To The Parochial Outsiders

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / August 18, 2011


Last night I watched Real Sports on HBO and I have officially had it. I am livid.

For those who didn’t see, the final banger fifteen minutes of the episode was on drugs and surfing. What Bryant Gumbel called “hard” drugs as he twiddled his reading glasses and sunk his non-existent chin into a horrible suit jacket/shirt combination. And then off to Santa Cruz where Anthony Ruffo and Flea spoke about methamphetamine and the segment reporter, also in a horrible shirt/pant combination, asked leading questions about the surf industry complacence in burying the wild addictions of its stars against the backdrop of Andy Irons’ death. Which led to their one self-righteous conclusion: Surfing needs drug testing.

This followed Outside magazine’s two exposé pieces on Andy’s death and, again, the implication that the surf industry buried truth in order to maximize dollars at the expense of Andy himself. And the same one self-righteous conclusion. Surfing needs drug testing.

Surfing doesn’t need drug testing because it doesn’t need broad, meddling, top-down responses to societal problems. Surfers aren’t taking steroids in order to boost performance (save Neco Padaratz). They are partying and maybe too much and maybe too often but, fuck, since when did parenting adults become the obvious solution? Each country in which the tour stops has drug laws. Surfing doesn’t need to add more dumb red tape to an overly legislated area.

But more to the point, both HBO and Outside assume a watchdog tsk-tsk position, reporting the “facts” while not being involved in the space in any way, shape or form.
HBO’s look was an obvious piece of shit. They didn’t speak with anyone close to Andy and, while I love them both, Ruffo and Flea are outliers in Santa Cruz doing an outlying drug. Meth or ice or shards or devil dust or whatever is weird. And I know Santa Cruz and Oregon and the Ozarks and Hawaii have problems with it but, still, it ain’t the norm. Surfers aren’t ice-heads.

Outside’s was more insidious because it had the ring of truth, which is always more insidious. Mormonism also has the ring of truth. But the work was shoddy. The writer had a clear supposition before interviewing, compiling and writing. He knew what his last sentence was. He supposed Andy died of a drug overdose and he supposed the industry was at least partly to blame so he worked backward to prove it. Yellow and shocking. The writer twisted what he needed to in order to make it all fit. I know because he clearly and purposefully twisted me. Rude and small.

Even still, some armchair pundits applauded the bravery. And so, the editorial staff at Outside got what they wanted: All the feel-good whistle-blowing amazing of cracking one tough nut of a tale. The surf industry’s cursed silence! The surf industry’s wanton blindness! They got to be Woodward and Bernstein.

The only difference is they are not Woodward and Bernstein, Andy’s death was not Watergate and the story had massive holes spackled over with insinuation and even more self-righteousness.

Andy’s life, told in a moralistic “Let’s all learn a lesson from his death. Guess what everybody? Drugs are bad”-way, is cheap and tawdry. It is a bad story.

And that is just it. I once wrote, “If nobody tells a true story then what is the point?” I still believe this, firmly and passionately, but the emphasis is equal on both true and story. And the surf family did tell Andy’s story. It was told, orally, in line-ups around the world. It was told by those who knew and loved him. It was told by the surf magazines. It was told well. Beautifully.

HBO and Outside have nothing invested in our world. They know nothing and can come in and wave a stick around and beat their chests as purveyors of awesome and unbiased truth, but their perspective is worthless. They could have invested time and energy. They could have talked to interesting people. They could have come to a less ham-fisted conclusion or chosen not to have their minds made up before damning an entire industry. But they didn’t. Because they are content with spilling out the same dribble Nancy Reagan did thirty years ago: Drugs are bad. They both told bad stories. Rotten ones.

And frankly, while I am being livid, I am also livid at the surf family for not telling HBO and Outside to fuck off vociferously. So I will say it for all of us.

Fuck off. Vociferously.

Now let’s party! —Chas Smith

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  • jon

    who is Chas?

  • Matt O’Brien

    yeah Chas tell it like it is… Great stuff. My coffee tastes a little brighter after this read. Cheers!

  • Barry

    This was a brilliant piece. I love this fight. Chas vs Outside and all the outsiders. Keep on fighting chas! Give em hell!

  • oldmanandthesevs

    couldnt agree more with you chas. and this is good by the way. we can all only wish surfing was the counter-culture generally fucking rad lifestyle it was thirty years ago. drugs and titties and beers. no, i dont wish anymore of our heroes to fall to drugs, but i could deal with a coupla nobodies from santa cruz going down to make us look fucking tough.

  • nolan

    it’s called journalism. i wouldn’t expect a fedora, soulpatch 40 year old skateboarding d-bag to understand. congrats to hbo for shedding light on drug addiction and surfing.

  • Cavey

    Wait a second… was that Chas Smith’s true voice coming through free of all the florid BS his normal writing is plagued with? No stretching to sound relevant, no over the top descriptions. Good on ya, keep it up. Writing about surfing works for the guy, writing about traveling the world and hanging out in Palm Springs doesn’t. Maybe he should write pissed off all the time and spare us the descriptions of his “lavish” lifestyle.

