“Andy Irons’ Poetic Fury” is the latest History of Surfing chapter to post. Which reminds me . . . are we ever going to see Brad Melekian’s book on Irons? I gotta find out. Brad, if that manuscript is gathering dust in your hard drive, we need to figure out a way to bring it forth. Melekian, for those of you who don’t know, was the one person from the world of surf—the one person, period—to dig into the whole dark mess of Irons’ life and career, and how Andy’s drug use was covered up, enabled, ignored, and glossed over, right up to the end and beyond. Here’s the original story Brad did for Outside, and here’s the follow-up. Both are remarkable on a lot of levels, not the least of which is that Brad is as humane as he is relentless. Writing the two pieces more or less took Melekian out of the surf game (the surf industry was not happy at having its dirty secrets exposed; Brad was not happy at the 100 acres of bullshit he had to wade through to get the stories), but it got him a book deal. What happened there? I’ll check and report back.
Here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks after Andy died, about his rivalry with Slater. It was a great rivalry, the best in surf history, but it was over long before Andy won that final event in Tahiti, during his 2010 comeback—even all us surf fans expected, at that point, that the thing was going to flare back up. But Andy, to his credit, wasn’t the same person then as he’d been in the early ’00s, during which he ran off three straight titles. Irons once said that “in the water [during competition], I hate every single person,” and that losing made him feel as if the “whole world is over; everything sucks.” That’s who he needed to be to win. “Not being able to create hatred for Slater or anybody standing between him and a trophy,” I wrote in 2011, “is what took Irons out of contention. Tahiti, looking back, wasn’t a harbinger of things to come, it was just a still-great surfer catching the right waves and hitting all his marks. Andy was still good enough to win, without being especially interested in doing so. If Slater did in fact use Irons’ victory in Tahiti to fuel his sprint to a 10th world title, I don’t think there was any blowback for Irons. Slater didn’t kick the legs out from Irons’ comeback last summer, because the comeback never meant that much to Irons to begin with.”
The whole business, almost 10 years later, is still so sad.
Rochelle Ballard and Connie Francis made me feel better. See what you think. Here’s Rochelle’s Above the Roar interview, too. I love this quote: “Surfing is a sexy sport. We live in a fantasy world. You drop your clothes and you’re in a bikini or boardshorts and you’re running out the door barefoot. We’re surrounded by the sun and the liquid energy of the ocean and white sand beaches and it’s such a fun lifestyle that it’s got to be sexy. It’s a graceful sport and yet it’s aggressive too, and you use both at the right times and the right places and it’s glorious."
It is glorious.
Thanks everybody, and see you next week!
[Photos: Art Brewer, Steve Sherman]