EDDIE, EDDIE, and more EDDIE

I MAY HAVE, finally, gotten enough EDDIE to fill my craving for something I have sworn, repeatedly, sometimes with actual swear words, never to really care about: SURFING BIG ASS WAVES. It may have helped that I did go surfing in the week since I sat, transfixed, kiddy cornered to our big ass flat screen (No, don’t care if your is bigger, Dick), listening to commentary by Kaipo (from the WSL- hope he still has a job there) and the two guys who did the color work for the recent DA HUI SHOOTOUT, which I also watched a shit load of, and somehow, with one participant in that event knocked unconscious and having to be resuscitated and at least two other surfers seriously injured, made riding PIPELINE seem somehow boring. Thanks, Kaipo.

THERE WAS NO WAY the Eddie could or would be boring. That a lifeguard, LUKE SHEPARDSON, getting a time deduct for his time surfing, won the event seemed almost poetically fitting.

AND/BUT I didn’t just watch the live coverage. OH, no, I checked out videos by and/or about all of my Hawaii favorites during the past week, last YouTube vicarious surf trip, last night. YEAH, like NATHAN FLORENCE, KOA ROTHMAN (one with both of them together), MASON HO, and, because YouTube obviously has me dialed in, I was offered and perfectly willingly clicked on more stuff from MARK HEALY and ELI OLSON. And maybe a few others I don’t want to check my search history to verify.

BUT WAIT… So many people I ran into over the past seven days, some with only a tangental connection to surfing, had to ask me if I watched THE EDDIE. Oh, yeah; want to discuss it? I did. Yes, since I just thought of it, I did enjoy the commercials from the TV Station in Hawaii (KHON2) that was airing the event. No, they probably do have as many ads as mainland channels for various charities, and for pills and vitamins and products to make any body part smell great, but if they took a day off from that to show some surf related products, thank you.

I SHOULD confess that it was often me who brought up the subject.

THERE WAS, as I alluded to, a day between last week’s BINGE and today’s (possible) start to the WSL’s version of a PIPELINE contest (which I will follow), a full day adventure, dark to dark, with STEPHEN R. DAVIS, seeking waves. It took two days of bleaching and pressure washing to get down from that buzz-worthy experience, my froth, no doubt, amplified by the dull hangover from the EDDIE.

SO, THIS MORNING, searching Google for an appropriate photo to purloin (doesn’t sound as nefarious as steal), I chanced upon some stuff from BEACH GRIT, almost always satirical, and always clever commentary by CHAS SMITH and DEREK RIELLY. So, I just had to get their take on (what else,) the EDDIE. And, of course, between them, they also skewered other surf related sites, QUIKSILVER (who formerly sponsored the EDDIE, missed out on this bonanza), and the easy target of the WORLD SURF LEAGUE.

GOOD STUFF, though I’m always a bit hurt that my friend and librarian/surf ripper/zealot, KEITH DARROCK, believes Chas Smith is just SOO great. So radical. I mean, yes, Chas is smoking in his online image, and I just someone, choosing breathing without coughing over coolness, who used to smoke, but… Now, it isn’t that I don’t agree with Keith, it’s just that I’m… competitive.

OKAY, I have almost worked on this long enough to find out if the PIPELINE contest is going to run today. I am also working on some drawings and very, very close to writing the final chapter, the grand conclusion of “SWAMIES.” OH, AND, YES I have watched some videos of the actual spot filmed during the recent FIFTY YEAR SWELL (fifty-three if you go back to the one in December of 1969). MY COMMENT: They always seem to focus on the outside peak. It doesn’t usually connect all the way through. Certain tides. Now, the inside peak…

“Seahawks and Big Dogs and Choking and…

SOB, sob, why, God, why does a team like… sob… I just wanted… they were ahead at halftime. I mean, yeah, I know the Seahawks weren’t supposed to win, but…” unattributed quote.

Trish and I were watching the Wild Card game over at our daughter’s house. The Seahawks were behind by ten point by the end of the first quarter. I promised I would turn it off and go to the market if the 49ers got another touchdown. Halftime, the Seahawks were ahead. YEA!

Trish, before the kickoff, turned the volume down. Biased coverage. I was listening to the radio version, Steve and Dave. Properly biased. Trish did turn the volume up at halftime, just to see what the Fox Sports experts, who had all agreed the Seahawks were outmatched and would lose, had to say. “Wait until the second half,” was pretty much their message. Volume off.

Partially because their commentary was behind the TV, and partially because it’s thrilling to hear Steve Raible when the Hawks do something amazing, not so much fun when they’re sucking wind. So, no sound except Trish, face at her laptop screen, saying, “I can’t look,” “We’re bad luck,” “Oh! San Francisco’s the greatest. All world! (Sarcasm),” and my loud-but-appropriate grunts of disapproval, or my less frequent and multiple-syllable shrieks of celebration.

With no other distracting sounds, and hope still hanging by some vague remembrance of every sport movie ever made and a few miracle comebacks, it became easy to notice that there are a hell of a lot of commercials during sixty minutes of football.

