It’s The Day After World Surfing Day…

…AND, no, I didn’t go surfing yesterday; and I’m not going today. NOW, others did, and others are. In fact, I believe my friend Adam “Wipeout” James is somewhere out on the coast for the combo swell and the combo event, today being Fathers’ Day and all.

AND, I do have a couple of friends who surfed late enough Friday, June 16, in the Northwest dusk, with sundown after 9pm, to almost be surfing on World Surfing Day.

It’s painting season, delayed by a cold and rainy winter, that after an early and rainy fall; and I need a really good reason, or a really solid swell, to justify heading out in search of the elusive Strait wave. OKAY, I did sneak off once last week. Couldn’t help it.

In looking for a photo to go along with this ‘why you don’t have to worry about me snaking you right now’ piece, really googling for a shot of a car, in the northwest, with surfboards on top, and, maybe, one of those cartop carriers I always mistake for surfboards while I’m heading for a job and some lucky folks are headed in search of the, as mentioned, elusive Strait waves, or even the combo coast variety.

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WHOA! What I found is one of my own photos, with (and I partially staged this- “Hey, you, park here. Okay?”) my car in the foreground (the car that’s still up at a car repair shop in PA with mice/wiring issues that left me stranded at the North by Northwest Surf Shop, three or four hours of hanging out not necessarily improving my relationship with Frank, or Trish, who had to come up and rescue me). There actually had been at least one more VW, part of the (perhaps, it’s a guess) loosely connected (if not united), definitely hip if not hipsters tribe/group of surfer/adventurers another friend (probably one of the earlier alluded-to friends, I don’t have THAT many) as ‘The Westfalians.’ You may note the semi-matching sweaters and designer dog.

NOW, obviously, there are absolutely NO WAVES; and, yet, one might wonder why there’s no board on the soft racks. AND NOW I’m wondering, trying to remember.  Wa-aaa-ves. AND NOW I’m getting ready to go to work. Good luck.

Too Sick to Surf, Not Too Sick to Draw

…or write. I don’t get sick often, but downtime during painting season means I must take some advantage of being home. I did a first draft of a short story, got my latest batch of “New Yorker” cartoon submissions doctored-up and sent off, semi-binge-watched a documentary series on Roku with Trish, and did these two drawings.

Yeah, they do come with some explanation.

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Originally, the first drawing had the car at the top, which I was pretty happy with; and then the rest of the drawing went south (not on surf route 101). So, I redid the top, probably a little cleaner, and added the lettering. Fine. Now I’m not completely pleased with the bottom drawing. So, maybe next time I’m sick…

The lower drawing… still thinking. I did want to do a color version just to see if it fits with my sort of ‘in the cathedral’ concept for the piece, but, actually, I’m feeling a lot better, and I’ve got to go. Later.

Real Surfer Jack O’Neill

“It’s always Summer…”

For those of us who never met Mr. O’Neill, but enjoyed the ever-increasing comfort and warmth as wetsuits continued to get less cumbersome and more comfortable, the image of the man is tied to the photo of the man in the eyepatch. This drawing is also derived from that image.

Another legend passed; and the various waves continue rolling. On.   Thanks for the warmth.

A Nod is Good Enough- John Severson

 

 

IN MY MIND-VIDEO VERSION of the very brief encounter; looking past the front desk where the receptionist was still telling me that “John, John Severson, actually reads over all the submissions himself, so, so…” when John, John Severson; appeared through an open door, moving from the right to the center of the (my) frame, to the center of what must have been the visitor side of his desk. He stopped, looking at something, then turned toward the visitor side of the “Surfer” magazine office, maybe focused for a moment, and gave the almost-seventeen kid a nod.

I probably just froze.

A NOD is everything, really; an acknowledgement of co-membership, perhaps; a gesture that says, depending on who gives it, that things are all right between us.

YEAH, maybe that’s reading too much into a simple gesture. Or not. Maybe a nod is just so ancient, so basically human, we forget that each one of us learns more from studying expressions than we do from language. In a fight-or-flight world, a nod can and has stopped many a conflict.

