The Mythical Combination Swell

I was not alone in getting skunked on a recent Saturday. In fact, it was like a skunk fest. I hung out in a parking area while some surfers left, others came, others continued to hang out. Hanging out. More hanging out. Even more hanging out. Was I the victim of bad judgment, poor reading of the tea leaves, mismanagement of my relatively few opportunities to devote way too much of a day to something like hanging out, did I believe in the possibility that a ‘combo swell’ might bring waves to my chosen destination despite a history of being let down by the more-theory-than-evidence-based fact of a combo swell? YES.

This possibly secret spot is actually in New Zealand. Note the lack of booties, gloves, hoods. Wow, must be warm water.

And it’s not like I don’t know how to hang out, northwest style; acting all cool and all; it’s just that I tend to run out of coolness after a few minutes of hanging out.

Yes, I greeted some of the surfers I know from past skunkings, figured out Ian might just be the longboarder who actually goes for outside waves, asked his girlfriend, Veronica, if I ever burned her in the water. No (according to her). I asked Cole if he owns property up the hill, (info I got, via cell phone call, from another surfer who may have scored earlier in the week). No, but a friend of his does; the house I had heard of evidently really more like a carport or one of those mountain shelters for hikers. I listened to a story by a non-surfer, Mo, about a couple of incidents in Port Angeles in which cops were called. Mo couldn’t believe I had only been in one fistfight in my life. “Wanna try, Mo?” No. Before Reggie, who had been there four hours already, left, I met Reggie’s friend, Brickie, who I had, evidently, met before (but in the water, so it doesn’t count). I accepted a raw oyster from Nam. I told Sara she never needed to apologize to me for any incidents in the water (which seemed to lead others to believe they also might not have to apologize for burnings, drop-ins, in-the-ways. No, I didn’t mean them. It was one incident). I strolled through the parking area. Lots of city escapees, three red four-wheel-drive VWs with various numbers of bikes on racks. Still no waves. Then I took a nap, sitting up, in my car. Twenty minutes or so. I woke up, still no waves. I had to get on with real life.

I texted one of my surfing friends on my way back home. “Fuck a bunch of combo swell” Smile emoji.

“I’ll make up for this next time,” I told myself at the third to last stoplight in Port Angeles. Next time. And I will; or I did; can’t talk about it.

Durn. I wanted to talk about secret spots, and now I have to get going. Next time.

From BOB DAVIS: Subj.- Surf Colonization

I got a comment from Bob DAVIS; it showed up in my e-mail, with a request to moderate, as in Approve, Disapprove, send to junkmail, or hell, or to just send it to trash.

I hit ‘approve.’ BOB’S comment is somewhere on realsurfers.net. It may show up under comments on my “About” dealie, originally written in 2013 when I started realsurfers, MOSTLY to tell parts of the same story that I was trying to tell in a screenplay, “Afternoon Glass-Off” (probably could have dropped the ‘off’ part), aka “Inside Break.” The story is from pretty much the same time and place in which “Swamis” is set; late sixties, Southern California.

I highlighted ‘mostly,’ above, because, after 24 years in the Great Pacific Northwest, I was, at that time part way through another chapter in my surfing life, here. NOW, in the beginning, I didn’t realize the danger in romanticizing the Northwest surfing scene, and, in particular the surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I did name some surf locations, early on, did SUGGEST there might be waves… rarely. If surfing has blown up in Washington State, and folks continue to search out and be disappointed at known surf spots, it really can’t be blamed on my esoteric, no where near viral little blog.

BUT, if realsurfers is important enough for BOB DAVIS to write a comment, here, BOB, is your moment:

Hi, Please take down your posts about the surfing in the pacific northwest, purely out of respect for people who live here. We only get to surf good waves a few times a year, so if we have to deal with people coming up from California or elsewhere to get our waves that we only get a few times a year. first off, it makes no sense that they would want to come on a surf trip to a colder place, but also it is a fickle place and risk that chance of wasting their plane ticket doesn’t make sense to me. Why go to surf someone’s home that only breaks a few times a year when you could go to other more consistent surf breaks and not ruin someone’s life? This is just not okay from a moral standpoint. Please consider peoples’ lives and stop colonizing places.

This is not the Pacific Northwest. It is, apparently, already colonized.

HERE, BOB DAVIS is your answer: NO.

OH, and BOB, thanks for checking out realsurfers.net. If you happen to see me on one of the few times a year you get a few decent (and, wait, you did kind of admit there are rideable waves hereabouts) waves (and I am kind of recognizable- old guy, fucked up knees), say “Hi.”

