Not Keeping Up with Stephen R. Davis

My friend, ‘Hydrosexual’ Stephen Davis recently went from the Big Island to the Windy City.  He’s doing some work with his friend, Cosmo; who, after visiting Hawaii, decided he wants to move there.

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BUT FIRST,  Steve stopped off in Port Townsend. We were supposed to meet up, but I was working and he has a lot of friends. Weirdly (not really for Stephen or me), he found me getting a drawing reproduced at The Printery.  He was cruising around with Lisa, a surfer he met in Baja, who actually lives and teaches school in North San Diego County (near where I was raised), and reminds me of what Courtney Conlogue might be like at fifty-something.

Outerknown Fiji Women's Pro

So, Lisa started giving me the kind of “are you a real surfer” kind of grilling I tend to practice.  Actually, she started with, “So, you surf?” “Kind of.” “Oh,” Stephen said, “Erwin has great wave knowledge.” “Uh huh.” Then back to me, “Do you know Blackie, Bonzo, Little Snickie…?” “Um; I left there almost forty years ago. Do you ever surf Pipes?” “Sometimes. You know, old guys surf Tourmaline.” “Yeah; I used to live up the bluff, in P.B. Like, in 1971.” “Oh. Yeah.” “Do you know Joe Roper?” “Joe Roper? Of course. He’s the only one I’ll let work on my Skip Frye.”

Sensing I was holding my own, maybe with a B-, I told a story about stealing a design from Morey/Pope that Skip was working on at Gordon and Smith (the waterskate, though I couldn’t think of that under the pressure), having it built/pirated at the PB Surf Shop, and, first time trying it; there’s Skip on the beach. Yeah; Skip Frye.

MEANWHILE, Stephen and Cosmo have spent some Chicago time at museums and other highbrow locations.

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BUT, and I know this is going on a bit, I want to get to Stephen’s story. Steve is my Wal-Mart call; someone to talk to when I’m following Trish around. On one call, he told me he wants to submit a story of how he had a new take on all the posturing and posing and preening associated with surfing. “Preening?” “Yeah, P R E E N I N G.” “I know how to spell it, Steve; I just love that you’re using it.”

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“Old Man Winter,” original charcoal by Stephen R. Davis.

No, sorry; lost it (temporarily). I’ll post this, then post the version with Steve’s story. Mostly I’m worried about losing what I’ve put together so far.

I may be a real surfer; but I’m definitely not a real computer dude.

OKAY, I can’t seem to get it here. I’ll just retype it. Here’s Stephen’s latest story:

I was bailing the Big Island and my shoulder was feeling good.  There was a new, pumping South Swell, so I decided to catch a few waves.

I had surfed quite a bit in the last few weeks. The swell had been relentless.

I explored a bit. I checked out some spots off the beaten path I had been wondering about, but, not knowing the swell angle and the direction, nor the relative position of most of the lava rock points and reefs, my regional knowledge was still a work in progress. Old standby spots seemed to be the ones firing, and they had been firing. Local rippers with shoulders the size of coconuts were casually, nonchalantly packing and petting low tide bombs where the reef seemed too close to the surface for any personal comfort level.

Hilo-side and Puna folks were migrating to Kona side also, because of the unprecedented lava activity, borrowing old, yellow, dinged-up longboards and railgrabbing gnarly, late drops and pulling it, coming out of massive amounts of exploding white water, while I watched from the inside corner on my old 6’8″ Al Merrick, “Big Willy,” waiting patiently.

Echoing in my mind was Cap, constantly telling me, “You need a bigger board,” as only a charter boat Captain can. Hmmmmmm…. in his mind the 10′ popout Infinity he ‘gave’ me to fix for him (?), with the GoPro mount right where I would want to stand on the nose, combined with the thruster set-up (??) would get me more waves, and serve as what Cap refers to as ‘crowd control.’ I seriously don’t want to think about what was in the old wax on that thing. Though I am grateful for the gesture, it just definitely was not my preferred solution to this crowd situation. I’m sure it would have been fine, but it just is not my style.

