An Open Letter

Open letters are all the rage. This one's to Charlie Smith, because if nobody ever tells a true story what is the point?


The Inertia

Dear Charlie Smith,

My name is Tetsuhiko Endo; my friends call me Ted. My mom calls me Teddy. I have followed your work for a few years. Some of it I’ve enjoyed, some of it I haven’t, but I have always had a grudging respect for your habit of telling stories that everyone else is too afraid to. We all know the surfing game isn’t exactly brimming with hard bitten journalists. Lord knows, on my worst days, I write as much advertorial as anyone – but I’ve never seen you flinch at a story that needs to be told.

Until now, that is. I read your piece on SurfingMagazine.com about why we in the media shouldn’t write about the loss of Andy Irons. Your reasoning is that we are a family “…And the family kept, and keeps, his failures behind a closed door precisely because we are a family. The automatic assumption that Andy’s struggles while he lived and the exact causes of his death, and all of his ghosts should have been made totally completely public is ludicrous. It was public enough. The family knew. The family knows.”

There are two possible interpretations of your piece. The first is that you are firing a shot across the bow of any publication that will print something on Irons before your piece on him in Surfing drops. Certainly you can see the irony in saying that we shouldn’t write about Andy Irons when you have already written about him. If this is the case, well played; you might be able to shame some people into not publishing articles that could possibly make yours irrelevant. But even if you are beaten to the punch, I wouldn’t worry; you always have a unique take on things, and it’s hard to make uniqueness irrelevant.

The other interpretation of your posting is that you truly believe the press has no business reporting on this – a notion that coincides with Surfing Magazine’s oft-reiterated position since Irons passed away. They have commercial interests to protect, but what is your motivation?

I ask, not to insult you, or to imply that you have some sort of nefarious agenda, but because you once wrote something that lodged itself in my head and even helps to inspire me on those days when I ask myself why I bother writing about surfing at all. For what it’s worth, I’ve actually memorized it:

“It was a story because it happened and because it is rare in this surf industry to find anything real. If nobody ever tells a true story what is the point? What is the point?”

You wrote that when everyone wanted your head because you had the nerve NOT to censor anti-Semitic remarks made to you. Publishing writing long enough will make a hypocrite out of anyone, but it’s too bad that it’s made such a hypocrite out of you.


  • Winston Smith

    Hi Ted,

    Surprising that you find Charlie Smith’s writing credible.  Beautiful thing, the destruction of words.  Charlie says, “We are a family” and “If nobody ever tells a true story what is the point?” with all the sincerity of “Welcome to Walmart”, committing even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself.   “Andy’s Family” enrages like Ronald Reagan at the graves of SS troops and Bill Clinton “going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman . . .”  Surfing knows bullshit when they see it and closed comments.

  • Blasphemy Rottmouth

    I am just thankful I am not now, nor have I ever been, a part of Chas Smith’s so-called “Surfing Family.” But his family is pretty easy to spot these days. Look for the folks wearing helmets, drool napkins,while riding in the short bus with all the corporate logos plastered over the outside.

    That poor “Surfing Family” has inbred themselves to the point of near-extinction (see the ASP’s last gasps as they scramble to pull off a G-Land event in the wake of the RIO debacle).

    Strike me up some Dylan, Mr. Endo, because “the times, they are a changin’…”

     

  • Steve Shearer

    Very high ironic/comedic value when the master of sensationalism invokes a familial propriety as a reason not to publish.

    And even funnier that they attempt to stifle comment in the age of the internet.

  • Hippy

     To suggest a collective gag order because of some obtuse definition of family is ludicrous.  

    A clothing company choose to obstruct a truth actively when their ultimate Public Service Message would have been to allow the tragedy to inspire awareness of a pervasive issue within our “family”. 

    Pander to the youth, you have a responsibility to that youth. 

    Good read, Endo 

  • Niegà

     Well said Ted!! Spot on!  
    Niegà

  • sundaysnew

    I can agree with what chas is saying, we are a tribe. I too have been raised in an environment that says what you see behind close doors in none of your business/keep it in the family type deal.  So go ahead and point and look down on Andy when that truth comes out, but he is still a great hero. I don’t think that needs to be tarnished.  

    • Blasphemy Rottmouth

      Some of us weren’t born sheep. Comprende?

      • sundaysnew

        Sheep? What is the value of pointing out Andy’s problems? You the kind of dude who watches true hollywood stories. This is surfing, not hollywood. 

        • Stu

          really?  What’s the difference?  Slater is Slade.  Kalani Robb is a waiter.  Laird stunt drives boats over the falls.  Nike girls are walking the red carpet in LA.  Taj is banging models and Mick married one.  Surfing is as Hollywood as Hollywood itself.

          • sundaysnew

            You might be literally retarded. No one outside of surfing cares about this little world we have. Yeah, we might be a multibillion dollar industry, but so is Nascar….You scrambling to go see the truth behind kyle busch’s problems? Don’t compare hollywood to surfing, because until there is tv shows and magazines based on the inside scoop and paparazzi shooting where ace buchan is taking a sh*t its nothing like hollywood. Go back to transworld stu and complain.

