Let’s be honest. Each of us here are extremely fragile when it comes to our surfing and surfing-adjacent lifestyle choices. Oh we can, each of us here, front that we don’t care. That surfing is a fun-but-stupid thing we do, and talk about, and watch, and listen to, and think about but it doesn’t define us.
That “…in the water, I’m just out there for me and who cares what anyone thinks because I don’t care and especially don’t care what anyone on the dumb internet thinks because only weak-willed turkeys care about that sort of nonsense.”
But we all care.
Not only do we surf, talk about surfing, watch surfing, listen to surfing (when we can’t watch) or podcasts, think non-stop about but it also, and more importantly, defines us.
Our tombstones engraved with the scarlet S.
I hate mid length surfboards.
Hate the egg, the fun board, the long fish, the peckerwood.
Hate and have hated my entire life.
Then one day, a year ago, Devon Howard drifted into my life all smart and handsome and stylish on a damned mid length surfboard.
Devon fucking Howard.
I wanted to hate him but it was very difficult and his surfing…. ugh …. so gorgeous.
And it is truly amazing to watch our World Surf League bend, morph, find new feet in the time of Coronavirus. Professional surfing has, of course, been cancelled thereby wiping away the league’s previous raison d’etre. Thankfully the pivot to “media platform” had already begun and now we watch home tours, unboxing videos and Sal Masekela safely zooming with his Santa Monica neighbor from two streets away named Reese on WSL PURE ONE OCEAN about how the Chinese lung disease is actually an “environmental justice crisis disproportionately affecting communities of color.”
A bold recasting.
Did the fans embrace with tear-stained cheeks?
Instagram suggests a mixed response.
ktown80: Right….. I’m gonna have to say that’s a hard pass.
mykure1: “Learn why Covid-19 and is an environmental justice crisis?” Is this evidence based? Or perpetrating fear and false narritives.
samwaldroup: issa no from me
charles.davern: Isn’t there some plastic in some body of water that you guys could cry about? The race card is SO played! Humans are all the same do us all a favor and stop putting color to it!
gastonn808: How did the corona virus turn into a communist agenda?
coliegoalie: WSL x cnn collab?
gra_murdoch: Appreciate the sentiment, but coming from the same outfit that sent me this blast yesterday: “”Live from the Sunrise Shack, Koa Smith opens up, rides, and almost lands a backflip on a fresh Hubboards boogie board that basically breaks the Shaka Scale. He then catches and releases a pesky backyard rat with a new humane trap.” it’s kinda hard to engage sincerely sometimes. Much as I really want to believe.
matt_weier: Damn, I didn’t know Covid was racist. Now i really hate it
jezang: Just stick to surfing @wsl pushing neo-marxism and identity politics is just going to destroy your fan base.
__kate__b: This is soo needed such important quality discussion. This is the best on multiple levels. Love love love it.
Will you watch?
Official BeachGrit Guide: How to prepare mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally for a mid-length surfboard!
Recently, Chas confided his intention to attempt a midlength. The board in question arrives on today. Will Chas be ready? Can such a frail, willowy man actually push 6’10” x 21” x 2 3/4” of foam around the ocean?
The answer is, definitely not — not without a dedicated program of training. Honestly, it is probably already far, too late. It does strain the imagination to picture Chas training for anything, unless it involves vodka and drinking more of it.
We will, nonetheless, attempt to help this poor hapless man, before his giant new surfboard sends him flying into another galaxy or more likely, into a drowning Wavestormer trapped on the inside by the onslaught of massive, pounding set waves at summertime Swamis.
First off, Chas is going to have to carry this thing. A man could strain something vital trying to wrap an arm around a 21-inch wide monster. The gym is off limits during the quar times, and buying anything resembling weights requires black market contacts of the sort generally reserved for downloads of Sea of Darkness or buying cocaine, the good stuff, not that imported shit.
You know what’s easy to buy? Fucking books. Also, books are heavy, which makes them relevant to our current situation, which is, to repeat, the need for Chas to carry a very big surfboard to the beach, and then into the water.
You’re going to want a big book, with so many pages. Like, say, Moby Dick. Have you ever even read all of Moby Dick? I have not. It is a very big book with far too many pages — and far too much about the whale and all its various parts. The tail, the fin, like, hello, get on with it, some of us have lives over here.
Okay, back to work. Buy ten copies of Moby Dick. Now, don’t you start lifting all ten at once. That is the way to certain disaster. You have to build up to such feats of strength.
