How Stephen Davis Saved the Zoom…

…LONG DISTANCE.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG with something you have written, read it out loud.  I figured I would start with that, only part of what happened at the “Art and Writings of Erwin Dence” Zoom event on the most recent Thursday night.

Keith Darrock, Port Townsend Librarian (he has a fancier title I can’t remember- just think librarian only more so, add in that he rips on any board in an ever-increasing quiver) and I got into the Zoom virtual space early, me on standby in my living room, he moving his laptop to an appropriate location in his home, books in the background.

Trish and our daughter, Dru, who had spent a lot of time making a slideshow from the illustrations (available for viewing on the previous post, non-slideshow) were joining-in from Dru’s place in Port Gamble.

I had spent part of the day preparing for what I hoped and imagined would happen at the Zoom event, having been way too distracted to get any significant work done the previous day because I was contacting and inviting (texting, mostly) folks I thought might be willing to participate.

WHEN I DID speak to someone, it turned into… well, I do like to talk.  I should particularly mention that I spent some time on the cell phone with a local Port Townsend (professional- as in no other ‘real’ job) writer who was gracious/foolish enough to read the entire unexpergated version of “Swamis” and give me a lot of guidance.  He said he’d probably be watching the last night of the Democratic National Convention, but, again, he was gracious/foolish enough to discuss what changes I had made to the manuscript since his review, and he did reveal why he had dedicated himself to writing.  “I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else for a living.”  “Road construction, retail sales?”  “Good luck.”

BECAUSE I had never actually written a succinct description of “Swamis,” as in 25 words or less, and I wanted to sound more author-like if pressed, I endeavored to do so.  Okay, it’s 376 words or so.  AND, because, in my mind, the audience/Zoomers might include the folks who have attended library events in the past, I went through the manuscript and picked out three pages that I thought might appeal to that educated group of hip and literate PT word lovers.  The subchapter is one of the more (I thought) semi-romantic parts of the story.

SO, 7pm Pacific Daylight Savings Time is 3pm on the Big Island of Hawaii where Stephen R. Davis, freshly freed from quarantine, is hanging out (and, yeah, I guess, working).  He was one of the first to ZOOM in, from his phone, from a vehicle, riding with former PT resident, and, by all accounts, surf ripper, McKinna (probably didn’t get the name right- I’ve heard of him but may never have met him- son of a well-known surfer, actually learned to surf in Wa. state), heading out looking for surf.

“So crowded,” Steve said, “Lots of wahines in bikinis.  Very little material.  I can’t tell you how little material there is in these bikinis.”

Okay, pretty appropriate.  By the time some other folks had joined, Steve and McKinna were going out at a surf spot with (we got to see this) some great looking waves.  Other folks had joined in, a couple of library types, as in solid citizens, but mostly local surfers I could easily name; and, if I get them to sign some simple non-disclosure agreements, I might.  Joke.  Sort of.  Permission.

If I had to summarize the evening, it was like what one would hear from a group of surfers in any beachside parking area, probably anywhere:  Who snaked who, what happened after that one session at that one spot, where did all the hipsters and hodads come from, and what about that time when…

SOMEWHERE IN THERE, about the time when I had to cut my video because of limited bandwidth from my overstretched DSL line (not that I minded this, the slideshow was designed, mostly, so that folks didn’t have to look at me) I did read my description of “Swamis,” and, most-embarrassingly, I did read the three pages I had (erroneously) selected, trying to vary the voices for the four characters.

THERE ARE sections of the novel with actual surfing, brilliantly described, with less dialogue from fewer voices.

THIS WAS WHEN STEPHEN R. DAVIS returned, chased, he said, out of the water by a “pack of rippers.  Kids.  They’re everywhere over here.  So many rippers.”  SO, we (and we, by this time, included, among others, Dru’s friend, professional DJ, Trenton, and Trisha’s nephew, and, I guess, my nephew-in-law, or, maybe, just nephew, Dylan, La Jolla surfer and recent graduate from UCLA Law School) were treated to another virtual tour of the Big Island, commentary by Steve, with continuing banter from what constitutes most of the unofficial PT Surf crew, special dispensation for ADAM WIPEOUT and, sort of, me, both of us from the SURF ROUTE 101 division.  Unofficial.

