Surf/Write/Draw, other obsessions and addictions, and Multiple Distractions

I have written somewhere over 90,000 words, so far, for (or is it ‘in’ or ‘of’ or some other word?) my surf/romance/detective/coming-of-age inter-genre novel/fake memoir, “SWAMIS;” and it’s so close to being completed; so perilously, dangerously, frighteningly close; and yet… not not not not done.

Completing “Swamis” is my latest compulsion.  If, as I say, writing is mostly thinking, then typing, scribbling, word processing, long-handing; whichever (I love the backspace feature; so much cleaner than crossing-out and writing in the margins and adding carrots and lines and arrows; and so much easier to read than my handwriting) process gets the thoughts onto the page, new thoughts filling-in gaps in reasoning, backspace taking out the occasional fuckup.  Oh, and there’s reviewing, and, perhaps, reading out loud (best way to find flow impediments and, if you’re reading to someone, the best way to get some sort of reaction as to whether you’re just fucking wasting your own and possibly their precious time, possibly to definitely on that scale); and there’s the opportunity to go back, change, edit, add something earlier that makes things later make more sense.

So, okay; let’s just ask this question: Is one crazy for thinking, when all of us are supposed to have some skill at writing, that one is a writer?  And/or (jeez; I could have put a semi-colon there and extended the run-on; do love a semi-colon) does writing turn one crazy?

So glad I put the and/or in there.  The answer, I believe, is both.

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Here’s exactly where I am: It’s 1969.  Jesus Freak Chulo is burned up on the Swamis parking lot side of the Self Realization Fellowship compound in Encinitas.  Thousands of words later I’ve had my mind changed on who killed Chulo, and why; and what form of violence is going to be necessary to take care of the killer or killers?  I didn’t know who killed him myself, going in; and, in the tradition (I didn’t say ‘best’ tradition- just ‘the’) of detective novels, it’s not who the reader thought it was.  It’s not who I thought it was.

Work and other distractions are things I’ve rationalized (this is like; yeah, I know I missed some classic waves the other day, but mowing my lawn was just so, so… it’s lying to yourself) into a positive is this: (I hope you notice the full on colon usage) The time away from writing gives me new eyes, a fresher and more objective view of the drivel and crap and genius level verbiage I have previously written.  Sure.

NOTE- I just back-spaced a whole paragraph.  Painful?  Not too.

Oh, just thought of this: (colon): I’ve had some people who have been gracious and patient enough to listen to me try to tell them something about the plot and characters and time and place setting and underlying truths in “Swamis.”  I do appreciate this.  My daughter, Dru, is one of these.  “Sounds kind of dark, Dad.”  “What? No. It’s not. It’s…” “How many people are killed?” “So far? Chulo, Gingerbread Fred, there’s stuff about Vietnam, um, people I probably have to kill off.  Yeah; maybe it’s a little dark.  There is some humor.”  “Okay then.”

I am tempted to go into this sub-topic: Is writing (or surfing, or drawing, or mountain climbing, a huge list of activities, including, because it’s critical to the plot, meditation) self-edifying, self-aggrandizing, in some way masturbatory?  Okay; I’ll avoid that subject.  Answer- probably all of the above; depending.

Depending.  I am both stubborn and self-critical.  I realize “Swamis” is dialogue-heavy; I feel that my style might have changed from the first page to whatever page I’m on; I’m not entirely sure my style is… good.  It might be; and I’m self-critical/stubborn/conceited/delusional/insane enough to stick with it.  So far.

So far.

So far.  Part of the problem is, or might be, that I started to think of the story, and to break it down into a succession of scenes, like movie scenes.  I do have some history as a failed (I prefer almost successful) writer of screenplays, the difference being I’m still painting houses. I do seem to think of and remember things in two ways:  Visually and verbally.

A screenplay is a quite specific discipline/format/tradition.  It seems to be this: (man, these colons)  Setting, dialogue, action. Where something is happening, what is said, and what is done.  What we as viewers don’t realize because of the visual, is that most movies have very little dialogue.  Without that, with only words, what you have is someone trying to guide/push/force a reader into creating the visual.

Or this could be bullshit. I do have several people who have agreed, in theory, to read “Swamis”, once it is completed.  Yes, I did ask each one to read earlier chapters, just to get their feedback, their take on the style.  Nope.  It has to be done.  Or at least, a draft of the manuscript with ‘the end’ at the end.  The thing is, in the hour here, hour there I’ve had to work on this; I usually spent the time editing the living shit out of what was already on the thumbdrive. Now, this close, I know most of what I have to go back and change or modify.  Most or some.  And, I’ve surprised myself at how something early on can fit into the story as it has developed.

What to do with “Swamis” once it’s at ‘the end,’ there’s a question.  I can’t help but imagine different scenarios.  Frightening.

