Wailing at the Landslide Event While Adam Wipeout Was Scoring (again)

It would be great to say that it’s unusual when the larger wave, the window of opportunity, the short span of time when the pulse of swell peaks, happens only some mathematically even number of times on a weekend. It just doesn’t seem to be true. One winter the interval between pulses seemed to find it’s high point on Sundays. Sundays, like five in a row before it shifted slightly, but enough for surfers who can move schedules around enough to hit a peak at mid-day on a Tuesday.

And it would be not completely honest to say I, usually proud to be self-employed, could take a full Tuesday; more likely I’d take off early and hope, or take off lake and hope that, when I pulled off the highway, bumping down some pot-holed gravel (or not gravel) road, I’d find lined-up, groomed, empty lines.

It does happen. Not last weekend. The angle looked good but the swell wasn’t supposed to build, and Saturday morning found Trish and I preparing to take the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry to Whidbey Island, navigate up, past the unseen-but-rumored breaks on the western, straight-line-on-the-Strait-and-to-the-open-Pacific side, then inland to I-5, down a bit, and east to the jaggedy (compared to our Olympics) Cascade Mountains.

We hadn’t quite reached Deception Pass (flat, though I’ve seen it 8 feet- once) when Adam “Wipeout” James called. He was waiting for his wife to get home so he could take off, hoping to score the awesome waves he’d enjoyed last Saturday and Sunday while Keith Darrock and I, who did surf both days, still managed to miss. “Best ever” seems to be Adam’s standard session report; no matter where he goes. Maybe not this time. “Good luck,” I said, making use of my new bluetooth while Trish drove, “it doesn’t look good. The buoys…  And it’s windy here.”

Okay, enough of that. We were headed to Darrington for a performance by The Fabulous Kingpins. The event was a sort of prop-up-the-locals free concert, the cover tune band from Moscow first hired last year to perform, four months after the horrific landslide in nearby Oso, Washington on March 22nd that obliterated a huge swath of land, more than a square mile, changed the direction of the Stillaguamish River, and killed 43 residents. Imagine your favorite hillside park suddenly obliterated by a huge wave. Driving past, it still looks like some sort of rough-and-rocky preparatory work for a mall parking lot.

That would be Moscow, Idaho. I-da-ho. Red state, inland. No surf atoll. Trish and I sent our son James there (his choice, actually) in 1994 to attend the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho. And he did well, for a semester or two. He had auditioned for the Kingpins, but they didn’t want a 17 year old guitar whiz. Now he’s a 38 year old guitar god, Jaymz Dence’, wailing through solos adapted from, but more evolved than the originals on a wide range of classic rock tunes. You can’t help but hear the influence of every guitar player from any-or-everywhere, back porch swamp blues pickin’ to fully-orchestrated concert hall recital, James continues to be a student of the craft. Guitarcraft.


So, how did it come to pass that I got the opportunity to go on stage with my son, play a little harmonica?

Because my son had a little faith that, despite my reservations, I could do it (read ‘wouldn’t blow it’). Because Jaymz convinced the bandleader, Cliff, that I (yeah, I’m wearing my lucky, performance-only Hawaiian shirt, but over my Quilcene Shindig T-shirt featuring a drawing of this son, in this, lean-back, pained-expression pose) wouldn’t embarrass him or ruin the Kingpins reputation. So, even though I couldn’t hear what I was playing, and, despite my eyes being opened, really couldn’t focus on anything, it was a thrilling ride; and probably my ‘best ever’ party wave.

A video shot by our daughter-in-law, Rachel, shows I was not-quite-awesome, but capable. Sorry, I can’t post it here; but my daughter, Dru, is trying to post the video on the “I’ve heard of Quilcene” Facebook site. As Trish told our son, still packing up the equipment while we were headed west on the last ferry out of Edmonds, “It made his year.” Oh, more than one. Thanks, Jaymz.

Meanwhile, Adam Wipeout was sleeping in his car, probably tired from his session at the very peak of the swell, and would awake to more ‘best ever’ waves. More on this later.

