Is surf still worth pursuing in an age where the new faces of the sport are Jonah Hill and Mark Zuckerberg?

The fact is this: in the dying days of 2021, surfing is about the most mainstream thing you can do. So what to do? Adapt or die.

And so my hand has been forced.

I will not scroll idly by and watch BG reduced to a barge for sexagenarian surf tripe no-one gives a shit about.

This is a place where writing has lived. Maybe the last place online.

It is more than just a five-minute Google search of “surfing” in the dead après ski hour between canapés and cocktails.

It is more than the raving husk of someone who once worked for a vanished magazine that compiled advertisements for surf brands.

It should be the clear-eyed arbiter of surf culture; not the rheumy-eyed madman no-one cares about.

But is it worth it?

That’s the question.

Is surf still worth pursuing in an age where the new faces of the sport are Jonah Hill and Mark Zuckerberg?

I confess to periods of disillusionment, which will be a surprise to no-one.

Please don’t mistake this for being angry, or jaded. If it were the 7 Stages of Grief I’m on the upward turn towards reconstruction. If not quite hopeful, at least not misty-eyed.

A friend sent me a clip of what I missed at one of our locals the other day.

“The adult beginner pandemic” he called it. Busier than the middle of summer. Ten people attempting to straight hand every wave. Big blue boards flying.

Normally when he sends me clips of missed surf I get pangs of guilt, envy.

But I felt…vindicated?

But I’m not here to gleefully dismember surfing, rather I’d like to consider a more evolved way of thinking about it.

The fact is this: in the dying days of 2021, surfing is about the most mainstream thing you can do.

A “surfer” now is both everyone and no-one you know.

We live in a culture of generalists. Specialised knowledge and deep learning is a thing of the past. We all know a little about everything. Our capacity to retain information is both degraded but bolstered by the GBs in our pockets.

Yet broad swathes of knowledge are perfectly acceptable, even desirable. Flexibility is the ideal.

The same dilution has happened with surfing. Our lives of leisure, choice and comfort allow us to dabble in things formerly reserved for specialists, or those prepared to work for it. Everyone’s an expert now. They might not be an expert in your eyes, but they’re still a surfer, because for them mediocrity and cursory knowledge and/or skill is the norm.

When I saw Jack Dorsey Tweet about surf films and truth last week I felt that was a bellwether of our time. Or perhaps a death knell.

You see, Jack Dorsey is not Mark Zuckerberg.

Where Zuck is the zinc-faced sniveller that no-one liked at school; Dorsey is the geek that didn’t give a fuck and probably transcended cool.

He’s the tech bros tech bro. People trust him. People listen to him.

When he merges surfing and truth in a pithy Tweet to six million-plus followers, you’d better believe the foxes are in the coop.

And I know that this argument has resounded through every generation, particularly the nineties when surf fashion became high street fashion.

But things are truly different now.

People are different.

Spheres of influence are vastly different.

The ability for one voice to reach millions of people makes a mockery of glossy ads in print magazines seen by a few thousand.

Face it: you (if “you” are “the core”) are outnumbered and overrun.

The surf press has no impact, because it doesn’t exist. Have you ever wondered who those thousands of strangers discussing surfing on YouTube and Reddit are? They’re the surfers now. They control the narrative.

You’re just a relic, sat on a sinking barge, listening to old magazine editors sing shanties no-one understands as you disappear beneath the waves.

So what to do? Adapt or die.

Be like Kai Lenny. Be like water. Evolve. Don’t treat surfing as some kind of idol. He has the sense to hold surfing at arm’s length. It’s just part of his portfolio. Worth a HODL, sure, but not worth blowing your whole wad on.

Alternatively, you can stand with Billy Kemper, beating your chest in surf-or-die machismo. Or drown with Ben Marcus and his brand of sexagenarian tangential surf tripe, or the other pensioners caw cawing below the line.

Personally I’m with Kai.

In 2022, surfing’s just another thing to do.

(P.S. SurfAds, if you ever feel like a rebel tour give me a shout. We’ll coerce Longtom back. Maybe persuade Derek to jump ship, too, just to fluff us up a bit. I hear Dorsey’s looking for a passion project to fund. And hey @Jack, get me on @JP_Currie. Happy to talk about ghost-writing that memoir, too).

Rielly (right) and Smith on Twitter.
Rielly (right) and Smith on Twitter.

Anti-depressive surf tabloid shouted out by Twitter founder, man of impeccable taste Jack Dorsey!

“The site’s brand voice sounds like Bill and Ted lol.”