I have to go, finish an interior in Port Ludlow (hint; means that if there is surf around these parts, I won’t be snaking your waves).  I’ll try to think about the ending and how, if I choose this, I’ll have to change that, that kind of shit.  It’s fine; it’s an empty house and I don’t have a radio that still works.

 

Cold Days and Dark Waves

Here’s a photo of a spot you or I will, most likely, never surf, and a painting (in progress) of a spot that exists, possibly only, in the artist’s mind:

peterspoint

stevedarkwaves

What they have in common is the atmosphere.  It can be bright and sunny on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the darkness, the variations in gray; shining silver to near-black; this is more common.  With the orientation, north shore, low sun over high mountains, it can seem like dawn in the daylight hours; 7:30 or so to 4:30, right about now; and almost a month until the solstice.

The painting is by Stephen Davis.  My critique, shared with him: Love the sky, love the waves; not sure about the green foreground.  Steve’s response: “I’ll be going back in; I’m trying different techniques; want to get the cobbles just right.”  Stay tuned.

Oh, and about the photograph. It’s not where I thought it was, and I had many more clues than I’m willing to share with you*.

Oh, oh; I am taking some advantage of the short days, working on my novel, “Swamis;” and, editing the shit out of what I’ve already written first, second, third drafts of, without getting to the exciting climax, the famous December ’69 swell, I have gotten to the point where I’m a bit afraid to share too much.  I am (possibly delusion-ally) envisioning it as a limited series.  Netflix, Prime; yeah, they could use a surf-centric/murder mystery/coming of age story/fake memoir with way too much dialogue (and not enough surfing for a real surfer) set in a world of hyper change: Home grown marijuana, revolution, war, love, and magic; North County, San Diego, 1969.

See? In 90,000 (or so) words less than the novel, I may have just said too much.  Happy Thanksgiving.

*If we talk in person, I do have some session stories I could tell.  (crowds, skunking’s, scores, entanglements, wind, rain… all the usual northwest stuff).   See you out on Surf Route 101.

WAIT, WAIT; I’m adding another painting; entirely because I made some reference to ‘the ninth wave’ in an email to Drew Kampion, and, well, I felt compelled to look up slash Google the term, one that I’ve heard, casually, as in “So, you’re probably going for the ninth wave, huh?”  No, I probably tend to go for the first or second wave; and I have tried to explain to people that waves rarely show up in nine wave sets.  Doesn’t matter.

So, evidently there is a book, “The Ninth Wave,” with some references to surfing in the nineteen thirties and forties, written by Eugene Burdick.  I haven’t read it.  Burdick died of a heart attack at age 46, in 1965 (the year I started board surfing, not that that is in any way ironic).

AND there’s a famous painting, “The ninth wave,” or, possibly, “After the ninth wave,” which I have seen, not in person, but on TV; described as probably the best marine painting of all time by, if I remember correctly, Rick Steves.  The work is by Russian painter, Ivan Aivazovsky, and, possibly coincidentally, it goes with the theme of this piece.  Since I already downloaded it, I figured I might as well display it here.

HERE:The-Ninth-Wave

Illustrations for “Swamis,” the Novel

The manuscript for “Swamis” is up to, and slightly over 70,000 words.  That doesn’t mean it’s nearly complete.  I just looked at a painting project with a client whose background is in teaching and a knowledge of writing and writers.  When I mentioned the word count, adding I never thought I’d get to 60,000, and now I probably need another 30,000; and that, every time I take the time to work on the novel, I end up tightening up rather than adding onto the story.

“Well,” she said, I tell my students writing is never done, it’s merely due.”

Without going into any particular neurosis, I have similar issues with drawing.  I’ve been concentrating on pen and ink, and only occasionally risk pencil or watercolors.  BUT, for the novel, I want some of the illustrations to convey that soft, backlit look that John Severson accomplished in the early “Surfer” magazines.

Yeah, well; this is easier said than accomplished.

Incidentally, since, in “Swamis,” ostensibly a memoir, I steal stories and experiences from myself (and others), give them to the narrator, Joseph DeFreines, Jr.; and because I want people to know Joseph is not me; I have included, along with fictionalized versions of real people from my life, a character named Erwin.

So, that Erwin is the illustrator.

I think he is, also, a bit neurotic, unable to decide on his own when something is truly complete.  SO:

 

The first illustration, above, is the pencil drawing scanned in black and white, the second was scanned in grayscale, the third, after I (I mean Erwin) went back in with ink.

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I do kind of like the underlying white lines from laying it out with a very hard pencil, as I was taught in art classes at Palomar Jr. College, back in 1969.  Maybe…

Should I add that, now that I’m getting closer to the end of the story, I’m getting a little bit paranoid, a little less willing to share the various storylines?  NO, probably not, but I could tell you that I know who killed Chulo, not sure who killed Joseph DeFreines, Sr.

Stay tuned.