A (Revised) Last Look at the Second Occasional Surf Culture Event- and A Bit on Drew Kampion and Something on Author Justin Hocking

Alienating Drew Kampion is something that sits high on my worry list; right up there with being called a Kook or a Hodad (first I was thinking young surf punks who don’t appreciate the experience and innate coolness of someone who has been surfing for, forever- but then I really mean anyone, even if I’ve done something Hodad-ish or Kook-like). Mr. Kampion is held in a rare position in the surfing community. While surfers like Miki Dora and Greg Noll are admired for living a lifestyle unavailable to those of us who love adventure yet opt for some sense of security, and other surfers are noted for gloriously blazing and tragically (but, maybe predictably) burning-out, Drew Kampion has kept a toe in the waters and an eye on the changes in the surfing world since the evolution/revolution in the mid-to-late 1960s, pushing “Surfer” into new-age journalism while most of us were cutting old boards down and sticking one hand in the wave to duplicate some controlled sideslip we saw in the magazine. It would be pretty difficult to find a surf-related book without a forward or comment or endorsement by Drew Kampion. Or written by him.


It was with great excitement that Port Townsend Librarian Keith Darrock was able to persuade Drew to come over from Whidbey Island for the first Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event. This photo is from the second time I ever met the legend in person. When I first met him, last time, I said, “My only hope is that this isn’t all too cheesy.” “Have no fear,” he said, “I live in the cheese.”

Well, there’s cheese and there’s cheese. As I mentioned, I’m fortunate enough to be included in a group receiving a weekly email featuring a poem by Walt Whitman. I always write back something long, frequently something about the latest surf trek to the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula; sometimes a rant. I get back (thrilled to get anything back) some terse and brilliant.  I may never reach brilliant… or terse, but I am grateful to not be called out as a poser/kook/hodad; but if I did get called out, I’d have to believe it.

REVISION/NEW MATERIAL- Just to show there were younger folks at the event, and because he was the keynote speaker, I had to get back to this to say something about Justin Hocking, author of “The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld.” Just this last weekend I ran into someone on the Strait who, like Justin, surfed Rockaway Beach in New York State.  Connection? Because Justin spent some time in Colorado, and because Stephen Davis was raised there, and because Stephen read his book before Mr. Hocking was invited to speak, and was impressed by it, Steve sort of grabbed (someone more sophisticated than I would say ‘button-holed’) the author during the after-presentation part of the program; and then I attacked him, interrogated him. “San Diego, huh… what part?” “Well, and this affected my skateboarding verses surfing; it was mostly geographical.” It turns out he lived in La Jolla for a while, then, when his father remarried, moved inland. “Not to, like, El Cajon?” “Yes. El Cajon.”

It explains a lot.  Stephen wanted to buy a book. I wanted a book. I had money, but someone else gave Steve enough for two books. “Steve, I can buy my own book.” “No, I’m buying you one.” Slightly more aggressive, maybe, than Stephen, Justin was busy writing something on mine when Keith came up, saying he wanted a book. He was out of books, but I still had some money, and bought one for Keith, offering some extra money for shipping. In my mind, it all kind of evened-out, and, anyway, I have my personalized copy.

So, what I’d like to say is, as always, there are connections, if we attack/interrogate/converse with someone enough to find them. I know this book isn’t the end of Justin’s work; I know attending cheesy gatherings and such activities is important to the promotion process; but, in the same way I hope for the best for those who are daring enough to pursue a career in the dangerous world of art and literature, like surfer/artists Todd Fischer and Jesse Watson, I would like to think Justin’s ride will find success. Go, Justin!


A legend on the Strait, TIm Nolan.  Google "Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day" for more. It's somewhere in the realsurfers.net archives. Still dominates.

A legend on the Strait, TIm Nolan. Google “Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day” for more. It’s somewhere in the realsurfers.net archives. Still dominates. Oh, and check out the paintings in the background by Stephen Davis (center) and Todd Fischer.

part of the crowd at the event

part of the crowd at the event. Hey, there were some younger folks, also. No, really. That’s Stephen Davis with the man-bunn.

In Case You Missed the Surf Culture Event

Here’s the piece I read, with minimal ad-libbing, at the recent Surf Culture On the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event. I plan on adding some more photos, but it’ll probably be in another post. A pretty successful event- no one drowned, though I did hear some coughing.


