Wait; It’s that close to Christmas? Ow!

Hey, it’s December tenth. This is when, traditionally, I seem to run out of painting work. Not always a joyous thing.

I got laid off from a temporary position with the Civil Service on December tenth. It was a reduction-in-force in Civilservicespeak. RIF. I had reluctantly gone back to work painting for the feds after a two year separation due to my desire to hit the big time as a contractor; a career move with a shaky start (and why I gave up on big-time commercial projects- not a shark, stay out of the shark tank) that cost me dearly (five months working for free, loss of retirement drawn out, first time dealing with real depression, blah, blah); though I did lose a lot of weight.

Yeah, but that was twenty-five years ago or so. I’ve gained all the weight back. And, yes, then some; but I was really pissed-off because they, supposedly, kept employees with special skills. I was pretty much the only classically-trained and the most skilled sign painter, but never did learn the most important Civil Service skill.

I’d tell you what it is, but you might think I’m KISSING UP.

Another December 10th it was announced by one of the main general contractors that I worked for that he wasn’t receiving all the money from a project he had asked and planned for, and he was going to share that misfortune with his subcontractors. Joy.

There are other examples, and, maybe, like saying the surf has always been good on Thanksgiving, I’m using the date as a sort of marker of all the DOWNSIDES OF THE SEASON; the reason people celebrate the various holidays in the darkest days of the year. Yea, we’re alive!

ALL THIS, really, just got rolling out of my fingers as I wanted to write something about how I don’t have HOLIDAY GREETING CARDS ready to sell at TYLER MEEKS’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

I’ve been busy. But, here are a couple of examples of cards. If I get my job finished early enough I might have some time to get to the printers. I’ll let you know.

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Available soon. Shit, I have to get going so I can finish up another job. MEANWHILE, best to you, including some waves. I hear they’re, traditionally, good this time of year.

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A Few New Tees A Few Good Waves

I picked up some tee shirts at DL LOGOS in Port Townsend yesterday. The outfit is run by Dwane and Loren (oh, that’s why it’s DL), and they have what I (having worked in several sign shops), a fan of such places, consider a pretty cool shop.

Rather than the smell of heavy and toxic chemicals (lacquer thinner, paint, methyl ethyl ketone), it is one, warm, due to the fact that the inks need the heat to dry, and, two, has more of a plastic-y smell. It’s similar to the smell of a toy, from some years ago, that enabled kids to melt plastic around all kinds of shapes.

One of the guys, D or L, and I went through the boxes of leftover or extra tee shirts a week or so ago, got a selection of sizes and colors. From the first batch of shirts I learned that not everyone wants a L, XL, or XXL; so I got some smalls and a few more mediums.

SO, after I kept a couple for gifts, one for myself, sold some shirts to friends, one to a woman on the job I was working on, there are now less available at TYLER MEEKS’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

AND, rather oddly enough, as the first potential buyers were going through the selection, I realized I was a little reluctant to let the shirts in the coolest colors go; mostly because the next potential customers couldn’t see how cool they were. Mine, in, yes, the XXL, is on a sort of forest green, and, yeah, it’s fine, but in maroon…

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Whoa!

I am working on some seasonal, surf-related cards, and, with the knowledge I’m getting from actually producing and trying to market art and products (and throwing in that I enjoy the hell out of the whole process), I will be doing more shirts soon.

Here’s are the first shirts, a black and white version of one of two new designs for tags I’m working on, and an illustration that probably won’t make it to ORIGINAL ERWIN shirts.

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The tag is the one on the bottom. I’ll add the color version soon.

If it’s not chiaroscuro, maybe it’s…

…possible the illustration could be described by some other word that is, itself, defined as an image with an almost equal amount of black and white.

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I discovered this ‘equalness’* when I took the original drawing, the negative of this image, to a printer to be reversed. I didn’t have that version reduced, so I can’t show it here, but, probably because I just can’t leave space, black or white, bare; the amounts of toner necessary to print either version, according to the guy behind the counter, were pretty much the same.