From “Swami’s” the Novel

I am still working on the novel; when I can. I’m busy; working. It’s painting season, and I haven’t had the luxury of a few hours early in the morning when my brain is best suited to writing; or, more likely, the energy to take those hours and then do a days work an hour each way from home.  Now, I must admit, I have taken some time to attempt to find and ride waves. Don’t tell my clients.  Not that much time.

And I’ve been thinking about the novel; where it is, how to resolve it; who killed Chulo; who killed Jody’s father; and, once worried that a novel is supposed to be over 60,000 words, I’m now at somewhere over 55,000 and needing thirty or… I need more words.

So, here I am home relatively early, took a much needed nap, interrupted after half an hour by Trish, just wanting to know if I’m home (yes, and no, I can’t go back to sleep), and I have some time before Trish gets home, so, rather than write new stuff, I thought I could post something from what I have written.

Part of my wanting to do this is that, discussing the painting of a rental with one of my clients, retired attorney Rick Shaneyfelt, I started telling him about the novel.  I can’t say listening to a painting contractor talk about plot and character development was particularly fun for Rick, but, like talking surf with a friend, it did get me inspired to do something (something) on the novel.

Because I wanted to back up the version on my computer, I have a zip/stick/whatever drive, and I’ve been writing on that.  The version on the computer is somewhat behind and, because I edit what I’ve written more often than adding new chapters, it’s different. I was going to copy and paste a chapter that actually had surfing in it, but, scrolling down, I got to this part.

AND, of course, I made changes. I can straighten that out later.  MEANWHILE, please check out this part, probably about a third of the way in to what I’ve written so far on “SWAMIS.”

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                 JUMPER AND THE WOMAN FROM THE JESUS BUS… WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1969

“I was surfing at Pipes,” Jumper told me, both of us walking across the Palomar campus from the upper parking lot, “last spring; kind of junky, and… Swamis wasn’t working. It was pretty early. Overcast. I see this woman coming down the stairs. Kind of a flowing… I don’t know, robe or something, behind her.”

“From Pipes? You saw her from Pipes?”

“Yeah; good vision. And she runs around the corner…”

“Boneyards?”

“Yeah. And… the waves weren’t too good, anyway; so I decide to go for a run.”

“Jog? Like jogging?”

“Yeah. No. Hey, Jody; Marine Corps. Remember? We don’t fuckin’ jog, man.”

“Yeah, so, you, um, run. Sure. You dropped your board and…?”

“Yeah. I stuck it against the rocks by the ramp, jogged on down.” Jumper did a bit of a comic jogging move, legs flying to the sides. “Ran. I mean, the beach was empty; I stayed on the hard sand… (whistles the Marine Corp anthem a bit) and I get to Swamis, go around the corner, around the point, and…”

“And?”

“And there she was; full lotus position.” Jumper held out both hands, palms up thumb to first two fingers. I nodded, gave him a hand motion that meant ‘and?’ “So, she’s sitting on whatever it was she had been wearing, and she’s…”

“Naked?”

“No. No. But, she’s…” Jumper moved his free hand from one side of his chest to the other a couple of times. “…topless.”

“Oh. And, full lotus?”

“Full lotus; eyes closed. I guess her dress was kind of… (he acted as if he was pulling up a skirt, unevenly, one leg, then the other) there was a lot of, a lot of leg showing. Thigh.  I’m, I, um, run past. Then, then I figure; like, if she’s in a trance… so, I kind of jog- okay, jog; back… around… couple of times.”

Jumper did a sort of over-awkward, vaudevillian version of his beach moves, eyes on one place (in this case, on me). 

I duplicated Jumper’s jogging routine, adding some arm flapping, some out-of-sync hand motions.

PORSCHE/PORTIA AND SHAKESPEARE…

We were both laughing. Jumper’s voice got lower as we approached the first classrooms, little groups of students, a few more men than women, waiting for the 7pm classes to begin. There was only one I recognized (Jeanie, had dated John in high school- he had moved away- his dad was transferred- didn’t want to ask if they were still together- assumed they weren’t- she was standing quite close to a guy I didn’t know). Jeanie and I exchanged those ‘wave in lieu of conversation’ waves.

Jumper exchanged nods with several guys, waved at a young woman. She stepped forward. He stopped, allowed her to give him a hug. There were words, “Welcome back,” “Yeah, yeah.” “You… good?” “Good; yeah; good.”

Jeanie didn’t step forward to explain… anything.  The people Jumper knew all looked a bit suspiciously at me. Or I imagined they did.  He didn’t introduce me. He nodded in the direction we were going, and we moved on.

“It was; it was the woman from the ‘Jesus Saves’ bus.  Portia.”

“Oh. Oh? Yeah. Her.” I had heard her name. I knew her name. Portia. She was somewhere over twenty, under thirty; long black hair, very tall, always in a long skirt, kind of a Hippie/Prairie/Churchy. Now I was imagining her topless, full lotus. “Portia?”

