Matt George Matt Warshaw
Matt Warshaw, at right, in happier days with old college boyfriend Matt George.

Revealed: I made Matt Warshaw suffer!

Preeminent surf historian caught in cruel web.

I am writing to you, today, from deep in a New Smyrna jungle some many yards away from civilization but in the most civilized place ever. The Atlantic Center for the Arts. Tonight, you see, is the worldwide debut of a small film I directed called Trouble: The Lisa Andersen Story and it is being unveiled at a ridiculously gorgeous compound not very many yards away from where Aaron Cormican perfected his Gorkin Flip.

If you are around you must visit and see for yourself. It is too fantastic to describe here.

The air outside is a pleasant 90 degrees with 123% humidity. I love traveling to humid climates more than others mostly because I think it makes my hair look amazing but also because I think it makes my hair look amazing.

I am, anyhow, excited about the premier tonight. I believe in the film and I believe in Lisa Andersen. She is a true hero and her time is now but more on that later. At this moment I want to talk about Matt Warshaw. He is here too, alongside David Lee Scales. We were all supposed to meet up at nearby Orlando’s airport but my flight had to sit on the tarmac for an hour and a half after landing because lightening was striking nearby and apparently airport personnel aren’t allowed to go outside where there are lightening strikes. David Lee Scales was less fortunate and diverted to Tampa.

So there I sat on the tarmac looking at Instagram and wanting to drink before finally being let off the plane and wanting to drink. Matt Warshaw, who was waiting patiently inside, also wanted to drink and good thing because where we were headed was close.

Unfortunately, I was navigating and if you have read the still new Cocaine + Surfing (buy here)! you will know that navigation is not my strong suit. Shall we read a small portion?

Or maybe it is only a marvel only to me, and mostly because my directional sense is absolutely terrible. Even on land. Even in a place I have lived for years. Especially in places I have never been. I am a liability. A blight. I was once in Kiev, for example, directly after those fiery Iron Maidan protests of 2013. My “bridge burning” surf book had just come out and I thought I was back on my way to a meaningful destiny. I did not yet know I was running from it.

My phone was not working because and thus I was Google Maps-less-but wanting to get into the mix and so I pushed off into the charred drizzle with nothing but joie de vivre and a fantastic pair of Saint Laurent sunglasses. Before long I was hopelessly lost and stuck in some weird barracks of a protester practicing sword play, mumbling what he was going to do to the Russians when they returned, swishing his blade right under my nose. I didn’t know where I was and I tried to leave, but he wouldn’t let me unless I knew where I was going-because the Russians. And was I on their side? Was I on their team? Why was I wearing sunglasses? I asked for tea, eventually, and when he went to make it in a broken-down Volga he was using as a kitchen I ran out into the streets but got more lost and had to spend time with two Ukrainians dressed as Eastern European Mickey Mouses who proceeded to bore me with broken English and folk dances.

Scientists call it the “neurological effect of navigation-by-smartphone.” Scientists say that our directional sense lives where are memory does and when we end around by using technology instead of our brains we quite basically give ourselves Alzheimer’s. That we never really know where we are in the world and that puts humanity’s very future in danger. All I know is that I am an absolute directional catastrophe and that my memory really is so bad that I’ve been accused of Alzheimer’s more than once and I blame navigating by my phone. Or playing football in seventh and eighth grade as the skinniest boy ever born.

I made Matt drive one full hour in the wrong direction to a slum. We got to the slum and he said, “This doesn’t feel right.” I looked at my phone and responded, “Oops. We were supposed to go to Winter Park not Winter Haven.”

The torture lining poor Matt Warsahw’s face during the hour back made me feel very badly. Very very very badly.

Taken today by David Lee Scales. Matt is not suffering here but this is much how his suffering looked.
Taken today by David Lee Scales. Matt is not suffering here but this is much how his suffering looked.

I always like to bring a nice shirt or stylish white shirt. Then I really like to play with my jewelry. I have a lot of rings that I mix out. I have one silver lion and one gold lion ring from Gucci. I also wear Gucci watches. One that’s more elegant, one which has a sports style. Because at the end of the day, we are at the beach so I can’t show up in a suit. I do wear my board shorts with rings, which is a little more my style. | Photo: Gucci

Leo Fioravanti is the new Adolph Spreckels!

Who does unapologetically vulgar better? Leo or Bunker?

It ain’t news that the Roman surfer, and former WCTer, Leo Fioravanti gets his Gucci Gucci for free.

It is the biggest sponsorship in surfing, in a sense, given that even a modest Gucci jacket costs five thousand dollars, a sweater, fifteen hundred dollars and a pair of horsebit fringed leather sandals a little over a gee.

Recently, Leo, who is twenty years old, appeared in a Gucci photoshoot at Malibu, California. In every photograph he looks like a king or an emperor and you can imagine Leo carrying a plastic sword with a gold handle and swishing it at the camera crew.

Seeing Leo wrapped in Gucci’s famously unapologetic vulgarity reminds me of Adolph Spreckels, the hedonistic experimental surfer of the nineteen seventies. 

