The cruellest fun you can have in a post-Trump world…
With the election over, now is the time for more important things, like this empty calorie end of year retrospective/review of BeachGrit writers!
Did I miss you? Find out!*…
The Charles D. Smith Article Factory, integral to BeachGrit operation since its founding, always able to pump out, at a prodigious rate, intellectually empty content for consumption by the mindless mass, shifted even further into shark mania this year.
To the point of excess, every other article came to discuss and/or tangentially be tied to the creatures.
While that was the biggest development concerning his writing, Charlie was able to produce, intermittently, some truly inspired work, including his article detailing the Official Kelly Slater Friend Rankings, the best thing to appear on the site this year. Perhaps if he didn’t have so much going on outside of the site, his work here wouldn’t suffer so much… nah, get it, bro.
Also, in keeping a promise, I have to mention that his article about a proposed Surf Hall of Fame in Hawaii… was not great.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Greg Norman – a winner, entrepreneur (several business ventures), and an epic choker, Greg Norman is a golfing legend and an inspiration to everyone who has ever achieved an accomplished position within their profession, without fully living up to their own potential, while becoming a bigger success outside it. Chas is the Greg Norman of surf writing. After initial successes in surf writing, including the Mick incident and Welcome to Paradise, he, like Normie, would try to expand past it, Normie starting several money making business ventures, Chas becoming a war correspondent and author of well-received non-surf books. In both their cases, outside of their initial callings, they can be seen as bigger successes, especially Chas, whose Reports From Hell is better than anything he’s done in surf. Also, both guys huge chokers, Greg famously melting down on Sundays at several majors, Chas whiffing on both Erik Logan interviews and getting shoved by Husky Bluto.
Articles from JP this year have been few and far between, totaling only three: one about Kelly and his quest for superficial understanding, one about MAWNs, and one a crack at semi-autobiographical denial surf-lit. Of the three articles, all of which I enjoyed, the Kelly article was of utmost quality. Complete with the enthralling hypothesis that Kelly has never finished a whole book and a hilarious little story featuring Ol’ Funshine Bear, it was fun! Salty, Scottish bastard (as you can probably tell, I’m currently learning about adjectives).
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Bull shark – a savage, allegedly aggressive beast capable of surviving in freshwater, the Bull Shark is a versatile predator. JP can write and make an argument thoughtfully above the line in an article and brusque below, reacting irritably to people having an angry go at him in the comments. Bull shark.
A young law student, Mr. Hobbs burst onto the BeachGrit scene under the guise of being a surfer from the Midwest (so quirky!), writing a few articles from that perspective. Plagued by uninspired phraseology and an inability to produce any special or real insight to anything, his early work was crap. Funny thing is, in trying hard to make that interesting and failing miserably, he actually ended up totally nailing the reality of the Midwest personality: being a plain, stale corn chip. BeachGritters below the line, me included, hated it. Mr. Hobbs, realizing people didn’t like his shit, decided to travel back to 2016 with a pivot towards writing about legal proceedings in the surf world (Editor’s note: The directional change was at my suggestion) coming to exist as a sort of dirt crusted homeless man’s Rory Parker. While marginally better, I’m still not a fan.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Brown Smoothound (shitty sand shark) – unremarkable, small, and more of a nuisance out in the water when you keep stepping on them, the Brown Smoothound Shark, what I and everyone I knew called a “sand shark,” is perfect for Cedar.
Mr. Rees has written a few articles for the site this year, none that you’d be bound to remember, mostly because his writing is hard to follow, not because it’s especially complicated, but because the sentences, while nice, never really flow. He writes a series of independent non-sequiturs strung together for eight hundred words or so.
Is this true? Probably not, I didn’t go back and read them, so as not to possibly soil this potentially unreliable recollection.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Bonnethead shark – in looking into sharks for Mr. Rees, I tried to find something that neither I nor anyone else had never heard of, or at least that they wouldn’t have remembered they had. Bonnethead. Perfect.
