“If you want the ultimate, thrill you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price" etc.

Advice: “If you’re going to be a surfer, you have to take it seriously!”

Straight outta Rockaway.

We joke and laugh and giggle and cajole surfing and professional surfing every day. It is undeniably ridiculous as it is fun and if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… we put on black pantsuits and go sit in the ocean, waiting to wiggle our bottoms and spew out our arms and legs all akimbo.

BUT it is also deadly serious. Deadly deadly serious and this is why The Inertia-style Adult Learners are such shit with their, “the-best-surfer-is-the-one-having-the-most-fun” “calm-down-it’s-just-surfing” bullshit.

We have spent our lives here and tourists ain’t welcome.

That’s why it put a tear in my eye, this morning, to read about surfing in the Rockaways in The Failing New York Times and Mr. Brian James in particular.

Let’s together.

Three years after Hurricane Sandy lashed the Rockaways, the boardwalk marched down the beach in broken segments as the public housing built under Robert Moses was hemmed in by condos. Out in the surf, not much changed as the bathymetry returned to normal, but the predominantly white, male crowd of surfers had.

Part of that shift happened when Louis Harris, 46, founded the East Coast chapter of the Black Surfing Association in 2016.

Mr. Harris bought his first surf board after moving to the Rockaways in 2006. After getting his bearings in remote beaches, he joined the crowd at Beach 90th Street.

“That’s when I saw B.J.,” Mr. Harris said.

Brian James — “B.J.” — the only other black man in the water, paddled over to Mr. Harris and asked if he wanted to hang out afterward.

“‘If you’re going to be a surfer, you have to take it seriously,’” Mr. Harris recalled him saying. “‘You’re a black guy. Everybody’s eyes are on you.’”

The rest of the story is beautiful but I would like to tip my cap to B.J. for proactively spouting truths in the lineup.

“If you’re going to be a surfer, you have to take it seriously.”

Tragedy: Surfer described as “ex-pro” dies night surfing at Topanga.

A sad ending to a wonderful stretch of swell.

California has been belted with much wonderful surf over the past few days though tragedy struck last night near Malibu.

According to the CBS local news:

At about 11:40 p.m. Thursday, screaming was reported at Topanga State Beach, where sheriff’s deputies found a man who had been performing CPR on his brother. The two brothers had been out in the water for a night session of surfing.

As they surfed, the brothers lost track of each other, authorities said. One of them later found his brother face down in the water and dragged him to shore, where he performed CPR, but was not able to save him.

Sheriff’s deputies say the two brothers are skilled surfers in good physical shape. The brother who died had been a pro surfer at one point, according to a deputy.
The surfer’s father and brother were both on the scene immediately after his death.

He was just identified as Damon Michael Geller, 48, of Pacific Palisades.

More as the story develops.

Advice: How to surf the holidays without killing anyone!

"Together, we’re going to get through this challenging time of joy and holiday cheer!"

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The time for caroling and rum toddies and snowflakes on, well, whatever the fuck snowflakes fall on. I don’t know much about snow.

It’s also the season for paddling out to surf with 500 of your closest friends, their five children, their ten grandchildren, and their racist uncle. Christmas means apocalyptically crowded lineups, at least in Southern California.

There’s the dads pushing their precious darlings into waves, sending them bouncing down the face to splat into the white water, bobbing and sinking like bath toys. There’s the rippers finally out of school and ready to master that elusive air reverse. This time! This time I’m going to make it! Oh. Okay. Maybe next time. There’s someone’s inland relative on a Wavestorm, floating blissfully unaware into the impact zone.

Forget the good will toward men, you are going to want to kill everyone. Honestly, it’s not even Christmas week yet, and I already want to kill everyone.

A week or so ago, I had to ban myself from Rincon for yelling at a lady on a midlength. Maybe she deserved it, but mostly, she was the latest in a long line of annoyances on a day filled with them. I’m good at crowds, until I’m not. I haven’t decided entirely how long my ban lasts, but next week doesn’t seem like the best time to return to the scene of the crime.

What to do? I have assembled a few suggestions, because I am totally here to help my friends — even my friends who aren’t sure I’m an actual person. (I am! I promise Chas did not yell at the midlength lady. That was all me!)

Get of town.
Travel enriches the mind — and if you do it right, it should get you away from the teeming holiday hordes. I recommend sharks. Find a spot with sharks. Big waves, if you are into that kind of thing, will help, too. But the sharks are essential. Sharks keep the crowds away. Assuming you don’t get eaten, you will while away the day as blissfully happy as the Wavestormers before the lip smashes their precious little faces.

