Another Chapter from “Swamis”

JULY 20TH

This was the day a man first walked on the moon. I had surfed. Somewhere; maybe Stone Steps; trying to find a little peak in the peak of Summer; summer and all that meant in a Southern California beach town recently isolated by the completion of I-5.

NOTE- There was talk, at that time, of the North County beach towns (Leucadia, Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Del Mar) suffering when 101 was no longer the main coastal north-south route. Whether they did or didn’t depends on your interpretation of ‘suffering.’

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A Woman entered, looked at the handful of people scattered around the classroom, each with a stack of papers on individual desks that were exactly like the ones at Fallbrook High, and probably Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Orange Glen, San Dieguito (those same beach towns); the districts that fed into the Palomar Junior College District. She looked at one of the papers in her left hand, erased “Biology 101” from the chalk board.

“Now,” she said, “now;” speaking louder when no one looked up after the first ‘now.’ “You people are right at the line; the cut off. Your choices… (louder) are limited. You may not get all the classes you want.”

Creative Writing; yes. And I wanted English 101. Yes, I had tested high enough to skip the remedial, non-credit English; I wanted… Art; yes, definitely. Basic Drawing. Two classes still open. Being under eighteen (it might have been twenty-one at that time), I was required to take a Physical Education class. Fall Sports was closed. Badmitton. Really? Closed. Shit. Weight Training. Still open. No. Fuck. Okay.

I was still writing, erasing, writing when Jumper Hayes entered the room, gave the Admissions Woman a big smile, which she seemed to appreciate, pointed at me with his stack of papers, and sat next to me. He scooted (noisily) his desk unit closer; like he wanted to cheat off me.

The Admissions Woman looked around at the noise, but, again, only returned what I had to believe was another reassuring smile from Jumper. I feel compelled to mention that the Admissions Woman was probably about twenty-something, something under 25, and was trying to seem a bit more professional, even stern, than she was able to. She was rather like a substitute teacher in a room of recent high school graduates, professional students, draft dodgers, returning veterans.

“Bagboy,” Jumper said; “I thought you were going to some big time University. Word is you’re a brain.”

“No.”

“Okay. Maybe not.”

“I was, but… Brain? Who would…?”

“One of those Avocado-lovin’, guacamole dip…dipshits; Bucky Davis, maybe; John Amsterdam; why would I remember? I’m not a brain… like you.”

The woman, taking a handful of papers from an older man; probably forty; scratched Philosophy II and Photography 101 from the chalkboard.

“Oh, and, incidentally, Amsterdam still hates you. Brand new Dewey Weber performer.” He shook his head, moved his hands to illustrate a board crashing on another board. “Got to hang on to your board, Bagger.” He paused. “You prefer Bagboy… or Bagger? Bagger sounds a little more…” He nodded, nearly winked. “Or Jody?”

“That was my dad’s joke.”

“Yeah; and Tony, at the market; he’s in on it.”

“They were both in the Corps. Not that they knew each other then, but…”

“As was I. As I was?” Jumper saluted; quickly, crisply; properly. He looked over at my papers. “You takin’ any English classes, um, neighbor?” When I looked back, he went back to nodding. “Wrong side of 101. You probably have to go five blocks to get across, but… well…”

When I determined nothing was following; I said, “Well… beats living in Frog-butt; huh?”

Jumper laughed, looked at the woman from admissions, gave her another, bigger smile, kept it when he looked back at me. “So, guess you don’t have the horse any more. Any longer? No longer have the horse?”

He didn’t drop the smile. I’d love to think I didn’t seem surprised. Or rattled. “No, we…” I restacked my papers, whispered, “Fuck you, Jumper;” scooted my desk away, a bit more noisily than I might have preferred. Jumper was still smiling.

Jumper stood up, his desk unit like a skirt, walked closer to me. He slid his preliminary class schedule in front of me, pointed to Criminal Justice; pointed to the same title on my schedule. “I am going on Uncle Sam, though; G.I. Bill. Semper Fi, (whispered) motherfucker. Full ride, man.”

“It’s California… Man; free education. And, besides; I’m not interested in…”

“Easy A, Jody; and… (back to a whisper) it’s a family tradition. Isn’t it?”

