Chemo-Sketching with Stephen R. Davis

My friend STEPHEN R. DAVIS has been fighting cancer, mantal lymphoma if you’re knowledgeable on these things (and Fuck Cancer). Steve had undergone six rounds of Chemotherapy and a bad reaction to one drug that threatened to melt his corneas. It took the first of two recent big-ass Chemo treatments to cause enough hair loss that the rest of it was… well, it’s gone. It’ll be back.

Meanwhile, doing too much hanging out at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, waiting to recover from the second super Chemo dosage, with blood that had been taken from him returned (not a doctor, forgive the kook medical talk) after being (hopefully) enhanced, Steve has been doing some sketching. There’s a list of topics he’s going by, and he’s working down it.

Here are some of the sketches. One of the topics is ‘Ego.’ Not sure which one.

UNFORTUNATELY, I seem to have not properly transferred the sketch of ‘ego.’ Next time, and maybe Steve will do a few more.

MEANWHILE #2- Trish will be taking our daughter DRUCILLA into Silverdale tomorrow, Halloween Day, for her first of 30 rounds of radiation. THE Good News (and, again, fuck a bunch of cancer) is that she will not need Chemo. This is what the doctors say now. We’ll see.

TRIPLE MEANWHILE- Surf report? Don’t ask me. It’s all rumors and speculation and… What? Where? Is it crowded? Oh. Who squealed? Fuckers!

QUADRUPLE MEANWHILE- After a few embarrassing situations in which my ever more casual use of profanity did or almost got me in trouble, and because, really, I do have a more, um, creative vocabulary, I am trying to cut back on my swearing (other than, yeah, fuck fucking cancer). So… okay, it hasn’t made me all zen… yet.

See you.

It’s Okay, Jay, I Don’t Mean Everything I Say

IT MAY BE TRUE THAT, as accused, by various people, independent of each other (so, almost assuredly true), I do constantly dole out rolling commentary with my big, loud voice. Also true that I have a sarcastic streak that too often borders on, no, invades the territory of… hurts me to admit it, meanness, or even, nastiness (definitely rudeness). One of my surfer friends (and, because I am thinking about surf friends frequently, and whether any of us would be friends at all if it wasn’t for the common denominator, surfing) said (wait, I do want you to know I truly value my surf friends) I might make a good bartender, with the caveat that it would be necessary to have a sign behind the bar, in big letters, that says, “He doesn’t mean everything he says.”

I think, originally, he said, ‘anything’ he says. After discussion, ‘everything.’

Dawn Patrol, 2015. “Better get out there, it’s only going to get more crowded.”

SO IT WAS that I was at a fickle (and let’s just say, mediocre at best, flat the rest of the time) spot, pre-dawn. My surf friend, Tom (I didn’t ask his permission to use his last name), arrived there well ahead of me, and I was there just about dawn (the sun being blocked by mountains). Tom would, ordinarily, be in the water. That’s his thing, beat the hoards. This time Tom was waiting for the swell or the tide or the sun to rise a bit. There was one guy in the water. Tom and I watched him catch three waves in the grainy half-light. “See, it’s closing out.” “Little bit.”

MEANWHILE, several more vehicles pulled in, several of those with multiple surfers and multiple boards. NATURALLY, I started complaining as I was going through my pre-surf warmup (turning the wetsuit rightside-out” checking my booties, moving over here to see if the rights were working. RAJA pulled in next to Tom. I was more than willing to agree with Raja (loudly) that he should go somewhere else, listing a couple of spots that “Are for sure, working.” Westport is usually one of them. “Always good.” Raja whispered a couple of spots on the coast he was going to check. “Really? This was a whisper. “By yourself?” “Hopefully.”

EVIDENTLY it was JAY who walked past me and said he was once like me. I asked what he meant by that. “Well, you already said it.” Yeah, I was overly-amped to get in the water (as always), and overly-pissed that so many surfers were showing up. As I surf-splained to Tom, as if he wasn’t fully aware, “if you go out early, all you see is more surfers to ‘share’ the lineup with.” This was not said with my inside, nice-guy (usually fake) voice, the one I use with clients. Then, turning back to Jay, with my lifetime developed, smart ass inflection, “I’m 71; how old are you?” Jay said he is 73. SO, TWO MORE YEARS and I’ll be mellow. SO mellow. But not on that day. Would I even get a wave? How many people would be out? Why am I not out there already? I’m pretty sure I just turned away from Jay and went back to my pre-surf, ‘don’t have a heart attack’ routine.

