"When the model’s working, there’s nothing better. But recently there’s been an imbalance. You know what I’m talking about."
There’s a mate I grew up surfing with who is a real pain in the arse. One of those guys who every time you see him can cut you down with a simple, devastating quip.
It might be about my hair. My weight. The board I’m riding. The turn I just bogged.
“Still fucking up those roundhouses I see,” my mate will hiss as I’m paddling back out.
He’s catty. Clever. Incisive. Sometimes I can’t stand the cunt.
But god damn he can hit the mark. I am getting balder, fatter. I do ride ridiculous boards. I am still a massive kook.
I’ll always still love him. He holds me to account in a way few else will.
My mate, you see, is a bit like BeachGrit.
Catty. Clever. Incisive (or is it cheap, funny, character revealing?)
Not afraid to say what everyone else is thinking. To push the boundaries in a way that’s as instructive as it is destructive. It’s a fine quality to have.
Something I want to see continue here.
I want to take a second, if you will indulge me, and consider this virtual establishment we find ourselves so regularly posted up in.
Like you, I’ve been kicking around on BeachGrit for a good few years now.
I’ve always been drawn to its honesty. Brashness. Irreverence. A culture of taking the piss I first came across as a kid, under the Rielly-Baker era of ASL and Kidman-Sutherland era of Waves in the early to mid-90s (though it has roots deeper than that).
Surf media shaped me in my formative years. I hadn’t even started high school by the time I was being conditioned by the subversiveness of DC Green, the crassness of Gonad Man.
For better or worse, I’ve always been wary of anyone taking themselves too seriously. In life and in surfing.
I started reading and commenting here back around 2017. Had my first article published a year or so later.
Post Post-Surf, it was good to see that tradition of muck-racking enduring.
Messrs Rielly and Smith have cottoned on to a strategy for BeachGrit that’s as simple as it is effective. Playing the algorithm game without any pretences.
Mastering the art of self referential click bait.
By relying on Google Adsense and click revenue from non-endemic advertising, the Grit has gained true independence from the surf media’s cottage industry. While raking in the biggest online audience around.
A model the rest of the surf world is quickly waking up to.
Most importantly, this joint isn’t afraid to kill our idols when they need it. To tell the truth.
In a world of toxic positivity, Tall Poppy Syndrome ain’t the worst thing in the world.
It does mean certain sacrifices. Things can get a bit nasty at times. The definition of surf and surf-adjacent can become blurred.
The Grit has been known to cross the line here and there.
But at its best this place is performance art. High-brow-low-brow.
Skewering surfing so sweetly, yet in doing so in a way that pays the ultimate homage to it.
When the model’s working, there’s nothing better. BeachGrit and its teflon Dons hold the surfing world to account in a way few others can.
It’s why I keep coming back multiple times daily. Why I can’t help loving the place. I’m sure it’s the same for you too.
But recently there’s been an imbalance. You know what I’m talking about.
The wild reporting on Giselle & Kelly. Tom Brady. Shakira. Seth Green. Bill Murray. Emrata.
Blatant gaming of trending names and keywords. Increasingly loose links to anything surf related. Surf adjacent has become surf spurious.
At least Jonah Hill has some tangible connection to our pastime. We could forgive the incessant gossip and speculation over his love life, his acting career, his achingly indy quiver.
But these latest efforts?
To paraphrase Colonel Kilgore, Giselle don’t surf.
Each day I log on hoping for things to be toned down. But the hole keeps getting dug deeper, and deeper,
I even tuned into a recent episode of the Grit podcast with Chas and David Lee Scales. The Grit is generally a good time.
Expressed in the same idiom as its online sister publication, but with a knowing wink to the audience thrown in. An opportunity to peak behind the curtain. Break the fourth wall.
Have a chuckle at how ridiculous things are. A chance for DLS to pull Chas into line.
But instead even Scales had now turned into a simpering lackey, pushing simple Dorothy Dixers to Chas about his latest rash of celebrity articles.
It was a bridge too far. If DLS wasn’t gonna keep the bastards honest, who will? Me?
Well ok, I can try.
Anybody with basic digital literacy can see this latest seam of content for what it is.
Search engine optimisation. SEO.The other thing the Grit does so well. Search “surf” in google and you’re bound to find recent Grit articles in the top results.
It means they don’t have to rely on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok for their traffic.
But it appears the boys have discovered it doesn’t just need to be surf-adjacent keywords to send the traffic. Pick any trending topic and add a few references into your headline, first couple of pars and watch the clicks roll in.
The biggest little surf website on the internet has grown even bigger. It’s been a wild success in terms of ad revenue, I’m sure.
But at what cost?
With each new celebrity story, I find myself less interested in engaging. It’s like my mate in the surf stooping down to mum jokes or internet conspiracy rants.
I switch off.
C&D were concerned about whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
What’s been built here is important. It needs to continue. This is still surfing’s home of dissent. Something to protect.
But the natives are getting restless.
I recently read a good article on Stab. From a reader. A personal essay. About the gentrification of his local break. It was excellent writing, if not unfocussed in parts.
One of the best articles I’ve read this year, in print or on the web.
It’s the sort of read you’d traditionally expect on the Grit. Except it wasn’t.
Admittedly, it was behind the paywall. Even so it had pulled in 50 or so comments, and counting. More than a couple of familiar names from this side of the pond.
It could mark a shift. Stranger things have happened.
Not that I am abandoning this place. Not by a long shot. Derek gave me my first proper shot. Now blossomed into a nice little side hustle.
I’m forever grateful.
And as E-Lo, VALs and corporate greenwashers continue on their inexplicable ascent this place is more important than ever.
I would love to be contributing more, but life and other writing gigs are getting in the way.
Still, I’ll try.
I’ve got a coupla new old boards to review. A run in with a VAL a couple of weeks back that could make for a novella. Some surf-lit that’s been bubbling around my head for a few months now.
When I get the chance. When is that supposed to happen again?
But in the meantime, Chas and Derek have a job to do.
To focus that razor sharp wit and ebullient anger back on the targets that matter.
Like shoulder hopping pros and walls of positive noise. Rogue sharks and Matt George. Or was it Sam?
And for fuck’s sake, can you please fix up the comment threads so that they’re appearing under the right article?
Yours forever, surfads.