…And One in the Barrel

OKAY, so I haven’t deleted my previous post about Putin and his grievances. I will add, “This isn’t war; this is premeditated murder.” I heard it somewhere. I believe it applies to the illegal, uncalled-for, unprovoked, immoral and unethical Ukraine invasion; in which innocent blood will be spilled for the sake of some lunatic’s power lust. I should also add, “Puck Futin!” Or, okay, to be totally clear, “Fuck Putin!”

SO, a day and a half after I vented a bit, here is something surfing related:

Makena, formerly of Port Townsend, getting barreled at some Big Island secret spot.
Another shot of Makena
And one more for good measure

I am not trying to make Makena famous. He is doing that for himself. Stephen R. Davis is my contact with the surfer I never actually met. Evidently Makena has gotten some sponsorships, spent some time on the North Shore of Oahu during this season (and no doubt others), and, obviously, rips.

Death of Tyrants in Video Age

“Driving through a red state in a blue Camaro, just tryin’ to stay on the straight and narrow…”

I have to interrupt this start of a ditty… tough to concentrate when the dude who’d be holed up in a single-wide trailer (called ‘caravans’ in Europe- single-wide caravan) writing manifestos and letters to the editor, calling up Fux News, eating the Russian variation of Cheetos… should be, and would be if he hadn’t used small amounts of power and whatever steamy info the KGB (and post-Soviet KGB) are privy to as a route to attaining greater power, and eventually, absolute power… yeah, that guy, the one who can score five goals (I may have the number wrong, but, any goals would be a joke) against a (his) national ice hockey team (some professional hockey team, any hockey team), and now, he has decided to add Ukraine to the Soviet Union reboot.

He has grievances. Sure, I get that. People do. T.C. has grievances; they were rude to him at the La Jolla Country Day School. DT has grievances; had to have his silver spoon gold-plated- didn’t help. Vladputin has grievances- Despite all the threats and poisonings and jailings and extra-judicial, um, accidents, all the beefcake publicity shots, all the practice he has put into his swagger, people just don’t give him true and honest respect.

WAIT. I have grievances: I just can’t react passively to criminal injustice, to people dying because of some delusional asshole who has guaranteed that everyone below him is, indeed, below him, afraid, with good reason, to stand up to him. So, I write. It’s not like I’m all brave and such; I plan on deleting this pretty quickly. Wait, now I am considering not even posting it. Shit.

I guess I am commenting. Thanks, “Times.”

Evidently Vlad the Re(according to him)claimer is flat-out freaked out by video of the brutal killing of former buddy Colonel Gaddafi. Video, yeah. Back wowhen Mussolini’s body was hung upside down in the town square, still images, maybe some newsreel footage. Saddam Husein? His capture and hanging are available, evidently, on YouTube (no, didn’t check it out- still images and a rather sanitized description of horrifying actions were more than enough).

There’s no point here. Tyrants die. Dictators die. We all die. We don’t all take a lot of innocent people with us. We’re used to the Hollywood version of things: The worst villains suffer the cruelest fates. And we love that they do. Fall into a helicopter’s blades? Seems about right. How do I balance caring about human lives and almost celebrating the cruel and often obviously unlawful deaths of dictators?

Depends on the dictator.

I am not totally thrilled that I feel compelled to write something about Ukraine. I keep telling myself that, with the limited time I have for writing, and “Swamis” taking up most of that, I can do something quickly for realsurfers. That doesn’t seem to happen. This site is important to me. Research in necessary. Here is a quote from fictional detective Joseph Jeremiah DeFreines: “The world operates at an acceptable level of corruption.” There is a mandatory pause here. “It is not a particularly low level.”

Does the quote apply here? Grievance, power, corruption, war. Seems like a sequence.

It is late on Friday night. Hopefully I will have some time to think about something surfing related AND have some time to write on Sunday. Will I also consider whether or not to delete this post? Absolutely.

But I can’t help but think- Peace isn’t often delivered by convoys of military vehicles and heavily armed troops.