Early in the fourth quarter, I did notice there were other folks rather aimlessly wandering the produce aisles, or lining up for fried chicken, people who one would never imagine actually playing football, but all in various amounts of Seahawks garb, heads down, possibly still wondering if Geno had connected of a few more long bombs. and, no doubt, happy that they (we) had beaten the crowd that waited until the inevitable San Francisco celebration, with interviews featuring the all world winners.

This isn’t sarcasm. It is sardonic (sarcasm where the speaker’s pain is just too obvious) commentary.

Oh, I did see, while checking out (saved thirty cents on a thirty dollar total), a guy in the line one over wearing a Seattle Kraken shirt. And later, my friend, Stephen R. Davis, who actually did play ice hockey, told me the Kraken just defeated Boston, and that’s a big deal, and… No, not switching my allegiance. Maybe. No; I’ve said I would before. But, added to all this, the San Diego Chargers, who were once my team to root for, were killing it in their game. And then, comeback by the… I don’t know, one of those southern teams. Miracle. Sure. Why not?

MY POST GAME ANALYSIS: Underdog, Over-dog; it’s better to be the Big Dog. And, since I am kind of thinking about, and planning to write about surf heroes, I should relate this to SURFING.

YES, older surfers do like to say, “Back in my day, the best surfers got the best waves,” that kind of thing that runs contrary to sharing and caring, the kind of easily-said aphorisms that run into the reality of limited waves and increasing crowds. NOW I am thinking about PARTY WAVES and DOG SLED TEAMS. If you’re in front, there’s an expectation you will leave lots of room for the other surfer; if you’re in back, you’re dealing with the wake and chandeliers, wondering if there’s an opportunity for a go-behind. AND NOW I’m kind of wondering (and trying not to wonder or care) which teams are playing today, and, by extension, who I want to root for.

AND NOW, realizing I should have taken off for a money-making opportunity half an hour ago, I am wondering when I will get to surf next.

I got the dog image from GOOGLE. All other content is copyright protected and is the property of Erwin A. Dence, Jr. NOT THAT I WON’T SHARE IF YOU ASK NICELY.

Surf Heroes

This selfie of Reggie Smart has nothing to do with the rest of the content of this post. The caption could be, “Not enjoying the view.”

Surf Heroes

WE SHOULD, perhaps, set some boundaries on where we rank surfers we hold in high esteem… and why we position them where we do. The SURFER EVALUATION SPECTRUM (SES) would go from a low point of ‘Insufficient evidence to make a judgement (so we have to believe the surfer in question is a total kook), through ‘maybe the surfer is better in better waves,’ past ‘not a Kelly or a Stephanie,’ to the ‘holy shit, total John John/Dane/Carissa/fill in your own names’ category.

OKAY, so we have a rough scale on surf performance as one of the factors each of us might use to determine if a particular surfer is worthy of our being appreciative of, a fan of, a follower of, a worshipper of… whoever. Surfer, surf hero, surf god. Small g. 

This already becomes difficult because we, and this is me assuming you and I rate other surfers in a similar way, the COOLNESS FACTOR (CF) must be included in our assessments, because, yes, it is unavoidable. While a certain self-confidence dealing with mundane situations is an important element (ie; stylishly handling waves that are not ‘of consequence’), casualness under difficult conditions and circumstances is… well, it’s another consideration.

There must be, or there should be a mathematical equation to quantify the CF. EXAMPLE- A few years ago, a surf contest in France in heavy conditions saw everyone just getting annihilated. Except for… John Florence. He was, like, comfortable. So, like nine on the coolness, nine on the challenging conditions. 9/9. OH, that’s, if my math is correct, ONE. I would also place Felipe Toledo’s performance at Jeffry’s Bay, with two airs on one wave that put him deep in the pocket, a ONE.

BUT WAIT, that’s still performance related. Maybe I have watched too many World Surf League (WSL) contests, too may YouTube videos. While most surfers can be as arrogant and rude as they can away with, and back up with quality surf riding, in order to be a professional, sponsored surfer, one has to develop a public persona that is gracious, humble, generous, grateful; all those qualities that are, perhaps detrimental for someone whose job it is to out-perform everyone else in their bracket. But they are good for the IMAGE. For the fans.

The YouTube video (live stream, actually) that brought this sort of fakieness to mind was of a kid’s contest at Trestles. Ten and twelve-year-olds, some of them sons or daughters of former professional surfers, others with paid coaches, all working on their resumes, refining the moves the judges are looking for. Rehearsed after-heat interviews, sponsors’ gear on display.

I can’t help thinking of the contest at Malibu, 1967. My sister went. I saw the article in “Surfer.” Miki Dora, pretty much flipping-off the judges. Arrogant. Cool. I saw live action of Andy Irons in a boat at a contest. Paraphrasing, “Why are you talking to me. Talk to the winners.” Both of those surfers had flaws, Andy tragically so. Gerry Lopez, as cool under pressure as anyone, admits to some of his. Wave Hog. I forgive him. Dane Reynolds says he’s only won (something like) one contest, ever. Honesty. Nice.