NEXT DAY REVIEW:  Fun; some good stories shared.  Trish told Dru I was nothing like Joey in my novel, told me I definitely need help in writing anything even close to romantic fiction.  Steve added significantly to if  he did not entirely save the event.  Dylan, probably used to surfing in the crowded California city surf with it’s ghetto mentality, thought it was great that surfers actually could enjoy each other’s company, even virtually.  Steve and McKinna scored some empty rights at sunset, Hawaii time.

Here’s my description of “Swamis:”

Joseph DeFreines, Jr. tells stories centered around the legendary Southern California surf spot, Swamis, focusing on 1969.  It’s a world of hippies and burnouts and Jesus Freaks and protesters, a time when words like love and peace and war and revolution might all be used in a single sentence.

Joseph’s father, a detective with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, has just died in, of course, mysterious circumstances; Joe has just graduated from an inland high school and moved to the coast; he’s turning eighteen and facing the draft; and he’s falling in love with a surfer girl whose father definitely has a connection with the North County’s cash crop, the area’s open secret, marijuana.

The growing and processing and selling of marijuana is progressing, getting more sophisticated, more profitable, and more dangerous.  The formerly cottage industry is evolving from the homegrown, with plants hidden in the avocado orchards and kids selling dime bags.  There is money to be laundered, good citizens getting involved.  There is, or could be, a wholesale market.

The unofficial line with the Sheriff’s Office, in a quote from Joseph, Senior, is “The world works on an acceptable level of corruption.”

When a man is burned to death just outside of the white walls of the religious compound that gives Swamis its name, that level has been breached.

While surfing has its too-obvious allure; too much freedom in too little clothing, its aura of rebellion and undeniable coolness, it also has, at least in Joseph’s mind, a certain set of high standards, a code of conduct.  He’s wrong.  He’s naïve. It’s a different world, existing con-currently with the world of commuters, the world of law enforcement, the world of pot… so many concurrent realities.

The characters in “Swamis” are complex: A detective’s son with possible epilepsy and a history of violent outbursts; a wounded returning Vietnam Vet; an ex-teen runaway-turned-evangelist; a Japanese war bride; a hired thug who becomes a respected detective; a black photojournalist; an East Indian who wanted to be a revolutionary and was banished from London; Mexican middlemen under immense pressure.  If Swamis are seekers more than prophets, they are all Swamis.  Still, none are perfect.

Maybe Virginia Cole.  To Joey.

Maybe, among the chaos, there’s the occasional perfect moment, the perfect ride on a perfect wave.

385 words.

 

 

 

 

Ginny Cole at “Swamis” 1969

This is my latest attempt at the negative-to-positive technique:

Virginia (Ginny) Cole late afternoon Swamis, 1969

I’m pretty satisfied with the illustration, at least partially because it pretty much turned out as I imagined it would, hopefully, pretty; and I don’t feel the need to go back on this drawing and make changes.

Not yet, anyway. I am considering going back to the original and adding something referencing my novel, “Swamis,” Ginny Cole being a main character in the in-progress (still) manuscript.

AND, this image may end up on an ORIGINAL ERWIN t-shirt. If not, or if so, I’ll get a signed, framed, limited edition (limited, as always, by me) copy over to Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE soon, like, maybe today.

MEANWHILE, look for, wait for, or enjoy surf when you can, make sure you’re ready to vote in November, and STAY SAFE.

Stuck in the Suck… One Rib Too Far

It’s not, really, that the waves were all that dangerous or scary; it’s just that they were breaking too close to the beach.

Beach break.  Shore break.

I can’t say I’m not spoiled by reef and point breaks, waves that seem a bit more, um, polite, reasonable, more consistent.  On the Olympic Peninsula, the prevailing condition being flat or flat with winds blowing so frequently (and often briskly, gales from south to east to north to west, sometimes in one day) against any swell direction that might bring some sign of swell to the Strait, and even with buoy readings that suggest, almost guarantee rideable waves, the prevailing condition can win.

SKUNKED.