OKAY, now I’m thinking of times I’ve paddled out into a lineup, seen a surfer I chatted with on another beach. Nod. Nod returned. AND NOW I’m thinking of my first venture out at Windansea, seeing two guys I’d surfed around in Pacific Beach. I nodded, they, sitting well on the shoulder, kept their gaze down. No eye contact. AND NOW I’m thinking of the times my nod, paddling toward the lineup, was returned with the STINKEYE.

SO, I had written a bunch of stuff, my best longhand on college-ruled notebook paper, and had sent it, along with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, to “SURFER” magazine. I waited for fame and recognition, my writings in the preeminent surf publication, the magazine I studied, front to back; the basic visual images that popped up like a slide show in my dreams.

“They’ll probably have to put some in one edition, other stuff in the next one,” I, no doubt, thought. “My friends will be so… so stoked. Me, my writings…”

I did mention I waited, telling myself this sort of self-induced insanity (waiting for someone else to realize one’s stuff is great), is what a real writer endures.

THIS WAS ME in the summer of 1968, living in Fallbrook, twenty miles from Oceanside pier, about the same distance, straight west, across Camp Pendleton, to San Onofre. If I was riding with someone who had the proper ID card, we’d often surf there, park on the beach. Otherwise, it was go to Oceanside, north on 101 (pre- I-5 connection), deemed “Slaughter Alley.” The “Surfer” magazine headquarters was somewhere north of there. I’d find it.

A WORD on what I’d written: Mostly, I’ll have to guess, crap; the kind of overwrought drivel one might expect from a hormone-afflicted, surf-crazed, skateboarding-‘cause-I-fuckin’-live-in-the-hills dreamer, just starting to get competent at surfing might right. There were pages of the stuff.

borrowed from “Surfer,” article on John Severson staring down Richard Nixon

WHAT I WROTE as a twelve verse (epic?) poem on those blocking access to surf beaches, became, in the fall of 1968, when I was back in school, shorter, better. I’m not sure if I ever got my original pages back, but I received a check for ten dollars and a copy of the magazine.

I WAS PUBLISHED. Oh, I mean, I WAS PUBLISHED! But, what John Severson had done is take the first verse, delete everything from the middle, add some of the lines from the last verse. It had changed enough from the original that, when asked to read it aloud in English class, I couldn’t quite get it right. “Didn’t you write this?” “Yeah, yeah, but…different.” Penny had to read it. She did a great job.

STILL, it was, probably, still a bit, um, overwrought.

IN 2001, the poem showed up again, in “The Perfect Day… 40 Years of Surfer Magazine.” I was, by this time, up in the Pacific Northwest, rarely surfing. Trisha’s nephew, Dylan Scott, surfing down in San Diego, saw the coffee table book, surprise, on a coffee table at his dentist’s office. “That’s my uncle,” he, according to him, said. “Whoa. Really? My poem?” Yes, we do own the book; it’s on a coffee table.

HERE’S the poem, written by me, edited by John Severson (he even shortened the title, though I forget what it was).

REFLECTION

The promised sand, Forbidden land,

Restraining line With sharpened spine;

NO SURFING HERE: The warning sign.

Perfection waves, Reflecting mind;

Humanity

Could be so blind.

HERE’S WHAT JOHN SEVERSON DID: He gave a nod to all the punks and kooks and kids who wanted to be surfers. He took a disparate group and made us a tribe. If we don’t always acknowledge this in the competitive, sometimes combative setting of the lineup; it’s hopefully different when surfers meet in some other setting, a grocery store or distant parking lot. A nod of acknowledgement.

I’m actually a bit amazed at how shocked and saddened I am at hearing of Severson’s passing.

Latest (like minutes ago) Stephen Davis Hawaii Photo

I’ve been waiting for a story from Stephen Davis, still working and surfing and swimming with sharks (confirmed) on the Big Island. The story is one he’s writing of his time in Mexico, with Pirates and Federales and waves; and he claims he’s almost done with it. MEANWHILE, he’s hanging with the locals, sort of.

