Grace, Kelly

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / March 14, 2011

The world is not enough. Ten is not nearly enough. Photo: Sherm



Sunday morning is already tiring, by its very nature, or rather sleepy. And the New York Times is a pleasant companion to the sloth, or rather, idleness. It is as pleasant as the sun breaking through fog. As coffee fresh from a stainless steel carafe. And as the sun shone, this Sunday morning, and as the coffee steamed, I opened the Times’ T magazine insert and read a story about Kelly Slater titled “Hangs Ten,” by Matt Warshaw.

And was made livid! Because Matt Warshaw postulated that Kelly Slater, our Kelly Slater, should ride off into the sunset. Our Kelly! Livid does not sit well next to sleepy and idle. They are nasty bedfellows.


Matt Warshaw writes, “Hell, I’m old. I’m 50. And I say to Kelly Slater: give us a wave and a smile and walk away. Do the thing that virtually every other sports legend, from Ali to Armstrong, has been unable to do. Go out on top. Nobody’s getting close to that record. Not in your lifetime, and probably not ever.”

Matt Warshaw is so wrong! Terribly wrong! And even though The Great Kelly Debate (should he retire or should he not) rages. Even rages to the New York Times insert magazine, the only correct, and thrilling, deduction is that Kelly should surf, competitively, forever. And ever. And.

Truth be told, Robert Kelly Slater is aging better than any living man. Better than Brad Pitt, better than George Clooney. Better than Keith Richards. He is immune to skin-crinkling UV rays. He is immune to moisture-sapping salt. His eyes, and I swear this is true, get bluer and bluer each time we speak. His skin a more even caramel. He is a perfect stasis of gravitas and youthful charm. He is wisdom and vigor. And it would be a mortal sin to deprive a surf public of that sort of genuine handsome. It would be a mortal sin to leave us with Heitor Alves. Which is to say nothing about how Kelly is actually surfing. Which is inspiring. Which is better than ever. Which is progressive and fluid and modern and classical and gorgeous and aggressive. Which stops people in their day and not because he is surfing awesome for an old man but because he is surfing awesome.

Beauty and grace. Kelly Slater is beauty and grace.

And he should concern himself not with lesser opinions. With implores for him to ride into a sunset. He should stay in the warm glow of our spotlight, forever, for that warm glow may well be his fountain of youth. Beauty and grace.

Aquila non capit muscas. —Chas Smith


p.s. If you feel rage while reading one man describe another man’s beauty the problem is, more likely than not, in your own heart. It is your very own latent and repressed desire. Let it free! Like an eagle!


Baby, Take it Off! is Chas Smith’s semi-regular column. His semi-regular Twitter stream is @chasdoesntsurf.



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  • mo

    SO right…

    great piece!

    stop raving about this whole retirement-story, instead enjoy kelly surf at his best!

  • the bodhi zaffa

    I like chazzy. Even though he gets a good ski on Mt. white lady before he writes every one of his columns..

    Holla if ya hear may..

  • Super

    I hear you. I had him write a little piece for Playgirl featuring young surfer boys, he wanted Mt. White upfront and mounds of it.

    Chase strokes the ed and the pulisher

  • Benji

    Surely warshaw’s piece was penned before Kelly’s win at Snapper. But we all knew he’d win there right? Now he HAS TO go to Bells, and he’ll probably win there. No, maybe he’ll skip it just to blow all our minds.

    11 in 2011 will make a cool hat. Funny how easy it is to come up with a KS slogan every year. i weep for the next generation. 50-year-old kelly will continue to win, while 1,000 year old warshaw will bleed into his Depends.

  • the shadow knows

    That’s pretty funny^. I think it’s cool that we get off on making stupid/funny/racy comments and the mag gets off at the same time cuz it equals ad dollars. I used o get confused when chas and Jed both worked for stab. are they both wrkin for Surfing now or are they freelance?

  • the shadow knows

    and did anyone see the UNLV doc on HBO? My god, totes savage (grandma ma with that gold tooth!?) – that fab five shit on 30 for 30 was fuckin weak in comparison.

  • 5 jakes

    why does the magazine publish chas smith articles?

