the two-time, and reigning, world champion John John Florence is wrapped in an intolerable existential crisis.

Last at Snapper to Mikey Wright. Second-last to the fanatically intense Zeke Lau at Bells. A long dick in the guts at Lemoore. Second-last to Jesse Mendes, Bali. Twenty-first in the world.

This morning’s official withdrawal from the Margaret River Reboot had the undercurrent of a drowning man who’d do anything to find a little air, to breathe.

The explanation had all the verve of a wise-ass kid telling his teacher the dog ate up his homework.

“I was holding my breath the minute he paddled out. I knew he was feeling jumpy. At one point I looked at him from the beach and gestured to take it easy!”

“Unfortunately I hurt my knee during a freesurf here in Bali, and I have to pull out of the next event to get back and heal up as quickly as possible. I was trying bottom turns in the yard last night to see if there is any way for me to possibly surf this event, but nothing about it felt right. Haha! I think it’s best I heal 100% before I get back in the water. When I was a little kid I watched my favorite surfers winning events and trying big airs and big maneuvers and dreamed of doing those things. I will never lose that. I’m excited for everything to come. I hope to come out of this injury smarter and more excited than I have ever been.”

His coach, Ross Williams, behaved in the manner of the loyal sidekick, punching this supporting explanation into his cell phone.

“I was holding my breath the minute he paddled out. I knew he was feeling jumpy. At one point I looked at him from the beach and gestured to take it easy! Haha. In my position it’s sketchy watching him surf like that cause I want him to be ready for the next comp, but you can’t tell someone like John to just surf safe.”

Gesturing on the beach to “take it easy”? Oh if this was a movie it would be too fantastic to believe.

Three weeks ago, I asked the question, What if: John John Florence quits the tour? 

Is the kick from a contest win, a title, enough to keep Florence on the chain gang? To keep him in pressurised aluminium cylinders from Australia to Honolulu to Lemoore and now Rio, just so he can be pecked at and paddled ragged? 

Two world titles, a house at Log Cabins big enough for whomever wants floor space, the boat that’s rattling at its anchor chain, dying for a Pacific crossing, a sponsor that might be persuaded that a series of John John Florence films might be a better return on their multi-million dollar investment than a series of forgettable WCT results offers a velvet-lined escape hatch. 

Who needs who more? The WSL with John John or John John with the WSL?

In the meantime, let’s enjoy the wrenching moment where John John appears half-dead on a table (MRI?) while his coach taps plaintively on the glass, whispering, “John? John?”


Who is this handsome man with a phone camera?
Who is this handsome man with a phone camera?

Day 3: Kook-gate expands in scope and reach!

What did he know and when did he know it?

If there is one thing I am proud of with my work here at BeachGrit it is that I let no dead horse go unkicked. If I see a dead horse, anywhere at anytime, that even only tangentially relates to surfing I will gird my loins, steel my spine and begin kicking. Kicking. Kicking. Kicking. Without care for my own safety or well-being. I will kick that dead horse when filled with energy. I will kick that dead horse when overcome with exhaustion. I will kick that dead horse then I will kick that dead horse again.

So let’s chat a little more about the incident currently rocking our surf world! If you have missed any of the action catch up here and here but, basically, we were introduced to the World Surf League’s Chief Commercial Officer over the weekend. Beth Greves was captured on video enjoying a wonderful surf on a longer surfboard. It was a sunny day, perfect for The Sport of Kings, and Beth was dressed appropriately for it in a forrest green rash guard with floral sleeves and matching floral bottoms.

One other small detail, the fins of her longer surfboard were put in backwards.

Now, a funny moment for all of us and we chuckled along but the more I watched the video the more I was struck by its composition. You can watch above once again but let’s go over some of the play by play.

The piece begins with Beth standing there facing away from the camera and toward a handsome, taller, dark-haired man taking a picture with of her backward fin setup with his phone. They both laugh at someone off screen and then he motions with his hand and face, very exaggeratedly, that her fins should be pointing the other direction. Beth plays along, motioning with her own hands and trying to explain something.

Cut to black.

And something about it feels so… staged. A good many of you wondered this same thing in the comments and I have, for you, poured over every frame. Second by second. Trying to see if it is a set-up for another WSL spoof ad. You remember those right? I can’t find them currently but remember wigs and jokes etc. Anyhow, if it is a spoof then boy oh boy they got us all good. The best mass prank in surf history wouldn’t you agree?

I am 98% convinced, though, that it is not a prank because there appears to be genuine bafflement on Beth’s face right before the cut to black but I need to know more about the handsome, taller, dark-haired man taking the picture and exaggeratedly explaining. What did he know and when did he know it?

I’d also like to see his photo. I think that is important for us and our investigation. Or at least for me and my dead horse kicking. Does anyone know him? Do you?

How to: Handle a kook crisis!

Step 3: Give an interview to Chas Smith!

Into every surfer life a little kook must fall. It is a stone-cold fact. An irrefutable component of this odd dance we do. There are, first, the myriad rules, sub-rules, sub-sub-rules and shifting rules. There is, second, the impossibility of the act itself. There are, third, surfers involved in most things related to surfing and surfers are known assholes. So, yesterday’s introduction of the World Surf League’s relatively new fourth in command, Chief Commercial Officer Beth Greves, was wonderfully fun though I imagine the League thought otherwise.

Ms. Greves is highly qualified and very skilled, with Adweek naming her a “purveyor of cool” in the teen space and there she appeared on the universally adored @kook_of_the_day with her fins of her longer surfboard in backwards. I reached directly out to the WSL and begged for an interview, knowing that I could make this a star moment, that she would become a hero, though was rebuffed. Turned away. Left out in the cold.

Still, I am here to help and so will give my services for how to handle this crisis free of charge!

Step 1: Be horrified with yourself!

It is important, when caught being a kook, that the offender let the moment sink in fully. An attitude of “everyone makes mistakes” or “who cares?” will go nowhere. Nowhere at all. The offender must stare at the ugly image, the fins backward, the scarecrow jive down a perfect Surf Ranch wave (me!), the egg shaped surfboard he accidentally bought, the back foot traction accidentally affixed mid board, etc. She must be mortified. He must be near suicide and then he must laugh because everyone makes mistakes and who cares?

Step 2: Know that you are part of a brave tradition!

This knowledge does not change the horror but it does put it in context. @kook_of_the_day says it best. “We’re all kooks in our own way!” And we are. We scarecrow jive down perfect Surf Ranch waves. We forget to mix oil in the 2-stroke motor gasoline can. We get lipped, clipped, drop in, go straight, barrel dodge, drip saltwater out of our noses and also saltwater + cocaine. Every surfer on the face of this earth has done something kooky except Gerry Lopez. Oh wait, Gerry Lopez moved to Bend, Oregon and fucking river surfs. Every surfer on the face of this earth has done something kooky

Step 3: Give an interview to Chas Smith!

But only if you did something virally kooky. For normal moments the interview with Chas Smith can be exchanged with an honest admission to friends. But if you did something virally kooky then it is important to admit to BeachGrit that you both know what you did is horrifying but also that a sense of humor prevails. That you can learn and care about the myriad rules, sub-rules, sub-sub-rules and shifting rules because these make up the surfing life but that you also love surfing enough to break them.

Step 4: Repeat!