What is worse, figuring I’d figured it correctly, that I just might score, seeing even the super weak wavelets coming out of the dark and (despite the forecast) wind-torn deeper water, die among (as opposed to lined-up bombs sliding over) the rocks of a reef; a dark squall bringing a downpour; I discovered I might have been almost the only one dumb enough to believe the odds and the gods favored surf.

WAITING. Maybe it’s the tide; maybe it’s just…. a 47 (or so) minute nap, the downpour now the heaviest sort of drizzle, the windows now as fogged inside as they are wet outside; wet; that kind of wetness where they’re just covered in vertical rows of tiny drops, hanging there; one drop in each row gaining enough weight to fall down onto the next; but, and I would have awakened, no one else has even pulled in to see if there are waves.

So then one, meaning me, feels dumb for even trying.

BRIEF INTERMISSION- Here’s the negative, black light ready, version of the Soul Rebel illustration:

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OKAY.  There might be some options.  This is how I ended up hiking to a spot that offered three foot plus waves, still not clean, not friendly, ribs in the swell caused by sidewinds; breaking along (more like on) a steep beach where, eight feet from shore, the water’s eight feet deep.  Overhead.

SO, yeah; look for a corner, take off, drive hard, pull out before it all crashes.  There’s no channel to ease into.  There are sections, sort of separated by those sideways ribs.  A bigger wave should break farther off the shelf that is the shore.  Two successful-if-short rides are followed by one on which I went a rib too far.  Oops.

Stuck in the Suck, I was down in the trench, my board skittering up the beach with each wave, each wave rag-dolling me as I attempted to crawl up and onto the shelf.

OKAY, now I’m determined.  Drop, turn, burn, pullout. Repeat.  Not super thrilling.  BUT THEN, again, going for another section, an extra little chunk of water… Suck, stuck, rag-doll, crawl, try again.  After somewhere around fifteen waves, having ridden one three ribs and a ways down the beach, I got out without suffering a third knockdown. Enough.

FUN.  So, here’s my takeaway, based, largely on something I learned in Psychology 101, Palomar Junior College, 1969:  All passion (read froth or stoke or lust or hunger) seeks to eliminate itself; to diminish that desire that so often overrides logic and morals and common sense.  This lust/froth/stoke/hunger, extended by the ‘one more wave’ syndrome, can be more quickly diminished in sketchy, ‘one section too far’ conditions.

THEN, as passion does, passion returns.  NEXT TIME…

 

 

 

If the Waves don’t show…

…get to work.

Here’s a work in progress by Stephen Davis.

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In progress.

I got this on my phone, so, small, and the image (taken from one of many great  photographs he  has taken) was preceded by Steve, who had picked up some new acrylics the day before, describing his latest painting as, “Vibrant.”

“Send it to me.”

On my phone, it was that: Vibrant.

Because Steve and I are quite competitive (that is, 8.5 out of 10), I asked if he’s all right if I attempt a drawing of the same scene.

“Bring it on!”

Okay.

Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Oh, yeah; we’re a little sick of the waiting- bring on some waves!

ARTSY Note: If you look too closely at many artist’s work, at classics; if you look at the brush strokes, try to work out how the colors are blended, or not; if you break down the technical aspects, the layout and the perspective; you’re looking too closely.  Trish and I have one of Steve’s originals, an acrylic image of one of my favorite northwest surf locations, hanging across the room from our bed.  Perfect.  Here are a couple more:

 

Another Negative Image

FIRST, it’s not surf season along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. One must go coastal. Some friends of mine recently did; sharing an adventure that anyone who doesn’t live in the Pacific Northwest would consider the classic Pacific Northwest surf trip: Hiking with backpacks and surfboards, dropping down ropes (and climbing back up again) to possibly-never-surfed spots… exhausting.

OR, one could go to Westport, look for a parking spot, look for an empty wave.

OR, one could work. It is painting season, yes; but my wetsuit is dr-yyyy-yyy; and, yes, I’m thinking coastal.  Coastal.

