Disgraced: Plagiarism scandal rocks surf media!

Worse than the USC admissions scandal! Maybe!

I don’t listen to podcasts, even though I ask you to sometimes (sorry), or when I’m driving sixteen hours in falling snow to Jackson, Wyoming. Then I listen to either David Lee Scales and me (when I want to torture my family and teach my daughter a lesson for daring to play Drake out loud) or Disgracedland. A podcast about bad antics by famous musicians.

It is not particularly good, mostly over-dramatized and verbose, but has moments of funny when the host isn’t being overly-dramatic and verbose.

He begins each episode talking about some random bad song then tying it directly to the current subject. Maybe Jerry Lee Lewis murdering all his wives and whichever southern state he calls home turning a blind eye or some Norwegian black metal group burning churches.

Then it gets funny and the annoying host drops away.

Well, I listened to the first 30 seconds of Stab’s new podcast offering The Drop the other day because its headline suggested that “artistic people Smoke “pot” and insecure people drink and “do” cocaine and the  “do”cocaine got me.

Buy here!

What was host Ashton Goggans feat. opinionated longboarder Joel Tudor on about?

I listened to the first 30 seconds and instantly realized that Ashton Goggans directly plagiarized the only other podcast I’ve ever listened to besides my own (when Drake is playing out loud). And not just borrowing the style/élan but trying on the vocal stylings, word choice, low grade ironic business as if it was his very own.

A massive scandal on par with the burgeoning USC admissions issue feat. a famous skateboarder yet to be named!


I know you are angry with me for calling the cops on me and then for me petting your gorgeous beard, but can I still give you some advice like I used to?

If you are going to maliciously rob another man’s work at least toss some personalized whatevers in the mix.

At least twist the thing and make it look like it’s your own funky yet robustly hatable take.

You’re welcome!

And please deliver my regards to the Orange County detectives when you chat with them next.

Viva the revolution!

Missed Connections: “Who was that handsome bearded midget surfing Rincon last weekend?”

Ex-BeachGrit contributor Michael Ciaramella... are you testing boards in southern-ish California?

The weather was gray and the waves mediocre. An onshore crumble riffled the lip. We chose the same out of the way spot. Not really a secret, just a bit mysto and overshadowed by the famous Queen down the road.

Me: Tall, short-legged blonde. Over-optimistic on an an under-volumed thruster. Dirty wax job. JJF traction. Blue Futures. Getting stuck behind the section, again and again.

You: Dark hair and bearded. Pushing a Roberts twin fin hard though the inside section. Winged swallow tail. Hacked off traction. Fins flying, an air-reverse, that was almost a make.

We shared a laugh at the dads pushing their tiny sons into waves. Bathtub toys floating around in the froth. If they aren’t sponsored by age eight, they’ll never amount to anything. I flipped off Yadin’s drone. Then I felt bad. The guy has a hungry Instagram to feed.

We got out of the water at almost the same time. You watched as I tried to nurse a tiny one to the beach. I’ll admit, it wasn’t pretty.

We changed on the beach together, like strangers, keeping just the right distance. Our eyes met. You seemed like maybe you knew me, like you wanted to say something. But you didn’t.

Then we packed up our suits, dripping and heavy, and slung our boards under our arms. We went our separate ways.

You looked familiar, like I’ve seen you around, maybe on the internet somewhere.

Will I see you again?

Jen See: “People who love Spring are abominations who should be chased with pointy sticks!”

"Or maybe I need a Wavestorm."

I wasn’t at all ready for Spring break.

There I was, huddled in my hoody, board under my arm, slouching my way back from a mediocre surf. To be clear, both my surfing and the waves were mediocre, and not charmingly so. A bump of eddy, a near-fatal weakness, a murder of close-outs. But it was surf and a girl can’t complain too much.

Suddenly, a white Vanagan appeared out of nowhere. It sped by me, down the dead-end road to the beach. Music poured out the open windows. Some sort of amped up surf guitar, what you might get if you sent Dick Dale through an automated computer remix. They came to a sudden halt, as though they hadn’t expected the road to end so quickly. I could hear excited chatter emanating from the van, like squirrels discovering a brand new species of nut.

I stopped to watch what might happen next. Doors flung open, all at once. More excited, and from my vantage point, unintelligible, chatter. It was like they were seeing the beach for the very first time. Omg! The ocean! Waves! A Wavestorm slid out of the van, handled lovingly like the most precious work of art. Which, perhaps it is, all that fresh foam and elastomer skin. The board was brand-new with the shrink wrap still on it. This was going to be the best spring break ever.