ONE- I knew the two young guys, one on a soft top, the other on a yellow-but-at-one-time-white board were from Gold Bar, a town somewhere between I-5 and the Cascade Mountains. Because I asked them. Nicely. But I always ask surfers I haven’t seen before. This time, we were at a spot that, legend has it, sometimes features rights, off the island. That’s a clue. I’ve only experienced this lowtide phenomenon once; closeouts across the small bay many times.

Archie and I had gotten skunked at the place we had wanted to surf. At this spot there was a sandbar, there was a makeable right. There were several other surfers out, including a guy on the longest longboard ever, paddling with way too much nose out of the water (sure sign of a beginner/kook), but waiting in the perfect spot, catching the best waves (as in, the ones I wanted), jumping up, clumsily riding, arms flailing, and, somehow, making waves.

“Hey,” I said, nicely, “you don’t need that much nose out of the water.” “Hey,” he said, kind of snottily, looking at me kneepaddling a stand up paddleboard; “aren’t you supposed to be standing up on that thing?” “Oh,” I said, “yeah, I think so.” Eventually, whether or not he appreciated it, the surfer from… I didn’t ask where he came from… he got a rare treat; really great waves. Archie and I enjoyed them for another forty-five minutes after Long Longboard Guy left. Then the waves left.

But, the Gold Bar Boys. On this day it was a very high tide and the waves were wrapping around what in normally beach rather than sandbar. The best waves ended up in the creek. Another clue. “Um, maybe, if you want to actually catch waves, you might move over here,” I offered. “Thank you, sir.”

So, several waves later; and this was a few years ago, and I was on a non-SUP… just so you know… I took off and did what old fat guys who have ripped or torn, or merely worn out, tendons and ligaments on each knee, do on very small-but-peeling waves; I rode them on my knees. That made the wave, like, chest high. One of the Goldies was on the shoulder, doing the head down paddle-like-you-mean-it, and… and I know every gremmie practices this, the jump up to spiderman move, on the carpet of his mom’s house, out in the schoolyard to impress inland girls, wherever, and, whether they’ve actually caught the wave or not, the beginner is likely to leap up.

This time Goldie did catch the wave, jumped up, arms pumping, and actually was trimming down the line, on the shoulder, totally unaware I was behind him. Kneeboarding. It’s a long wave, as I intimated, and, though my fin was almost dragging, I kept going, into the creek. The wave sort of died in the deeper water, I did a smooth pullout while he just sort of stepped off the side of his board. He didn’t appear shocked he had ridden a party wave with a guy who isn’t fond of party waves, turned to me and said,

“That was EPIC!”

“Um; yeah, it was.”



Up until a certain point in my board surfing… career, life, experience… I truly believed, and frequently stated, that I could remember every wave I’d ever ridden. And, further, I believed that there was something magical about catching, riding, or even watching a wave from the first line on the horizon, to the last wash up the beach.

I still believe in the magic, and, though I have trouble remembering individual rides, even from my most recent session, my mental harddrive is crammed with images from 50 years of board surfing, with mat surfing, surfie surfing, body surfing before that, and, possibly, I like to believe, even some foggy recollection from my first three years of life, on the beach in Surf City, North Carolina, toddling down a bit of an incline, somewhat ahead of my mother, toward the waves.

Waves. The early morning light on the east coast is like evening on the west; the view from the water reverses the colors, dawn to dusk. In winter, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the sun hugging the mountains, it’s dawn all day. And then it’s dark.

The images are all so clear; things I’ve seen- storm surf with sideways-ripped waves, lines of broken soup to the horizon, indicator sets in the kelp beds with the greenest color on the wall as each wave lifts, toward the peak angle on a surfer hard against the wall, a whale in the darker corner of a cove blowing a geyser, the view of waves between the houses and along the low sections of old Highway 101, Oceanside to La Jolla, nineteen fifty-something.

And more. I can conjure up the photo of Rincon from the hill, from a mid-sixties “Surfer” magazine, a guy on the hill at dawn, witnessing lines to the horizon, and… and maybe you know the photo.

So, my beginning hypothesis was: If we store a mental slideshow, and add to it over time, then, if a surfer wants to do some mind surfing, at any given time, those images can be brought forth, and that would be magic. And I want surfing to be magic.

