Confession: “I still dream of being boozy Norman Mailer, getting in fights, getting beat up by rivals!”

Ashton Goggans? Are you still there li'l pussy?

Did you know that November is prostate health awareness month? Of course you did. But do you participate? Do you grow your moustache in order to celebrate Movember? I hope you do. Prostate health is very important etc. I’ve been sporting a moustache for the past two years but shave it off every November just so passerbys don’t confuse me for someone with a moral conscious. I don’t have one and it would be a rude sleight of hand to pretend I do.

November is also National Novel Writing Month and you didn’t know that but should. Novels are more interesting than prostates, or I’m guessing. I’ve only written one and started four and none will ever see the light of day. Even so, my literary agent (the absolute best in the world) allowed me to write a piece on “Why I Write” to celebrate NaNoWriMo and I decided to share with you too since you are the ones who put up with me every single day of the week, multiple times.

Sorry but without further ado…

I like to write more than almost anything. I like to write more than I like to surf, more than I like to shop in label-hooker shops. More than I like feeling the warm sun on my face. Writing came to me not because I have any talent, at all, but because I fell in love with writers. I wanted to be Albert Camus with his flipped collar and jaunty cigarette. I wanted to be Tom Wolfe in his impeccable white suit. I wanted to be Norman Mailer, boozy Norman Mailer, getting in fights, getting beat up by rivals, getting laughed off the stage after delivering an awful boozy performance.

Writers eclipse all the stars of the universe, who could possibly disagree, and the only way to become a writer was to write.

Just after 9/11 my two best friends in the world and I went to Yemen to be the first ever surfers up its mainland coast. I had heard on the news that Osama bin Laden’s family had come from the hills surrounding the city Al Mukallah, found it on a map and stared at the coastline. There had to be surf there. Just had to be.

We financed the trip, partially, by pitching stories to surf magazines even though none of us had ever written more than a school paper. My friend Josh would write for Surfer and I’d write for Australia’s Surfing Life. Months later we were there, wild explorers living literary dreams. We were like Livingston, Burton and T.E. Lawrence with his steely blue eyes pointing out across the desert.

We found surf, yes, got in trouble, very much so, and lived by the seat of our threadbare boardshorts for three months. Al-Qaeda chases, shootouts, pirate encounters, etc. The story should have written itself.

Except I wrote it.

I remember feeling like a future Pulitzer Prize winner as I punched my computer keys. I was doing the exact same that Evelyn Waugh, Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson had done. I was one of them. Maybe not exactly one but in the room or maybe in the yard. I emailed the story to the editor, pleased as pie, then went out to the mailbox to wait for the issue to arrive in the mail.

Three further months later it was there. I ripped off the plastic sheath, threw the surf DVD aside, furiously pawed through the pages and found my story.

It was the worst thing anyone had ever written on earth. Pompous, ill-informed, narcissistic, horribly paced, littered with first person-pronouns. I buried my head in my hands, all dreams crushed, all hopes dashed.

I would never be a writer.

A few months later found my two best friends and me in Lebanon, working on a story for Vice. Josh, writing well and smartly, kept sending stories in which came back with notes before I decided to give it a crack, writing a pompous, ill-informed, narcissistic, horribly paced piece littered with first-person pronouns.

Vice accepted it instantly and look at me now. Look at me, damn it. In all truth, though, I have fallen deeply, hopelessly in love with writing and will never stop again even if I’m my only audience.

Narcissistic Nirvana!

Victory: the World Surf League’s belligerent, antagonistic stance reaps reward!

So long Quiksilver... hello The Beachwaver Co!

It is almost 2019 and can you even believe it? Can you even believe how fast time is moving? Of course it’s an overwrought cliche to write about time flying etc. but it is. It feels, for example, like we don’t even really know World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt yet but she’s already been on the job for over a year.

She took over, if you recall, from ex-WSL CEO Paul Speaker whose time at the wheel was marked by soaring highs (Mick Fanning bumping into a shark) and soaring highers (admitting for the first time that Kelly Slater makes well north of 20 million dollars a year).