I woke very early in the morning, sleep eluding, mist hanging heavy in the Milanese dark. Now, it is not wise to check a phone when even thinking about shutting the eyes once again but a compulsion overtook and before I knew it, I was scrolling here and there, checking these and those messages before stumbling upon one reading “You have a new Twitter friend.”

“Twitter friend?” I wondered before gliding over to BeachGrit’s analytics and being shocked by a massive spike in traffic.

Who was this new Twitter friend?

I immediately went to find out and was even more shocked to discover it was the man who invented Twitter, Jack Dorsey himself.


Dorsey, who had recently declared “the only truth left in the world is surf film,” had simply dropped a link to BeachGrit in his feed, not directing traffic any one place but rather all over.

The mood was generally one of confusion from his followers.

“The site’s brand voice sounds like Bill and Ted lol,” one wrote.

“With all going on, you pick the decline of surfers? Do not let us down, Jack.”

But we, here, know. We, here, understand.

Ultra Hard Surf Candy.

Delicious any time of day or night.

Surf Journalist runs wild travel gauntlet with personal digital fitness and health coach providing much needed encouragement along the way!

La dolce vita.

I’m in Milan, now, sun rising through the cool mist covering the ground. It will be a beautiful day, no doubt, because beauty is everywhere in Italy, wafting from every pasta dish, emanating from every tailored suit jacket.

My rosy outlook wasn’t always so pink, however. The run from San Diego, California, to that first stop high in the Dolomites was arduous enough to dull the shine though I powered through with gentle encouragement from my personal digital fitness and health coach.

My WHOOP strap.

It all began on stage, dressed as Mother Ginger, stress bubbling. My young daughter and I had a Milan-bound flight, via Zurich, four hours after final curtain out of LAX. A silly mission but we had to make it and so as soon as those Bon Bons took their bow I dropped the dress on the floor, as if it had been occupied by a ghost, grabbed daughter and race car drove entering Tom Bradley Terminal in full makeup with two hours to spare.

A miracle and I had to continually check my vitals to make certain I was still alive.

Next came the flight, crammed into a middle seat with a terrible boy in front of me who insisted on slamming his seat back into my knees causing me to bump in causing his mother to scream expletives at me while those around whipped out their cell phones to film.

No sleep and I continually checked my vitals to see how no sleep affected recovery.

Next came the Zurich layover and the stress of properly filling out new Covid questionnaires, hoping the answers are correct etc. followed by a quick flight to Milan and stress about navigating the new no Covid “green pass.”

No sleep still though my vitals were steady which gave me confidence that I had more in the tank.

Car rented, bags tetrised, boards strapped to roof, out on to the Italian highways and byways, avoiding the many traffic cameras, stopping for many espressos, arriving in Cortina 6 hours later no sleep but more alive than I had ever been WHOOPED to the very max.

Encouragement, friends, is vastly underrated.

Buy here.

Zuckerberg buys the land that wrecked the reef that drowned the people that scared Grubby Clark into declaring Blank Monday so now you gotta ride epoxy!

Facebook founder linked to land that, in a roundabout way, brought the surf industry to its knees in 2006.

The world’s fifth-richest man and BFF of world’s first best waterman Kai Lenny, Mark Zuckerberg, has dramatically increased his landholdings in Hawaii, buying a 110-acre site on Kauai for $17 million from a company owned by the Pflueger family.

The purchase, reports KITV, “includes most of a reservoir that broke in 2006 and killed seven people. James Pflueger was held responsible for the tragedy for his management of the dam, a section of which burst following 40 days of near constant rain. Pflueger was sentenced by a state judge to seven months in jail in 2014 and was released in 2015. He died in 2017 at the age of 91.

“Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chang are committed to doing their part of fulfilling legal requirements and promoting safety of the reservoir, said Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the couple.

“The reservoir remains unrepaired and on the state’s list of high-risk dams.

“The couple plan to extend farming, ranching, conservation and wildlife protection work on the land, LaBolt said. They already had 1,300 acres (526 hectares) on the island.”

So what?

So nothing!

So what we have here is six degrees of surf adjacency: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are paying $17 million for the land that includes a reservoir that collapsed in 2006 that killed seven people and led to a tsunami-sized lawsuit that was one of the factors to inspire Grubby Clark to sell Clark Foam.

Too much?

Let’s back up.

According to Tsunami from the Mountain Crashes Through Kauai Town by Malia Zimmerman in The Hawaii Report for March 15, 2006:

Devastated — that is how residents in Kilauea on Kauai’s North Shore said they felt early Tuesday after a 70-foot high, 200-foot wide “tsunami” wave that sounded like thunder, came crashing down from the mountain around 5 a.m., washing through homes and dragging between three and eight people away.

