Honoring A (Another) Classic Waterman

As surfers, we have what should be a requirement, definitely an obligation, to honor those who went before us.  The real surfers of the generation slightly before mine were surfing when that meant no or inadequate wetsuits, heavy and ungainly boards; and one could not even qualify to be counted as anything close to a real surfer if not skilled in body surfing, long distance paddling, and diving.  Fishing skills were also appreciated.  Many surfers increased their time in the lineup (imagine Windansea with three friends out) by fishing and diving for abalone and ‘bugs’ (lobster).

Yes, these things were legal in California until some time in the 60s, and aren’t now.  I have run into other surfers from that era; one who became a builder; another who opened a car dealership.  They had stories.  Stories.  We all have stories, stories with surfing as a recurring theme, hopefully; or, for those who no longer get in the water, a collection of wistful, romantic (in its way) memories.  Some of our best moments are spent in and around the water.

Here, with some minor editing, is what my friend Keith wrote about his father’s passing:

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Douglas Darrock, 1938-2019, passed away on the Winter Solstice near Port Townsend, Washington.  He was 81.  Doug grew up in La Jolla in the 40s and 50s, graduating from La Jolla High in 1956.

He was a waterman in the truest sense.

As a young man, he built his own paddleboards and spearguns to dive the kelp beds and reefs off La Jolla.  He surfed and bodysurfed often.  He later worked as a commercial abalone diver around La Jolla and as a research diver in the Sea of Cortez.

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After serving in the military, he moved north, to Oregon, in the 1960s.  He owned a bar and fished commercially for salmon out of Astoria.  It was there that he met his partner of 45 years, Lorraine Limardi.  They lived for a time in Cannon Beach and Manzanita, and, later, south in Yachats and Tenmile Creek.  It was along this coast that Doug and Lorraine raised their family and made many friends.

Doug loved the adventure of travel.  He took his family on long road trips; south to Baja California, Mainland Mexico, and Central America, escaping the long, wet Oregon winters; camping on the beach, exploring while living in a VW bus.

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The family spent a year sailing to Baja and into the Sea of Cortez aboard ‘Cecilia’, a thirty-four foot Benford Cutter until the money ran out and they were forced to sell the boat and limp back to the Oregon Coast in an old Volvo.

Doug and his family spent many years around Port Townsend, Marrowstone Island and the San Juan Islands.  He loved to sail these waters.  Never a career man, Doug, instead, made money as a farmer and renovating old houses, taking odd jobs when necessary.  His first and last jobs were as a lifeguard in La Jolla as a young man, and as a lifeguard in Port Townsend at the public pool in his 70s.

Life was never dull with Doug.  He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, son Keith Darrock (local librarian and extremely avid surfer), daughters Laura DuPont and Jessica Syska; along with many grandchildren.

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I don’t think I ever met Douglas Darrock.  He was part of the La Jolla crowd that included surfboard makers Gordon and Smith; some famous surfers, including Butch Van Artsdalen; and a non-famous surfer, Bill Irwin; who also lived a surfer/sailor life, and died about a year ago.

I never met the father, but I see him in the son.  Keith (that’s him on the back of his dad’s bike) makes adjustments to his life to include surfing.  I watched Keith recently, having arrived too late to get into my wetsuit and go out before the tight window would close.  He was (his word) gorging on the waves on offer.  When I talked to him on the beach I said the if he (rail thin and determined to stay that way) loved food as much as he loves waves, he’d be soooooooo fat.  Yes, I told him it’d show up here.

Stories.  Peace.

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.

 

Greetings From Thailand, Vortex

People frequently ask me about Archie Endo, world traveler, salmon roe expert, former fixture on the surf scene (such as it is) on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Archie was working (I think tuna, the processing and distribution of, was the fish he was connected with) in Thailand when he suffered a stroke.  This was about two years ago, and his recovery has been slow.

I did, however, just get a reassuring email from him.  He’d gone to a couple of spots in Thailand, and actually got in the water.  He said he needs a lot more physical therapy before he’ll be back to reasonable form.  “More water time seems best,” I wrote.

