PM also wrote Facing Death in Cambodia, a ten-year project about the Khmer Rouge's genocidal reign. | Photo: Fainting Robin

Surfer-turned-war-crimes investigator Peter Maguire and the books you absolutely have to read, and the one genre you must avoid, “If they think their hatred of Trump somehow absolves them of their rank intellectual dishonesty… they should visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center” 

Beach reads for summer!

Here’s a story. Peter Maguire, whom you fell in love with two weeks ago on Dirty Water, lived, for a time, at Mokuleia, on Oahu’s North Shore.

Real quiet, real pretty lil place you go when you want to steal away from the seven-mile miracle’s crowds. Head west from Pipe towards Kaʻena Point etc.

And Pete, with his loaded nine mm pistol on a desk, and his ominous… serenity… spooked all the heavies so much they kept a real wide berth.

Figured he was a spook, CIA, maybe.

When he’s not teaching Chas Smith to grapple, punch, choke, he’s a surfer, war crimes investigator and, among plenty of other things, the author of the seminal Law and War: American History and International Law.

Recently, Peter answered Thirteen  Questions in the Pensive Quill’s “A Booker’s Dozen.”

To wit, what books you might wanna read, and those you should a mile away from.

What are you currently reading?

I never read just one book at a time. I am currently reading Worth Defending, Richard Bressler and Scott Burrs’ new book on Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Fashionable Nonsense, Alan Sokol and Jean Bricmonts’ book on postmodern claptrap, Peter Dimmock’s remarkable novels on American imperialism Daybook From the Sheep’s Meadow and George Anderson: Notes For a Love Song in an Imperial Time, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to remember what great writing sounds like.

What are the best and worst books you have ever read?

I loved George Orwell’s Animal Farm for its spartan and bitingly precise characterization of Stalinism. Edmund Morgan’s brilliant history American Slavery, American Freedom articulated America’s central historical contradiction for me in a way that no other book has. Morgan forgot more than all of the authors of the tendentious The New York Times 1619 Project will ever know. Voltaire’s Candide is also a favorite because it shows that good intentions do not necessarily yield good results. C. Wright Mills The Power Elite is also a favorite because Mills was so prophetic when it came to America’s fame at any cost culture. Hey Rube, one of Hunter S. Thompson’s last books, was also remarkable because nobody more accurately predicted where America’s “downward spiral of dumbness” would take us after 9/11.

Worst book?  There are so many to choose from.

Neocon cheerleader Max Boot’s Savage Wars For Peace was dreadful as was David Frum and Richard Perle’s An End to Evil. Both provided the pseudo intellectual underpinnings for America’s ill fated Global War on Terror. A Problem From Hell by journalist-turned-politician Samantha Power was not only grossly over-rated, but also totally unoriginal. Like Boot and Frum, Power provided the neoliberals and “the humanitarian hawks” with their intellectual rationalizations when the Obama administration’s turn came to play world cop.

Book most cherished as a child?

I grew up on boats and in the sea so The Dove by Robin Lee Graham was extremely inspiring to me as a child. At 16, Graham left my home port of Marina Del Ray, California, and sailed his 24-foot sloop, The Dove, around the world. He was the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe and did it without Loran or GPS. He made me want to do similar things.

Favorite childhood author?
Margret and H.A. Rey’s Curious George series and the many authors of The World Book Encyclopedia. I probably spent more hours reading the encyclopedia (A-Z) than any other book as a kid.

First book to really own you?

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss.  I was always fascinated by stories about survival and self sufficiency.

Favorite male and female authors?

George Orwell and Joan Didion.

A preference for fact or fiction?

Fact, I don’t read much fiction.

Biography, autobiography, or memoir that impressed you?

I loved Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye because it was set in Los Angeles where I grew up and explained so much about Bukowski’s deep loneliness and sadness. Gore Vidal’s Palimpest was an eye opener for me because I knew little about America’s 20th century ruling elite. Vidal was an American aristocrat and his memoir provides a very uncensored expose of so many prominent people.  I have never looked at the Kennedys the same way after reading it.

Any author or book that you point blank refuse to read?

Anything written by the neoconservatives who cheer led America’s disastrous Global War on Terror – William Kristol, David Frum, Max Boot, the ubiquitous Kagans, Thomas Friedman, and many others. I also try to avoid anything written by neocons turned “Never Trumpers.” If they think their hatred of Trump somehow absolves them of their rank intellectual dishonesty and colossal errors of judgment, they should visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

A book to share with someone so that they would more fully understand you?