Start with one Moby Dick. Do some curls. Maybe lift a single Moby Dick above your head a few times. Then, add a second Moby Dick. Finally at last, after much determined effort, try lifting all ten Moby Dicks. This may take time, so do not be discouraged if it doesn’t happen by tomorrow morning.
Having arrived at the water’s edge with his giant new surfboard — I believe it is turquoise in color, which is a very good color for a giant new surfboard — Chas must now paddle his craft into the lineup.
This is a very delicate operation, which requires well-honed strength and perfectly tuned endurance. I feel like perfectly tuned endurance might be a bridge too far, but it’s good to have goals. We can not expect to turn Chas into Yuliya Efimova overnight.
How often have you seen people slumped on their giant surfboards like so many sacks of potatoes? Just like, lying there, feet splayed wide, dipping their fingertips in the water in a desultory way, never making much progress at all. This is everything that is wrong and bad about surfing on giant surfboards.
As surfers, we must take pride in our posture and our, well, something. I was going to write some kind of manifesto here, but really, everyone just needs to go home and do some planks and it’ll be fine. Chas, do some planks and don’t slump like a sack of potatoes on your giant, new surfboard, okay? Okay.
On to the still-bigger challenge of actually surfing the giant new surfboard, that might be turquoise, but might not be. It’s like the Schrödinger’s Cat of resin tints, not that I know what Schrödinger’s Cat actually is, but it looks good in a sentence.
Based on close observation, I have concluded that the main tenets of midlength surfboard riding include standing very still, looking very moody, and maintaining one arm high in the upright position. Bonus points, if you have the ability to grow a credible moustache.
The upright arm sticks straight up at the sky, and is typically, but not always, the arm at the rear of the surfboard. If you aren’t sure which arm is at the rear of your surfboard, you have far more problems than I can solve. Really, I can’t do everything over here.
To practice these skills, find a full length mirror. You do have a full-length mirror, right Chas? I mean, I can’t imagine those outfits happen entirely by accident, but we’ve already long ago established that my imagination does have some limits.
Stand in front of the mirror. Stand very still. Think of something sad, like how the whale dies at the end of Moby Dick. I mean, maybe it does? I don’t know, because I never made it to the end. Pretend the whale dies, and think serious, somber thoughts about the whale. Don’t forget to stand very still. Start with five minutes of still standing at a time. Then, increase until you reach 15 minutes or more.
Now the arm, you didn’t think I was going to forget the arm, did you? I don’t know how Moby Dick ends, but I am not completely incompetent over here.
After mastering standing very still, while thinking sad, somber thoughts, for five minutes at a time, lift your right arm straight up in the air. Do not point. This is very important! The hand must remained relaxed at all times, like it’s at some fabulous tropical hand resort and can’t be bothered to get off the lounge chair.
Practice standing very still, with a somber serious expression on your face, with your right arm in the air for, fuck I don’t know, as long as you can stand. You could also place one copy of Moby Dick in your upraised arm for additional strength and endurance, but I feel that this may be an overly advanced exercise.
What about turning, you’ll be saying, surely she is going to help Chas turn his giant, new surfboard. We’ve already established that the gym is off limits, which rules out squats, the only surefire way to ensure that Chas can push 100 liters of foam (or whatever it is) around the ocean.
But Chas does have a bicycle and Cardiff has hills.
Find the steepest hill in Cardiff, maybe the one that’s near the Patagonia store and the coffee shop, the one with the good espresso, except Chas drinks tea, which is a thing I still don’t understand.
Ride up the hill at least five times in succession. Sweat heavily. Curse and question all your life choices — this is how you will know you are doing it right.
Now, strap five copies of Moby Dick to the rack of the bicycle, the same rack that carried the box with the famous vanilla cake, which, why have I never received a cake? Really, it doesn’t seem like that much to ask.
With five copies of Moby Dick securely fastened to the rear of your bicycle, climb the steepest hill in Cardiff five more times, or until you fall over, which ever comes first. If you curse and question all your life choices, you have done it right.
It’s possible that this effort will make it possible to turn the giant, new surfboard, but there are no guarantees. I don’t make miracles over here. You have to train hard and be persistent to achieve big goals. That’s what they say, but it’s always possible that they’re lying.
Now you’re ready to terrorize the lineups from Cardiff to Rincon on your giant new surfboard that’s maybe turquoise or maybe not. If you run over anyone, just think sad thoughts about the whale and keep on standing still with your arm in the air.
Poise. That’s what you need. Poise and just a little practice will turn your mediocrity into greatness so fast, it’ll be like, the time I tried to read Moby Dick, made it to page ten and threw it across the room. That fast.
