Orlando PD on full alert!
There were many more police officers at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida when I arrived this morning for day two of Surf Expo and my initial reaction was, “Shit. Ashton Goggans called the cops. Again.”
Twenty times as many police officers, in fact. They were everywhere standing around with utility belts packed with utility and bullet proof vests making already fit chests fitter. Thumbs hooked through belt buckles. Wide legged, eyes darting suspiciously.
I pushed my vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses higher up my crooked nose, trying to observe them fully without seeming creepy though, in retrospect, this probably had the opposite effect.
Did he call them to lodge yet another complaint after blocking me across all social medias, emails and phone numbers?
I hoped beyond hope not.
Funnily enough, I had a great conversation with the famous GT (best on-beach commentator in professional surfing history) directly before tasting the tang of pent-up Ashton rage. He was telling me that he had just begun working for Ride Snowboards back in the extreme sport glory days and at a tradeshow. A crazy commotion broke out in in front of him, some wild brawl, and after a few moments legendary Ride team rider Circe Wallace emerged, crazy eye’d, and said, “I just kicked the shit out of some bitch. I hope I’m not in trouble.”
“Trouble?” he responded. “No, no, no. That’s the way we like it.”
Circe Wallace went on to become my wife and the end-all-be-all love of my life.
Her era of all this crazy business was what I grew up dreaming as a detached therefore kooky Oregonian youth. A world where rushing down snowy mountains, where surfing with reckless abandon, where living a dream unfettered by laws and rules and the damned man was the only thing that mattered.
And I’ve tried my damndest to re-establish this vision in our modern tattle-tale era. Pushed it through Welcome to Paradise and Cocaine + Surfing and BeachGrit but my greatest work might still be Ashton Goggans.
Six months ago he was a wilting cop caller.
Yesterday he was master of the Surf Expo floor, stocking cap tipped jauntily, ringed fingers itching for a fight.
Have I single-handedly made surfing great again? The police officers are eyeing me suspiciously as I type this but I hope so or at least one small part of it.
I truly hope so.