There might just be something to be appreciated in realness.

HAMARTIA- I looked up ‘heroic flaw.’ Evidently all the really cool heroes have one. Or more. Maybe lesser heroes have lesser flaws. NO, I am not even thinking about some formula.

It just might be that what we are looking for, hero-wise, is someone to emulate. In surfing and in life, we copy, we practice, we keep what works for us, and try to avoid what doesn’t. Eventually, whether we are happy with it or not, we develop our own style, our own identity. We peak at some point on the surfing and the coolness and the decent human being scales. And we keep going. The thing about surfing, and life, is that none of us are 9/9 all the time. Or even a decent percentage of all the time.

SORRY, I’m off track. I think. I start writing. It all changes. I wanted to say that I have had a few surf heroes in my many years of surfing. Bucky Davis, local surfer from Fallbrook, was probably my first hero. When I was fourteen, he was coolness personified. That changed. Less hero, more real. Real is better. GEEZ, that’s the whole story. I’ll get to Bucky another time. OKAY, like, pretty soon. I am pretty busy trying to finish my “Swamis” manuscript, so I can sell it. If writing is a humbling process, selling something is more so. We’ll see.

LOCAL HEROES, MAGAZINE HEROES, SURF CONTEST HEROES, YOUTUBE HEROES. In retrospect and in conclusion, I have to say my spot on the Surfer Evaluation Spectrum is ‘appreciative of.’

One last thing (because I’m still… thinking): At some breaks, the bigger, outside set waves are not always the ones that line up best. Roll throughs. In passing up some of these waves, I have called out to others in the lineup, “Go on, be a hero.”   

“Swamis” Parking Lot Outtakes

I posted this late at night, and woke up knowing I had to make it clear that these are sections cut out of the manuscript. This material does go along with the storyline, and is, itself, edited. I can’t seem to stop myself.

I say “these” because I also did some moving of paragraphs. Joey in the parking lot:

Chulo knew the truth.

The truth is Chulo jerked the wheel and moved over far enough that the Jesus Saves bus went into the ditch. I stopped. I backed up, ready to go around the bus and see what happened with my father. Chulo had a better view. He motioned me on. I knew it was fucked up, that I was in more trouble. I knew my mother was ahead of me and had seen her husband pass her. I knew my father would be fine. Angry, but fine. He was always fine.

I am not offering excuses. My father hated excuses. “There is no such thing as a good excuse.” Second part. “Even the best excuse is a bad reason.”

Nine-twenty-seven. Time in the sun had not cleared the water from my watch. It had converted it into fog on the inside of the glass. I was dressed for work; chinos, a light blue shirt with a collar, short-sleeve, not yet tucked-in, off-white Levis cords, slightly bent-over-at-the-heel leather shoes. My surfboard was inside the Falcon at an angle, the nose against the back of the passenger side of the front seat. I moved the notebooks from the towel but left them on the hood. I draped the towel over the board. My trunks were half-hung on the fin of my board. I pulled up the tailgate, rolled up the back window, and locked the back door.

The red notebook, with two pages for February 27, 1969, on the hood, was still open, but face down. I stuck my hand under one side and flipped it closed.

I looked around to see which car full of tourists or families who sometimes went to the beach, or which surfers, looking for a first or second session, might want my spot. Surfers, three, in the car, four boards on the rack, stickers on the window from Chuck Dent and Harbour. L.A. surfboards. No, not them. I pulled a green apron from the back of the front seat, passenger side. A circular logo with “San Elijo Grocery” and “Cardiff by the Sea” and “Since 1956” was silkscreened in white. “Jody” was stitched on the front, pocket high on the left chest side, in yellow. I put the apron on, let it hang, and walked to the edge of the bluff.

Choppy. Crowded. I looked down at the stairs. Julia Cole and Duncan Burgess were two stairs above the landing, their boards leaning against the fencing at the ninety-degree corner. Julia had her omnipresent gray bag on the deck and her camera resting on the railing. She was aiming a telephoto lens toward the surf break.

Duncan, not too involved in the camera work or what was happening in the water, looked up and at me. I didn’t step back. Duncan tapped Julia Cole. She shook him off, he tapped her again, she looked around and up. I stepped back from the bluff.

I looked up, toward but not into the sun. Just for a second. Just long enough that I saw a few blinks of red. I took another step back, blinked. Okay.

            There was the truth of what happened on the road just east of the Bonsall Bridge. There was what I saw in flashbacks: The low sun in my eyes, the red, spinning light and the car coming straight at me. My mind, I theorized, might put events that passed by so quickly into slow motion, into crystal focus.

            It didn’t. Rather, it hadn’t.

I flipped the red notebook open, looked at what I had written. I closed the red notebook. It didn’t matter. Everything else I wrote in there for February 27 was a lie. For the next four days I wrote nothing. Mourning. Excusable. 

I thumbed through the pages for the days before February 27. Notes and little sketches of cartoon teachers and classmates, cartoon waves, psychedelic lettering for various surf spots. “Grandview.”