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He said the swell today was probably the best since he got there a couple of months ago; and, evidently, even on a big island, word gets around. “There were, like, 65 surfers out at ________. So, either I could get involved in that, or I could go to some Kook longboard spot with old Haoles.”

OR HE COULD check out the canoe races at this spot. I’ve got to think it’s either a secret spot, a should-be-kept secret spot, or a I-Just-think-I-should-keep-it secret spot. Steve actually sent three photos from his phone. Notice the guy who looks like he’s caught inside. NOW, this might be a treacherous spot that Mikel “Squintz” Cumiskey, who lived in Hawaii several times while his wife was teaching there, claims is “Locals Born and Bred Only.”

As far as Stephen swimming with sharks… waiting for more info on that one. Not sure who won the canoe race. “You have no idea how big a deal this is over here,” Steve told me. “Okay.” I’m pretty sure the guy made it to shore, however. Obviously not a Haole.

I’m just sticking this here to save it. Love the lone figure at the bottom right. Hope I remember where it is. Oh, right; it’ll be on the page of downloads.

Two New Coloring Book Possibles

I do, actually, have forty covers printed up and ready for the next addition of the Realsurfers Coloring Book, most of those long-promised and, hopefully, eagerly anticipated. Here are two new drawings:

Image (191)Image (190)You may notice the drawings, square (I swear) to the page when I drew them, come out crooked-ey on the computer. This is some issue with my scanner; page up against the stops, and yet… errrr-arrrr.

This was kind of the issue the last time I had some printed. I had edited, and added, using original drawings for the newer pages, reusing the previous pages for the rest. And they all came out crooked.

This has caused me, probably, more grief than necessary. I want to start fresh, from the originals; couldn’t find some of the ones I want. Some were actually colored-in, others were given away, others are god knows where.

MEANWHILE, waves occasionally show up.

IF I could say something about my style; the sort of checkerboard deal might be a throwback to my early art studies at Palomar Community College; pencil drawings on display with a similar patterning, though rendered in a different medium, a somewhat common feature. Starting with the crosshatch pen-and-ink style, I have tried to infuse longer lines and more movement, a hopefully-kinetic, hopefully-flowing energy. Deciding to do the coloring book HAS influenced my drawing. Cleaner, maybe.

STILL, I do sometimes work on non-surf drawings (and, hey, did you notice, I seem to draw more rights than lefts?), and would like to do a collection of non-coloring book pieces, some checkerboard patterns included.

Mikel Hangs a Legitimate Ten

Maybe he just needed to prove to folks in the Pacific Northwest that he, a Florida transplant with four stints in Hawaii, could (I could have said ‘can’) slip, slide, and hit the nose.

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I’m wondering what Mike is looking at.  Maybe he’s checking a cut on his foot or something. I do know Mikel thinks booties obscure “the feel of the board.” So does numbness.

I stole this photo from Mike’s Facebook page. Not apologizing.

My Son Jaymz (we spelled it ‘James’) Shreds

…in a different medium, tearing across waves of notes, sometimes floating, coaxing, bending, or dead-on hitting something pure; blending what could be chaos into melody. “Any time I’m playing my guitar,” he says, “I’m happy.”

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A little intense looking? Maybe; and this isn’t even the expression he has when he’s holding that one insane and high note just a moment longer.

Different sort of surfing.

No Comment

After discussions with several of my surfing friends, I have redacted the name of the surfer with whom I had an unfortunate incident recently, for which I have apologized.  My Facebook page is tied into the realsurfers site, so, while some people check it out here, others keep up on Facebook.

I don’t really check the Facebook too often, but, evidently, comments have been building up. Thanks. Evidently, if I delete the un-redacted version of the post on Facebook, the comments also disappear. So, I’m leaving it, covering it up with this, hoping we’re all moving on.

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Here’s a drawing of a bear in a barn. No intended message, no comment.

