Clue: Did a provocative photo of a Wavestorm-wielding muscle-stud turn Oprah Winfrey’s Erik Logan onto the marketability of surfing?

A wild theory.

Rare, I would suggest, is the surfer who can forgot the warm October day in 2018 when the WSL announced it had appointed the president of Oprah Winfrey Network and “avid waterman” Erik Logan as President of Content, Media and WSL Studios, effective the following February.

Even a sceptic hardened by the revolving door of non-surfers taking up prime positions within a company owned by a non-surfing billionaire that had bought the ASP for a handful of shekels in 2012, had to concede: here was a man, finally, who knew his chops.

As was reported at the time, Logan was a media executive without peer, who had “led OWN’s turnaround from 2011 and has positioned the company today as the #1 cable network in its target demographic with 5 of the top 20 shows in scripted cable programs for women ages 25-54, more than any other cable network. Before OWN, Logan was Executive Vice President, programming and broadcast operations for XM Satellite Radio, where he helped build the subscriber base to over nine million subscribers, negotiated partnerships, and managed day-to-day relationships with major content providers including Major League Baseball, PGA Tour, CNN, Clear Channel Communications and Fox News.”

Logan’s waterman bona fides are impeccable: he is the co-founder of Shred and Speed, not sure if it’s a SUP shop or distributor but I think is big in the SUP game, SUP brand Infinity, and he owns a store for watermen in LA’s Manhattan Beach called Nikau Kai Surf Shop.

It is “Inclusive” and “welcoming” and was “Born out of the desire to expand our horizons and open new doors in surfing and what surfing means to us.”

Beautiful sentiments to complement a dazzling CV.

But, at what point did he think, I can sell pro surfing? 

What precipitated his decision to leave Ms O?

Earlier today, a reader sent an Instagram post from February 2018, eight months before the WSL’s announcement, with a telling comment from the SUP-riding, VAL-championing CEO.

It is revealing, as well as a little titillating.

On the IG account, Hotsurferguyzz, which delivers a cavalcade of muscle-studs to its one hundred and eighty-five followers, under a photograph of twenty-four-year-old Hawaii-born Jay Alvarrez holding a Wavesetorm surfboard, and beneath the hashtags #hotsurfer #hotguy #surfing #sun #beach #cutesurfer #cuteguy #sixpack #eatsurfpartysleeprepeat #surfingisfun #surfer #staysalty

Logan writes,

Wow, I love this! 🏄 🌊

 

Alvarrez, of course, is without peer in the surfer-hunk game, as evidenced by his six-and-a-half mill followers, more than Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson, John John Florence, Italo, Jordy Smith combined, with three million in change.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm_K5zXnPmo/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRnnhzOBvxh/

 

What did Logan see in the photo of Alvarrez?

Unlike the average man who might be tempted to linger a little long on the surface anatomy of Alvarrez’ abdomen running from the iliac crest to the pubis, Logan, in my opinion, saw the marketability of surfing to the fabled American mid-west.

What girl, what boy, could resist a sport that was able to produce seemingly endless images that emphasise the predominance of the sex instinct?

A marketer to the bone.

Am I right? Or am I right?


If you liked the book, you’ll love the movie: Watch Coronavirus Gestapo beat hell out of Chas Smith!

These are not our salad years.

Just over one year ago, back when human beings were allowed to touch each other, Stab magazine editor-in-chief Ashton Goggans gently touched my neck. Oh the softness, the connection, and a high-water mark of my personal cinema.

One I thought I might never best until yesterday circa lunchtime when I dared eat a vaguely Thai-esque salad near the beach.

Sriracha, a peanut sauce, greens and rice noodles etc. from a local restaurant.

Very delicious.

My wife was there too, eating her salad, a mirror image of mine, when the Coronavirus Gestapo rolled up.

Itchy finger on bullhorn trigger.

Freshly totalitarian.

We are a month in to a shifting quarantine, new places getting closed daily. First they came for the parks, then they came for the surfing etc. with tensions extremely high.

This short film, cinematography and direction by my wife, is not as actioned packed as the Open-hand in Orlando but does have its avant-garde charms including the last lines delivered to the Gestapo, “Hope you’re proud of yourself, buddy. Hope you feel real good.”

Intensely powerful.

Classics of the resistance genre.

More as the story develops.


Photo of seminal eighties band Surf Punks by @billdanziger

Listen: “And that, dear children, is how the phrase ‘If you don’t live here, don’t surf here’ was reintroduced and the VAL uprising crushed!”