As a beloved former writer and editor at Surfer Magazine, and author of the most important repository for information and knowledge concerning surfing and its whitewashed history, the Encyclopedia of Surfing (EOS), it may be difficult for some to watch Matt Warshaw toil away in his superannuated position at BeachGrit, wheeled out only when some old surfer dies to write about what other old people thought of the guy.
For those young enough to not have lived through any of the times or heard anything about who he’s talking about, or those who failed to care in the moment when whatever/whoever was happening, it can be kind of stretched to seem interesting.
For others who were there, or may have known more about the personality being talked about, it can also be interesting… or not, in case he got something wrong or made Nick Carroll cry.
Anyway, the past is dead.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Post-Jumping of the Shark TV Show – sometimes a critically acclaimed, or relatively popular, TV show runs out of steam before its audience has a chance to stop watching it, putting showrunners and networks in the position of choosing whether to cruise on its success and ride it out even as the quality declines, featuring ever increasingly bizarre premises, and/or it becomes less relevant or hang it up… they ALWAYS cruise it. In Warshaw’s case, there are still plenty more surfers from the ‘70s and ‘80s not yet dead.
The George Brothers
Wow, what a pair of guys. Real and true industry titans, these active legends of the surf writing game, at least in their own minds (Sam invented surf commentary!), the brothers provided articles featuring ideas long ago decidedly stale (Sam) and viewpoints for archaically masculine, self-conscious blowhards (Matt).
Every article existing as further proof that their era is dead and should be.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Megalodon – the largest shark to ever exist, the Megalodon is extinct. Same as the Georges’ relevance.
What do you like most about BeachGrit? Surf-lit? Quit-lit? Sharks? Longtom? Pod… no, surely not the podcasts… Personal halcyon days reminiscences of old guy guest writers? If the last one interests you, then you probably loved Hippy’s stories this year. Hemorrhaging levels of nostalgia that in such quantities would cause a normal World War II veteran to black out, old guys the world over got to cream themselves reading his stories and remembering the bad old days. He also wrote two Coronavirus articles that were pretty good.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Chevrolet XP-755, The Mako Shark I – Debuting in 1962 at the 6th Annual Automobile Show in New York as a concept car for forthcoming Chevrolet Corvette models, the XP-755 is perfect for those trafficking in long forgotten memories. You’re welcome, Hippy.
This year, the freshly anointed Holy Jen See appeared in BeachGrit’s pages fewer times than in years past, at least in my recollection. Despite that, what she did write, specifically her new entries contributing to an ethnographic understanding of Surfline Man, could be described as hit-or-miss, your opinion usually dependent, though not necessarily, on your position on the sexist to woke spectrum. I do remember enjoying one of the Surfline Man posts.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Great Hammerhead shark – unprovoked attacks on humans by Hammerheads have been relatively rare, with seventeen recorded since 1580, the latest being Michel “Should Not Be Compared Stylistically to Kong” Bourez. Like unprovoked attacks by Hammerheads, well-known women surf writer numbers have been limited. Jen is a Great Hammerhead because of this connection… and because Shea Lopez is from Florida, an area I’ve always thought about when thinking about these creatures.
Kinky Tits had a good year, generating the Kelly Has a Chinese Girlfriend so Can’t Be Racist article, which would mark the inarguable high point of BeachGrit as a site. Nothing he wrote this year before that was especially remarkable, and he’s been able to cruise off it since, though that’s probably due to him being more preoccupied with more important things, like actually trying to make money and wrangling guests for the podcasts, using all his energy on their intros… and dealing with all the unsolicited articles (like this one) sent his way.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Streex – from the kids TV show cartoon, Street Sharks, Streex is the level-headed, cool, and self-proclaimed ladies’ man member of the title crimefighting squad consisting of four brothers transformed into half-man, half-shark creatures by an evil scientist. Being the more level-headed of the BeachGrit principals, and deciding to come up with one of the characters to choose for this exercise, I would say Derek’s best fit would be Streex, who happens to rollerblade, which I could see Derek getting into, weaving though cones with other hairy armpitted German Fraus.
