Mean-Mugged, Stink-Eyed, and, Just for Fun, C. R. Stecyk III

Here’s a question: If you’re a threatening, deriding (not like de-riding or anything to do with actual surfing) dickwad supposedly ‘local’ surfer claiming the benefits of proximity to one break, can you really move your little ‘my wave’ show to another spot?

SO, I call up Reggie, see if he can help me finish a job where the clients decided, with the painting almost done, to eliminate one of the colors, already two coats (three where some of the eves needed primer), meaning two more coats on those area, meaning more time. It seems Reggie was just getting out of the water at a spot where his phone (not mine) works (not enough to call me and give a report- that’s not an acceptable thing, if caught doing so, out here on the frontier). It seems he and at least one other surfer were ‘mean-mugged,’ more or less forced out of the water.

“Wait. What?”

The info is pretty much in the introduction; same vibe, different spot. OH, the answer to Localism Transference is, NO, Can’t do it. Local here, non-local (read visitor) everywhere else.

Evidently this doesn’t matter to Mr. Stinkeye and his accomplice. It should.

NOW, Reggie did show up on my job. Thanks, man; and we, of course, had a discussion of the incident. A little later on, I got a call from Adam Wipeout, someone who, because of his job, growing, selling and all things Oyster, he gets around in the Pacific Northwest; and, because he is, I always say, “The most gregarious person I’ve ever met,” he seems to be accepted at the various beaches he visits.

AND, the truth is, we’re all just visitors here. ANYWAY, Adam didn’t seem too shocked by the story. He mentioned something about “Take back the Strait.” Wait. What? Is that a thing?

Still not sure. Adam had to go, I had to finish painting, Reggie said it may be a thing. Instagram, dark web; I don’t know. BUT, for someone who does a fair share of complaining about hipsters and crowds of hipsters and hodads and such, someone who has yelled, ‘paddle around,’ once or twice, to those who persist on not doing so, I still, while paddling (around the waves, possibly though the lineup) to my spot, my lineup spot, do try, somewhat, to be not-unpleasant in the water. If my motto is, “I’m here to surf,” and it is, my intention is to enjoy the experience. And I do.

Reggie said he and his friend did note that the main stink-eyer didn’t seem to even enjoy the waves he caught.

OKAY, I didn’t want to get into my well known lack of surf etiquette, but, I do seem to know quite a few of the folks I surf with, and I have tried. I have been patient, asked if it’s my turn. “No, not yet.” Now? “Not yet.” Wait. What?

ANYWAY, I went looking for an appropriate photo to go with the latest story of stinkeye and mean-mugging; and, scrolling down, down, I found this one.

It’s, obviously, by Kevin Roche (I commented on his site by way of asking his permission) and is of C. R. Stecyk III, giving not-exactly-the-stinkeye, but standing outside the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas. Wait. What? I loved the La Paloma; Trish and I went there all the time when we lived in Encinitas (sadly, just east of I-5) in the mid-70s. I went there frequently when it was the Surfboards Hawaii shop and factory in the late 60s. I had to use the photo.

SO, since I had read the name, knew he had some connection to “Lords of Dogtown” and “Dora Lives,” I googled Mr. Stecyk the third.

Interesting stuff. Skateboarder, surfer, artist, writer; oh, and he’s, like, one year older than me. Contemporaries. I won’t bother you with the details; check for yourself; but, as another contemporary of mine, surfer Tom Burns, frequently says, “Here’s the deal.” Yeah, here it is. Real surfers are after waves; the enjoyment of being in the water and trying to fit our gangly awkward selves into a few observable, rideable, but, ultimately untamable manifestations of energy.

SAVE THE STINKEYE for, I don’t know, the next time some person with a Trump hat cuts you off on the way to get his oversized rig into the handicapped parking spot (nothing against people who deserve handicapped spots). ACTUALLY, I’ve discovered, flashing a smile and a peace sign seems to work just as well as the alternative (flip-off, mouthing expletives) in eliciting a response; by which I mean a mean-mugging, stinkeye response. SUCCESS. He’s angry, you’re not. Yeah, maybe he was already angry, hence the Trump hat.