 

With Apologies For Burning the *(Now) Unnamed Longboard Local,

…the LONGBOARDING LOCAL, who, after a tough week (evidently), paddled out at a spot, a fickle point break, where he considers himself a local, with a fairly obvious and focused attitude that he was there to surf.  I saw him paddle past me, mustache waxed, ready to rip, crowd be damned (okay, this is a judgement call by me, a guy whose motto is, ‘I’m here to surf.’)

DEFINITION- A Sociopath is someone who knows something he or she does is wrong, yet continues to do it. I’ve often thought all good surfers are sociopaths. This probably isn’t totally true, but what it takes to be good at anything is a certain competitive drive. To be good at surfing, an, admittedly, self-centered sport, increasingly, with more crowded conditions, takes a certain amount of aggressiveness. If I can stop just sort of confessing to being a sociopath, I will admit to being, at least in the water, aggressive.

John Peck, a legendary surfer, somewhat older than Erwin Dence, doing (and obviously enjoying) a bit of kneeboarding. Photo by Nathan Oldfields. Find it, if nowhere else, at mollusksurfshopscom

DISCLAIMER (Or maybe it’s a ‘claimer’) ONE- a) If you can’t walk to a spot in less than, say, forty-five minutes from your home, you’re not a local. b) If you pay to park, you’re not a local.  c) Mitt Romney is a local at Windansea, Bob Dylan at Malibu. Or would be if they surfed.  d) The guy who lives in his van is probably More Local than you.                 SO, we go to ever-expanding circles of Local-ness; the above-mentioned Longboarder Local being Local-er than I am, with me being Local-er than, well, lots of people.  AND I have been a TRUE LOCAL several times; Pacific Beach, Encinitas; AND, some credit must be given for working in close proximity to surf. ADD Oceanside Pier to my local history; I worked two blocks and some railroad tracks away for over two years. OHHH, and add Lower Trestles; I worked up the hill, with a view of the place, and drove out on the beach every working day for ten months (an hour and a half lunchbreak, a third of it legal)  in 1975.

SETTING THE SCENE- I was actually, after getting skunked (or unwilling to wait for a possible properly-aligned swell/tide/wind/crowd combination), the first one in the water on this particular afternoon. And it was working. So, yeah, hurry, gorge it up.  BUT, too soon, others showed up. First it was two guys, friendly nods followed by the guy on the bigger board totally taking off in front of me. I didn’t freak out. I did, somewhat later, return the favor. SO, Even. THEN, more surfers showed up. ONE goofy-footer was totally ripping; down the line, under the lip, a few controlled freefalls. Everyone else was surfing. I, 65 year old guy with pretty screwed-up knees, was (and maybe this seems counter-intuitive) kneeboarding, taking off farther up the line, driving across. I was totally enjoying it. A longtime local, and the best kneeboarder on the Strait of Juan de Fuca who wears fins, someone who I first surfed this spot with (with as in, he was also out) in 1979, was catching some waves, always in the barrel. Hey, he was kneeboarding.

DISCLAIMER TWO- RELATIVE AGE OR LONGEVITY in the sport aren’t valid arguments for any kind of preferential treatment. They never have been.  Having said that…                                                                                                                       DISCLAIMER THREE- THE DISPARITY in surfing equipment is an issue that contributes to tension in the surf zone. I have felt the frustration when I’m on a longboard and three A-holes on SUPs show up, their training in lakes and at Yoga Camp obvious.      ADDENDUM to the disclaimer- I started on longboards in 1965, made the switch to shortboards; never rode another longboard until 1989, never rode an SUP until I was 60.

SO, on the first wave I saw ridden by Longboarding Local, he was driving, hit a section, lost his board. Leashless, Longboard Local’s loose board came perilously close to hitting (she would later say ‘decapitating’) a woman who would, a little later, catch one of the waves of the day. Longboarding Local seemed angry that he had to rock dance his way in.  OKAY, so it’s sort of badass to not wear a leash, but, in crowded conditions, PERHAPS sort of irresponsible.