Here’s a shot he sent of a crappy beachbreak with some Thailandian version of a Hawaiian kickout.  I think.  Maybe.  And a shot of a reef break that Archie discovered.  If you’ve ever surfed Crescent (not a secret spot and please forgive me for naming it here), the takeoff zone inside the boil adjacent to the island is called by me, and should be by you, Archie’s Reef.  He was a master of zig-zagging from there into the creek.  When he gets back into form, he will, no doubt, master Archie’s Reef Thailand.

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Archie did go with me a couple of times when he was back in the Northwest. He wanted to go, and seemed relatively content to watch from the beach, talking with some of the other regulars, offering me advice when I came in.  Example: “The waves are long enough.  You could, I think, stand up.”  “Yeah.”

A few great things about going surfing with Archie: One, Trish really likes him; and it’s always all right to go if he’s going.  Two, despite the fact (pointed out to me numerous times) that Archie is incredibly courteous and well behaved in the lineup and I’m not, that he’s quiet and reserved and I don’t even try to be; Archie seems to enjoy surfing with me.  Three, Archie is a musician and there might be some singing and harmonica playing on the road there and back (if I was driving), or taped surf music from an incredible variety of world locations (and some singing and harmonica playing) if he drove.

OH, and, four, he doesn’t at all mind if I have to stop in Sequim to hit Costco and/or WalMart, maybe a couple of other stops on the way home.  Shopping there is part of my justification for surfing; Trish, on the other end of the cellular device, seems to appreciate this, though she always has at least one (very specific) item I can’t find.  Otherwise, date night for Trish and me is a SequimTrip, or worse, Silverdale/Poulsbo.

Yes, I do imagine it seems a bit weird, perhaps, to see Archie and me cruising the aisles, him pushing the cart, me elbowing my way to collect a double dose of food samples.  Odd couple.

I should add that Stephen Davis has also done the Sequim Stop a few times, without complaint; added stops, probably, at Michael’s, where he has a great discount, and Office Depot if I happen to have some art piece ready for printing.  Soul Rebel/librarian Keith (different than Cougar Keith, who will appear shortly) went with me several times, got a ticket for no seatbelt in the backseat on one adventure.  Keith did the Sequimstop maybe twice; took the car over to get gas while I (short list) Costco-ed.  We met up in Sequim the next time, rode with him, and he just had to tell everyone that I spilled pretty much a whole cup of coffee into his glovebox (“Hey, I thought it was, like, a fold down tray”) somewhere on Surf Route 101.

“I don’t want to get caught in that vortex,” Aaron (formerly ‘shortboard Aaron,’ now, maybe ‘omni-board Aaron’) told me in declining my invitation to ride together when it appeared we were headed to pretty much the same spot.  Oh, sure; it was fine for Cougar Keith to meet with Aaron at the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE and ride with him.

In the end, of course, Aaron was right.  Vortex.  On the way home I stopped at the Lower Elwha gas station, had to go inside with a line of folks buying ‘half a rack’ because the card reader wasn’t reading (at least not my card); ran into the Office Depot (without any current artwork) to buy envelopes for our (yeah, it’s late) Christmas cards; into PetSmart for two replacement blankets for the cat in our mudroom (I fixed the leak that soaked the others), hit Costco (spending way too much time looking for gloves- managed to buy the wrong ones), then WalMart (always a joy, always overdressed), then, because neither of those places had the proper Christmas ham, Safeway, (where the fucking russet potatoes not in bags were fucking not in the produce section but at the fucking front of the fucking store).  Then Burger King; no pickles no mayonnaise for Trish. All the while, because the proper shopping pair of glasses had a broken earpiece, and the glasses I grabbed on the way out (for drawing) were waaay too strong for shopping (or walking, or reading a menu board at Burger King); the experience was, yes, Aaron, a fucking Vortex.

My older son, James, still uses Sequim as a verb (sequimed) and as an adjective (sequiming), and as a noun (sequimers) when Jason Finley referred to Sequim as “the pullout capital of the world,” adding, “those old people just don’t care.”  Before the highway bypassed downtown, I said “it takes as long to get through Sequim as it takes to get to Sequim.”  This was years ago now, I qualify, almost (always someone older), as one of those old people.  Still; VORTEX.