There was one thing in the Speaker era, though, and I think that has bled into the Goldschmidt era as well that had industry insiders slightly dour. I’ve heard from every corner that the League enjoyed taking a belligerent, antagonistic stance when it came to the brands and their involvement in professional surfing events. Like, jacking up the price of involvement while gutting the benefits of involvement and doing it all with a mean “get-lost-we-know-this-game-better-than-you” sneer.

Back when the World Surf League was called the Association of Surfing Professionals each tour stop was accompanied by a major surf sponsor. Quiksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl, Hurley, O’Neill, Volcom etc. Even Globe got into the game every once in a while but now let us look

Quiksilver still has France and Billabong the Pipeline in Honor of Andy Irons and Rip Curl has Bells and Portugal but that’s it and I’d imagine both Quiksilver and Billabong vacate entirely in the next few years.

The casual observer might think, “Well hmmmm. Who is going to sponsor these events now? It doesn’t seem very intelligent to frustrate and aggravate the only companies that care.” But the casual observer would be wrong, or at least in this case.

The World Surf League has brilliantly squashed the surf brands in order to make way for the likes of The Beachwaver Co. and let’s read the press release.

Two brands on a mission to find the perfect wave—the Beachwaver Co.® and the World Surf League (WSL)—have teamed up for the epic finale of the 2018 WSL Women’s Championship Tour.

The Beachwaver Co. is thrilled to announce its partnership with WSL as title sponsor of the tour’s final event—the first-ever Beachwaver Maui Pro.

2018 will mark the 16th edition of the event where superstars of women’s surfing will battle on some of the world’s best waves. Kicking off November 25, the Beachwaver Maui Pro will feature 18 of the world’s most dynamic female surfers competing for the event win, and potentially, the World Title.

“We are proud to partner with such strong athletes and role models,” added Beachwaver Co-Founder and Celebrity Stylist Sarah Potempa. “As the inventor of the Beachwaver, I am beyond excited to work with these incredible women, with equally incredible stories, who are inspirations to people around the world, and who inspire us, too.”

“As we come down to the final women’s Championship Tour event, the Beachwaver Maui Pro, the WSL looks forward to partnering with Beachwaver to highlight the incredible feats of the women surfers from this year on Tour,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO. “The synergy between innovation, empowerment and style connects the WSL and Beachwaver brands, so we are excited to be working together for this event to give our athletes the opportunity to continue to break boundaries.”

Having been a regular stop on the women’s championship tour from 1999 until 2009, Maui returned to the schedule in 2014 and has been the season-ender on the elite women’s tour ever since. The Hawaiian island paradise’s sprawling coastline and exotic beaches are the perfect backdrop for competitive surfing and the ultimate inspiration for perfect, Beachywaves™.

“We are looking forward to an amazing partnership,” said Sarah Potempa. “We can’t wait to celebrate these phenomenal athletes and bring fans of both WSL and the Beachwaver from around the world to Maui to find the perfect wave together.”

I had, and I’m not joking, zero idea what The Beachwaver Co. made and so I Googled and it is this.

And this.

The future, as they say, is very bright.

Warshaw on Gerry Lopez: “You don’t zen your way to the top at Pipeline. You reach up and claw down every guy until there’s nobody left!”

The surfer-shaper icon turns seventy today!

Did you know that the Hawaiian surfer Gerry Lopez turns seventy today? Oh of course you didn’t. We eat up our stars, lick the bones and then go back to our crass digital lives.

A seventy-year-old man? Eee-yew!

And so we turn, again, to Matt Warshaw, the Seattle historian whose Encyclopedia of Surfing stands as a lone bulwark against what Dane Reynolds calls the “pandering bullshit and exploitation of surfing”.

Recently, Matt flew down to Ventura, California, to be a talking head on a new Gerry Lopez documentary produced by Patagonia.

Let’s bang.