MEANWHILE, I did complete a new drawing; meant to be reversed, black-for-white.  I don’t really know how this is going to work until I get to a print shop.  SO, last night, sort of hoping to run into the guy (Jay) at the Sequim Office Depot, who has a handle on such things, I, instead, ran into a person who asked another employee how to do the reversal. She wasn’t sure, either; and the first two attempts saw the image reversed but the black staying black.

“No, I kind of meant…”

ON the next attempt, what had been black was now red.  “Whoa! Didn’t know you could do that.”  “I guess we can.”

On the next attempt, we (with my input and the other Depot person’s advice) got it right.

“OH, but, um, can you do other colors?”  They looked it up.  “Red, yellow, magenta, blue, some other color.”  “One of each, please; full-sized; then a couple of eight and a half by elevens.  Please.”

NOW, suddenly, I’m a little irritated with myself that I didn’t get some smaller, as in scannable on my printer, versions of the ones in color.  Here’s the black-for-white version:

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I did lose some detail here; I’m blaming my scanner.  Now, imagine everything that is black as red, or blue, or…  and now imagine you are, quite exhausted from the hiking, out of a beach with silvery-shiny-glassy-empty-near-perfect waves.  And now imagine… whatever you want.

No, not being stuck in traffic.

Rumors of a Perfect Wave Poster…

…and more!

Here’s a shot of Little Reggie Smart (he adds the ‘little’, I wouldn’t- it would be rude) when he was actually little. before he became a tattoo (and otherwise) artist, a surfer, a painter (house and otherwise), well before I met Reginald Little, a person I sometimes refer to as, “kind of a pretty boy with neck tattoos.”

littleReggieSmart

YEAH, he was a towhead, couldn’t help that.  I actually thought posting this might be a bit of revenge for his posting a video of me on his Instagram.

OF COURSE you will have to check this out, as Trish did.  Her first reaction as I broke into song was, “What a dick!”  Not that she didn’t know this already, but, when I explained that it wasn’t staged (not by me, anyway), and was secretly taped by Reggie, and that several folks in the Peninsula surfing community commented on it; she was almost all right with the whole thing.

I think he’s under “Reggie Smart” on Instagram; not too hard to find.

MEANWHILE, here’s my latest effort in the Positive-to-negative genre:

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OH, AND ONE MORE THING:  My latest t-shirt design is at the screen shop, DL Logos in Port Townsend, and will soon be available.  I am selling these shirts as limited editions (because they are), and tried to add a bit of information to the actual image.

For these shirts it would be something like: Original Erwin- Series 4- Edition 1- “Lightfoot’n it” (title refined by comment on the illustration by Drew Kampion, the need for a title for the various projects of mine at the screen shop, and the way they wrote ‘lightfoot’n it’)- Copywrite Erwin Dence, 2019-  Run of 30.  Printed at DL Logos, Port Townsend, Washington, U.S.A.

Maybe it was a good idea, but the image was already on screen when I got to the shop.  SO, new idea. I’m making tags to go with each t-shirt, with the image of the shirt, the above information (not the stuff in parenthesis), a number (ie; 2/30) and a signature.

SURE, that’ll make your shirt more valuable.

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I AM LEARNING a lot from this process; who like what, what works, what sells; and, other than the sales part, I totally enjoy the drawing, hanging out at print shops desperate to see what the negative image of what I’ve drawn looks like, going over shirt and ink colors and stuff with the guys at the screen shop.

Our daughter, DRUCILLA DENCE, has moved back to our area from an extended time in Chicago, where she most recently worked for, and is freelancing for, “The Onion.”  Since my stuff is massively disorganized, Dru can, hopefully help in the sales and distribution (and, of course, organization) of my, um, stuff; years of stuff.

SOME OF THE SHIRTS are already spoken for, but the rest, white on a dark blue, will be available soon at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

MEANWHILE, as always, I’m checking the buoys and working on other stuff.  “Swamis” the novel, is up to somewhere over 48,000 words (and I still haven’t figured out whodunnit), I’m trying to get some stuff ready for the HamaHamaOysterRama down Surf Route 101 on April 20th (“Four-twenty, man,” Adam ‘Wipeout’ James told me, with the same insider-ness as when I tell someone my age that I graduated in 1969, as in, “class of ’69, man!”)