(Buy the Taschen book of Art Brewer’s photos, which is called Surfing’s Divine Prince of Decadence, here.)

The Gucci thing is an ambassadorship that works  both ways, Leo told the website Highsnobiety in a recent sponsored editorial.

“First of all, it has put some style in my surfing style, or in my lifestyle. As a surfer, I can give it an extra touch, and what they’ve done in the last few years with Alessandro [Michele] has been incredible. They really brought Gucci back to the young people. I feel like four or five years ago it was kind of getting a bit older. In the last five years they’ve done an incredible job whether it’s from Alessandro or the stylist or a lot of people in the background working with younger people. It’s really shown.

“They really brought Gucci back to the young people. I feel like four or five years ago it was kind of getting a bit older. In the last five years they’ve done an incredible job whether it’s from Alessandro or the stylist or a lot of people in the background working with younger people. It’s really shown.”

Other notable quotes:

On Italian surf style: I think it’s more that each surfer has their own style; we all have very different styles. Sometimes you just want to achieve the same—whether it’s progression, speed—so we are looking for the same things to improve on. As far as outside the water, I really believe Italians have a different style, because they care a little more about how they dress, or how they look, whereas most surfers all they want to wear are board shorts and T-shirts and flip-flops. I love to do that, too. A lot of times I like to play dress-up a bit and bring out some Italian blood.

Breaking his back: It was the first event of the year and I was ready for the season. The first one, the very first wave I landed out in Hawaii, and it turned into a really big injury. I went to the hospital, I flew back to Europe with a big brace and had surgery, so it was a good four to six month of recovery. It was tough, because I was 17 years old and not used to, you’re not used to being injured. I never had anything like that happen before. Not being able to surf for about five months, that’s crazy. Like, I was going crazy and at the same time it gave me an extra motivation and it really made me realize how important surfing is and not to take it for granted whether it’s good waves or bad waves. I always enjoy it as much as possible and it really gave me an extra fire. I trained as much as I could, and I did everything possible so that I would come back on my surfboard stronger than before, and I really believe that happened.

Gucci things: When I travel, whether it’s for surf competitions or surf trips, I’m mostly at the beach. I always like to bring a nice shirt or stylish white shirt. Then I really like to play with my jewelry. I have a lot of rings that I mix out. I have one silver lion and one gold lion ring from Gucci. I also wear Gucci watches. One that’s more elegant, one which has a sports style. Because at the end of the day, we are at the beach so I can’t show up in a suit. I do wear my board shorts with rings, which is a little more my style.

So who does gaudy better?

Adolph?

Adolph, from Art Brewer’s extraordinary book for Taschen called Bunker Spreckels: Surfing’s Divine Prince of Decadence.

Or Leo?


Celebrate: National Women Learn to Surf Week!

What a time to be alive!

What a week. What a very special week. It all started, for me, with the official release of Cocaine + Surfing on Tuesday. I worried, briefly, that the news would be overshadowed by Kim Jong Un and Donald J. Trump’s meeting in Singapore but soon realized that nobody really cares about peace on the Korean peninsula. I did a reading that night at the iconic Warwick’s and am now sitting in the airport awaiting a flight to Florida for the premier of Trouble: The Lisa Andersen Story at the Florida Surf Film Festival. If you live anywhere near the Sunshine State I expect to see you there.

More will be written on that later but in the meantime, did you know that this is also National Women Learn to Surf Week? It’s true! And let us turn to the Corpus Christi Times for more:

Female surfers converged on Boogie-Bahn at Schlitterbahn Riverpark and Resort in Corpus Christi on June 12 to celebrate National Women Learn to Surf Week. World Pro Female BodyBoard Champions Cathy and Morgan Seabert, a mother-daughter team, were on board to instruct.

Cathy Seabert is a regular at Schlitterbahn, helping riders tackle the inland surf attraction during the season. Currently, she is ranked second in the world in her division of Pro Female BodyBoarding.

Some 20 female surfers from beginner to expert and ages 8 to 70 slid into the endless inland surf created by a blast of 50,000 gallons of water on Boogie-Bahn. The water is only 3 inches deep on the ride. Wipeouts land on a foam-covered surface, keeping everyone safe from harm.

This entire time I thought the Schlitterbahn was in Munich and was confused about which nation was celebrating Women Learn to Surf Week but just re-read and realized the Schlitterbahn is a chain of water parks in Texas. Anyhow, do you have time for a few quick questions before I board?

How difficult is it to get a National _______________ Week? Like, could we petition the U.S. Government for a National BeachGrit Cut n Paste Week? What about a National Venice Adjacent Gathering of Online Surf-ish Magazines That Have Located There in Order to Thrive and Seem Abbott Kinney Kool?

Do any of you know the process?


kolohe andino
Says Matt Biolos: "The criteria is speed power and flow. He was going faster, with bigger more powerful turns and better flow. Julian was kinda pivoting and hitting the lip but I don't think he was projecting nearly as much or linking his turns like Kolohe. Nothing against Julian. He's surfing very well and I worked closely with him for a long time and I hope he wins a world title. I think it's his year. The judges obviously think so too." | Photo: WSL

Opinion: Kolohe “screwed by judges. Chronically underscored.”