  • Sheen


  • albarns

    Goats the lot of you… your missing the point. Pay close attention… Kelly is laying out the game plan for ages to come. The “heat” as we know it is being dissected and taken so far ahead of the fly-boy kids… Jordy with his forced “supermans”… laughable.. 90% of you fags don’t even know that you are witnessing the future of surfing unravel as Kelly plunges even further beyond… The beauty of his heats will be studied in the future… On so many levels he is exploring things that most just don’t pick up on.. Watch him as he splashes water at Dusty in their snapper match-up and then out styles him in every way, not pushing it, doing just what the wave calls for, no more, no less, playing the judges and the audience to perfection. No wonder por Taj unraveled in the final.. Kelly beat him with 5’s.. Are you guys paying attention?? Dane Renolds is selling t-shirts and your all buying them.!! Diesect those turns…. know one comes close to the form…the mental inuendos.. We are all so privilaged to witness this. Shut up and let the man go. Don’t vilify the man learn from him… Watch carefully… its in the details..

  • Joey Stalin

    socialism, i kill you all

  • Ben

    What can I say? Bravo, and I agree. Shit Chas, I almost threw the baby out with the bath water – You occasionally do write about surfing!

  • yeah guy

    @Ben – Dont get ahead of yourself… he wrote mostly about Kelly Slater’s dashing good looks. nothing really written about how he should continue to surf because he is still massacring it. but he should continue to surf because he is good looking. same difference right?

    @chas – “And was made livid!”, now you know how it feels.

  • Perez

    Crap my first post ever right now running rebels love that shit. I used to go the the games out in Vegas in 91 and it was on!!!!! Just watched it could not wait for the wifey to go to bed to check it spot on Tark the shark taking chances the man!!

  • Mum

    albarns, oh, albarns.. it’s time for you pills..

  • JM

    THis article is so gay. And even racist and biased. How can anyone point a finger at Heitor Alves or anyone for that matter? Suggesting he’s the antithesis of handsome? Who cares about handsome? It’s completely subjective. Unless you’re gay and want to worship an image? what about personality, depth, heart? Let the Heitor Alves of this world be and let Kelly be… this will do us all a lot of good.

  • Matt S.

    Chas and Albams are definetly sexually attracted to Kelly Slater. Who cares, but I think it has colored there opinion about his surfing. That being said, why should someone retire when they are on top and enjoying what they do? Matt Warshaw never really enjoyed watching surfing. If he did, he wouldn’t be in such a hurry to get rid of the best professional surfer of all time.

  • sam

    come on, slater’s not retiring. what else can the guy do? This is it.

  • dude

    @albarns. Probably the heaviest post ever. Almost scary.

  • albarns

    thanks dude.

  • Exit98

    chas smith is the train wreck of current surf scribes, can’t just can’t look away nor not read what he puts to paper, hard copy or otherwise, and is laughable, but entertaining, for all the wrong reasons in a cult of the national enquirer / star magazine kinda way.
    matt warshaw’s visage, metaphorically speaking, will be staring out from among the mount rushmore of the truly great surf scribes since surf magazine publishing began when he throws in the towel and walk away which, maybe he should right now since he’s at the top of his game.
    if you’ve read him with any consistency, you know this is irrefutable and his chops are among the best- ever.
    unfortunately, there is now a place in this strange, strange world of internet and dumb it down-ism and charlie smith’s take on things, love it hate it read it- like i do.
    i just take comfort in the fact that one of their careers will be long, distinguished, meaningful and endure, the others will disappear faster than you can say flashinthepanpassthevporizeryo and not one written word ever remembered nor worth remembering.
    oh yeah, and kelly slater retire?
    let the man decide when he’s pulling out and, in the meantime, continue to enjoy something the likes of which we might not ever see again …

  • Barry

    Oh yeah Chas great… well you finally found somebody who turns you on more than yourself and it’s Slator gator, big surprise. Applause, Applause. If you really had Slater’s best interests at heart you might consider the fact that’s it’s way better to quit on top than wait till you start to flag and people get bored, but again no surprise, you’re only concerned with how to maintain your own boner. So selfish Chas tsk-tsk…
    Grace not, but coke you got…

  • Barry

    P.S. Does anyone else have the theme song to an Officer and a Gentleman ringing in their ears?… Slater carries Chas off into the sunset for the finale in this daymare feature show though.
    ‘Where the eagles fly. On a coke head mountain high. Love lift us up where we belong … Unzipping ourselves for freedom…’.

    P.S. II
    Does anyone else remember being told ironically by Taylor Paul in his editorial, “He might actually be gay. Yeah, he’s got his wife’s signature (Circe Wallace, the Ari Gold of snow/skate) tatted on his neck, but I think it’s a front.”, yeah right Taylor. I mean I don’t care if he is, but isn’t anybody else getting sick and tired of playing along with these chumps.

  • Roni Deutch

    @exit – thank you for sticking up for Warshaw. Finally a voice of reason! Warshaw has written some of the best stuff ever produced, by anyone, ever. It goes with out saying that he revolutionized the art of writting and that he is a God among men. I’m just glad that someone acknowledged that value resides in what we, the “Old Guys Rule” generation, thinks.

