Clear, unclouded eyes.
Clear, unclouded eyes.

Film: Hollywood rates best ever surf movies!

Get ready to hang ten, dudes!

Are you tired of Cocaine + Surfing talk? I’m sorry. Really and truly. Any sort of promotion is annoying, I get it, though essential but still annoying so let’s take a break for a few days, ok? Let’s just talk about other things like movies. When summer hits North America you can guarantee one, two or sometimes three mainstream media groups will push out a list of surf movies to watch complete with headlines like, “Don’t head to the beach without watching these cool surf flicks!”

This year we are lucky that the film/television’s own Hollywood Reporter took on the chore. Lucky because it is an inside peek at what Hollywood itself values. They titled their own Hang Ten, Dude: 10 Memorable Surfing Films. So what are they and how does the Hollywood Reporter describe?

1) Big Wednesday: The coming-of-age drama starring Gary Busey, William Katt and Jan-Michael Vincent centered around three young men whose passion for surfing kept them connected through war, death and other chapters of their lives. The film was based on the real-life experiences of director John Milius and writer Dennis Aaberg.

2) Blue Crush: Kate Bosworth starred in Blue Crush as Anne Marie, a hard-core surfer girl living on her own with her younger sister who braves the Banzai Pipeline of Hawaii to achieve her dream of becoming a sponsored surf star. The iconic movie that launched Bosworth’s career became an instant cult classic in the early 2000s.

3) Chasing Maverick: The film stars Jonny Weston as a young man aiming to surf one of the biggest waves, which is just miles from his home in California. He turns to a surfing pro (Gerard Butler) to teach him how to survive the treacherous waters.

4) Endless Summer: This 1966 documentary is considered by many to be the most influential and iconic surf film of all time.

5) North Shore: Featuring no shortage of surfing action and some of the most dangerous waves on Earth, North Shore is an adrenaline-powered look into the high-performance sport of big wave surfing.

6) Rip Tide: After an embarrassing viral video damages her career, an American model (Debby Ryan) heads to Australia to live with her former pro surfer aunt, who hasn’t been back in the water since the death of her husband.

7) The Shallows: The surfer-against-shark premise might be considered a warning not to surf in the ocean alone on an isolated island.

8) Soul Surfer: In 2003, real-life and on-the-rise surf champ Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) survived a tragic shark bite injury, resulting in the loss of her left arm. Despite losing her arm and 60 percent of her blood during the attack, she remained undeterred from the water, getting back on her board once her stitches healed.

9) Step into Liquid: In a documentary shot in waters all over the globe, director Dana Brown takes on tall waves and surfers who live to challenge them.

10) Surf’s Up: This family flick features the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges and Zooey Deschanel. The heart-warming documentary-style story focuses on a young penguin named Cody, who dreams becoming a surfing legend.

In the book Cocaine + Surfing I write:

Pop culture’s dance with surfing is always a funny thing. I suppose if surfers had any sort of understandable depth, or any depth full stop, then Hollywood would have pounced on them as archetypes and figured out long ago how to capture the specifics enough to make a surf blockbuster, but have you seen Hollywood’s surf films? Have you seen Chasing Mavericks or Blue Crush or Point Break (either of them) or North Shore or Big Wednesday or The Perfect Wave or Soul Surfer or In God’s Hands?
The best of them are laughably bad. The worst are a forgettable cringe.

Hollywood can’t get the surfer even halfway right and I think it’s a proximity issue. Many in Hollywood, many directors and producers and actors, think they surf. Their glittering town perched on the Pacific causes them to believe they know what it all means because they walk out of Malibu homes, grab a goofy yellowed seven-foot pintail and go sit in the puddle out front. But surfing and belonging to surf are two entirely separate things. Belonging to surf, in my definition, is to be part of the surf industrial-complex. Those who either work for a surf brand in some capacity as a photographer, writer, shaper, or who have at some point in their lives. Those who have so oriented their lives around surf that they watch World Surf League events while chatting about professional surfer form on message boards. Those whose productivity slowly drains away because they surf instead of working. Those who have pterygiums.

And that is exactly what Hollywood is missing as it relates to the surfer. Pterygiums.

Buy the whole book here (America) or here (Australia) or here as an audio file!

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.