That was enough. I visualized. I would be happy enough to admit I was merely remembering if it wasn’t that, eyes open or closed, I could see what I had seen. If it wasn’t reliving the moments, it was more than just remembering.

Nine-thirty-nine. I set the red notebook down on the towel and turned back toward the water. I looked at my watch, walked over to the bluff. A set of waves, four, ruffled the horizon. The waves moved toward the point, each one growing in the rough water beyond the fields of kelp. The first wave cleaned up, picked up sparkles along the top edge and a sky-reflecting line two-thirds of the way down the face. A darker horizontal line, the wave’s true color, widened, lengthened, moved up, became a shadow version of the true color, as the wave steepened, and a definite peak formed. Another bright line, reflecting the flat, clean water inshore, appeared, three-fourth of the way up the wave. The lines became other shapes, irregular, but balanced and moving. The dark line became almost black, the topmost line almost white. Energy against gravity, tripped by underwater fingers of ancient rock. Explosion. Shades of green and blue on crazed white, the true wave color moving down the line, the explosion following it. 

One of four surfers in the water paddled for the second wave, pulling with two even strokes, pushing off and up as she and the board dropped down. She. It had to be Julia Cole; smooth, graceful, goofy-foot. At the bottom of the wave, her legs compressed, her upper body straight, she raised her right arm and leaned back. Her left arm low, her right hand and arm were tracing the shape of the wave as she moved up into a position high on the wall. She shifted to more of a parallel stance and crouched. The wave, at the highest point, just below the lip, was almost transparent. Julia Cole was flying.

Julia Cole.

There are an infinite number of ways to tell any story. So many choices. This is undoubtedly my biggest problem in completing “Swamis.” Somewhere between a sketch and a rendering is a novel.

I’m getting there.

“Swamis.” copyright 2020. Erwin A. Dcnce, Jr. All rights for original work in realsurfers.net are held by the author/artist.

On the Eve, the Cusp, the Verge of…

…Whatever is coming our way.

Something bad to struggle with, possibly overcome; something good to be, hopefully, savored and appreciated. The world is confusing and frightening and chaotic in its changes; and monotonous and boring; and, in almost the same moments, tantalizing in its possibilities. Life has a taste so bitter in our defeats, so delicious in our too often too late realization of its beauties; the patterns and colors we should have seen; the tiny miracles we should have better appreciated; the worth of the people who cross or even block our path.

There is a reason the dead of winter; the darkest, shortest, and coldest of days; is celebrated. It isn’t out of joy. It is out of hope.

I’ve never had the faith to flow with the season and its challenges. I freeze up, unable to do what I can do until I can do what I have to do. This may or may not make sense to you. Though I claim, and claim it to be true that I cannot hold on to sorrow or depression, I do realize it when I am in their grip. Sorrow and depression are heavy. They are exhausting. They cannot be allowed to hold us back or down.

Make a move; something positive.

This is what I do. I write. The frozen pipes, the broken shoe lace, the snow and the ice, the branch in the highway that bounced and hit my car, the fuckers who somehow used my bank account to purchase their presents, the recent deaths of people I knew, or knew of… I try to put this and more into some context.

And I try to make some small repairs. Sometimes things get fixed. Sometimes it’s more than half-ass. A small victory is still a victory.

I’m not over it; I’m not… joyful. I am trying to just keep moving, When I realize, later, that I have survived the darker days, I tell myself I should have had more faith. Should have. If we know sorrow and depression are heavy and exhausting, joy, in any quantity, is lighter than air.

Joy, then.

WAIT. I should add that my hope for my family and loved ones, to my friends and theirs, to real surfers everywhere, to those I don’t know, and to the assholes who hacked my account; is that we (yeah, me, too) recognize joy and have joy and share joy. Peace is a bonus gift.

The Winter of… to be determined

Allow me to just kind of run through my thinking on this:

I have sent out several posts focused on the tragic death of Omar Jamaludin. The story has moved rather quickly. He was missing for almost twenty-four hours. His body was discovered. Somewhere around another twenty-four hours, a suspect was arrested for the hit-and-run. Omar was buried. Surfers attended the funeral, representing the rest of the surfing community. This morning I received a text from a mutual friend (and surfer). It was a screen shot (my guess) taken from an instagram posting sent out last night. The suspect, who is named in the post, is to be arraigned on December 29. He lives three minutes away from Omar’s residence, has prior convictions for Driving Under the Influence, for which he is on probation. He is also in violation of a current court order to have a breathalyzer installed in his truck.

According to the message, the prosecutor on the case encourages people to show up for the arraignment or to write a letter to the judge, the desired effect being to assure the alleged perpetrator receives the maximum sentence.

I am perfectly willing to write a letter concerning Omar’s character and the loss to his family, loved ones, and the surfing community. We all have heard stories of people with multiple DUIs continuing to drive under the influence. And doing damage. Most of us, undoubtedly, know people who fit into this category. My concern is what we don’t know. Will the defendant, who has, according to news reports, admitted to driving the truck, plead guilty? What is the maximum sentence? Is it enough?