  • Ben

    To be clear, Warshaw is, with Kampion, the greatest surf scribe. I disagree with Warshaw on Slater. Now Chas Smith doesn’t actually write about surfing; he and I simply agree that the Slater’s continuing dominance is inspiring. I don’t box, but I am moved watching Ali. Same thing. There must be some forum for Chas’s primarily idiotic drivel, i.e. a magazine or blog that has nothing to do with surfing.

  • Steve Shearer

    Hynd shits all over Warshaw, who’s never been much more than an honest journeyman.

    So Chas will we see you at Bells?

  • Exit98

    @ roni and ben: tho’ matt doesn’t need me to stick up for him because his body or work speaks to that i do really miss voices like his and hawks and kampion and ( ben ) marcus – surf scribe rushmore candidates all among a very few others – and it just pains me to see their highest quality of journalism and oh-so-unique individual takes on any surfing subject go a-missing from such venerable printed institutions i’ve been reading for over four decades, five decades in surfer mags case. plus i’ve worked for, and with, each of them so i know they were in it for all the right reasons which makes the viability of chas smith and that type of writing all the more perplexing and their articles sorely ( sorely ) missed. well, thank god for the journal and steve pezman – the head dude on the mount rushmore of surf publishing / journalism – and that we still get to occasionally read their views and wisdom almost unexpurgated. hey, i’m all for change and adapting and accepting life moves and evolves but the current state of surf journalism just reallllly sucks monkey ballz, kelly slaters retirement or not ….

  • peter terrass

    Matt Warshaw sleeps in Hunter S. Thomson Pajamas

  • Barry

    I’m perplexed by what exactly keeps Chas in the game. When he tells us how super tres ‘sexy’ decadent the surf industry is I for one take him at his word. Probably the only time I believe a word he says is when he’s waxing lyrical about this that or the other thing that gives him a hard on. Do I really care about the surf industry? No. Do I want a window into Chas’ little party world? Not really. Why do I read him? Well it’s kind of like watching a black hole. The absence of light tells you a lot more than the presence. The guy has enemies but you know for sure he has friends because he’s definitely not getting by on talent. Obviously he scores some points with the idiot bloggers who want to get in on the party until they realize he’s bisexual. And probably big points with those that don’t care. Now the gay readership of Surfing has always been high and maybe 2011 is the time for Surfing to climb it’s own broke back mountain. And if that’s what they have to do to rescue this turkey of a magazine good luck to them. Personally I don’t care if they run editorials discussing which pro shows their ass off to best effect on a bottom turn. The reason I read this crapola is because it gives me ideas… Ideas for my new book ‘Monkey Machine’, here’s a passage… ‘The surf industry was one big cocaine party, Chas knew this to be a fact and the facts sat well with him. Bereft of talent, he became a cocaine courier to various industry mafia types by a process that seemed entirely natural to him. Feeding the insatiable demand for the white powder while syphoning off a liberal cut for himself wasn’t something Chas could easily do without self congratulation, but he was careful not to develop too much of a reputation, outside of the industry at least and things rolled on smoothly. Times were changing though, the economic tectonic plates were shifting. And Chas could feel the desperation. The desire to cash in while the cash was good. Although the industry was ostensibly designed to capitalize on change, Chas knew deep down it was risk averse and preferred tried and tested business models to real innovation any day of the week. That’s why he wasn’t surprised when they came to him with the idea. The idea that would maintain the status quo and keep the cash cow lactating. The idea was simple. He would introduce various pros to cut rate narcotics at critical points in their careers thus keeping them placable, demotivated, strung out and most importantly clearing the path for another 10 Kelly Slater world titles well into the next decade. Chas laughed to himself as he thought about it, who would ever believe what the future held in store? He even wrote a silly editorial about it, as close as he could come to claiming victory without giving the game away. But Chas knew that really when it came right down to it people preferred to be distracted. Hell, the industry was one glorified distraction in the first place…’

  • sam

    chas stays in the game because, like slater, it’s the only game he can play. unfortunately for chas, he’s not very good at his game. if not this, it’s back to being a TA at UCLA (on the up side, I hear they have hot japanese-hating white chicks at UCLA).

  • peter terrass

    Pezman sleeps in 5 summer stories pajamas

  • bromista

    now THAT was a tasty comment barry

  • Roni Deutch

    @Exit – If what you say is true, you actually sound like a descent older dude – never heard a 50/60yr old say or write “monkey ballz”, on the fence about that one but it does make me smile.