  • Rad Dude

    Very, very true. The last thing we need is more “government” intrusion telling us what we can and can’t do with our lives. Surfing isn’t immune from such bullshit. To each his own. Fuck these kooks.

  • intheknow

    Both Andy and Bruce were both at one time “ice heads”, Look at Bruce’s eyes in this clip, then decide for yourself.

  • jg

    Outside Magazine , F U .

  • MATT

    Since when did surfers ever give a f*%k what the rest of the world had to say about them? Sounds like someone needs to get wet!

  • Jerry Curl

    Chas sounds defensive to me. Something to hide maybe ?

  • Hugh

    Shut up Chas, you friggin’ coke head.

  • m@Rk

    Chas – Great wrte-up, I feel the same exact way.

    “nolan” – Are you retarded?

  • John

    HBO and Outside, yes they are sooo very in to what it means to ride waves and the community around it. What a joke, go back to covering boxing and rock climbing.

  • Rob

    Looks like another addict, trying to justify to himself that he is OK.

  • simon
  • the king

    The worse surfing looks to the public, the less surfers in the lineups…I got no complaints with this..

  • T

    For 1, Andy’s sponsors did cover up for him thus allowing him to take his drug use to it’s obvious conclusion.
    For 2, maybe before you write an article on the subject of surfers not having drug problems you should tell your company not to run the ad for “Step Into Recoverey” at the bottom of the webpage.
    BTW pro surfing doesn’t have more drug problems than normal society just some people who do whatever they want because they are “so awesome”.
    We all know how Andy was to most people. Stop acting like he was the nicest guy ever.

  • T

    Or “Sober College”

  • Wills

    Chas, with all due respect- your a very bitter and jaded nincompoop. A train wreck of sorts- It’s YOU who give surfing a bad image and your employers (Corp America Btw) use you and abuse you to simply drive hits through your caustic ramblings. No one is fooled buddy- your dripping with spite, what a terrible way to live.

  • Mik

    Spot fucking on. And I haven’t touched dugs since i was a teenager, and that was a very long time ago. Drugs are dangerous, oh? What could be more obvious? Just look at the people who take them regularly. But more dangerous is a national correctional facility business that has only money, and making more money on its agenda. Outside is a lame magazine. Basically right-wing owned, and barely even environmentally aware. Melekian is a kook who resented being a viewed as a kook by the surfers he so-called interviewed. More like condescended upon. Fuck all of them. And once again, Chas shines through. I don’t have to agree with him to know that he’s worth reading. Always.

  • Kaipo Gomes

    Charlie Smith, what are his journalistic credentials? At time he sounds like he should live in West Hollywood and others he is a wannabe fashionista. Sorry to attack Charlie but he is attacking anyone that has a different opinion that his. All the details about Andy Irons have not been revealed. That is a fact. Pure and simple. A fact. For just the tip of the iceberg only 2 stints in rehab were confessed to by Paul Naude and Graham Stapleberg. That is not true and they know it. They called Andy’s “walk about” in Australia a get away and time to just surf and start training with Parko. Where was Andy really? Why was he there? Was there a 3rd rehab stint in Australia at a top secret location? Follow up on that one Charlie. When Andy left that area/rehab he went straight to West Australia for a Movie/Video trip. It was very well documented what trip that was. The footage of him on that trip strongly suggested he was not over his addictions. People on the trip were shocked how quickly he found drugs even in West Australia. These are FACTS. Not rumors or gossip or bullshit. Why can’t people come clean on this and much, much more? Put it to rest with the truth and no further questions will be asked. The more you lie you more lies you need to make up to cover up the original lies. Charlie, do you know all the facts yourself? I doubt it. But why are you so pissed if anyone wants the truth instead of the lies and bullshit? Look into where Andy stayed during his so-called walk about and you will start to open the door on lies still being told by Billabong.

  • Ted

    I love this “surf family” shit. Chas Smith is the redheaded step child of the surf industry, both inside and out. People laugh at you/about you behind your backs and in front of your face. You’re a joke.

    Do you really want to know what the “surf family” is saying about Andy’s death “in the line-ups”, as you put it? People are saying he died of drugs. Period. They are saying that if he didn’t die of them directly on the night of his death, then they presuming that his repeated use of them contributed heavily to his early demise.

    Do you know why people are presuming this, Chas? They are because fluffy “journalists” like you are skirting the issue. Rather than dealing with facts and stories that only industry “insiders” like you would know, you instead dodge the issue and try to make hero pieces out of everything. Yeah, Andy was a great guy (to some people), but he had his issues. PLENTY OF THEM. But you don’t want to discuss that. For some reason, that would be like shitting on his grave or something to deal with the reality of things. But people could LEARN from it if you discussed it intelligently and factually. Andy could be way more impactful in his death that he ever was in his life, if you just chose to address the issue directly. But instead you do these froofy pieces and try to talk slick.

    Don’t blame HBO for trying to take a stand when no one in Andy’s direct industry will do the same. You could have beat them to the punch, but now you have no one to blame but yourself.

  • steve

    subscription cancelled

  • Dan

    I wholeheartedly agree that surfing does not need drug testing, and that the drug issues with Andy and the SC crew are independent from the sport of surfing. Nobody’s winning contests or title they shouldn’t be because of their drug use..that I know of..