It is, currently, almost exactly twenty-four hours before the official Winter Solstice (1:47 pm, Wednesday, December 21). It snowed most of last night, it’s 31 degrees outside, there’s a lot more snow along the Strait. Road conditions are… variable, but not good. Winter, with the long, cold nights, the short, damp, dreary, dark, gray days. But, as the Summer solstice can remind us that we are rolling downhill to Winter, after tomorrow… yes, some reason to be optimistic.

I did ask you to follow my process on this. I had an accident last year… black ice, sideslipped into a tree, totaled my car. I could have taken a different route. I could have… I have avoided Highway 20 in even questionable conditions since.

It isn’t difficult to imagine the suspect, guilty until admitting or being proven guilty, saying he has changed. Or he will change. If that promise was broken before… it would make a difference.

This wasn’t an accident- only. It was preventable. The ‘run’ part makes it a crime. Vehicular homicide, manslaughter, this or that degree. A life was lost. It is probably impossible not to put a value on that life, Omar’s, and compare it to the perpetrator. Punishment, revenge, and redemption.

We judge, but we are not judges. Thankfully.

Throughout my thought process it has been impossible not to make some assessment of Omar. This is my opinion, based only on what others have said about him; on my observations of him in the water, trying to find some connection and flow with the waves, dealing with crowds and over-competitive surfers (including me); and from a limited number of conversations. He seemed very calm. He seemed to not have any of that frustrated anger or animosity some surfers have.

Again, I didn’t know him well, but I know Omar added value to the lineup. The surfing community, the chaotic mix of kooks and stylists, just-for-fun occasionalists and serious hardliners, was a few points better because Omar was a part of it. I have no doubt he added to the greater community as well. It is so important that the perpetrator know the damage he had done, the grief he has caused.

Yet, I cannot, and forgive me for this if you think it wrong or misguided, help but wonder how the Omar I imagine him to have been would judge the person who killed him and ran. I believe I would be a harsher judge.

The email address for the Prosecutors’ Office is wendy.ross@kingcounty.gov

To all who mourn and struggle and fear and hope…

When I get some information on where the arraignment will be held, and an address to send any thing relevant, I will update.

Cat Days and Cancer and…

Drucilla ‘Dru’ Dence just after her last radiation treatment. Her course was originally set for thirty sessions, but they cut it down. Nice. They increased the voltage, or the duration, something, so that was less nice. It’s all pretty scary. Fuck Cancer. Sorry for not being trying to hide the ‘fuck cancer’ in some sort of sneaky, subliminal way (like cancers themselves- sneaky). I totally screwed up the shot of Dru inside the place, ringing the bell. Some sort of tradition, started, I joked, after someone saw a similar setup at Arby’s. “If you like the service, ring the bell.” Three times is the standard. I did criticize Dru’s weak first ring. She nailed it on the second and third. “Three rings, for ‘fuck cancer,’ huh?” “Yeah, Dad; can we go now?” “Sure. You hungry?”

I don’t want to take any more credit for getting Dru to the doctors’ appointments and to most of the sessions. Trish did almost all of that, Dru drove herself several times. Because it’s cancer, none of this is really over. She was told that she would feel weak for several weeks, her body still kind of ‘cooking’ from the radiation. “Cooking? They said, ‘cooking?'” “Cooking. Yeah.” And there’s more; the post-surgery reconstruction process is coming up; follow up visits; it’s not over. (insert your own verb here- you know mine) Cancer!

Updating the post-bone-marrow-transplant situation for surfer/artist///all the other things he excels at- Stephen R. Davis: The post-treatment weakness is, he says, less of a problem. He is stronger. His blood, and, in particular, his immune system, nearly and purposefully destroyed, is doing what blood is supposed to do, All good. He still can’t get too close to too many people, he still can’t do physically demanding work or surf for months. So… again… DING ding-ding! Yea, STEVE!

Dru and Steve are doing what they can to bring in some money: I’ll update on Steve’s latest surf-and-non-surf related paintings soon.

WORD ON THE STRAIT- Aaron Lennox does not want credit for the phrase. So, okay, Aaron. Still, the lack of surf, as always, is a point for discussion. It is particularly frustrating when it would seem that winter, and let’s face it, winter starts well before the solstice, should be the season for swell to come into the Strait. And yet… not so much.

Adam ‘Wipeout’ James offers a word on that- “There’s the ‘dog days of summer.’ I think it should be called the ‘cat days of winter.’ Many of us have been surfing around the Strait long enough to believe the truth of that. “Historically,” Adam said in a recent cellular conversation, “the best and most consistent swells… last year, for example, they came in in…”

Oops; dropped call. Cell service is also remarkably inconsistent out this way.

Is that a wave? Is it? Is it?

FUTURE TOPIC- Who is in your phone tree (archaic term)? Who do you call if you know the surf is going off? Who do you call because that person might just know if it is going off? Answers? Next time.

ONE LAST THING: There has been some talk about New Zealand. It has seemed like a worthwhile destination, surf-wise, a some day destination, since “Endless Summer.” Just wondering, why did people ever leave Old Zealand? My guess? Next time. You’re thinking ‘Hodads,’ aren’t you? OH, and… fuck cancer!

