“I’d Rather Surf With Sharks, Than Be On Land Tempted By The Devil”
Letter From The Editor: A bright afternoon of the soul with filmmaker, ex-opioid “zombie,” close comrade of the late, great Andy Irons, and man reborn, Logan Dulien.
It’s mid-afternoon in Los Angeles, and the lunchtime crowd is thick, “creatives” chatting campaigns and activations, doing damage control on phones, tap, tap, tapping into laptops, as Logan Dulien and I find ourselves seats
Three years pill-free from after more than a decade of prolonged drug use—six years of which properly strung out on opioids—today Dulien is tan and youthful looking, happy and bright, fresh from a trip to Central America.
Last year, thirteen years after his last film, Snapt2, Logan released his comeback opus, to a massive Costa Mesa crowd, packing the OC Observatory to full capacity for one of the most memorable surf film premieres in recent memory.
Many in attendance—some who’d known Logan since he was a 14-year-old grom hanging in the parking lot at Frog House in Newport Beach—had doubted Dulien, were certain that after so many failed attempts trying to stay clean, he would be lucky to get out alive, let alone direct a Surfer Poll nominated full-length surf flick, featuring some of the world’s heaviest hitters—Mason Ho, Jack Robinson, Bobby Martinez, Asher Pacey, and a fired-up Bruce Irons, who Dulien had been close with since the early Volcom days in Newport, with Bruce and his brother.
Which is why Logan was here—to talk about him, Bruce, Andy, Rory Parker and friends, and how Dulien was able to kick the monkey on his back, while others have struggled, or died, in the process.
While Logan had guts he was eager to spill, I wanted to start at the beginning, and so we did…
“I met Andy through Bruce,” Logan says. “I was the kid that worked at the parking lot at the Frog House. I sat in the parking lot and made sure no one parked in the lot and ran across the street to go surf.
Volcom’s first account was the Frog House. Richard Woolcott lived right behind the shop. At the time, the brand had to sponsor a local shop grom. I was that grom.
So Bruce and Andy, Barca—they’d come over for the summers, and Volcom would have them all stay at my house, because I was their age, and there was a parent there. Mikala Jones, Jason Bogle, all these guys would stay over, there wouldn’t even be floor space. They’d come over do Nationals, then the US Open Juniors, which Andy won a few times. This is like ‘94. It was just HQ, a hub for all these groms.”
I ask Logan if he recalls any early indications of Andy’s bipolar disorder, depression, or drug abuse.
“Yeah, for sure,” Logan says. “100%. But bipolar disorder at the time was a mystery to a lot of people. Nowadays, it’s such a common term. Back then it was unheard of.
With Andy, and his bipolar disorder—they knew that for years [before he died]. They discovered that in Australia—during the trip from that section in Raw Irons, where he has the black hair, the HIC and the MCD stickers on his board.
When they came back from that trip—this was like ‘99, 2000—we all went to lunch one day and it got brought up. It wasn’t hearsay, Andy was right there, we talked about it. But he didn’t understand it. Even though he was diagnosed, he still didn’t understand what it meant.
And of course the most common thing with people with mental disorders, they want to self-medicate. When we were young, Andy smoked a lot of weed, but eventually, he hated it. It made him paranoid. Volcom parties, when we were 17, drinking, whatever other stuff, that wasn’t the problem. I mean, the US Open he won, against Rob Machado—the night before that was the Bruce Movie premiere, and we all partied. Andy woke up the next morning and smoked Machado.
Like they say in the movie [Andy Irons: Kissed by God], the highs were that high, and the lows were that low. When he was on, no one was gonna stop him, but when he was low, it was hard for him to find any confidence, or just function, let alone perform at the level he was at on those highs. And the opiates—Oxycotin, pills, that stuff didn’t get introduced until 2005, 2006—I don’t want to say they gave him stability, they just numb you, so you aren’t feeling the highs or the low.
But then eventually the stuff stops working and you’re fighting an entire new battle.
From 2005 to when he passed away, he was using for five years off and on. That shit will take you down. You use it first just partying, then you start using it as a mechanism to numb yourself—it doesn’t just relieve physical pain, it’s doing that in your brain, on a chemical level, so with emotional pain, you can just numb yourself.”
Andy wasn’t alone in his drug abuse. The dozen or so close friends that appear on camera in the new documentary, willing to speak candidly of their own experiences, both with Andy and with opioid and drug addiction, will all attest to the truly sprawling destruction painkillers inflicted on the group.
“I was involved in the same things they were involved in,” Logan admits. “I was into it, too. I definitely knew what was going on. I had a gnarly talk with Andy, three weeks before he died. I felt like something really bad was going to happen the last time he was in town.”
Andy’s death caused many close friends to take very long, hard looks at the paths their lives were on, and many have still been unable to emerge from the haze, now decades into what’s being called a crisis of epidemic proportions.
“With all these other drugs, there’s no such thing as dopesick,” Logan explains. “For opiates—oxycotin, heroin—it’s the only drug I know where you have to wake up in the morning and have to take to get out of bed. You know anyone who wakes up in the AM and needs a hit of acid, or Molly. This shit becomes like oxygen for people. It’s different. Then you start talking about the synthetics, and they’re stronger than heroin.
