Don’t Challenge the Locals, unless…

…I was just about to leave, anyway; after my third trip onto the rocks (boulders, really); but I figured I’d paddle a little farther up the point, just to see… what?

That was my mistake. It’s clear now; but it wasn’t at the moment the white-haired guy started yelling at me. Yes, he had been silent when I was surfing the next peak down, though he had given me the stink eye when I sort of approached the main peak, a glare in response to my nod (and a nod, unreturned… ooh, that does say something).

But this time, I had paddled past him, farther up the point, taken the ‘inside’ position. This was, at any break, and particularly at a notoriously localized Oregon break, criminal. And I was on an SUP. True, bad knees, a bad ankle, and way too much weight (confirmed by photos my sister Melissa took) tends to keep me from standing on any but the longest waves) and these barrels all ended up on those boulders.  Stay too long over the boils, or get caught inside, it’s, well, difficult; but (this guy, probably my age, was on a short board- and I never really saw him make a wave- irrelevant, I know, but…) I was on a big board, pushing to the head of the pack (three other surfers, pack-wise), the point of the spear. It was like I, the non-local, was making a statement. He had to say something.

“Why don’t you… those things… one of our guys had to be airlifted outahere…geez… why don’t you go over to…” he nodded (unfriendly kind of directional nod), toward the miles of mushy and/or closeout beachbreak to our north… “those things don’t belong…”

“Yes, they can be dangerous,” I said, and paddled north, catching one more barrelling rock-roller, careful to pull out the back over the outside boils.

I had some time to think about the little confrontation, that, obviously, the local won, on the long paddle back, (catching another couple of mushburgers in the kook/non-local/SUP-allowed area. “One of our guys.” This wasn’t me. Only a little ironically, I had a discussion earlier with a guy in the parking lot on how locals “get all butt-hurt” when someone they don’t know makes the trek or paddle over to this semi-sacred spot.

Butt-hurt.

Another surfer, over at the showers, said a sponsored shortboarder he knows had to walk past the fire on the beach, in someone’s yard, where the locals sometimes hang, got heckled; then ripped it up enough that he was ‘nearly embraced’ on his way back past the same fire. The next guy in line for the shower (and I gave way) actually was the guy who was hit by some SUP A-hole’s board, suffered a concussion, and had to be airlifted out. Was that a lot ironic, or merely a lot coincidental?

He was nice, 68 years old, thin, formerly of the Sunset Cliffs area of Ocean Beach, San Diego. “Luscombs; that’s where I cut my teeth.” “Yeah, I’ve surfed it; mostly when I lived in PB.” He knows the guy who asked me to leave. “Yeah, well; give him my best,” I said.

I immediately went back to thinking about the confrontation. “I’ve never run over anyone,” I had said to the SUP victim, not forgetting (but not mentioning) that I had once run into Archie’s board. And I told him about my worst-ever, non-self-inflicted injury, a full-body hit by a guy on a regular longboard. Still, he had to mention how SUP’ers can catch more waves, overwhelm a lineup. No, that hadn’t been me. Not that day, anyway. I did wait my turn; I did sit ‘down-wave’ from the main peak.

Melissa told me that no one owns the ocean, and I shouldn’t help carry someone else’s garbage; and, when I didn’t, she said “just get over it.” I’ve had more time to think about it. Maybe a couple of those locals might show up to a beach I frequent some time. Thinking, still thinking. I’m back home on Surf Route 101 now, another spot on my list of places surfed (next to Luscombs, maybe); but I am going down to do some work on my Dad’s house soon.

Thinking, just thinking. Oh, and now I’m wondering if the victim, who hadn’t been out at the sacred spot on this day (though he said he reached his quota- 15) was hit over in the main break. I mean, wouldn’t that kind of suggest it wasn’t the board, it was the paddle-past?

 

New Illustration for the (Upcoming) Coloring Book

If you draw on it long enough, keep adding to it, it eventually becomes gray.

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This is the third version. Partway through the first version I decided to add the beams of light. Too late, too sketch-like. Partway through the second version I decided… well, there were things I liked about each of those, and my evaluator, Trish, liked the first one best. But, partially because I’m working on putting together a ‘real surfers’ coloring book, I went with something, probably a bit more, um, draftsman-like. Nah; can’t quite master that. I have this, and, when I tried to make a copy, this weird tire-tread-like line went down the right side, so, not risking the original, I may not actually color this. Yet.

Really on the coloring book. I’m just trying to figure out how I can do it at a reasonable price, and, of course, how the hell I’ll try to market it.

