Slightly Overdrawn, Overbusy “Strait” Poster

What I was going for, of course, was that look of classic produce labels. What I have to offer, perhaps, that other artists pursuing surf-related images, is a background as a sign painter. If I’d made the lettering fatter, I might not have gotten too busy with the other images. As soon as it was done, I knew it was overdone. Damn! I considered cutting out the main lettering, chucking everything else, going with a darker, bluer background, with horizontal stripes. This would play into the ‘strait’-ness.

surfcultureeventthree 001

Yeah, I still might do some cutting and pasting, like, with a real knife and paste. Meanwhile…

Singing and Surfing and Remembering and Not Remembering, In Reverse Order

The Second Occasional Surf Culture On the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event is coming up in Port Townsend on July 11. I’ve been working on several things for it. One item is music. For the first event, Archie Endo, now stuck in Thailand, working, some surfing, brought a little amp, played surf music. Great idea (his), and really added to the evening. This time, Pete Raab is putting together a sort of mixed tape from his huge music collection, with classic surf instrumentals and some island-themed ‘ambient’ music. Thanks, Pete.

My evil scheme was to have Pete (and he was willing) sneak two of my original surf songs without informing event curator Keith Darrock. That’s the evil part.  I originally recorded the only two strictly surf-related songs I’ve written at a former Theater in Quilcene (right on Surf Route 101) with the help of longtime professional sound engineer Tom Brown of HearHere, with me playing harmonica and singing. Pete was doing a surf music show on the Port Townsend radio station, 91.9, KPTZ, along with his old friend, and former music store owner, Ron McElroy, and graciously incorporated one of my tunes, “I Just Wanna Go Surfin’.” The other song is “Surf Route 101.” Naturally.

But, here’s the failure: Pete couldn’t find his copy, I couldn’t find mine (and searched frantically), and Tom Brown, after checking, determined the digital recording is somewhere on a dead computer.

Oh, and although I’m willing to read the piece I’ve been doing more thinking about that working on, concerning the images and memories we save, I won’t perform music live at this event. A sigh of relief might be appropriate here. Not that I’m embarrassed by my harp playing or the lyrics…

But, thinking about music, and singing, I wrote to my old friend Ray. You have to read it bottom to top. I do think it was him with the Monkees tape.


NO way, I never owned a Monkeys tape, you must have me confused with somebody else I swear.

Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:28 AM
To: Ray Hicks

Ray, have a good time on vacation. I checked back before leaving; glad to see a response. I’ll be working until dark anyway (9ish). I do remember you once telling me that the best song ever done was the Cream song…. wait, was it ‘white room with white curtains at the station,’ or, no, I think that was it.  Otherwise, “driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy’s when I play my guitar.” Join in anytime. Now I better go. And, hey, that was probably enough gas to get home, to school, wherever… See you, Erwin
I am pressed for time, so I might use this on my site, not mentioning that you had a Monkees tape, or that I liked some of their songs also.

From: “Ray Hicks”
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:14:06 AM

HI Erwin,

Not in Hawaii yet. Today is my last day before starting vacation but we don’t leave until Thursday. I’ve never been much on lyrics, to this day I hear the voice as another instrument rather than a method of delivering poetry or storytelling.  My loss according to Carol. I do remember the ‘fruit of the vine’ song though. The music that brings back surf memories to me is Cream. When I hear some of those songs I am taken back to driving down the coast highway cruising by the camp grounds in South Carlsbad with an eight track player under the dash. I listen to the Sirius radio classic stations now and hear that music all of the time. Occasionally I’m driving down the coast highway when I’m So Glad comes on the radio and it really takes me back. I also hear the Doors often and still love it. Other than classic rock I listen to the blues. I just love the B B King channel on Sirius Radio.

I remember one occasion of us surfing at Swami’s  then coming up starving and thirsty, buying something to eat at the liquor store in the middle of Encinitas then buying gas for your Morris Minor in Carlsbad with the left over change. Maybe 26 or 27 cents worth.

The only music I associate with Phillip is Jethro Tull because he introduced me to them, still one of my favorites.


Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 8:08 AM
To: Ray Hicks
not sure if you’re in Hawaii right now. I almost called you yesterday. I’m working on a thing for the surf culture event on surfing images we keep in our memory banks. The idea is, if we think of surfing as something magical, and we can conjure these (I was originally thinking only visual) images, allowing us to ‘mind surf’ when we can’t actually surf; this is kind of magical.
That got me thinking that my memories of my high school surfing adventures include fewer actual surfing images (maybe because I seem to concentrate on my own surfing rather than noticing that of others) than images of you and Phillip and the other assorted characters going to or from the beach, hanging out around various fires. Mostly pleasant memories, maybe with five of us in the back of a CHP cruiser less pleasant, but, overall, good images. Jeez, we were going to, at, or coming home from surfing.
So, as I was driving an hour to a job, I started thinking about songs we used to sing cruising around town or going surfing. Maybe we were in cars (like mine) that didn’t have radios; maybe we had only AM radios with the pop stations the best we could get.  This line of thinking might have been helped along because the local Port Townsend radio station played the Doors cover of the song with the lyrics, “Show me the way to the next whiskey bar; oh, don’t ask why…” followed by something about “Whiskey, let me go home.” A theme, evidently; and I was trying to remember the song that seemed to be one of Phillip’s favorites, without much luck. A few miles later I pulled (from the brain archives) out a few lines. “Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine; when you gonna let me get sober? Leave me alone, let me go home, let me go home and start over.” It took a few more miles before I remembered, “Pain in my head, there’s bugs in my bed, my pants are so old that they shine; out on the street, I tell the people I meet, to buy me a bottle of wine.”
I’m not even sure if those lyrics are fit together correctly. Perhaps you remember. Oh, and my singing hasn’t improved a bit. If we were going surfing together and I started singing, I’m sure you’d still reach for the radio control knob, whether the radio works or not.
The other, and real point of the thing I’m working on is that if we keep trying to remember, we keep the connections straighter, and if we keep surfing, we’re always refreshing our image files. More to conjure.
Writing this actually helps in writing the real piece, keeps me away from a couple of peripherals.
I’m in the usual summer position of too much work, not enough time, and no rain in sight. Luckily, perhaps, the waves are really small. Hopefully you’ve managed to slide a few. See you, Erwin


Tom Paxton wrote the “Bottle of Wine” song, but we probably heard the version by the Kingston Trio. White people. Oh, but, when we sang it, it was  sort of another contest, who could sing it with the most soul, raspiest voice… you know, another thing to compete in. Guess who usually won? And that’s why someone (else) always reached for the radio control knob. Oh, and maybe it was someone else with the Monkees tape. hey, hey!

Big Daddy’s Report on… all kinds of stuff

What happens if Father’s Day, the first day of summer, and the day after International Surfing Day… oh, and the day when my daughter, Dru, is trying to get a trimming appointment for her cat, Mr. Pugsley, and a day when people who didn’t call yesterday to line up my doing their project today, but did call this morning, and I just had to do it; and all this is happening on a day when I was actually thinking of not working except, maybe, on my drawings for and the piece I’m going to read at the upcoming Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event?


“see how he needs a trim?” Dru asked on the phone when I came home early. “Isn’t he cute?”

“Excuse me, Dru, but I’m checking the surf camera at La Push. Three stand up paddlers and two longboarders and no surf.”

So, this is the second photo of Mister Pugsley, and, incidentally, I called my father yesterday, to beat the rush. He said, “Thanks, uh, um; I have to get back to my movie.”  And the cat’s in the cradle and… hey, I have to go.

If You Missed This Wave…

If you missed this wave, it’s probably because it’s at Kalim Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Archie Endo is over there sweating in the heat and humidity, and will be there for a while, working as a middleman in the worldwide fish market. Happy enough to find a wave at all, Archie said he’d much prefer to donning a wetsuit and sliding a few waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

I actually got a video of Archie getting a thirty second ride on a wave that very well could have been at this spot. Go Archie!

I actually got a video of Archie getting a thirty second ride on a wave that very well could have been at this spot. Go Archie!

If you missed this wave, it’s probably because the place only breaks when every where else is blown out. Or, maybe, like me, you were miles away, near some lake, sweating profusely, working on someone else’s castle, with boaters, insistent that their selection of waterworld music be louder than their boat’s oversized motors, whipping counterclockwise donuts, throwing screaming kids off whatever floatation device they were riding, sitting in, or clinging to; and, besides, there was no real swell.

What Stephen Davis was doing while Kelly and Dane lost their heats in Fiji, but before Owen blasted his first 20 point heat


Porter Hammer took this photo of Hydrosexual (surf, kite surf, ice hockey, swimming, etc, etc) Stephen Davis s-turning his sailboat past the tourists, some already, no doubt, below decks.

I was on my way home, Trish commentating on the last of Kelly’s defeat (“The waves are really terrible. OOps, he wiped out again.”). I got home in time for the last of Dane’s heat. I did witness, live via computer, Kelly’s and Dane’s earlier dominant heat wins. AND, I did see Owen score two tens in five minutes. The final, yesterday, got his 20 point heat on the recap.


Flyer and Update (and more updates) on Surf Culture on the Strait Event

P1060887First, here’s a shot of Port Townsend librarian, and curator of the upcoming Surf Culture Event, Keith Darrock taken by Tim Nolan on an above-average (average being flat) day at a not-unknown spot on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “Chest high” we’re saying. You’ll notice Keith measuring.

