Interview with a VAL: Two-time surfer famously posterized by style master Devon Howard comes clean in scintillating tell-all!

God bless the VAL (sort of), God bless Devon Howard, God bless you.

Here, on your BeachGrit, we often speak about Vulnerable Adult Learners but we rarely, and by “rarely” I mean never, speak to them. Unless yelling in the water. Unless hate scrolling The Inertia and chortling words like “5 things I hate about you, more like it.”

A shame, truly, because as the great military strategist Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Over the past weekend, the great style master Devon Howard was captured full spraying a shoulder hopping VAL. Yesterday, the video and images were posted to various surf Instagram sites, achieving a modicum of virality.

Today, I spoke with the brave WaveStormer.

I’m still soaking it all in. Am I enjoying it? God, yes of course! 100%! I can’t imagine something like this happening and not being able to laugh at it.

My story?

Ok, so I had surfed twice in my entire life before the weekend, in Santa Cruz when I was a teenager, and haven’t paddled out since. I’m a DJ and my boss, KC Campbell, and I were having a brief business call on Saturday when he said, “Hey, I’m going surfing at this spot in Malibu. Would you like to come out? You have to.”

At first I didn’t want to, but he’s my boss and it was Saturday so I thought, “Ok.”

I don’t own a surfboard, but my roommate just bought one from Costco for $50. I grabbed it, a pack of waters, a six-pack of Corona beers and headed to Malibu.

My first mistake, I parked on the wrong side of the pier and realized when I walked down the stairs. The tide was high, water hitting the rock wall, so I had to figure out how to get around. I waited for the water to recede then ran but as I’m running, the plastic ripped on my water bottles and I lost them, spilling everywhere, then I got pummeled by a wave fully-clothed. I’m soaking wet, my towel is soaking wet, sneakers soaking wet my water scattered.

This was going great.

I picked up everything I could and am looking for KC Campbell but can’t see him anywhere though can also see all the surfers in the lineup wearing wetsuits. I don’t have a wetsuit but that wasn’t going to stop me. I put my stuff on the beach, hopped in the water, stubbed my toe all clumsy getting in but keep going.

As I’m paddling out, this surfer says to me, “Well, this isn’t the best decision you’ve made, huh.”

I responded, “Because I’m not wearing a wetsuit?”

“No,” he replied. “In general.”

Once I made it out, I realized the movies are real. Surfer dudes are territorial and they must be realizing that I was a total newbie.”

I found KC Campbell in the water and he said, “Look, if you see a surfer coming at you, get on your board and flip over. You do not want to get in their way.”


I was doing my thing and this nice wave came in. I saw this guy on the wave doing all this cool shit that I can’t name… the names of the tricks he was doing. He’s coming closer to me then he cuts the wave, or whatever it’s called, and sends tons of water in my face.

I think, “Ok. That was either unintentional or that guy is a complete asshole.”

I stay out for another hour, or so, observing, thinking surfing has a very specific and unique culture. A cohesive culture. Then I realized I had that spray-to-face coming. I tried to catch waves but never did, thought, “Fuck this,” got out to wash my surfboard off.

As I was walking the leash was dragging behind me and some dude says, “Pick up your leash. Surfers are going to think you’re uncool.”

That ship had sailed.

At the end of the day, sun setting, I passed my Coronas out to the surfers who were sitting around. One of them, a real nomad-type, saw how cold I was and offered me his jacket and hat then gave me a piece of art.

Everyone was super kind. I watched the sun go down, cheered the surfers on and had a great time.

The next day, KC Campbell called me up and said, “You’ve made it on Kook of the Day!”

I didn’t even know what a kook was but realized it is like a buffoon, a village idiot. I’ll take it. He called yesterday and said, “You’ve made it on Surf Journalist!”

Life is crazy but it was honestly a fantastic experience and I am so lucky to get a peek into this world. I’m working on a web series, actually, called Talking to Earthlings. It’s a show where people from all different walks of life talk about their experiences to help connect us as earthlings. We haven’t had a surfer, or any guest remotely close to that.

Maybe Devon Howard would be interested in talking.

He will be now!

And I dare you to tell me your heart isn’t warmed by this beautiful story.

One tiny layer beneath our crust, our grouch, is a generousness of spirit.

You know it’s true.

You know, each and every one of us, bleeds anti-depressive.

God bless the VAL (sort of).

God bless Devon Howard.

God bless you.

Listen: Come ye weary travelers, grumpy locals, and rediscover the fountain of youth in the form of a highly addictive talc-like powder!

A love story.

David Lee Scales and I recorded another podcast yesterday morning. It felt, to me, like we had recorded one the day before that and the day before that as well. A non-stop, one-after-another, unbroken string blurring right into each other like a Kelly Slater produced Bad Religion song (read here).

These days, man. Flying. Going by so fast, too fast, and I wondered, out loud, at the beginning of the show, if our perception of time is not tied directly to our tastes.

To wit, at this point in my life my favorite foods, in order, are: 1) anchovies 2) whiskey 3) vodka 4) blue cheese 5) horseradish.

When I was a child, though, time moved so slowly. A summer would last a seeming three years. The school year a full thirty.