Try snow sports.
From what I understand, you can do fun things with snow. Like, slide around on it in a way that bears a resemblance to surfing. You’ll need a puffy jacket and other assorted warm clothing. Just buy the whole Patagonia catalogue and you should be fine. There are lift lines, which is a bummer, but also, resort lodges that sell snacks and beers. Unlike its crazy cousin, the ocean, snow is not super forgiving and may cause injury to falling humans. Maybe just avoid taking any risks at all, and spend your day on the resort balcony with the beer and the snacks, basking in the sun.

Practice Yoga.
I have somehow managed to avoid ever doing yoga. I count this as an accomplishment right up there with finishing my Ph.D. But there are plenty of people who want to tell me all about its benefits. It makes us flexible and limber and healthy, they say. It’s an excuse to wear yoga pants, which I know you all want to do. Yoga also takes away our anger, winging it away like a bird flying higher and higher until it vanishes into the infinite blue. Let me know how that works out for you, yoga people.

Sell your boards.
Just give it up. It’s never going to get better. You can find a new hobby, maybe something that you can do in a remote desert without any people for miles around. Maybe there could be tequila. I feel like tequila is good for going to the desert to do your new hobby. Also, there are no sharks in the desert. I’m starting to like the sound of this. Anyone want to buy my boards? Fins included! Futures, of course!

Drink heavily.
Skip the desert and the effort of finding a new hobby. Stay home on the couch instead. Watch reruns. Avoid anything related to surfing. Sip the tequila you were going to take to the desert. When you run out of tequila, move straight on to vodka. It’s so alphabetical, that it’s inevitable. Wake up sometime after New Year’s and recycle your empties. Return to the lineup, refreshed and ready for more mayhem.

I believe in us. Together, we’re going to get through this challenging time of joy and holiday cheer! We’re going to go surfing and not kill anyone, not even the blank-faced, half-drowned beginner.

Maybe I better try the yoga after all.

Here, Gabriel and Mick, with fans, at Gabs’ world title party. “Rip Curl had rented a condo at the Turtle Bay. It was a really close knit affair with all Gabriel’s Brazilian friends. Mick was in good form. Him and Gabriel are tight. There’s a definite bromance going down. They were talking for so long, telling each other how much they love each other. Mick gets really sappy after dark and he was being very social on the North Shore this year. He was having a good time every night. Gabriel was drinking a little bit but not the point where he was drunk. He was very in control. That freckled kid? Not sure who it was but Mick was engaging him as well and the kid was having the conversation of his life. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

From the living history dept: Steve Sherman goes behind-the-scenes on the North Shore!

Gabriel's victory party, cops take over the Shore, Brazilians rule everything else!

There is very little that separates the work of most sporting photographers. A slightly different angle here, a different lens there. Any sorta lifestyle shot is perfunctory, at best.

Surfing is very lucky, then, to have Steve Sherman, a skater and surfer from southern California. His photography is a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the kind of things you get from a good movie. More than any other surf photographer, Sherman has a sense of living history.

For the month of December, Sherm flew, on his own dime, to the North Shore because, what, he was going to miss the title showdown?

“The WSL cut me off, Channel Islands cut me off, so it was a full art trip,” says Sherm. “I lost everything. They’re all blaming budgets. I didn’t have to be anywhere, I could just do my thing and I had the best artistic year of my life so I can’t be too bummed.”

Apart from looming poverty, it was a different experience this year for Sherman. He’s on the wagon with only the occasional breeze of weed entering his temple. Already, he’s dropped twenty pounds from his linebacker frame.

“I got off the beer because I was feeling shitty, my liver wasn’t get rid of it fast enough. It was slowing me down. I went to a part the other night and, fuck, I was seeing more things than when I was lit up. And, I figured, if I want to keep surfing until I’m seventy I’m going to have to clean things up a bit.”

Let’s stroll though the best of Sherman’s North Shore photos.