*I wanted to use the word ‘equanimity’, but, when I looked it up, it referred to a state of calmness despite whatever existential craziness is going on.

You’re right; I didn’t have to use the word ‘existential.’

SO, this one probably won’t become a t-shirt. Like everything; art, writing, paint contracting, marketing of art and writing; I’m still working on it.

AND trying to maintain some level of equanimity-ness.

MEANWHILE… Evidently some t-shirts are being sold at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, located on SURF ROUTE 101, the main route to the ‘still wild’ Olympic Peninsula.

Original Erwin Illustrations

A few samples:

Surviving the 50th Anniversary of My 17th Birthday… and More

Swimming in to retrieve my board, so close to banging, again, against the sealife-encrusted rocks, I couldn’t help but think my fears of surfing this spot were being realized.

Not only did I lose my board on my first wave; but it was on my birthday.

Okay, really can’t say too much about the particular spot. It’s kind of a secret spot, accessible by winding roads, trails, a steep cliff, rocks; and then there’s the water; cold, bull kelp heads floating with the rising and falling of the inshore.

I did take a couple of photos of the spot. A friend, who was way out on the Olympic Peninsula, camping; and had agreed to meet me there, but, and this is not atypical; by the time I got close enough to take the photos, he was already dropping into wave after wave.

Okay, so, if I had fastened my leash before I paddled out (didn’t, because of the kelp), or had fastened it securely once I got out (they’re made to easily remove, rather awkward to put on underwater), or if I’d made the drop (the face dropped under me, I freefell) I wouldn’t have been swimming.

I’ll probably sneak the photo onto the site some time in the future.

Yeah, I did make some waves, and did wipe out a couple more times; but, with crazy indicator waves even farther out, with lines coming out of deep water; suddenly steep, scary steep; getting pitched, getting hit by the lip, getting a few quick barrels; hooting way too loud on my rides, or when watching my friend freefalling, blasting through sections… the session was, as memorable, magic ones often are, intense.

It was all pretty much over in an hour and a half or so. I had managed to save some energy for the paddle and climb and walk… and it was great. Thanks for sharing; it was my favorite birthday present.  Here’s my return present: I won’t say more about the spot. As surfer Tim Nolan, who will always be older than me, says, “If you tell people too much about surf spots, you take away their joy in discovering them.”

So, this session goes in the mental file with the time I got perfect peelers at a rare (tide/swell direction/magic factors) sand bar at Noluck, the time Crescent actually had lined-up rights (45 minutes and gone- shared with my friend Archie), a list of other outings including three hours at a Sunset Cliffs peak with Steven Penn, 1972, and… hey, go through your own list.

In surfing, I’ve long believed, we sort of pay for the gifts we receive. The thrashings, the wipeouts, the relentless impact zones, the cold (let’s throw in the crowds), the skunkings; and then… again, think about the gifts surfing has given you.

Just to calm down, and since it was my birthday and I had no strict schedule, I stopped off at a well know break on the Strait. No one was out. It was small. It was so easy.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest logo design for the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE:

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Prologue- Giving Up Sarcasm

I was trying to find an address in the North Beach area of Port Townsend, thought I’d recheck a shingle-sided house I had bleached and pressure-washed a few months back to get a better idea on what to propose for painting the trim.

There was a truck with a boat on a trailer and an SUV parked in front of the fence. WAIT, there’s a surfboard on the SUV; a flashy board (looking at it from the side- radically upswept nose, canted bonzer fins, two on each side, longer fin in the middle). Has to belong to a ripper. Radical. This was a couldn’t-pearl (even on a heavy pitcher), late-drop, free-fall, catch-and-climb, drive-and-swoop, pro-level unit.

NOW I had to find out who owned this board.

AND I DID. Ripper? Pro? Actually, no. In the question-and-answer, first-meeting-scenarios between (supposed, alleged, self-identified) surfers, where no one truly believes the other person is really a surfer (even if he or she fits perfectly into one’s image of one) unless he or she has personally witnessed him or her actually riding waves; I can tend to be a bit, um, aggressive.

