Somewhere near dawn, Jed Smith made us bananas and bacon. With ice cream and beer. It’s not what we expected — this gathered assemblage of editorial castaways — but it’s far better than I imagined possible.
The recipe goes like this:
-Fry some bacon.
-Fry some bananas with beer.
-Put the bacon on the bananas.
-Serve with ice cream to drunken fools at 3 a.m.
The scene was an unlikely sort of Editorial Pow-Wow. Editors from several of the world’s largest surf magazines gathered around a single table in Coolagatta, Australia. Transworld’s Chris Cote, telling wild stories. Surfing’s Travis Ferré, wielding his Blackberry like a phaser-gun. Iconic momenteer Steve Sherman, not even touching his camera. And Scoop here, making all his fancy-pants desserts.
Scoop was my nickname for Jed Smith: the wild-haired, doe-eyed, wandering wolf-pack-of-one surf journo from Australia. I thought it was cute because Jed is one of the few surf journalists who actually took pride in actual “reporting” during a surf contest. While the rest of us scavenged for free beers in the VIP areas, Jed was down at the water’s edge, Dictaphone in hand, asking tough questions, examining the inner dramas and pulling the rug out from beneath the daily press releases.
We called him Scoop, but he barely seemed to notice.
“Hey Scoop,” I said, “you know we’ve been calling you Scoop all week, right Scoop?”
“The guys at Stab Mag have been calling me that for years,” he says.
“Oh. Well, how come you always get the scoop, Scoop?” I ask. “Don’t you know it’s only surfing?”
“I just think it’s funny,” he says. “It makes me laugh.”
“The whole thing. Pro surfing. It’s hysterical.”
All night, Scoop is scribbling in his notebook while the rest of us discuss weighty surf-journalistic matters. Cote is explaining why he calls a saxophone “the Devil’s breast penis,” (“Just look at it! Man, I wish I could play that thing.”) while Sherm is downloading a YouTube clip of Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” to prove why it’s the best concert movie ever made. (“The most important contest movie ever made,” he says.) Travis is juggling DJ duties against his Blackberry addiction, switching back and forth between Minus the Bear and Kenny Loggins until Cote grabs the speakers and busts out some Elton John. “I wanted to name my son Elton,” he says. “That name would make him tough from getting beat up in school so much.”
“Name him Crash,” says Sherm. “Crash Cote. That has a ring to it.”
I write down a headline for tomorrow’s blog: “Rival Magazines Hold Formal Sit-Down On Neutral Turf To Discuss Demographic Domain.”
See, this is how surf magazines really get made. It’s all very scientific and formalized. That’s why they’re so brilliant.
But what’s Scoop scribbling about all this time? Is he remembering quotes from the day’s WCT rivalries? Jotting notes from this present editorial think tank? Penning his great Australian novel?
Instead of finding out, I ask him this:
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED (AND WHO FROM)?
I don’t have any one piece of distilled advice, but my mother encouraged me to pursue my ambitions, make my own mistakes and discover the punishment. As a result, I feel pretty well equipped to survive in this world. I suppose the message is: Do your thing, fail/succeed and make a fucking (mental or otherwise) note of it.
YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, WHAT ONE ITEM WOULD YOU SAVE?
My computer. I couldn’t stand to lose Facebook and all of the precious memories it contains.
AT YOUR FUNERAL, HOW WILL YOU BE REMEMBERED?
Hopefully as someone who didn’t waste time. Someone who got shit done and lived outside the bloated and mundane system laid out for all of us here in the western world. I’m 23 now and I go through constant mood shifts, but this is what I’m aiming to achieve at the moment.
Is that what he’s writing in that journal of his? He disappears into the kitchen and I’m tempted to peek. But just then Cote starts waving Sherm’s journal around, pointing out crazy scribbles and star-struck digits. “Tony Hawk’s phone number! A doodle by Christian Fletcher! Sherm do you know how much we could auction this thing for in Japan?!?”
See, important stuff.
That’s when Scoop emerged from the kitchen with four bowls of the awesomest, craziest dessert food I’ve ever eaten: bananas and bacon. With beer and ice cream. Now it was clear who was truly the mad genius in the room. And from now on, if I ever want to know what’s really going on with the contest, I read what Jed wrote. —Nathan Myers