    On the other hand, the media of surfing – or as I’ve heard, the ‘branding’ of surfing, is very conscious of keeping itself from publicizing the negative aspects of the professional surfers lives. Be it personal respect, a ‘tight-knit’ community, or desire to maintain the carefree, all about waves, bikinis, and fun atmosphere, I’ve noticed a few omissions over the years. Aside from the drug examples, it wasn’t until Malia Jones was actually married to Luke Stedman that I realized she wasn’t with Conan Hayes anymore..and the recent interview with Conan in NY stayed miles away from that topic…and is Machado still married? Fuck if I know…I understand these aren’t the stories that people want to read when they pick up a surfing mag, but when there’s a gap between the interests of the surf media and the reality of the surfing world, outsiders like Outside and HBO will sloppily come in to fill that gap to the chagrin of core surf community..

  • kay

    do you know no one that works in government have to test for drugs i know i have many friends in office. so even talking about a drug problem in surfing by one person is like listening to the boy cry wolf. these are adults who surf waves as tall as buildings who sometimes do the most impossible things i’ve ever seen. if drugs are involved that makes it even more hard to believe i live in hawaii i know ice heads they don’t eat they don’t take baths all they do is get adults we were raise here in america to work hard and play harder their work is their play and i applaud them for a breath taking job well done and i say thank you

  • Wyatt

    Agree or disagree with Mr.Smith, you cannot deny that he is bad at writing. We’re on the same page there, opinions aside. However, I did laugh really hard when he quoted himself, a hallmark of the true craftsman.

    “I once wrote, ‘If nobody tells a true story then what is the point?'”

  • Jerky

    Dan, Luke Stedman cheated on a pregnant Malia Jones, and needless to say isn’t a very loved person on the North Shore recently. And Rob Machado’s wife basically went nuts and took the kids back to Renunion.

    Nope, don’t hear about those things, do we? Are we not supposed to question why this once solid family man is suddenly “drifting”? I guess we’re not part of “surf family”.

  • Wyatttt

    @wyatt Are you four years old? You fight like a four year old. Get a clue, man. I don’t like all of Chas Smiths stories but this one was actually really well written. And Huter Thompson quoted himself all the time. Do you have an opinion on what he said four year old?

  • DeuxHats

    It’s hilarious that in our age, people of the public, who are in no way, shape or form connected to these pros, feel such a false sense of entitlement. That we, the mob, have the right to know the most personal details of these pro’s lives. And that, when the mob rules so, we shall burn them at the stake, publicly, for their personal matters. It’s fucking backwards. And don’t gimme that bullshit about, “they made the choice when they became pro, that they’d be scrutinised, etc.” This ain’t hollyweird. This is surfing. Machado’s family situation is not your business. Nor are Andy Iron’s personal, inner battles.

  • Randolph BarnBob

    Name one pro surfer who went to college, or hell, even art school… Not the sharpest crayons in the box…
    When will you writers/industry understand this one fundamental truth? PERSONALITY trumps RESULTS. We are here for the attitude, the shitty drawings, the stupid tweets, the stories…

  • ACP 45

    Yes, AI’s death was a terrible loss to surfing. Why it happened should be nobody’s business but his family and closest of friends. There are so many incredible surfers out there. Why doesn’t Surfing Magazine focus on actual surfing instead of beating the dead horse that is drugs and surfing/AI’s death?

  • Mark

    To think that drugs(obviously not steroids) aren’t a problem in
    To think that drugs (obviously not steroids) aren’t a problem in surfing is laughable.

    So the issue is that they get drug tested?! Pro surfers get paid, this would make it a ‘professional’ sport where big business pay their way. Once you get paid you are an employee. If they don’t like it quit the tour and get a job. Lots of big corporates (banks, law firms etc) have introduced random drug testing of their employees because reports of rampid drug use in the workplace.

    Drug test them and be done with it. I can’t see what would make someone so ‘livid’ about the notion of drug testing.

  • Kung Fu Panda

    Good for you Chas. Now that you’ve had it, you can beat it.

  • Dr. feelgood

    Iron’s family, Billabong, Surfing, Chas Smith, etc., had ample opportunities to tell us AI’s death was none of our business. Instead, they lied, spun and preserved the value of the brand. Now Chas Smith is livid?

  • L.F.J

    Surfers are adults. There are druglaws. That, right there, should be enough. So what if surfers party, the ones who win the world titles are the ones who know how to keep it balanced (fanning, kelly, parko and even Andy when he won)Wilson just said in an interview that he realised that he needs to focus on surfing and not all the backstage crap inorder to get through heats. That’s what the kids hear. No one thinks that you can win on the tour while being bombed out of your mind. HBO needs to shut up, or do their research properly. There is a reason they didn’t talk to anyone close to Andy. I am disgusted that the story of Andy Irons is becoming a “drugs are bad, kids” story. His story should be about passion, about doing what you love and going for your dreams, all in.
    Besides, if they wanna talk about drugs and sport, how about talking about that bull**** tour de france Biking thing. It’s one big comp about who can drug themselves the most, then deny that they ever did it and then 15 years later admit that they did it. Talk about a bad image.