I crumpled up my first and second versions of my schedule in my right hand, stuck my middle finger out and a little too close to Jumper’s face. Surprised at how instant my anger had been, how it was staying at that level, and that Jumper’s reaction continued to be a smile (“Insolence,” my father would have said); I pulled my hand back almost immediately, flattened-out what had been a fist, and slapped my hand on the papers to the desktop.

“If my father… I’m… everyone knows who my father was. If I…” I looked at my form. “I’m done, June, Juni, Junipero… Mr. Hayes. Fifteen units. Full load. Done.” I stood up, picked up and straightened the other pages. “I’m not interested in being a…” I lowered my voice, looked around the room. No one was looking up from their papers. “…Fucking cop.”

The Woman erased Psychology 101 from the board just before I got to her. I looked at my form, I looked at Jumper Hayes. He still had the same smile, mouthing, “Easy A;” stepped in front of me, very close to the Admissions Woman. “We’re both taking Criminal Justice, Miss… (looking at her name tag) Julianna Esposito (stretching out each syllable). I want to find out who killed Chulo Lopez; Joseph Discenzo… Junior, here…” Jumper handed Julianna my paper work. She looked at the name, looked at me. I looked at her. Confused smile. No, she probably hadn’t heard of my father.  “…he wants to find out who killed his father.”

 

 

 

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“Swamis” Cover in Color

Image (92)Image (91)I got five copies of the original drawing, just so I could, maybe, take a few risks on the colors. This is the first attempt. MEANWHILE, I keep working on the story.

Excerpt from “Swamis”

EVERY time I find time to work on this novel (and it is fiction, mostly), I seem to start out at the beginning, edit, change; so much so that, when I’m out of time, I haven’t really advanced the story. SO, this is a chapter a little way into it; setting up some sort of romance I haven’t totally figured out yet. YET. I will.

WHAT is surprising is how much my partially-planned story changes as I get farther into the plot.  AND what I do, after I write something new, is think about how this can be better said, better written, better told.

AND I enjoy this part of writing also.  More to come.

FEBRUARY 1969-

Ginny Cole was like the magazine photos; like my best rides; I could bring her image into my mind at will; images from the few times I’d been on the beach or in the water with her. Not with her, around her. It’s not like she knew me; another teenage surfer, awkward out of the water, not skilled enough to be noticed in the water.

Ginny wasn’t the only girl surfer in the North County; there were others; but she was good. I had seen Barbie Barron, Margo Godfrey… Barbie in the water and in the parking lot at Oceanside’s shorter jetty; Margo with Cheer Critchlow at Swamis on a day that was uncrowded, big and nearly blownout; both just casually walking out, chatting; paddling for the outside peak. My two friends and I shoulder-hopped, choosing only the smaller waves on the inside.

Coolness, casualness, some sort of self-confidence, some sense of comfort in one’s own skin.

Things I lacked, things I appreciated.

The days were just getting long enough to make it from Fallbrook to the beach before dark. My 9’6” Surfboards Hawaii pintail, last of my (youthful) longboards, was on one side of the rack on Dave’s VW Super Bug, his pre-graduation gift. I think he his newer-but-stock Hansen was on the other side. Dave had picked me up as I raced from my last class. Dave floored-it across the Bonsall bridge, chose going through Vista rather than toward Oceanside. “Faster,” he said.

“Faster, then,” I said.

We were just coming down the ramp at Beacons when Ginny and another girl (no, didn’t know her name) were coming up; side by side; laughing.  The stainless steel turnbuckle closure on Ginny’s shortjohn wetsuit was disconnected, unsnapped.

There was skin showing. Freckles on her shoulder. I was 17. Ginny was perfect, and she might just look at me as we passed. I gave Dave a hip check, my only basketball move, pushing him toward the railing.

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“Virgin-e-ya,” a voice from behind her said; “Virgin-eee-yaaa.”

If I said everything stopped, it would be an exaggeration. But it did. I stopped.

And Virginia Cole did look at me. She blinked. She and the other girl lowered their heads, their smiles gone. They passed Dave and I single file, Ginny in front.

