An Open Letter to Charlie Smith
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.