New Jersey surf vlogger Ben Gravy, main picture, with BeachGrit principals Charlie Smith, top, and Derek Rielly, on bottom.

Listen: Movie-star handsome Ben Gravy talks of his “striking similarities to Woody Harrelson” and how he went from low-down drunk to king of all surf vlogs! “I was getting wasted every day! Ten-to-twenty cans of beer, easy!”

"I started my YouTube channel to stay sober."

Today’s guest on Dirty Water is the world-champion vlogger and high-end intermediate surfer from New Jersey, Ben Gravy.

His YouTube channel has 101,000 subscribers and so many little films you could watch them back to back on a rocket ship and not even be halfway through ’em as you touch down on Mars.

Thirty-two-year-old Ben’s themes are positivity and an everyman vibe.

If I can do it, you can sorta thing.

Consistency varies, as it does on such a prolific channel. Some will produce an unsettling gas; others stroke your stomach and whisper in your ear.

Over the past three years, Ben made it his goal to surf in each of the fifty states that make up the United States of America. 

He succeeded at this bullish endeavour and even came close to meeting his maker during a river session in dirty ol Missouri.

In today’s podcast, he tells how YouTube saved him from a life as a drunk, “I drank like a fish,” he says; the bitterness he felt at being overlooked in the pro surfing game; and the joy, the relentless, beautiful joy, of making a little cash for waking up every single day and going surfing.

According to Statsmash, Ben is worth sixty-nine thousand dollars. 


(Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, TuneIn + Alexa, iHeartRadio, Overcast, Pocket Cast, Castro, Castbox, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Deezer and Listen Notes.)

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"Looks like the one!"
"Looks like the one!"

Wanted: Shark bites young boy’s foot thereby infuriating father who offers a cash reward for the naughty beast thereby infuriating national Environmental Minister!

Two caveats: Shark's gotta be alive and you have to prove he was the biter.

A Thai father infuriated the country’s Natural Resources and Environmental Minister over the weekend by offering a cash reward for a naughty shark that bit his young son’s foot.

Mayor Mahmadneesum Bilungload son Harafat Limapicharsakul, 12, was enjoying a wonderful afternoon by the water, splashing and playing with two friends on a pier very near the mouth of a canal that runs to the Andaman Sea. It was a warm, humid day, very common in the region, and the boys were keeping cool when a shark emerged from the deep and bit Limapicharsakul’s left foot.

The injury required a trip to the hospital and fifty stitches.

Locals suspected the aggressor to be a Bull Shark, as they frequent the brackish waters.

The boy’s father immediately hired a boat and followed what he believed would be the shark’s escape route in a bid to track it down and “give it a whooping.”

His efforts proved unsuccessful and so he offered a cash reward of 1000 Baht to anyone who captures the shark, alive, and proves it is the one who bit his young son’s foot.

Maybe a tall order.

Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environmental Minister Varawut Silpaarcha found the bounty to be in bad taste and released a statement. “Don’t offer a bounty for a shark or support the hunt for a reward.”

Local marine scientist Thon Thamrongnawasawat added, “The shark might have thought the foot was prey. But it swam away after realising its mistake.”

Well, even if it did realize its mistake it is likely too little too late. Mayor Bilungload is a man of action.

Are you in a shark hunting mood?

A little trip to Thailand that could end up being subsidized?

It sounds like a job for the Salty Crew.

Malibu BLM protest. | Photo: Jamie Tierney

Solidarity: Malibu millionaires protest police killing of “Gentle Giant” George Floyd!

We yearn to rebel. It’s in our blood and we usually make a mess of it.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
– W.B. Yeats

I never would have read Yeats if it wasn’t for Joan Didion.

She used him for the opening of the best essay I’ve ever read, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” where she exposed the ugly side of Haight Ashbury in the Summer of Love circa 1967 in a way that was as hard and bare and truthful as the iPhone videos of the light slowly going out in George Floyd’s eyes.

Ms Didion’s still around. I wonder what she thinks about what happened in Santa Monica over the weekend.

Has anyone asked her?

Does it feel like deja vu?

A never ending circle of shit?

I think she’d get a whiff of the red tide that’s lingered in the bay for weeks and say, “There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some stillness, some tension.”