Big Island ‘Haole Local’ finds Surf Redemption

Now that Stephen R. Davis is kind of settling into Big Island life, and has made progress toward, possibly, becoming what he referred to another surfer over there, a “Haole Local,” I speak with him less regularly than when he was over here on the crookedy corner of the contiguous states. I mean, like, really, what do I have to say, surfwise? King tides and southwest swells and skunkings and underwater gravel migration that cuts a wave-killing channel through my favorite reef? Mean-muggers and packs of high-fiving white guys on SUPs who, obviously, got their training chasing ferry boats? How the number of new surfers add to the Olympic Peninsula demographic of most frustrated surfers per hundred thousand?

Yeah, the usual stuff, plus, since it’s this time of year where every surf trip starts AND ends in the dark, and the political shenanigans continue, unabated, as does the virus, and the unavoidably (except by Congress) obvious toll the pandemic has taken on regular folks (for example- several Port Angeles restaurants in business the 42 years I’ve been here have for sale signs in front of them) continues to rise; and, oh yeah; it’s Christmas time, which, if I had my choice, would take place in August when I actually have some money for presents (my kids don’t call me the Christmas Dick because I seem particularly jolly)… so, again, just the usual stuff is going on in my life, making it extra pleasant to get a call from Stephen R. Davis.

Steve called me to say he’d gotten redemption at a sketchy break that features a dry-reef-takeoff, a couple of cruisy sections, and an opportunity to get barreled or pummeled. We did talk after an earlier session in which one of the non-Haole locals said something that Steve understood, but, with him using the pidgin pronunciation, left me with no clue as to what he was talking about, even when I made him repeat it. But, placing it in context, because, when he looked around, all the other surfers were heading for shore, I’m guessing the phrase probably meant something like, “The tide’s too low, Haole.”

Now I imagine Steve nodding, as if he understood the implications, but staying out for an uncontested wave of two.

As I said, this time, with some water on the reef, Steve, who says, with the opportunity to surf consistently, he is surfing better than he ever has, and he was already a very good surfer; this time… redemption.

WAIT! I was just watching some pipeline footage and suddenly reef that Steve said he was doing the outfit with the two hands in the wave face, meaning one hand behind him. “Wait,” I exclaimed ( or asked, perhaps- less dramatic), “you mean like Clay Matzo at Honolua Bay?” “Yes. ” “So, you Marzoed?” ” Guess so. ” “Okay.”

Steve sent me a few photos. This one is a little beefcake-ish and buttcrack-ey, and he says it isn’t him, though he claims he can’t remember the name of the guy and, although I just don’t know of that many people who have that much fucking hair (and I have seen some Stephen Davis wannabes).

Merry Christmas from Stephen R. Davis or Stephen R. Davis doppelganger

It’s a bit interesting to me that I’m working on this while considering how much weight a 4/3 full wetsuit adds to a surfer, that with a one mil vest (with hood) and booties, all of which take in and hold a certain amount of saltwater and/or urine (no, not the hood, urine-wise); and that I have two baggies of assorted chocolates on a side table, and a selection of seasonal cookies easily available; and that working on finishing my novel “Swamis,” (self promotion here) and whatever else I’m doing from a chair that can recline if I’m too tired to sit upright is not exactly like burning calories.

I did mention the Christmas Dick thing.

Anyway, and not just because I have some free (as in no one is paying me for it) time, I will, soon, post some photos my friend and contemporary Tom Burns sent me illustrating a trip some of his friends took to the channel at Mavericks on that recent day, best in years, you are probably already familiar with. But, just because my sister Suellen sent me this, I may as well include a shot of our dad, Suellen, me, and my next sister down, Mary Jane, en route from Surf City, North Carolina to San Diego, December 1953.

“I see the big crack, yeah; but when do we get in the water?”

Merry Christmas; try not to be a (not a sexist comment- I’m talking behaviorally) dick; in or out of the water; and, for godsake, Steve or non-Steve, tighten up those boardshorts!

Surf Interest/obsession/addiction…

“It’s a real thing. Surf addiction.” That’s a quote. Not from me, but from someone else accused of, and I would say guilty of, having the same addiction I’ve been accused of having, by Trish, for the fifty-two years, approximately, that we’ve been together. Oh, but I had the addiction before I met her.