  • Ben

    Media regarding surfing and drug use makes no difference in my life, nor will it ultimately affect whether the ASP tests its surfers. Surfers, on the whole, are statistically more likely to abuse drugs than other populations (there are good research articles to support this assertions) and it speaks to something interesting about us, which again does not affect my surfing experience. It is interesting, very interesting, that AI did so many drugs, frankly because drug abusers are interesting. I have no loyalty to surfing as a sport, other than environmental responsibility.

  • Right Said Ted

    TED, you da man!

  • Dezzy

    So you don’t find it “interesting” that Melekian talked to the fella who partied with Andy Irons the night before he died? Is it not interesting that Billabong spokespersons told media that he was on an IV drip in Miami that night and felt comfortable distributing a worldwide press release that irreversibly and falsely attributed his death to Dengue Fever before a coroner’s report was even in the making…? Is it not interesting that no dr. or report has come remotely close to mentioning Dengue Fever as a conributing factor in his death?

    Is that not an interesting story? Does it not warrant investigation?

    Blatant lies make the blatant truth anything BUT uninteresting.

  • slate dog

    chas smith you clueless kook. so just add water and pour and you are a surfing journalist? not so fast. its obvious you are new to the game or one completely unqualified to speak on a subject that is much deeper than your peanut brain offers.
    drugs and surfing…sh-sh-sh…dont talk about it? chas-you idiot this has been going on far too long. when outside and hbo discuss this subject, what if one 12 year old kid read the article or saw the episode and it actually influenced them to stay away from drugs, and live a healthy life-have a career and family and surf daily, is that so bad? this subject matter has been hidden away by the surfers- mags-industry and big wigs. chas you are a kook and deserve to be slapped.

  • Wyatt

    @Wyattt I am neither fighting nor am I four (I’m five), but in answer to your question, yes, I have an opinion. I opine that this piece – as with all his previous pieces – is so hopelessly clunky, self-satisfied and pseudo-stylish that whatever point it hoped to make had no real chance of survival..smothered to death by ineptitude. There is a tragic, transparent insecurity about his phrasing and he’s contrary like a college sophomore…for the sake of disagreeing and nothing else.

    Truth be told, I have a strong stance on the core issue here, but Chas Smith stirs nary a nerve on the topic. Instead, he makes a man weep for the written word and laugh, laugh for the wrong reasons. HOWEVER, he is just a kid and I bet sooner than later he grows up and embraces economy of – and grace with – language.

    To simplify for a simple mind: I wouldn’t turn to Jack Johnson for insight on world hunger. I want some brain-dead poetry for a BBQ, sure. Anything more weighty I go elsewhere. Chas is qualified to comment on the role of a press org like Tiger Woods is qualified to comment on string theory and subatomics. Which is to say, not at all.

    And your name has too many Ts in it.

  • Honey Badger

    Dear Chaz and Travis,

    A few things to clarify if you have the time:

    1. Are you ever going to write anything with any journalistic value or do you just like to hear yourself talk?

    2. Did you happen to call Peter Davi about the meth thing….oh yeah, that’s right, he died…in the water…with high levels of meth in his system. Nevermind, why don’t you hit up Eggers or Archy or Christian or Uncle Derek to see what their stance is….oh yeah, they might crack you in your non-existent chin. At least Outside dared to ask a few tough questions.

    3. So what your saying is we should embrace drug abuse and partying so all of the young, happy, healthy, frothing grommets can get lost down a dark, dark road? Great idea, what a spokesman you are.

    4. Why haven’t they fired you yet?

    I’d be embarrassed to write something like this, and I’d be even more embarrassed to be the editor of a magazine that publishes stuff like this.

  • jf

    Pros “personality” is talked up and sold ,over and over again when it is POSITIVE , Mobs family featured in a ton of adver/edi-torial and then then he was the Drifter ? What happen ? None of our business , now that it is negative. Next time around it’s going to be a very hard sell. Stick to the act and heat results and it’s a great story . Looking for life hero’s in athletes is a fools game.

  • Sammy

    This is the most interesting discussion, intellectual debate I’ve seen, maybe ever for a surfing, modern playground of the Internet. It’s not just angry late night posters purging hatred. Fuck all of you retards who think Chas can’t write. He is a genius for just making some of you use your brain for a blip. Here is the part all the putrid angry stupid neanderthals don’t get. Your not smart enough for him. He writes with a spine. Everone else who publishes does with a name. All you obscure haters post as ghosts. Here is someone defending Andy while acknowledging his challenges. To suggest that surfers probably shouldn’t be stereotyped to the mainstream as ice heads and drug addicts. Drugs are fucking everywhere. In you cabinet, on your bed stand, , in your cocktail, in your teenager.