I came to the Big Island to ride waves on a short board with no wetsuit, and I was fine up until the head-on collision when my right shoulder was injured. After rehabbing it for months, along with the whiplash in my neck, I really wanted to be back on “Big Willy.” I had pulled her out of the wreckage, cleaned the broken glass out of the wax, fixed the dings, put a new deck patch on her (ERWIN- Wait, Willy’s female?), and even bought a brand new leash for her. Ya, she is old and yellow, but she is my shortboard. I bought her when my Mom passed away, when I realized just how fleeting life is.

The swell was pumping and I wanted to carve going fast.

After being caught inside on two huge sets of empty lineup with ‘victory at sea’ conditions, I positioned again, on the corner, to wait for the wide-swingers. I went for one no one could get, and, rather quickly, ejected, hanging and slowly descending into oblivion, perfectly, with the lip I wasn’t in, and I knew it.

Oh, well. Went for another one, more resolute, after another waiting period. Couldn’t get to my feet. Hmmmm. Now I wanted it bad. Waited for another one. Same thing. These were extremely stretched-out, hollow lefts hitting a shallow reef, but the waves were familiar to me. I knew I could do better.

Finally, I popped to my feet on a nice roll-in, managed a big backside roundhouse-to-foam-bounce, then hit the lip and landed it as the wave finished it’s destiny on the reef. OK, now I could go in. I caught a good one.

The next day I went to check a fun, family spot. It was a weekend morning, glassy and closing-out at the small takeoff spot. There was one makeable bomb per set, and about 20 or more, no doubt, preening ‘locals’ that I had no interest in competing in the lineup with. I am old, and I have fought the dragon that is my ego, and have no interest in proving my worth to anyone. Nor do I have any urge to be judged or evaluated by strangers. Mind you, I am happy to have been evaluated by my long time counselor whose awareness and ‘judgement’ of me I trust.

What to do? As I sat on the beach, I noticed the Keki on the inside, catching little pockets, and laughing all the way in and back out to their inside takeoff spot. This surf spot is notoriously family friendly where folks come to find Aloha and be together. People bring friends who don’t surf there to learn, and there is an illuminating Vibration of Love that can be felt if one tries.

I decided to go out on my forest green 7’6″ funboard, and to stay inside with the Ohana. I was next to two little girls, walking their longboards on inside nugs, and a father teaching his young son to surf. I had so much fun, and felt so much joy in the warmth of the sun, the laughter, and the little pockets and walls-a-plenty. I was trimming along, with the clear, beautiful water, the reef, and the sea life. I caught a dozen incredible waves, and remembered what it felt like to truly play amongst friends.

Asa result of my parenting, I have an ability to learn from children, and this was no different. I relearned what it means to play, and to share, again, and how nice it feels to celebrate, and to be celebrated for catching and riding a wave that offers that vibration back as a child. I learned the value of a smile.

Aloha.

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Father’s Day Weekend, International Surfing Day…

…and, as always, I’m just glad to get some waves. Swell windows along the Strait of Juan de Fuca are small, tight, and reliant on so many variables.  And I wouldn’t have even been checking them out or considering surfing on a weekend if I hadn’t had such an exhausting work week; work completed on a frustrating and not-really-all-that-profitable project at about 8pm on Friday, painting stuff piled back into the van, check ATM-deposited.

EDIT; [Hey, wait; was International Surfing Day June 16, or is it June 22nd? Kind of confusing. Doesn’t really matter; I surfed on one of the possibilities, not sure about next weekend; or any weekend, but, since this weekend is gone and the reports are in, it seems like those who really wanted northwest waves got some. So, good.]

It was a Hobuck weekend for sure. It was the kind of Olympic Peninsula weekend Seattle-Siders dream of. White Reggie Longstroke had taken off on Thursday night to secure a prime spot. Temperatures were predicted to be in the 80 degree range, no big disturbing winds, moderate swell.