There were three guys, in street clothes, at the bottom of the ramp, kind of congratulating each other. They weren’t surfers.  The guy who had made the remark was in the lead, crushing and tossing his empty beer can into the brush as they headed up. Dave shook his head, tried to step in front of me. He wasn’t fast enough, convincing enough. At the halfway point of the path, at the curve, I blocked them with my board, held sideways at my chest.

“What?” It was the lead guy; maybe a bit flushed; his smile changing to a sneer. Maybe not quite a sneer; just one of those ready-for-confrontation looks.

“Nothing, A-hole; just thought you might want to rest a second.”

“Fuck you.” The front guy, and I probably should give a more complete description of him and his high school-aged buddies, both adding their backup “fuck you;” but I won’t. He was just another high school jerk.

“You were a little disrespectful. Don’t you think; Jerk?”

Jerk’s crew and Dave looked up at the top of the bluff. Evidently Ginny and her friend were looking down.

“Ginny… Ginny Coldddd. She’s a stuck-up fuckin’…”

I’m trying to go through the words a teenage jerk would give for a girl in 1969. It would have been stronger than bitch, but certainly not cunt; that would be nuclear. Twat was almost nuclear. Not so much a west coast slang. It didn’t matter. I dropped the board. Jerk and his friends looked at it.

Hitting someone in the face is nuclear. The shoulder, maybe; was acceptable. “Harder!” “That all you’ve got?” Push, push back, a few glancing blows and a tie up; this was suburban teenage fighting. And, as Jerk pulled his right arm back, I hit him with a straight shot that bloodied his nose and lip.

It wasn’t full speed. I had held back.

The other two guys were, obviously, trying to decide between fight and flight. Everything stopped. Again. I looked at my hand. Jerk put his left hand to his face, looked at the blood. The other two guys looked at the blood on his face and hand, stepped away from their friend.

“Devil Dogs,” Dave said to the friends, his biggest smile on his (slightly-pimpled, had to add this) face; “Joe’s a fuckin’ Devil Dog.”

I picked up my board. There were several drops of blood on it.  I wasn’t sure if I was thrilled or sorry. Not enough of either.

“It’s just… um… you were rude.” Jerk looked like he might apologize; or, worse, cry.  “Hey,” I said, taking Dave’s towel off his board, handing it to Jerk. “My dad made me go. It’s really… it’s Devil Pups. Marines. Didn’t want to go.” I stood aside, opening the ramp. “We’re going to go surfing now.” I took the towel back, handed it to Dave. He took it with a shrug. “Just, um; you’re okay, huh?”

Jerk nodded. We walked on.

“Hope he doesn’t cry,” Dave said. “Your dad… I mean; if you ever even…” As we reached the sand, the sun way too close to the horizon, Dave ran next to me, looked closely at my face.

I wasn’t crying, quite, but I was not thrilled. I wasn’t sorry. I’m pretty sure I smiled, maybe even laughed. “Devil Dogs!” I ran for the water, didn’t look back at the bluff until I was knee-deep. The sun bounced back at me off windows, car windows, house windows. Silhouettes. Maybe one of them was Ginny, I thought. Maybe I was wrong.

Dave caught a wave before I did.

Black Flagging-It

I’m not sure if this current flag, a sign keeping surfers out of a zone so non-boardies can float and bob and cavort, is the same one they used back when I was defying them.

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I probably thought of this because I’ve been spending (somewhere between investing and wasting) some time watching the Supergirl Pro from Oceanside Pier. I did lose a portion of my interest when Stephanie Gilmore didn’t advance, a little more when the waves dropped off, but, hey, I did spend a lot of time at this pier.

It was the go-to spot for beach-going when I was a kid in Fallbrook, 20 miles away, wading out among the marines and their girlfriends (there was a lot of “From Here to Eternity” style romancing, I noticed), learning about the power and excitement of waves.

I did have to, sort of, get rescued, once, by neighbor mom, Arthella; when, around 8 years old or so, I pearled my styrofoam surfie, broke it in half with the collision between sand and stomach. Not that I really needed rescuing.

Fast forward to the party celebrating graduating from 6th grade. I was the almost-12 year old wearing the speedos, just like my Dad.  None of the other boys were wearing them. I would say more, but modesty…

Fast forward to 1965, the prestigious Oceanside Invitational happening, and, while my sister, Suellen, was (embarrassingly, for me) getting autographs from surfers on the beach (and the only name I remember is Mike Doyle, his mother bringing him a sack lunch), and despite my only having started board surfing a month or so before, I paddled right out among the warming-up competitors (embarrassing, no doubt, for Suellen). No, I had progressed to jams by this time.

