"The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic."
It was with tremendous joy that I woke this morning to find the Pulitzer prize-winning author William Finnegan had penned an 8000 word dissection of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch for The New Yorker. I had heard he was there for the Surf Ranch Pro in September the same exact day I was but only heard after I had left. Oh how I would have liked to shake his hand. How I would have liked to thank him for writing a surf book (Barbarian Days… buy here!) that won the grandest award in all of literature.
Reading his elevated take is the next best thing to actually meeting him, I suppose, and I savored every word of Kelly Slater’s Shock Wave while sipping my black coffee sans cream or sugar, enjoying his take on what it all means, why it matters etc.
He quoted Matt Warshaw, calling him surfing’s “unofficial historian” which made me a little sad for Matt. He has written both the History of Surfing and the Encyclopedia of Surfing. What must he do to become surfing’s “official historian?” Is it something we can crowdfund? I’ll look into it for us.
He talked to Kelly Slater, the engineer Adam Fincham, Steph Gilmore, surf fans and various other persons involved in the event, in the pool, in the World Surf League and I was humming right along until I reached the following passage:
As if to confirm everyone’s suspicions, Beth Greve, the W.S.L.’s chief commercial officer, was photographed in Bali lugging a beginner’s board across the beach with the fins put in backward. Backward Fins Beth became famous in surf world—more than half a million views on @kook_of_the_day. And then BeachGrit, an Australian Web site that delights in trolling the W.S.L., blew up the image to billboard size and installed it on a freeway in Lemoore, just in time for the Surf Ranch Pro. The billboard shot zoomed around the surfing Internet.
Slater saw it. He is a tireless online poster, with a rare degree of patience. On his Instagram feed, a magnet for cranks of all kinds, he has spent years debating flat-Earthers, laying out innumerable scientific proofs that the planet is round. He’s a well-informed environmentalist; right-wing flamethrowers rain hellfire on him for that, and he often takes the trouble to reply to them individually. When the Backward Fins Beth billboard went viral, Slater showed a tiny bit of pique. On the BeachGrit Instagram feed, he wrote, “Funny. Cheap. Character Revealing.” The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic. They had successfully trolled the king.
I smiled broadly remembering those days so not very long ago and read the sentence, “The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic.” once more. Then thought of all the times Derek and I have giddily texted back and forth, both laughing on different sides of the Pacific, examining every facet, every nuance of utterly pointless minutia, from Backward to ELo to Leashgate. We are so easily prodded into ecstasy and maybe that is what makes us different. Maybe that is our spark.
You must, anyhow, read every word of the Finnegan masterpiece but speaking of ELo…. a glorious Christmas treat coming right up!