VOTING UPDATE: I dropped off our ballots at the secure dropbox at the Jefferson County Courthouse. There was a guy with a wheelbarrow nearby. I asked him if he was security. No, of course not. “How often do they empty the box?” A couple of times a day; big deal, Deputies and all. “Okay.”

NOW, supposedly, we can check on our ballots, where they are in the process, online. Trish is going to do that. Today.

VOTE.

The Easiest Solution

Allright, I tried to put an illustration of Uncle Sam urging Americans to vote on my latest posting. It didn’t seem to work. IF YOU WOULD BE SO KIND, please check this out, then scroll down. YES, it might give me more hits on the scoreboard that really only matters to me; but, yeah, thanks.

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Yes, Uncle Sam is older than Biden and Trump, combined.

Our Uncle Sam is Older than Biden and that Other Guy…

vote%20clipart
“Hey, man; hey, woman; you just have to vote!

…combined, and way more important. Our current presider has taken wayyyy more power for himself than any real American who believes in checks and balances and rule of law could possibly be comfortable with.

Now, no one really wants to surf with a wave hog (I say with blatant and obvious hypocrisy); no one wants to surf with someone who dictates who else can be sharing the water (not me this time; referencing crazy localizers intimidating or blatantly threatening folks just trying to enjoy the glide); no real surfer could really be supportive of… wait… okay, I’m still trying to figure out who could support the current commandeerer-in-chief, other than rich folks who have reaped massive financial rewards at the expense of roads and infrastructure and the actual and shrinking middle class; and my best assessment, so far, my best comparison, is to the kids who sat in the back of the class, couldn’t keep up with the curriculum, and ridiculed and made fun of those who tried to learn.

When silver-spooners talk about the ‘elite,’ they really seem to be speaking of, you know, like, uh, smart people. Some people, otherwise nice, decent folks, are, I have to believe, just victims of the most successful Huckster since P.T. Barnum. And then there are those individuals who claim Donny T is just like them. Wow.

OKAY, too painful to think about that, suddenly imagining Big Boy in camo, climbing, with assistance from willing assistants, into his big ass truck with the gold-plated naked lady mud flaps and the chrome gun racks.

Again, and, as always, I really would rather talk about surfing… so, after two Strait sessions in which I only avoided total skunkings by having a big enough board to catch very small waves, I did find some really fun and uncrowded waves (flat on the Hawaiian scale, waist-to-chest high Juan de Fuca scale). So fun.

As I told several of my surfer friends, having one good session makes enduring two less good (but still good) sessions seem more, uh, okay. Oh, I’m sure I expressed this is less awkward terms. Maybe not. Adam Wipeout, who just knew it was working but had to work, said, talking to me on the phone while I was at Costco, that my stoke-meter seemed to be ‘pegged.’

It was. We write off less than epic sessions as ‘practice,’ almost forget about them when we get real waves. The real election is on right now. It’s going off; hope you’re participating.

I Got My Ballot and I know Just Where To Stick It

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realsurfers vote, Kook, yeah, okay; please do… vote!

Trish and I got our ballots in the mail Thursday. I was, as usual, in a hurry, and, as usual, late, didn’t have time to fill it out, but I was going to Port Townsend; so, I checked out the drop box at the Jefferson County courthouse. Looked pretty secure, set in a parking lot next to the box for dropping off tax payments. I didn’t see an armed guard, but didn’t see any armed militia dudes, either, so, yeah; come Monday… our votes will be in.

It’s not that I don’t trust the mail. I always have. Always did; ever since (late 1950s) I sent in cereal box tops for some sort of sure-to-be disappointing toy (allow six weeks for delivery- What?). In the late 1960s I sent in film I’d shot (or my friends had, at my request), super-8 millimeter moving images of my friends and I (mostly me) on surf adventures and escapades. I can’t remember if I had to pay for the developing, got a free roll, or the other way around.