BeachGrit: First, can you believe that swinging Asian ripper who steals the show in Big Wednesday, who catwalked Pipe etc, is seventy today?

Warshaw: Gary Busy stole Big Wednesday, not Lopez. Not that there was anything much worth stealing.

Nobody catwalked Pipe before Gerry. Jock Sutherland, my third-favorite surfer as a kid, rode Pipeline like he had a stick of dynamite up his ass. Lopez rode it like Audrey Hepburn stepping out of a cab on 5th Ave.

Did Lopez also not catwalk Pipe?

No, he catwalked the hell out of it. He invented it. Nobody catwalked Pipe before Gerry. Jock Sutherland, my third-favorite surfer as a kid, rode Pipeline like he had a stick of dynamite up his ass. Lopez rode it like Audrey Hepburn stepping out of a cab on 5th Ave.

There’s a dignity to Gerry that is, I think, non-existent in surfing. One of my first gigs in the biz was to interview Lopez for a caption and he referred to himself as a “broke-dick.” Washed up, nothing. He must’ve been forty-five.

There is towering dignity, yes. But the self-effacing bit is nonsense. Or not nonsense, exactly. It is strategic and disarming. Lopez, and I say this with the utmost respect, is incredibly calculating and shrewd. You only ever see what he wants you to see, when and where he wants you to see it. Which makes him, in this live-streaming tell-everything age, all the more attractive. He’s the last mysterious man in surfing.

How significant a surfer was Gerry in the early to mid-seventies?

At the height of his powers, if you’d stacked the reputation of every other big-dick surfer into a pile, it would have come up just below Gerry’s chin. David Nuuhiwa was like that too, but a few years earlier.

Where do you place him in the pantheon of surf greats?

Duke, Dora, Lopez, Slater, Curren.

Talk me through his pivotal moments: Pipe, G-Land pioneer, shift to Hollywood etc.

I think it really just comes down to Pipe. The Hollywood thing was a bust. G-land— he was great there, but not first, and Peter McCabe was hot on his tail. What Gerry did at Pipeline between 1969 and 1974, though, was just breathtaking. It still moves me, today, how beautiful he was, how fluid. He stuck vertical drops, threaded huge tubes, came out in a huge cloud of spit, and didn’t even change expression. Kept his hands low, knees and shoulders and hips relaxed. Rory Russell got as a deep as Gerry at Pipeline, but Rory sort of looked like a plucked chicken by comparison.

Do you believe his move to Oregon and the world of snow in 1992 was reflective of his belief that if he’d stayed on the North Shore he would’ve been, I dunno, poisoned by the crowds, the scene?

At some point, if you’re thinking big-picture, you move on to the next thing. How many tubes do you need? I’m not saying that rhetorically. It’s a hard question to answer, and back then surfers weren’t gorging on Skeleton Bay or Surf Ranch, so tube-time was harder to clock. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing Gerry hit a point where he just felt he didn’t need to spend all that time and energy doing something he’d been doing, at the highest possible level, for 15 or 20 years. You move on to the next thing. You try something else. And hopefully, as Gerry has done, you keep in touch with the old thing too. He’s ridden a lot of great waves in the last 25 years.

Is any of his cool confected? Is there a dark or a darkish side to Gerry?

For sure yes on the first question — except I think that’s true for almost every cool person. Confecting isn’t a crime if you do it as well as Gerry does. It is, arguably, part of the cool itself. As far as a possible dark side, yeah, I think so. I don’t actually know much about Gerry, what he’d done all these decades. He is and always has been the most insular of our surf legends. But I do know that you don’t Zen your way to the top at Pipeline. By one method or another, you reach up and claw down every guy ahead of you until there’s nobody left. John Lennon once said that while people all thought the Beatles were happy loveable moptops, he and the three lads were actually the four biggest bastards in the world. I always think of Lopez when I hear that. It doesn’t make me think less of him. Just the opposite.

Gerry is sitting in on this right now. What do you tell him?

Bring back the mustache.

Help Part II: Stab magazine editor blocked me on social media again!