And when I was a child my favorite foods, in order, were: 1) Corn Pops 2) Lik-m-aid Fun Dip 3) Toaster Strudel 4) Eggo Waffles 5) Funyuns.

Time passage, or the perception thereof, must be tied to taste, no?

The fountain of youth a highly addictive talc-like powder licked off a stick not gross stink?

David Lee and I also discussed The People’s™ sponsorship of Caio Ibelli and I can’t remember.

Fun Dip time.

Listen here now or later.*

*Now n’ Laters were, and are, gross.


Revealed: World’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater credited with massive success of melodic hardcore band Bad Religion!


Any surfer, worth her salt, will certainly remember the importance place that punk, and punk-adjacent, music occupied in our glorious pastime during the 1990s into the 2000s. A surf movie was not a surf movie unless it featured Pennywise, Lagwagon, Unwritten Law etc. and what a wonderful epoch.

I always assumed that the music elevated the surfing but it has been revealed, in the recently-esque published Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion, that the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater is responsible for the very popular melodic hardcore band’s success.

Lead guitarist Brett Gurewitz recalls sitting in his office trying to figure out how to expand the fanbase when his phone rang, Slater on the other end of the line.

Slater: Hey, is this Brett?

Brett: Yeah.

Slater: My name is Kelly Slater and I’m a professional surfer.

Brett: I know who you are.

Slater: I’m putting out a surf video that I’m going to sell at skate and surf shops. How much would it cost to put your music in it?

Brett: It won’t cost you anything.

Slater: Really?

Brett: Put as much of my music in your video as you want for free. I would be stoked!

Slater did and the rest, as they say, is history with Bad Religion going on to stratospheric fame, headlining festivals, selling out auditoriums, etc. and all thanks to a little boy with big dreams from Cocoa Beach, Florida.

And Paul Roach.


Silver Surfer: Underwater toxic waste dump “two times the size of Manhattan” discovered off the coast of Los Angeles!


Southern California surfers are not typically known for their heartiness, but all that radically changed days ago when researchers from Scripps Institute of Oceanography at U.C. San Diego discovered a toxic waste dump over two-times the size of Manhattan off the coast of Los Angeles.

The territory covered was “staggering” according to Eric Terrill, the chief scientist of the expedition. “It really was a surprise to everybody who’s worked with the data and who sailed at sea.”

It has long been known that the basin between L.A. and Catalina Island had been a dumping ground for dangerous chemicals such as DDT for decades, The Los Angeles Times had records of the Montrose Chemical Corp. dumping DDT-laced sludge from 1947 to 1961, and a few barrels had been spotted on the ocean floor ten years ago but the over 27,000 barrels just discovered was completely shocking.

Many appear to be damaged and leaking.

Scripps chemical oceanographer and professor of geosciences Lihini Aluwihare, who co-authored a 2015 study that found high amounts of DDT and other man-made chemicals in the blubber of bottlenose dolphins that died of natural causes.

“These results also raise questions about the continued exposure and potential impacts on marine mammal health, especially in light of how DDT has been shown to have multi-generational impacts in humans,” she said.

Another study has just shown that over 25% of California’s sea lions have cancer, which is typically extremely rare in the wild.

Will these ugly findings deter Southern California surfers?

I think not.

The heartiest.

Take that Atlantic Northeast.

Owen Wright, his wife Kita Alexander and Tyler after T's win at the 2016 Roxy Pro. Much happiness but unbeknownst to the power trio, money was being siphoned out of their accounts, $1.4 mill from O and T.

Champion surfer Owen Wright revealed as major victim of alleged accounting fraud, losing a staggering $818,642 over eight years as he recovered from almost fatal brain injury!

From 2012 until 2020, police allege Shane Maree Hatton stole $818,642.80 from Owen, transferring his cash to herself in 334 transactions ranging from $27.65 to $4668.

Court documents have shown the extent of an alleged fraud waged over eight years by the bookkeeper of the famous Wright family, with Owen being stiffed for almost a million bucks as he struggled to overcome a mysterious brain injury.

From 2012 until 2020, police allege Shane Maree Hatton stole $818,642.80 from Owen, transferring his cash to herself in 334 transactions ranging from $27.65 to $4668.

Tyler was hit for $586,805.07, in 295 transactions ranging from $21 to $4675.

Mikey copped $151,201.23 in 63 transactions ranging from $40 to $3538.55.

Their mum and Dad, Rob and Fiona, lost $81,025.29.

Police claim Hatton, who was a family friend of the Wrights as well as bookkeeper for the dad’s plumbing biz and for the kids’ surf multi-million dollar sponsor gravy, has indicated she was responsible for the fraud. 

“The defendant did make admissions to the offences,” police allege in the bail acknowledgment document tendered to the court. “Police have records of all transactions and the accused has shown remorse towards the victims after the commission of the (alleged) offences.”

The records were presented to the court in a swollen paper ream box containing more than fifteen hundred pages. 

Police say there is little chance of the money being recovered, however.

Three quarters of the $1.6 mill was put into the pokies, although three hundred k of it, say the police, “was wasted.”

Back to court for Hatton on June 21.