Wedding Goes Off With a Hitch

It was against doctors’ orders. At least doctor’s advice. Stephen R. Davis, having survived a could-have-been-fatal allergic reaction to the medication given to him when he was first being treated for mantle cell lymphoma, having endured six rounds of, I’m guessing, garden variety chemotherapy, and having just gotten the second of two rounds of super chemo, designed to kill the shit out of everything except the patient, having received a blood transfusion in the morning, headed for Port Townsend some time in the early afternoon of November 11, 2022, with the intention of getting married to Sierra.

11/11/22 was important to Sierra. A guess (not my guess) was the numbers: 11, 11, and 2 x 11 (22). Made sense. No. Since Steve was kind of unclear on the reason for the date, he made some vague reference to the thinness of the veil. Cosmic. And unclear. I asked Sierra. “No, it’s that that date is one in which…” She lost me. Something about an increased opportunity for things to ‘manifest.’ Oh. Destiny is all I could think of.

Steve’s brother, Paul Davis, officiating at the boat launch by the (head)lights of a silvery Toyota.

“Veil.” “Manifest.” Interesting words. At the very same time Steve and Sierra were getting hitched (see title), a ghost conference was going on in Port Gamble. My wife, daughter, ex daughter-in-law were in attendance, along with lots of other folks who might be interested in the thinness of the veil and the possibility that something might manifest. I was asked not to attend. I’ve gone before. Evidently, my energy doesn’t mix well with the spirit world.

I had spoken to Steve several times before ll/11/22 about his nuptials, giving him advice such as: “Why don’t you f’in’ wait until you’re f’in’ better?” And, “Okay then, have Paul go over there, do the ceremony, have a reception when all your friends can go and possibly not kill you with your totally compromised immune system.”

“Um. No.” So it was set for some time around 3:30 at the Point Wilson Lighthouse. Um, no. There was a traffic accident over by Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, then another one on the Jefferson County side of the Hood Canal Bridge. I got a call from Steve that the ceremony was going to happen about 4:30, and that the wedding and the party was all being moved to the beach over by the fairgrounds. “Okay. Yes, I’ll wear a mask. No, there’s no way I can upstage you. No hugging? No problem. I’m calling Keith. I told him about it, he’s going. We’re going to represent.”

Represent? Yeah. Surfers.

Another call. 5:30. It was pretty dark by 5pm. I tossed all the stuff in the passenger seat of my work van into the back, suddenly worried what a painter’s rig might smell like to a non-painter. I checked out Keith’s ever-increasing quiver of surfboards, looked at some super secret, not to be sent over the telephone surf shots (on Keith’s phone), and we headed over.

As it turned out, Cody was also representing the surfing community. Otherwise, in the dark, with the masks and the distancing and all, I didn’t really recognize anyone. Including Steve. But, breaking the don’t upstage the groom (and, I’m guessing, Steve also meant to include his bride), the first person I saw was wearing a, no-shit, genuine, Davy fucking Crockett coonskin cap. “Hi, Erwin,” he said. “Who are you?” “Hobo Joe.” “Oh.” So, I introduced Keith to Hobo Joe and he explained why Steve calls him that. Not actually a hobo, Joe did have lava burn down his house on the Big Island, did stay with Steve for a while, did stay on Steve’s sail boat in Port Townsend. I know, none of this explains the coonskin cap.

So, word spread among the masked wedding party and the celebrants that the ceremony was going to take place down at the boat ramp. With a north wind blowing across the forty-something degree water, Paul read the opening statements, Steve and Sierra recited their vows, rings were exchanged, permission was given for the now-married couple to kiss. There was clapping and the surfer-appropriate hoots.

Sierra Davis, easily upstaging Steve.

Keith and I were among those congratulating Steve and Sierra. “So, Sierra, since I can’t hug Steve; is it all right to hug you?” No. “Sure. I understand. Virtual hugs?” Sure.

And that was it. I dropped Keith off at his house, went to the QFC, went home. Meanwhile, Steve and Sierra mingled, shared some virtual hugs with friends and family members, and headed back to Seattle. I was kind of hoping that they went through Port Gamble. With all the ghost conference folks hoping for some sign from the spirit world and all, and all the hopes and fears of a newly married couple, well, who knows what might, you know, like, manifest.

Congratulations and a (virtual) hoot. OWWWWW!

SIDEBAR- A little later on, I got a call from Trish. She saw me going into our house on the ring camera. “Is that what you wore? Paint all over your pants.” “Hey, I had on my nice Seahawks jacket.” “Yeah, but, still…” Yes, I did talk about the coonskin cap.

BONUS: Here’s one of Steve’s latest paintings. He and I are discussing ways to make some money with our art work. If he or I figure something out, I will let you know.

Over Time, Comparatively Speaking

                         With the inclusion of inarguably life-changing events, we determine what we remember, over time, of the rare but truly horrific and the rare but truly blissful events.

Recalling a specific moment once makes it easier to remember, more clearly, the next time.

