Reflecting Upon the Open

posted by / News / August 12, 2011


The US Open of Surfing is now over, and what a week it was! Films premiered, waves pumped. Kolohe Andino impressed. Kelly Slater did too. Endless cocktails. Underage girls received their first spray paint tattoos. Love was made and love was lost. It was a week so grand that it has taken a further week to recover.

And now, feeling recovered and sitting in Portland, Oregon, where Peter Pans ride about on bicycles in the throes of perpetual youth, I can astutely assert that surf is it. Surf is the only thing that matters.

I was at the X-Games prior to the Open and it was weird. A motorsport aesthetic has taken over the extreme space, which is fine and good but also weird. X is Temecula. It is Riverside. And surf is no longer invited to that party, which is also fine and good, because surf throws its own.

More people come to Huntington Beach than to downtown Los Angeles. The gatherings are bigger. Everyone is happier. The girls and the boys wear better clothing and have better tans. It is great and it is grand. What a family we are!

Truly, even as the economy falters, surf is on the rise. Gold and surf, through the roof! And what is the cause of this renaissance? I will say, quite simply, surf is better than anything else. The activity itself is better. Sitting out in the ocean underneath a glowing sun, paddling into perfect fun. It is purely enjoyable. It feels like nothing else. A clean bottom turn, an open face, a full speed cutback. Offshore breezes. Sun. It feels like heaven. It is sexy. Surf is sexy.

And in this era of Michelle Bachmann, who doesn’t want sexy? Who doesn’t want perfect fun?

In the middle of it all Outside Magazine published yet another ham-fisted exposé on Andy Irons but nobody read it because everybody was too busy having a good time at the beach.

Outside is Santa Fe, New Mexico. Worse than either Temecula or Riverside. —Chas Smith

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  • Mik

    the head of chas smith is in the right place. and no doubt, it is hetero. :-)

  • maddog

    chas smith rides a fish..

  • Kaipo Gomes

    The Outside Magazine article, penned by Brad Melekian, was read by many. By ignoring the article and what led to Andy’s death is ignorant. It is real and it really happened. Even Bruce is opening up about Andy as evidenced in the new Stab magazine interview. Quite possibly the best interview in the past decade for the “Surf” world. Is Bruce wrong? Hardly.

  • Wyatt

    FYI people, Chas Smith is NINETEEN. So yes, his writing is somewhat juvenile – clunky, reactionary and forced – but could YOU write like that in college? Doubtful.

    So give the kid a break. You would be STOKED to a get byline anywhere sophomore year.

  • Mik

    brad melekian is a kook. how he ever got where he did in the surf mag industry is beyond me, not that he is necessarily a bad writer, but because he was unqualified to write about the level of surfing he was covering. his deal was always more about himself, than the people he was writing about. melekian speculated wildly on the cause of Andy’s death to further his own ambition, with utter disregard for Andy’s widow or family. Binge drinking didn’t kill AI. and is it a story?? Hardly. As if hard partying is new to the surf community’s youth. fortunately, most outgrow it. unfortunately, Andy’s heart had a time limit. What he did in that time was extraordinary, and that is all I need to know. Which is basically what Bruce said.

  • Steve Shearer

    Bad news Chas: Brad buried you in the Outside piece and yours and Cornuelles cowardice is looking more and more farcical.

    A name change by deed poll when you finally get sick of mining the surf vein would be in order to restore some cred.

  • Shane

    Wayyyyy more people read this. Just don’t check circulation.

  • ryan

    what happened to Chas’ writing? i enjoyed it when he was questioning things, yet now he just says ‘yes, surfing is great, money is sexy, we are a big Brady bunch, blah blah blah.’

  • Kaipo Gomes

    It’s just amazing that there are people in the world like “Mik” that will attack the messenger. You sound like a bitter fellow writer or peer of Brads. Are you? How in the world is he “unqualified” to write about Andy Irons? Are you kidding? The statement you take that Andy’s heart had a time limit tells us that you think his heart killed him. If anyone is “honest” it was not his heart that killed him. His death was tragic for many reasons but to ignore the tragedy and call it a bad heart is pathetic. Tell his real story and if one life is saved by the truth it is worth it. Give Brad some credit for taking crap from people like “Mik” and others that want to hide the facts.

  • Dezzy

    Apparently Chas found enough time away from the beach to read Outside. Seems like he spent more time thinking about Melekian than the US Open or surfing or Portland or whatever. And if you didn’t read the Outside piece, well, Chas certainly plugged it nicely.