What I didn’t know until last night, when Trish and I were google-mapping to see what the building I worked in, Buddy’s Sign Service, 1st and Tremont, looks like now; is that Trish was also at that contest, not getting autographs from surfers, not doing anything embarrassing.

Oh, got to go. Part II coming soon. Oh, second semi-final is on, but I have to go.

Not a Surfing Story, but…

…I will get back to surfing very soon. This is one of a several purposefully-short short stories I’ve been working on, sort of on the notion of ‘character assassination.’ It is fiction, and, a few days after writing it, I had an idea for an added (hopefully) twist.

Barring some sort of collection down the road, I did take advantage of having a blog, “Stuff that goes on,” at ptleader.com and published it there.  And, why not here? Check it out.

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CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS

FUTURE PERFECT TENSE

Phyliss showed me the cigar box (Cubans) that held her collection of apologies. She sniffed it, appeared to smell (and, I thought, savor) some ancient remnant of fine tobacco. She offered it to me. I obliged. I smelled nothing. Just paper; some, maybe, aged. I nodded, smiled.

“This,” she said, lifting a hat box (but not for a very large hat) from the sideboard, “is my box of condolences.” When I didn’t immediately respond; or, rather, when another nod was insufficient, she added, “There are, you can see, many more of these.”

Still, she didn’t sniff the box of condolences.

“Yes,” I said. Again, insufficient. There was a pause. “So, I guess,” I said, “apologies for past, um, mistakes; not as many as notes of, uh, sympathy… for past losses… I mean, uh, your losses.”

It might be difficult to determine if her expression was of disdain, possibly modified by my obvious ignorance and lack of skill in the formal graces; or an unconvincing attempt at appearing sympathetic to my obvious unease.

No, it was a sort of required politeness to disguise an irritated condescension. She looked, without focusing, at the final billing statement as I did focus, checking the final calculations on my cell phone.

“All apologies are in the past tense,” she said, looking for my agreement with and appreciation of her statement. “All condolences are in the present tense.”

Since I didn’t appear to understand, she added, “Such as, ‘I grieved you, thusly,’ in the first instance; past tense; and ‘I wish you a recovery.’ Going forward. See? Present tense.”

“Oh,” I said, “Right.” I smiled (the way socially awkward people do), wrote “Paid in full” on the form on the clipboard, set it, facing her, near her right hand (the one now resting on an upside down check).  I then carefully picked up and moved the clipboard over. I turned away from her, giving her a moment to examine the page, looked around the formal dining room, took a sip from my tea cup, tried to set it back without a bone to bone (china) noise, and wrote something on a blank sheet of printer paper.

When I was finished, I folded the page (on the bias), slid it between the two boxes. She slid my check, which had been in the place a third setting, another cup and saucer could have been set, toward me. I slid the full-sized check under the clip, still face down. It would have been rude (and I knew this) to look at the payment; but I (also) knew she had probably deducted some money for some minor issues she had insisted were not minor.

That was fine. I had been warned by other tradespeople to expect this, advised to, “maybe charge a little extra.” I hadn’t.

I made a move to stand; stopped; waited until she stood. “Thank you so very much, Phyliss.”

She didn’t, of course, unfold the paper before I reached the door.

“At some future time,” the note said, if I’m remembering correctly, “I will have, or may have, come to the conclusion that I owe you an apology. Future perfect tense. I do, however, now offer my condolences for whatever past made you what you are now. Present tense.”

Lighting up a cigarette, I turned the check over on the clipboard just after I opened the door to my truck. “Damn,” I said, “Bonus.”

Looking toward the dining room window, unable to hold back a smile; I tore another sheet of paper from the stack on the clipboard. I blew a bit of smoke on it before I started writing.

the end

So, again, there are some actually surf-related things coming up in realsurfers, real soon. Meanwhile, the surf forecast on the Peninsula shows good weather and small surf.  Good time to try to catch up on painting, recover from recent surf-session where I tried (and failed) to keep up with surf marathoner, Big Dave.