The problem is, all our memories are fiction. There’s some Master Record of All Truth, and then there’s our version. “Overhead and glassy at an afternoon session at Cardiff Reef in 1967, the time Phillip Harper had to get rescued?” Maybe.

And that photo. I looked for it online. No, it was afternoon, the same lines at Rincon to the horizon, and published in “Surfer” in 1973. 1973? What? Can’t be. I wasn’t studying surfing magazines in 1973; maybe a glance at the grocery store.

If I’m wrong about that, what about the image of the competitor freesurfing before the Oceanside Invitational in 1965? My slideshow has the guy taking off, dropping with the wave, an attempt at a headdip turning into a vicious lip-to-the-head, pile-driving wipeout. Wrong. I was the kook, paddling out because I was too embarrassed by my sister, Suellen, running around the beach, collecting autographs from surfers like Mike Doyle, even chatting with Doyle’s mother, that kind of thing. The real truth might be that the surfer possibly could have made the wave if some gremmie hadn’t been directly in his way.

Still, I like my fiction better.



It was still an hour and a half before dawn when three Peter Pans met at Fat Smitty’s, quickly moving boards onto and gear into the vehicle owned by the oldest of the three Pans. Heading west/northwest, coffee and expectations bouncing around inside, there would be adventure and excitement on this, as with most expeditions. Stories would be created: The drunk/or/sleepy driver; traffic tickets; a ripped-loose leash and a lost board saved by Big Dave; waves cresting near the pilings; the guy with the Shamrock on his board shoving Brett’s board back as he attempted to even a score for undue set wave hogging, and the follow-up screaming match in the lineup.

But, each of the Peters ended up with his fictional(-ized, maybe just slightly) account to save; each of us caught enough waves, got enough good rides. Other things, like real life, could be discussed on the way back home.

A few days after the above session, Jeff, a guy I occasionally sought waves with before his wife, my daughter’s old school friend, Ruth, got into surfing and they became what I call a ‘surfing power couple’, and who I didn’t realize was on the beach on that day, sent me a video of me ripping three bottom turns and totally in position on three sections before making a smooth kickout.

So, I was right. I do rip.



So, here’s the go pro my daughter bought me. Thanks, Dru. GoPro selfies always, and it doesn’t matter if the surfer is on a small wave or huge, just look like someone doing calisthetics. But, a shot down the line… better.

If you could access your mental slideshow, bring up a just-glassed-off afternoon session. Now, a wave approaches. You paddle over to get near the peak. You wait, wait, then turn, throw your weight down, then use that rebound to start your paddle. One stroke, two; you’re dropping. You lean a bit more toward the peak, allowing the board’s dropping ease your leap to your feet, with, in the same motion, a smooth turn off the bottom. You spot a place high on the shoulder and down the line… When you hit it, you’re so close to the top, ribs of feathering wave in front of you. There’s a real question as to whether you can make the wave. You shift your weight forward, allowing the back inside edge of your board to release.

There’s one moment, the briefest of moments here for you to tuck, drive…

All right, so you made the wave. Great. Or you wiped out. That happens. No big deal, unless you had put yourself in that one moment; then it’s memorable. Click.

Now you’re looking up the barrel at me in a similar moment. I’m standing tall, allowing the lip to move my hand back and down as my board freefalls a bit. At that questionable moment of making it or not, I just can’t help but channel some ancient surfing magic, and lean back, arch, and I may be screaming some one-syllable non-word. “Owwwwww!” which really means, “hey, look at this.”

I want you to add this image to your harddrive, and, later, when you bring it back up, and bearing in mind you just got a great ride, you can only respond by saying, “That was EPIC!”

May all your sessions be epic. May all your magic be real. Thanks

A Look Back at the First ‘Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event’

Somewhere before it was my turn to present my short story, “Locals,” I realized a twenty minute reading wouldn’t work with the somewhat fractured audience. By fractured, I really mean distracted. There was a lot going on in and around the Cotton Building, the former Port Townsend Police Station, and, for this evening, the site of the first ever Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca Cultural Event.