First, the wonderful Mark Occhilupo who, like Sherman, was on the wagon. “Occy hasn’t drunk for nine months and he looks great, physically he looks…so…good and he was ripping at Pipeline.” Gabriel Medina and Brazilians after he won the world title, but before Pipe Masters final, which he’d also win. “There was no way he wasn’t going to win the title,” says Sherman. “They’re walking down Ke Nui Road for that three-block walk to his house. Everyone was very happy. It was Brazilville over there. I gotta tell you, the Hawaiians put up with a lot. I was tripping that the Brazilians don’t give a shit. They don’t seem worried that some Polynesian guy is going to punch them out for being loud and obnoxious and flying the flag. Twenty years ago, this never would’ve happened. When Americans go to Brazil, the last thing we do is put flags on our houses and wave flags on the beach and sing the national anthem. I mean, fuck, it’s so heavy. I don’t think they have any idea how heavy the place was thirty years ago. There would be dead bodies scattered if this had happened back in the day.” Jack Robinson and Brazilian girlfriend Julia Muniz. “Yeah, she’s a hot little number,” says Sherman.  Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson, Pipeline. “Those guys don’t know what they’re doing. It’s some weird handshake,” says Sherman. “That’s right after Joel retired and Kelly’s congratulating him. Historically, they’re not the closest of people but they respect each other even if, behind their backs, they tease each other.” Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson. “I sent that to Mick and he pulled me aside, later, and said, ‘I love you Sherman’ and gave me the longest hug he’d ever given me. He’s going to get it for his house. That’s when I knew I’d done something well. They’re both walking into the retirement sunset.”
John  John Florence and brother Nathan watch Herbie Fletcher’s Wave Warrior’s shoot unfurl. “It’s always supposed to start at twelve but never starts on time. They were hanging out at the RVCA house. RVCA’s the new power company here. They fucking sponsor all the Hawaiians, they have (Dustin) Barca, it’s crazy. Even Pat Tenore’s with Andy’s ex-wife.”
Matt Wilkinson, Backdoor, Conner Coffin, Pipe. “That’s comic-book like. That will be in my archive for a while. Conner told me hit the bottom real hard.” Pottz and Occ, pre-Occ-cast. “Legends, nice guys. It’s great to see Occ looking so good, I could see it in his face and his body weight. He’s proud he’s not boozing it.” Kelly, creeping out to Backdoor. “He’s creeping out, running down from his house to the Johnson’s yard to surf Backdoor one night. It’s my classic creepy Kelly moment. Kelly’s daughter was on the North Shore, she was having an art show. She’s a sweetheart, a sweet little woman. But Kelly doesn’t want to have any more kids. He told me, I just don’t want to have kids. I’ve done that. I’m done.”
North Shore Justice: “Yeah. Fuck. Heavy. That’s the new thing now. I’ve never seen such a police presence on the North Shore. There were cops everywhere, signs everywhere. Everyone’s watching, police are writing tickets and pulling people over.”  Parko, Bruce Irons, Mick Fanning, Parko’s retirement party: “That was right after Mick did the all-time speech. Mick has two beers in his hand, which was par for the course this trip. One night I said, ‘Why the two beers?’ and he said, ‘Because this one is almost done.'”

Carnage: Dane Reynolds and Sage Erickson unfollow BeachGrit’s Instagram after recent revelation!

Miguel Pupo and Sunny Garcia too. Michael Rodrigues blocks.

BeachGrit‘s Instagram account has been dealt a deadly blow, a debilitating blow from the World Surf League thanks to the likely racist injury wildcard decision involving the now famous Brazilian surfer Caio Ibelli.

Oh what a tangled web we weave and do you need a quick catch-up? It would be my pleasure.

There are some 28 odd professional surfers on the World Championship Tour and none of them, not one of them, follow BeachGrit on Instagram. One did last year though. His name was Caio Ibelli but he is not on the World Championship Tour anymore because he has been relegated to the World Qualifying Series even though the rules clearly stated that he should have been gifted a wildcard for the 2019 season.

Caio was properly injured, you see, but two other “injured” surfers were allowed into the 2019 draw before him.


It can only be reasoned because he follows BeachGrit on Instagram.

Professional surfers took note,  the ones not on the World Championship Tour (since Caio Ibelli was the only one there RIP) unfollowed immediately.

Dane Reynolds? Gone.

Sage Erickson? Gone.

Miguel Pupo? Gone.

Sunny Garcia? Gone.

Michael Rodrigues? Gone and then took the further step of blocking. (May I speak to Michael directly? Do you mind? “Michael. I see you. You had better hold your damn acai bowl with two hands from now on cuz you never know when I’ll hop around the corner and STRIKE!)

I don’t blame them. The World Surf League is a juggernaut, an evil empire and should be greatly feared. I just always hope in my heart of hearts that a brave prophet will rise from amongst the bleating sheep. A man or woman we can look to as example, as our hero. I imagined once in my life it would be Dane but… alas. Yet another disappointment.

Oh wait. Would you like to know who still follows?

Caio Ibelli.

My new favorite surfer Caio Ibelli.

The man who will lead us home.