A sporadic contributor throughout the year, GiGi has made an unpronounceable name for himself submitting surf stories covering a range of topics including… hmmm… umm… incidental New York/Jersey surf happenings (?) and other seemingly random things like Covid-infested poopy ocean water.
Usually pretty short and featuring uncomplicated syntax, his articles are easily understood and pleasing enough so as not to detract in the slightest from anyone’s further enjoyment of the site.
Examining GG’s writing, one could classify it as exhibiting competence… a type of competence that, unfortunately, can be effortlessly unremembered.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Goblin shark – by picking a shark that starts with a “G,” our piccolo scrittore italiano, now GGG, can potentially become confused with the old, overrated Kazakh middleweight who lost to a ‘roided up ginger. Pretty cool.
Supplying the site with articles about a variety of subjects over the course of the year, where Surfads really shined was in his surf-lit contributions. Consisting funny observations about the surfer lifestyle, and whatever cliché about practitioners he decides to make fun, these stories cause hardcore surfers outside of professional competitive scene to laugh and reflect on the enriching aspects of their chosen hobby and also the inherent ridiculousness of it all.
His surf-lit about imagining hitting that kook over the head with a trophy inspired me to try to write the pilot episode of Ferreira Files, which turned into a mostly biographical Quit-lit piece about surfing and depression. Boo to that!
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: Shorthand-Aided Rapid Keyboarding Supplying – according to Wikipedia, the ShaRK keyboard text input method “a user draws words on a graphical keyboard using a pen. Instead of tapping the keys, the user draws a pen gesture that connects all the letters in the desired word. After some usage the user learns the movement pattern for the commonly used words and can write them faster than is possible on a traditional virtual keyboard.” Like the ShaRK, Surfads’s surf-lit articles are useful tools for increasing efficiency.
In the case of surf-lit, it can be used to quickly and more easily convey the attitudes held and stances taken by surfers on a variety of subjects like VALs than a less palatable reasoned opinion piece that would automatically receive pushback by people wishing to argue or be contrarian because they don’t like being told how to feel could, thus being more efficient. Is that a stretch? Definitely.
With the Tour canceled for the year, we saw a lot less of our esteemed longtom in these pages. What he was able to submit was still pretty good, flashes of his brilliance which included littering articles with brainwarming literary references for readers to feel good were displayed throughout.
At his best during times of quickly shifting circumstances, being able to contextualize what is happening and postulating what to expect/look for going forward, the reality of the increasingly stagnant surf world brought on by the coronavirus pandemic hindered him.
With no professional surfing to write about, the subject matter at his disposal, wavepool development and sharks, rendered him unable to climb to the previously achieved heights of previous years.
BeachGrit Shark Species Choice: San Jose Sharks in the 1990s – since their inaugural 1991-1992 season, the San Jose Sharks have been the coolest team in the NHL. Easily. With an inspired color scheme centered around teal, great nickname, and a kickass sports logo, featuring a Great White charging through a triangle (referencing the Red Triangle) and chomping a hockey stick, the Sharks had a lot going on for them.
Subsequent teams to enter the league during the decade, including the Mighty Ducks and Panthers, wanted and tried to be the Sharks, the Ducks using unusual colors (purple and jade), the Panthers utilizing a cool animal nickname. While they sucked at playing in the ‘90s, the Sharks were still the best. I remember playing NHL ’95 and always picking them, as did all my friends, unless they wanted to be cheating assholes and pick the Blackhawks or Red Wings.
Likewise, longtom, despite having a down year in terms of output and my average article valuation, is still the best serious surf writer.
*Requirements included writers having authored at least three posts published and me being able to think of a shark for them. Still didn’t make it? Well, fuck, that’s on you.