Report from Santa Barbara: “Seventy percent of Yankee Doodles will contract Covid and hiding in isolation only delays the inevitable!”
"I know as a lifelong surfer that I am not part of the beach-going scene, but I resent it now more than ever."
A series of peaks refracted beyond the jetty shadow.
The rights broke cross current elbowing toward shore while the lefts ran a fair bit straighter.
Each side featured a hit on the oncoming section, super fun.
The water had cooled and there were other people out, a surprise that only Covid could supply. I didn’t mind, I had three peaks to myself and the incessant chatter from the chickens just south of my position was being suffocated by a crisp offshore.
I milked the morning dry and took a photo before I left.
Forecast was more of the same and I settled into the potential of a week with something to do, however illegal it was to park or cross the sands of this quiet beach.
I love eyeing up an oncoming left, dropping into the forward trough, squaring off the bottom and burying my fins through a bang.
Love love love.
The drive home was becoming so usual, another empty highway and nowhere to eat with pretty waitresses.
Decided to check the parkway on the incoming tide.
Another lonely drive except for the six sheriff SUV’s strategically parked every mile… more than I’ve ever seen on this stretch of road. Police tape must be in as short a supply as toilet paper because this six-mile section of road is taped off against parking on both sides of the two-lane road.
To even slow incurs a visit from the bored sheriff.
Points were not worth that stall, but the sand above one point looked promising and I had to have a quick look.
Where the two Sheriff on bikes arrived from I do not know and I left the scene before our conversation.
Roadway signs on the highway flash “Closed Beaches”, but the reality is in our town, the coppers will not enforce any sign.
Arriving home, the estuary bar deserves a check so I grab the pup for a stroll. All of our parking signs now include caustic warnings, but all the cops are on the empty stretch of road leading into town.
Beach is packed with fuckwits. I know as a lifelong surfer that I am not part of the beach-going scene, but I resent it now more than ever.
Our town is asked to distance and the closure of beach parking just means inland hordes parking on our streets instead of city lots. To call the plan counterintuitive only justifies the strategy as an actual plan.
And did I mention, unenforced.
Distancing is as unheard of as gas conservation or recycling to these mindless fucks.
The bar looks wonky, backwash from the seawall is making cheddar of the wind swell.
I missed the tide here by an hour.
Coop is happy as fuck though and she prances back to the house having successfully pooped and peed. She makes me happy.
As is my process, I check in with email as I feed her a sweet potato treat.
Client for August wants me to explain the “Act of God” clause in my retainer contract.
Shall I mention my Atheism?
Gay boys for Labor Day weekend want to know what their cancelation opportunity may be; it appears the Ritz Carlton isn’t returning their deposit?
But the third email floored me.
As of April 2019, my health insurance premium with Anthem Blue Cross is rising again for the third time for 20%. Haven’t seen a doctor officially for more than four years and the deductible renders the policy unusable except for disaster.
I call a trusted doctor. I’ve been on some sick boat trips with him and although we don’t agree politically, he and I have shared moments that define our lives.
“Doc, what do I do?”
His take was, seventy percent of Yankee Doodles will contract Covid and hiding in isolation only delays the inevitable. His only lament was I missed my annual trip down under. He wanted to go, but is suffering from a recent divorce.
I look at Coop again and she is smiling.
How do dogs do that? So content to eat and shit.
We curl up in a ball and I resist looking at porn for at least a nap.
Legendary football player Eric Dickerson declares: “Surfing ain’t a man’s sport… it’s soft!”
I really don’t know what we’ve done to deserve all the scorn heaped upon our bowed heads. Don’t know why the entire world has suddenly decided that we are not only vacuous, silly, generally worthless but should also be on the receiving end of discriminatory laws and hurtful discriminatory jokes.
But alas, here we are.
Standing in the public square, placard around necks reading “HERE STANDS A SUPER SPREADER OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS AND AN UNMANLY MAN.”
Jen See stands next to us, not caring so much about the slur. Stab magazine stands off to the side, not having to wear a placard in exchange for busily printing them.
But where did this “unmanly man” business come from?
Dickerson, who set the NFL single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984 for the Rams, had previously criticized the logo. Now he took aim at the uniforms.
Among his comments, he said the horns on the helmet look like “two bananas” and that the changes make the team look “soft.”
“This is football. This ain’t nothing to do with surfing. This ain’t nothing to do with waves. This is football. This is a man’s sport,” Dickerson said in the interview. “And to me, it just looks soft. It don’t look like football. It don’t look hard.”
All our heads are very bowed except for Jen See and Stab magazine where the writers keep their eyes up, alert, so as to tattle on any surfer behaving badly.