 

 

 

Selected (Eeeeeeeek!) Rat Tales

 

 

FIRST, I’m only saying ‘Rat Tales’ because it has a certain sound to it. ‘Mouse Tales’ doesn’t have the same impact. Varmints, rodents; It is interesting that many of us consider Squirrels cute, despite the damage they can do, but recoil at even the mention of mice; the cringe-factor going up as the varmints increase in size.

Before I wrote this piece, adapted from and originally written for a monthly newsletter put out by Quilcene’s Community Center, I did mention that I intended to attack (yes, attack) the subject with Bob Rosen, the Director. “Nobody wants to hear about, er, that.”

Then I told him how mice got into the dashboard of my surf rig, and, short-story-slightly-shorter, they chewed through just the right wire that (luckily enough, because I’d been out where the cellphones don’t work) allowed my car to crank but not start; parked in front of the NXNW Surf Shop in Port Angeles.

Frank Crippen, the shop owner, not fully pleased to have me hanging out for several hours, agreed to allow me to put my board in his shed.  The car was towed up the hill to a local garage. After a cursory check (smell, mostly) of the dashboard, they were not stoked.  Trish, shopping in Silverdale, had to come pick me up. It cost me seven hundred dollars to get it running, three hundred more like an out-and-out bribe. Worth it.

“Oh,” Bob said, “Let me tell you how to keep mice out of your car.”

“Yes,” I said; “See, everyone has a story.”

Last winter was long and cold and a particularly bad one for rodents (only, to be fair, looking for some warmth) moving into places we don’t want them, cars, garages, houses. I do hope this winter, for many reasons, isn’t as cold.

Another failed “New Yorker” submission, this one dealing with Church Mice waiting for the “Hallelujah-ing” to start.

Still, here are a couple of anecdotes:

Evidently, I got exactly the wrong counter person at the Port Townsend auto parts store when I asked if they have any special thing (I was thinking electronics) to keep rodents out of vehicles. “Do you live near farms? In the city? The country? Have neighbors? Feed birds?” Before I could answer any of these questions, he threw out his hands in surrender. “There’s nothing we sell, nothing we can do. Nothing. Anything else?” “No, nothing.”

“My dog,” the woman said (and I can’t remember where this was or how the subject came up), “and we didn’t train him to do this, but he smells rats.” In her story, a friend came over for a barbeque, the dog took a great interest in the guy’s car. “You have a rat,” she told her guest. Her husband pulled out a compressor, blew air into the engine, the rodent jumped out, the dog killed it; or, as she put it, “took care of it.” And then, she added, “We all had some barbeque.”

I arrived at a house in an upscale neighborhood to give a painting bid. The homeowner had installed rat-sized, snapping-style, old fashioned traps, about ten feet off the ground, on the corner boards. A bit surprised, I asked, wondering if exposed rat traps (or rats, for that matter) were allowed within the area’s covenants.  “Does it work?” I was imagining long-dead rodents hanging as, perhaps, a warning to others. “So far,” he said, “and it’s kind of, um, decorative.”

It did seem to be humorously ironic, more to me than the woman at checkout, that there was one of those packets (and there are several brands available) with a smell meant to deter rodents (rumored to be a combination of mint and coyote urine), on a shelf between the bags of bird food.

Rather than throw out my hands absolute surrender, I have taken advice and steps. “Drier sheets,” I’ve been told. “New ones.” Oh. “Mint.” Yeah-okay. “Supersonic.” Maybe. “Poison.” Scary. “Flashing lights.” Got ‘em, think it’s like disco for mice. “Younger cats.” Not right now. “Electronic zapper.” Oh, yeah.

Meanwhile, as I work on my mint-moat, a rat-smelling dog and a compressor seem like good ideas. Oh, and, for some reason, barbeque.

 

 

No, Big Dave Rips

Jeffrey Vaughn seemed to be enjoying the waves (part of this is that there were waves). It was stormy, west wind blowing (this is sideshore on the Strait of Juan de Fuca), and, maybe it was the tide, maybe the angle, but waves that, typically, hug the reef and peel, were, mostly, closing out, rolling through.

