Ben Gravy in happier days.

Insanely popular surf vlogger has YouTube channel suspended indefinitely, “It’s been five days But they said 24 hours… I’m taking a hit!”

Has the cultural revolution claimed another high-profile scalp?

The New Jersey vlogger and high-end intermediate surfer Ben Gravy has, at the whim of American online video-sharing platform YouTube, been suspended from posting his popular videos indefinitely. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMIoykgBb8W/

Ben’s YouTube channel has 134,000 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.

Movie-star handsome Ben, thirty-three and who draws a striking resemblance to Woody Harrelson, told BeachGrit “YouTube thinks I’m hacked because I’ve been on WIFI in Puerto Rico so they put my account on ‘hidden’ so nothing new can come out until they go through their vetting process. It’s fucked, haha.”

I asked, how much you lose? Ten, fifty k? 

“Take a bit boys, taking a hit,” he said. 

Now, I ain’t paranoid, mostly.

But this suspension thing seems a little off colour given the spate of cancellations, the great cultural revolution currently shifting every know parameter of civic life. 

Has Ben upset the cultural vigilantes? 

Is everyman Ben too cisgender, too white, too protestant in his hard-working can-do-anything, refusal-to-play-the victim approach to life? 

A drunk who came good?

In the past few days, we’ve lost a noted Billabong artist, the owner operator of Energy Orgasm Retreats in Bali, and now… Ben?

When will the hand come down on your shoulder?


Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Shocking: Australian man offering “tantric full body energy orgasm” retreat on surfer paradise Bali infuriates neighbors with tawdry hippie verbiage, taken by police, receives cancellation!

Much sadness.

Any surfer who lives in a progressive beach town will know that yoga has gone too far. My North County, San Diego is awash in stretchy pants, nifty hats, auras of arrogant peace and practiced calm. I’d imagine that Australia’s Byron Bay is much worse and Oahu’s North Shore worse still (when Wanderlust is in town).

But maybe, likely, very worst of all is the Island of the Gods, onetime surfer paradise Bali.

For up those verdant hills, in Ubud, we find Australian guru Andrew Irvine who was planning on hosting a yoga-adjacent “tantric full body body energy orgasm” retreat, or at least until neighbors grew concerned, then outraged and went to the police with their concern.

According to the august Daily Mail, Irvine is “…the creator of Tantric Body De-Armouring and Tantric Full Body Energy Orgasm Retreats, which guide people in cultivating a profound depth of vibrancy and intimacy in their daily lives, relationships, sexuality and careers.”

He has been practicing and exploring tantric and taoist practices, has a master’s degree in health science and sexual health.

40 excitado participants had signed up for the retreat, promised “heightened states of sexual ecstatic full-bodied orgasmic bliss” until those meddling neighbors stuck in their noses.

Irvine was rounded up by police and questioned, though not arrested, and his retreat was then cancelled.

Like Dr. Seuss.

Not coincidentally, he was a previous professional partner of “alleged sex-cult leader Shantam Nityama, also known as ‘The Divine Madman’, a Los Angeles-based guru who conducted workshops in Byron Bay.”

The two parted ways after Irvine became frustrated with Nityama’s eating animal hearts during “spiritual training.”

Irvine, released by police, returned to his villa where he allegedly remains sad.

No word on the 40 participants.

More as the story develops.


Controversial author slaps back at eminent historian after accusation of cut-rate reportage: “Considering all angles on their merits, one can only conclude that people were surfing in China thousands of years before Polynesia!”

Logical leaping too.

Yesterday afternoon, a sun-dappled one in Southern California, fireworks exploded in the ether when eminent Italian surf historian and coach Nicolla “Nik” Zanella slipped a well-manicured hand from a goat kid glove and used it to slap controversial author Chas Smith across the face.

The troubles began days ago when Smith reported on Zanella’s work digging into the root of Chinese surfing and titled the think-piece Italian surf historian declares people surfing in China thousands of years before Polynesia: “There’s some who tread on drifting wood performing hundreds of water tricks, having fun, each displaying great mastery!”

Zanella, in a furious missive to the editor, responded:

Who did it first was not the scope of my research, but this time frame is almost simultaneous with what was happening in Polynesia. Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism.

I hope you have the decency of erasing that article and learn to investigate what you publish in the future, what you stated was not in the SCMP article, nor in my book, nor in any interview that I ever gave to the many media, all more professional than BeachGrit, that covered my book and research. A simple google search would have clarified it.

Smith, very much insulted, quickly turned to the aforementioned google search, employed his iconic-adjacent combination of rudimentary math and logical leaping, to discover that Tahiti was first settled in the 5th century B.C. and assumed it would take the proto-Polynesians a couple hundred-ish years to learn the art of surfboard shaping, sorting out the person nearest the breaking part of the wave has priority, etc. which would put the first Tahitian surfer at, or around, the 3rd century B.C.