Everything takes a back seat. It was so hard for people to see me go from this happy, loving, full of life person to just a zombie. Pale, white, didn’t surf for ages. I was so caught up with the pills, eventually it was choosing between drugs and my two beautiful kids and my wife, who somehow decided to stick around in my corner—through three rehabs!
And I didn’t even get clean in rehab. I got clean at home. Cold turkey. I had to go back and consider all the things I used to enjoy. and for me, I just knew I had to fall back in love with surfing. After two weeks of being dopesick, I just started surfing again, everyday. Surfing’s addictive—I tell everyone, it’s the healthiest addiction in the world—and honestly, the sun and the saltwater and the Vitamin-D, it fucking cleansed me.”
Logan Dulien, Newport Beach 2018. Photo by Michael Townsend.
“I was putting on weight, I had a tan going, and the more that surfing was on my mind, the less the pills were,” Logan continues. “People would say, You look great! Because they could physically see me coming back to life—like a plant that hadn’t been watered.
Then, that summer, it was El Nino, the water was 74 degrees, there was a heat wave, and a bunch of sharks kept crowds down Newport. I lived in the same boardshorts for two months, just drove down every day and surfed. I’d rather surf with the sharks, than be on land, tempted by the devil. I was just addicted again, like a twelve-year-old.”
How’s Logan’s bomb at 1:50? Video by Rory Pringle
“Around that time, I ran into Bruce,” Logan continues. “Obviously, we were coming from a commonplace, and I’ve always considered myself a little of a hype man, not a manager, not a PR guy, I just hype people up.
Bruce’s RVCA deal was getting sorted, and this was like October, and the Pipe Masters was coming up. There’d been a little bit of fallout when Bruce hadn’t gotten the wildcard into his brother’s event, the year before. So I had this idea, that night, I sent Bruce the #BruceIronsForPipeMasters thing, and I remember him thinking, You’re fucking nuts.
I threw it up and sent it out, and by 10-o’clock the next morning I had the WSL calling me, and by that evening it had gone so viral, that they knew it was sort of the right thing to do—Bruce was healthy and he was catching bombs at Pipe, dominating the early season. When that campaign hit, everyone got to see how much the public loved and backed Bruce. There was just so much love for the guy, and the Rising Sun boards… By Friday night I knew he’d gotten the wildcard.
Right after that, we announced Snapt3, and people started to take me seriously again, like, Oh, Logan’s actually making things happen. A lot of people wrote me off, which is fair.
I’d been strung out for five or six years, and to come back after thirteen years and say you’re going to do anything… I had plenty of guys just writing me off. And I just thought, Fuck off. All it did was motivate me to be hellbent to put together the gnarliest film I could. I just decided to double down and do it together. Doing the film and getting clean, it gave me this double motivation to prove people wrong, and at the same time, my life was just getting better and better.
People get motivated by different things. Some people love pats on the back, but I thrive off being booed. I appreciate compliments, but what fires me up is someone telling me I can’t do something. I’ll be hellbent. But I’m grateful to those people, and the shit they said to me—the guys who told me I couldn’t do it. Because they all respectfully called or texted me to congratulate me afterwards, and that feels amazing. I mean, Kelly [Slater] wrote me the other day, after I posted a before and after photo. I’ve never even met the guy, but it was so cool, getting that note.”
“Congrats on this and having the guts to talk about it openly,” Kelly wrote to Logan.
As we finish our salmon tacos, I ask Logan what he carries with him from Andy’s death.
“To me, Andy was like Kobe or Lebron. It was like losing your good friend and your absolute hero at the same time. And for me, knowing what was going on behind closed doors—it made me feel horrible. It made me wish I’d been a better friend. It made me wish I’d never gotten mixed up in the stuff. It made me want to call this person or that person.
But the reality is, Andy was going to do what Andy was going to do. Someone like me wasn’t going to stop him.
So as time has gone on, I’ve been able to think about this stuff differently. Instead, now I think how I can use the experience to honor Andy, to honor his legacy and acknowledge took him down. And I think that’s to beat it, and share my story, and try and help people.”
This week and moving forward, we’ll be hearing from other survivors. Speaking openly and plainly about addiction, mental health, and especially drug abuse* is something we’re quite proud of here at Stab, and with the opioid epidemic’s body count rising daily, the legalization and widespread acceptance of marijuana, as well as the seismic gap opening up from research into psychedelics**, there’s plenty to talk about—problems, solutions, options.
With that, there’s a south swell in the water and a new episode of No Contest for your viewing pleasure.
We hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves here in these parts as of late, and that you’ve been getting yours, wherever you are. Keep it cutty with class, Stab.
Editor in Chief
*As opposed to drug use, which we take no issue with—in fact, I doubt there’s a substance out there that hasn’t been dropped, tossed back, snorted, or puffed by someone on staff here at the magazine. But we’re all adults, with people who hold us accountable, keep our heads screwed fairly tight, etc., and thank jah for that.
**If you haven’t already, please give the Christian Fletcher episode of The Drop a listen, if only for his testimony to the supreme pairing of psilocybin mushrooms and Pipeline (at 51:25).***
***Also, Kelly Slater loves “drugs.”
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