Memory banks and memory files, images and sounds and feelings, still shots and little videos; something that happens in the present snaps the synapses and, whoa, yeah… that one time…

I quite surprisingly and suddenly realized that the official start of Autumn is only days away, one of two moments, and I may be wrong about this, when the earth is in true balance and there are equal amounts of day and night. From that point, the next defining point is the dropping of Daylight Savings Time, somewhere around Halloween, the semi-unofficial end, for the most part, of the exterior painting season in the Great Northwest.

Yet, somewhere in here is the start of the surf season, such as it is, with the hope of North Pacific storms and waves over knee high. Hope is different than expectation. Around the Strait, even hope is tempered by experience; skunkings when forecasts call for waves, defiant winds when the forecasts call for calm.   

In the Summer of 1968, the summer season defined as the interval between school sessions, Ray Hicks and Bill Buel and Phillip Harper and I were cruising in one of their cars, returning inland from a day of cruising Surf Route 101, anywhere from San Onofre to, most likely, Cardiff, in search of a beach with some possibility of girls hanging out, and with rideable waves, and with the hope that the lineup was not too crowded. We did, no doubt, surf, most likely at Grandview or Swamis beachbreak.

Whichever vehicle we were in (again, not mine) featured the latest in in-car entertainment, an 8 trac tape player. Because we were middle class suburban teens, we related to the non-bubblegum-pop tunes of Cream, the Beatles (less and less), and the Doors. Most shared, most sung along to. Yes, if we were a year younger, Led Zeppelin’s orgasmic rock might have taken over. We weren’t. We listened to the Doors. We could relate.

It wasn’t just the AM-radio/garage-band-at-the-VFW-hall stuff. Deep cuts. “Wait until the war is over, and we’re both a little older; the unknown soldier.” The war wasn’t over. It would still be there when we were older… old enough.

It was almost dark, we were parked somewhere, facing west, perhaps, more likely facing some thicket of sage like brush off Mission, the route from one or our homes to another- extending the length of the surf trip/adventure. Smoking. Click. Another tune. “Summer’s almost gone, summer’s almost gone; Where will we be… when the summer’s gone.” There was an instrumental fill at this point, the perfect four beat place in which, from my spot in the back seat, I added, “We’ll be in school.”

It wasn’t well received. ‘Fuck you’ and ‘oh, man,’ and ‘get out’ didn’t make for a unified chorus.

Yet, summer had gone on long enough that the days of not surfing, of hanging out or playing some pickup game at the high school, of listening to other groups, other songs, had gone on long enough. School was… we’d be seniors, there were girls, guaranteed. There was a certain level of anticipation.

Time seems to move faster as we get older. I have noticed. I have decided it is because, the longer we are alive, rotating and spinning, the shorter the comparative time is of any particular season. So, summer is, relatively, short. That’s my theory.

Incidentally, the reason I know it wasn’t my car is this: My vehicles never seemed to have a functioning radio. Fifty-four years later, my current surf rig’s radio started shorting out a few years ago; irritating; and then it quit completely. I do have my harmonica, and, since I usually go surfing alone, I don’t mind my singing and playing. Other than my own tunes, I will do a few of Dylan’s. I have a killer version of “All Along the Watchtower.” The Doors? No, not really.

The subject next time, perhaps, could be: “Froth.”

I’m getting some stick-on lettering made saying, “realsurfers FROTH!” So far, Keith is signed on to get one. Steve and Adam, the only others I’ve offered them to, didn’t seem enthusiastic enough; I will not beg them. So… as with everything, forever, we’ll see.

HAPPY EQUINOX!  

“Whoa, dudes; it’s like… Fall, man; it’s the best. This one time… Hey, thanks for loaning me your spare suit; you should know, three more steps, I’m peeing. Traditional. So, like, glad it’s less crowded. Those Summer-only kooks, huh? I totally plan on dominating. Say, you even wax up this board?”

FUCKCANCER UPDATE:

Dru is probably going to have radiation treatments, but, hopefully, not Chemo. Trish is doing most of the hanging out with our daughter over in Port Gamble, making sure Dru doesn’t lift heavy stuff. I’ve done like one night a week, but I, um… well, I do plan on going over tomorrow for the Seahawks game, partially so Trish can get her hands back on this computer, probably do some lifting.

Stephen R. Davis is staying in Bellevue and going for procedures in Seattle. He is getting a full ‘workup’ (not fun in itself) ahead of two doses of Super Chemo. I will get a proper copy of Steve’s painting of a fantasy surf spot this week and will post it here with info on how you can purchase a limited-edition copy. Evidently Steve has already promised the original to some lucky person.   

No, it’s never that simple, never that…

…easy.

Here’s a photo from March of 2004. My son, Sean, daughter Drucilla, and I were down south for a sort of family reunion/celebration of my father’s 80th birthday, arranged and staged by my sister, Suellen, and centered in Oceanside. I used the occasion to go on a sort of show-and-tell trip that included staying as close to the coast as possible, with, no doubt, stories of every spot. The south jetty, where I most often surfed before work at Buddy’s Sign Service, the building in which I worked, the pier, the auto repair shop where my dad worked two nights a week and Sundays for years, Tamarack, Grandview, Beacons, Swamis.