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Okay; I’m calm now.  As it says in our (modified, late) Christmas cards, “If you can’t hibernate peacefully, Holiday Joyously!

Somewhere on the (Surf) Sliding Scale

Let’s discuss the FROTH SCALE, the STOKE SPECTRUM; the level to which your adrenalin spikes and your heartbeat soars in a direct relationship (or proportion if your mind is more math-ish) to rumors, predictions, short term forecasts of waves; and, more specifically, how you react to those soothsaid prophecies (as in, “Did you see the forecast for next Wednesday [only an example]?  Sooooo sickkkkkk.  Dude.”); adding in how you *spontaneously, viscerally respond to the anticipation factor, the increased possibility of real-life, rideable, possibly-rippable, possibly-uncrowded, possibly-perfect waves as you approach a beach; and then, we’ll add in how you react when the actual waves and the actual conditions, skunk-to-score, shit-to-all-time classic ultimate; this reaction, the **intensity of this reaction shows where you are on THE SCALE.

So, yeah; pretty much just standard surf talk.

EXAMPLE ONE- You’re probably, statistically, way more likely to get a speeding ticket heading for waves than going from waves.

EXAMPLE TWO- Access to beaches, including possible surf spots, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca often requires a hike.  Often, the waves cannot be seen until one is close.  There’s faith and hope but no guarantee.  If you have hiked a mile, half of which is steeply downhill on a muddy, slippery path, and you, on first hearing waves, even before trying to discern the relative strength of the waves or an interval; break into a run… that’s probably three-quarters of the way up the scale.

*The actions our bodies take without our minds playing a major role (breathing, breathing, digestion, for example) are generally categorized as part of the bodies’ autonomic system.  Yeah, yeah; we’re talking about how we react in the moment, without allowing our trained, worn-down and cynical brains to lessen the impact.

**Flight or fight; fear or some sense of invincibility; depression or elation.  The worst and lowest place on the scale is ***NO REACTION.

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FORGET THAT; we’ll start with WETSUIT WORTHY.  It seems fitting to have Jack O’Neill, pretty much the soul daddy of cold water surfing hypothermia prevention garb, trying to decide if the waves are worth turning a not-quite-dry wetsuit back to right-side-out.

You, no doubt, have stories of times you went out when the surf was marginal, only to discover it turned into something epic.  Place that story on the scale.  Sure, you can embellish it a bit, after the fact.  This is where our brains add the color.

There is, of course, GIGGLE WORTHY, HOOT WORTHY, WET YOUR WETSUIT BEFORE IT’S ON WORTHY.  There is, or shouldn’t be a CALL YOUR FRIENDS WORTHY.  Maybe way after the fact.  At the top of the scale, just after HYPERVENTILATION WORTHY is HEART ATTACK WORTHY.

It doesn’t mean you are required to have one.

***I didn’t mean to go to three asterisks, but, if you see pretty darn good surf conditions and have no reaction, QUIT SURFING.  NOW.

If You Can’t Hibernate Peacefully…

…HOLIDAY JOYFULLY!

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It might be considered ironic, to some, that I’m up early, working on a post that includes a drawing of a bear in a barn; an illustration that will, most probably, be our holiday card for this year; completed (as in color added) only last night; only to wake up this morning, and, in searching for the cell phone (and it’s still dark) I would swear I brought inside last night (but hadn’t), discovering an actual bear had decided to rip off and/or break boards on one wall (more like a fence) of the trash can enclosure I had built to keep him out; and had helped himself to whatever goodies (cat food containers that hadn’t been licked clean, for example) he found in the trash cans kept within the obviously-not bear proof yard.

And it’s not like bears clean up after themselves.

Bears don’t pack out what they… wait a second.  Rethink.  I’m kind of stuck on how much I will hate picking up scattered trash that had been neatly bagged, reinforcing the enclosure, hoping it’s enough.    Bears are… well, they are the true locals out here in the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula, out on Surf Route 101; sure, but this local (and he is well known, showing up on the “I’ve heard of Quilcene” Facebook page as he cruises up and down the various streams in a fairly wide area he, no doubt, considers his domain), but, really, he doesn’t have to get so, so surly.

