“My blood pressure? Dude! It’s f$#king through the roof! Are you kidding me? It’s nuts!”
Today’s guest on Dirty Water is Andy Lyon, the Malibu realtor and First Point surfer of fifty years who achieved a considerable notoriety recently when he threw a rock into another man’s surfboard following an entanglement, the video of the event going viral.
He lost his job, had his address published and a beat-down was suggested his kid Glider.
Lyon represents a vanishing era where lineups were harshly policed with a clearly defined pecking order, a limpid simplicity greased with the underlying threat of violence.
The highlight, for me, of this interview is our guest’s reply to the posit that Malibu is a sissy wave for old men and girls, not sissy old men who beat up on girls.
Question: With sitting surf champ Gabriel Medina taking year off to traipse through internal garden and former surf champ John John Florence purposefully sailing around next event is World Surf League in deep trouble?
A real and mostly undeniable truth that has hovered over the World Surf League née Association of Surfing Professionals for the last two decades plus is that the best surfers in the world are on tour. Sure, there are wonderful Ben Gravies and Jamie O’Briens and Clay Marzos and etc. but the cream of the crop, in prime, has surfed the tour for the last two decades plus.
Three decades plus?
Certainly fantastic specimens have grown tired, “retired” early like Tom Curren, Dane Reynolds, Bobby Martinez and others from greater Santa Barbara but doesn’t this iteration of competitive professional surfing feel… different?
Gabriel Medina, sitting champion, elected to sit out most the year in his prime before becoming injured and not seeming to care.
Former champion John John Florence, became injured too but instead of heading to much rehab, posted to social media, chose to sail the high seas while purposefully avoiding the next WSL stop in Tahiti.
Clearly cost to benefit has been weighed and for two still young surfing mega-stars the tour doesn’t matter so much.
What does this mean overall?
Will the next batch of prodigies chart different non-competitive courses? Building fanbases upon jaw dropping clips, film releases, art?
Or is this simply a hiccup?
Did Kelly Slater get it all wrong?
White settler living on stolen California land eviscerates modern surf image: “Surfing has a reputation for embodying all the most annoying and violent aspects of white masculinity!”
Maya Weeks, who describes herself as “a white settler writer, artist, and geographer living and working on unceded yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash land,” which I think is California’s central coast, pulled no punch in smacking us all in the mouth. “Surfing has a reputation for embodying all the most annoying and violent aspects of white masculinity, and for good reason,” she writes before really digging in.
Contrary to its roots as a kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) cultural practice, modern surfing as widely distributed by white men has been a font of rugged masculinity, hyperindividualism, and conquering (especially when it comes to big waves). I’m thinking of white locals in my hometown telling visitors “we grew here, you flew here”; of white men stealing the waves of people they don’t know; of the way professional surf contests as late as the 2000s were set up to give women the worst conditions to surf in as well as far-from-equitable prize money; of white American men leasing private islands to capitalize on as surf resorts; of literal surf Nazis. I’m thinking of how in the early 20th century, the Manhattan Beach, California city council used eminent domain to take the land from the Bruces, a Black family. Of how it took the Bruce family nearly a century to recover their land.
Bleak and ugly but is there hope?
Thankfully, yes, as Weeks discusses promising developments such as women getting an equal shot to surf Mavericks even though that contest hasn’t ever run, the lineup becoming more diversified and:
Crucially, since time immemorial, the lands and waters of what is currently called the Central Coast of California have been the home of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe. The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will reinstate some Chumash sovereignty over these waters in a protected area that will extend from the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Ocean and climate scientist Priya Shukla points out that the sanctuary will not only restore “decision-making power to the original stewards of these natural resources” but also “[elevate] Chumash ‘thrivability’, which values the interconnectedness between the natural marine environment and local human community members.” I can’t wait to surf in it.
Me either except for the cold and angrier-than-completely-necessary elephant seals.