Don't be scared, Ashton Goggans. It's only me!

I was at Dubai International Airport yesterday killing a few transit hours, browsing duty-free perfumes while scrolling through Instagram when I saw a longboarding photo tagging Stab magazine’s editor Mr. Ashton Goggans who goes by the handle @ashtonsealegs.

It had been quite some time since I’d seen a mention of @ashtonsealegs and I assume it was because he blocked me on the social media application a year or so ago. I had a different account then, @reportsfromhell, that was mysteriously disappeared by Instagram right exactly when the World Surf League partnered with Facebook which happens to own Instagram. Very curious but also not very interesting. I started another, @surfjournalist, mostly just to keep tabs on what’s happening in our surf world and to screen grab things from Joel Tudor.

So, anyhow, there I was in front of Givenchy’s Gentlemen Only clicking on @ashtonsealegs to see what my old pal has been up to but once again saw that I had been blocked which means Ashton went far out of his way to find my lightly trafficked new account and jump through the proper hoops in order to bar me from seeing other photos of longboarding, puffy jowls and male adornment.

I wondered, that last time, what a person hopes to achieve by blocking someone on social media and was given many helpful answers. Nick Carroll, for example, wrote that I must make Ashton feel unsafe. Many others told me to stop picking on the poor boy and that I was making them feel awkward.

Completely understandable and I’m sorry. I guess I just really miss @ashtonsealegs and also watched Steven Soderbergh’s new film Unsane on the way from Dubai International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport.

It is about a stalker and made me wonder, this time, if I should up my game.

Well, what do you think? Should I use all cash to purchase a cabin in the woods, dig a well, power it with solar and throw my IP address every time I get online?

It sounds relaxing and I do need a writing retreat but I’d like your opinion first.

Opinion: “Kelly Slater on Joe Rogan was one of the most embarrassing clashes of surfing and pop culture!”

"As Slater’s competitiveness has fizzled, his narcissism has been lit like a flare," writes JP Currie.

I pity Kelly Slater. Really. It’s difficult to reconcile just how I arrived here. Once a hero, now almost a meme.

His descent into absurdity has been rapid. I loved Kelly once, truly. But there comes a time when even our deities need to be put out to pasture. A time when they should slip away with dignity to burn brighter in our memories with every passing year. I think, by this point, Kelly has fucked that dead.

As Slater’s competitiveness has fizzled, his narcissism has been lit like a flare. Though, to be fair, he has always grasped for attention outside of the surf world. Unfortunately, being a surfer just isn’t very interesting.

Nick Carroll once said (in this very comment section) that Kelly doesn’t get enough credit for being a psycho. A flippant but accurate summation of Kelly’s sociopathic dedication to surfing performance. It’s just a pity he can’t stick to that. As Slater’s competitiveness has fizzled, his narcissism has been lit like a flare. Though, to be fair, he has always grasped for attention outside of the surf world. Unfortunately, being a surfer just isn’t very interesting.

Kelly’s appearance on Joe Rogan was, in my estimation, one of the most embarrassing clashes of surfing and pop culture. If this man is our king, then he just made the rest of us look really, really silly.

“Kelly Slater.” Joe says in the intro. “We’ve been talking about doing this for how long?”

(Subtext: please stop emailing me now cunt).

Rogan’s podcast is the biggest there is. You can be damned sure Kelly’s been badgering him. That was obvious as he ticked off the Rogan tropes (MMA, hunting, shit you should/shouldn’t eat, BIG FUCKING SCARY ANIMALS), and as he awkwardly hoisted out-of-character attempts at bawdy humour “That’s not the kind of three-way you like, huh?” He even tried out Australian and South African accents as he recounted stories. C-R-I-N-G-E. Slater had all the poise of a teenage girl taking a selfie with her favourite pop star whilst simultaneously pissing her pants.