NOT even ZEN-like. Not Zen-ish.

NOW, I did write about this little encounter in my last posting, and I did mention I didn’t see Jay in the lineup. The JAY part was part of a little intro/aside before the actual piece, one I wrote in ‘Word’ rather than free-balling (phrase borrowed from Stephen R. Davis, currently getting the ‘Big Chemo’ over in Seattle) it on the Word Press page as I am now (with some editing- of course). BUT THEN, JAY was nice enough to write a comment (scroll down). THE THING IS, JAY was apologetic.

THE REAL AND ACTUAL THING IS that JAY really has no need to apologize. When I think about surfing, the cultural, shared lineup aspect, the real or imagined surf community; and I am constantly distracted from real life by this, the two main subjects, the two main topics are: ATTITUDE AND ETIQUETTE.

I have been heavily criticized for both.

IT WOULD BE SO NICE if surfers talked more about actual wave riding.

Next time. MAYBE. Ommmmmmmm. Ommmmmm. Ohhhhhhhhh. Didn’t work; thinking about waves… again.

Psyched and Sullied

      I am not sure about the title. It’s sort of a reference to my most recent surf adventures, in which I frothed way too much, and suffered some embarrassment. Not what I am trying to write about at the moment, but I can’t help imagining how many surfers are asking, “Hey, did you see that asshole in the water?” And then… No, another time for that story. BUT, I must mention some old dude on the beach, while I was complaining about all the rigs pulling up, just had to tell me he used to get all over amped like I was, but then, when he got older… “Hey man, I’m 71, how old are you?” 73. “Okay.”

Dude did not go out.

Anyway, this might be the last thing I write for the Quilcene Community Center newsletter. The guy who runs it is leaving and… Here it is.

   Check it out:

              Theories on Time and Money and Doing Absolutely Nothing

We’re sliding headlong into October with August weather (pleasant, if you like warmth and dislike rain, drizzle, fog, or moisture of any kind). Unusual, when it seems like last year we had October weather in September, with a repeat in October, maybe a few October-ish days in November. It’s hard for me to remember exactly what the first full month of Autumn brought last year, but it somehow doesn’t seem like a very long time since the leaves started changing color and falling, the dawn coming later and the dusk earlier, and there was a sort of worry or wonder when our latest round of Daylight Savings Time would end.

I have a theory for why, as we age, time seems to move more quickly. It’s not like I spend a lot of time contemplating time and space and your or my place in the universe, and it is definitely not that I can prove this or any of several other theories.

And yet, sometimes when I’m driving a half hour here or there, and sometimes while I am painting, I get to thinking…  

TIME may or may not be infinite. Humans couldn’t have invented time; we do try to monitor and measure it. Some submultiple of a wink, perhaps, some length of time it takes to take a footstep. Time and distance. We have lifespans that are finite, definite beginning and end (as in our physical, corporeal beings, not arguing before or afterlife here). Even if we make it to one hundred years of age, we are, sorry, a mere bleep or blip on, say, a thousand-year chunk of the presumably infinite line. If we go to a larger length of time, ten thousand years, for example, our existence is an even smaller blip. I don’t want to do the math. It doesn’t really matter. Smaller.

IT MAKES SENSE that, if summer vacation when you were twelve was 3/144th of your life (or 1/48th), and seemed long and glorious, but you’re now, let’s say, fifty, we’re talking, um, uh, calculating… 3/600th (or 1/200th) of your life to this point. No wonder this summer seemed so, let’s say, fleeting.  

Neither our longevity nor our size in comparison to the incomprehensible vastness of the universe means we’re insignificant or unimportant. What our relative nothingness does mean is each of us has a certain (and mostly unknown) chunk of time to be cruising or snoozing or working or binge watching or shopping or worrying or being angry… whatever we chose to do with our time. 