PaulStrauchFiveFor comparison, here’s a shot of Paul Strauch, Executive Director of the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente, in a classic photo at Haleiwa, performing the same maneuver, formerly called “The Paul Strauch Stretch” or “Paul Strauch Five.” No comment on the wave size.

Keith will be on the local Port Townsend radio station, KPTZ, 91.9, on Friday, June 19, sometime between 4 and 6 pm, on the FreeSpin program, hosted by Ron McElroy; the program also featuring surf music in honor of International Surf Day, June 20. KPTZ is online if you’re out of range.


All right; here’s the flyer. The graphics were done by Cindy Whacker. There will be more updates to come as other artists and exhibitors are signing on. So, check back.

Big Dave Sets the Record Strait

Let me trace back the rumor: I heard it from Adam ‘Wipeout’ James, who heard it from Frank Crippen, owner of the North by Northwest Surf Shop, the local shop for the Olympic Peninsula; Big Dave had been hit in the face during an altercation at one of the (frequently overly) popular individual surfing spots at a rivermouth/point/beach surf playground that [legally-required disclaimer] actually very rarely breaks.

Wait! Wait! “Big”  Dave, the guy who rides a standup paddleboard like a regular longboard?

So, today, Keith Darrock and I got to a different rivermouth/reef break [that even more rarely breaks], ran into Tim Nolan, a kid named Cooper, there with him, and, down the beach a ways, there was the very same Big Dave, the guy who was a 15 year old surfer at Crystal Pier when I moved to Pacific Beach in 1971. Keith said he very rarely surfs this spot [partially because of the already-mentioned fact that it so rarely breaks], “But, every time I do, there’s Big Dave.”


The record had to be set straight. I asked, out in the water, but Dave (hey, it’s not like I know him well enough to know his last name- for all I know ‘Big’ is his first name) repeated the story for Keith as we left. He’s eating, like, I don’t know, hummus.


DAVE’S STORY, paraphrased extensively: “Things got out of hand.” “Yeah, but, specifically to the allegation that you were punched in the face…” “He just sort of grazed me.” It seems Dave was surfing alone for a while; and then it got crowded,and this one guy was turning and cutting other surfers off. Dave took offense. [insert grazing punch here; I think]. However, somehow Dave came into possession of the younger guy’s short board, which he used to stab the fellow in the chest with, then slash at the guy (I’m imagining a big-ass sword here), then threw the board, sort of sideways, I’m guessing, striking the guy about the shoulders, head, and chest. Going back to his own board, Dave then came close to running the guy over on the next set wave.  “It was pretty unnecessary,” Dave said.

Now I’m forgetting everything about the alleged incident at an unnamed spot that very rarely, if ever has waves. But, meanwhile, librarian Keith Darrock pointed out that I constantly say ‘Straits of Juan de Fuca.’ “There’s only one strait. Singular. It’s the ‘Strait’ of Juan de Fuca.”

I stand corrected.

Surf Forecast: Culture is coming to Port Townsend, July 11th

surfeventsecondflyer 001Eventflyerwordless 001

I went back and added some more crosshatching to the drawing after, first, I saw the way it looked on the computer screen, second, Trish commented there was something wrong with the woman’s boobs, and third, this morning, when our daughter checked it out while turning on her work computer in Chicago and said, “Nice boobs. Wetsuits kind of push boobs down, so they must be, like double Ds.”

“Wait, Dru, I’ll put the newer version on the site. Whoops. Dru; check back later.”

The color gets sort of diluted from the original drawing, which I knew. I’m trying to allow room for the event director, Keith Darrock, to add the rest of the information through photoshop. The event will be be held upstairs at Port Townsend’s Carnegie Library on the evening (about 6ish) July 11th, will feature work by local artists, possibly some artistically-enhanced surfboards, several readings (so far this would be a brief reading by me, and, hopefully, a slide-and-chat by surf literature guru Drew Kampion), with the keynote reading, in conjunction with the Northwind Gallery, by Justin Hocking, author of “The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld.”

None of the above explains the woman’s breasts. I better check the drawing again. I’ll repost the flyer when I get it back from Keith. Meanwhile, if you’re in the area…

Silvana Lima, Sally Fitzgibbons, Substantial-ness: Surf Blogging/Riffing/Ranting

I do spend some amount of time corresponding about surf sessions, mostly with longterm friend Ray Hicks, down in San Diego’s North County, and with surfing’s preeminent literary guru, Drew Kampion, now residing near the last reaches of Northwest swells. In both of these cases, partially because I can type very quickly, I blather on, words (it’s the same when I’m speaking, actually) often ahead of my brain, these missives (see how I try to sound sorta literate?) often eliciting a very terse and very clever response.