I love the U.S. Postal Service. In a small town, our Post Office is where you run into folks, be that good, bad, or awkward. We’ve had a box in Quilcene, Surf Route 101, Washington, for 42 years. Love USPS, but even if I wasn’t aware of the Trump donor given the position of head of the postal service, tasked, evidently, with screwing it up; not for voting; not this time.

ANYWAY, I would really rather write about surf and surfing and surfers and such, but it’s a weekend, there may or may not be a swell, there are definitely surfers and surf enthusiasts and surf fans and surf entourage members heading out. HERE’S why possible swells show up more often on weekends- PRAYER.

SO, if you’re out in the water or hanging on the beach talking about ‘this one time, back at surf camp…’ I won’t be there. So, more waves for you and yours. “Good luck,” I always say; let’s just agree to believe I mean it.

IT IS A SACRED RIGHT, the right to vote, a secret ballot for the candidate of one’s choosing. Not arguing the ‘choosing’ part, and I don’t want to necessarily sway your decision, but, right now, I’m CONFIDIN’, I am casting my vote (dropping it carefully into the better-be-secure lock box) for Cool Cat… (rhymes with ‘confidin’). Yeah, and Harris, too.

OH, WAIT, hope you weren’t kept in suspense, there’s no way I’d select Lord of the Flys Mister Pence. AND, even though his smile’s delightful and he’s so pleasingly plump, I feel ill every time I’m subjected to… belch, burp… Fuck it, you know who.

AND, WAIT, probably because I am pissed and whiny about having to work (mostly because it’s not raining, partially because it’s iffy, surf-wise, and it’s a weekend, partially because I do, historically, whine when I can’t go surfing), I want to mention I keep imagining how long D Trump would last in a contentious lineup (as most lineups, increasingly, are) before someone calls him out for getting in the way and just plain sucking.

“Hey, you see that last wave; surfed it bigly; ‘uge air, endless bottom turn; some say it’s the biggest bottom ever; so, huh? Oh, you missed it? Even better. Ask Hannity, ask Graham; Bill Barr; that hot babe we’re getting situated; they’ll tell you… I’m the best, I’m the best; yea, me!”

NOVEMBER 3rd is too long to wait. VOTE!

As far as waves; as, again, I always (whimper, whine) say, “Next Time!” BUT, for this critical election, THIS TIME!

The Tragic Loss of “Surfer”

                      The Grams and the Death of “Surfer”

Evidently Omar (and he’s not the only one) has been posting photos and videos of surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca on his Instagram account (feed, site, whatever).  Reggie showed me one of these, on his phone, and it wasn’t the kind of deal that would make most surfers go, “Cowa-who-ow-bunga! Got to get me some of those tiny, choppy, how does anyone even stand up on something that tiny waves.”

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Ron Stoner photo- stoked and stoked for

Still, it’s an argument that’s been going on for more than the sixty years “Surfer” magazine has been around: Publicizing the sexy-fun that surfing can be, glamorizing surfers and surf locations; building and/or playing upon the lusts that each of us… wait a minute; if you don’t have the lusts, stop reading… anyway; doesn’t the spreading of the word only bring more kooks and crazies and crowds and such to our beloved sport/lifestyle?

Uh; yeah. 

Or one could blame Gidget (book and movies and TV show), “Beach Blanket” movies, “Endless Summer,” “PoInt Break,” (original and remake), countless TV ads that just have to include surfing; the easiest, prettiest metaphor for freedom and individualism while driving this specific car or while wearing that wristwatch or popping this medicine (some side effects- consult your physician).

