"The death of the Pipe Masters is a tragedy beyond tragedy."
The surf journalist Chas Smith, an old flirt with expressive soft hands and a slightly gaunt northern European face, is well-known here and in the broader surf world, a writer who knows how to use minor characters to humiliate and belittle their protagonists.
When he stretches his delicate fingers in the air and clicks them like castanets, publishers come running.
You know the books, Welcome to Paradise Now Go to Hell, Cocaine and Surfing, Reports from Hell and Blessed Are the Bank Robbers.
As Daniel Duane wrote in Outside Magazine,
Cocaine + Surfing is a dazzling page-turner, highly-recommended beach reading, and absolutely the funniest book ever written about surfing. To hold those contradictions together in one’s mind, it helps to recognize that Smith’s literary models do not include serious works like my man Warshaw’s scholarly History of Surfing or William Finnegan’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Barbarian Days; A Surfing Life.
Cocaine + Surfing belongs, rather, to the honorable lemons-into-lemonade lineage that begins with Ross McElwee’s cult-classic 1986 documentary film Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, in which McElwee tries to make a film about the civil war but ends up interviewing all his ex-girlfriends instead, and Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence, an unforgettable book about not writing a book about D. H. Lawrence.
All of which is meaningless except as a chip shot into BeachGrit’s new vlog series, Chas Smith Hates Surfing where, with an affectionate scorn for the sport, Smith turns his eye to the week’s events.
Cruel but essential.