I mean; really; can’t we just get along?

And besides; shouldn’t any self-respecting, non trash-can-raiding bear, at this time of year, be hibernating?

Shouldn’t we?  That or looking for winter surf.  If I don’t get this card printed and sent to you, do HOLIDAY JOYFULLY!

 

Stuck in the Suck… One Rib Too Far

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

Beach break.  Shore break.

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

SKUNKED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

T Shirt Ready… Or Not?

That is the question I ask every time I finish an illustration.  And, here’s my technique, mostly based on what I’ve learned, and what I’ve yet to learn about attempting to draw something as a negative image so it will transfer onto a dark shirt: Now, even if I’m drawing the black lines meant to be black, I get a negative print of that, go in and refine the image.  It’s kind of like erasing.  Then, back to black being black.

Oh, and I’m also not using really fine pens, just in case I get lucky and the result is worth spending the money to get some shirts printed.  I should say ‘investing’ the money; but, as much as I love the whole thing of going to D & L Logos (slight pimping here), the investment is all in one chunk, the return is spread out.

And, again, it’s a learning process; and I have learned a few things.  A few.

Mostly I’m trying to improve at the artsy part while, definitely, getting a bit pickier, a bit more selective as to what’s good, what’s not quite good enough.  As a painter for over fifty years, I have learned that the client has every right to be picky, and, if you’re going to be the one asking to be paid, you have to make sure you’re not apologizing for something that isn’t quite right.

And, again, again, I love the whole process from seeing an image I can get excited about, trying to represent what I was excited about, and then the print shop, screen shop part, and then, the sales part.  Parts of the sales part.

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So, let’s discuss. The problem with fully wetsuited surfers is everything is so dark.  Trish thinks the surfer looks scary.  “Yeah, well…” I did add some white lines in the negative-to-positive process, but, maybe, he may be a tad scary.  Probably not a t-shirt; and, if it was, it would be dark on light.  Or, wait, maybe… not black on not white.  Hmmmm.

And again again again, I never really think anything is done.  A little touchup on the face and…

Okay, there’s the story on this one, taken from (with every attempt to do justice to) a photo of Keith Darrock at a far-too-easily recognized spot on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Keith told me once, while we were bobbing around waiting for any sign of a rideable wave, that often, when he’s surfing, the Bob Marley song, “Soul Rebel” is playing in his head.  Now, Keith is known for charging, with style, close to the pocket, and he may have been more inspired on the occasion of the original photo, he the only one out, ‘gorging’ (his word), his wife and daughter looking on.

When I compare the representation to the original, Keith’s board was, perhaps, flatter, his arch, um, archier.

Scan_20191202 (2)What happened here is, when I got back home with the prints, Trish said she ‘really’ liked the negative version.  “Yeah, I do, too.”  Unfortunately, I only got it in full size (11″ by 17″), and can’t show you.  Later.  I may or may not add color to the drawing, but, at the counter, ready to pay, I asked if they could, ‘real quick’, turn the image the other way, put it on one side of the page, thus making a version of a holiday card Keith might use to… “No, not today. That would require scanning, and centering and…”

“Yeah, okay; another time.”  I might be less thrilled with print places than I once was.

Incidentally, there are a couple of dots on this image that are not on the actual drawing.  They’re on the glass on my quite inadequate scanner.  Jeez, if I worked at a print shop, I’d…

Learning.  Process.

MEANWHILE, I do have some prints and some t-shirts available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.  I was just in there the other day, hanging out.  It should be a required stop on the way home from one’s latest Strait surf adventure.  “Keith and (Cougar) Keith stopped in here the other evening.  They were… (gestures to indicate exhaustion)”  Hmmm. “Wonder where they surfed.”  “They didn’t say.”

“Perfect.”

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:

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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

Soul Rebel Underground Art

I’m working on this drawing based on a photo of Keith Darrock at a way-too-identifiable spot on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  I am thinking of making it a label for some fictitious rub on, locally sourced, marijuana-based, artisan snake oil.  Maybe.