    • Winston Smith

       None
      here has criticized AI personally nor diminished his heroics in the
      line-up.  Charlie Smith’s article waxes eloquently about the imagined
      family without regard for the real family in an attempt to keep selling
      crappy sweatshop surf products and crappy “carbon neutral” magazines.  I
      sold you and you sold me , , ,

    • Stu

      Haha, AI in my family?  You think he’d have welcomed me at his local?  You think we might have studied together to get through finals in college?  You think I’d have shared pills with him?  You think he’s have shared his wife with me?  I don’t know what point I’m making here, but one thing’s for sure, AI and I had only one thing in common that I’m aware – surfing – and that’s certainly not enough to make us family.

      • sundaysnew

        Its surfer looking out for surfer. Whats the real point of airing out somebody’s dirty laundry?  I know who you are stu, the guy that nobody really likes at your local break. Kinda of jealous of the “surf” rats. “Yeah, andy might of ripped but he still partied hard! And that should be known!” I didn’t ask about your familys skeletons so why andys? Same reason I won’t be in line with you for the ”tell all kelly slater bio” after he retires. Have fun, but know your no better then the circus. 

        • Stu

          Look, AI chose to be in the spotlight.  He didn’t have to.  He could have been a fisherman.  Just like LiLo, he made his business our business.  What’s so hard to understand?  And if you’re seriously saying that all surfers somehow have a sacred bond simply because they surf, you must be on the same pills AI was (allegedly).  

          • sundaysnew

            circular reasoning?

          • sundaysnew

            circular reasoning?

    • Al Baydough

      Andy was a legendary surfer but heros live – and die – for others, addicts live for themselves. 

  • sundaysnew

    also they closed their comments for a good reason, because people like theinertia posters would be having a fit. WE NEED TO SEE THE REPORTS AND TELL A TRAGIC TELL. Tell about how andy lived not about how he died. /rant

  • Anthony

    Perhaps Mr Smith is simply following a long line of surf reporters just trying to curry favour with Hawaiians? 

  • Vince

    The idea that Smith is in any way qualified to play morality/journalistic ethics police is absolutely contemptible. The same guy who dedicated an issue of a surf magazine to openly laugh at “Auschwitz surviving grandmas” and the holocaust sprouts a conscience when it comes to writing stories where there is actually something at stake and to be learned?

    Extend Smith’s logic further..all people on this earth are family. We all eat, sleep, and die. By that logic, all journalists, history teachers, and people who hope to form their opinions based on facts are hellbound. No story with unpleasant details should ever be told. A sublime way to live.

  • JustaPOV

     Smith and his Stab ilk were primo buddies of AI. They enjoyed being the ‘exclusive club’, the ones who shared a knowing glint in the eye and slipped away from the party to go to a far, far cooler place. So cool you couldn’t dream it up. Pills, powders, potions, beautiful women, great clothes, fast cars, uppers, downers, combinations of ‘em – it all made them seem so … successful. That’s the place Smith is writing from – the highest point in the Hollywood version of human achievement. Rolling like friggin superstars, with oh such refined taste, laughing at the sheep who buy surf clothes and, you know, need sleep and stuff.
    Don’t be surprised Smith says we should leave AI’s death alone. For one, he wants to stay in the in-club and remain a welcome bro on Kauai, and second, exposing how sordid and damaging their mutual delusions were takes the shine off their whole tedious act. 

    • Ku’ulei

      He never was and never will be a welcome bro on Kauai.  A.I & B.I used those guys forever.  The iron’s come from a family with a long tradition of publishing, marketing and media manipulation. 
      They new exactly what they were doing.  I’d love to see Chaz Smith step off a plane on Kauai.  Haha.

  • Steven

    Great letter, Ted. Short. Sweet. Logical.

  • Al Baydough

    Nike seems to care. So does Bud Light. And SONY Pictures (which is pretty damned Hollywood).

    Do you live on a rock or under one? 
    Denial. You’ve got it bad.

    • sundaysnew

      denial of what? Its going into that direction, obviously. So embrace the apocalypse? haha funny you guys choose that view point, Chas did also in the latest surfing magazine. ONE TRIBE!!!!! hahaha

  • Jimmi

    Live like Jay. Don’t die like Andy.

  • Stu

    Funny you mention TWS (which I no longer frequent)… 90% of their stories are exactly like TMZ, Inside Edition etc., just focused on surfers.  Thank you for helping me make my point.

  • Stu

    Related, I didn’t know who Kyle Busch was, but I was able to find out about his speeding and attitude problems in like 30 seconds just by googling him.  Seems as if everything in NASCAR is open for public consumption.  How does that support you here?

    • sundaysnew

      where was he last tuesday? exactly, not hollywood. So we have to be like other sports? According to you atleast.