Attempting to FOCUS

Wait. Is he sticking his tongue out? Is that a Saint Christopher medal? What kind of material is that top, or is it a wetsuit, made of? Is he just jumping up, or is he grabbing the rail for no apparent reason? GoPro shot courtesy of, I think, Cap, second-handed to me by Stephen R. Davis.


Trish and I, a little later today, are meeting up with our daughter, Dru, and heading down Surf Route 101 to see Dru’s younger brother, and Trisha’s and my youngest child, Sean.


Sean has an older brother/oldest child, James, over on the borderland between Washington and, yes, Idaho. James lives in the red state, works in the red, East of the Mountains part of Wa, and, yes, a bit of the blueness may have faded in the years since James headed that direction, signed up for classes at the U of I because of the Lionel Hampton School of Music, continued his practice of having his own band, continued improving on guitar playing, got into a popular Moscow-based cover tune band, the Kingpins, as lead guitar player (he can crank out any riff you’ve ever heard), dropped out of school, continued spelling his name Jaymz, got married to a woman with a young son, had a son, got divorced, got remarried. His stepson had the first of several (3 now) kids, his son had a kid and joined the Navy, pretty much in that order.

Brief history, without the histrionics.

So, back to Sean, down in Olympia. But first, yes, since our youngest child is turning forty, I must be something other than young. I am not writing about that today. Maybe a little.

MORE EXPOSITION- Also optional (suggesting all other reading is mandatory)

Sean attended the Evergreen State College, graduated, got a master’s degree in Public Administration. Any day now we expect him to use the degree and his experience in working jobs in which an advanced degree is not required and get something better, white collar, perhaps. Sean does have the capacity to retain and pass on incredible amounts of knowledge on subjects he has a passion for: Movies, action figures. Action movies. So far, this passion hasn’t turned into a clear career path. We have hope.

All Sean needs is focus.

FOCUS and “SWAMIS” What I really wanted to talk about-

After writing two complete versions of my novel, I decided an outline might be a tool to cut down on the extraneous and peripheral stuff. Plot, not backstory. Not exposition. No fancy descriptions, just basic setting, dialogue, action.  Because of the time I have invested, I have to rationalize. I know my characters. Helpful.

The PLOT, the STORYLINE(S) have always been the same. Everything else is in support of the story.

DIALOGUE is very important to me- getting the rhythm and the use of language right. I used an ‘if it is important, I will remember it’ technique, trying not to constantly check with the second unexpurgated manuscript.

I wanted to use STORIES told by various characters to establish the character of several of the… characters. FOR EXAMPLE: JODY/JOEY is meant to be someone with a history of violence, of striking out when he felt threatened. I wrote several stories to back that up. JUMPER was severely wounded in Vietnam and almost certainly has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wrote a whole lot on that, probably won’t use any of it. JOSEPH DEFREINES was a decorated war veteran. I didn’t write much about that, but because my father also served in World War II and Korea, I know something about how Joey’s father would suppress his own trauma.

What I attempted to do is cut out some of the stories, shift some of the stories around, have them told, in a shorter form, or merely alluded to, by other characters. STILL, I love some of the stories.

THE ACTUAL MANUSCRIPT- I told myself it would be so easy converting the outline into a novel. NO, none of this is actually easy. I do, however, love it all. I have to rationalize the time I spend writing and thinking about what little changes I just need to make; I tell myself that all writing helps one become a better writer. SURFER ANALOGY- Wave count; it’s all about the wave count.

The outline ended up being 14 ‘Episodes,’ If that sounds like it’s more screenplay than outline… yeah.

Adding the descriptions of the settings has not been as quick and easy as I had imagined. I have made more changes and will, undoubtedly, continue to do so. Tighter. That is the goal.