I definitely had no plans to go to the coast, and was trying to get all the parties together to start another job, miss the mob. I was hoping for a small swell window, like, checking, like today, right now. It’s a maybe, but… yeah, someone might be getting some waves.

Big Dave, who I’d run into on Wednesday or so, me on my way to a job, he standing by his Jefferson County dump truck, waiting, evidently, to fill in some pot holes on the Center Road, and who I really just wanted to clue in on a session I’d had (and he’d missed) with Clint and I pretty much the only surfers out; but he had to tell me the coast looked to be the bet for the weekend, and, man, I really missed the Memorial Day surf at La Push.

“Wait,” I said; I was checking out the camera, swear I caught an image of you bottom-turning on a wave.” “Probably. I was out there.”

I must add that I also got a clue, texted from an unnamed surf zealot down the canal, that there might be a little window that might not show on the forecast, even on the buoys.

“My board’s still on my car,” I texted; “What time r u thinking? 6? 5?”

No response to my “Going for it” text at 4:30. Knowing he had graduation parties to go to, probably from Shelton to Chimacum, I just knew he was already on it in the pre-dawn light.

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Okay, this isn’t actually the lineup when I arrived at around 6;45. I did take some photos with my phone, but can’t figure out how to send them to my e-mail. It was similar, but cleaner; the tide already low and headed for the lowest low (I’m told) of the year; and the swell was dropping, had dropped overnight, one surfer was out, one was headed out, two more were suiting up, and, well, I had to get out there.

Adam Wipeout wasn’t already there, but, with all I didn’t know, he might have been somewhere, hitting waves bigger and better.

It was pretty much over two hours later when I slogged through the mid-cove quicksand. Window closed.  On the way home I did pass a lot of surfers, even more kayakers, as many rigs trailering boats.  Hopefully each of those folks found something to enjoy.  With a rising tide, there could have been another window. And there’s always the coast. Hobuck, La Push, various spots in between… maybe.

Geez, it’s already late; got to get to work.

 

Scapes, Landscapes, and Possibly the Last of Captain Sketchee

I have been doing some Olympic Peninsula-specific landscape drawings lately, and I’m trying to get a few more done before (and, hopefully available at) the HamaHama Oysterama coming up the weekend around the 21st, down (or up, maybe even over) Surf Route 101.

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Here’s something I did for the Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange. And, incidentally, Discovery Bay seems to be the happening spot, so near the confluence of highway 20, 104, and Surf Route 101.  Tyler Meeks offers all kinds of gear for skiing, hiking, surfing; all the outdoor activities one can participate in on the ‘still wild’ Peninsula.  AND clothing; so much easier than perusing the Goodwill or paying full boat.

Since, and probably because Trish hates the Captain Sketchee character, I went a little whole hog (and I may not be done with the good Captain).

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Captain Sketchee in Color

and ready for more.

More what? More whatever; as long as it doesn’t require running or excessive sweating. No, and he’s done with nude beach volleyball (something about the leaping). He is educated (and he can list his credentials), opinionated, and ready to discuss several non-urgent, not-really-controversial topics in any one of several casual settings, including surf beaches and/or surf-adjacent parking areas.

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“They’re called car parks in much of the world,” is just one of many pieces of info he’s willing to share. Plus, Captain Sketchee has an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much every wave he rode from 1963 to 1968, the year he used his Uncle’s influence to get into the Coast Guard Auxiliary, just the start of his auxiliary naval career (the ‘Captain’ is strictly honorary).

“Yes, I hot-dogged the outside section, did a spinner, dropped a BA, cheater-fived right past one of those kooks on a 7’6″ garage soul ‘experimental’ board, did a soul arch and a standing Hawaiian in the shorebreak; Tamarack, September 17, 1967. Ebbing tide, afternoon session, fourteen completed rides, one swim, three ‘call offs,’ one verbal exchange, one deferred confrontation on the beach. Early cloud cover.”