Okay, I’m still at the stage where I am thinking about how to write this; which means, really, how to organize all the bits and pieces bouncing around; get all the stories and theories and ideas to flow, to break evenly, A-frame peak to shore. Yeah, I’m considering the dilemma and the choices facing those of us who have an obsession with a recreational activity/sport/lifestyle/addiction that is, on its face, kind of arbitrary and self-centered and possibly ridiculous and obviously unnecessary and… oh, you disagree? Sorry; that’s how surfing appears to someone who doesn’t realize the way one good ride on one good wave hooks even the goofiest kook, gives him or her (increasingly her) the desire to get an even better ride on an even better wave.

See the source image
“Did you see it? It was awesome! Man, I’m never gonna quit this surfboard sliding thing! Cowabinga!”

GOLF, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, BOWLING, chess, gardening, baking, a million other activities someone somewhere is addicted to are, to be clear, equally unnecessary in someone’s image of a real world.

I’m sure you’ve also considered that surfing takes place in one of thousands of alternate universes, or even, individual universes, each one bumping into or taking off in front of someone else’s universe. Whoa; all that thinking’s TOO DEEP for me;

SO, let’s consider this PART ONE, in which I admit, or explain, or confess, as that might be closer to the truth, as I have to multiple surfers and, particularly, to non-surfers; that, in my relationship with Trish, love of my life, surfing has always been the other woman. NOT, I should add, a secret other woman; Trish knows her very well; and has her own, not to get all gender-y here, or get confusing by spending some time on the times Trish and I were in the water together (though I am thinking of one particular afternoon we were both caught outside on surf mats in some serious conditions); connection with and love for the ocean. And that connection predates… me.

THERE is a lot that goes with the easy phrasing, the other woman and our long-term affair with a true if not, obviously, faithful (fickle, angry, playful, stubbornly calm) force of nature. The ocean doesn’t love us back. Sorry. Okay; maybe sometimes; but the ocean is always beckoning; the rhythm too close to the beating of our hearts. MAYBE that’s too dramatic.

THE LATEST DRAMA in which the subject came up involved a friend (I’ll see if he’s cool with me dropping his name here) whose girlfriend (and the participants aren’t high school age, but the ‘would you rather go surfing or stay with me?’ thing is, no doubt, involved) broke up with him, again, after her latest attempt at an intervention apparently failed. The ultimatum, if there was one (dangerous, those ultimatums) failed because, as he quoted her, “You’re on your phone all day; and it’s not like ‘normal’ stuff, Instagram, Twitter, porn (she may not have said ‘porn,’ but it adds something); no, you’re looking at buoy reports and surf forecasts and webcams (surf spot webcams, to be clear).” Yes, that is true, but sometimes he’s also surfing, or more likely, hanging out waiting for waves, searching for waves.

HE was telling me about the breakup when another surfing friend called me back, no doubt to see what I knew about any possible wave activity. SPEAKER PHONE. “No, surf addiction, that’s a real thing.” There’s the quote. Now I have to check with him, a surfer as addicted as any I’ve known, to see if he’s ok with his name being sailed on the cosmic winds. I’m guessing he isn’t. ANYWAY, he disclosed that he has had some serious discussions with his wife, and he, as we all do, offers to cut back on scheduling his life around time and tides and buoy readings.

“Have you ever considered going and not telling her?” That was my question. I have never done that. Honest. No, I’m actually not lying. “Yeah; did that once. She asked me how come I had seaweed in my hair.”

THE FIRST STEP, evidently, in quitting any addiction, is wanting to quit. “So,” name redacted (at least temporarily), “Do you want to quit surfing?” Head shake. “What did he say?” “No, he doesn’t want to quit surfing?” “What about… hey, that’s a pretty serious step. He could just cut back.”

Cutback. Bottom turn. Climb back into the pocket…

The next day, having missed what another surf junkie described, me getting this second hand, third hand, maybe, as ‘the best he’s seen it in quite some time;’ the non-recovering surf addict did, indeed, head toward the shoreline, searching for whatever it is we search for; constantly, relentlessly, with a certain disdain for the things we must do (work, for example) in order to answer that siren’s distracting but clear call.

IN PART TWO… I have no idea; I’m thinking about it.

This from a guy who surfs on his knees

I was on my way back home, south on Surf Route 101, and, as is part of most of my surf expeditions into the cell-free zone (not free if you pay roaming/Canada fees), I had lists of things to get in the Vortex that is Sequim.  So, checking out at Costco, I notice the checker, on the other side of plexiglass, has a black facemask with images and writing.

Oh.  I was, of course, curious.  “I, um, can’t read everything on your, uh…”

He pulled the mask taut, and, though I can now read it, he tells me what it says.  “Stand for the flag, kneel for God.”

“Oh.  Okay.  That’s, um, a little political, isn’t it?”