And then throw in the sarcasm, sometimes-biting repartee I’ve learned and developed over many years; a trait (or skill) I’ve been trying to cut back on…and. when the owner of the board, the 40ish son of the owners of the house, said he wasn’t kidding (backed-up by his Mom) that he’d just started surfing, like, two weeks ago…

…and just when I was trying so hard to quit the sarcasm, to occasionally hold back on making the snarky observation, the possibly-rude assessment. “Two weeks, huh?  Well…”

OKAY, so here’s my latest drawing: Picture it on a t shirt.

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What? What do you mean by that?

 

Erwin On Dylan and Another Retrieved 80s Silkscreen

I have two more silkscreens from the latest batch of works I had scanned and reduced at The Printery in Port Townsend. Yeah, more from the stash of 1980s works stored in my attic; but my home scanner refuses to fully cooperate. Oh, it’ll do the first one, but then… failure after failure; lots of red Xes. Start over.

So, here’s a drawing of Dylan I never turned into a silkscreen, and a reduced version of a silkscreen that, you might notice, could have been more tightly presented if the above-mentioned scanner would have just… yes, I am aware it’s not squared. The drawing is. Really.

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CONFESSION: Part of the reason I never moved this drawing on to the silkscreen process, cutting background run images out of rubylith, is I was never quite totally pleased with it. So, this morning, on one of the 8 1/2 by 11 versions Liz provided me, I took out part of the top dark line. Bob needed to be freed-up to go beyond the borders.

I don’t seem to have the original of the second illustration. I did have a full-sized photo positive, but, unlike some of the others I had, a slight stain on part of it did not allow the image to be saved. But, I do have several of the original serigraphs, so… uncropped… it is:

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More to come, plus, maybe a surf story, maybe about how surfing in a crowd (I just had to go to Tacoma and Seattle- haven’t recovered, George Takamoto, who I picked up at the airport, might never recover- “You drive like a maniac!” “Yes, but you knew that.”) is most similar to driving in city/freeway conditions; one false move and the merciless road/wave hogs will cut you off, pass you by, fade you back into the pit.  Yeah, overwrought; like this; like George got when I texted on Hwy 16, spilled his just-purchased groceries in the back of the van on Hwy 3. Sorry, George.

Okay, I was once introduced to someone riding to the beach with Tugboat Bill with the line, “Erwin is merciless in the water.” No, not really; but, put me in traffic where I’m not sure of the lineup and the exits, and… see what I mean?

DURN, checking out the camera at La Push, got a shot of, I swear, Big Dave, cranking a Big Dave bottom turn; but, when I tried to copy it, durn, too late. It’s probably him paddling back out here.  Go, Dave!

Secret Spots on Surf Route 101 and another find

Because my old illustrations and silk screened pieces were on paper, albeit to big for the regular copiers at Port Townsend’s Printery (shout out), the alternative method of having to photograph and scan them (at around $50 a pop) was, um, circumvented by using the scanner/printer usually used for blueprints.

When Liz revealed she could scan color, send the image to a computer, then, yes, print… Yea!

These are two from my most recent attack. I have more. Yes, they’re from the 1980s, and, yes, as was pointed out to me, the bathing suit bottom gives this away.

Sorry, too late to update. Maybe board shirts and a t-shirt? I’ll work on that.

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Okay, the lines outside the illustration are from my scanner. No time to re-scan.

 

Look at this, read the previous post. Thanks

When I have the time to write, I probably write too much. Since I didn’t work on Sunday, aided by my typing skills, I went on and on; probably should have broken it into two (or three) pieces. Now, I know you don’t have a lot of time to read, BUT, if you do get a bit, check out my previous posting. Again; thanks.

I’m trying to ‘square up’ some of the copies I made from contact prints of drawings from the 1980s. Having a scanner that refuses to help doesn’t, um, help. I added the lettering on the drawings of the two women, only added a border on the “Over the Rainbow” illustration.

