Midtown, beloved. Real nice paint.

Beloved Santa Cruz surf shop gutted by fire; blame falls on towns’s flourishing population of drug enthusiasts, “You got 5,000 feral human beings throwing needles everywhere, stealing garden shoes, rakes, anything they can.”

"It sucks to see stuff catching fire everywhere…"

Midtown says they’re all about “warm smiles, rad surfboards, good vibes, and cool apparel” or “rad smiles, good surfboards, and cool vibes” or some combination of.

Either way, it’s a happy place save for the structure fire. 

The shop, known for hosting locals and the well-heeled alike, was left smoldering.

Fire authorities labeled the blaze as “suspicious” (which sounds suspicious). 

Here are the details from the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

The Santa Cruz Fire Department was able to control the two-alarm blaze within 20 minutes after responding to reports of a fire at 11:19 p.m. at the back of the Midtown Surfshop at 1126 Soquel Ave., according to a release from fire Battalion Chief Josh Coleman.

The fire and heavy smoke apparently extended into the single-story surf shop’s back storage area from the outside. Fire damage was limited to the rear of the building, with most inventory saved and protected from fire contaminates, according to Coleman.

There were no reported injuries in the fire, which authorities estimate did about $40,000 worth of damage to the business.”

Fortunately, fire fighters were able to save upwards of two-million bucks worth of inventory. 

Midtown wasn’t up for a chat (There’s an investigation going on, after all). But we did get some insight from local brass Danny Keith, owner of Santa Cruz Surf Shop.  

“Suspicious? Hell, yeah. But it’s not other shops trying to put them out of business. Midtown’s a good shop. It sucks to see stuff catching fire everywhere,” he says in reference to the frequent blazes set by drug addicts “tweaking out of their minds” behind stores and dumpsters across town. 

Danny loves Santa Cruz but is frustrated by the increasing drug problem, whose effects include the damage done to Midtown.  

“You got 5,000 feral human beings throwing needles everywhere, stealing garden shoes, rakes, anything they can.”  

“I want to help; I wish I could. It’s a horrible circle of life here in Santa Cruz for those people. It affects everybody.”

Just take a look at the back of Midtown for proof.

Opinion: World Surf League hits Banksy-levels of social commentary performance art on April Fool’s Day Newcastle contest!

Bravo, bravo, bravo.

But did you watch yesterday’s Australian quad kick-off under the sun on a sun dappled shore? The World Surf League back. Professional surfing finally back. And of course a day of professional surfing is not over until Longtom sings. Sing he has, beautifully per the norm.

Hitting all the right notes at all the right times.

There’s nothing I can add except my experience, across the Pacific, was slightly different than his.

I was in awe.

Absolute awe.

As social commentary performance art, day 1 of the Newcastle Cup presented by Rip Curl rivals anything Ana Mendieta ever attempted.

Beats Banksy cold.

I don’t know, exactly, what the social comment was but assume it was a reflection on the absurd.

Absolutely smashing Camus.

I don’t write that lightly as Camus is in my pantheon but truth is truth and he would certainly agree.

From Surfline’s patently ridiculous 8 ft call, to the grunting, grimacing faces of the professional surfers grinding turns to that sun dappled shore to a Wall of Positive Noise that had been spit-polished to perfection since Pipeline.

All on April 1st.


Joe Turpel used the phrase “big hand jam.”

Awe and I am very nervous for today because, as social commentary performance art, day 1 of the Newcastle Cup presented by Rip Curl belongs in its own wing of the Louvre. Separate ticket like the Mona Lisa.

Bravo, bravo, bravo.

A rose thrown on the stage, hucked from Cardiff-by-the-Sea, landing in that merry weather.

Brave Swedish surfers go to war against monied interests, swimmers, to save beloved wave: “Mölle is a natural phenomenon, a miracle on Sweden’s Kattegat coast!”

A fight worth having.

I’ll tell you true, I adore all of Scandinavia, each and every bit. From Santa’s home in Finland’s north to Karl Ove Knausgård’s farm in Sweden’s south. I love Denmark’s crisp air, Norway’s Mikkel Bang. The clean furniture, salted anchovies, happy people, Highasakite… all of it, and so when I heard that a brave band of Swedish surfers were going to war against monied interests and swimmers to save their beloved wave, well, I felt their fight my own.