The “thunder,” which residents say kept getting louder until they could hear nothing else, was actually more than 300 million gallons [20 Surf Ranches] of fresh water that raced toward the tiny beachside community from the mountain after several weeks of heavy rain caused the 116-year-old Kaloko Dam to breach its earth barrier.

A man was swept out to sea by what became a raging river — his body was found around noon in the river mouth leading to the ocean, according to the State Adjunct General Robert Lee. Between two and seven other people still are reported missing.

To be fair, the rainstorm that collapsed the dam was a then-Biblical, now legendary 40 days and 40 nights of rain that people still talk about in hushed tones.

An historic deluge.

In the end, eight or more homes were destroyed and seven people were killed, including Aurora Solveig Fehring, her husband Alan Gareth Dingwall, and their two-year-old son, Rowan Grey Makana Fehring-Dingwall. Christina Michelle McNees, who was seven months pregnant. Daniel Jay Arroyo, her fiancé who she was set to marry just hours later, also died along with Timothy Wendell Noonan, Jr., a friend of the Fehrings, and Carl Wayne Rotstein, the Fehring’s caretaker and business partner.

Zimmerman further reported:

According to numerous media reports and public record, Pflueger has a long history of manipulating the land on his North Shore property, which caused the state to pursue a criminal case against him, and area residents to sue him civilly for subsequent damage to their property.

Pflueger, 79, received the largest fine in state history for an environmental case, and one of the largest criminal fines ever in U.S history, when the 5th Circuit Court on Kauai ruled he knowingly violated water pollution laws and committed 10 felonies.

Pflueger also was ordered to pay $7.5 million in penalties for construction he initiated without proper Clean Water Act permits, including $2 million to the state and federal government, $5.3 million to stop further erosion to the land and for stream restoration and $200,000 to replace area cesspools. The repair to the environment was supposed to be completed by 2007.

Righteous bucks!

Pflueger dicking around with nature flooded property and wrecked a reef which is a huge no-no in Hawaii.

He was also held responsible for the dam breach.

According to (a fact-checked) Wikipedia:

The owner of the dam (James Pflueger) performed grading operations near the dam without permits and may have filled in the emergency spillway for the dam. Neither the current nor prior owners of the dam maintained the dam adequately. Finally, the County of Kauai knew about the unpermitted grading operation, but did not enforce a stop-work order.

On November 21, 2008, James Pflueger was indicted for manslaughter and reckless endangerment in relation to the dam failure. Pflueger’s lawyer claimed that the indictment was an attempt by the state of Hawaii to deflect its own responsibility in the matter.

On August 4, 2009, it was reported that a settlement between the parties of all civil cases has been agreed upon, pending judicial review. On July 17, 2013, Pflueger entered a plea of no contest to reckless endangering in a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for the plea, state prosecutors agreed to drop seven manslaughter counts.

The story goes on and on, with many twists and turns.

According to Pflueger Defaults on Settlement for Victims of His Ka Loko Dam Breach by Malia Zimmerman in Hawaii Reporter for September 9, 2011:

The civil suits were settled for an estimated $25 million in 2009, with another possible $25 million from an insurance company. Pflueger chose not to pay that settlement by the September 1, 2009 deadline: “Pflueger’s attorneys have told attorneys for the victims that Pfleuger does not have the money to pay his share of the undisclosed civil settlement, and that he would like a 2-year extension.”

The victims put a lien on the property, which included more than 384 acres along Pilaa Bay. But that property already had a $5,000,000 lien on it filed by Pflueger’s own family trust and another $4,000,000 lien from 2001 when Pflueger’s extensive illegal grading activities on the Pilaa property flowed 1,000 tons of mud into neighboring homes and properties and into once-pristine Pilaa Bay.

Is this why Hawaiians sometimes don’t like the haole? Maybe.

Oh what a tangled web that runs amok, when with nature we try to…

The Pflueger saga goes on and on with suits and countersuits and millions of dollars flying around like fruit bats.

So what?

So it was Pflueger getting his okole sued off by multiple parties for tens of millions of dollars that was at least partially responsible for Gordon Clark declaring *Blank Monday and closing Clark Foam without warning on December 5, 2006.

Grubby was worried about lawsuits from employees who had been cancerized by exposure to all those toxic chemicals and especially something called TDI that could have caused a Bhopal-class disaster in the once-vacant and deserty Orange County that had sprouted up around Clark’s formerly isolated factory.

And that’s why you’re still getting used to epoxy.

In a story called Blank Monday in The New Yorker for August 21, 2006 by surfing’s own Pulitzer-prize winning Bill Finnegan, we find the final piece of the puzzle that links mudslides to Clark Foam to Zuckerberg:

Then in the summer of 2005, Clark took a trip to China.