“Maybe. Yeah. Yes. Porsche, like the sportscar; and, it’s, like, maybe the third time I circled, she opens her eyes and…”

“Shit!”

“Shit; yeah; and she says, ‘I’m not Buddhist or Hindu or nothing,’ and I just…”

 “Fuck. Busted!” I was giggling.

Jumper got a bit more serious; gave me a look. Sideways. I had fallen a bit behind him. I knew better. I pulled even with him. “She says, ‘Jumper, Jumper Hayes.’  Not like it was a question.”

“What?” I stopped. I stopped giggling.

“Yeah. Yeah, and I say, trying to not look at her tits, which, by the way, she made no move to cover. Just, uh, out there. Eye level. Tan. They’d been out before. For sure. But, they were…” Jumper put both hands out, as if cupping breasts. I probably was trying to determine something more specific about size and shape; probably something about whether they were high and… yeah; I was wondering.

The notebook under my left arm almost fell out as I tried to duplicate Jumper’s hands. Yes, he had twisted, rotated his wrists a bit. Size and shape.

“Really?”

“Really.”

Jumper dropped his hands, started walking again. “Wait. Wait! And you said?”

“What?”

“You were about to say what you said when she said, ‘You’re Jumper Hayes.’ And it’s not Porsche like the car, it’s Portia, like, like a character from Shakespeare.”

“Shakespeare?” Jumper asked. We both nodded, neither of us sure.

“I think,” I said.  

“Well, then. Shakespeare.”

ATH-A-LETES…

We were approaching the correct block of classrooms. “We’ve missed some classes, you know.”

“You know I don’t care, Jumper; didn’t want to take this class.”

“Well; you’re a brain, supposedly; you can make it up.”

“Probably just basic stuff; getting free food, beating confessions out of the innocent, rousting Mexicans, harassing Hippies; probably inherited most of it.”

 Jumper looked to see if I was serious.  Joke.  We rounded the last corner. There was a group of about seven or eight large guys in the middle of the block.

“Ath-a-letes,” Jumper said. “It’s kind of a joke. You tell someone you’re taking Police Science, they ask if there’s a lot of athletes in the program.  Easy A, as I said.”

Several of the ath-a-letes nodded at Jumper, one at me (Fallbrook jock- lineman, shotputter, heavy weight wrestler), as we approached. Jumper stuck both hands in the air, flipping the bird with each.  The athletes gave way. We walked past them.

Most of them.  The biggest one stepped in front of Jumper. Jumper stopped. I stopped. The guy was wearing a San Dieguito letterman’s jacket that may have fit when he was smaller, younger; fourteen or fifteen.  He was somewhere over twenty. Jumper’s age, probably. “Jumper fucking Hayes,” he said.

“Tiny fucking Tod,” he said.

Tiny Tod picked Jumper up, said, “We was so worried about you, man.” Yeah, somewhere around Jumper’s age.

Jumper didn’t resist. Not that he could. Larger force. He was being shaken like a ragdoll. And then he was set back on his feet.  “Thanks, Tiny.” Jumper rearranged his shirt a bit. “I’m good. You taking this class?”

“Uh; yeah; coach said we have to.”

 “But, uh… coach?”

“I’m a freshman, Jumper. Navy, man; four years. Saw the world.”

“Okay.”

“Mostly San Di-fucking-a-go. NTC. Cook.  You?  Heard you and Chulo did some time in the Gray Bar Hotel.  Fuckin’ shame ‘bout Chulo.”

“Yeah. Um… no; they gave me, me more than Chulo; gave me a choice.”  Jumper snapped to attention. “Semper fi, Swabbie.”

“Wait. No.” Tiny Tod pointed to a ‘USN’ tattoo, with anchor, on his upper arm, grabbed Jumper’s arm.  Jumper gave him a look (we all watched the exchange, saw the look); Tiny dropped the arm.  “Sorry.”

Jumper looked around at the other students, rolled up the left sleeve on his t shirt to reveal the rest of his scar, just to the inside of the middle of his bicep.  He laughed. One syllable only, sticking his finger into the former wound, pushing it in past the first knuckle. “No muscle there; huh?”  He laughed a bit more, pulled down his sleeve.   “All right.” He looked around at the other students, back at Tiny, pointed at me. “If any of you need to, cheat off’a this guy. He doesn’t just look smart. Um, smart-er; anyway.”

All the athletes looked at me. Tiny stepped aside.  They all stepped aside. I followed Jumper.  He looked around, jerked his head as a signal. I came up even.

He kicked out with his right leg, caught me mid calf.  “Sidekick,” he said.

“No way,” I said.  I stopped just long enough to kick out my left leg. Missed. He laughed. 

Five or six men, older men; men, were standing at the other end of the building in another group; smoking, laughing. A couple of them looked our way. Jumper stopped between the two groups. I stopped; even with him.

