The iconic Florida Surf Film Festival back from the dead and ready to party like magically rehabilitated Michael Jackson!

A proper thriller.

Global shutdowns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic will be studied long into the future. Did they work? Avert millions of untimely deaths or cause the untimely deaths of many businesses, whole industries? Epidemiologists, economists, Kelly Slater will debate and debate but we know the hardest hit, certainly, was the surf film festival festival circuit.

People not gathering to watch their water heroes on big screens together was a damning blow but the strong survived and the strongest may be the now iconic Florida Surf Film Festival.

New Smyrna Beach’s finest product, save Aaron Cormican, has flung the doors wide, once again, and is selling tickets at a record clip.

Per the press release:

New Smyrna Beach, FL – Florida Surf Film Festival (FSFF), presented by Monster Energy, is proud to announce official selections for the feature and short documentary categories for its final installment of the 2021 festival on November 19th and 20th at Atlantic Center for the Arts, in New Smyrna Beach.

Passes are now available:

1. Adults: One-night passes run $25 and a two-night pass runs $35
2. Kids: 10 and under are also available for $15/night and $25/two-nights.
3. A patron pass for $125/person includes a festival poster, 2021 FSFF t-shirt, FSFF 20-ounce YETI Tumbler, dinner both nights from Clancy’s Cantina on-site, two-night festival pass, and four drink tickets per night.
4. We also offer a Green Room Membership, which includes an annual pass to all events for the next twelve months, including all the patron pass benefits.

Click here.

Kevin Miller, co-founder, told me, “Having had sold out events in June for Father’s Day and a great showing in August, we’re ready to pack the outdoor amphitheater with surf movie fans for some hippie flicks and quality docs like the USA Mainland Premiere of Waterman, a documentary about Duke Kahanamoku, and the 50 year anniversary of Morning of the Earth, remastered in 4K. Filmmakers will be here, including Jack Coleman for his masterful joy ride with Joey Bookout entitled Polysun with Joey also in attendance.”

I have attended twice and, if you are Florida-adjacent or Aaron Cormican, it is completely worth but act fast. People truly get turned away at the gate and I have witnessed tears.

A proper thriller.

Multipurpose actor Tom Hanks’ co-star and best friend Wilson, who was killed in unfortunate surfing accident, sells at auction for $400,000!

"I'm sorry..."

As point of fact, I used to enjoy the work of multipurpose actor Tom Hanks. Turner & Hooch, Joe Versus the Volcano and The Bonfire of the Vanities all made me smile as a younger man. Forrest Gump made me tear up. Cast Away made me re-consider my earlier enjoyment and I’ve since slipped into low-level disdain.

If I had to put my finger on it, Hanks’ relationship with the volleyball Wilson in the 2000 Robert Zemeckis film caused the slide.

Something about it really irked and I remember laughing loudly when Wilson died in a surfing accident, the theater becoming frustrated with my lack of heart.

Well, apparently I am alone in my powerful antipathy for Wilson just sold at auction for $400,000.

Per the report:

Some might say Tom Hanks’ movie prop from the film Castaway was just a volleyball. In fact ‘Wilson’ was a companion, a confidant and a crucial character in ‘his’ own right. And proving just how beloved the unlikely co-star is, the piece was recently sold on November 9 at auction for $A422,000.

Despite an estimation between A$70,000 to A$110,000, the famous ball was the second highest-selling piece on the 9th behind a Michael J. Fox-autographed hoverboard from Back to the Future.

The UK-based Prop Store Livestream auction spanned three days and was filled with entertainment.

If I was going to put money on it, I’d bet the man who tow foiled Fort Point recently is Wilson’s new friend.

Seems like something he would do.

This could be you, sitting on the porch, bottle of moonshine in your paw, fingers hitting a difficult lick on the banjo etc.

Byron Bay’s insane housing bubble laid bare as two-bed shack on leased plot in council trailer park lists for $750,000! “It’s perverse! Next-level madness!”

“Charming beachside cottage etc…”

A crummy ol’ tin-roofed shack in a council trailer park in Byron-adjacent Suffolk Park has hit the wildly buoyant Byron Bay property market for three-quarters of a million dollars, shack only, no land. 

The cash gets you a “charming beachside cottage in the highly desirable Suffolk Park Holiday Park”, a mobile home in a trailer park in other words, with “easy access to the beach from your back door”, which is true. 

Well located trailer park.

But you still gotta pay for the lease of space in the park. 

It’s a listing that has laid bare the insanity of the Byron Bay property market, house prices doubling in a year as well-to-do Sydneysiders, suddenly rich crypto-investors and leveraged-to-the-hilt panic buyers throw previously undreamed of amounts of money at palaces and shit-boxes alike. 

Two years ago, 750k got a sweet little house, yard, place to park the car.

Same joint is two-mill now. 

Byron Shire Councillor Michael Lyon told the ABC that even though caravan park legislation was created so the poor could afford a roof over their wretched heads, it couldn’t do a damn thing if someone wanted to sell their cabin at market rates. 

“It’s not right, but unfortunately that is the way the legislation is… It’s perverse, it was certainly never intended that way,” Lyon told the ABC. 