The Kinetic Kar thingie was happening nearby, there was a dance about to happen at the American Legion Hall, and, hey, it was a High Season Saturday night on Water Street. Former “Surfer” magazine (and many others) editor and the man whose name must appear somewhere on any jacket for any authentic surf-related book, Drew Kampion, was just finishing a slide show. He’d been there (everywhere, with photos to prove it) during surfing’s post-Gidget, short board evolution. As a writer/journalist, Kampion was the Hunter S. Thompson, the Tom Wolfe for surfers. Yes, Wolfe wrote about surfing, but he wasn’t a surfer.

Somewhere after Drew’s casually-presented show-and-tell, with insider stories; with Archie Endo (he volunteered for this, and was very well received) playing surf tunes through a little amp; with people milling about near the tables and easels of art work by legitimate, professional artists Todd Fischer and Jesse Watson, checking out a painting by Stephen Davis that just (I mean just) sold to a surf shop in Malibu; with photographs by Christian Coxen; with some people taking to seats who clearly thought this was some other event; with people (some possibly bored tourists) wandering in off the street; I knew it would soon be my turn.


surfcultureeventsecond 001surfcultureeventthree 001Eventflyerwordless 001

This first event came together much like the actual local surf scene; word of mouth, which includes texting, e-mails, random meetings between surfers at Waste Not Want Not (used merely as an example). Keith Darrock, surfing Librarian, came up with the idea of doing a surf-centered event, possibly including me because we ran into each other while looking for surf at a sort-of secret occasional-breaking surf spot. But this is how it worked. Tim Nolan, boat designer, will be displaying his new paddleboard and the cad drawings for it at the upcoming event, partially because Keith ran into him at a surf spot past Joyce.

“Yeah, but, Keith,” I had said prior to the first event, “if it’s sponsored by the library, shouldn’t there be something, you know, like, literary?”

“You know anyone… literary?”

I recommended Mr. Kampion, who actually dedicated a poem to me in “Surfer” magazine in 1969 (possibly because I have a funny name and did have a poem, heavily edited, published in the magazine in late 1968, written when I was 17), and who now lives on Whidbey Island. Keith reached out to him, he agreed to come over, and, relief, now I was the opening act.

Except I wasn’t. I was scheduled last. I tried to appear calm, but actually was unable to see the audience through my reading (only) glasses. That was just as well. I had rehearsed, thrown in some choreography, timed my readings. I didn’t want to screw this up.

At a normal, conversational rate, it took about nineteen minutes to read through.

And so I began.

“Whoa,” someone said, (like, fifteen minutes) afterward; “I didn’t think someone speak so… clearly, while talking so… (pause for a breath)… fast.”

So, this time, for this event, with the Northwind Gallery involved, there may be a bit of a change in the demographic. I would say more sophisticated. Maybe. Maybe the Port Townsend literati. We’ll see. Most of the original artists will have works on display. Background music will be provided by Pete Raab, including a couple by Archie currently working and surfing in Thailand). Drew Kampion has agreed to come back. Author Justin Hocking will be the main act, and I’m not sure how Keith arranged this, but, wherever I am in the lineup, I’ll be reading something shorter. And slower.

But I can read it faster if I have to.

See you this Saturday, starting around 6pm, uptown Port Townsend, upstairs at the Carnegie Library.

Singing and Surfing and Remembering and Not Remembering, In Reverse Order

The Second Occasional Surf Culture On the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event is coming up in Port Townsend on July 11. I’ve been working on several things for it. One item is music. For the first event, Archie Endo, now stuck in Thailand, working, some surfing, brought a little amp, played surf music. Great idea (his), and really added to the evening. This time, Pete Raab is putting together a sort of mixed tape from his huge music collection, with classic surf instrumentals and some island-themed ‘ambient’ music. Thanks, Pete.

My evil scheme was to have Pete (and he was willing) sneak two of my original surf songs without informing event curator Keith Darrock. That’s the evil part.  I originally recorded the only two strictly surf-related songs I’ve written at a former Theater in Quilcene (right on Surf Route 101) with the help of longtime professional sound engineer Tom Brown of HearHere, with me playing harmonica and singing. Pete was doing a surf music show on the Port Townsend radio station, 91.9, KPTZ, along with his old friend, and former music store owner, Ron McElroy, and graciously incorporated one of my tunes, “I Just Wanna Go Surfin’.” The other song is “Surf Route 101.” Naturally.