China, on the other hand, has been inhabited by Homo erectuses for over a million years. Hangzhou, where surfing may have begun, had a fine neolithic population at least 12,000 years before the birth of Christ.

Now, Zanella quotes a Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) poet in his interview with the august South China Morning Post. To wit:

“Hundreds of brave watermen … with unfastened hair and tattoos, holding coloured flags, race to the water … they paddle towards the oncoming waves … then they leap up and perform a hundred manoeuvres without getting the tail of their flags even slightly wet. This is how they show off their skill. Hence the nobles reward them with silver prizes.”

If that is not describing a World Qualifying Series event, than I am not a surf journalist.

It must be inferred that QSes take at least ten-ish centuries to get fully up and running what with point systems, defining the excellent range, sorting the flags (read: singlets), having proto-Turpel get his descriptions of the action down, etc.

Considering all angles on their merits, one can only conclude that people were surfing in China thousands of years before Polynesia, or at the very least that was what Zanella is suggesting.

As the South China Morning Post puts it after an equally thorough analysis of Zanella’s findings, “Surfing may have started in China, long before anyone elsewhere picked up a board to ride a wave.”

En garde!


Caroline Marks harvesting maximum points at Surf Ranch. | Photo: WSL

WSL surfing tour in shock as teenage heir apparent to world title tests positive for COVID-19; withdraws from today’s LA-Sydney charter flight!

"Very unfortunate news."

World number two Caroline Marks has told fans she ain’t gonna be on the bird to Sydney tonight after testing positive for COVID-19, a gritty lil disease that has otherwise shut down international travel and torn hell out of ol peoples’ withered air bags.

Taking to Instagram, Marks, who is nineteen and was 2018’s rookie of the year, told her 179,000 fans,

“Some very unfortunate news, I tested positive for Covid-19. I will not be making the charter flight to Austrailia tonight. I am following all the Covid protocols and do expect to be competing when I’m cleared. I want to wish all the WSL competitors and staff a safe flight. I’ll Keep everyone posted.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMGE6ROg1VC/

It ain’t a tour without the best of the title contenders and Marks, at forefront of an advancing army of wild talents that’ll clean out the existing roster, is still a favourite to win the crown, the addition of events at Teahupoo and Pipeline considered to her advantage.

As Longtom wrote eight months ago when the tour changes were announced, “The gals are back in Teahupoo. A brave, bold move. Which will likely deliver copious laydays, zero-point heat totals and a Caroline Marks dynasty into the forseeable future.”

Various world champions, including Stephanie Gilmore, Mick Fanning, Lisa Andersen  and Italo Ferriera all posted kind words in the comment pane.

“That sucks. Chin up. Get healthy and get over here!” wrote three-timer Mick.


An early attempt at surfing in the Middle Kingdom.

Eminent historian eviscerates controversial author of Cocaine and Surfing for inaccuracies in reporting birth of surfing in China: “This time you passed the mark and put false words in my mouth”

"Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism."

Three days ago, it was reported, here, that an Italian historian had made the stunning discovery that surfing began in China “thousands of years before Polynesia.”

Wrote Chas Smith,

Nicolla “Nik” Zanella stumbled on his discovery in 2006 while visiting a Buddhist temple in Kunming in the southern Yunnan province. There he saw a 19th century bas-relief depicting a group of arhats, or those who have reached Nirvana, out amongst the waves.

One, in particular, stood out.

“The guy was standing up, his pose was exactly what we teach – back foot flat, front foot at a 45-degree angle, looking 5m in front of the board. And his face – he looked stoked,” Zanella told the South China Morning Post.

It was so captivating that he climbed down 5000 years of Chinese literature, finding Song Dynasty poet Zhou Mi’s work on the way. Zanella translates, “Hundreds of brave watermen … with unfastened hair and tattoos, holding coloured flags, race to the water … they paddle towards the oncoming waves … then they leap up and perform a hundred manoeuvres without getting the tail of their flags even slightly wet. This is how they show off their skill. Hence the nobles reward them with silver prizes.”

In a lengthy email to BeachGrit, received today, Zanella has eviscerated Chas Smith, the celebrated and much loved author of best-selling books Welcome to Paradise Now Go To Hell, Cocaine and Surfing, a Sordid History of Surfing’s Greatest Love Affair and Reports From Hell.

Zanella writes,

Who did it first was not the scope of my research, but this time frame is almost simultaneous with what was happening in Polynesia. Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism.

I hope you have the decency of erasing that article and learn to investigate what you publish in the future, what you stated was not in the SCMP article, nor in my book, nor in any interview that I ever gave to the many media, all more professional than BeachGrit, that covered my book and research. A simple google search would have clarified it.

As an avid surfer myself and a former surf editor I understand your need for click-bait titles in a starved out surf media environment.

But this time you passed the mark and put false words in my mouth.

I ask you to erase the article. I’m willing to send you a copy of my book so that you can read it and understand the scope and direction of my research.

The author of the story is yet to respond to the claims.