HERE’S WHAT got me thinking about some of this time allocation stuff: I surf. Surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca is fickle. When there is a chance of waves, a surfer desires to go. I work. Work is important. I do not, I must insist, live to work. However (see above) work is important and necessary. So, did I go recently when the surf, in a sea of flatness, was forecast to be rideable? Yes. Was the surf great? No. Worth the time and expense and the lack of the money that could have been earned? Hmmm. So, the question I have asked others enjoying (to a lesser or greater level than where I was on the guilt-to-bliss scale) this session: “How much money would it take for you not to go?”

A more accurate question is, “How much money have you taken not to go?” Probably not enough, though this varies, related to the quality of the surf. Fill in with your own leisure time activity.

MONEY, it’s what we trade our skills and our hours for, theoretically.

Another factor in my overthinking time is that we are in another election season, with ads for opposing candidates jammed together like an unmoderated debate Voting is often referred to as a ZERO SUM GAME, a vote for one candidate taken from the other. Time may be the ultimate of these games.

I don’t mean to suggest that having an “I’ll sleep when I die” attitude is appropriate, but it would seem being bored is not a good use of our time. Rest, sleep, recreation, gardening, sorting out our tools, doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING; these non-activities are sometimes the very best use of our time. I spent part of a day recently binge-watching the latest “Game of Thrones.” I was exhausted. Many speak highly of the rejuvenating effects of meditation.

I have thought about it.

If our earth, rotating and revolving, it seems like half of us are in the darkness and half in light. It also seems something like a third of humanity must or should be sleeping.

This should explain why I don’t, purposefully, meditate. Accidentally, yes.

THE GOOD NEWS for those of us who are farther along on our blip or bleep is that our stashes of memories and stories grows ever larger. My last theory is that remembering a story once helps to bring out the deeper cuts (album talk here), little, “Oh, yeah” moments. Then, in remembering or retelling the story, we have the advantage of remembering the original event and the edited, possibly enhanced, and/or embellished version. Helpful.

Thank you for spending some submultiple of your life reading this. Happy October.        

Accidentally Deleted Comments And Questions…


SKIP FRYE gliding and cruising through, and toying with a wave at P.B. Point, 1965.

I delete a varying number of spam comments every day. Most of them seem to come from one source, and, I have checked them out, they seem to make little to no sense. Perhaps they do to the many writers, each with the last name of Jerry. The comments have nothing to do with surfing or surfers, real or otherwise. I am happy word press determines the relative spam-iness, and have stopped going through them to determine if even one is real and relevant and… and, even if a comment is less than complimentary, I do appreciate that someone went to the trouble of writing and sending it through the not-so-easy process.

The other day I got a comment on one of several pieces I have posted concerning my ongoing battle with completing my manuscript, “Swamis.” It was sent by, the note said, a college student who “grew up at Swamis.” Perhaps he meant “in the vicinity of Swamis.” No biggie. He wanted to know more about the place in the late 60s and early 70s (exactly the time in which I most frequently surfed Swamis). “Did I ever surf with Skip Frye? Ron Stoner?”

The truth is… Skip Frye, definitely. Mr. Stoner, maybe. Probably.

“SURF WITH,” though only two words, is kind of loaded. There is an implication of togetherness, that the esteemed, known surfer might actually have some sort of knowledge of or relationship with the lowly surfer. Additionally, there is an expectation that, in a crowded (for the time) lineup, a fourteen-year old might just hear, “Holy shit! Someone said L.J. Richards is out! (Pipes, 1966),” and respond by asking, “Who?” And then look around to see if L.J. Richards surfs so fantastically much better than the other surfers out at that particular place and time.

If I became aware that L.J. Richards was out, he wasn’t aware of me.

The revelation, on the beach or in the water, that someone with a reputation is considering going out, is out, or was just or recently out, has been repeated, um, repeatedly: Mike Doyle at Stone Steps or Swamis or the little jetty at Oceanside Harbor with Reno Abellira (neither of whom went out); Mike Purpus at Grandview; Mike Hynson at La Jolla Shores (and those are just the Mikes).