Border-Line and Colorized Version

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Here’s the colored version of what I imagined as a more typical surf illustration than I usually do.

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I originally planned this as a border, with the woman probably less defined, kind of out of focus, and more linear so I could put a more focused wave, with someone on it, in the background.  I’m saving this in steps so I can have some options. I’ve already done more to the original; some swoops in the clouds, something coming from the horizon.We’ll see.

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What Are You Looking At? Some Color Added

I’m not sure how to get the colors, which are certainly bright and vivid enough on the drawings, transferred to the screen with the same intensity. I did probably over-color this drawing, and yet… by comparison, it still seems a bit washed-out.

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Now, if I tilt the screen backwards… oh, too much. I recently took a batch of drawings to The Printery in Port Townsend (shout out because I have the most annoying requests, cause them to spend a lot of time, and pay very little for the service- and I appreciate it), getting them reduced and centered. I’m hoping to frame up some of them, maybe see if I can, well, sell a few.

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Dru Harrison, Waddell Creek, Color

Too much? Hey, it’s from the late 60s, ma-an.

Image (41)Actually, the color version is so much brighter on paper. Wait, I just tipped the screen a bit. Yeah, there it is.  Rich Wilken took the photo this was taken from. By ‘taken,’ I mean, look at the photo, draw. Just looking at the photo in “The Perfect Day,” the fortieth year anthology from “Surfer” magazine, the smoothness of the black and white version is a tough thing to duplicate.

Smoothness is the essence of style. That ability to ignore the critical, not think of the negative consequences; back against the wall; pressure on the back foot, eye on the lip twenty yards down; project; that would be stylish.

I remember Dru Harrison from surfing magazines; and, because I’m posting this, I just did a little mini-search. He was born a year before I was, surfed his ass off, died in 2003. I do remember reading something about it when he passed. Alcohol-related. Shame. Not the only surfer gone early, missing out on sliding a few more glassy walls.

Okay, I’m off the subject now, thinking about when the next swell window opens. Well, not quite. I’ve been thinking that life is a marathon/relay race; we are handed a certain set of circumstances, we get moving; some slip and are trampled; others pass on a different set of circumstances to our children and those we come in contact with; and we just keep going. Yeah, I’m working on the analogy. And, bad knees and all, moving, looking forward more than back. Twenty yards down the line…

Surf Noir, Illustration for “No One That Mattered”

Trish came into the room yesterday, looked at the early stages of this drawing, asked, “A gun? What’s that for?” “A story.” “Where’d you even find that…um…” It was as if I’d been checking out porno. “What kind of story would…” “I googled ‘man with a gun in his waistband’ and, well…”

To be honest, there were some images of guys with what might be called ‘holster’ underwear, and other people with gun tattoos, including at least one shot of a woman with what my daughter Dru would call a ‘tramp stamp,’ this one of crossed pistols, on the small of her back.

Okay, now you’re opening a new tab.

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I’ll add the drawing to the next post down; the story it was drawn for. I still haven’t purchased ink for my printer, but I will get the backlog of drawings copied so I can do some color versions. Writers are always (because we have to), begging people to read our stuff) read the story if you get a chance. I’m not ordinarily a surf noir writer, and, like the (mostly fictional) narrator, don’t have a lot of first hand experience with the seamier (but real) side of surfing, but I do have some second hand knowledge.

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Story to Follow

The almost-true, partially-true Surf Route 101 short story is only partially written, but, with a few moments to screw around before I have to go to work, I did some searching for a photo that might work as a temporary illustration.

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If I can share the thought process: Thanks. The story is about a woman who shows up at Windansea as the tide comes in, possibly twice a day. She never saw a body and refuses to believe her man would drown. I initially looked up ‘habeas corpus,’ thinking it means, “show us the body.” Close. It means “You (should) have the body.” The definition varies.

I decided, when I couldn’t find the Latin for “I should have the body,” that Spanish might make more sense. Windansea seemed like a likely location, partially based on Bob Simmons famously having drowned near there (and this thought may have been pushed further forward in my mind because I was just talking about a Port Townsend surfer also named Bob Simmons).  I believe his body was found, but the body of Dickie Cross, from the famous 1943 Wiamea Bay story, never was washed ashore.

And I have some history at Windansea. Almost ancient history now. 1970s. And I have some history in getting into situations in surf where I told myself I wouldn’t drown. No; not me. Never. So I wrote some phrases for the woman, in English, google translated them into Spanish; started writing.

Forty-some-odd years later; have to wonder if the woman still shows up. Oh, yeah; it’s mostly fiction; but still, it has to be real in my mind. Working on it. I took a few too many minutes.

