Surfer must go.
Yesterday, our wonderful friend Jonah Hill made a grand return to the surf consciousness.
Video captured the heir to Miki Dora’s Malibu throne belly sliding a longboard in his kingdom, mistakenly cutting off a 14-year-old boy who was trimming nicely down the line on a particularly glum day. The sort that now haunts Southern California from the beginning of may until the middle of June. The clip would have gone unnoticed if not for the famed Kook of the Day Instagram account, which has been cancelled and forced to operate under the somewhat balky moniker Kook of the Day OG.
“Being the kook of the day can happen to the best of us! Even Jonah Hill!” its mysterious moderator penned. “Seen here snaking @cormaccove maybe Jonah slipped? Or those stupid Ryan Lovelace boards he rides (shrugging man emoji).”
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The comments were near universal in praising Hill, calling out Kook of the Day OG for daring insult an icon etc. and both Derek Rielly and I understood why.
You see, about six months ago I got a text from a dear surfer friend reading, “Someone you do not speak highly of reached out and asked for your number. Do you mind if I give it?”
I laughed while wondering who it could possibly be.
The most famous Goggansas from Shire Goggansas, Ashton, already has my number.
So does World Surf League CEO Erik Logan.
The world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater must have it because I have his and Paul Speaker is no longer, apparently, involved in actively destroying professional surfing.
I somehow landed on it being Mark Price, though I don’t recall why, so you can imagine my surprise when a text popped through reading, “Hey Chas it’s Jonah Hill. I would like the opportunity to chat with you human to human if you’re up for that. No anger nothing. Just truly want to talk. If not, all good.”
But you will certainly recall the wild good times we had with the Academy-nominated star as he discovered surfing. The journey of learning to be funny etc. He was a fixture, here, and though it was all in theoretically light-hearted and literarily valuable, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I braced for a thorough tongue lashing not seen since Rip Curl’s Neil Ridgway excoriated me with “I don’t like what is happening here. I don’t like the inaccuracies in what you write. Look, you come to us with your hand out, we put you up in a hotel and you write off the event? That doesn’t seem right to me” and “See I’m wearing a funny hat. Now you can write about that” some fifteen years ago in Portugal.
I did write it, directly, and mentally prepared to write whatever Jonah Hill was going to bark at me too, calling straight away.
“Hi, this is Chas Smith,” I said with that dumb lilt in my voice when trouble is coming and I can’t wait for it (see: Mick Fanning). “You wanted to talk?”
“Thanks so much for calling,” Jonah responded with such genuine warmth as to catch me entirely off guard.
We proceeded to chat for the next 30-plus minutes. He described how he had fallen in love with surfing, truly fallen in love. How he now understood the missteps he had made along the way, putting too much on social media etc. How he respected the history, the core, this BeachGrit community right here who also loves this odd water dance. How he reads, listens, learns. As proof of his devotion, he even deleted his Instagram account because he knew.
He didn’t ask for any changes in how we wrote about him. Understood that it came with the territory. Just wanted me to know that he simply loved surfing and was trying to honor that.
I was absolutely floored.
Later he called Derek and had a 45-plus minute conversation with him too on similar themes though my better half only recounted to me how much he wanted to get off the phone and go surfing.
Thinking back on all the people I’ve infuriated in our bubble during the last two decades, from the aforementioned Ridgway, Fanning, Speaker, Noggins, Slater to Sam George, I couldn’t help but thinking Jonah Hill was the most genuine, the most self-aware. And self-awareness is the key that unlocks the doors of perception and/or surf nirvana and/or core-dom and/or this incorrigible surf journalist’s broken heart.
And/or wait, is it?
Maybe, but in the meantime, zombie website Surfer Magazine continues to embarrass itself by reporting on the Kook of the Day OG post, writing, “a new clip shows Jonah breaking one of surfing’s biggest faux pas” and “Cowabunga, Jonah.”
“Breaking” a “faux pas?”
Surfer must go.
I shared this story, anyhow, during my weekly chat with David Lee Scales. We also discussed Ben Gravy and how Erik Logan is full on getting fired and/or resigning.