Go home!

I wake up this morning an outlaw, a misdemean* with a rotten attitude and matching sneer. Parents pull their children six feet away from me when I saunter down the street. Grown grandchildren pull their grandparents even further.

A real tough, which is yet another silver lining to this Coronavirus Apocalypse where totalitarianism reigns and surfers must learn to fight The Man once again.

The Man and the VAL.

But do you think it’s possible that this moment right here is the moment surf localism takes root once more? That our own grandchildren will someday sit on our knees while we regale them with stories about once more becoming bad?

I hope.

I trust.

David Lee Scales and I chatted with Ron Shine of Boardporn fame, from bad Rockaway Beach in New York, about surfers hardening up. About surfers flexing dormant muscles and shouting at interlopers then David Lee and I peeled away and chatted other various nonsense.

Our best show yet?

No.

We did it remotely and will never do such again.

Shame on us.

*If a felon commits felonies I assume that a misdemean commits misdemeanors.


Three-time world champ Tom Curren in game of White Face. | Photo: Andrew Kidman

Listen: Soul Queen Andrew Kidman and Lit-God Longtom hit the WSL’s “utter bastardisation” of surfing, the murder of surfing’s greatest underdog and the “value of freedom for surfers, right now!”

Who got killed in his bath on the North Shore? The mystifying behaviour of the WSL! The joy of early infection! And why three-time world champ Tom Curren likes to play "White Face"!

Today on Dirty Water, which is episode three, we’ve got two special guests, the creator of game-changing surf film Litmus in 1996, its 2019 sequel Beyond Litmus, the surfboard design documentary On the Edge of a Dream where an impossible to ride board is filmed ruining the live of myriad surfers, the queen of soul Andrew Kidman.

Kidman also made the films Single, with Stephanie Gilmore, Glass Love, and Spirit of Akasha, a sort of sequel to Morning of the Earth, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House.

He’s also made myriad album with The Windy Hills and The Val Dusty Experiment,  shapes boards, takes photographs, writes books and produces a tabloid-sized, although far from tabloid in nature, newsprint surf magazine.

The Surfers Journal describes Kidman as “our equivalent of a roving medieval ascetic, spreading his high-consciousness idealism to the four corners of the surfing world.”

But don’t think Kidman, who is a former Australian champion surfer, is gonna put you to sleep.

He works from the angle that he has to produce work that offsets the WSL’s “utter bastardisation” of his beloved sport.

The second guest is BeachGrit’s star writer, Lennox Heads’ own Anton Chekhov, Steve “Longtom” Shearer.

There’s a little synergy there.

Both live around Byron Bay, Longtom in a joint so close to Lennox Point you could toss a rock out the window and hit an inflatable mat rider; Kidman on a farm near Mount Warning, in a little hamlet thirty minutes drive inland from Murferville, that Vanity Fair-profiled haven of narcissism and clandestine infighting.

Chas is here, too, begging to be infected with COVID-19 and, me, as always, unable to shake off the dust of delusion.

Listen etc. It ain’t too long.

(Buy DVD/digital download/hard-cover book of Beyond Litmus, here.)


Brave surf journalist (pictured) and the Coronavirus Gestapo.

Breaking: Brave surf journalist Chas Smith gets smashed by Coronavirus Gestapo for daring to eat a salad near the beach!

Heroes will rise.

Today, after much rain and Biblical flooding, is a gorgeous day in Cardiff by the Sea. The sun is shining, birds singing and life is the hollow reminder of a gorgeous dream. Hollow reminder because Cardiff, like much of the world, is on severe Coronavirus lockdown. Parks closed, hiking trails closed, the beach… closed.

Surfing outlawed.

Bike riding is still theoretically allowed and so my wife and I went for a peddle toward Seaside Beach, ironically passing its first son Rob Machado along the way. We did not stop to chat, just a friendly wave from twelve feet apart.

Maintaining the social distance.

Halfway toward our destination, I became extraordinarily hungry, fitness being a foreign concept more or less, and my wife decided to support a small local business in time of need. Ki’s makes fine salads and so we each ordered one, the Nomnam Bowl featuring green leaf lettuce, rice noodles, basil, cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, nut mix, cilantro, Thai peanut sauce, Sriracha and choice of protein.

My wife and I both chose chicken.

We then peddled across the street to eat them on beach front boulders once part of the Beach House property, a restaurant shuttered long before Covid-19 and rotting.