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The other drawing is one that I did to make up for doing the lettering for my friend Stephen Davis’s new restaurant, named “Cellar Door,” not “Underground,” though it, mostly, is.

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Meanwhile, because one of my clients, heading for Hawaii, texted me something that included, “hang loose,” I got to thinking.  Yeah, yeah.  In the cold waters of the northwest, we don’t tend to hang loose, we hand tight.  More thinking.  If there is a wetsuit company that needs a new tagline, how about some variation on “Polar Bare Wetsuits- maximum stretch, minimum shrink.”

Meanwhile, Clint Thompson, pretty much a surf fixture on the Olympic Peninsula for a while, has sold his house in PA, most of his 50 or so board collection, and is headed back to Florida.  His going away party was last night, possibly still going.

 

It’s Quid pro Joe, Chris

I would like to do what I can to help Chris Bauer, Port Angeles surfboard shaper, sander, glasser, ace repair specialist, and old school surf shop owner (which I will explain); and, in return, I would appreciate any help he might be able to provide to aid my career goals (ie; sell some shirts, art).  It’s a classic quid pro quo.

Chris has a stripped-down (other than a great mural by northwest surf artist Tod Fischer in the showroom) surf shop in a commercial building on 101 west of Port Angeles (just before- if you’re headed out searching surf- the gas station run by the Lower Elwha folks). There’s a big roll up garage door, usually closed, and a surfboard hanging over the mandoor, the possibly-sharpie-written sign reading, “Last Stop Surf Shop.”  Hope I got that right.

If, upon entering, you notice it smells like resin; yeah; it’s because there’s a glassing room in the back, and, on my second visit, I discovered there’s a separate shaping room behind a wall hidden by surfboards, new, used, and under repair.

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Chris Bauer, left, dressed in a first edition of the first Original Erwin t-shirt, holding a classic, early 60s style board he shaped, glassed… everything necessary to create a beautiful board- perfectly-wrapped rails, extra layer of glass on the nose, tail, with, on the other side, a deck patch.  The glassed-on fin, incidentally, is the old school, squarish, pre-Greenough skeg, which, I told Chris, surfers of the era were very stoked to be moving on from, on to the more rakish, turn-allowing fins.

Nevertheless, a beautiful board.

Oh, part of the thing about being old-school is that his shop isn’t about fashion over performance.  Yes, but if he had some Original Erwins…

Okay, shameless self promotion aside (other than mentioning that there are Original Erwins available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE), here’s what Chris and I have in common: Joe Roper.

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The top photo shows Joe at his very modern shop somewhere east of Pacific Beach where, in 1971, age 20; and Joe was a 14 or so year old ‘pier rat,’ surfing Crystal Pier like it was Pipeline.  Yeah, I have written about this previously.

The lower photo shows Joe’s first repair shop, kind of stuck to the side of the old Gordon and Smith shop in Mission Beach (note the twinfin with glassed-on fins on the trashcan- olllld school).

Chris started his career as a ‘hand sander’ for Joe Roper, the only kid whose name I knew in my time in P.B. (I’ve since discovered another Crystal pier rat, Roper contemporary, Olympic Peninsula surfer ‘Big’ Dave Ring).  “Well,” Chris said, “I had to start somewhere.”

And how was Joe, who I once observed kicking his board at and into (full body hit) another surfer because (and I asked him) the guy was from Clairmont, which, incidentally, is less than five miles from the ocean, and probably five miles closer than Joe’s current shop in Kearney Mesa; how was Joe to work for?

“He was gnarly.”  “Gnarly?” “In a good way.”  “Oh, yeah; of course.”

Joe knows his shit.  Chris learned, moved up, and, eventually, up here.  If you’re heading out, starry eyed, looking for surf; or, heading back, disappointed; you could stop in; maybe hang out.  I think there’s a couch in the main room.

For more on Joe Roper, search Joe roped surfed crystal pier like it was pipeline

INCIDENTALLY; I did catch some very small waves on this trip; me and Helmet Girl- just to explain the lack of shoes.