Despite what David Lee Scales (famous for co-hosting a podcast with Chas Smith) might think, Joe Rogan can be a great interviewer. Different, sure. Sometimes a little irreverent, sometimes a little stoned. But he has a way of eliciting gold from his subjects by simply letting them speak, guiding the conversation where necessary. Colloquialism and playing dumb can be disarming weapons. (John McPhee, Draft No.4, the chapter on Elicitation. You’re welcome, Scales.) Rogan’s podcasts aren’t always good, but sometimes they’re truly great. And he has a back catalogue of tremendous guests.

Not so with Kelly Slater.

The entire conversation was like a classic schoolboy lunchtime debate. The only missing ingredients were whose dad would kick fuck out of whose, and which bird got a wild fingering up behind the bins at the weekend.

It would be fair to say that Joe Rogan was perhaps a little baked, and clearly wasn’t interested in surfing. Why would he be? What’s interesting to a non-surfer beyond sharks? But that wasn’t really the problem.

Slater just didn’t have anything interesting to say. He hijacked Rogan’s anecdotes and attempted to tell them better. He name dropped (“I actually was with Samuel L Jackson three weeks ago in Paris…”). He shoehorned terms he thought Rogan might bite on like “flow state”. And he tried vainly to accredit himself as an MMA guy (“I actually trained with Don The Dragon Wilson”). Worst of all was the repeated “I had a buddy…my friend…I know a guy…etc” as the conversation skipped jauntily from non sequitur to non entity and back again.

“My friend has a giraffe.”

“Bears are so primal.”

“You sure it wasn’t a skunk ape that did it?”

“I thought I pooped out my colon.”

For the two-hour duration of the podcast Kelly was not the king of surfing, he was the guy at the party who always has a story bigger and better than yours. The guy you desperately want to disappear.

Crocodiles “his buddy” told him about that are 29 feet long and 15 feet wide.

Thirty-five foot Great White sharks that his “friend” told him about. “Bruh, the biggest sharks are way bigger than you think…” (in mock SA accent).


Embarrassingly, Rogan tried to end it early. I’ve never heard him do that before.

After this Kelly went into hyper mode as he desperately tried to grasp something to extend the conversation. With absolutely no relevance he starts talking about his foot injury again. He shills his buddy’s juice. He asks Rogan a question as if he’s the host, except it’s not really a question. And he tries desperately to get back to me, me, ME.

Joe: “I worked out for five-anda-a-half hours yesterday.”
Kelly: “I surfed for five hours yesterday.”

Joe: “I’ve done intermittent fasting. I like to do 16 hrs”
Kelly: “I’ve done, like, nine or 10 day fasts.”

And then, just when you think it can’t get any more ridiculous, he says the most American thing ever. (When Rogan mentions Sober October) “You got me in, man. I don’t drink much, but I feel so much better not having a beer.”

Despite his 46 years, Kelly Slater is a child of the Internet. A little knowledge of lots of things but no real depth. It’s a sad indictment of the effects of the Internet on learning in general, and it’s a shame to see someone who is a true expert in his field not be satisfied with that. Just talk about surfing, Kelly. We want to hear about it even if Joe Rogan doesn’t.

You know Of Mice and Men, right? Course you do. School n that. A play that became a novel. The story of loneliness and a beautiful but ultimately tragic relationship. Two men: one small, sharp of feature and wit. The other a big spaz. Lots of foreshadowing –should have killed the cunt ages ago etc.

These last few years of Kelly’s career have felt a little like a performance of the story. Kelly (of course) plays multiple characters.

He’s Curley’s Wife, flaunting himself anywhere people will have him. Craving attention, whorish rouged lips parted suggestively. Deeply tragic.

He’s Candy and Candy’s dog. Old, knackered, long past his best. A bit whiffy. We’ll keep him around out of guilt, respect. But sooner or later someone will shoot the fucker and we’ll all be secretly glad.

He’s Curley. Bouncing around with his dukes up, picking internet fights in places he has no business. Trying desperately to prove something.

And he’s Lennie. Poor, thick Lennie. Probably harmless but maybe not. We’ve habitually excused him.

We play George. All of us.