“Okay, Jody,” he said, in a lower voice, “So I say, ‘Yes, I am. Do I know you?’ And she says, ‘I knew Chulo Lopez. You were a friend of his.’ I say, ’Chulo? Yes; good friends; known him… knew him… all my life.”

“Chulo?”

“Yeah, and then she unfolds her legs, straightens them, stands up. Gracefully.”  Pause. Even lower, “She was wearing underwear. I looked. Yeah. I did. Black. Lacy. Her skirt kind of, um, falls down. She must have had a belt to… She was a little, um, uphill of me; and she walks closer. Her tits are still, just, out there. I’m looking in her eyes. Trying to. So dark. And she’s looking me up and down. And she says, or, maybe, she asks, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ And I kind of… I kind of want to laugh. I say, ‘Yeah. Jesus; half man, half God; I know a lot about Jesus.’ And she goes, ‘Do you think Chulo has found redemption?’”

“Wait,” I said, “Redemption?” Now we’re both serious. I pulled a pack of Marlboros out of my jacket pocket. Maybe it was because all the guys at the other end were smoking. Jumper shook his head.  I put the cigarettes back.

“Yeah, redemption. And I say… a couple of other runners, joggers; they were- I’d call them joggers; outfits and all; were headed our way… from the Moonlight beach direction; and she, Portia… Por-ti-a; she pulled up her dress; slowly covered her tits, watching me all the time, and, and, I guess it was the shawl thing around her waist. She…”

“Jumper; man; what did you say?”

“I said that whoever killed my friend Chulo had better look hard for redemption; because I’m looking for him, and I must apologize to God and to Jesus for this, revenge.”

“Revenge. Shit. What did she, Portia, what did she say?”

“She…” Jumper looked from side to side, back at me. “She just sort of…” He smiled. “Smiled.”

I had, of course, more questions; but it must have been close enough to seven. A man came out of the classroom, herded the crew inside, most cigarette butts left in the number 10 can at the door; some butted and tossed into the juniper bushes. The athletes walked past, pretty much around us. When the teacher caught a glimpse of Jumper and me, he pushed the next to the last student, Tiny Tod, inside, turned, both hands waving us off. He started walking, quickly toward us.

“Dickson,” I said. “Detective Dickson.”

“That,” Jumper said, “I would call that jogging.”

                                          VISTA SUBSTATION- THURSDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 25

“I’ve been here before,” Jumper said. “You?”

“’Course. Yeah. Sure; my dad worked out of here.” I pointed to a separate office, big window, closed door. “That was his.” Jumper nodded. We were standing in the larger, open area, with several empty desks and rows of file cabinets for dividers; a couple of uniformed deputies leaning over a woman clerk at a typewriter in a far corner. Jumper was holding a paper cup of coffee. 

“Different circumstances, probably,” Jumper said.

The door to what had been my father’s office opened. A man dressed in a nicer suit (higher rank, better suit) walked out…   dot dot dot…

I tried to not make changes once this got onto the WordPress page; couldn’t help myself.  Again, thanks for checking it out.  Trish should be home any minute, with groceries to bring in and take out to eat.  Maybe, in the morning…

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.

 

Original Erwin T-Shirt Design #4

All right, I tried to find the fax and scan feature on our new and hyper-confusing new computer. I have proof that I scanned a drawing before on this thing, but couldn’t seem to find out how to repeat the process on my latest illustration meant to become limited edition Original Erwin T-shirt Number 4.

NO, I had to download a free (thankfully) app from the overlords at Microsoft.

WE’LL see how this works, and worry that, one, I can find the scan in the files, and, two, if that’s successful, that I can do it again next time.

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OKAY on the first point. SO, I had to work in Bremerton, had the original drawing, the negative image of this (sort of), and a fresh-from-Fed-Ex-Kinkos white-on-black version, and showed them to the sales crew at Miller (Kelly-Moore) Paint Company in Silverdale.  Kevin, the manager, and, this might ordinarily matter, a non-surfer, said that if I can get him three shirts, xxl, with long sleeves… So, YES, pre-sale.

ORDINARILY a non-surfer wearing a surf-themed t-shirt might even solicit a question from me, such as, “Do you actually surf?”  NOW, because most of my paint shirts come from Goodwill, I have been known to wear a Harley-Davidson shirt- haven’t ridden a motorcycle in 50 years, and then it was a stripped-down dirt bike.

This might prove slightly embarrassing if, say, one was gassing-up at the Sequim Costco and a real Harley-Davidson Dude, leather and tattoos and pony-tail and actually on one asks, “What kind’a hog you got?”

Not that this happened, not more than once.

AND, BESIDES, if Kevin is willing to risk looking like a Hodad, and he’s willing to promise a purchase; there’s some money to offset the cost of printing… this is something to put in the ‘hopeful-optimistic file,’ off-setting something four or five notches down on the ‘worry’ column.