Drawing off the bottom Drawing

Yeah, I know I just posted a drawing yesterday, but, somehow, too much time on my hands, maybe, not wanting to watch any football after the Seahawks were eliminated (the team who should have, and could have beaten All World Cam and the Campthers, and, at least, did [almost] come back, and didn’t get humiliated- sorry Arizona], I kept working on this drawing. And I like it.

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I don’t always love everything I do, and I’m always worried that I’ll screw the whole thing up by adding color; but I do like this one.

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I do wish I could figure out a way to sell some of these images. I’ve been building quite a portfolio. Any Ideas?

Illustration for “You’re a writer, too… Right?”

It’s fiction. I wrote the piece first. I added the illustrations to the short story (next post down), and because I just can’t not edit, change, clarify, hopefully improve whatever I write (or draw, but can’t once the drawings have been scanned), I made a few changes.

Image (28)Partway through the drawing I decided to add the coffee. I totally lost control after that.

 

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You’re a Writer too; Right?

 

“Not professionally, not really. Not like you.”
“No,” he said, “what I am is under-fucking-employed.”
It was the wrong day; the swell at the wrong angle, size, and period; the wind and tide not optimal, the forecast slightly north of dismal; and it was rain just-warmer than snow. And it was dark. But, we both were available. We could go. We were going. He threw off the straps, loaded his (probably too short) short board on top of my (probably too big) board, threw the wet straps back at me. That I flinched amused him. I smiled as if I was also amused. And we were off.
“What I need,” he said, along the stretch that seems the most like freeway, more vehicles coming down the onramps, headed for work, “is a sponsor. All the great artists had…” His words faded off as he had to help me pour some coffee from my work thermos into my cup. “I envy those assholes who can just… write. Like it’s easy. Oh, they… I’ve seen these types; going to workshops, hanging out; so, so…But…” He removed the plastic lid and poured some coffee into his cup from some espresso stand he hit last night, “Maybe all real artists were, are, just as desperate as… how’s your work going?”
Maybe I mumbled. Maybe it mattered. Probably not. My work isn’t creative; at least he doesn’t think so. He interrupted whatever it was I tried to say.
“My work;” he said, tipping his coffee toward me like a toast, “it’s like… I mean I don’t have children… you do; it’s like my babies. I send something off and I worry, ‘is it allright? Did I say too much? Too descriptive? Not enough… enough…’ You get it, right?”
“Sure.” Sure.
“And it all… whether it goes somewhere, dies, all depends on some intern who probably doesn’t know shit, or give a shit, or even know something decent from some sort of, um, pedestrian, trite, tripe. Crap.” I just nodded. “You send any of your stuff off?”
“Not in a while. I send some to you.”
“Well. You know…” he exhaled as if he was already exasperated.”If you don’t… geez; is it all so precious?”
No. Not precious. “I’d say ‘high end mediocre.’ High end.”
“Well; dumb it down, dork. Readers want simple.”
“Yeah; but simple’s so, so hard.”
“Tell me about it. No, don’t; might be too complex and, you know, internal and shit.”

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We disagreed on which route would get us through the traffic lights and school zones. I was driving. We went by my route, got stuck behind a bus for a block before I made a cut to a back road.
“It was breaking yesterday,” I said as we turned onto the coast road.
“Who said so?”
“I heard.”
“It’s just, some people exaggerate. If I trust their word… different story.”

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Though we couldn’t see the break from the muddy-rutted logging road, we had already seen there were signs of swell. “Might as well make the hike with the board,” he said as I threw the straps toward him. “Of course, easier to walk with my appropriately-sized board than…” He just pointed. I just smiled, tried to make my board seem lighter than it is, grabbed my backpack, locked the doors. We could hear the rhythm of distant waves while still walking on fairly level ground, a narrow path between trees, ferns and bushes, everything wet, and no fresh tracks.
“You know that story you emailed me?” It had been a while since I’d sent him anything. He was way too slow to reply; and never with anything close to praise. He paused as we negotiated a downed tree in the path, “The one about the, you know… all surfing stories are pretty much alike… huh?” He followed me down the bank, my board sliding as much as being carried. “I don’t want to get hit when you lose your big-ass board. In the water, either.”
I looked around, up. “Which story?”
“I’ll tell you later. Hey, is that a… whooo… wave?”
I won’t bore you with the session report. You might not trust my word. We didn’t talk about writing on the way home; nothing about precious words, nothing about other people deciding whether your words have value, nothing about how all surfing stories are, pretty much, alike.