I currently have the Forward, the first big chapter and a good start on chapter two at a state I’m pretty happy with. I printed the nineteen pages up. THE PLAN IS, when I have Drucilla, who loves to listen to podcasts and books on tape, as a captive audience in the car with Trish driving (after my last crash, Trish will no longer allow me to drive if she is in the vehicle- I’m fine with it), I will read the manuscript to her.    

FOCUS- I was talking to a client the other day about painting the trim on her Port Townsend Victorian house, and, as I do, I was off on numerous tangents. “We have to focus on the painting here,” she said. “Oh. Okay.” I said I wasn’t insulted, then said, “Yeah, I am kind of insulted. It’s okay.” I walked toward my van. “You know, the main character in the novel I mentioned… He gets so involved in all the stuff that is going on that… I think, for a detective, that kind of perceptiveness might not be a bad thing.” She nodded. “I have every confidence,” she said, “based on your reputation, that you have the ability to focus totally on what you’re painting.”

“Well,” I said, climbing into my big boy van, “I do.”

I wanted to add “When I have to.” I wanted to add a lot more. No time, had to get to working. Focusing on the task at hand.

DRUCILLA BACKSTORY- Optional but possibly interesting-

Dru went to Loyola University in Chicago, graduated, got a good job with an advertising firm, didn’t complete her master’s degree (Trish hopes she still might), worked for “The Onion,” moved back to the northwest a couple of year ago. She lives in Port Gamble, works in a shop there and does off site work for another advertising outfit in Chicago, works for the Olympic Music Festival. Dru actually did some recording of ‘concerts in the barn,’ the barn being in Quilcene, when she was in high school. Dru’s best friend from high school, Molly, lives in one of those old houses just down the street from her.

I really want my only daughter to help edit and package and sell “Swamis.” The threat is, if she doesn’t, and someone else does, and some money is eventually made, she would have to wait until Trish and I die to reap the real benefits. Trish plans on living to one hundred, I’m not planning on going anytime soon and… and… We’ll see how it goes today with the forced listening.  

Happy days to you.

A Perfect Day?

                                                The Perfect Day or Beware the Froth

“Surfer” magazine had a feature recounting a perfect surfing day; everything aligned- waves, weather, surfers, stars, star surfers.

Perfect is only perfect because we focus on what made it perfect and blur, diminish, or edit out anything that doesn’t support that story. It is cynical to say nothing is perfect. So, I would admit to being a cynic except… except I am perfectly willing to edit the negatives and focus on the perfect.

And it might well be that negatives frame the perfect. I also believe there is a balance built into the universe. Seesaw. For someone insisting on staying at the balance point, perfection must have a certain sameness, safeness. Comfort.

Sorry, didn’t mean to get philosophical. I’ve retold this story a few times since the day and the session that is at the center of the tale; mostly it has been received as kind of humorous. The tale starts in the dark, in my driveway, with me spilling paint all over the back of my surf rig, including some splashing on my wetsuits. It ends, again in the dark, with me getting pulled over and ticketed on the way home.

In the middle, a bit of perfection.

Used totally without asking for permission. I did want to use the anthology, “A Perfect Day,” by “Surfer.” It does contain a poem of mine they published in 1968. I got ten bucks and a magazine, and nothing (other than the beach cred) for the reprinting. So, they could, possibly, sue me.

I originally wanted to focus here on the dangers of overfrothing. Haste does indeed make waste. I had been using my late 80s Camry wagon, my surf rig, for painting. Cheaper. Obvious. But I wasn’t going to paint on this day. Surf. Shop. So, unload paint to make room for Costco/WalMart stuff. I grabbed a paint can. The lid wasn’t on tight. OOPS! Not so bad. Mostly the paint was on cardboard or plastic. NOPE! Some had splattered or oozed onto my wetsuits. Fuck! I grabbed a brush, started scooping and brushing and… yuck. I grabbed an old dropcloth, stuffed it on top of the remnants, hoped for the best on my gear, took off.