BUT, as when reviewing anything with others, I realized I had to make some changes in the original Original Erwin. Did that during a break, went back to Kinko’s on the way home, borrowed some whiteout for some fine(er)-tuning, got another batch shot.

AGAIN, I am marketing these as originals, and, de facto (because the printing money goes out all at once and the sales dollars come back slowly) limited editions.  Between those sold (some still available) at Tyler Meek’s Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange, those I’ve sold out of the back of my surf rig, and those (few) I’ve given as presents, most of the first editions are gone.

THOUGH I am way more interested in doing the drawings, I’m working on my sales strategy.  My daughter, Dru, is returning to the northwest from too long in Chicago (most recently working at the “Onion,” quite status-y; and I’m hoping we can do something, something bigger.  I hear this Internet thing is catching on.

No, not blogs.

MEANWHILE I continue to get the occasional (small) wave and the occasional skunking, the northwest continues to be dominated by cold, offshore conditions, I’m past the 40,000 word mark on “Swamis,” the novel, and, as always, I have to go to work work.

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.”

“SWAMIES”- INSIDE THE LINEUP

I continue to be baffled by computers, and get tangled and confused even with tasks I’ve previously performed successfully; like transferring something from the 35,000 plus words I’ve written so far on my novel, “Swamis.”

BUT, this particular chapter with actual surfing in it, which was set earlier in the narrative, had to be moved, just to lessen confusion for readers, from around page 42 to somewhere in the high 50s.  I was able to highlight, copy, and transfer the words, intact, but three attempts to move it from the thumb drive too realsurfers, doing some refining each time, failed.

AND I lost the changes.

SO, here I am typing it onto the site.  I do have some other actual surfing in the manuscript, and plan on writing more, and (spoiler alert) the novel will come to some sort of conclusion during the famous December 1969 swell, though probably not on Big Wednesday.  Maybe on ‘Still Good’ Friday.

REMEMBER, although I surfed Swamis every day during the swell, with varying degrees of success, “Swamis” is still a work of fiction.  That is, the story and characters are fictional, mostly; THE WAVES ARE REAL.

INSIDE THE LINEUP

Jumper was the farthest surfer out, sitting on the Boneyards side of the outside peak, looking at the horizon.  There was a pack on the safer side of where most waves would start to break. As always. Swamis.  There was that string of surfers, with another pack in the vicinity of the inside peak.  At this tide, probably a third, or so, of the waves, the bigger waves, would connect all the way across.

Jumper seemed to feel someone approaching, or he heard the splash and glide of my paddling. He didn’t look around, but rotated his board enough to catch me in his peripheral vision.

“You didn’t call… could have called Tony; given me a head’s up.”

“Figured you’d know.”

I did. “I did. Of course. Cardiff’s… the parking lot is full, and…”

“So it must be good. Huh?”

A line on the horizon started to thicken, darken, take form; a wall, the peak of it fifty yards over from me, farther for Jumper. I could see the lineup come alive; surfers dropping to prone, paddling out and toward us.

“Number three,” Jumper said. “Block for me.”

“Fuck you, Jumper,” I said, stroking hard, out and toward the first wave.  I looked-off three guys also trying to get in position, turned, sank the tail of my board, stroked hard, and took off. I dropped in, made the down-the-line bottom turn, knowing, if it didn’t look like I would make the first section, shoulder-hoppers would take off.  If they didn’t kno0w wave etiquette, didn’t know who I was, or didn’t care, some fool might drop in anyway.

Some surfers, taking off from the outside (weirdly enough, called the ‘inside’ position- closest to the peak) will whistle at the attempted interlopers, or yell something like, “I’m on it!”  Or something harsher. I tried to resist those urges; but I had been known to come as close to any surfer dropping in that… maybe it was an intimidation tactic. Maybe.

I was more likely to just yell, “Go!”

I leaned hard into another bottom turn, looking off two new scrappers. I aimed for a place high on the steepening wave; hit it, tucked into a short tube. Then, while I’m trying to deal with the board speed on a weakening shoulder, someone did drop in.

“Fuck!” I tried to cutback, couldn’t, fell sideways, awkwardly, trying to fall onto my board, or, at least, close enough to grab it.

Nope.  The guy who dropped in, totally unaware (probably) that he was almost hit by my board, (probably) had one of the best rides of his surf life; while I hoped my board would pop up within a swimmable distance before the second wave of the set hit. Nope. Almost there, then… whoosh; more swimming.

Three kooks were sharing the second wave, which had, as I would have predicted, swung wider, more toward the inside peak.  The guy in front stayed in front, the guy in middle tried to stay in position, the back guy (who should have had priority) got (and this is pretty standard, though, sometimes the front guy pulls out- etiquette)  knocked off the wave. I ducked under rather than (and this would have been good etiquette) making a grab for his board.