Well; and I learned that “Surfer” was closing up shop by checking in on the World Surf League (WSL) site, bookmarked to my phone and my tablet and my laptop.  With the Corona (the virus, not the beer- they are WSL sponsors) causing the cancellation of the tour, I haven’t been following too closely of late; and the last time I did, I had to endure a live heat with Steph losing to Tyler in an event in Australia (late night our time).  And then, this time, there’s Chris Cote’, not my favorite commentator, on a weekly wrap-up, and, sure enough, three-quarters of the way through, Chris is remote interviewing “Surfer” editor Todd Prodanovich, and, sure enough, it’s over.

OVER.

HERE’S A (if not the) THING: If you are new to surfing, meaning you started some time in the, let’s say, most recent twenty-five years or so, you (we) have Youtube, multiple sites where you (we) can get a surf fix between sessions; some possible outlet for your (my- I don’t really care about your) surf lust.  Sure.  Fine; so maybe having, holding, studying, memorizing a glossy magazine that showed images and stories of surfers finding and riding beautiful waves, that contained the latest contest results, had illustrated stories and cartoons; if it doesn’t mean that much to you, you can, perhaps, appreciate that it did mean so much to those of us who started surfing; maybe post-Gidget, but years before whatever period we’re in now; the “hey, the forecast said there were going to be waves, and three people called me and said it’s cranking, so how come no waves, and why’s it so crowded, and could you please move that piece of shit Toyota so I can park my Sprinter” era.

“Surfer” was art and literature and poetry, as well as providing the latest surfboard design and tips on surfing (example: How to do a rollercoaster, sequence with David Nuuhiwa).  Ron Stoner captured the color and the feel that was the dream if not the reality, as John Severson had done before him.   Rick Griffin illustrations went from cartoon to cosmic art.  It’s impossible to look at my drawings without seeing the influence.  Drew Kampion and those who came after him were our Hunter S. Thompsons, our Tom Wolfes, cutting edge, new age writers.  Maybe not yours.  Definitely mine. 

Tragic loss.  I better bundle up my old issues.  Things tend to get moldy in the northwest.

I SHOULD ADD that you see (have to endure) ads at realsurfers.net because I have the cheap WordPress account.  I have, so far, received no monetary compensation.  Yeah, it shows.  Funny.  And yet, like Omar (and not just him), I keep checking how many people check out my site.  Weird.

MEANWHILE, it seems interesting to me that the Trumpster lied about his weight by 101 pounds.  Now, I might lie a couple; ten, maybe; but realizing that the lying liar actually weighs considerably more than I do… great.  I mean, really; if I tried to say I weigh, like, say, 185 (please don’t add 101 pounds to this); okay, even if I said I weigh 220, someone’s going to call bullshit.  It’s just such an obvious lie.  AND, once you’re a liar, you’re always a liar.  AND, if you’ve always been a liar; and you can’t even admit to having ever lied… well; ballots are coming out and I’m thinking I probably won’t vote for that heavyweight liar.

OKAY, caught me; I was never going to vote for that, um, uh, guy. 

Another Outtake from “Swamis” With Surfing

Swear to God I’m getting close to finishing the manuscript, keep saying, as I tighten up the writing on chapters, putting in little details I just can’t help adding (mostly things I think are sarcastically amusing), with the word count back up over 122,000, with over 65,000 words worth already moved to another spot (“Sideslipping”) that I will soon find large chunks I can eliminate.

Not happening. SO, here’s a chapter that doesn’t actually occur within the boundaries of the story. Yes, I set those edges. Anyway, here it is, pretty much a true story; that is, for me. No, Jody is not a fictional version of me; I just let him have some of my, um, experiences. Like this one:

MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1969  

I had planned on ending “Swamis” on December first, 1969.  That was the day of the first lottery draft, critical to the rest of my life, and the first day of the still famous swell that hit Hawaii and the west coast; waves big enough that almost everywhere was closed out. 

LEGENDARY

In the San Diego County area, Cardiff Reef, Windansea, and Sunset Cliffs were, maybe, possible; with Boomer and The Cove at La Jolla turning from the usually washy nothing to a giant left-hand point break; the legendary Ricky Grigg among the few takers.  Lots of watchers. 