  • Yeah Right

    Chas, while I agree that surfing should not have drug testing, it is an empirical LIE to say that that meth use is secluded to a couple of big wave chargers from Santa Cruz, and that Andy’s death was accidental. Andy’s death was a tragedy, and a lesson to be learned about how fragile our heroes really are. Word on the mean streets here in the hub of “Big Wave Surfing”, is that you can only count the people who don’t use meth on the entire big wave tour. I personally know many common faces to this magazine from that are regular users during the big wave season, which goes to beg the question,”are those guys on drugs” who are taking off on these monsters? Unfortunately, the fact is, probably. Whether from Nor-cal, So-cal, SA, or Hawaii. The fact is, when you feel invincible (one of the benefits of meth) you become quite capable of a high level of performance. The “roids” of surfing. In fact, for those of you who don’t know, that is one of the slang terms for the drug. The surf companies, as I have expressed before, have benefitted greatly from meth use, and should be held accountable! I for one, will never support companies that I know who are knowingly covering up surfers who have addiction problems associated with meth, heroin, and coke. I believe there are many things that have been accomplished in surfing the last decade or so, that might not otherwise have happened, but because people were incredibly high doing so. So Chas, though we agree about drug testing, never interpret that with agreeing with you. You are an idiot, a blight to this magazine, a shame to surfing, and a total poser, and your positions are unthought through and a complete shame. We have all lost too many friends because you represent an industry that will allow young men to entirely destroy their future for finite moments of glory that will soon be forgotten. I look forward to seeing you in the water up here. While I won’t beat you up, I look forward to how frustrated you will end up by the experience. Keep baggin on SC and I might change my mind. Shut up and bail, kook! By the way Mik, don’t let your respect for Andy’s capabilities diminish your core values! You of all people know better…

  • Yeah Right

    By the way, Ruffo should be put away for life, and get a full prison experience just based on the under age girls lives he has ruined for thirty years. You are a kook too! Go to jail, you deserve it…

  • Yeah Right

    Great justification, Sammy. Try you kids! I’ve saved mine from the cliff dwellers so far…Chas is not smart, he is a smart ass. What, being cynical is smart? Ask yourself this, has surf culture gotten any improvement from a single thing he has written?

  • TeamSuck

    Another great article! This is what surfing has been missing for about 10 years! A real commentator and critic we can appreciate and who tells it like it really is!
    Thank you Chas

  • Declin

    I thought you didn’t have time to read the Outside piece. You were partying on the beach or something.

  • Giuseppe Eisonhawk Salvatore

    Riddle me this: the top tier surfing needs to be pay-per-view windmill. It’s basically all what I see not going on around me. Associated. I mean I’m from the gulfcoast & I paddled all the way from Uppers to Lowers, today just to see if I could do it… I loved it. Not enough paddeling in the waters thease days as far as I’m concerned. Cut it out, Cut it up & Cut the deck. PLEASE Flip his script. I would personally pay to see any number of my favorite surfers (male or female), or any random number of super stylish surfers ripping it up doing their surfing the only way that they know how – fully going off anywhere, anyday… For just their own projecting thrill & love for it all & truth be told – only in their signature wake; I would love to reaccount & tell that story from my perspective & would love even more to share it with the entire, tired, non-surfing or surfless starved world & repeat telling it over & over, passionately time & time again. Again, any damned story will never even matter squat unless a singular message of love is truely involved. The greatest story of all may never be told until everyone respects where they each & everyone are from & from onward where each & everyone is going… Phillip Andrew Irons has made a lil’ individual Christmas all year long (perhaps beyond for the ‘sum’ of some) to every dear “top 44 traveling pro surfer” at each & every stop on tour all be it 1 higher rank/seeding. Andy’s seed is his flare. Andy turned us all up to ’11 all by himself. It is a fire inside, a story of LOVE. Are you invited? I Love Andy Irons no matter what the noise is returning to heaven. Go off or Go Home Home Box OfficePHUCS

  • Death Rider

    Chas don’t get your panties in a bunch. You’re acting like an upset gay man. Do you think anyone is going to take you serioiusly????? Is this supposed to be a serious post now??? What a f-ing joke!!!!! hahhahahahahah

  • Frenchie

    What all these critics don’t realise is that the whole world is in an era of drugs and addictions, the fact that surfing was associated with drugs 20 years ago is understandable, but these people should go out of their own little world and they would see all the pill poping coc snorting f***ers that exist, seriously they are everywhere. You just have to go out in a night club (try england which is real bad from experiance) and you can quikley realise the extent of the damage. Every part of society has its druggies surfing is no different. It is most likely that andy did drugs and not just weed but that is no reason for taking the whole surfing community and generalising it. I think it is quite the contrary today, surfing projects an image of healthy life style and good values.
    You can’t critiscise when you haven’t got any experiance in the domain, so to all the stupid and ignorant, don’t lash out at what you know nothing anything about.

  • sven

    baby take it off.

  • ryan

    I agree that surfing needs to keep that rebellious, counter culture spirit alive, because without it it’s just another mainstream sport for the masses.

    But Chas you are majorly contradicting yourself here because you obviously love all the things that are trying to bring surfing to the masses (i.e. the US Open, Quik Pro NY, Target, Saturdays NYC yuppies, etc., etc.). The non-surfing public will scrutinize and demand for drug testing because they are not surfers. It’s the double-edged sword of trying to popularize surfing while losing it’s don’t give a fuck, no rules essence. But you can’t have both.