Waves were breaking on outside, Indicator reefs. Rain squalls, clouding the view to the west, would approach, roll through, further chopping-up the lines. Then pass by. Sun would, randomly, break through, adding blinding reflections on ribbed wave faces.

Some waves, that should have been lefts, almost looked like rights. I know better, usually, than to drop into these chunky, deeper water waves. You can drop into a long wall, speed for fifty yards or so and pull out, as you would on most beach breaks, or drop down under the first closeout section, pull back into some non-critical, not-steep wall, and bounce around well past the fence (this is the measure for a long ride at this spot).

Still, even on more lined-up waves, there was a tricky inside section that, if you made it, it was great. If you didn’t you’d get punched, pitched, or, again, be forced to drop down, try to work past it. Oh, I guess you could straighten out.

Jeff was taking off on the outsiders, big smile on his face, dropping-in while I’m going up the face, looking to see if the next one is going to break farther out; and he was picking off  some of the up-the-reef peelers, dropping in with his patented and classic South Bay longboard style, hands on the wall as he wailed toward the inside section.

When he got out he climbed up on top of his Mad Max-meets-heavy-duty-off-roader-adventurer van, snapped some shots of Big Dave and, yeah, me. Thanks, Jeff.

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Top-Discussion mid-session (I was out for about three hours, then a break, then an hour or so more, Dave was out when I arrived, still out when I left- at least 6 hours straight) with Dave, mostly about how access to a favorite spot has, again, been cut off. Or, maybe, about how he’s sometimes mistaken for me, and vice-versa. He’s five years younger, and was a Crystal Pier rat (his words) when I moved to Pacific Beach, San Diego, at 20, in 1971.

Second shot-Me setting up for the tricky inside section. Yes, there were bigger waves.

Third shot- Dave setting up for the tricky inside section. And, yes, the camera takes two feet off the height of a wave and adds twenty pounds (minimum) to the size of a surfer.

Bottom- Dave vertical. There were bigger waves. Really.

NOTE- While I was taking a break, drinking two cups of coffee, one of three guys loading up in a black jeep parked next to me, after taking a couple of cell phone shots of Dave, said it’s nice that someone like me is still ‘out there.’ “Thank you, young gentleman,” I should have said, instead of asking, “You mean old?” Of course he did. Maybe this, and the unspoken challenge of Ironman Big Dave, made me go back out for ‘five more waves,’ that, when it glassed-off, turned into fifteen or so. It was either that or that I’d peed in my wetsuit. Either way, thanks for the photos, Jeff; thanks for the waves Juan.

The World Surf League, “Hard Yards,” Sharing, Not Sharing

Without permission from the World Surf League (WSL), I’ve taken a photo from their site. If they disapprove, here are several things in my argument: 1. I love the WSL  and their live coverage (and the fact there is live coverage). I’ve gotten up early and/or stayed up late to watch contests from all over the world. 2. It’s not like I make any money on this site, even IF I mention the WSL. 3. I’ll see if I can get “express, written permission…” in a moment.

This is a drawing I did for a piece on the World Mind Surfing League

 

Here’s the shot I’ve borrowed. Decisive scores for a close heat between Kelly and Gabriel Medina were about to fall. Kaipo Guerrera had, boldly, aggressively, just grabbed both of them, all looking at the screen in anticipation. I do always root for the overdog, if it’s Kelly Slater, and felt he should have won the heat. In the same way, having watched Stephanie Gilmore lose a close one to Carissa Moore, a heat that, if Stephanie had been scored correctly on either of her two best waves… yeah, big Stephanie fan, also, not taking away anything from anyone else on the tour, each of whom surfs better than… Here’s the truth:The difference between any WSL surfer and a regular (or ‘real’) surfer is the same as the difference between us and the casual, once-in-a-while-on-vacation surfer. Massive.

I really wanted to talk about secret spots and the information we share about secret and/or fickle surf spots. If you knew that I took off right after this moment, then got back in time to watch Stephanie win the final at Snapper Rocks, and Owen (“O Dog” according to Martin Potter) Wilson, back from a year off after a concussion at Pipeline, win a close one against Wilko (okay, I’m just going to use nicknames for people I don’t actually know); if you did some calculations on time and distance, checked back on buoy readings, tide charts, you might know something, too much, possibly, about where I surfed (and that I surfed, if I did), secret, fickle, or great. Check it out, Sherlock.