To make it all more spectacular, a Santana was blowing, straight offshore in the early morning, and hard enough that the waves were holding up several seconds longer.  The typically more-straight-than-hollow walls were legitimate barrels, spitting from within, spraying back high into the air. 

It is deceptively easy to get out at Swamis.  Surfers who shouldn’t be out are out.  There’s challenging oneself and there’s just being stupid.  There’s the crowd to deal with, but the waves make the final judgement; and the ocean is always ready to humble… humble anyone.

I was out there, trying, along with too many others, to catch one from the shoulder; paddling into the sting of the spray, not catching the wave.  Or, almost ready to drop in, at that moment of commitment, looking down at height of the wave, at the hollowness between me and the trough, looking back into the pit; some crazy surfer on it from fifty yards back, crazy speed, screaming past me as I backed-off.

“Cheer Critchlow,” someone in the pack yelled.  “He’s been to Hawaii.” 

The bluff was lined, shoulder to shoulder, with onlookers, two deep at the optimum spot.  I caught five waves.  On the second, a smaller one (for the day) that I caught by paddling for it, frantically, toward the point, while the rest of the pack was paddling desperately toward the channel or for the horizon as another set approached.  It was catch the wave or take the pounding. 

The wave was probably eight feet (California scale), and I made the drop, pulled an extended bottom turn and sped, full speed through the first section.  I shifted my balance, mid face, moved  higher on the wall.  So high.  Where there’d normally be a slow spot, there was another section, the wave heaving yards ahead of me, dropping out below me.   Only my forward speed allowed me to almost control the board, sideslipping into full trim.  I was, no doubt, screaming.  I was locked in, tubed, crouched as tight as I could be.  There was nowhere else to be.  Maximum speed.  “Fuuuuu-uuuck!”

Fuck.  Almost to daylight, the foam shot me even faster.  The lip hit me.  I went sideways, flipping, hitting the flat.  Rolled with the power; body surfing move.  Not hurt.  Done.  

“That’s it,” I told myself.  “Done.”

It wasn’t over.  I sucked in foam when I hit what I thought was the surface.  Foam is not air.  I was coughing, trying to stay calm, trying to get enough air in before dropping under the next wave. 

I was all right.  I could swim in, get my board, hang on the beach long enough to settle down, then join all the others, watching.  No shame.  I had gone for it.   I swam toward the point, away from the riptide; a succession of waves pushing me closer.

No board.  I looked around before I looked up; sun behind the row of gawkers.  I still claim I could hear a chorus of “It’s in the rip!”  I definitely saw the hands, shadows, up in the glare, pointing out.  In the rip.

“Fuck.” My board was in the channel, in the rip, halfway out to the lineup.  No.  To leave the board would be shameful.  It wasn’t just that.  I wanted another wave.  One more; and this time I’d make that section.  I rock-danced over toward the rip, swam out.  

I skipped most of school and work for most of the week, managing to surf every day as the swell dropped to normal.  Normal.  Jumper and Ginny missed the first morning.  Only.

Season Ripe With Skunkings

We’re into Fall, Autumn, and West Coast surfers expect… yeah, waves, northwest swells. It’s a little different on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It always is. Planning a trip out here based on forecasts showing the numbers that should mean waves will find their way to some beach that might still be accessible might just get you skunked.

It’s frustrating for me; and I have to guess, the farther one goes with visions of lined-up peelers floating in one’s head, the more irritating and frustrating it must be discovering beautiful conditions, everything perfect except the lack of waves.

Hang around, just in case? Talk with the other skunkees about times when the same numbers, swell size and period and direction and tide and wind and all, meant, like, waves? Paddle out and hope a big boat goes by, maybe score a weak dribbler or two?