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Surf Session Highlights, Full Mooned, Updated Illustrations from the Last Century

In no particular order, I thought I’d give some highlights from some recent surf sessions. Bear in mind I have a certain obligation, not merely imagined, to never ever mention anything that comes close to confirming there are ever good waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

This isn’t difficult. The predominant swell condition is flat. This is undeniable. When waves do show up, the winds that blow into or out of the rather narrow passageway can, east or west, seriously scallop the faces. Rapid tidal shifts and the very angle of wave-to-coast can add to rip/drag conditions; and, since we all check out the same forecasts, and because semi-optimal conditions are sort of rare (rare-ish), and each of us has our own formula of size/angle/tide/period/wind, even the slight chance of waves over a foot high brings, yes, crowds; frustrated, desperate surfers of all ages and abilities ready to head out into…

…waves surfers on most coasts would pass on, or wait out, hoping for something a bit cleaner, bigger, better.  There have been major skunkings; lines of Westfalias, camper-laden trucks, SUVs with tiny boards stuffed inside, RVs, work rigs, Mad Max vehicles with stacks of various-sized equipment; families, church groups, surfers on dates, power couples, buddy-groups of four or five; beginners and rippers, lone wolf dudes in guaranteed cool surf wear; all cooking up breakfast on little burners, or chatting with someone they know from the Udub, or looking for a (better) place to park; all asking about other spots, all looking out at the water; too many people bobbing around and too few waves. Or none. Or sub-epic.

There is no guaranteed formula. Really. If there was… shit, it’d be worse.

STILL, stories persist of persistent surfers waiting, waiting, and scoring; OR, better, getting somewhere just before it goes off. WHAT? Where? When?

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HEART ATTACK: If I suffer one, it’ll be when I do see what passes for great surf in these parts. I have, in the fairly recent past, in my haste to partake, left my shirts (we layer ’round here) on the hood of my car (and/or a window or door open) in a downpour (forcing me to shop on the way home wearing a pervy barn coat), yelled out exclamations that would make an Australian blush (sorry kids, sorry Mrs. Nolan, sorry church groups) and, partially because I am notoriously slow getting into my wetsuit (doubles as stretching/warmup), urinated way before I reached the water.

And, even when I tell myself (and others in the water) that I’m going to “be casual,” I rarely am.

BAD ASSES AND SURF ASSESSMENT: We all have stories of past glories. I quit telling some of mine because, yeah, if I surfed (un or less crowded) Swamis in the 60s, Trestles (parking at Lowers) in the 70s, big days at Windansea and Sunset Cliffs, shouldn’t I surf, um, uh, better?

Doesn’t seem to matter. It might just be, in each of our minds, with one or more asterisks next to our mental wikipedia page,  we rip. This is fine. That is, I won’t call you out if you don’t call me out.

Recently, trying to time my arrival after the overnight-and-hanging west wind died down, I got to a not-secret spot with the tide way too low, waves at the indicators, the wind still howling, and twelve surfers in the lineup. Picture a line of black marker buoys, like those for crab pots, left to right. Because I know some of the folks hanging out or waiting around, I took my time, chatted it up. By the time I paddled out there were nine surfers, then seven. When I moved over from the rights, I was the only one out.  I found a few good ones in the mix, did a lot of paddling, got out of the water. So, no one was surfing.

There was a group of about five surfers hanging out kind of close to my car as I limped up the beach. “Everyone’s a badass on the beach,” I said. “How come you badasses aren’t out there?” “Good on you,” one of them said, “you got some waves.” “Uh huh.” “We were waiting for one more badass.”

NOTE: This didn’t actually translate into them wanting to hang with me, artifact from a century these dudes barely remember.

I took a break, talked to some other surfers I know, met Jeff’s son. And, though there were many coolly-decked-out surfers on the beach, no one was out. Because, partially, I had to pee and didn’t want to take off my wetsuit (okay, mostly because I couldn’t get my wetsuit off without peeing) and I wanted a few more waves, I went back out. I surfed alone for about twenty minutes. The wind had calmed down. It was better.