When he returned, he spoke to Luis Barajas, his wood-mill foreman. “He said, ‘Luis, they got us. They build an Orange County every couple of days,” Barajas told me.

Not long afterward, according to friends, Clark was in Hawaii, dirt-biking with Jimmy Pflueger, who is something of a local magnate on Kauai. During a break, Pflueger told Clark a story. He had got into trouble with the state and the E.P.A over some grading he’d done without a permit. There had been a rainstorm and a mudslide and a lot of dirt had ended up on a coral reef. The state fined him four million dollars.

The worst part, though, Pfleuer said, was the way the government calculated some fines, compounding sums daily by a formula that, given time, could break the Federal Reserve.

Clark flew back to California. He brooded all weekend, according to a friend. On Monday morning, December 5th, he went into Clark Foam and approached the first worker he saw pouring foam into a mold.

“That’s it,” he said. “That’s the last foam we pour.”

So what?

So that Kauai property with bad voodoo circling it like bats from a belfry, the property that flooded the reef and killed seven people and put a septuagenarian in prison for sept months and cost him millions which he may or may not have paid and inspired Grubby Clark to pull the plug, now belongs to Mark Zuckerberg.

This latest buy is Zuckerberg’s second for 2021.

In March, Zuck paid $53 mill for 600 acres of prime Kauai land included a public beach and a working cattle ranch, this on top of the 750 acres he bought in 2014.

Which could be good as Zuckerberg has way too much money and is way too high profile and too careful to ever flood a reef or drown people and get his ears sued into the stratosphere.

And Zuckerberg has the money to do right by that reservoir, and restore it to whatever nature intended.

And if Zuckerberg really wants to be a good neighbor he should turn some of that land into a working cattle ranch.

Hawaiians love cowboy work, boy howdy, whether it’s working from horses or throwing hay one-handed, two bales at a time, which they can surely do.

Even swimming cattle out off the beach to waiting boats, which they did a hundred years ago.

Hawaiians are natural cowboys and if Zuckerberg made some of that land into cattle land, and offered real paniolo jobs and riding opportunities to the kama’aina, they would love him.

Person of colour, Drew Brophy. | Photo:

Iconic surf artist Drew Brophy emerges from COVID coma and recounts “profound experience on the other side – an insight into how EVERYTHING in the universe works!”

"Drew cannot talk yet but he can write and mouth words."

Six weeks ago, the iconic surf artist Drew Brophy was hit with COVID real bad and was in a coma, ventilator working his lungs, outlook bleak etc.

Now, and as revealed in an Instagram post from his family, Brophy’s health may have turned a corner, and while in a coma the king of Posca pen art was taken on a wild metaphysical adventure.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Drew Brophy Surf Artist (@drewbrophy)

UPDATE: Now 6 weeks in ICU. He was on a vent for 4 weeks and now a trach is delivering oxygen, which is less invasive, and he is being weaned off of heavy sedation. Drew is gaining strength back and recovery is happening. His oxygen needs decrease each day. His mind is clear and he is starting to look like himself again.

A week ago I was told he had a small chance of making it. Six days ago he turned a corner and his doctor called him “a Christmas Miracle.”

But our family and friends knew all along that he was going to beat this.

Yesterday Drew asked “what day is it?” I told him Dec 27th and he realized he had been OUT since Thanksgiving. He was surprised and I was afraid the news would send him backwards. But he handled it like the bad @ss that he is!

Drew cannot talk yet but he can write and mouth words. I’m getting better at reading lips.

Drew wrote about a profound experience he had on “the other side,” insight into how EVERYTHING in the Universe works. I’m sure a lot of new art will come out of this!

We have a ways to go, but Drew is getting better. He is fortunate that his body was so strong and healthy before all this. Besides lung inflammation, the rest of his body is in great shape. Yesterday’s CT showed NO permanent damage to his lungs!

We got approval for an experimental drug called Aviptadil. It’s very promising to quicken his healing. I’ve had to go through a lengthy process to get it approved; hours of research, paperwork and phone calls. Finally, it’s been ordered and when they give it to him, his healing will be even faster.

There are many earth angels helping Drew get better – friends that work at his hospital that look out for him and family that send him happy videos to keep his spirits up. And so many friends who have been fundraising, leading prayer circles and taking care of Dylan and me.

Anyone out there been on the other side, too?

I went there, aged ten, after a doctor got the dosage wrong on an anti-nausea drug, turning it into a wild hallucinogenic.

The things I saw shaped my life forever.