Luke Jolly, the administrator of the Byron Bay Community Facebook page, told the ABC, “I guess it could be a small price to pay for the ultra-wealthy to have a permanent holiday reservation, but it’s hard to fathom any regular person looking at it… it’s next-level madness.”

On the upside, waves have pumped pretty much non-stop for the past year. So there’s that.

And the Great Whites.

One pal who moved up there a year ago has seen eight of ‘em, including two breaches. 

If one stray Benji Weatherly comment is enough to horrify the World Surf League into cancelling the refurbished PG-rated “Drive-Thru” franchise does it have any hope or is it time for Dirk Ziff and Co. to slowly back away and leave surfing’s carcass to the jackals?

Feat. Kelly Slater.

It was reported, here, days ago as a rumor that the World Surf League, and its WSL Studios, was set to release the much-loved, refurbished “Drive-Thru” series wherein original cast Benji Weatherly, Donovan Frankenreiter, Kelly Slater and a cast of young-uns would “drive though” somewhere, surf, shenanigan and film the adventure.

Much fun… except, allegedly, our World Surf League pulled the plug on the project right as the boys were headed out.

Per the initial whisper, exclusively on your BeachGrit:

And, then, at the very end of the last meeting, papers ready to sign, Benji Weatherley, still funny and too beautiful to behold at almost fifty says, “Well it’s not like anybody watches the WSL anyways.”

A very good joke and clearly a joke for a quick search on SimilarWeb (a website that tracks internet traffic) reveals the WSL to be almost half the size of surf news behemoth BeachGrit.

But no laughs from WSL executives, apparently.

They want to move forward with project but not with Benji.

Greg Browning moves in, fights for Benji who is, let’s face it, the pulse-racing magic that defines the franchise, and, eventually, the WSL says yes.

But, first, Benji has to agree to special terms.

Now, in that aftermath the angelic Griffin Colapinto took to Instagram and wrote “@Beach_Grit with some non truthful words” over a picture of a glowering Weatherly. Young Griff, though extremely talented, is wrong. While the letter might not have been exactly right, the spirit certainly was. As I heard it from a second, extremely reliable, source, it went like this…

The WSL Studios was set to produce, all the paper work signed, and the principals were invited to a Zoom call to discuss this and that. Someone from the WSL side said they needed to do social media posts around the adventure to drum up interest. Benji responded that he knew what would drum up interest. Namely, stealing Slater’s phone and posting a picture of a male’s parts. A WSL Human Resources employee, also on the call, was profoundly disturbed and hoisted concern up the ladder. The brass, apparently, agreed and instantly pulled plug.

Now, if an off-handed PG – PG-13 joke from Benji Weatherly is beyond acceptable risk for the World Surf League what hope is there for them ever to make anything in our space?

Wouldn’t it be prudent for Ziff and Co. to slowly back away?

An abundance of caution?

David Lee and I discussed on today’s program and also discussed hurtful tweets.


Australian broadsheet predicts country’s state premiers will hold the line on ultra-stringent vaccination requirements even for world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater: “Slater’s rivals on the WSL will breathe easy knowing they have one less foe in the water at Bells Beach next Easter.”

"Across a season of fine margins, sitting out one of the four Grand Slams, a Grand Prix or two WSL legs is unthinkable. Or is it?"

One week ago, it was revealed here that the World Surf League had sent out letters to athletes ahead of the 2022 Championship Tour that must be vaccinated in order to compete on the entire tour. Per BeachGrit‘s source, “It sort of mirrors the U.S. government policy and Australian policy and the Australians are very tight on this. No pokey, no surfy.”

Now, Australian broadsheet The Guardian has confirmed that the country’s ultra-strict vaccination requirements will not be loosened even for superstar tennis players like Novak Djokovic. Even even for the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater.

Slater’s predicament underscores a looming dilemma for international sporting competitions. While Australia’s long-closed borders are now slowly reopening, the blanket ban on foreign arrivals is being replaced by vaccination requirements that are stringent by international standards. In sports notable for their globe-trotting – including tennis, golf, road cycling, Formula One, surfing and cricket – Australia’s entry requirements make being unvaccinated a significant competitive liability. Across a season of fine margins, sitting out one of the four Grand Slams, a Grand Prix or two WSL legs is unthinkable. Or is it?

“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews insisted recently, amid defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic’s ongoing disinclination to disclose whether or not he has been vaccinated. “And if they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks. But let’s not personalise it. I don’t think any other [unvaccinated] tennis player or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here.” Djokovic has told the New York Times that he is not against vaccines generally, but does not agree with mandates – especially for the Covid-19 vaccine.

The paper detailed Slater’s, and other high profile athletes’, fight against mandates and how leagues around the world are making exceptions to accommodate but that state premiers, in Australia, will not buckle to the star power, the unique charms of Kelly Slater and keep him locked out of their Lucky Country.

The piece was ended thusly, “Slater’s rivals on the WSL will breathe easy knowing they have one less foe in the water at Bells Beach next Easter.”

Breathe easy.

Get it?