But, now, Westport, pretty much always, has waves. Here’s the Westport advantage for a ripper from, say, Fremont. No ferry waits (or expenses), no getting stuck on the Hood Canal Bridge, no traffic detours (that I know of); and waves, with plenty of like-minded folks to hang out with. Sounds fun.

Quite recently I was working with Reggie down Surf Route 101, and the numbers (see above) started looking good, tantalizingly, must-be-going-off kind of good. We fast-tracked the work, and, a couple of hours later, there we were (Reggie, froth almost visible when we split up, didn’t meet me there, he beat me there), perfect conditions and no waves.

Oh, there were rumors. There are always rumors.

And we were not alone. Concrete Pete was talking to some kid with New Mexico plates and a tiny short board on his pickup. Nam had been there since noon. No waves. Omar cruised in with multiple boards to not ride; not on this day.

Concrete Pete starts talking about how some kook was talking, at some earlier time, about how “there’s this one guy, kinda, uh, chunky; and he rides a stand up, only…” “Yeah.” “And there’s this other guy; even bigger; no paddle.” “Yeah.” “And then there’s a guy who uses a broken paddle.” At this point Pete points to his rig, containing, I guessed, a broken paddle. “Wait; you mean… you?” “Yeah; and the kook says these surfers are legends, and…”

At this moment another vehicle pulls in. “Raja,” I say. “Now, here’s a legend. Raja, the guy who stuck my paddle in the pilings at an unnamed spot (the one with pilings).” “Yeah,” Reggie says, “heard about that.”

Raja had already ventured much farther out the peninsula in search of waves, and, since he couldn’t surf the next day, he was fairly certain that was when waves would show up.

Then Omar pulls in; multiple boards on his vehicle. Then Sean and Cathy (and, possibly, their son, somewhere between 8 and 12 years old, who is becoming quite the little ripper). “Hey,” Reggie says, “there might be waves back at… (different spot, no pilings) You going?”

No.

I was still hoping the waves would show up before dark, hoping enough that I started putting on my wetsuit, very slowly, believing that, if I gave up and went home, it would turn on before I got to Port Angeles. Worse than a skunking is a near-miss skunking you get to hear about later. “Dude, you would have loved it.”

About this time Sean and Cathy drove by, stopped.

Somewhere in here a car load of four or five young surf enthusiasts showed up; quite excited to be somewhere where waves allegedly broke; running around the beach, taking videos of each other. Tugboat Bill parked his truck at about the same time. I pointed to the stoked surf buddies, said, “Yeah, Bill; it’s like, this one time, me and Phil and Bucky and Ray showed up at San Onofre. It wasn’t anything special, but then these Orange County guys show up, and they’re all, ‘Cowabunga,’ and ‘whoa,’ and, and it’s like they’re extras in a ‘Gidget’ movie; big arm movements and all, and…”

“You going out?” “Yeah, Bill; figure I might practice standing up on my SUP; see how that goes.” “Three to the beach is a session.” “Right.” “Yeah, three standups.” “Okay; we’ll see.”

This was when Longshoreman Jeff Vaughn showed up, parked his Mad Max van next to my work van. Jeff was recently in a motorcycle accident (he was on the motorcycle), and was still recovering. I have witnessed him hang out at length, waiting, sometimes scoring. “Everything’s here except the waves.” Tugboat Bill and I both agreed.

So, somewhere waves were breaking. Canada, maybe. Raja and Bill and I and two guys trying to learn went out. Beautiful conditions. I did catch three, standing up, practiced my paddling. Bill had already caught his three before I left; one in front of me. “Payback,” he’d, no doubt, say. “Got wet,” I might have said, as others have, about the session; as if that’s even enough. No real surfer has ever caught too many waves.

Hate getting skunked? Westport. If someone asks me why I’m surfing small and weak waves, my answer is always that I’m practicing. “For Westport; next time I go down there.”

“So, um, Concrete Pete says this kook says, you’re, like, a legend, and… wait; is that a wave?