Judges "negligent," says the shaper Matt Biolos.

As the rich and good looking Julian Wilson gallops towards a world title in his thirtieth year, it might be interesting to examine pivotal heats en route to this title and the response thereof.

Five days ago, Julian won a semi-final heat at Uluwatu against the similarly rich but not-quite-so good looking Kolohe Andino. The result was not received well by all surf fans.

BeachGrit‘s Longtom had a swing (“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.”) and the commentary accompanying the heat video on YouTube was similarly in favour of the moustachioed American.

“Kolohe robbed!”

“Kolohe’s barrel wave was at least an8 something. Bad scoring, bad characters at wsl.”

“Kolohe surfed better in this heat. Came down to Kohole’s barrel compared to Julian’s barrel. Kolohe was deeper, it was a bigger set wave, and he did more aggressive turns.”

“another rigged heat!!? wtf? how many rigged heats in a contest can you have? wsl, when you’re like the whl and nobody remembers yo or what you were,,, don’t complain because you’re becoming irrelevant,,,, fast.”

“Result manipulation. Kalohe was clearly harmed. Your 7.70 should be 8.70. WSL without credibility.”

“Kolohe clearly won & jordy even more so in heat before… wsl is disgusting.”

‘So sad to see how WSL is manipulating the score in favor of JW, it is not a honest way to manager the sport!”

“First they favor him through vs jordy and now vs kolohe man as an australian I feel sorry for julian the judges making everyones energy negative towards him and its not his faut he was overscored. Every decent surfer I know agrees julian was gifted in this heat.”

“I don’t know who got robbed worse, Kolohe or Jordy. That dumb girl Sophie must have a crush on Julian.”

Kolohe’s shaper Matt “Mayhem” Biolos was equally convinced his surfer had been cut off at the knees, jumping onto the FCS Instagram account and calling the result a “blatant rip off.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bjy9C29FWmC/?hl=en&taken-by=fcs_surf

Shortly afterwards, BeachGrit’s Chas Smith took pleasure in kneading Biolos’ clay into a story, which you can read here.  

It was a short piece and the writer didn’t contact Biolos who subsequently expressed his dissatisfaction in a DM.

“Stirring the pot. Damn, you guys used to call me to elaborate. Not any more, huh?”

Earlier today, I called Biolos, who was about to drive to LA for a flight to Fiji where he’ll be joining Strider Wasilewski on Tavarua, to elaborate.

I say, “Blatant rip off. A sentiment hard to misinterpret.”

“Maybe those words weren’t right,” says Biolos. “I was grouchy and jet-lagged. Blatant means the judges purposely did it and maybe they were just negligent. Just a negligent mistake. They made an honest mistake. And it wasn’t just me who thought it. I watched it individually in the middle of the night and I was blown away. Obviously there was a storm of social media and even legitimate media you like you and Stab believed Kolohe won. I mean, the criteria is speed power and flow. He was going faster, with bigger more powerful turns and better flow. Julian was kinda pivoting and hitting the lip but I don’t think he was projecting nearly as much or linking his turns like Kolohe. Nothing against Julian. He’s surfing very well and I worked closely with him for a long time and I hope he wins a world title. I think it’s his year. The judges obviously think so too.”

I express my belief that there’s something…tight… about Julian, where his phenomenal, beautiful, natural skill isn’t allowed a room to breathe.

“A little mechanical, yeah. Kolohe suffers the same fate. They get knotted up. It’s a similar hiccup in their game. But I thought Ulu’s was (Kolohe’s) to win. The draw was gong down and watching him in that heat with Julian, I thought he’s going to win this heat, he’s going to win the contest. Didn’t happen.”

I missed the semi live, and therefore missed the spike of emotion, and found Julian a clear winner and that, despite claims to the contrary, most heats are a points-per-manoeuvre deal.

“I was watching it live and Kolohe was doing harder turns, going faster, his flow was a lot better and, bottom line, Kolohe’s 6.83 was the best wave of the heat. It sure as hell wasn’t a 6.83.”

After the post, Julian’s brother, and manager, Bart Wilson, called Biolos to register his complaint and ask why Biolos thought Kolohe had won.

“That’s how I felt. I’m  not going too hide from it,” says Biolos. “I’m not going to comment on your website and I’ll never, ever, ever sign up to comment on anyone’s website. But fuck it. I’m going to defend my guy. I think he got screwed. I think he’s chronically underscored. Maybe he’s done a few things in his career to welcome that.”

Like board punching and being very sad after a loss?

“You know as well as I do, things like that, and being very successful financially, numerous things. But if you know him as a man, as a person, he’s awesome. Kolohe asks me, does it bother me when he punches a board? I’ve been watching baseball players break their bats for a hundred years. It’s not as if Louisville Slugger throws a temper tantrum every time Mark McGwire breaks a bat.

“I think that there’s a lot of scoring on the WSL where they score the surfers not the competitors. They score Gabriel Medina against what he can do, not in the actual heat he’s in. ”


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!