    @Ben – I agree that many forms of media or industry are a “distraction” but I think it’s much more complex than that. And I was laughing my ass off until “self congratulation.”

  • Exit98

    ahahahaha! i love you you big, monobrowed greek bastid’ you.
    and you still wearing those starwars two-sies?
    money ballz on yer chin ;-]

  • a

    Barry, what keeps Chas in the game is the fact that every single one of his pieces gets a thousand comments, most of them from you. Stop reading him. Please. You’re only making it worse.

  • Voltemort Caterpillars

    This is the difference between an article in the New York Times or T Magazine and Surfing Magazine (about surfing, no less). Some surfers might prefer to read (or write for) Surfing/er; those people just aren’t very smart.

    And Shearer, your cuddle sessions with the Smiths are getting nauseating. Your new gig’s got you wearing your insiderishness on your sleeve. Stop it.

  • Barry

    @a – ever heard the story about the ostrich with it’s head in the sand? pretending it’s not there won’t make it go away. i wish it would.

    @voltemort – chas’ articles are not the best place for you if you’re interested in reading something exclusively about surfing. i’d give you some links to other sites but i think with your smarts you’re just about ready to start figuring out how to use google.

    @roni – i’m not really in joking mood just right now so i’ll answer you seriously. if you’re saying that commercialism in surfing isn’t all bad, i agree with you. i probably have commercial surfing to thank for the thruster, comfy wetsuits and some of the most mind blowing performances i’ve ever seen in real life and video. there are days though when i’d trade it all in for a single fin and an uncrowded point break, recently there have been a lot of days like that. on the other hand if you’re talking about chas and people like him then i think it’s a no brainer to say that they’re an almost completely destructive force. for me it really is that simple.

  • Roni Deutch

    @Barry, “completely destructive force??” Damn, I think I see what you’re alluding to. Are you saying that Chas or people “like him” aren’t offering anything beneficial to society or that their writing reflects the degradation of culture? I can see the validity in that perspective but I can’t say that I agree. In reference to quality, does validity reside in the eye of the beholder? I get a kick out of Chas’s tongue and cheek style and in my opinion, that’s a positive force. Maybe all the pseudo-intellect shit is a bit fluffy but at least it’s a little left of what the surf media usually dishes out (maybe i’m not reading enough Surfers Journal? that shit’s expensive, yo!) Barry, please elaborate on why Chas is a destructive force? It may be a distraction, but how is it destructive? P.S. Have you read Dave Resin’s All For a Few Perfect Waves? If you haven’t, i recommend it… You might find yourself asking, “why do I give a fuck about this turd?” but it has some cool history in it.

  • Joey Stalin

    bravo Barry! bravo!!!!

  • Barry

    thanks Roni I might give that a try. what would you call a guy who puts nazi swastikas on surf mags to sell a few extra copies? Of course we are all too sophisticated to take any of that seriously or at least we want to be enough not to criticize him. the reasons are long and many. you can do the research. things fall apart if you treat them like trash long enough.

  • Luiz

    You guys are all funny and strange people. Let the dude surf, and let the chick write, I mean.. Chas write.. now shut this computer off, forget all you just read and go surfing.. it is that simple..

  • Peter

    What has this Chas guy done to piss so many people off? You guys need to track IP adresses. My instincts tell me that you have a SINGLE Chas-hating spammer. Either that or the guy is a bit of an asshole in real life.

    Albams I think Slater is just talented and lucky. You might be overanalyzing his analyzing. Haha jk. You nailed it buddy. Sl0ater(doesn’t quite work as well as Sl8ter) is one gifted guy. He’s a surfing supercomputer- he can process all the raw indistinguishable data going on in the ocean during a heat and come up with his own winning algorithm while factoring in his competitors approach. His instincts combined with his intellect are unmatched. I don’t know if anyone other than pro surfers will be “studying” his heats. But we’ll definitely be looking back at the highlights. Especially that Teahupoo free fall 10 point ride. Does anyone remember when he redefined his approach to J-Bay and started doing full on S-Carves while making the wave? What about his under the lip backside hacks at Teahupoo. Or when he invented the Rodeo flip on the left at the Pipe masters? Point is, the guy has and is continuing to reinvent surfing. He is the greatest. Whatever he does, I’ll be paying close attention.

  • Tony Carson big island

    Screw Slater, and this chas guy too, whoever he is. You guys should all be more concerned about what ‘your’ doing in the water, than taking time to be armchair surfers and idolizing some guy. Surfing is about catching waves and ‘your’ relationship with the ocean, not about idolizing some dude. Peace.