  • KM

    I like this style of writing and the stance Chas takes on this issue. He makes several valid points. However, I would take the article more seriously if there weren’t random exclamation points and curse words used haphazardly throughout the piece. As an armchair pundit, that’s just my opinion. Thank you.

  • ryan

    Here’s the solution, announce that surfing will be inducted into the olympics then talk about a drug test.

  • Adam

    Surfing isn’t a sport, and people outside of surfing don’t care about it, they just think it’s pretty. The end of that HBO piece likened riding a 50 foot wave to driving a race car. While driving a race car is probably equally dangerous, how could anybody that’s never been out in heavy water equate anything to surfing 50′ waves. We care about surfing, and the people in it, because of the act of surfing, not the contest results or how the general public sees it. We are dejected about the mainstream’s positions and words on Andy because of the respect and admiration we all shared for him. People that don’t surf don’t know what surfing is. It’s because of this paradox that surfing will always be counterculture and subversive.
    Thanks for the article Chas.

  • cam

    I saw the HBO special on this. it pissed me off to because bryant gumbel ended the peice by saying “it seems surfers just sit around,surf and get high”. F you gumbel kook!!!! u don’t know shit plastic surgery ugly F!!!

  • Greg

    I did not see the HBO piece. One who truly loves surfing must ask; How is this type of journalism bad? Isn’t this what we want? Bring it on… Parents do not let your children grow up to be surfers! Or actors or musicians. For that matter investment bankers, hedge fund managers or m and a guys. oops I spaced, those guys just do 6 different types of prescription medication. Never mind…

  • red gecko

    so why are you livid?
    live and let live bros….keep living the dream working at the corporate surf mag

  • Seppo

    Hey, if you guys at the surf magazines and in the surf industry want to grow, you need to get used to the mainstream press criticizing and scrutinizing everything about this sport. The only people bringing this attention on surfing and the surf culture is the surf industry. You want to blame someone, blame yourselves. The industry wants to raise the profile of their surfers by having contest in mainstream media capitals, this is whats going to happen. Mainstream press who don’t have a vested interest in surfing are going to start scrutinizing it because they don’t care if one of the major surf brands advertise in their publications.
    I think the Outside article raises a different point of view to what has been generally covered in the surf industry and whether you agree with it or not, at least we are finally getting some diversity of opinions in surfing and what happened to AI. Chas, should we all get in line and blindly follow what the industry dictates? Would that make you happy? Should we all blow smoke up the surf industries butt and tell them they are great and not criticize them for their flaws? I think it’s about time the industry had the magnifying glass directed on it. Chas, it seems that you would rather surfing stay this coddled nepotistic nook of the world where we tell each other we are great and everything about surfing is wonderful with pixie dust and fairy farts? Please. It’s about time surfing grew up and got honest with itself and honest about the negative aspects of our culture as well as celebrate the positive things we cherish. But Chas, you’re on the industry dime. Why should anyone believe a word you say. Your magazine is paid by these companies and surf writers for this publication are frequently interchanging jobs from writer to rep to marketer and back to writer. The surf magazines are fun to read and they make us feel good about ourselves. But, they are far from being real journalism. And that’s ok. just don’t expect people to take you serious when you want to write something serious or critical.

  • CM

    Chas, you ramble and ramble and ramble but there is zero substance behind your words. If you’re going to criticize the well-reported work of legitimate media, you ought back it up with some reporting and facts of your own. If there are holes in the work, what are they? You call the work that of outsiders, but I’d argue that Brad Melekian, at least, is about as insider a surf journalist as you may find. You’re not a journalist, clearly. You’re decent with your prose and you seem to have an eye for fashion. Beyond that? Not sure. You are allowed a voice because of your “insiderness.” You’re a bro and cool with the other bros, so they let you into their circle. Excuse the fact that real journalists actually want to dig in and understand the truth behind Andy Irons’ death. He was one of surfing’s most famous and controversial figures, and his death was tragic and a mystery. If Kobe Bryant or Rafa Nadal or Shaun White passed away suddenly, at the peak of their career, with a back history of recreational drug use, and there were whispers of a cover-up, you don’t think that would be a story the media should pursue? Come on, Chas, get off your pedestal and take a look around. Surfing is now a legitimate sport and industry. What comes with it is the watchful eye of the media. And since the surf media doesn’t want to lend a skeptical eye or ask the tough questions, the pros have to come in and do it for them. Clearly, you won’t do it.

  • SomeGuy

    Outside and HBO had to do pieces on Andy’s death because “surf journalism” treated Andy like a god and totally ignored the role drugs played in his death. He was a very flawed person who was a great surfer.
    I love to surf and I love to look at surf magazines but any editorial and journalistic quality is poor. Every time I read anything Chris Cote writes I feel dumber. If Chas Smith is indicative of surf reporting at large, Outside and HBO’s pieces are definitely necessary to address a serious issue.

  • hater

    you write like a twat

  • dgb

    I haven’t even finished reading the, well, whatever it is, and I’ve got to ask, have you ever been to Hawaii? We must be going to different Hawaiis if the one your going to doesn’t have a ice problem.