Professional surfer Freddie Meadows (watch below) is out front, rallying those around him in support of Mölle, a stone’s throw from Copenhagen.

On Instagram, he wrote, “On behalf of myself and countless others – I ask you not to allow the unnecessary destruction of our beloved wave at Mölle. A natural phenomena, and quite frankly a miracle along Sweden’s Kattegat coast. The wave is an icon, an attraction, an inspiration… Something that the majority of the town of Mölle is, and should be be extremely proud of! Another swimming area is just another of the many nearby swimming areas, and can easily be placed elsewhere. A wave of this quality, rarity and beauty cannot… Once again, I speak on behalf of myself and thousands of others – PLEASE DON’T DESTROY OUR WAVE. RECONSTRUCT YOUR PLANS.”

I immediately reached out to know what the problem was, how I could help. He responded, “They’re planning on building a 25m long wall to create a swimming area that will most likely destroy the wave. There is already an abundance of swimming areas both in Mölle and close by, the wave is pretty much a miracle on that coast and provides such joy to so many people. Plus a huge attraction for the town of Mölle in general.”

Swimmers. Bastards the lot of them.

In any case, this is better than “fight the bight” so stand up with Sweden’s surfers and make your voice heard.

I sure would love to surf it, someday.

World champ Italo Ferreira hit "high, tweaked straight airs, corked reverses, extravagant layback slashes, weird little combos. He was daring the judges to pay the progressive, in the way that Dane Reynolds re-set the scale a decade earlier. But they were intransigent, having rewarded Morgan Ciblic with a six for three bogged cutbacks in the earlier heat."

Rip Curl Newcastle Pro, Day one: “Like watching old whores jackhammering away for the titillation of a not quite adoring crowd of addicts; There wasn’t much love in it, but it was strangely compelling!”

Gloomy day saved by John John Florence and Italo Ferreira!

A hundred days exactly comrades, by my calculations.

One hundred long days since the last heat of CT surfing was concluded on the sands at Pipeline.

A hundred days, forty-four years into the IPS/ASP/WSL adventure to crack the uncrackable code of pro surfing and deliver something dramatic.

You’d really think they would have something nailed down by now. Some basic presentable, exciting product to broadcast to the World.

And what do we get? We get a QS location with onshore two-foot dribble. It would be too easy to flog this very sick, not quite dead, horse.

I was groaning until my boyo flagged the waves in the John Florence heat as “looking really fun”.

Which they did.

For long minutes before his heat started a cameraman feasted on the two shot of JJF in tequila sunrise jersey staring wistfully at Filipe Toledo tail drifting every minor top turn.

It was a golden broadcast moment.

What the hell was he thinking, I had to wonder, after a hundred days mostly spent gorging on bluewater Hawaiian juice. Now faced with a sickly two-foot shorebreak.

World’s best surfers in the World’s best waves? Time to get the hell out of dodge and sail around the World?

No, as it turned out.

He was mentally mapping his upcoming demolition of the line-up. Despite a higher heat score from Ryan Callinan and an outrageous freesurf from Italo Ferreira, JJF was by far my favourite performance. That line-drive off the bottom which we’ve seen in all the edits was there, the constant. That drive led to A, then to B, and C and D, where each letter was a variation in the repertoire and framed by a stillness which accentuated each manouevre. The turns were big, and they flowed beautifully.

Beatific, if we can borrow the Christian phrase at this Holy time.

I felt shocked, and relieved.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece – a counter-factual rebutting Ross Williams idea that rookies were going to dominate Pipe and explaining how they were, in fact, going to be massively advantaged at Newy. How JJF would be the biggest loser from the QS conditions and location. How Matty Banting and Connor O’Leary etc etc were going to steamroll the more fancied higher ranked CT surfers. On a bad gut feeling I spiked it at the last moment.

It’s the accepted rationale for running comps in shitty beachbreak that pro’s bring the conditions up to their skill level, rather than get dragged down by the crap.

I thought otherwise, but then had to revise that position after JJF, Toledo, Medina and especially Italo’s heat.