My book Facing Death in Cambodia and my introduction to my book Thai Stick.  

The last book you gave as a present?

I gave Harry Crews novel A Feast of Snakes to a Yankee friend. He was talking nonsense about the South and Southern writers, but had never been south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I prefer southern and western fiction to the many well publicized New York centric tales of angst and neurosis.

Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

My book Thai Stick.

A must-read you intend on getting to before you die?
Volumes 1-7 of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Hans Delbruck’s The Barbarian Invasions, Medieval Warfare, and The Dawn of Modern Warfare. I have nibbled at all of them, but have yet to read them systematically.

Hot young sponsored junior involved in Felipe Toledo’s “huge scuffle” at Lower Trestles discovered, gives account: “I did what I had to do… I felt him coming up from behind!”

The legend grows.

Nearly two weeks ago, now, a story unlike any other completely rocked the surf community. People, old and young, remember exactly where they were when they first heard that then-number three on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour rankings Filipe Toledo was involved in a “huge scuffle” just off Lower Trestles’ cobbled stone.

According to an eyewitness-adjacent, the very popular Brazilian aerialist was “sent in” by San Clemente locals.

“Lots of witnesses! Toledo dropping in on everybody… Pissing off the locals…. Young junior surfer, sponsored, that would like to remain anonymous got the wave of the day out the back a big set wave. Drops in and Toledo suddenly appears, tries to skirt around him with a high line. Young surfer knows he’s going to do this because he grew up at Lowers so he takes a high line too. As Toledo tries to pass him, young surfer grabs and holds on to Filipe’s wetsuit… and holds on the entire ride. At the end, there was a huge scuffle. Mostly verbal. Young kid is a hothead, demands that Toledo paddle in after asking, ‘Who do you think you are? … the new local?’ Tensions were so bad at the peak that Toledo did decided to paddle in and go home.”

Extremely intense.

The story was published and received the appropriate hand-wringing and finger pointing. Toledo’s daddy Ricardo came swinging in to defend his talented son in a major escalation, declaring on BeachGrit‘s sometime controversial Instagram account, “Impressive the amount of shit you talk to earn likes and move the ridiculous articles you post. This is a tremendous lie, it never happened and the worst thing a media can do is spread lies on their pages… and you are the experts at this, congratulations! That’s why I, and everyone around here, blocked you. Poor article, poor spirit…”

Except it was not a tremendous lie. BeachGrit is, in fact, much blocked but the story was true yet in an entirely unforeseen twist Brazilian surf rounded on the anti-depressive surf website declaring an anti-Brazilian bias.

A “high-powered surf industry executive” further confirmed the veracity of the affair, adding, “It was no big deal. That happens every day down there.”

Trestles the new Pipeline.

A re-imagined Proving Ground.

Tensions through the very roof.

Surf sleuths wondered who this “hot young sponsored junior” might be, wondered through the World Surf League’s extremely successful finals day off those very same cobbled stones, wondered if he might be hiding in the sage brush near the train tracks, pounding a balled fist into an open palm while glaring Toledo’s way and, finally, one discovered him in an undisclosed location, prying out the quote, “I did what I had to do… I felt him coming up from behind.”

Where there’s a will, there’s a way but does the story end here or will there be more as it develops?

I think you know the answer.

Fugitive living in Sydney’s Northern Beaches turns himself in after 30 years on the lam, cites stringent Covid lockdown restrictions as reason: “Stuff it, I’ll go back to prison.”

Strange days.

A fugitive, at large for thirty years, turned himself in to a Sydney police station days ago citing the city’s stringent lockdown laws as his reasoning.

64-year-old Darko Desic, who appeared in court on Tuesday and was denied bail, had been living in Sydney’s tony Northern Beaches for three decades, a happy life filled with surf, or at the very least an idea of surf, and the Carroll brothers, Nick and Tom, nearby.

But Covid restrictions cost him his cash-in-hand job as a laborer and rendered him homeless. He slept on the beach for a few nights before deciding prison a better option, telling a friend, “Stuff it. I’ll go back to prison where there’s a roof over my head.”

