Follow SURFING’s Chas Smith through Florida to see if his deep-seeded disdain for the Sunshine State is warranted, or if he falls in love.
With notes from the surf and the Republican National Convention
Today, like thousands of corn-fed, gun owning Midwesterners, I head to Florida. I am not from the Midwest, nor do I own a gun, but I go nonetheless. I go because, as a left coast surfer, Florida is a place that I’ve always loathed. I remember getting Surfing Magazines in my mailbox when I was a young boy. I remember being inspired by California and awed by Hawaii and thrilled by Indonesia and totally bored by Florida. Like, bored beyond. When those damned yearly east coast features arrived I would go to my room and cry. The names of beaches, New Smyrna, Cocoa Beach, St. Augustine, Sebastian Inlet, were different but not exotic. The waves looked small but not fun. Tears streaked my cheeks and a hot, hot hatred burned in my heart.
I am older now, and wise, and I have realized, in my wisdom, that carrying the burden of Florida hatred in my heart scars everything else that I do. It damages my relationships and disrupts my very hip je me sais quoi.
And so, today, like thousands of heart medication eating, hairless, elderly New Yorkers, I head to Florida. I will drive from tip to tail. I will visit with surfers. I will attend the Republican National Convention, go to Scientology’s international headquarters, surf New Smyrna, Cocoa Beach, St. Augustine and Sebastian Inlet (even though I’ve heard it’s fallen from it’s former glory). I will experience the Sunshine State and maybe fall in love. Or maybe not. Or maybe go to strip clubs with Republican conventioneers. In any case, you can come with me. It will be reckoning. It will be cathartic. It might be Mitt Romney losing the Mormon plot and shoving sweaty American dollars into G-strings. Tampa is, after all, the strip club capital of the world.
Follow Chas’ Florida adventures on his Instagram, @chasdoesntsurf (#chasgoesright), and here on surfingmagazine.com. As with most of Chas’ work, expect to laugh, love or hate.