So, here’s something Potts says all the time. “You have to put in the hard yards.” That’s the thing about sharing info. My friend Daryl Wood, pathfinder in surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said surfers would see his vehicle parked on someone’s private property (with permission), and, the next time he came there, other surfers would be there. Word had spread. It’s been a while since surfers had to call people to have anyone to surf with.  And we love to brag. Other surfers have gone down trails, followed streams, explored; keeping a mental record of when a spot worked, how well it worked. Hard yards. Anecdotal becomes, with enough of it, science.

We’ve all benefited from information on where to go and when; but most of us have spent some long hours studying, waiting; have traveled in search of waves. It can be irritating when someone who hasn’t just checks out a forecast; or gets a call from the beach, shows up. “My wave.”

But I love to talk; and, if I score… so guilty. Trying to quit, but I only have a small circle of surf friends. And they have friends. Basically, if you share too much information, expect the person to share waves with you, and some of his or her friends, next time.  That said, the waves weren’t awesome the time I’m writing about;  at least not where I went. A couple of other surfers did show up, weren’t impressed, didn’t want to have wet wetsuits for the next day when, they hoped, there was a chance for some waves. “Really?” I asked.

The truth is, we don’t need more information, we need more swell. Meanwhile, next WSL event, Margaret River. I think their dawn is, geez, I don’t know; probably prime time here. We’ll see. I’ll still be rooting for the overdogs… and O Dog. And a shout out to Strider.

Random Shots in the Parking Lot

You can win in the water and still lose the session in the parking lot. I was discussing this with Stephen Davis, still couch/spot surfing, with some kite surfing sessions thrown in, up from Baja to the Great Northwest. Surfers may spend as much or more time in parking lots and road pullouts and overlooks and on the beach than in the water. And, perhaps because surfing… no, I really don’t know why it gets so competitive, but we have to admit it does.

First, here’s a drawing:

Since it wasn’t clear it’s a wave from high above, not some random abstraction, I colored it. Since my scanner repeatedly failed to scan the cropped color image. Okay, still abstract… with explanation.

So, let’s see if Steve’s account of an incident at an unnamed Central California coast spot comes through. It’s exactly how I received it:

4people out at rincon
Stephen Davis

Yesterday, 10:33 PM

Oops. I accidentally hit send.

So then I bundle my shit up and I’m chilling in the van and this redneck with a huge beer gut pulls in and slowly drives by the front of my van mean mugging the shit out of me.
I’m thinking, “who the fuck is this guy?” Now.
Whatever, I was done kiting.
Jesse broke it down. I guess beer gut grew up surfing a heavy central coast reef and is a local there his whole life.
So decided to take his localism act into the kite scene.
He fucked with Jesse a bunch when he was learning and now talks to him i guess. He reputedly speared his kiteboard into a guy and broke his board tip off in the guys hip. That’s how “cool” he is.
I laugh because none of these assholes are Pomo or Lajolla Indian and even if they were they still wouldn’t own the sea or the air or even the beach in truth.
So we’re all sposed to suck up to this shithead?
No gracias.
Not this lifetime.
He kept staring at me and drinking beer and laughing with his “bro”.
The end
No big deal.
Nothing really happened other than I felt sorry for beer guts life path of bullying.
Sad.
Another alcoholic heading for death with no clue what love or kindness is.
Not my business.
S
Sent from my iPhone
 Stephen Davis

Yesterday, 4:59 PMYou

Hey Erwin.

Ya, so here is what happened.I was hanging at the beach with Jesse. Drinking coffee. We met Stacy and this other sup guy and talked about what the wind would do.