The more common surf celebrity session sharing involves recognizing someone you had seen in magazines or surf circuit movies, then, or YouTube clips, other social media content producers, more recently. I recognized Corky Carroll and Billy Hamilton at Swamis on a day (in 1967) in which I believed my own performance in the water was my best ever. Instant realization that my best was not even close to mediocre for Mr. Hamilton (Corky was on the stairs, pointing out Billy to someone he was with). I recognized Herbie Fletcher at Lower Trestles (1975) by his stance and because he was sideslipping from the nose. I recognized Donald Takayama at Seaside Trailer Park (1969- oops, going backward) because he was Donald Takayama.

Then there are the local (only or mostly local) stars, rippers and assholes, surfers one runs into repeatedly. When I was a true local in Encinitas and Pacific Beach, there were ‘regulars,’ surfers I knew by their performance in the water, and had no real relationship with otherwise. Joe Roper at P.B. is an example, as is, yes, Skip Frye. As far as, to answer the question originally asked, surfing with legendary surf photographer Ron Stoner- don’t know. Maybe. I did get burned once, severely and purposefully, by noted surf and skate photographer Warren Bolster, Swamis. It was okay; I caught the next wave.

It is probably worthwhile to remember that for every surfer one recognizes, there are legions of non-legends, and that legends are, by definition, history. History, the stories in time, is the ultimate cleanup set. It moves on. I realize, in writing this, and somewhat sadly, that some of the surfers whose names I am dropping are gone.

My motto has always been, “I’m here to surf.” Explains something. My more recent motto is, “That wave is gone.” The unspoken second part might be, “I’m looking for the next one.”

What every real surfer has, I believe, is a memory of several best rides, best moments, best waves. Stories. Images. What we all want to do is add to that mental list, those stories, that legend.

Feel free to comment.

Stressors and Content and Cancer and YouTube and Investments and Unlimited Talk and Data and Being Mercurial and/or…

I would love to blame stress for my latest episodes of embarrassingly stupid mistakes, and for a more than usual number of meltdowns and indefensible asshole-ness.

So, of course, I want to write about all of this. But first, Fat Boy kneeboard update: It was watching some YouTube videos of kneeboarders ripping on boards longer than the average from, you know, the past. Not re-explaining my board choice here, but I must mention that I would like to not have to wear swim fins. Anyway, these rippers are on, like, six foot instead of four-and-a-half foot boards. I want to rip. I want to turn off the top, do an actual cutback at, like, speed. Tough to do, though I try, on a big ass board. But, on an eight-ten fish… yeah! Or, yeah, hopefully.

Believing I have the knowledge if not the expertise, this based on having shaped and painted and glassed five or six boards back in the late 1960s, of having painted a blank someone else shaped and then glassed in the 70s, and doing one side of a board, like, ten years ago or so (before giving up, stacking it in the garage), of having watched at least five videos on glassing, I felt… I’ll be honest, worried sick about what would happen once I started pouring resin on my hand-shaped board.

I went to Admiral Ship Supply in Port Townsend and bought some (I would say invested in some if I were only a bit more confident of the results) supplies to complete the glassing portion of the project. Yes, I do realize I am a total kook every time I go into the place that caters to the alternate universe of the boatyard. Boat-yarders. Real boat-yarders. Yes, I did actually work on submarines and aircraft carriers, but this, this is different.

The knowledgeable staff at Admiral were helpful in my constant awareness that I was out of my depth. Kook. Ask a couple of stupid questions, and… “Um, uh, do you think epoxy resin will melt the paint?” “Definitely maybe. Did you do a test sample?” “Huh?”

Buoyed by another YouTube video in which an artist pours epoxy resin on acrylic paintings, I made the investment. Yes, investment, because rough or perfect (no way on that), I do plan on riding this board, Plan to ride, dream about ripping.

Of course I would use paint cans as a platform. And it’s not as messy as it looks. Following the instructions from numerous YouTube videos, I trimmed down the glass. Since I tried to do two layers of 6 ounce cloth at one time, I had to use more of the resin than I had anticipated, like, the whole quart, and, even at that, I didn’t have enough to do the rail wrap I had planned to do. Hence, the can on the ground. Good news, I didn’t have to guess how much hardener/catalyst to add. Like, the whole thing. More good news, the resin didn’t melt the acrylic paint on the board. Next step? Well, get more resin.