The third wave, number three; that was the wave. Of course. I just stopped swimming, turned around, bouncing in the eel grass on the ledges, keeping my head above water. I watched Jumper backdoor the peak; tucked-in, covered; emerging, still high on the wave, most of his body above the lip, backlit for a mind-extended moment; then unweighting, redirecting, s-turning while dropping to the bottom. He leaned forward and into the wave, body stretched-out, front hand pointing down the line.

As the inside section formed, he kick-stalled (another freeze-frame-moment in the flow), crouched, and disappeared again.

Some gremmie retrieved my bo0ard, shoved it out to me, just as Jumper finished his ride with an in-the-closeout island pullout, the tailblock of his board coming quite close to me.

He brushed back the water, pulled the hair out of his eyes. “No, fuck you, Jody.”

“Nice ride, man. Number three. Outside peak. Why’d I doubt?”

“Because you, my friend, lack faith.”

“”We’re not friends.”

Another set caused us both to wait, reef-dancing on the finger ledges. “We are. I am the best fucking friend you’ve got.” He tapped me on the chest. A little too hard; looking for my reaction.

“Then, friend; why didn’t you tell me?”

“You’re the detective.”

“Fuck you… again, man. You heard Dickson. ‘There ain’t no eighteen-year-old detectives.’ Right? Stoolies, narcs, informants. Undercover, um, agents.  Not interested. But you…”

“Yeah, me. Me; I am interested. Stoolie, narc, informant, undercover… yeah.  And you, you need to stay away.” My expression, evidently, changed. Way too readable. “You aren’t going to… stay away.” Nope.  “You should.”

We both saw the break in the waves, the chance to paddle back out. We both leapt onto our boards. Jumper almost instantly jumped off his, blocked me from paddling. “First of all, Joseph; you were interested. Second, it was me who said ‘eighteen-year-old detectives.’ Dickson thought you were still seventeen. Friends.”

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Jumper got back onto his board, paddled through a wave and toward the channel. He paddled toward the pack at the inside peak, past the shoulder-hoppers and the scrappers, past the sitters, the channel markers, those folks afraid to go on set waves, afraid to get caught inside.  Those who knew who Jumper was would, if in his direct path, move aside, their feet moving like ducks, rotating.

I tried to paddle out inside (closer to shore) the pack, and got caught by a four wave set. I had almost made it past and through to the outside when an older guy (probably pushing thirty), but an obvious beginner (stink but stance, big arm movements) from Escondido (at least that’s where his license plate frame said he bought his flashy black Monte Carlo), wearing out-of-date, out-of-fashion jams over his wetsuit (for modesty, perhaps, but totally impractical- they wouldn’t ride up, almost instantly rip out) had to fall on his flashy board to avoid hitting me.  His anger only added to mine.

“Fucking paddle around, Kook,” he yelled. Hand signals were added; big arm movements. “Don-cha-fuckin’ know nothin?”

I chose not to be angry. “Sorry, sir. You were… (I made a smooth hand/forearm gesture) surfing so very well. Sir.” Nice guy/apologetic smile.

“Um. Oh. Well. Oh? Yeah?”  I nodded. He smiled.  Now he had a story. “Well; next time…”

I was already paddling, again, taking the inside route.

 

 

On Not Being Ernest

I’ll get to the circumstances in a moment, but the part that’s critical to this story is that, yesterday morning I told a former Hollywood producer (he’s legit) that I’ve used the three weeks-plus Trish and I have suffered (her more than me) without internet access, and without a land line, to work on my novel, “Swamis.”

“Four hours a day the past two days,” I said.

“Hemingway worked seven,” he said, “And standing up.”

“Oh,” I said, noticing that Bob was, himself, standing, scanning multiple images from the weekend’s football games on two computer screens (yeah, the internet worked at the Quilcene Community Center where he’s served- and I’ve never quite figured out why- as director for quite a few years); “Hemingway probably didn’t have a… regular job.”

hemingway

OKAY. I’m not Hemingway.

And, just in passing; I’m not standing up to write this.

NOW, the reason I was, on this Monday morning, patrolling Surf Route 101 from my house to downtown Quilcene, checking out the Century Link switching station (no one there), and then cruising farther south to the Community Center, is that, on the previous Friday, doing the same thing, hoping to see some line truck (none), to give myself (and Trish, forced to do Facebook on her phone- Frustrating- tiny type) some hope that the major corporation hadn’t just decided to write off our rural outpost; and, since I was cruising town (which includes going to the Post Office, going to the ATM at the only bank in town to see if we still have money in our accounts, something, along with buoy readings and surf forecast and tide charts, I check several times a day, if we had internet access); I decided to stop in, say ‘Happy New Year’ to Bob, tell him about my novel (“Swamis”); and, to convince Bob that, if he has one last big play to make in Hollywood, it should be to get the story (“Swamis”) produced as, at least, a Netflix, no, Amazon limited-series.