  • Pedro

    Andy Irons was just a human being. As noted in previous posts, humans are inherently flawed creatures. Surfing does have a lot of drugs and shady characters involved in it. This piece is obviously written by somebody looking from the inside out, who doesn’t like the idea of the party ending. If the sport is elevated to a serious tone of professionalism like the NFL, MLB, or NBA than surfers are going to have to be more accountable for their actions. The shenanigans gotta stop or stay locked away behind closed doors. The mainstream media and American culture hold celebrities to a higher standard than they hold themselves. That’s the way it’s always been. Destroy and rebuild the industry into something respectable or leave it where it’s at. Thing is, right now it’s this mismanaged, retail oriented entity that is completely unattached to the ASP. As far as marketing is concerned, the ASP isn’t in the same realm as Surf Magazines or websites.. There’s gotta be unity in the industry, but there’s not. Company owners bicker about the stupidest things. But even more than that, it’s the ASP not doing it’s job. If they were, the companies would keep their athletes in check because they’d have to. Tour surfers would automatically be the most successful, media prone athletes by far because it truely would a Pro League in the traditional American sense-full of the best of the best and internationally syndicated on t.v. Comparing pro free surfers(in most cases) to pro Tour surfers should be like comparing European basketball to the NBA. Instead it’s like comparing Double A minor league baseball to single A- nobody cares about the difference. Surfers are some of the most naturally gifted athletes on the planet and it’s a damn shame that unlike other sports, staying in top physical shape and living a healthy lifestyle is almost shunned upon in our culture. At that level, it should be a prerequisite.

  • dgb

    Chas’ journalistic credo: I always carry one end of a banner in the processions. I always look cheerful. Always yell with the crowd. It’s the only way to be safe.

  • Mic

    All interesting takes on this topic.
    Just one question how do you hold your breath on Cristal Meth?
    Dosen’t it make your heart pound, body temp increase and therefor burn oxygen faster?

  • Second Reef med. tide

    Quit wining!!
    Who cares what people think of surfing? Maybe, if the main stream thought we were all losers ( and many surfers are ) we’d have less corporate sponsors and that would be good for the people who actually surf! Less contests, Less pro’s, Less surf clothing and advertising, would be just fine with me……

    Ruffo needs to do his time… Then he can be legit. His surfing hobby has nothing to do with crime and paying your dues to society. Trip after trip to Indo while the rest of us are working ain’t paying your dues….

  • Ben

    Hey Chas, here’s food for thought: I surf, Andy Irons is my favorite surfer ever, and I definitely want to know about his drug use (as well as everything else) BECAUSE he is my favorite surfer. There are responsible ways to discuss posthumous drug use which don’t belittle or take moral high ground. Just months ago there was a terrible editorial entitled “Is anybody listening?” which scolded the surfing public for our disinterest in the surfers as people, as opposed to waveriders. Surfing magazine implored us to be interested in the tight-jeaned, scribbly art (though still honky white and privileged) endeavors of certain darlings because said surfers were interesting people and shame on us for not being interested in ALL aspects of the surfing experience. Well Mr. Smith, AI’s drug use is a major aspect of the surfing experience,as well as a story that the public actually gives a shit about, a story that fleshes out the most interesting, emotionally labile world champion in virtually any sport, and you suddenly tell us NOT to be interested in anything other than his waveriding, save perhaps your vapid discussions of his sartorial sense. AI’s story is the story of MP, Archy, Fletcher, Flea, Eggers, Herring, and many others, and absolutely vital to the “human” part of our surfing experience. If you don’t want to report on it then fine, but stay out of the way of the real journalists.

  • brent

    chas, youre about as smart as sarah palin

  • rob gilley

    the only thing worse than bad writing is pretentious, deluded, hypocritical writing.

  • pcp

    problem with robs statement is everybody’s a hypocrite in some way,shape, or form. The sooner we realize this the sooner we ail stop being dissapointed withpeople whether it b the way they write or the way they talk.

  • oregonisradical

    Mormonism? Really? How long did it take you to come up with that clever little dig, which I might add shows the, ” The writer had a clear supposition before interviewing, compiling and writing. He knew what his last sentence was.”

    Good work on demonstrating exactly what you are griping about.

  • Jeff

    Anthony Ruffo is the biggest pile of shit on the face of this earth. He hasn’t done anything positive for surfing in twenty years and I really wish we could trade him for Andy…

  • Declin

    Preach on Ben.


    hey chas i was very close to andy! also a boat trip…., i was THERE!!!! SO *%&!!!….IF YOU DONT LIKE THE TRUTH THEN WAT KIND OF JOURNALIST ARE YOU !!!??? if the truth about MY life and drug addiction hurt your feelings ,to bad! i didnt do this peice to make friends ,but to help others not make the same mistakes i did!!! im not proud of my choices but the only way to move forward is to be honest and understanding that its never to late to get rite!!!!!haters will be haters no matter how good someone is or is tryn to be ,i know one thing is for sure ,that most people dont look in the mirror and clean out their own closet!!! RUFFO

  • GH

    I’m sick of Chas Smith posts about A.I. From the very beginning, every time he has written about Andy, is supposes that he is the authority as to how Andy’s legacy should be handled. It borders on self righteous hubris. HAS ANYONE NOTICED SURFING’S AND CHAS SMITH’S RADIO SILENCE ON BRUCE IRONS NOT BEING IN TEAHUPOO CONTEST? I think Chas cares more about the sponsors (aka Billabong) than the surfers. I’m starting to think all of his posts have really been a defense of Billabong, and Surfing, and the whole surf industry than about Andy. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are no journalist, you are no spokesman for surfers, you are just an industry propagandist. Leave A.I. out of your defense of surf Industry.