Stacy told us about cool sand bars that were working and where. He also told us about cool kite spots where there are fewer people. We were all chill.
So later, when the wind came up, I asked Jesse if I was going to bum everyone out by going out and being a kook. He said, “not at all, don’t worry about it.” We both thought it was chill.
I took my time and set up slow. Went out and had fun. No one seemed to mind me overall and it could have been worse. After a few waves my chicken loop came unhooked cause my donkey dick popped out. I cruised to the beach to rehook it and this dude starts yelling, “get down wind of me!”
Trying to control me as if I was somehow harming him instead of walking around me. In other words it was easier for him to boss me around.
So that was weird.
I said sorry and that my loop popped off. After that he was cool for some reason.
I was tripped out so I landed my kite with someone’s help but he set me down with my line on this chicks kite.
She got super bitchy and victimy like I had soiled her moment with my existence.
BACK TO ME. So, not being a kite surfer, I don’t know what a chicken loop or donkey dick might be. Rather, I don’t know what they actually are.  I probably will have more on the subject, but, wait, here’s a couple of shots of Adam “Wipeout” James at a secret spot, the important thing being that the place is throwing a lip.
adamwipeoutlipthrown
DURN: So, in almost keeping with the new rules of not revealing, Adam called me on his way home, after dark, photo taken by someone who doesn’t know all the rules. Still, one has to look. And that lip? Legit, just like Adam said, but probably not overhead. Okay, I’m saying Westport. Later Adam revealed he hit his head twice on his board during this session; but still claims he thinks he made this particular wave.
Meanwhile, and always, in the clique-ish/tribal, middle-school-mentality of the parking lot… if one can’t be super cool… no, I don’t have it figured out. I do try to not be ‘super bitchy and victimy,’ not wanting to soil my or anyone else’s moments. That’s in the parking lot. In the water…

“Surf Free- Parking $5.00” illustration

I have tried quite diligently, over the years, to not pay to surf. Particularly, I have walked some distance to avoid paying to park. Access. It’s all about the access. Right. I get that. There always is a price. Right. I get that, also. I no longer work across some railroad tracks from the bluff just south of Oceanside Pier. I no longer live kiddy-cornered from the road down to Tourmaline. I can no longer use my bike to cruise down to Crystal Pier.

image-158 Okay, so I’ve tried to keep the price down. If I’m lucky enough to be working close to where some waves are breaking… write off; stick my board in my work van. If I can get someone else to ride along… sure, you know the options. Cruise around in the Northwest with five or six sticks on top of your rig, even four, and… yeah, someone’s going to flip you off. It might be me, though I do enjoy the ride sharing- always some good stories exchanged, and, the destination probably is some remote and uncrowded setup. But…

There’s a whole sort of backlash, not new, but increasingly noticeable as surfing becomes increasingly popular in the cold north, social media spreads the word on semi-secret spots far too quickly and far too far, and surf forecasting gets better and better.  Post a photo; even take a photo; call a friend from the beach; share some readings that worked for you; gloat about how awesome a particular spot was on a certain tide…

One can expect to get some glares, maybe the ‘stink-eye’, for showing up on a beach without a good reason for being there. “No, no, nobody called me. Internet? Well… No; I won’t tell. Instagram? No. Hey, it was an accident I even found this place (parked on an unnamed logging road, walked a mile and an half, climbed down a cliff- all accidental) at all. But, man; it’s just so epic-ly awe… good? Crappy? I’m getting skunked? Okay, then. I get it.”

What sort of evens the whole thing out is the skunk factor. I’ve headed for Westport (not a secret spot), no wind to mess it up. By the time I got to the bridges… south wind, howling. The coast is often messy, as likely to be too big and out of control as rideable. AND there are no guarantees that the buoy readings that brought good conditions in the past will be repeated, and windows close very quickly.

Obviously off-subject. So, one short winter day, when gas was well over $3/gallon, I cruised out in my Subaru (28 miles/gallon), and only managed to catch four waves before it got too dark. I did the math. Not sure, but I think it came to $4/wave.  My friend Ray Hicks, down in California, parking outside the fence to surf Pipes (not anywhere near a secret spot), asked how the rides were. “Great.” “Worth it.” “Yeah.”

Of course, mostly I decrease my cost/wave by catching more waves. This might not make one popular if there’s a crowd of folks who loaded up pre-dawn, caught an early ferry, only stopped once for coffee/pee break, and, just as predicted, found some waves.

INCIDENTALLY- My friend, Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, STILL down in Mexico, will not tell me where the hell he is. It’s not like I can just get down there, though, if I could, I would. AND, if he did tell me… hey, new rules; I couldn’t tell you. No, really. Please, stop asking. NOOO!

 

Yeah; new rules. BUT, the factor that evens