“A little, maybe, but that’s what I believe.”

“Sure.”  Pause while I sign the check.  “Um, uh, what about if someone’s, say, on his knees, but he’s doing this?”  I make the sign of the cross, punctuated, as I often do, with a throwing out of the right hand as a sort of shout out to God.  I know what it means; an acknowledgement that I have serious faults.  I kind of figure God also gets it.  God, after all.

“Oh,” the checker said.  That’s it.  He’d already told the girl who asked if I wanted any boxes that he was going on break in eight minutes.  My receipt was on the cart and I was shuffling toward the exit.

It took a while before I thought, if he was, and I’m pretty sure he was, referring to football players kneeling during the national anthem, a gesture referencing the social injustice that can be denied but not, evidently, corrected; I could have mentioned that I have observed, when a football player is seriously injured, injured enough that the game has to be stopped, other players, from both teams, gather around the medical team and the injured player, and take a knee.

Are they insulting the flag?

How would I know?  I was busy thinking about how many waves I caught, how many hodads and kooks and rippers were around, what other spots might have been breaking; almost forgetting that, though I’m certainly not above praying for surf on the way out, I am a bit lax in thanking God for a beautiful day and a few fun rides.  Yeah, that’s from me, kneeboarding; not out of any disrespect.

 

June Submission- Greenness

My submission was late for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter. It’s now June 12 and I never got one over the electronic network. Because I post these pieces here, usually, I probably should apologize for it taking this long. There is some surf news to report; I did just recently surf with Nick, nicknamed, probably only by me (and because I got it from him) God.

He took off in front of me; twice; but said I deserved it. I will explain next time. Meanwhile, and partially to help the financially struggling United States Post Office, which, out here in the boonies, I particularly appreciate; I am considering preparing and sending a number of postcards to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20500. No manifestos, just brief notes, like, um, maybe, “Which voices are you listening to right now?”

First Amendment, folks. Still, because of the omni-demic and all, I am considering wearing gloves in the process. That I am also considering sending them anonymously and from a different zip code; well, the farther-out folks on both ends of the conservative/liberal spectrum do agree that, as Americans, we always have to worry about our rights, alienable and otherwise.

Again, only positive messages. Like, uh, “Considering building a bunker: any ideas?” “Juneteenth? Really?”

Surf Route 101; somewhere in Washington State

                        OBVIOUSLY READY TO FROLIC

It’s Saturday, May 30, 2020, and, here in Quilcene, Washington, Spring’s last push toward the eminent arrival of Summer, is, other than the bright yellow blooms on the non-indigenous Scotch Broom, the changing of the landscape from grays and browns and more grays, to green. 

Maybe it just seems like it was a massive invasion, a sudden and overwhelming onslaught of green.

Everything is green.  The north side of the car you parked because you really had nowhere to go.  Green.  That patch of dirt where you had the car parked.  Green.  And all the trees, shrubs, hayfields; green and growing, unchecked, undeterred by the intermittent dry days, pushed forward by the rainy days, greens in shades from almost yellow to almost blue. 

Greenness, everywhere, and so crazily active you can see grass grow, leaves spread, plants crawling out of their pots before you can get them in the ground.  Blackberry vines are winding their way through your flowerbeds, dandelions outgrowing your lawn, thistles and nettles competing for the chance to sting you, you out in your Summer clothes… Ow!

Okay, I could have gotten all lyrical here, but the truth is, I’m a day past the deadline and I’m racked with guilt.  Racked?  Is that a word derived from THE Rack, medieval torture devise?  Maybe.  I won’t Google it.  YES, if you are receiving this a day later than you anticipated, it is my fault.

I won’t make excuses.  I hate excuses.  The guiltiest people have the best excuses.

So, here’s mine: I went surfing.  Friday.  Dawn.  Yeah.  Could have been writing.  The first two vehicles I passed while heading north on Surf Route 101 very close to Lake Leland, were towing boats.  No, not those big boats that loom over the truck hauling them.  Those boats are headed to or from ocean waters.  The next car had one of those very plastic kayaks on top of it.  Again, it was a Friday, and I don’t know what these folks, were supposed to be doing, but they were obviously ready to frolic.

Obviously.  Not me.  I was going stealth.  I had my board hidden inside my work van, with six ladders on the roof.  Incognito.  BUT first, in order to go surfing on Friday, one day ahead of what might just be a weekend rush from people cooped up anywhere east of the Olympic Peninsula, I had to try to use the best scientific data available to divine that there might be waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  BUT, first, I had to finish a job in Bremerton on Thursday. 