It was a dizzying display. Almost disrespectful in it’s insouciance.

So many waves I even lost count with a simple tally. He pretended there was no-one else in the water skipping across the funky little rights near the rocks and surfed the left shorey, with the air wind that no one else had bothered with.

High, tweaked straight airs, corked reverses, extravagant layback slashes, weird little combos. He was daring the judges to pay the progressive, in the way that Dane Reynolds re-set the scale a decade earlier.

But they were intransigent, having rewarded Morgan Ciblic with a six for three bogged cutbacks in the earlier heat.

The point spread made a mockery of his dominance, but I suspect when the judges get together for their nightly briefing that a rebalancing will be in the offing down the track.

The size dribbled away.

Blackly surreal commentary ensued from the booth with ’78 World Champion and ASP President for a decade Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew responding to a question from Joe Turpel about the Dream Tour which he orchestrated.

“Yeah,” said Rabbit, “Kelly quit because he was sick of surfing crappy beachbreaks” I think that is close enough to a direct quote to put the quotation marks on.

At that moment all 200 pounds and change of Australia’s premier power surfer, Wade Carmichael, had flapped and hopped into the shorebreak and finished with a visible grimace on his face. There might have been a faint golf clap audible from the artificially suppressed crowd.

The quintessential company Man Joey, sensing dangerous waters ahead, quickly changed the subject and so the subject of how we ended up back in the crappy beachbreaks that the sport had supposedly evolved away from was left to poison the rest of the heat like an unseen gas leak in an underground mine.

The Canary had been silenced.

A clearly disadvantaged Owen Wright looked disinterested. Thirty seconds to go and needing only a three he loped up the beach with a stern expression. The grovel was on, big time, and the big man wanted no part of it. He could lay claim to no solidarity because both Jordy Smith and Wade Carmichael managed to sneak past the hangmans noose of last place.

Stagmatic seemed to be the word of the day from commentator Richie Lovett. Which seemed somehow apropos of the scene, like watching old whores jackhammering away for the titillation of a not quite adoring crowd of addicts. There wasn’t much love in it, but it was strangely compelling.

Judges had set the scale for meat and potatoes surfing with a generous dollop of gravy on offer for hometown heroes and Ryan Callinan duly obliged with two well apportioned rides that were appropriately over-scored. That’s no knock on him. He won decisively but the over-cooked narrative of a hometown hero duchessing local tourism officials fatuous egos will not be indulged in this space.

What about our poor, injured GOAT, the man for whose prodigious talents the truly visionary Rabbit Bartholomew had sculpted the Dream Tour from the clay of rubbish beachbreak, a gleaming statue that would forever stand sentinel to the dream and the possibilities of pro surfing, where was he?

Surfing double overhead blue caverns at Pipeline.

Perhaps once in a while tuning in and feeling a strange deja vu.

BeachGrit’s On-Again, Off-Again Surfival League is On-Again!

Simplified Fantasy Surfer. No points. No tiers. No budgets.

It’s been a rocky start to the inaugural Surfival Season. 

We opened for trading on March 12, 2020.

The next day the rug was pulled on the opening event at Snapper Rocks, and the Surfival League sat dormant until December’s Pipeline Contest.

You remember the game?

Simplified Fantasy.

No points.
No tiers.
No budgets.


1. Pick one surfer each event.
2. Surfer must advance past The Round of 32.
3. You can’t pick same surfer twice.
4. Winner takes $1,000 and a custom-shaped Panda Surfboard.

Real easy.

Pipeline was the first event of the Surfival Season. We lost 23% of the League due mostly to early exits by Seth Moniz, Julian Wilson, and Kolohe Andino.

Will The Surfival Gods play nice at Newcastle or are we in for another bloodbath!?

Here are the Top 5 Surfival Picks for Newcastle by Percentage.

Italo Ferreira – 21%
Ryan Callinan – 20%
Kanoa Igarashi – 15%
Julian Wilson – 11%
Filipe Toledo – 9%

Chas is riding with Caio, who has 1% of the picks. Who you got?

See you in the comment section.

PS: If you missed the signups for the 2021 Season (or lost at Pipeline) were opening up a Losers Pool for the back half of the season.  Stay tuned.