NOW, I had actually gotten out of the water after two and a half hours or so, AND the surf had dropped, the crowd increased. BUT, my friend, who I’ve advised to deny any friendship, after surfing elsewhere, had moved to this spot, and claimed more sets were coming.  I went back out.  HE WAS RIGHT; after what was probably a 45 minute lull, a set approached, and I, inside, was paddling out. As were others. As was Longboarding Local.  The woman Longboarding Local’s loose board had nearly decapitated took the first one. Someone else, possibly her boyfriend, was on the second. I turned for the third. Longboarding Local was, I swear (judge or judges), still paddling out when I turned and committed. BUT, deeper than I was, he turned and took off.  I COULD HEAR YELLING (despite wearing earplugs and my right ear pretty much plugged, again, from the narrowing of the ear canals, that caused by bone growth, that exacerbated by surfing in cold water, that condition first diagnosed when I was 20) behind me, I could feel Longboarding Local’s presence. I pulled out as quickly as I could. These weren’t two person (or PARTY) waves. MAYBE Mr. Local would have made the wave. I’m certain he thought so. I caught the next one (yeah, guess there was another), cruised out of the possible-confrontation zone.

PADDLING back up the point, I couldn’t hear anything, but could see big arm gestures; L.L. making his case to my (although he doesn’t, as I’ve said, have to claim it) friend. WHEN I got even with my friend ______, he wasn’t entirely sympathetic to my explanation.

PRIORITY RULES (historically)- There was no ‘taking turns’ back when I, still thirteen years old, was learning to surf. A wave belonged to the surfer farthest out, closest to the peak. That was it. This was enforced through  peer pressure and intimidation, real or imagined. IF YOU wanted to challenge the big dog, you moved closer to the peak, farther out. IF YOU waited for your turn, you got one, occasionally. IF YOU wanted all the waves to yourself, you pretty much weren’t out on a great day at a great spot.  A LOT of surfing at a good spot (picture Swamis, late 1960s) consisted mostly of moving around, sharking the  inside, waiting for a wave everyone missed of someone fell on. SCRAPPING. IT IS a classic situation where someone sits too far over, can’t make the first section. OR, someone goes for a wave, you don’t, and that person does not catch the wave. AGAIN, differences in equipment have made this more of an issue than in the past; THOUGH, not actually catching or blowing a wave that then goes unridden, particularly if done several times, will not make anyone popular.

PRIORITY RULES (current)- No matter how many times I’ve had this explained to me, I still don’t get it. If I get a set wave and you don’t; and you’re waiting on the shoulder; I shouldn’t paddle out past you, looking for the next set wave? I should allow you to opportunity to go for it, unchallenged? It’s your turn. MAYBE these new rules are the work of surfers who… okay, I’m not going on about ‘participation’ awards and such things… these rules are, at least partially, the result of increasingly crowded conditions. AND they’re really more a WISH LIST than something adhered to.

OKAY, I have tried going by the new priority etiquette. Really. I know how painful it is to not go for the one wave in a one wave set. I had a brief version of this discussion with _____, acknowledging I’d done L.L. wrong. “Well, you could apologize.” “I could.” I paddled up the point, got even with Local Longboarder, apologized. “I come here to get away from this shit,” he said, his arm gestures a bit refrained in comparison to earlier. “We all do,” I said. Not sure if L.L. heard me as I paddled away, but I did say I was leaving,  he could have all my waves. I heard he settled down after I left. Great. Sorry, Longboarder Local. I owe you one.

ONE.

*I’ve actually had a bit of discussion about this incident; the kind of thing that happens, one would guess, thousands of times a day around the world. But, I chose to write about it. If part of my point is that Longboarding Local overreacted, it’s easy to say I have also. “Okay.” AND, some have told me my apology doesn’t seem truly sincere; AND, in fact, almost seems like I’m burning the guy again. “What?” Anyway, I have decided to delete his name. If you just loved the pre-redacted version so much you printed up a copy, please burn that. Really. I’m sincere, here. Truly.