Heartthrob songbird Ricky Martin forms masculine counterpart to chanteuse Shakira as surf darlings able to heal discordant times: “#surfing #surfingislife!”
Disagreeing with one another has become sport in these fractured days. Folk entrenching in this or that position, digging in deep, throwing grenades at others entrenched in that or this position. Becoming angry. Becoming filled with rage and uttering statements of disbelief at dinner parties amongst likeminded friends about various family members or co-workers and their idiocy for thinking unapproved things.
Thankfully, though, the entire world can agree that Shakira is a wonderful example of how to be beautiful and healthy and move through life’s ups and downs.
And you recall, the chanteuse’s relationship drama recently became very public as her partner of many years, footballer Girard Pique, was alleged to have cheated.
Instantly, she became a surf darling. The modern face of our beloved pastime.
One, though, is the loneliest number so the universe has provided a wonderfully masculine counterpart in songbird Ricky Martin.
The multi-platinum recording artist just took his sons surfing and lovingly penned, “¡Tremendo día de playa! Empieza para mis hijos mayores su semana de cumpleaños. Gracias a mi hermano Alecs por la buena vibra del día y enseñarle a Matteo y Valentino a jugar con las olas @lipsmacksurf Soy el padre más afortunado del mundo. #prouddad #Surfing #surfingislife”
In English it reads, “Great day at the beach! It begins for my older children their birthday week. Thanks to my brother Alecs for the good vibes of the day and teaching Matteo and Valentino how to play with the waves @lipsmacksurf I’m the luckiest dad in the world. #prouddad #Surfing #surfingislife.”
I can just see the cinematic retelling of a great love story. Shakira mending heart. Ricky building family bonds. The two meeting out in the lineup, singing songs about surfing, healing the world.
La vida loca.
Malibu realtor dubbed “angriest man in surfing” who lost his job and was hit with death threats following board-smashing incident reveals the positive side of anti-fame, “People say it ended his career, it’s like, no, shit is taking off! I may not have to sling houses at all!”
"It’s pretty amazing how stuff goes like this…I’ve become sort famous I guess.”
The Malibu surfer Andy Lyon, whom you’ll hear on a Dirty Water podcast in a couple of days, was the star, victim, whatever you want to call it, of a viral video shaming that cost him job, got him doxxed and his kid threatened.
To recap, Lyon and a retro-riding cowboy get entangled, Lyon’s board gets smashed; he retaliates by taking to the nostalgia craft with a rock before paddling it out beyond the Malibu pier.
A TikTok video and Instagram account @andylyonsisakook soon followed.
Standard sorta stuff and very good entertainment value.
Lyon, who is fifty-nine, and who has been surfing the joint for fifty years, is upbeat when BeachGrit calls despite the death threats, having his address published and a warning his five-year-old kid is going to get beat up.
“You know, it’s a good ride right now,” he says. “Fucking dealing with all these little punks, keyboard warriors. It’s pretty amazing how stuff goes like this…I’ve become sorta famous I guess.”
The incident, and the response of both sides, marks the changing shift, I think, in modern surf culture. On one side you got on the original cats, good surfers, still riding short boards, who grew up with the unwritten code that if the locals don’t get their waves, hell gonna break loose.
It’s unpleasant but crowded lineups greased with the underlying threat of violence have at least a semblance of order.
The prevailing mindset, howevs, is that all surfers are equal, beginners, SUP riders, even celebs being pushed onto waves on giant foam surfboards by their sherpas, and that retaliation belongs in the distant ugly past.
As for being doxxed, supposedly cancelled and so on, Lyon says, “I’m embracing this. People say it ended his career but, it’s like, shit’s taking off. This is the beginning!”
Lyon does press to clear the record about the supposed kid traumatised by the ordeal.
“He was in his twenties and about a foot taller than me,” he says. “He was no fucking kid!”
Full story via the Dirty Water podcast, out in a couple of days.