I had a feeling what would happen in Santa Monica and stayed away.

I saw it firsthand in Oakland and Berkeley in 1992.

I felt it coming in Huntington Beach a month ago.

Americans just aren’t built for this.

You take kids of out school, you keep us locked down, you don’t let us make a living, you try to force control and something snaps.

We yearn to rebel. It’s in our blood and we usually make a mess of it.

Whether it’s Trump supporters refusing to wear masks in Costco or suburban kids in designer clothes casually walking down the street with stolen surfboards under their arms, the Eric Cartman level of arrogant ignorance is the same: “It’s my body, and I’ll do what I want.”

In Joan’s 1967, the world still had Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Jimi Hendrix. The protests had leaders, demands. They fought and bled for the end of Jim Crow and the war in Vietnam.

They thought they were making progress.

Now we’ve got moneyed teens hopping in Ubers to go and loot shopping malls and a reality show insane clown president tear gassing protesters so he get can his picture taken holding a Bible in front of a church.

And it’s all a distraction from this:

Less than 200,000 people in America were in jail in 1970. Now there’s 2.1 million behind bars. Forty-six percent of them are in for drug offenses. Five times more blacks are locked up than whites and they’re more than twice as likely to be killed by police.

We’ve traded an overt form of bondage and segregation to one that’s quieter and more ruthless.

I saw three white people in Malibu today holding signs and asking people to honk their horns in support of Black Lives Matter.

I’m sure they meant well but their town is 1.2% African American.

I live in Inglewood (yes, I got priced out of Venice) and my neighbors would have laughed if they’d seen them.

Unlike 1992, it’s quiet here now. Really hope it stays that way.

Have you seen these people?
Have you seen these people?

Update: Mid-length surfboard thieves identified as possible Topanga-area VALs; local surfers warned to be on lookout!

Time for justice!

And, like that, video of the vicious mid-length surfboard theft has been examined, parsed and studied with two bad apples singled out a put in front of the surf public’s eyes.

Devon Howard, ever on the case, says, “Another angle of kooks not worthy of putting a @surfboardsbydonaldtakayama under their arm … yellow shirt kook and his kook gal reportedly surf Topanga zone, see @salty_beards thread. … I’m sure they really care about BLM, George Floyd and protesting policing in America, just ran out of time and had to put down their signs to head off to an important board meeting.”

Topanga-zone locals will very much be on the lookout and I’m sure the soul gliding Bonnie and Clyde will not have an easy time catching waves and/or being in the water.

But do you know them?

Have you seen?

Do they highline waves with their arms above their heads?

Ride straight in bulldog stance whitewash exploding all around?

What will their actual surf punishment be?

I think banishment fits the crime.

Banishment forever and/or a forced move to Lemoore, California.

Watch: The mid-length surfboard craze reaches boiling point as over-enthusiastic, volume-craving mob break into Channel Islands shop and steal!

"What the heck does this have to do with George Floyd or police brutality?"

Oh these are wild days by any stretch, what with a novel virus still lingering on warming (northern hemisphere) air, social distancing the norm, face masks de rigueur, school out for summer, school maybe out forever.

Add to this riots breaking out all over the United States of America in protest of another unarmed black man murdered at the hands of police officers. A collective sob rippling through city after city as police precincts burn, police cars get smashed, mayors attempting to ease through curfew, National Guard mobilize.

Will all this violence lubricate the gears of justice that seem to have frozen?

Hope springs eternal, but, unfortunately, over-enthusiastic, volume-craving bad apples are taking advantage of the social breakdown, smashing into surf shops and stealing mid-length surfboards.

Yesterday, San Clemente stand-out Nate Yeomans posted an Instagram video of the action.

Condemnation from surfers everywhere was swift, as it should have been, but shame and sympathy also imbued my personal rage.

Shame because I know I’m part of the problem, having just filled the mid shaped hole in my heart with a gorgeous Channel Islands MID, talking very much about it and surfing it quite exceptionally.

Sympathy because I know, intimately, the unique thrill.

Mid-length guru Devon Howard said, “What the heck does this have to do with George Floyd or police brutality? If you see these on Craig’s list please DM me. They are clear Takayamas, made with epoxy, small ‘Howard special’ logo on decks.”

Keep your eyes peeled.