Quite late on Thursday, and it’s an hour home; so tough to get up early enough to drive an hour and twenty-two minutes (on average) and be in the water before the sun comes up at… checking… 5:21 am.  Didn’t make that.  Got there at 7:10, surfed two hours, took a nap in my wetsuit, on a towel, in the reclining passenger seat, went back out in the very small waves for another hour or so, then went shopping at Costco, then Walmart, then QFC.

I do have an explanation for why it is necessary to shop at each of these stores.  I did skip Home Depot and Office Depot, and might have gone into Michael’s if they let people in.  Not yet.

With groceries to put away, and quite tired (not, you say, that it takes maximum energy to tap on a keyboard), and having passed so many recreational vehicles, other surfers, cars and trucks towing boats and trailers with motorcycles, and, of course, motorcycles, and all the folks who come over on a Friday in an attempt to beat those who foolishly wait until Saturday, I got home around 4:20. 

“…foolishly wait until Saturday…”

Okay, you’re right; I could have taken a nap and written a piece on… wait a minute; I did actually write a piece on how people are afraid to dream due to anxiety connected with the whole Covid omni-demic.  I do dream; and I did write about it. 

Although the piece didn’t seem totally appropriate for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter; here’s a bit of it.  “If dreams are meant to make some sense out of chaos, writing is dreaming; and I write.”

Not necessarily ahead of a deadline.  Be safe, be well, dream fearlessly, and definitely frolic when you get the chance.

Oh, maybe that’s a good message for the White House; “Are we having fun yet?”

The New Now

Several times a day I check the Washington State Coronavirus stats, looking and hoping for single digits in the deaths category. Really, zero would be great. The numbers are declining and things are opening up. Still, places one can surf on the North Olympic coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, even if surf does magically appear (and it’s always magic), are even more limited than usual. If you venture to Highway 112 you will be greeted with an official road sign with a message that says, not “Local Traffic Only,” but “Locals Only.”

Whoa!

SOCIAL DISTANCING has been working. I wasn’t an instant convert, but I am enough of a convert that I get annoyed when I see people cruising around in stores seemingly unconcerned about how close they get to others and without (at least) masks. This is arrogant and irresponsible, and says “I don’t care about you and whether you live or die.” People who refuse to wear masks don’t, evidently, realize that the masks are not to protect them, but to protect others from them.

Add possibly dangerous and stupid to arrogant and irresponsible. Now, unfortunately, one characteristic of stupidness is an inability to realize one is stupid, as in actually saying, “A lot of folks are saying this is all a hoax.”

A certain sense of entitlement and self-righteousness and a quickness to anger might be others. Might be.

Yeah, I know. I don’t feel entitled or self-righteous; I’ve broken and/or not lived up to protective protocol, I’m not trying to sound preachy, I am trying to PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING; but, being competitive by nature, I might want to go pro level. SIX FEET. Back the fuck up!

MEANWHILE, here’s my latest contribution to the Quilcene Newsletter.

  “WHAT’S YOUR HURRY?” AND OTHER QUESTIONS FROM THE UNIVERSE

Many of us have a certain work ethic; we place a high value on work.  Work first.  Perhaps you have been described as someone who lives to work, a workaholic.  I have.  Not wrongly; it’s long (if fifty years of working is long) been my policy (sometimes stated) to try to do, say, five days work in three. 

This requires a certain optimism.  “All I have to do to paint this house is bleach, wash, cut back plants, mask windows, put out dropcloths, mix paint, etc. etc. etc.”

I could say youthful optimism.  The difference fifty years makes is the increased difficulty one has in self-generating this same enthusiasm.  “Oh, man; in order to paint this house I’ll have to…”  It’s the same list.

Different attitude.

All the little things that slowed the ahead-of-schedule schedule: Broken equipment, wrong-color of paint, rain squalls, etcetera; were irritating setbacks, not, as I once perceived them to be, little hints and shoves and roadblocks from The Universe meant to give me a bit of a handicap, because, otherwise, everything going to plan, I’d be wailing out the jobs, making real money.

Now, of course, I have age and cranky joints as real handicaps, and, thank you Universe, I still have many of the previously mentioned issues.  Not all at once, of course.

BUT WAIT, in the NEW NOW we have new issues. Work is something many are not allowed to do; at least not the old version of work.  I’m not retired, I have some work, and I have an overwhelming list of things I can do around the house, but, if the current situation is something like retirement…

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Okay.  Okay.  I’m okay.  Actually, I am kind of annoyed with myself because my best excuse, which used to be that I’m too busy working or we don’t have the money (because I’m not busy working), is, in the NEW NOW, “What’s the hurry?” 

