I don’t really know what to write but I’m just gonna sit here and hit the keys and see where it goes.
I was sitting in this exact spot a few months ago on a Tuesday around noon when my mom called. I screened it cause the kids were being noisy and I’d call her back later. My mom had decided she wanted to live on a boat and was in the process of buying one. We had been talking a lot because I have friends that are knowledgeable about boats who were consulting her. She calls again. And again. I figure it’s a pocket dial at this point. Screened again. Then a text from my dad – ‘call me as soon as you can’ I get a sinking feeling in my stomach.
I call my mom, she’s sobbing.. “Brek died.”
I spent a large portion of my life worrying about this moment and had only recently let my guard down.
In most ways my brother and I were polar opposite. He was reckless boisterous and wild and I was reserved and shy. I idolized him and his friends growing up skateboarding around Bakersfield and building bike jumps in the empty lots. I liked to pretend I could hang but what they were doing scared me. Smoking weed and tagging, going to parties… getting in fights. The roof over our garage led right up to his bedroom window and he’d sneak out at night and the next day tell me about all the crazy shit he got up to. I never knew what was real and what was embellished but when he came home at 3am in the back of a cop car after vandalizing some old man’s home that was verification that he was up to no good.
When my dad got a job transfer and we planned to move to Ventura he came in my room one night and told me he was running away and I’d never see him again but he’d be fine and he loved me. He didn’t want to leave his friends. I was 10 he was 15.
That didn’t last, but it might have been a key moment where my worry for him started to develop.
Once we moved he found a new crew to cause chaos with and I found a group of friends that were into surfing and doing contests and filming each other and I became hyper focused on surfing.
Brek and his friends surfed too but in a different way, the high school feuds and territorialism extended into the surf and for him it was mostly just something you do. For me it was everything.
Police visits, jail time, drugs, rehab, lost jobs, borrowing money, a baby at 18… he had a wild entry into adulthood and I was constantly worried about him.
Still, surfing brought us together. When he was doing good, you’d see him at the beach every day. He started caring a lot about his surfing and improving so we had that as common ground. Then he’d slip up or get in trouble and not surf for awhile.
Brek was a brilliant storyteller. Whether it was a story about a ghost fuckin with him at the house where he was working or how he chased some fisherman around Hueneme pier with a sledgehammer after they were casting at him – ‘I wasn’t gonna kill em I just wanted to get em in the leg’ only to return to his van with a parking ticket, the van parked with perfect vantage point of where he was chasing the fisherman, I still never knew what was real and what was embellished.
My guess is it was mostly real and he was able to focus on the comical aspect and maybe stretch it a bit for maximum impact.
We had a falling out a few years ago. He was obviously doing drugs but hiding it as well as he could and Eithan’s parents were nice enough to give him a spot to stay. I saw him out surfing and he asked if he could move in with me for a bit. My wife was 8 months pregnant with our twins and it was ultimately a ‘hell no’ which was tough but that’s what it was and we didn’t talk again until last summer.
I was at the print shop making Former shirts with our mutual friend Jenkins (@thumpdrums) when my brother called. Jenkins told him I was there and he said he wanted to talk to me. He told me he was doing good and wanted to meet the twins.
I started seeing him surfing a bit but I was reluctant to let my guard down.
Then in November our Grandpa passed away and at the service my brother delivered a beautiful and eloquent eulogy. He was bright, clear, level headed and well spoken. I talked to him and he said he was a year and a half sober.
We started talking on the phone and sharing surf reports and meeting up to surf even though surfing with him was a huge commitment cause he’d take every goddamn wave.
He had a big bellowing laugh and was wickedly clever and had a brutal sense of humor. I started enjoying surfing with him just to spend the time together even though my wave count would get chopped in half when he paddled out. And that’s no exaggeration. He was the greediest surfer I’ve ever surfed with. He’d snake you then heckle you on the way back out. Over and over. But somehow there was love in the way it was delivered and you couldn’t be mad about it.
I loved queuing him up on conspiracy shit. He’d post screenshots of memes that would say LGBTQP with a bunch of people holding hands and a little kid off the end that said ‘pedophilia is ok if the child enjoys it’ and the comment was something about sick democrats and I’d text him instantly. ‘Dude you’re getting trolled there’s no way anyones promoting pedophilia.’ And he’d respond ‘The dems are trying to normalize it before their indictment.’
I told him about Chapter11.tv and he was pumped on the idea. As I worked on the first few videos we surfed together a ton. I’m guessing a portion of that was motivated by getting into a video. After a session he’d check in to see if Mini got any of his waves. I finally sent him all his clips and he said ‘aww alright, I need to bend my knees more.’
I planned on getting him in a video but never thought it would be under these circumstances.
I’m forever grateful for the time I got to spend with him this spring surfing every day, we were able to reconnect and talk about growing up and life and I got so many good stories about his wilder years. We planned on having him come meet the twins. I didn’t feel like there was any urgency. For once he seemed content and grounded and I felt like we had a lifetime in front of us to reconnect.
I clearly remember him making fun of Mini for trying to film in fog so thick you could barely see the waves. Some of those waves made this video. I remember him snapping on kids for getting in the way, taking all the best sets, telling me about how he almost made his best turn of the season. He’d usually send me a sequence of it later that night. He’d befriended local photographers and loved showing everyone his latest spoils.
I remember a dude on a 7 foot egg shape telling him ‘excuse me… I don’t want to cause any problems but you snaked me on my last wave’ Brek belted out a huge ‘HA!’ instantly burning another dude and the egg shape guy consoled the new victim ‘I tried to tell him that’s not cool but he just laughed.’
Brek was flawed, as all humans are. Life is fragile. He was like a brother for a lot of friends. Hopefully this was a nice way to commemorate him. I am very thankful for my friends who’ve been supportive these past months it makes me realize what friends are for. My heart breaks for his daughters Paisley and Kolby and wife Alex and my Mom and Dad and all his close friends.
Special thanks to Jenkins, Alex, Jordan, Tyler and Natalie for contributing photos and voicemails.
We miss you Brek.