I continued my walk back to the car, eyes wide at the thought that somehow it had become spring already. Time had sped up somehow. February mostly passed us by. Every day, flat. Rain, wind, no swells of note. South wind turned to onshore. Wash, rinse, repeat. Lows that spun the wrong way, which is not a thing that I thought was possible until it happened, week after week.

To be clear, I’m not complaining at all about the rain. It felt like a revelation to have the rain come at last. It fills the reservoirs and greens the hills. It builds sandbars and pushes cobbles down the mountains to our favorite point breaks, replenishing and renewing. These are all good things, in my opinion.

There’s also an acute psychological burden to living in drought country, I think. The sun beats down, blanching the soil, baking away every last drop of moisture. Life feels precarious and contingent. Maybe we aren’t supposed to be here at all. I remember a couple summers ago, browsing the book store, I picked up a dystopian novel set in drought-ridden California. Too real, man, too real. With the near-constant fires and baking heat, with the reservoirs steadily draining, it had already begun to feel pretty fucking dystopian.

But all that’s been washed away, at least, temporarily. California’s drama queen weather is never predictable. Maybe it rains again tomorrow, or maybe we’ll all scorch for months under the blazing sun. Dance while you can.

Whatever the weather decides to do next, the spring people are definitely here, pitching their umbrellas in the sand and staking their claim to a summer of fun. A guy on a longboard says hi to me like he’s known me forever. He’s bubbling with the exuberance, intoxicated by the sun, the waves, the whole thing. I can’t say I recognize him. He’s not one of the winter crew that I’ve seen every day — except February — for months. I fake my way through pretending to be less clueless than I actually am. This isn’t the worst way to go through life, I’ve found.

You surf through the winter. You surf in the rain and the wind. You surf a day with offshores so cold the wave’s spray cuts like glass. You stand on the beach to change, the wind whipping and tugging at your towel, your hands frozen to lobster claws, tugging clumsily at zippers and underwear that tourniquets around your legs. You drop your car keys and can’t pick them up. One day you get it good with six guys out. You know them all. You giggle with the secret glee of getting away with something that maybe you shouldn’t.

But now the spring people are here with their beach towels and their Wavestorms and their happy grins. Pull the shrink wrap off another one. I wonder if I sit close enough, if their exuberance will spread to me like some kind of virus. How would that feel? Fun, maybe.

I didn’t sit close enough to the shiny spring people to find out. Shitty waves, they still feel shitty. Maybe I need a Wavestorm. That fresh shrink wrap smell will make it all feel better.

Brothers in arms or master and slave? | Photo: Shawnee SPeeding

Interview: Jon Pyzel on why volume ain’t the magic number you think it is!

Wanna know what the most important number in your next custom is?

A few weeks back I ordered a custom small-waver, a reboot of a model I’d gotten involved with ten years earlier.

The design had changed with the prevailing winds of fashion, it was thicker, flatter and wider, but I knew it would be a fast and stable board and draw, roughly, the same hieroglyphics on a wave.

Great shaper, good local construction. The sorcery hadn’t changed. How could you lose?

For the first time in my life and following the route of common belief, I chose a board via the magical volume number and not my usual mix of length, width, thickness.


As I unpacked a board that my ballerina legs would never turn, I was shown the folly of ordering a surfboard via how much foam is contained within its boundaries and not by specifics.

Everything else, the curve, the outline, the foil, was perfect.

But two sizes too big.

I was the skinny kid ordering a pair of 34″ jeans.

I had to call Jon Pyzel, who has shaped for the two-time world champ John John Florence since he was five, ’cause I know surfers swinging in and saying, ‘Gimme a thirty’ is a pet peeve.

Jon is also one of the most accessible shapers in the world.

Walk into his factory in Waialua on the North Shore or hit him up on his Instagram account, which he operates, and you’re going to talk, message, with Jon himself.

He’s like Gabriel’s shaper Johnny Cabianca. The pair are in the game to make beautiful surfboards, not to wind up sitting behind a desk commanding an apparel and hardware biz.

So I call Jon.

I told him what I did.

And that it made me think, why the volume thing anyway? Ain’t it about trying to get a board that’s stable and paddles well.