If questioned, I refer back to the Universe, possibly having to add that I have my own ideas on what I’m referring to as The Universe, but in no way do I want to keep anyone from having his or her own. 

I do have a few grievances: I am annoyed by the spread of overly sentimental news stories (not the ones about good people dying) about how together we all are.  Really?  Maybe back when one’s personal space was somewhat less than six feet, back when the look in someone’s eye was mild tension rather than abject fear that another human being might come in for a hug.  Fistbump?  No.  Kiss?  Mace.  If the message of togetherness is actually an advertisement, double the annoyance. 

You are also, possibly, less than thrilled to watch comedians and singers and reporters and pretty much anybody who is coming to us live (or recorded) on any screen, from a basement or back porch or private luxury yacht.

Here’s something: Every month Bob lets me know that I’ve gone past the official deadline for submitting something for this very newsletter.  Here it is… let me check… April 30, 2020… wow, I thought it is the twenty-eighth… Thursday?  Good.  No call, no text, no email from Bob.  I called him.  Left a voicemail.  He, so far, hasn’t returned my call.  I mean, whoa; is he all that busy?

It’s okay; I’m writing one anyway.  Work ethic.   Still, it’s shorter than usual.  Stay safe and you might not die.  Yet.  See?  Not sticky, gooey, sugary, oversentimental.

Here’s BONUS material, written by me, alone, at my computer:  I’ve been thinking about some future when some random COVID 19 SURVIVOR (and they’ll all being wearing hats thusly labeled, inside their bubble headgear) says, “Yeah, man; at the concerts, back in those days, we’d be watching the groupies on the side of the stage while the bands played; and we’d crowd down into the mosh pit and just get so crazy…”

Concerts? Groupies? Bands? Crowd? Mosh Pit?  Crazy.   

Stay safe, stay back, save lives.

“Sideslipping”& Competition

One of the effects of the omni-demic is that, for surfers, the chess board has been upended, the playground closed.

So, surfers can’t compete in the water when the water is off limits. Competition. Poor us. I started thinking about several aspects of competition, and discussing the competition aspect of our sport with several of my surfing friends. Specifically, I’ve been working some sort of scale in which a surfer can judge where he or she fits in a sort of, think fractions here, competitiveness over butthurtness equation.

Because we’re not equal. Yeah, I’m working on it; don’t claim to have it worked out. I’m trying to judge COMPETITIVENESS without factoring in actual surfing ability. This is, obviously, because one might be more competitive as one improves. I would also love to separate aggressiveness from competitiveness, so, there’s another problem.

THE NUMERATOR- One to nine, if you’re hyper-competitive in the water, give yourself a ONE. Well, that’d be kind of cocky of you. If you believe you’re a one, lie, give yourself a TWO. I really can’t imagine any surfer would give him or herself a nine, so, if you’re the surfer waiting near the channel, smiling as some wavehog paddles past you for the many-ist time, or someone not going out if the surf is good and just kind of crowded, you might give yourself an eight.

I’m giving myself a THREE, meaning, code-breakers, I really think I’m a TWO.

THE DENOMINATOR- So, BUTTHURTNESS. Where you might fit on this scale is determined by whether you’re prone to occasional screaming in the lineup, pouting in the parking area, quite obviously suffering in silence, board-punching, writing rude comments on windshields in wax, any acts of violence and/or vandalism, and, sort of a side consideration; how long you hold a grudge for wave sins you feel where perpetuated against you.

You can list these crimes against you. If your list is really long, if you have a large group of named surfers you hate, if you pretty much hate anyone else who is in the water with you, you may have earned a ONE.

Now, I was going to give myself a NINE, but, really, I have had a few resentments in the fifty-five years since I began board surfing. Warren Bolster once blatantly took off next to me at Swamis. It was my wave; I had position. It was probably about 1971, but, though I remember it, I figured he was probably frustrated because he’d been photographing rather than surfing, and maybe a bit over-zealous.

And I have definitely been guilty of OVERFROTHING. I’m still giving myself an EIGHT, though I’d love to be a NINE. Working on it.

WAIT, here’s a little more to back up my self-devised, non-reduceable (a 2/8 is not a 1/4) score: When I lost my paddle and it turned up stuck in the pilings and no one on the beach would fess up or give up the culprit, and he was, in fact, deemed, by popular opinion, a hero for getting even with the ruthless wavehog, I do admit to whining, complaining, pouting, with some threat to get even; but, when the perpetrator confessed, I immediately (well not quite immediately) forgave him. When I occasionally run into Raja, it’s all over, a fun story. “You’re still a hero, I’m still a wavehog.”