I made good time, got to the spot my predictions seemed to indicate would be breaking. NOPE. ALMOST. I was tired of almost being good enough. WELL, might as well survey the damage. I figured I could hike up my cords, take off my shoes, wash off my two wetsuits in the inshore water. MIGHT HAVE WORKED if my roll up didn’t instantly unravel, my wetsuit didn’t float off into that area where six inches drops off to, oh, knee high on a short-legged dumbass.

SO, turn the heater to the position where most of the air hits the wet Levis, accept that I was skunked and dunked, and backtrack. I skipped over a couple of possibilities, pulled into a spot that required hiking in. Not a quick or easy hike; less thrilling with a bigass board.

I have learned that, walking back, a bigass board is even heavier. Drape a soaked wetsuit over it, worse. I parked, looked at the paint splattered on my booties and suit. Mostly on the inside of the suit. Fun. My new, glow in the dark, day-glow green leash was Navajo White, booties speckled, vest/hood sort of striped.

I stuffed my decorated gear into a cooler bag, did the hike, made it to the beach, dropped my stuff on my board.

One bootie. I could have gone out with one bootie. Last time I tried naked foot surfing, the gentle little rollers waves suddenly came up. Rocks, in these parts, will cut you. I guess, really, only if you wipe out. If you charge, you wipe out. That’s my excuse. Cut the shit out of my feet. I can show you the scars.

Walk back. Someone asked if the back of my car was attacked by seagulls, and, if so, how many. “Frothing,” I said, as if that was enough. No. Another story: “So, this one time, I drive up to a spot, waves are breaking. My board was back far enough on the rack I couldn’t lift the back all the way. I, um, slammed my thumb in the door. Still hurts sometimes.” “Uh huh.” May as well bring a thermos and cup and… damn, why don’t I have a stash of propels?

Back on the beach, I have to ask someone for assistance in getting my new backzip wetsuit backzipped up. “I just need a longer cord,” I explained. “Uh huh. Um, what’s with all the paint?”

So, the hiking. There were some waves within a reasonable distance. Most were closeouts. I missed the first one, too far out. I was too far in on the next one, suffered the first of what would be a notable number of thrashings. Two waves later, I didn’t pull out when I should have, went for just one more section and… sideways up the beach.

There were other waves, possibly better waves. Hiking would be involved.

This is where the perfection came in- a few genuinely wonderful waves. Not every wave, not every ride. My salt-washed leash got tangled around both my feet, I got worked on waves I didn’t quite make, sections I could not resist going for. The bottom legs on my new wetsuit filled with water, bagged out.

A couple of truisms: Waves that barrel break harder than crumblers, getting caught inside is tiring, a long ride requires a long paddle (or walk) back.

Somewhere in the past two paragraphs there’s what was the perfect part of the day, those genuinely wonderful rides on simply wonderful waves.

Luckily, because I was a long way from the trail, I ran into several surfers I’ve run into over the past forty years or so. Chat, rest, regroup.

Still, fuck a bunch of long walks on the beach.

Since I had gotten up at four am, there was no way I could face the Sequim vortex without a nap. Twenty minutes in the parking lot of the Deer Park Cinema. Then Costco, then Walmart; phone to my ear, Trish going over the list on her end. Then head for home. “Sixty-eight in the fifty-five,” the Patrolman said, “It was really sixty-nine. I didn’t cite you for the expired tabs.” “Thank you.”

So, then, home, putting away the Costco-sized this and the Walmart-priced that, I got to inform Trish that her husband, who has never gotten a good driver rate in fifty-five years of driving, might not get one for a while longer.

I did buy the wrong product in the vitamin/supplement aisle. That was upsetting, but I did get home early enough that Trish could cook up the organic chicken legs for dinner, and we could enjoy them together while watching “Jeopardy,” recorded, fast-forwarding the commercials.

A perfect day, just a bit farther out on the seesaw.   

Sorry I Missed Your Party

Hopefully the Luau slash surf/slumber/beach/birthday/whatever party went well.