OKAY, so stress. Virginia Mason Medical Center’s computers were hacked early last week. Maybe you heard about it on the Seattle news. If so, you know as much as our daughter Dru knows, and she was supposed to start radiation this week. So, no. So, Dru is in the dark, depressed, ready to get beyond the treatment. Dru’s surgeon compared the radiation treatment to vacuuming up the little remnants of the cancer (and, as always, fuck a bunch of cancer). Meanwhile, Trish is hanging out at our daughter’s house, I go over once a week (even though it continues to be rare and unseasonal painting weather), and… did I mention stress?

It has not escaped my attention that I go on a bit. It isn’t as if I don’t have what YouTubers call ‘content.’ Plenty. SO, I won’t talk about how my super secret stealth cell phone device suddenly stopped working while I was talking and shopping at Costco last, or how frustrated I was to call the folks (no actual folks, many prompts), repeatedly, trying to figure out why in hell it wasn’t working when the money comes out automatically, AND, then I spent a couple of hours on the phone this morning before I gave up. From frustrated to surly. “Could you repeat that?” “No, I don’t know how to do a text without hanging up.” “Sim card?” Eventually, either they hung up on me or I pressed 6 instead of 7.

MEANWHILE, Trish bought one of those kind of phones old people are supposed to have. Big numbers. One button to push when you can’t get up. “Just like the one George has,” she said, “should be there (note ‘there’ rather than ‘here’) Tuesday. Okay?” OKAY, so I called to cancel the super secret stealth phone, ONLY TO DISCOVER… I don’t have unlimited minutes.

I have one thousand, and SOMEHOW, three days short of the refill date, I used them up.

FUTURE CONTENT will include updates on Stephen R. Davis’s battle with cancer (fuck cancer), the latest and quite-likely last piece I wrote for the Quilcene Community Center newsletter (I’m not quitting, the director is), some outtakes from “Swamis,” some reports on local spots not being blown up by me, and the very real possibility that rather than having something like an artistic temperament, or even behaving in what could be called a mercurial manner (doesn’t sound too horrible), Trish says, with evidence to back it up, I might be… it’ll wait, but I would like to say eccentric and gifted is one thing, being rude and not too bright is another.

I am trying to quit writing, but I was suddenly amused in thinking it is a political season; rude and not too bright doesn’t mean unelectable.

In Progress, Everything’s in progress

Stephen R. Davis Fantasy Point

People Steve has shown this painting to always seem to ask, “Where is it?” The answer varies. I suggested “Canada. It was reversed so the Canadians don’t get upset and perhaps, go into impolite territory.” “You mean,” one art fan asked, “like Westport?” “No, more like Seaside.” “Oh.”

So, don’t ask. This is one of my favorite of Steve’s paintings. Steve had already promised the original to someone. He is… UPDATE… over in the ‘Cshitty’ (pronounced, yeah, shitty), getting two big ass doses of Chemo designed to kill the remaining cancer cells in his body. While pumping chemicals into Steve, the good folks at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are pumping blood out of him, harvesting cells, growing a batch of stem cells that will… I can’t follow it all. There’s a bone marrow transplant in the plan, somewhere. Meanwhile, his immune system is totally vulnerable.

Stephen R. Davis is out of commission for at least six months. People accustomed to working know just frightening this prospect is. BUT WE HAVE A PLAN. Copies. Limited edition prints.


SOON. There is a process. The Fantasy Point painting was taken off its frame and, using a copier designed for blueprints, the color image can be transferred to a thumb drive, and… yay!… copies.

Steve has several other paintings begging to be reproduced.
My fat-boy fish, under construction. Note the fresh red paint.

Speaking of things in progress… I am trying to turn the remains of an eleven-foot SUP into a 7’10” Fat-Boy Kneeboard. It is in the painting part of the process. My motto back in my sign painting days was “It’s not done until it’s overdone.” I have yet to determine if I can use epoxy resin on it without melting the whole thing down, but I have been checking out some YouTube videos on how to do the glassing. Oh, it’s not that I haven’t done some board making, it’s just that it was a long, long time ago, in a land far to the south. SO, as with future swells and elections and just about everything else, we’ll see.

I am worried about several things with this board; not whether it’ll rip; pretty sure it will.

My manuscript, “Swamis,” is actually coming along pretty well. As with everything else ongoing… I have plans. I’ll let you know.

As always, thanks for checking out realsurfers.