Okay, so there’s one thing. Another thing is that people keep referring to my ‘site’ as a ‘blog.’ Nooooo! Not what I intended.

Okay, sometimes, maybe, it is a blog. The following is something I wrote to Drew, also trying to get him committed to coming across the ferry to participate in the “Second Annual Surf Culture on the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea” in Port Townsend on July 11. He asked, in his response if I was going to put it, or a version of it, on my… yeah… blog. So, with a few additions (and, yes, I did come up with the title for the upcoming event, pretty proud of the ‘occasional’ part), here’s a BLOG POSTING:

I got home yesterday (worked more like a day shift, this time, so I could get help, closed down one of two stairwells- hey, there’s also an elevator) just after the last semi-final heat in Fiji. With Trish shopping in Sequim, I did get to see the final, though I was, at the same time, catching up on the latest DVRed “Penny Dreadful,” which Trish hates, and got to talk on the phone with our daughter Drucilla, walking home from work in downtown Chicago, for most of the heat. So, perfect, no sound on either screen. But, with the show over and me off the phone for the last five minutes or so, I was able to concentrate on the drama in Fiji (Sally Fitzgibbons, with a perforated eardrum, vs. Bianca Buitendag).

from WSL

from WSL

Maybe I pay too much attention to these contests and buy into the drama too much (some of it, no doubt, more hype than reality), but, after seeing Sally breaking down in the rental car with both her parents at Honolua Bay last year, I had to root for her.
AND, watching the last part of the DVRed TV version of the Rio contest (kind of a surf-related evening), I caught the little thing on Silvana Lima (which I’d missed in watching the event live- as I could), selling her apartment and car to support her contest habit/dream, and, because I buy into any sports related drama, from any sport, I’m hoping, with the enthusiasm for surfing in Brazil, that some sponsor steps in.

from pinterest

from pinterest

AND, My daughter, Dru, has moved up enough at the ad agency she works for that she currently has an intern. The big boss offered a seat in the luxury box for a game of the Stanley Cup (or the preliminaries, I’m not sure) to the intern who writes the best paragraph by the end of the day on why he or she should attend. After offering a few phrases (brutal ballet, ultra-padded gladiators), I just spent half an hour writhing (I mean writing. Maybe) a paragraph. Hopeful.
AND… I ran into a guy at a Poulsbo paint store who used to surf, so naturally…had to talk surfing. At some point he (he being tall, skinny, nearly seventy) mentioned localism, regular surfers vs. longboarders. I said I haven’t had any real problems. “Probably not,” he said, kind of giving me that look skinny people reserve for the rest of us. “What do you mean by that?” “Well,” he said, “you’re kind of… substantial.”
Okay; so now I may run the photo of me looking, not old and fat (as I thought, and continue to think); just substantial.
FIJI for men starting soon. Still rooting for Kelly, now representing… brief brain freeze with image of Felipe Toledo giving Gabriel Medina a bit of a shove… yeah, the drama, real and imagined, starts later today. If I quit writing and take off for work now… maybe I can catch more than the highlights.

originally saved under 'fatErwinripping,' now captioned 'substantialErwin(still)ripping.' Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

originally saved under ‘fatErwinripping,’ now captioned ‘substantialErwin(still)ripping.’ Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

Correspondence- Unnamed Wife at Unnamed and Secret Oregon Spot

Please read the correspondence (below) from bottom to top. The guy thrashing on the guitar in our hotmail ‘image’ shot is our son, James, or, guitar wailer name, Jaymz. Drew Kampion is the guy who wrote back to Keith. We’re both trying to convince Mr. Kampion, legendary surf writer, and headliner at the first (highly successful) event, to participate in “The Second Occasional Surf Culture on the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event,” curated by Port Townsend Associate Librarian Keith Darrock.  The name may be shortened. More details will be forthcoming: It’s scheduled for Saturday, July 11th, so, so it’s like a longrange forecast. I’ll be doing some posters, so you know I’ll be adding more information as we get closer to the (gosh, I keep saying) event. Oh, it will be (an event).
Oregon Coast
To: Erwin and or Trisha Dence
Yeah, go for it. That’s actually my buddy’s wife! She’s quite the ripper. He didn’t say, I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure that’s a semi legendary mysto reef/creek mouth near where I grew up. It’s pretty fickle and dependent on how the sand sets up over the winter. Its been dormant in recent years. Good sign for one of the better waves on the coast. 

Drew wrote back already. He said “Will crunch thi in the ol’ reality machine & see what comes out, Keith!!  Thanks for thinking of me … drew”
To: Erwin and Or Trisha Dence
Click for Options
Hey Erwin,
Here’s a recent shot taken by a friend at a reef break near where I grew up on the Central Oregon Coast. It’s way off the beaten track. They’re getting all the swell this year.
And here’s the shot, only larger. Thanks, Keith.