I have a list of reasons for not attending parties. Yes, I am a known competitive talker, a talk-over specialist, and, since I have a voice louder than, most likely, yours, well- if parties are, as I have come to believe after interrogating numerous self-identified partyers for numerous years on what exactly ‘to party’ means; to hang out and talk in various states of consciousness; maybe I actually do party. Informally, as in, without background music.

Perhaps there is, rather than a list, only one item that has me turning down invitations to end-of-the-job, let’s-have-the-workers-over parties, just to mention one category of parties I have declined to RSPV. Ridiculousness. Sub-set would be lack of control of what I say. As in: Either I let it all go, unfiltered, direct from ear to mouth; then re-run all my gaffs and insults (intentional or accidental); or have someone inform me of them; or I go all wallflower and watch others be silly and/or mean and/or pouty and/or approach that delicate place where repartee descends into actual fisticuffs.


No, it’s not a real party unless someone runs off crying, someone melts down in a state of over-intoxication (this usually means being fucked up enough to speak his or her truth), more than one person throws up, a fight or near-fight occurs, someone falls into or is pushed into the bonfire, or, this would be a highlight, police intervene.

In the wallflower scenario, I have been told, I might appear standoffish, condescending, or worse, uppity and/or judgmental. “Who? Me?” There is really no greater social sin than uppity-ness.

Yes, of course there are, but uppity-ness is, you know, bad. “Who invited that stuck up (fill in your own word here)?” Uppity folks might not make the invite list.

Okay. Yes, after I heard there was an upcoming party at a beach almost at the end of what is, essentially, a dead-end road, and did see there was some remote possibility of actual swell, I did text a critical member of the party planners to wrangle an invitation.

Which I declined. Of course. Not because I’m, like, too good to hang out with folks I’ve probably been in the water with, many of whom I have chatted it up with on the beach. “When are the waves getting here?” “Well; glad you asked. According to the data…” Please refer to my list. Above.

Now I can’t help thinking back to beach parties I did attend: SIXTH GRADE GRADUATION (unofficial)- Oceanside Pier, southside. I was the only guy in a speedo (my dad, champion swimmer, wore speedos). I was embarrassed. No, not for that reason. Some people, girls too, mature… earlier. I will have to write about bulges and awkwardness some other time. The mom chaperones seemed to appreciate a speedo. HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION (unofficial)- Tamarack. No speedos. Despite having learned to surf at Tamarack, I showed up in street clothes, without a board. I was tackled by a girl from my class as I approached the campfire- pretty much the highlight. It was, at least, what I remember. Oh, just remembered her name- Barbie. Really. Some other surf wannabes from Fallbrook High may have brought boards. No, after four years of teenage angst, of trying to make myself into some imagined version of cool, there was no way I was going to surf in front of these some-time beach goers.

“See? I told you he couldn’t be all that good.” Uppity? Scared? Worried? I’m fine with uppity.

Now I’m thinking about other, non-beach parties I attended. I won’t bore you with the details. Maybe some other time. My motto has long been, “I’m here to surf.” Yeah, but, “When do you think the waves will get here?” “Glad you asked.”

STEPHEN R. DAVIS UPDATE- Steve seems mostly recovered from the super severe, full-body (including eyeballs) reaction to drugs. He just had his second chemo session, and has a port installed. Pretty scary, invasive stuff. When I asked if he’s experiencing all the well-known side effects of chemo, he says he isn’t; he feels great; looking forward to getting back in the water.

“SWAMIS” UPDATE- I just dropped off a thumb drive with what started out to be an outline. This was an attempt, after two bloated versions of a manuscript, to cut the story down to a manageable length and scope. BUT… I love the dialogue. The thing reads more like a script. Hmmm. I have started rewriting the actual novel, trying to stick to the outline. Plot. Plot. Plot. The plot I do have. It’s just that I am so easily distracted.

Happy… whatever you’re celebrating.

Okay. I have written this. I am going to post what I have written. Then, later, I will self-analyze. Harshly. Feel free to participate. I use the ridiculousness scale; try to keep it under eighty-six.