But, here’s the failure: Pete couldn’t find his copy, I couldn’t find mine (and searched frantically), and Tom Brown, after checking, determined the digital recording is somewhere on a dead computer.

Oh, and although I’m willing to read the piece I’ve been doing more thinking about that working on, concerning the images and memories we save, I won’t perform music live at this event. A sigh of relief might be appropriate here. Not that I’m embarrassed by my harp playing or the lyrics…

But, thinking about music, and singing, I wrote to my old friend Ray. You have to read it bottom to top. I do think it was him with the Monkees tape.


NO way, I never owned a Monkeys tape, you must have me confused with somebody else I swear.

Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:28 AM
To: Ray Hicks

Ray, have a good time on vacation. I checked back before leaving; glad to see a response. I’ll be working until dark anyway (9ish). I do remember you once telling me that the best song ever done was the Cream song…. wait, was it ‘white room with white curtains at the station,’ or, no, I think that was it.  Otherwise, “driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy’s when I play my guitar.” Join in anytime. Now I better go. And, hey, that was probably enough gas to get home, to school, wherever… See you, Erwin
I am pressed for time, so I might use this on my site, not mentioning that you had a Monkees tape, or that I liked some of their songs also.

From: “Ray Hicks”
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:14:06 AM

HI Erwin,

Not in Hawaii yet. Today is my last day before starting vacation but we don’t leave until Thursday. I’ve never been much on lyrics, to this day I hear the voice as another instrument rather than a method of delivering poetry or storytelling.  My loss according to Carol. I do remember the ‘fruit of the vine’ song though. The music that brings back surf memories to me is Cream. When I hear some of those songs I am taken back to driving down the coast highway cruising by the camp grounds in South Carlsbad with an eight track player under the dash. I listen to the Sirius radio classic stations now and hear that music all of the time. Occasionally I’m driving down the coast highway when I’m So Glad comes on the radio and it really takes me back. I also hear the Doors often and still love it. Other than classic rock I listen to the blues. I just love the B B King channel on Sirius Radio.

I remember one occasion of us surfing at Swami’s  then coming up starving and thirsty, buying something to eat at the liquor store in the middle of Encinitas then buying gas for your Morris Minor in Carlsbad with the left over change. Maybe 26 or 27 cents worth.

The only music I associate with Phillip is Jethro Tull because he introduced me to them, still one of my favorites.


Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 8:08 AM
To: Ray Hicks
not sure if you’re in Hawaii right now. I almost called you yesterday. I’m working on a thing for the surf culture event on surfing images we keep in our memory banks. The idea is, if we think of surfing as something magical, and we can conjure these (I was originally thinking only visual) images, allowing us to ‘mind surf’ when we can’t actually surf; this is kind of magical.
That got me thinking that my memories of my high school surfing adventures include fewer actual surfing images (maybe because I seem to concentrate on my own surfing rather than noticing that of others) than images of you and Phillip and the other assorted characters going to or from the beach, hanging out around various fires. Mostly pleasant memories, maybe with five of us in the back of a CHP cruiser less pleasant, but, overall, good images. Jeez, we were going to, at, or coming home from surfing.
So, as I was driving an hour to a job, I started thinking about songs we used to sing cruising around town or going surfing. Maybe we were in cars (like mine) that didn’t have radios; maybe we had only AM radios with the pop stations the best we could get.  This line of thinking might have been helped along because the local Port Townsend radio station played the Doors cover of the song with the lyrics, “Show me the way to the next whiskey bar; oh, don’t ask why…” followed by something about “Whiskey, let me go home.” A theme, evidently; and I was trying to remember the song that seemed to be one of Phillip’s favorites, without much luck. A few miles later I pulled (from the brain archives) out a few lines. “Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine; when you gonna let me get sober? Leave me alone, let me go home, let me go home and start over.” It took a few more miles before I remembered, “Pain in my head, there’s bugs in my bed, my pants are so old that they shine; out on the street, I tell the people I meet, to buy me a bottle of wine.”
I’m not even sure if those lyrics are fit together correctly. Perhaps you remember. Oh, and my singing hasn’t improved a bit. If we were going surfing together and I started singing, I’m sure you’d still reach for the radio control knob, whether the radio works or not.
The other, and real point of the thing I’m working on is that if we keep trying to remember, we keep the connections straighter, and if we keep surfing, we’re always refreshing our image files. More to conjure.
Writing this actually helps in writing the real piece, keeps me away from a couple of peripherals.
I’m in the usual summer position of too much work, not enough time, and no rain in sight. Luckily, perhaps, the waves are really small. Hopefully you’ve managed to slide a few. See you, Erwin