  • sam

    hey, remember when Chas twisted Mick’s jew-hating comment to sell some mags? Man, that was a story worth telling.

    Anyone ever listen to Bloomberg news in the morning? Keene on the Economy, hosted by perhaps the single most boring guy in the world, is hands down the most interesting show on the radio specifically because the host knows his sh*t and digs at it without bias. Chas seems to be the anti-Tom Keene…all that flash with nothing interesting to say.

  • Pedro

    I don’t understand why Bruce Irons gets an autoslot in the Billabong Pro? Everybody is acting so matter of fact like Billabong should just let him in, but wasn’t he the one that chose to quit the tour? Everybody else had to earn there spot. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bruce Irons surfing but we all will or have lost family members at some point, does that mean we deserve free handouts? This whole I’m being a good guy fighting to get bruce in is stupid. I say let him freesurf in the contest while the heats are on because he’ll most likely go for the waves the CT guys don’t want. Seriously, isnt that what Dorian said he does anyways.

  • SurfForever

    Pieces like this make me angry, due to the fact that the writer has obviously lost touch with the reality he says he lives in. Surfing and drugs go together at the moment. It’s a sad fact. Go down to the parking lot at any surf break that has a lot of dedicated locals, and you’re probably going to smell some weed burning at dawn patrol. Start to hang out with those “locals,” and you’re likely going to see some harder stuff burning in their pipes. It doesn’t have to be this way–but it is at many places. Ruffo admitted that, and turned his life around. And what does your ignorant–or perhaps self-riteously arrogant–rant do to solve this issue, Chas? Nothing.

    I feel this piece does the opposite of its intent: it insults Andy Irons, AI’s legacy, his surviving family, and his fans. The family eventually acknowledged the drug issues and AI’s struggle in their public statement. But all you want to do, Chas, is keep “bro-ing down” worse than Chris Cote. And on top of that, you answer a legitimate concern by a real journalist with the flippant, cliche remark at the end of your article, “Now let’s party!”

    This is laughable–and at the same time, something to cry about. Put down the beer bong (and whatever other bongs you are brandishing) and face the music, Chas. Do something to promote positive change, or the beloved passtime of many dedicated watermen who live the healthy lifestyle will forever be seen as a sport for drug addicts. Do you think Laird Hamilton lights up before surfing huge Teahupoo? I doubt it–but even he is likely subject to the stereotypes that are promoted by articles like the above. And to top it off, without forward movemnt, the ethics and morals of many of the sport’s role models–the sponsored professionals–may continue to slide off the map and into a messy oblivion.

  • Surfer Hurts

    Its a sad truth! I have family & even myself years ago that got caught up. I think every surfer at some point becomes a bad ass. At least we like to think so. So parties & stuff after a good sesh you want to keep it rolling. I say this it might not be everyone that goes this direction. Could be alcohol what ever! But the sad truth is this shit happens in surfing & a lot of sports. Were not the only radical sport & it does not even have to be radical. My step father is hooked on it right now. And it sucks! The guy whipped my ass for it & got my head straight. Now he’s hooked. Its a sad deal & even my brother was hooked with him at one point. But, this is a good thing Ruffo did. Surfers need to know this shit will keep you out of the water or at one point take you away from it. You ever heard of DEATH!!! Any ways. No need to cover this shit up! If you have a friend or family member that needs help? Time to start figuring out where to start. Pray you name it for your loved one.
    Fuck by the way no need to cover shit up. Surfers & young ones need to know this shit can happen to any of us. We just need education & Ruffo obviously gets it. He went way above you Surfing mag. You guys should be more on top of this topic & not ESPN. Unless your hiding the monkey in your closet as well Chas & this is the way it seep out.. Guess we should be praying for you to :)

  • dicky

    A drug`s a drug.sober.Yes to drug tests.Yes to honesty.

  • Chas Smith

    I’m an idiot. I make groundless claims. I failed logic in college. I wear two eye patches: one over my left eye, one over my right, so I can walk through life blind. I take them off at night and write my rants with one eye while taking a massive surf industry load in the other, then put the patches back on so it looks like I’ve got two black eyes– that way no one punches me in the water for being the piece of scum that I am, because they think somebody already finished the job. My family life is so messed up that I think the surf industry IS my family. I have daddy issues.

  • EastSide

    I have been surfing for 25 years but I have a mental problem with big waves (i.e. double O range, as big as it gets on this side of town). Now after learning that all these guys are on meth, I want to try some! I know it’s the worst thing I could ever do, but the temptation is there. If only there was some magic potion to give me the balls to get me deep and push me over the ledge on the biggest days!