Heroic Out Loud

posted by / Magazine / December 30, 2013

illustration_5 This has everything to do with (big-wave) surfing. Illustration by Noa Emberson

February Issue Shawn Dollar should be on a Wheaties box and Greg Long should be on ESPN every single night because if there is one thing the general public loves, it is shark attacks, but if there is another thing it loves it is brave men and women riding giant waves. The general public goes and watches Chasing Mavericks (grammar error not mine) and gasps as a curly-haired actor airdrops to the trough of a beast. It watches Blue Crush and holds its breath as cute actresses surf Oahu’s outer reefs. If there is one thing the general public loves, it is wacky wipeouts, but if there is another thing it loves it is gallant souls conquering massive walls of water.

But Shawn Dollar is not on a Wheaties box and Greg Long has never been on ESPN’s Top 10 and why? Why are our big-wave heroes not household names and not even surf household names? Why do they toil in obscurity? I have pondered this question for years and have gone so far as to ask players in that game why no one knows who they are. Some have told me that it is a small, tight brotherhood and talking oneself up is frowned upon. Others have told me that modesty rules in an arena that can crush mere mortals. And this makes sense. Those who talk themselves up — Laird and Garrett, I am staring at you — appear rotten and, karmically, taunting the wild ocean is not a good idea. But still. You should all be famous! You should all be walking red carpets with starlets on your arms!

I want you to be walking red carpets with starlets on your arms. You deserve it far more than the boys on the WCT, and so I am going to help you.

First, the humility has to stop. There are ways to be narcissistic and self-serving and make it look good. You are all right to semi-sheepishly hang your heads when asked directly about your superhuman feats; it looks appropriate and manly, but it does not garner attention. That is what publicists are for. Publicists plant stories about your daring. They tell Oprah that you defy death every time you paddle out. They bring you, and your humble charging, to the world. And so you all must hire publicists. I understand that you don’t want to taunt the ocean but if all of you are doing it then it is like paddling out with a larger group to surf shark-infested breaks. Chances are, fate will gobble another. I have two publicists and both of them are great.

Second, style is everything. The nature of your game is function uber alles and this is right and good, in the water. Function can save your life when the waves tower. But on land, a giant baggy sweater is not functional. It is ugly. Dress the part, men! Look tough and mean and brave. Look like fighter pilots. I can see you, Big Ben Wilkinson, in aviators and a supple brown leather bomber jacket with patches of waves you have bested sewn right on. Look like race car drivers. I can see you, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, on the boat out to Maverick’s in a white leather one-piece. Look like cowboys. I can see you, Derek Dunfee, wearing chaps and a 10-gallon hat whilst wandering the streets of La Jolla. Yes, you must look the part. Like soldiers or astronauts or firemen. Really, anything is better than the nervous junior high boys you look like now. My two publicists would very much agree.

Third, keep the nerdy swell-following business to a minimum, at least publically. Big waves appear, to outsiders, like magic. They appear to come from the belly of some beast. But when you are talking about buoys and intervals and something-rather feet at something-rather seconds and smoke-screening others by saying it is going to be small and blown out, etc., it strips the magic. Act like you don’t care. Act like you just happened to be out at the Cortes Bank deep sea diving for shark teeth when all of a sudden, the ocean rose up and, cool, good thing you had your 12-foot gun.

And, fourth, when Olivia Wilde’s publicist calls and asks if you would waltz her down the red carpet to Rush, have your publicist say, “But of course.” Have her say, “But of course” even if it is something-rather feet at something-rather seconds and Jaws is going to be all-time. Jaws will break again, but Rush only opens once and when the press corps sees you, so brave, in your supple brown leather bomber jacket, they will turn to each other and ask, “What are the Dungeons? What is a Puerto Escondido?” Your publicist will be there to tell them, “Only the most dangerous waves on earth. Waves that my client dances on.” And then you will be famous and everywhere you should be, starting with Wheaties and ESPN.

Shawn Dollar, are you listening? Greg Long, shall I have my publicists call you? –Chas Smith

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  • cmon

    chas smith has two publicists? LOL, really though- who does he think he is

  • joe

    Garrett Mcnamara actually never boasts about anything if you listen to his interviews. he is as humble as you can be imho.

  • forfsake

    Why does Chas Smith still have a job as a surf writer? I’ve literally never read one good piece by him, it’s all an exercise in extended self-flagellation wrapped in shamelessly wordy “look at me” prose. Word fapping at its worst. I guess we have no one else and Lewis has been exiled?

  • Moss Beach Schooler

    @joe, Garrett is all about Garrett, just ask around.

  • chassmithsmokespole

    chas smith keep your faggish ideas to yourself. this is quite possibly the worst excuse for trying to make yourself look knowledgeable in the midst of surf fame. please do everyone a favor and bury yourself under a rock where you can think and write complete dog shit to yourself.

  • gerglong

    thought it was funny.

  • ThisArticlePissedMeOff

    I really really hope that this article was meant as one big joke. Otherwise I can just assume that whoever wrote it has never ever stood on a surfboard in their life.

    If you would rather take a day on the red carped as opposed to the best day of surf you are going to get in the whole year, than this magazine should really fire you.

    p.s. I couldn’t agree more with @chassmithsmokespole

  • EWL

    I love when someone writes an outlandish article and posters comment on how its a load crap. Well guess what? It was a load of crap. That was the point. I don’t understand why people who post on here think they need to post in broken sentences and sound like Jeff Spicoli went to Hawaii. Come on brah! I went to Hale Kula Elementary School and don’t remember the education being that bad. Lighten up and and grow a sense of humor! Shaka!

  • Wyatt

    If this article is predicated on the notion that “The general public goes and watches Chasing Mavericks,” then this article is predicated on misinformation. That abortion of a narrative cost $20 million and (depending on your source) raked in between 6.5 – 8 mil. The general public in fact did NOT go see that film with a vengeance. Not that the general public is a consistent barometer of quality, but in this case, they were right.

    I’m sure there are other points obscured in this piece but it’s too clunky, try-too-hard and humorless to merit a second read.

  • Ian Smith

    Awesome writing.

  • Center Line

    Sometimes being humble means you still want all the glory and fame, but without boasting.

  • alincolnlocal

    Hey Chas . I think the guy who told you to move under a rock is onto something . Somehow it didn’t surprise me when I found out it was you who annoyed Mick Fanning into mistakenly thinking you were a Jew . As a Jew myself I take it as an insult . From both of you . Thank goodness you’re not one of us . And both of you should make sure you know what you’re talking about before you open your mouthes . Once it’s out ya can’t put it back in. One more thing = don’t come back to NY !

  • kaiborg

    You guys don’t get it. As insufferable as Chas Smith’s writing style is, all the negative attention he generates–also known as WEB TRAFFIC–is precisely the reason his vapid, say-nothing ass still has a job.

    If you’re really interested in putting Chas out of work, don’t click on his articles. It’s the only way. The fewer page views he garners, the less viable he is to his employers. Like most internet trolls, Chas will go away if we ignore him. Otherwise, he’s here to stay, and that’s on YOU.

    Unfortunately, I had to click his stupid link to say these things, but Chas Smith will get no more clicks from me, and I strongly urge you all to do the same.

  • Graeme Baker

    Very Funny.

  • MrMcSpermy

    i think chas is funny. i always read his articles, cant say that about any other surf media person…actually, i cant even name another surf journalist.