Tom Paxton wrote the “Bottle of Wine” song, but we probably heard the version by the Kingston Trio. White people. Oh, but, when we sang it, it was  sort of another contest, who could sing it with the most soul, raspiest voice… you know, another thing to compete in. Guess who usually won? And that’s why someone (else) always reached for the radio control knob. Oh, and maybe it was someone else with the Monkees tape. hey, hey!

If You Missed This Wave…

If you missed this wave, it’s probably because it’s at Kalim Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Archie Endo is over there sweating in the heat and humidity, and will be there for a while, working as a middleman in the worldwide fish market. Happy enough to find a wave at all, Archie said he’d much prefer to donning a wetsuit and sliding a few waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

I actually got a video of Archie getting a thirty second ride on a wave that very well could have been at this spot. Go Archie!

I actually got a video of Archie getting a thirty second ride on a wave that very well could have been at this spot. Go Archie!

If you missed this wave, it’s probably because the place only breaks when every where else is blown out. Or, maybe, like me, you were miles away, near some lake, sweating profusely, working on someone else’s castle, with boaters, insistent that their selection of waterworld music be louder than their boat’s oversized motors, whipping counterclockwise donuts, throwing screaming kids off whatever floatation device they were riding, sitting in, or clinging to; and, besides, there was no real swell.

Flyer and Update (and more updates) on Surf Culture on the Strait Event

P1060887First, here’s a shot of Port Townsend librarian, and curator of the upcoming Surf Culture Event, Keith Darrock taken by Tim Nolan on an above-average (average being flat) day at a not-unknown spot on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “Chest high” we’re saying. You’ll notice Keith measuring.

PaulStrauchFiveFor comparison, here’s a shot of Paul Strauch, Executive Director of the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente, in a classic photo at Haleiwa, performing the same maneuver, formerly called “The Paul Strauch Stretch” or “Paul Strauch Five.” No comment on the wave size.

Keith will be on the local Port Townsend radio station, KPTZ, 91.9, on Friday, June 19, sometime between 4 and 6 pm, on the FreeSpin program, hosted by Ron McElroy; the program also featuring surf music in honor of International Surf Day, June 20. KPTZ is online if you’re out of range.


All right; here’s the flyer. The graphics were done by Cindy Whacker. There will be more updates to come as other artists and exhibitors are signing on. So, check back.

Silvana Lima, Sally Fitzgibbons, Substantial-ness: Surf Blogging/Riffing/Ranting

I do spend some amount of time corresponding about surf sessions, mostly with longterm friend Ray Hicks, down in San Diego’s North County, and with surfing’s preeminent literary guru, Drew Kampion, now residing near the last reaches of Northwest swells. In both of these cases, partially because I can type very quickly, I blather on, words (it’s the same when I’m speaking, actually) often ahead of my brain, these missives (see how I try to sound sorta literate?) often eliciting a very terse and very clever response.

Okay, so there’s one thing. Another thing is that people keep referring to my ‘site’ as a ‘blog.’ Nooooo! Not what I intended.