The Captain is also known to distribute sage insight such as: “I probably should have made a few friends along the way, but… friends, inevitably, want to share a wave. One (I’ve found that, if he says ‘one,’ he probably means himself) evidently, has to be willing to go alone. All alone.” This might be followed by, “No one drops in on someone he or she (rather than using the more common, less elegant ‘they’) respects, so, blast it all, why’d you totally flamin’ burn me?”

“I don’t think I ‘totally flamin’ burned’ you, Captain; you blew the takeoff on the previous wave, missed two before that; I just… maybe I just lost faith. Sorry, I said ‘previous.’ Maybe ‘preceding’ might have been a better choice. What say you?”

CAPTAIN’S LOG- Surf Date, 03/11/18. Secret spot of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Muddy parking area/pullout. Very small reef break. Sunny but East wind side chop. Four completed rides. One semi-barrel. Two drop-ins. One verbal situation. One shared ride. One confrontation diffused. Going to Westport tomorrow. Ample parking.

Yeah, okay; I was just going to post the photo. Got to go.

Apre’s Surf and Avant Anything Else; Captain Sketchee’s Sport Togs and Fashion Garb

“Avant,” Mr. Sketchee told me, evidently including me with the ‘Surf Fashion lemmings’ and ‘Thrift store dumpster divers,’ “is French, and thereby, mas’ sophisticato, for ‘before.'”

“Mas’ sophisticato?” I asked, knowing, that as another figment of my imagination, Captain Sketchee got his start in fashion at the Port Angeles Goodwill (just down Lincoln from the North by Northwest surf shop) when he found some faux (more French) Admiral’s nautical coat; unfortunately not in the proper size.

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“It’s creepy,” Trish said when I showed her this drawing; “Why would you want to draw… him?”

“T shirts,” I said. “I’m going to add some waves, some lettering… and, besides, he was Mr. Creepee, originally; but, um, he’s, uh, evolved. And, anyway, what about the drawing? Clean, tight; medium lines?”

“The drawing’s fine, but… nobody wants that on a t shirt. I mean, do you?”

I kind of do. I mean, with the lettering and… quality t shirt, and… in my size.

Can’t Stop Myself from…

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

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

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

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

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

Not Always According to Plan

It’s a bit of a, I don’t know, irritating thing, to me, that, despite planning out an illustration, thinking it through, actually picturing it in my mind; once I check out reference material, once I start drawing… it comes out…pause… different.

Here are two drawings (please, just because of the fragility of my ego, don’t call them sketches) I finished today. I’ll let you in on what I hoped for after this:

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Simpler. I was thinking of the way photos, back in the early 70s, mostly, late 60s, were broken into three shades (dark, mid-range, and light). Psychedelic? Maybe; depends on the colors selected.  Next time. I’m kind of at the ‘still wild’ phase (“Still Wild period- not sure); and, based on advice from some guys who purchased some of my work (thanks Dave and Joey), I am kind of making my name a bit larger. I’m thinking of going with “Original Erwin.” Branding.

Ego. And, yes, Doctor; maybe doing an Orca is some pathetic reaction to Stephen Davis selling his whale painting (check’s in the mail); AND having some (quite a few) commissions for more original Stephen paintings.

Maybe a little. I have wanted to do a drawing of an Orca for a while. I also wanted to write something about a recent suicide slab session I observed, rather than participated in. I did give kudos to those brave souls who risked it, each one paying dearly for a (precious) few quality rides.  Not really wanting to be the observer, on this occasion, not participating may have been the right decision.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking…

OH, this is the day following the above post. My new stuff goes to twitter and Facebook, and, evidently, C.L. Flint is a follower (wait, maybe he’s a Friend; and, yeah, I do know him in real life) and commented that I should finish the killer whale, as in add the rest of the Orca (he called it a fish. No). So, I did. Now, I do think it’s sort of clever to have part of the drawing outside the frame (it’s my ‘outside the frame’ period). In this case, maybe C.L. is right. Here’s a side by side:

Skunked, Semi-Skunked, Just Plain Missed It

Not that I’m making excuses. Probably nothing is more frustrating to a surfer than the ‘could have gone.’  This applies to the time you ‘haired-out’ (retro term) and didn’t drop into a wave that, viewed from the back, broke perfectly; and to the time you didn’t go because you didn’t believe it would be ‘all time;’ and to the time you didn’t pay attention to the conditions, finding out later that a small window opened up, some of your friends hit it, and, of course, it was all time. Or maybe just epic.

Then there are the times the conditions look great, you cancel a few things, put off a few more, and go. Not epic, not all time. If you’re lucky, you can get a session under the ‘practice’ heading. “Practice for what?”

You know; for the time you’re the one who hits it right.

Meanwhile, I am continuing to work on illustrations.

Image (30)I have a couple more I’m taking to The Printery in Port Townsend today. One is of “Hobuck,” the other is a sort of Northwest version of an Aloha print. I’ll explain later. Later.

Meanwhile, if you’re cruising to the wild Olympic Peninsula, stop off at Tyler Meek’s Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange on Surf Route 101, Thursdays through Mondays. He has gear for all your vices, and some of my illustrations.

Something Other than Surfing…

…maybe that should be a question. When there are waves, or even the possibility, even (more) the probability of surf, tensions rise. Every surfer wants a chance at dealing with quality waves.  Some do, and are elated; others, for various reasons, miss out on opportunities and are frustrated. Tempers can flare.

Shit happens. Work, family responsibilities, broken equipment or vehicles, power outages, not taking a chance on iffy conditions, other shit. Shit!

And it’s not just that you (or I) aren’t committed, or committed enough to the lifestyle/sport. We rearrange our schedules the best we can, but, sometimes, we just hear about classic conditions after the fact. Sometimes we witness classic conditions but can’t, for any combination of the above or other reasons, participate.

That happens. I haven’t really  gotten over, or, at least, I still remember, painting a house on the bluff above Stone Steps, late in the afternoon, with the waves glassing-off, lining-up, and only a few surfers out. Yeah, I kept painting; felt I had to finish the project.

Still, those waves… they may not have been as great if I’d surfed them, but, in my memory, they were sooooo good.

WAIT. I’m adding this, just in, photo of Hydrosexual Stephen Davis (I was going to drop the hydrosexual part because of spam from sex-related, um, spammers, but Steve kind of likes the description/title) doing something besides surfing, work as part of the crew on a catamaran off the Big Island. OH, and he did the artwork for the t-shirt.

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Anyway, I am trying to do a bit of a pivot in my career, and I’ve actually started drawing things not surf-related. Here are some examples:

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What unites us as surfers is not our performance level; it’s more that we have suffered the frustration of getting caught inside, of missing or wiping-out early on a great wave, of watching someone else wail on a wave we could have been on, of hearing about or seeing wonderful surf we can’t get into, of driving a long way to get skunked. It’s sad and just wrong to get frustrated enough to unload verbally or physically on another surfer; particularly when, if there were no waves, this would be someone you’d be chatting with; a friend.

Even the best, longest ride is short compared to real life. What we really save is the memories. I’m sure we’d all rather have pleasant ones.

And, no; all this peace talk isn’t because someone took offense with my wavehog ways. I mean, people have, not recently; it really relates to friends going off on other friends.  Friends. It’s sad. It’s fixable.

I am continuing to do a series of  landscape drawings, anxious to expand my scope. I currently have some illustrations at Helen Gunn’s gallery uptown Port Townsend, some at Tyler Meek’s  Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange in Discovery Bay, and, once Adam “Wipeout” James sees my HamaHama drawing… I mean, my friend Adam James… and, yeah, working on it. Committed. See you.

OKAY, here are the first of my Olympic Peninsula landscapes:

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