And, as always, I have to go to work.  Rumors of a perfect wave. Memories of a perfect wave. Anticipation for more of each. Here are the first three t-shirt designs.

 

New Drawing, New Greeting Logo

It’s my new computer, and I’m trying to figure it out.  I’ve hooked up the printer one other time, found out it’s out of ink. Errrr.  Trish had hooked it up before that, and evidently used the last of the ink.

It’s not that I need ink to scan a few drawings.  No, but I do have to find out where the drawings end up, and how to get them from there to here.  SO:

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Meanwhile… wait, it worked. Great! The first drawing is another one originally drawn as the negative version of this.  It’s a learning experience.  When I saw the resultant re-positive-imaged drawing, I discovered the mountains didn’t show up very well.  So, I went back in with some black lines, and got… what you see.

I do have this drawing available as a print at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, and I’m adding the image as another in a group of greeting cards I’ve been working on.

HEY, Tyler has a lot of snow-thrashing gear and clothing, there’s snow in the Olympics; so… check it out!

The other drawing is to be used as one of two (so far), way reduced in size for the backs of the soon-to-be-available, ORIGINAL ERWIN cards.

MEANWHILE, waves continue to miss the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as far as I know, and it’s cold, and, yeah, even though I totally entered a state of hypothermia last time I surfed, I’m ready for some more. Or some.  OH, and I’m at 39,000 words, or so, on my novel, “SWAMIES.”

Negative Thinking Leads to…

..negative images.

IT ISN’T that I can’t think negatively; it’s my pre-set and my fall-back position. Maybe it’s defensive; questioning everything, sometimes regretting the times I didn’t; responding to almost any statement with, “What do you mean by that?”

HEY, that sounds kind of confessional. ACTUALLY, I’m just trying to provide a little introduction to some (potential) t-shirt designs I’ve been working on.

THE IDEA is to do white on colored t-shirts, but, in order to do that, I had to do the illustrations as negatives, all the black to be white. AND, sure, vice-versa. SO:

SO, Wait. Here are the negative images. NOW, imagine white ink on a colored t-shirt.

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I have to admit I was pretty jazzed (saying jazzed rather than stoked, just to vary my vocabulary) when the guy at Office Depot in Sequim was able to do a negative image. I called up TYLER MEEKS at the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.  I did some variations on logo designs for Tyler, and had stopped by to show the originals. AND to see what progress was being made on the t-shirts. AND, yeah, just about ready to go.

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SO, now I’m thinking; if I can actually get a negative image at the printers, MAYBE I can do the original drawing as a positive image and just get… WAIT, that’s too much thinking, too much imagining. I can’t even imagine the logo (above) as a negative image without risking serious damage to my… um… brain.

BUT, I will let you know when you can get an ORIGINAL ERWIN t-shirt. WHAT I CAN’T TELL YOU is when and where some surf might appear; not that I’m not thinking about it. Constantly. Right now.

Can’t Stop Myself from…

…adding more lines. I try for simple; really; but, if no one stops me, I just keep going until…

Image (38)I’m trying to get some illustrations together for (this is kind of a secret and has always been something I’ve been interested in) some t-shirts. I have, actually, done some designs for others, but, as always, I just keep going, adding lines, adding some pointillism (fancier name for dots), some more shading.

Doing some drawings for use in coloring books has helped, but… So, for the above drawing I avoided the ‘extra fine’ pens. Fine lines, I know, through my experience in serigraphy (snotty name for silk screening), don’t always work. They get lost in the process.

The process. My process is I just keep trying.  So, here’s the best I could do with my scanner (because I’m impatient and can’t get to the printer for a couple of days) on a drawing based on a photo I took of a secret and scary and fickle and dangerous and, if I didn’t mention it, secret spot somewhere out on the Strait. The photo very briefly appeared on this site before fear of landmark recognition by desperate and/or frustrated surfers (and having this pointed out to me by several friends) lead to its removal.

Image (39)Image (40)Maybe, in your mind, you can connect the two drawings. I am pretty happy with the rocks in the foreground. Lots of lines; lots and lots of lines.