Okay, sometimes, maybe, it is a blog. The following is something I wrote to Drew, also trying to get him committed to coming across the ferry to participate in the “Second Annual Surf Culture on the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea” in Port Townsend on July 11. He asked, in his response if I was going to put it, or a version of it, on my… yeah… blog. So, with a few additions (and, yes, I did come up with the title for the upcoming event, pretty proud of the ‘occasional’ part), here’s a BLOG POSTING:

I got home yesterday (worked more like a day shift, this time, so I could get help, closed down one of two stairwells- hey, there’s also an elevator) just after the last semi-final heat in Fiji. With Trish shopping in Sequim, I did get to see the final, though I was, at the same time, catching up on the latest DVRed “Penny Dreadful,” which Trish hates, and got to talk on the phone with our daughter Drucilla, walking home from work in downtown Chicago, for most of the heat. So, perfect, no sound on either screen. But, with the show over and me off the phone for the last five minutes or so, I was able to concentrate on the drama in Fiji (Sally Fitzgibbons, with a perforated eardrum, vs. Bianca Buitendag).

from WSL

from WSL

Maybe I pay too much attention to these contests and buy into the drama too much (some of it, no doubt, more hype than reality), but, after seeing Sally breaking down in the rental car with both her parents at Honolua Bay last year, I had to root for her.
AND, watching the last part of the DVRed TV version of the Rio contest (kind of a surf-related evening), I caught the little thing on Silvana Lima (which I’d missed in watching the event live- as I could), selling her apartment and car to support her contest habit/dream, and, because I buy into any sports related drama, from any sport, I’m hoping, with the enthusiasm for surfing in Brazil, that some sponsor steps in.

from pinterest

from pinterest

AND, My daughter, Dru, has moved up enough at the ad agency she works for that she currently has an intern. The big boss offered a seat in the luxury box for a game of the Stanley Cup (or the preliminaries, I’m not sure) to the intern who writes the best paragraph by the end of the day on why he or she should attend. After offering a few phrases (brutal ballet, ultra-padded gladiators), I just spent half an hour writhing (I mean writing. Maybe) a paragraph. Hopeful.
AND… I ran into a guy at a Poulsbo paint store who used to surf, so naturally…had to talk surfing. At some point he (he being tall, skinny, nearly seventy) mentioned localism, regular surfers vs. longboarders. I said I haven’t had any real problems. “Probably not,” he said, kind of giving me that look skinny people reserve for the rest of us. “What do you mean by that?” “Well,” he said, “you’re kind of… substantial.”
Okay; so now I may run the photo of me looking, not old and fat (as I thought, and continue to think); just substantial.
FIJI for men starting soon. Still rooting for Kelly, now representing… brief brain freeze with image of Felipe Toledo giving Gabriel Medina a bit of a shove… yeah, the drama, real and imagined, starts later today. If I quit writing and take off for work now… maybe I can catch more than the highlights.

originally saved under 'fatErwinripping,' now captioned 'substantialErwin(still)ripping.' Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

originally saved under ‘fatErwinripping,’ now captioned ‘substantialErwin(still)ripping.’ Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

Correspondence- Unnamed Wife at Unnamed and Secret Oregon Spot

Please read the correspondence (below) from bottom to top. The guy thrashing on the guitar in our hotmail ‘image’ shot is our son, James, or, guitar wailer name, Jaymz. Drew Kampion is the guy who wrote back to Keith. We’re both trying to convince Mr. Kampion, legendary surf writer, and headliner at the first (highly successful) event, to participate in “The Second Occasional Surf Culture on the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event,” curated by Port Townsend Associate Librarian Keith Darrock.  The name may be shortened. More details will be forthcoming: It’s scheduled for Saturday, July 11th, so, so it’s like a longrange forecast. I’ll be doing some posters, so you know I’ll be adding more information as we get closer to the (gosh, I keep saying) event. Oh, it will be (an event).
Oregon Coast
To: Erwin and or Trisha Dence
Yeah, go for it. That’s actually my buddy’s wife! She’s quite the ripper. He didn’t say, I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure that’s a semi legendary mysto reef/creek mouth near where I grew up. It’s pretty fickle and dependent on how the sand sets up over the winter. Its been dormant in recent years. Good sign for one of the better waves on the coast. 

Drew wrote back already. He said “Will crunch thi in the ol’ reality machine & see what comes out, Keith!!  Thanks for thinking of me … drew”
To: Erwin and Or Trisha Dence
Click for Options
Hey Erwin,
Here’s a recent shot taken by a friend at a reef break near where I grew up on the Central Oregon Coast. It’s way off the beaten track. They’re getting all the swell this year.
And here’s the shot, only larger. Thanks, Keith.