Then Jeff came out, and his son. Then, suddenly, it seemed, there were, again, twelve (different) surfers in the lineup. Then the wind came back up. One more ride to the fence. And another last ride. Limp up the beach. I had a little discussion with Darrin and Melissa on how good it got the last time I saw him at this spot, AFTER I left; about the time Adam Wipeout and Chimacum Cam (as opposed to Timacum Chimacum) showed up.   I hit the road for Costco and home. I passed at least four surf rigs on the way; more surfers hoping to be there when it got good. The wind, as far as I know, kept blowing as the swell dropped.

STILL, I don’t know what happened the next day. Might’ve been epic. Someone will have a story. UPDATE- Yeah, better, allegedly.

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TUGBOAT BILL: I’ve run into him often through the years. He introduces me to others as someone who is “Absolutely ruthless in the water.” “No, no,” I insist, checking out the stranger. Most recently he had Mr. Smythe (sp?) with him, and asked if I knew what surfer would be pulling onto 104 from Center Road in a gray pickup. I didn’t know. It turns out the very pickup was in the parking area. “Let’s go see who the hell he is,” I said. It turns out he’s a fisherman, formerly from Maine (as I remember) wondered how he could keep from getting skunked coming to the Strait. “Can’t help you, kid,” Bill said. “Do you check the buoys?” “Buoys?” “Hmm. Can’t help you, kid.” All I said is, “Buoys.”

CONCRETE PETE: Another old guy, though not as old as me. On the day from the previous story, after the three surfers who dawn-patrolled got out of the water in, pretty-much, defeat (including Bruce, the ‘Mayor of Hobuck’, according to Adam Wipeout, some guy White Reggie identified as the owner of several pot shops in P.A., and some guy Reggie said was known to be confrontational in the water) I ended up (because I hate getting skunked) surfing alone on some one footers.

Thinking this was it, and because it didn’t seem to be raining, I got out, got dressed, was ready to go to work. Then the waves got a bit bigger. I put on my other wetsuit (Yes, I do own two- so worth it), went back out. Again, people who were waiting (including Tugboat Bill and Mr. Smythe and the fisherman) also went into the water. Double session.

When I was getting out, I saw a truck backed up to the berm, some guy, struggling to get into his wetsuit, yelling at me. By name. Unable to determine who it was in the glare, I decided I should approach. It was Concrete Pete, and, perhaps thinking it was 1964 and he was Miki Dora, he shot me a B.A. All in good fun. “And that’s my best side,” he said as I turned away. NOTE: Bare ass; variously described as mooning. Full mooning.

“Did you see anything you didn’t want to see?” Trish asked when I told her the story. “I didn’t want to see any of it.”

TOM BURNS: Tom is very close to my age, a lifelong surfer, and he’s on my short list of people to call to discuss the latest session and/or skunking. The last time I called he was on I-5, en route to Dana Point, hoping to score some pre-dawn sessions down that way. If you think I’m a name dropper, you should talk to Tom.  if you think I have stories… again, Tom. If you do, he’ll probably remember your name.

THIS is way too long. I want to write about how someone accused me of being a ‘surf whore.’ No, I’m not sure what it means, either. I do admit to being a ‘paint-whore,’ and, if this means I’ve somehow sold out, no, sorry; haven’t had any real offers. If it means I’m selling out local spots; no; not really. Oh, except Westport. Go there. Go there now.

I ALSO want to write about surf thieves. Someone broke into Stephen Davis’s storage unit, stole his tools, his kite surfing equipment. AND, evidently, someone had a board stolen while (from what I’ve heard) parked on one of those side roads leading to a remote surf spot. LATER on that subject, but, if there is any Surfer’s Code, it definitely doesn’t include stealing. The occasional mooning? Up for debate.

I’m adding to some of the drawings from the 1980s I recently found in my attic. More coming. Yeah, kind of like waves.