Sun shining, birds singing, waves rolling up all foamy and brown thanks to much rain and Biblical flooding.

A State Park police vehicle could be seen in the distance, making sure citizens were crowding sidewalks instead of the wide open beach.

A woman dared sit with her dogs in front of the break Georges, a few hundred yards up the beach toward Seaside, and he raced to chase her away.

Saving the public.

I took a bite and watched, enjoying the blend of Thai peanut sauce and Sriracha, troubled by vast totalitarian creep.

A lifeguard truck did a lap, stopped in front of where we were eating and said, “The guy behind me is going to ask you guys to move.”

“Why?” I wondered. “We’re not on the beach.”

“I don’t know…” he responded, clearly annoyed with his  new duty. “…ask him.”

Minutes later, after chasing an elderly couple playing backgammon in the parking lot, the State Park police vehicle was upon us and a stern warning was issued from the bullhorn.

“Vacate the beach!”

Not being on the beach I waited until he came closer and put his bullhorn down but he did not and put on his sternest voice.

“VACATE THE BEACH!”

I defiantly lagged and that’s when Officer Holle swung his door wide and demanded my identification.

Like the small man behind the booming voice in The Wizard of Oz, Officer Holle could not have been taller than 5’6, 5’7 tops and young, vaguely ginger with awkwardly shaped legs. Feminine yet thick. Inwardly turned knees. The sort of legs that would have made it difficult for him to keep up with the “fast runners” in grade school. An unremarkable face twisted into a mirror-practiced version of Johnny Law.

I barked, “For what?” and we continued a verbal back and forth before I handed him my identification because, literally, for what?

I told him he should be embarrassed. That I was only beach adjacent trying to enjoy a healthy salad after an unexpected workout. He told me, through quivering lower lip, that he too was suffering as he was unable to go to the mountains.

Brave surf journalist (pictured) making a valid point to li'l Coronavirus Gestapo Officer Holle.
Brave surf journalist (pictured) making a valid point to li’l Coronavirus Gestapo Officer Holle.

I asked why.

Backup was called in.

Initially, I thought my imposing stature, towering above li’l Officer Holle, made him feel nervous, scared and that he needed another adult-sized male also wearing jackboots to keep him company but as I watched, realized that Officer Holle had absolutely no idea what I should be in trouble for and having trouble finding the proper infractions etc.

The codes I had violated and whatnot.

While I crouched on the boulder, waiting to receive whatever draconian punishment coming my way, still eating my salad and feeling the weight of our current totalitarian world order an older bald man, one half of the elderly couple busted for their potentially deadly game of backgammon, came running over shouting, “I hope you’re giving that officer hell. The high tide water mark is where their jurisdiction ends and we Californians have fought for that freedom for years!”

I nodded, feeling the weight of my important place in the new freedom movement.

A spokesperson, certainly, but also now a pillar.

Suffering for the cause like Harvey Milk.

The backup stood and might have been embarrassed but I couldn’t see his face as he was wearing a mask.

When Officer Holle re-emerged from his truck he was also wearing a mask and called me over.

“Am I allowed to touch the beach?” I asked.

“I’m telling you to come here…” he responded mustering his inner li’l lion and so I touched that sacred sand, making my way over for an explanation of my crimes.

I was being charged with a misdemeanor. On the ticket it read, “COVID WARNING” and “COV. CODE 409.5 PUB HEALTH.”

The nearest person was now well over a few hundred yards away.

After aggressively scrawling my name, I marched back toward the boulders and let loose the classic, “I hope you’re proud of yourself, buddy.” Like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Like Che Guevara. Like Andrew Breitbart. Like Andrew Cuomo.

Like Mahatma Gandhi and now I am the official face of Freedom in the time of Coronavirus.

Of The People’s™ right to enjoy healthy salads on boulders on private property after surprisingly strenuous bicycle rides.

Oh I will fight this ticket to the end in court but I will need you, the greatest of all BeachGrit lawyers drafted from the august institution of the comment section. A handful of you practice jurisprudence, no?

I’m figuring a few more than OJ Simpson had, as our civil rights are being trounced more than his ever were, plus our case will have an extremely high profile as surfers, and those who to profess to be, are now public enemies no. 1.

Ten lawyers tops.

Maybe twelve.

Eleven if one is related to Robert Kardashian.

Free the salad eaters.

After we’re done there we can free the surfers.

Heroes will rise.

We always do.