Brewer, dead at seventy-one. Sorely missed.

Explosive surf icon once described as “like a giant pissed off bear” lauded in the New York Times following shock death, “He was the Richard Avedon of surfing!”

“His portraits were character studies.”

It’s been three weeks since big, beautiful Art Brewer, the Laguna Beach photographer whose work defined surfing over five decades, and who created the legend of Bunker Spreckels via his ionic imagery, died following a liver transplant. 

Referred to “as the sport’s most naturally gifted surf photographer”, Art owned the seventies, eighties and nineties in the American surf mags before splitting to do more lucrative commercial work, although his surf spirit still soared.

A dozen or so years ago, I got Arty to put the blossoming Jordy Smith in front of his muzzle for a cover for Stab, the kid wearing a Shaun Tomson-era yellow vest.

I pleaded poverty (partly true) and paid five hundred bucks for a studio shoot with full lighting rig and assistants. Rad thing is, even if I had a budget of fifty gees no one could’ve shot it with the same panache as Art. 

“Brewer’s eye for color and framing is unmatched in the surf world, and much of his best work has been done as a portraitist when he has unfettered control over light, texture, and mood,” says Matt Warshaw. 

A giant in the game. 

And, so, rightly, Art’s just been lauded in the New York Times.

Mr. Brewer published his first photograph in Surfer magazine in the late 1960s and quickly became the surfing world’s dominant photographer for the next few years. For the next half-century, from a small boat or while treading water, wearing fins and dealing with rip currents, he showed a deft eye for lighting and framing in capturing the thrilling sights of great surfers.

Through Mr. Brewer’s lens, Bruce Irons surfed into what looked like the eye of a hurricane in Indonesia; Barry Kanaiaupuni darted through Honolulu Bay like a speedboat, leaving a wake behind him; Shane Dorian, also in Indonesia, appeared to split the ocean; and Strider Wasilewski seemingly rode his board underwater off Oahu.

“He was almost the Richard Avedon of surfing,” said Mr. Kempton, who edited the magazine in the late 1970s and early ’80s and is the author of “Women on Waves” (2021). “His portraits were character studies.”

A portrait of Mr. Spreckels shows him on a beach, his gleaming blond hair almost disappearing into the sand, sitting behind a red surfboard. Montgomery Kaluhiokalani, known as Buttons, poses in a green and yellow striped wet suit (“looking like the court jester,” Mr. Brewer wrote on Instagram) holding a board, with his thumb out as if he were hitchhiking.

Mark Occhilupo gazes skyward from inside a sugar cane field in Hawaii, looking deliriously happy. John Kelly, an early surf pioneer, stands alone on a beach, with his back to the camera, looking out at the ocean.

“Surfers would come to the magazine and he’d coax them into his studio,” Mr. Kempton said. “He did great portraits of Rabbit Bartholomew being David Bowie and Mick Jagger.”

One of Mr. Brewer’s most stunning photographs was taken in the water, but it is not of a surfer. He was sailing around the Andaman Islands, off the coast of India, and asked the captain if he had ever seen elephants swimming.

“I talked to the boat’s captain about it and he mentioned a logging camp on one of the islands where the handlers take their elephants to the beach to bathe in the afternoon after working all day,” he said.

A few days later, he saw a mother elephant and her baby leave the jungle for the beach and head into the water. The image he shot is almost phantasmagorical: the elephant underwater, her legs kicking, her gray body swaddled in blue water, a handler in a red shirt atop her.

Still hard to believe the big man has pivoted to the other side. 

Read the rest of the obit here. 

Liver King (pictured) surfing.
Liver King (pictured) surfing.

“Natural caveman” bodybuilder Liver King comes under intense fire for alleged $11k per month steroid habit putting flamboyant performance enhancing drug abusing surfers on notice!

Smoke and fire.

Surfing, as it becomes Olympic, is in an absolute world of hurt. Oh not because its debut was in the glorious island nation of Japan with its unbeatable cuisine and smaller waves. Not because its reprise will be at Teahupo’o where the world’s current best surfer, one Filipe Toledo, refuses to paddle due nerves.


Surfing, at its Olympic level, is most troubled all thanks to drugs.

Not the drugs of old, mind you, the cocaines (buy here), marijuanas and methamphetamines but those of the performance enhancing sort.

Oh, I don’t think our heroes and heroins are purposefully attempting to take shortcuts towards greatness but so so many ingredients in various supplements have been deemed no-no by the ruling class and how to know what is forbidden? Which tincture or powder?

Rough days.

Rougher, even, in the aftermath of Brian Johnson aka Liver King, a “natural caveman” who derived strength and incredible musculature from eating raw animal organs but also, allegedly, lots of steroids.