Swamis, just before the applause on the bluff.

My plan was to write about two things here: Dru’s cancer and my novel, “Swamis.” Plans change. ALWAYS.

ME FIRST. Dru is recovering from surgery, like, a week ago. Trish has been taking care of her, staying at her place, twenty-two minutes away (if no one crashes on or near the Hood Canal Bridge, or some sailboat or nuclear submarine has to go through it) from our house. In order for Trish to do some other stuff, and to give her a break, I got to take over for a day, like, yesterday. Trish left a list of chores that I almost totally ignored. NOW, I have been telling/warning our daughter that I would not help her if she didn’t read the latest chapter I wrote, my third complete rewrite (counting the outline that turned into a sort of treatment) of my novel, “Swamis.” Dru, of course, though I had sent it to her, had not yet read it.

AND YET I came over, watched a horror movie, tried to sleep on her futon, did not make her a delicious breakfast as her mother had been doing, but did, while Dru was scrambling some eggs for simple breakfast burritos, start reading the chapter to her. There were interruptions, including a rare call from George Takamoto. I had to take the call, and somehow, managed to sit on my plate of burritos. Wouldn’t have been bad if it hadn’t been for the toothpicks. SO DRU started reading the chapter to me.

IT WAS GREAT. A couple of awkward parts. Fixable. Here’s the sort of unexpected thing: “Dad, it’s a short story.” No. “Yes. I can stand on its own. Short story.” Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of.

Over a hundred pages into the manuscript, sixty thousand plus words, CHAPTER FOURTEEN has enough of the story to ALMOST stand alone. Not completely, but, as each version of “Swamis” focuses more on the main story line, the plot, if I now go back, if Chapter Fourteen becomes Chapter Five, say, with three more after that, all leading to a non-conclusion… well, that would be a novel I wouldn’t have to beg or threaten someone to read. OR THAT IS THE HOPE.

Dru and I, 2004. Still surfers in the water. Dru’s hair now is back to dark, mine is pretty much white. No, I, unlike Trish and our three kids, was never a blonde. I do enjoy it when people think I might have been.

THE OTHER THING that was on the agenda for yesterday was a zoom call with Dru’s surgeon. Bearing in mind that I am quite uncomfortable talking about this, Dru had decided to go with radical surgery with some hope if not expectation that Chemo and/or Radiation might not be necessary. THIS, almost of course, is not how it is going. Though other testing and discussion and shit has to happen, the Doctor said the two (rightfully) scary options might be in her future. THE ANTICIPATION of surgery- frightening; but she’s past that and recovering. WHAT WE KNOW about others who have undergone these procedures caused me to ambush the doctor when she asked Dru if she had any other questions. “Yeah, I do. I thought we got rid of the cancer. It’s not in her lymph nodes, so?” The doctor referred to the size of the tumor and how much it had grown since first discovered. “But the tumor’s gone. Past tense.” Not so easy. There are ‘maybes’ and ‘we don’t know yets.’ The doctor explained those and tried to lessen any anxiety. “Thank you.”

SO, Yeah. So, “fuck!” So, sure; it can’t just be over. No. Few things are easy. Nothing is EVER simple.

WE ALL GO THROUGH our lives among and between waves of hopeful anticipation and troughs of fearful anticipation. Few events are as blissfully, floatingly good or as full-stop, unbearably bad as the renderings, mosaics, perhaps, our imaginations create from the collected bits of shattered dreams, and the pieces of scattered moments of magic and peace and joy and BLISS.

What we really do, all we really can do is KEEP GOING.

I have to say that Dru seems to be more optimistic about enduring further treatment than I am. Trish, as always, will be supportive. Disappointment. Regroup. Keep going.

MEANWHILE, my good friend Stephen Davis, having made it through six rounds of Chemo, with his cancer knocked-back, is currently getting ready to take another step; a massive dose of chemicals that will do so much damage that, once through it, he will have to retake all his childhood inoculations. And that might not be the end of it. He will be unable to work or, probably, surf, for six months or so. SCARY!

This is a not-quite complete version of Stephen R. Davis’s painting of a mystical, possibly mind-created spot. Steve took it off the frame, took it to the PRINTERY in Port Townsend. There it was scanned on the big-enough unit used for blueprints, which doesn’t print in color, and transferred to a thumb drive. Steve has ordered prints of various sizes. The plan is to produce several, possibly full-sized giclee prints, up about a hundred limited edition (which would be numbered and signed) photo prints on 11″x14″ paper, with the possibility of also doing a number (limited by Steve) of smaller versions, some as greeting cards. I am not sure what Steve plans to do with the original. Trish and I have one of his original works, directly across from our bed. From that distance, it looks perfect. Part of the magic. If you notice, the land on the left of this painting is totally abstract, nonsensically so. If you Iook at the wave in the foreground in the completed version, it is perfectly rendered. If you step back, just far enough, the whole scene is fantastically real.

OKAY, I’ll get a photo of the completed version on here. Soon.

Insert your own uplifting aphorism here.