Desic was originally arrested in 1992 for “raising marijuana.” He was giving a three-and-a-half year sentence, which he served 13-months of before cutting his way out of a centuries-old prison in Grafton.

Originally from Yugoslavia, he was worried he’d be deported but Australia officially made him a citizen, when on the lam, so he can chill in the relative freedom of prison unworried.

Very cool.

Italo fans, happy despite poor result. | Photo: Steve Sherman @tsherms

Construction boss from Colorado bests world champion surfer CJ Hobgood to win surfing’s most prestigious fantasy league; reveals amazing secret strategy!

Wins a thousand American dollars and custom Panda surfboard.

BeachGrit’s Surfival League launched this season as an alternate to Fantasy Surfer.

Think NFL football “Survivor League” for surf. 

Pick one surfer to advance past Round of 32 and you survive. 

Survive longer than everyone else and win a thousand American dollars and a custom Panda Surfboard.

The Surfival League came down to the final event, where 11 members (including 2001 World Champ CJ Hobgood) battled for the top spot.

Mark Bocksch, from Frisco, a pretty little ski town in Colorado, outlasted 300+ Surfivors to take the title. 

He had Gabriel Medina winning and picked a combined heat score of 34, only .11 away from the actual total and .03 away from runner-up CJ Hobgood.

Bocksh, who grew up surfing, moved to Colorado twenty years ago to bang his snowboard down mountains (four resorts are nearby, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain etc.) 

He heard about the Surfival League while listening to The Grit! podcast with Chas Smith and Davey Scales. 

“t seemed easy enough. I’ve never played any kind of fantasy surfer before but decided to give this a try,” he says. 

His strategy was simple. 

“Definitely didn’t want to pick who David Lee Scales and Chas Smith were picking (Editors note: they were both out within the first four events) and I didn’t try to get fancy. I just picked the best surfer at each event. My strategy for the final was picking Gabe and for the combined heat score I just cracked a beer and thought about it. I came up with 34. The final heat score was 33.89.”

How’d he feel when he won? 

“I couldn’t believe it. I was watching the final and reading the BeachGrit comment section and just could not believe I Surfived.”

The last time Bocksh surfed was in mid-July in Encinitas, real close to Chas as it happens. He says he’ll be back out there in November where he’ll shred his new custom Panda. 

Says he’ll be ordering the Dolly Dagger from the Panda site, maybe the Shiitake. 

“I actually only looked this morning at the website because I didn’t want to jinx it. The dolly dagger looked interesting and also the shiitake. I’m not the smallest guy so I want more foam.”

What else?

“I’ll take my jet ski parade whenever you guys are ready. Thanks so much for putting this on, it was a blast. I’ll be drywalling and smiling the rest of the day.”

See y’all at Pipe in January!

Listen: There is only one extravaganza that can beat the wildly successful World Surf League Finals Day and that is “Ben Gravy vs. The World!”

...a celebration of the everyman and graceful aging.

Are you still high from the World Surf League’s inaugural Finals Day there on the cobbled stone of Lower Trestles? I certainly am. Soaring on every single heat mattering, on one surfer sent packing every 30-odd minutes, on Kelly Slater blossoming into the greatest commentator of all-time, on Erik Logan emerging from a cocoon of colorful kook as a fully formed cocaine cowboy in the midst of an extramarital affair.

It was a beautiful production and Santa Monica should be praised but I thought of an even better production, on the fly, whilst chatting with David Lee Scales today.

Ben Gravy vs. The World.

The impetus came from Clifton James Hobgood, who called into the show to proffer an even better idea that I’ll make you listen to purely because CJ sounds so deliciously much like Matthew McConaughey, and my wheels began spinning.

What if BeachGrit produced a competition where, monthly, YouTube sensation Ben Gravy would surf against one aging star after another, each slightly older than the last, until beating one? Think: Gravy vs. Hobgood – New Jersey, Gravy vs. Occhilupo – Snapper, Gravy vs. Tom Curren – Mainland Mex, Gravy vs. Shaun Tomson – Rincon…

Scales thought Gravy would beat Tomson at Rincon. I think Ian Cairns at Lowers and that’s the fun of the format… what age, and which star, does the very popular and lovable Gravy take down?

A celebration of both the everyman and graceful aging.

Magnificent, no?

We also talked about the importance disliking your neighbors and what it takes for a man to suddenly, and radically, upgrade his look.

Definitively our best show yet.

Listen here.