Think: doesn’t rocker, for instance, affect stability and the ability to paddle more than the amount of foam in a board?

And width?

Therefore, could a 27-litre board be more stable and paddle better than a 30-litre board?

Talk to me Jonny.

“I hear it every day. I want this many litres in a board,” says Jon. “What people don’t understand is that volume is simply the amount of foam in a board. You can have a narrow and thick board that is 30 litres and a thin, wide board that is 30 litres. And the only reason we even know the volume is because of the computer programs. No hand-shaper can tell you what the volume of a board is unless they have a float tank. 

Jon says he tries to educate people on the importance of knowing that volume isn’t the final say in the game.

“Rocker is one of the biggest factors in board paddling,” says Jon. “And one huge thing that nobody thinks about with volume is that it only has an effect on a board before it hits planing speed. It’s like a big heavy boat going through water. Once it hits its planing speed and the hull is on top of the water it frees up. It’s no longer going through the water, it’s on top of the water. A surfboard does the same thing.”

So when someone comes in to order a board, a Shadow, say, his newest model, and they want a six-o, what Jon does is he asks ’em the width.

“It has a huge role in how a board performs,” he says. “They know they want a six-o and they know how much foam they want in it, but I ask ’em what width they prefer. You don’t just want to make a board thicker and wider until you hit their ‘number.’ When someone come to me, if I have their width and their length I can manoeuvre from there.”

Jon points out the obvious, that a board you ride in crummy waves is probably going to need more volume than a board you launch in good surf.

“Sometime a step-up board might have less volume than a normal shortboard,” he says, adding once you get to a certain size, it becomes the opposite and you overcompensate with volume in rhino chaser.

And, he says, adding an eighth of an inch to thickness is going to have a bigger effect, volume-wise, than a similar increase in width.

He tells people to think about a litre bottle of soda. Imagine it’s foam. If you want to increase or decrease your volume by 200mls, or twenty percent of that bottle, well, it ain’t much at all. You ain’t gonna feel it. John John might, but not you, not me.

But, he says, tell ’em to get one of those gallon American soda drink mega cups and you can appreciate what three or four litres will do to your board.

Got it? 

Know your width and length, have a rough idea of your volume but don’t be afraid to swing a little, tell your shaper where you’re gonna ride the thing and let ’em create their magic.

And it is magic.

“The joy in making surfboards comes from the people riding them more than the award or the content win,” says Jon. “You have a kid walk in and it’s the happiest thing you’ve ever seen. I like that connection. I like to be a part of it. That never get old.”

Buy: Trouble the Lisa Andersen Story!

American woman!

I spent a good chunk of the last two years working shoulder to shoulder with the talented editor Jesse Schluntz on a documentary about Lisa Andersen. Here’s a li’l synopsis…

Lisa Andersen is one of surfing’s few transcendent stars. She is grace and beauty coupled with tenacity and fearlessness. She is as punk as she is elegant.

Her accomplishments are undeniable. Four time world champ, first woman on the cover of Surfer, six time Surfer of the Year, face of the brand Roxy. Outside Magazine wrote, “She was the first woman to cross over into surfing celebrityhood.”

Born in New York, her father moved the family to Florida when she was thirteen. It was there she discovered surfing, though it was not what her parents wanted her to do. They felt the beach was dangerous, home to drug addicts and bums. Lisa did nothing to ease their concerns and eventually wound up in juvenile hall, staring at five years of house arrest and no surf.

Her father smashed her surfboard, for good measure, and Lisa hatched an escape plan. She decided to run away to Huntington Beach, leaving only a note behind that read, “Going to California to become world surfing champion.”

She lived on the beach and in her car before being taken in by an abusive local surfboard shaper. She was, in fact, often abused in relationships, running away time and again when things got too bad. Or when she felt trapped. Or when the system threw up barriers.

In the water, she was something else entirely, raging and fighting and surfing like a gorgeous disaster but could never quite put it all together, competitively, until career suicide presented itself in the form of an unexpected pregnancy. Over objections and common sense, she decided to have the child and in so doing magically broke through and achieved her dream of becoming a champ.

Trouble follows Lisa on her all too human journey. Surf is a beautiful backdrop but the real story is the epic poem of her life. It is the struggles, abuse, pain and joy. It is the story of a modern, self-made American woman.

It is a story of today.

The film is finally available on iTunes. Would you like to pre-order? You can, right here!