Per the New York Post:

Johnson — who rose to fame after claiming he lives an “ancestral lifestyle” that includes eating raw liver — was outed by a fellow bodybuilder who claimed to have evidence of Johnson’s steroid use, as seen in leaked emails allegedly sent by Johnson.

The father of two has been posting to Instagram since August 2021, amassing over 1.7 million followers and swearing that his intense workouts and eating as a “modern caveman” are the secret to how he’s achieved and maintained his ripped body.

Johnson — who has posted videos showing him chowing down on raw animal liver, protein shakes, egg yolks and bone marrow — claims his body is 100% natural and has staunchly denied steroid use.

Johnson has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs by a YouTuber who simply goes by Derek, whose channel “More Plates More Dates” is dedicated to speculating whether bodybuilders are “natty or not,” meaning naturally ripped or using steroids.

In the hourlong video, which has exceeded 1.68 million views, Derek shows emails he claims Johnson sent to an unnamed coach in 2021, in which the muscleman allegedly shares his goals to build his “Liver King” brand and admits to spending $11,000 on the figure-enhancing drug.

Oh man and oh bother. Accidental tincture or powder use aside, do you think there are any professional surfers, on the Olympic track, actively engaged in proper ugly?


Please don’t answer. A pure hypothetical.


Teahupo’o awaits.

The place of larger skulls.

It’s on etc.

Damning scandal rocks England as program “Operation Surfwell” uncovered; reveals full-time police officers paid to run “disgusting” surfing lessons instead of fight meddlesome crime!

Big, big trouble.

The island nation of England is waking up this morning to a scandal so sticky, so damning, that its sort has not been seen since Rupert Murdoch tapped royal phones and had a little listen in. A bit of eavesdrop and biscuits. Nasty business. The epicenter of these troubles happen to be Cornwall, there on the pendulum’s western bit, where “Operation Surfwell” has been uncovered by a rightly furious wife.

Per Cornwall Live:

With Cornish householders paying extra council tax to fund policing and officer numbers still not back to their pre-austerity level, a policeman’s wife has voiced her horror at discovering ten full-time officers are being funded to run surfing lessons rather than fight crime – at a potential cost to the public of more than £450,000 a year.

A response to her Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that ‘Operation Surfwell’, which offers surfing as therapy for emergency services personnel and has been running for three years, cost £68,348 in 2021-22, exclusive of staffing costs – likely to be a further £400,000-plus. Roughly half the bill was met from the force budget and the rest from grants (£32,382) and income from running courses (£5,530).

Ten full-time ‘sworn or warranted’ staff are assigned to the project, with a further five performing a “resilience function” on a limited number of days. Devon and Cornwall Police describes this as “a reallocation of resources” rather than an additional cost. Surfwell, which was first set up in Devon and Cornwall in 2020, was extended to the rest of England and Wales last year because it has proved its worth in helping officers and other emergency services workers overcoming trauma and become better officers for it.

The wife went on to say, “My husband is a police officer who’s constantly under pressure due to lack of staff and being run between job and job. He told me about Op Surfwell, which is a mental heath surf programme set up by the force, but I was disgusted to know that regular police officers have been taken off frontline duties to surf when I believe something like this could be outsourced.”

Or not outsourced. Just scrapped altogether.

It is too early to know if the calumny will be enough to sink the new Rishi Sunak government.

Dark days.

Open Thread: Comment Live, Day Three of the Haleiwa Challenger where professional surfers attempt to discover their special purpose!

Oy vey: In shock pivot away from Ashkenazi roots, beloved Hollywood frontman and “Surf Jew” Jonah Hill Feldstein petitions LA court to lose his German-Polish last name!

"It's almost like irony poisoning!"

Busy days for the body positivist hero, director, funnyman and surf inspiration Jonah Hill whom you last saw on these pages holding a bubble-wrapped longboard while chatting to a pal next to his $90,000 Rivian electric truck, a stark contrast to the luxury 4×4 Mercedes camper van called The Beast the Moneyball star used to hunt waves along the Californian coastline.

Now, in a shock pivot away from his German-Polish Ashkenazi Jewish roots, Hill has submitted a petition for change of name to Los Angeles Superior Court with a hearing set for January 23, 2023. 

To wit, Jonah Hill forever and goodbye Jonah Hill Feldstein.

Hill got his last name from daddy Richard, a famous Hollywood biz manager who ran the accounts for Guns N’ Roses and who advised a thicket of celebs for five decades.

His actor sister Beanie also kept Feldstein, along with his now-dead brother Jordan.

Ironically, Hill surfs with a “Surf Jews California” sticker on one of his foam longboards which serves, he says, as a figurative punch in the nose to Malibu’s traditional Nazi-punk culture.

“It’s almost like irony poisoning,” he told GQ. “All this Malibu surf imagery has swastikas on it which, fuck, is, like, so gnarly so, yo, I said, we should star Surf Jews!”