OKAY, I am still thinking about COMPETITIVENESS. I will concentrate on “Is competitiveness a bad thing?” ANOTHER TIME. MEANWHILE, here’s another outtake from “Swamis,” still in the massive edit phase. “SIDESLIPPING”

*The word ‘punk,’ evidently, comes from Elizabethan/Shakespearean times, referring to prostitutes; updated to include petty criminals in the early nineteen-hundreds, with a secondary meaning added in American prisons in which punks were prisoners available, willingly or not, for sexual favors.  ‘Kook’ supposedly is a synonym for shit in Hawaiian, has come to mean someone who isn’t proficient.  Shitty. A friend of mine, one who has spent enough time in Hawaii to risk using some pidgin if in the right company, informs me ‘donkey’ has become a synonym for kook, even cooler when a bit of a bray is included, as in, ‘donnnnnk,’ the final ‘ey’ optional.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

MEXICAN INFLECTION

‘Mexican inflection?’ I wouldn’t have meant this in any derogatory way, necessarily; but, if there is a California inflection; it comes from the mixture of Spanish and the many languages of everyone else who came here; pathfinders and cowboys and gold seekers and Oakies, post-war migrants like my parents, and, I guess, me.  One cannot deny the Mexican influence, flattened and foreshortened by all the rest of us.

And then there’s the black and gay influence: Words and phrasing and phrases; how we thought gays and black people talked; exaggerated, co-opted, stirred into the California lexicon, the California dialect, the California inflection.

Still, the Mexican influence cannot be denied.

Surfers, of course, had to be a bit different; speak with a different rhythm, introduce new words.  You know the words.  The attitude, the surfer attitude, is probably more your idea than reality; exaggerated and perverted and spread by TV and movies and advertisers.

Sure. Surfing is sexy, coolness illustrated; pirate/rebels washed clean.

Coolness, hipness; we adapt our lives, change our speech patterns, make different choices in clothing and music and attitude as we discover new, and, if not better, more modern things, newer new things; trends, fashions.

The very word, fashion, describes its temporary nature.  Subtext.  That fashion goes in and out is given to the user of the word for free.

We steal, borrow, incorporate.  The strands are pretty obvious; like blues to jazz, blues to rock and roll, blues coopted by popular AM music.  If you were born in the 1950s, you heard Sinatra and Chuck Berry on the same AM station; experienced the Beatles, then Dylan.  No, you probably got Dylan through Dylan covers; Peter Paul and Mary, the Byrds; then Dylan, then… whatever was fashionable.  Temporary.

“Hey, Dude; You Binging or What?”

FIRST, as a Public Service Announcement- The Makah Tribal Council has closed the Neah Bay Reservation to non-tribal members until April 27.  You know why.  Yeah, keeping the waves to themselves.                                                                                                                             NO, but it does impact surf traffic out to the various spots on the Olympic Peninsula.          BUT, the good news is there isn’t a particularly great looking swell in the immediate forecast.  I originally heard about the shut down from Stephen Davis, thought I could verify it and pass it on.  “WAIT, what about La Push?”  I don’t know. Maybe it’s open for surfing.  “How is La Push on a two foot swell?”  Hmmm.  Accounts vary.

I haven’t been stuck at home, actually, but I did actually spend about ten minutes yesterday watching a live feed from a beach in Oregon, with some guy trying to get in waves that were not that daunting.  After five minutes I was saying, “PADDLE HARDER you Kook/Hodad/Gremmie/Punk, it’s not like pushing through crowds at Costco, cutting through the line waiting for the next batch of toilet paper, a line of Costcoites and carts that stretched halfway back along the outside wall (‘excuse me, Comrade, I’m cutting through, not in’), getting the next to the last should-be-lifetime supply of paper towels, some old (older than me) guy elbowing me before I could go back for the last one (this was the Kirkland brand, they still had the Bounty, though not in bounty- ha, ha; and besides, I was too busy giving the stinkeye to piggy/hoarder shoppers filling their big ass carts with bottled water and baby wipes to actually pig out myself).  It’s a lull, Hipster Surf Enthusiast,  PADDLE!  It’s not like you’re squeezing in next to the woman who would otherwise be handing out free samples (and there are NO FREE SAMPLES), but is, instead, opening a stack of large cardboard boxes and placing Organic chicken into the cooler, me on the phone with Trish (there was no chicken, organic or manmade, a week ago), asking if she want the breasts AND the legs (she does), and there are other people squeezing against and leaning over me.  Ride some soup, Weekender, go in where you can stand up and WAIT FOR ANOTHER LULL.  It’s not like getting to Costco at ten am and the parking lot was full, the first person I saw coming out is an old guy (already set as someone older than me), and he has on a MAGA hat, with a bottle of Jim Beam and a package of sausages in his basket (perfect for drunk- watching FOX News reality shows); and I want to say something rude AND clever, but I notice he’s looking at me, a list in my hand, wearing my hand-knitted hippy cap and my layered shirts, the one on the outside featuring Christopher Walken (from a Saturday Night Live skit) dressed as Han Solo, with two balloons above him, one saying ‘fast’ the other ‘ships?’ and I just nod and say, ‘Another great day in America.’  OKAY, Buddy, maybe YOU CAN CATCH A FEW REFORMS.”

