On Tuesday, June 12th at 7:30pm Warwick's will host Chas Smith to discuss and sign his new book Cocaine + Surfing. Chas Smith is the author of Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, which was optioned for television, and a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award for Nonfiction. Chas began his writing career as a foreign correspondent, penning pieces for Vice, Paper, and Blackbook, amongst others, from Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, Azerbaijan and Colombia which led to a brief career as a war correspondent for Current TV. After being kidnapped by Hezbollah during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war he transitioned to surf journalism where he was a featured writer at the brash Stab before becoming Editor at Large at Surfing Magazine. Chas Smith is the co-owner of a surf website, BeachGrit. This event is free and open to the public. Reserved Seating is available when the book is pre-ordered from Warwick's for the event. Only books purchased from Warwick's will be signed. Please call the Warwick's Book Dept. (858) 454-0347 for details.
It is likely not terribly surprising that surfers like to party. The 1960-70s image, bolstered by Tom Wolfe and Big Wednesday, was one of mild outlaws. Tanned boys who refused to grow up, spending their days drinking beer and smoking joints on the beach in between mindless hours in the water.
As the surf brands accidentally morphed into a multimillion, then multibillion dollar industry beginning in the 1980s, however, the derelict portrait began to harm business. In order to achieve wild year-on-year growth that came to be expected surf trunks, t-shirts and sunglasses had to be sold en mass through Midwestern mall stores. Moms in Des Moines did not want corn-fed junior to be a delinquent. And so the external surf image of the 1980s, 90s into the present became Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton. Health, vitality, bravery, clean-living, positive and pure with heavy doses of puritanism.
Internally, though, surfing had moved on from booze and weed to its heart’s true home, its soul’s twin flame. Cocaine’s rise in American popular culture as the choice of rich, white elites was matched, then quadrupled, within surf culture. Cocaine + Surfing peels the curtains back on a hopped up, sometimes sexy sometimes deadly relationship and uses cocaine as the vehicle to expose and explain the utterly absurd surf industry to outsiders. It also explores where dreams go when they die.