  • Jon

    I really enjoy Chas’s writing but he is seriously such a clown.

  • dgb

    Of the Outside article, Nick Carroll said, “this is the sort of painful shit everyone has to read if they’re fair dinkum about surfing and what it means to them. A guy died for christ’s sake, and it’s all very well to say RIP, but until we’ve all shown the respect to face up to what actually happened and learn from it, how can he RIP?” But Chas just wants to be a ‘happy and having fun all the time’ industry guy. Since Andy was struggling with his demons, means he was aconsciously aware that he was on the wrong path. So if Andy can realize this, why does Chas have such a difficult time dealing with it?

  • dgb

    From the Outside article: The report should have cleared up any lingering mystery, but that’s not what happened. Tarrant County medical examiner Nizam Peerwani wrote that he’d found evidence of cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, a generic form of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, and marijuana in Irons’s system, and the original police report noted that a bottle of sleeping pills was on a table in the hotel room. But he also concluded that Irons had a severely clogged artery and ruled that “the primary and the underlying cause of death is ischemic heart disease.”

    What about all those pharmaceuticals? “Drugs,” the report continued, “particularly methadone and cocaine, are other significant factors contributing to death.”

    There is a curtain you need to pull back, Chas!

  • dgb

    And this: Goldberger reviewed a copy of Peerwani’s report and noted that the high levels of Xanax and Methadone alone could have been lethal. Although Goldberger says it’s possible for a young, otherwise healthy male with a clogged artery to die suddenly, he says that even without a heart condition, Irons had lethal levels of drugs in his system. “There’s no way that you can remove this acute-mixed-drug-ingestion finding from the cause of death,” he said. “If you removed the natural-disease findings from Mr. Irons, you would be left with sufficient toxicology to cause [his] death.” Did you even read the article, Chas?

  • dgb

    What’s the bet none of the current top ten would pass a drug (both recreational and performance enhancer) test? There’s the dirty secret. How many Barry Bond World Champs have we had, say, over the last Ten or so years? I can hear the cries already. Then test!

    Dr. Don Catlin is the director of the Olympic Analytical Laboratory, located on the campus of UCLA. It is the only lab in the U.S. accredited for sports doping control by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency. Clients of his include the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the NCAA and the NFL. Surfers should learn a little.

  • Kaipo Gomes

    Thank God that dgb is a voice of reason and logic on this. Chas is a product of what Surfing Magazine is today. Teen beat with slobbering over Dion, Kolohe, Doheny, Coffins and that mindset. Nick Carroll could speak best to what has become of “ING” as he was Editor during its glory years with FLAME. How Chas even has the ear of a Surf Mag is pathetic. Weigh in on this Nick and shed some light on how far the so-called writers have fallen.

  • Dr. feelgood

    Coke, speed, pot, methadone, Xanax and booze cure Dengue fever.

  • Exit98

    @ Kaipo G. – I’m with you on Nick Carroll / Gilovich / Flame helping ‘Ing attain it’s “Golden Years” where both writing and imagery made it the best mag cover-to-cover for several years but you can’t mention that triumverate without acknowledging the amazing 5 or so years when Slater ( Evan ), Walker / Flame and a brilliant art staff really took it to the top of the mountain in surf publishing no disrespect to Nick and company- I love that guy and used to work for them “out of office”. Bottom line, it’s so very sad to see a once great surf pub’s ( hey, we ain’t talking The New Yorker or even Vanity Fait here ) editorial stance taken to new lows but it’s just symptomatic of the information over-loaded world we live in with Chas Smith type ‘journalism spreading with no end in sight. The only thing great about ‘ing is there photo department with Taras and the man you love to hate, Jimmy Wilson, pushing surf photography into some amazing places and perspectives. An article on the Rise and Fall of Surf Magazines In The Age Of New Media penned by Nick would be a must read but I’m pretty sure that the last thing that guy would want to do is come off like a grumpy old media hack which is the very last thing he is. Thank God for The Surfers Journal as a repository of well written surf / ocean related stories is all I can say.

  • Exit98

    ps- I read the Outside article – nice work Brad – and then mass e-mailed a link to a couple of hundred friends, business associates and family members and got a shitload of responses back so I’m pretty sure at least few people read the article. That Mr. Smith deigned to even mention it, let alone in such an interesting manner, speaks volumes about many things Chas Fabulous, most especially his journalistic credibility / ability which is pretty much shot anyway when it comes to anything more than a party / premier web post …