I gave up watching before the surfer gave up trying.  “GOOD ON YOU, MATE! (this with my attempt at an Australian accent).  I checked out MSN for some signs of hope, tried to catch up on the World Surf League.  No hope there.  Turned on the TV.  I checked out the various sports channels.  Reruns.  Oh.  Sure.  Incidentally, while similarly clicking through various channels on Friday night, I happened to stick for a moment on big time wrestling.  You know, when there’s no audience, it looks kind of, um, fake.  Add a few thousand screaming fans and it seems real.  Or real-er.  Not making a comparison here between that and a, say, Trump rally, but, evidently, with the virus-proof president unable to hold such events, he has decided to break into programming on a random-but-often basis, just to reassure the citizens of these Unites States of America that he’s still OKAY.  I think he said ‘perfect,’ I’ll stick with ‘okay.’

OH, WAIT, I’m not really political, and certainly, If I was political, I’d be so very middle of the road, but, when the president, trying bigly, allegedly, to unite our country against a world wide pandemic, refers to Washington State’s governor, former presidential candidate, climate activist (and, according to my son Sean, who worked on his original election campaign, ‘kind of bland’) Jay Inslee, as ‘a snake,’ I can’t help but think, that if I was hit with that invective, I’d add it to my title.  The Honorable Governor Jay the Snake Inslee.

BEFORE I GO BACK to working on “Swamis,” I do want to say I hope you’re all stocked-up and surviving this weirdness; self-isolating, hunkering-down, avoiding crowds (and nothing says all that like going to Costco and Walmart on a Saturday).  I suddenly almost regret that Trish and I have already binge-watched “Vera” and “Bosch,” and that we’ve just cancelled Showtime and HBO.  Maybe I could see if SURFLINE is offering a free trial.

I DO KIND OF WONDER what the novice surfer from yesterday said about his session. “It was double overhead on the sets.  Caught a few bombs.  Yes.”  YES, I have been accused, though not at a national level, of some mild form of occasional ‘snaking.’  It’s debatable and over-blown, but, if you want to add it to any nickname for or description of me; FEEL FREE.  It’s still America, even if you’re waiting in a line for toilet paper.  Comrade.costco 2ls

The End of “Swamis” and Two Psychedelic-in-B&Ws in Color

It’s not finished, but earlier today I got to the last line (unless it changes) of  “Swamis,” the mystery/romance/coming-of-age/fake memoir/novel I’ve been working on for, if I’m counting the experiences that have gone into it, all my life.  It’s at 110,100 words on 02/02/20, subject to editing for inconsistencies, redundancies, contradictions, and just plain bad (inadequately great) writing.  Hopefully not too much of that.

I’m not sure how long this process will take, though I have been obsessively attacking the work lately, taking advantage of time afforded me (not that I can afford it) by the slowdown of work in winter.  And then I have several people I want to read it.  And then…

Hopeful.  Always.

But, maybe before I get to that point, I am planning on having at least one public reading.  One is already scheduled.  Thursday, March 5, 6pm (I think), Port Townsend Public Library.  This is part of a program set up by PT ripper and librarian Keith Darrock.

I’ll update this, and will, no doubt, mention it with every new posting.

MEANWHILE, continuing my “Psychedelic Period,” I have colored two recent drawings.  They and others, along with some Original Erwin t-shirts are available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.  All are limited editions, numbers limited by, um, me.

Scan_20200202

Scan_20200202 (2)

I should mention that the Disco Bay is open, winter hours, ten am to six pm, Thursday through Sunday, with gear for all your action activities on the Olympic Peninsula.

Also, in the should mention category, I have some prints available, including some from earlier periods, at THE CELLAR DOOR in Port Townsend, open nights, so, pretty much there after six pm for sure.