So, yeah, some hope.

SOMETHING ELSE I’ve been unable to do is post on this site (realsurfers.net). Yes, I did, one time, with about ten minutes to do it in, at our son’s house; but waves have been ridden, sessions have been missed, surfers on too-small-for-the-conditions boards have been frustrated by old guys on big (enough) boards. After one session, I ran into a writer, and, more importantly, a professional editor, whose house (former house, with former wife) I painted a few years ago.

Mark, in exchange for some extra painting, edited an overlong piece I was planning on reading (and did) at the FIRST SURF CULTURE ON THE STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA AND SALISH SEA event.  His editing was totally great.  There were parts where I ignored his advice, and read them as originally written. Mistake.

It turned out that two of my surfing friends (they may deny the friends part), Derrick and Stephen, were working on Mark’s new house, with his new wife.  When I told Mark I was writing a novel, and asked if he could, maybe, please, just read a bit of it, he said he would… BUT it would be better if it was complete.

“I just want to have someone tell me… the style, that’s what I’m…”

“Just let me know… when it’s complete. First draft.”

OH. GREAT. WAIT; WHAT? I’d already googled to discover a novel runs about 60,000 to 90,000 words. WHOA! Moby f’ing Dick! That’s a lot of words.

“It’s not like I’m writing it start-to-finish, then self-editing. I keep going back and…”

“No. I get it. When it’s done… call me.”

Well, winter; long nights (missed sessions), the fact that I can use the laptop as a word processor even without the internet; I’m up to thirty-two thousand words, plus; and I’m thinking about it constantly, getting close to figuring out who did it in my own mystery/surf novel.

TWO THINGS:

ONE: I also ran into Clayton last Friday. Clayton lives between our house and town, has a sort of Christmas tree farm, and, through Trish and Facebook, I knew his internet was, also, out. He was at the Community Center last Friday, using their computers. SO, I found out the outage had been on his property, with an electric line, during one of our more-than-usual number of windstorms, fell onto the phone/DSL lines, frying it, melting all the little lines that go to, well, us and some unknown (and, despite daily long calls to Century Link, they wouldn’t tell me) number of customers.

Still ONE: I was kind of hoping Clayton might be hanging out at the Center. Monday’s Century Link representative de jour (and they’re all over the country- I ask) told me the outage was fixed, and everyone was back on line; but, since our modem was still solid red on the DSL light, I did not believe her. Clayton wasn’t there, but Bob was, in his office.

TWO: I have worked with Bob in the past. In fact, he drafted me to write a column for the Center’s monthly newsletter. “Quite popular” he tells me. I met Bob, as I meet most people, by painting for him when he first retired to the area.  I was still writing a column for the “Port Townsend Leader” at the time, showed him the a copy of the manuscript of my second (the first was never quite finished, this one, “At That Moment” written on computer, word processor, long hand, the first 70 or so pages way more, um, edited than the last 70- or so) novel; and, some months later, I was writing, and he was changing, my first screenplay, “Near-Life.”

Still TWO: It’s a play on ‘near-death,’ and I had one vision; Bob another. He tried to shop it around Hollywood, and we came ‘this close’ to it being purchased by an outfit headed by John Travolta. Almost. Bob was waiting for a phone call. I was waiting (while working) for his phone call after that phone call. It was pretty exciting.  “Almost,” Bob said.

There is a huge difference between ‘almost’ and success.

The story of surf on the Strait is a story of ‘almost.’ Or, maybe it’s a story of ‘sometimes.’

I’m not Ernest Hemingway. Never claimed to be. I looked him up, last night, after I passed two line trucks on their way to Quilcene around eleven; I on my way to Bremerton to work; after I got home around 8pm, and Trish, not nearly caught up on emails and Facebook, let me use the laptop. Hemingway, successful writer, wasn’t writing seven hours a day at 67, standing up. He shot himself at the age of 61.

I wanted to text Bob, mention that to him; but Trish told me (info from Facebook) that yesterday was Bob’s birthday; 82, same age as Jack Nicholson (I got that from Bob).

So, happy birthday, Bob.

I’ve pretty much used up my writing time for this morning. At least it wasn’t used hanging on the automated phone-chase or chasing up and down Surf Route 101. I checked our bank account balances; I can check the buoy readings on my phone.

 

 

It’s not an Oyster, it’s a tag

I drew up several versions of a price tag for my t-shirts and illustrations available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE. I don’t think this looks like an oyster, or, maybe, an abalone shell, but Trish does.

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And I don’t know if coloring it in helps make it less shell-like. Here’s the other version, not yet colored-in.

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Hey, check out “Swami’s” the novel, a few scrolls and finger-rolls down. I’m working on it. Well, when I get a chance. Thanks.