This is the larger version of the drawing for the short story that follows. I’ve edited the story every time I’ve looked at it. Please check it out. Thanks.
This is the larger version of the drawing for the short story that follows. I’ve edited the story every time I’ve looked at it. Please check it out. Thanks.
La Marea Esta’ Subiendo [The Tide is Rising]
Her assumption must have been that an incoming tide brings things in, in toward shore. That’s when she would show up at Windansea, looking over at or walking the high tide line; scraps of driftwood and plastic and seaweed. I can’t be sure if she showed up for the middle of the night tidal pushes. I certainly didn’t. I was really only there when I thought there might be overhead waves.
But, I did see her there; I knew why she was there. One of the La Jolla locals who also surfed Crystal Pier was kind enough to explain, on a flat day, up in the parking area, careful not to have any other locals see him talking to someone who lived outside, even if just outside, the acceptable local zone. My not-really-a-friend even translated the phrases she kept repeating.
After my first attempt at surfing Windansea, I always checked it out when it was too big for any break in Pacific Beach. I’d given up on big days at Sunset Cliffs, my original choice, after a bad experience at Luscombs.
To this day it was the tube of my life. Everything being ‘locked in’ was supposed to be: Time slowing down, a thousand mirrors bouncing off the wall of the wave, a crystal chandelier exploding, the only sound wet rumbling-thunder; but, no, it was not at all peaceful. After the initial drop there was no choice but the tube; but I had to, had to make it. All I saw, peripherally, in an infinite moment, was the cliff, to my left, through the curtain.
Oh, yeah; the curtain; thrown over me…one…two…three… tighter… then pulled back. Open face. Breathe. Yeah; all the cliche’s, except, except…
… except I was the only one out; tubed but scared shitless; no less so after I made it to the shoulder, well within the shadow of the cliffs, standing, stretching, just cruising over the last of the dark, fat wave, even unable to celebrate my survival, my victory. The sun reflected in a variety of stripes and lines and sparkle on three more waves in the set. Paddle!
I caught more waves, dropping in on the shoulder, driving down the line. It took three waves before the memory of the first ride came clear. What was; what could have been. Even if I hadn’t made it, I told myself, I would have been all right. Still, my breathing quickened. Wave of my life. It was, I (again) told myself, enough for this day. I wasn’t scared; but I was, I guess, reluctant.
Sorry; too much explanation. This wasn’t my plan for this story.
Quicker: I tried to time my exit. Retreat. I could see the set hitting a reef farther out, an indicator. Three waves. I paddled out, over the first three, turned, held my position; caught the third. No tube; but a long wall. When it went fat, I straightened-out. There was backwash hitting the bluff, energy from the first two waves reflected from the point. My thought was I’d climb up the cliff (it’d worked before, but there were people there to grab my board as I scrambled up). The time I spent trying to find a place to land allowed the next wave to break hard, clean. I got worked, pounded, feet in river-type rocks, board bouncing against sandstone. And another, and another.
I had no choice but to leap onto my board, back into the next wave. I decided to paddle toward the cove. I paddled to my right, then toward shore. Almost there, a wave (six feet, at least) crashed down, right on my feet. In the cove!
I just hung on. There’s catching the soup; part of any surfer’s learning curve; and there’s this: I was engulfed. It’s like the wave smothers you, rolls over you; a heavy piece of driftwood; but then you’re pulled, or sucked, back over the energy and blasted in front of it. I’ve made it through this so many times. Not that one. Somewhere, probably when I was separated from my board, hands still clutching the rails, then violently thrown against it, I let go. Sorry. When I thought I was at the surface, I inhaled, still six inches left of a foot of churning foam. I coughed, inhaled again, coughed, got enough air for another wet cough.
I was gasping, confused, in another shadow, suddenly aware I was cold, cold and caught in the turbulence of too much energy from too many directions. Still, I wasn’t scared. I knew I could make it to shore, some shore; even if the rip took me north, toward that pinnacle rock; even if… I told myself I would not drown. Never.
And I did make it to the non-beach; still coughing; breathing in, coughing out, leaned over, hands on my thighs.
Two surfers were half-sliding down a steep trail in the corner of the cove. One of them yelled out, “Man; your board hit sooo hard!” And I saw a board; half a board, on the rocks to the north. “That’s it; broken,” I thought. Then; “Wait, my board’s red.” My board was, had to be… I jumped back in the water. I found my red board at the top corner of a cave under the sandstone. I had to swim in; the tide still rising, the waves still coming.
It’s a little bay, really; Big Rock on the south end, Windansea in the middle. As I said, I knew (four waves in an hour on a six foot day for a twenty year old wave hog) only to surf it when it was big enough that the pack at the peak (there has always been a pack at the peak) couldn’t maintain tight control. I’ve never surfed the breaks outside or north of the main break, only surfed the main break; never went left. Steep drop, then fat shoulder; juke around, try to have some speed for the inside section. The day after the tube of my life, while successfully negotiating quite a few waves, I lost my board three times at Windansea. Not on the drop; but, once trying to backdoor the peak, twice not having enough speed on the inside section.
Someone, probably a tourist, on the second wipeout, was kind enough to place my board up on the high rocks; protected from the waves and the rising tide. When I came in, retrieved my board, felt the new ding on the rail, looked at how much more crowded it was than when I’d gone out, thought about where I was supposed to be, I had to pass by the woman. She looked up; first at my board (no, my board was red), then at me. I smiled. No, I was just someone who wasn’t the man she was still looking for. She really didn’t see me. Not me. She looked past me and kept talking:
“No he visto el cuerpo,” I have not seen the body.
“Nunca se ahogaria.” He would never drown.
“E’l debe ser tan frio.” He must be so cold. “Tan Frio.” So cold.
There was a sudden crowd at the palapa, more at the railing; some were pointing. I looked around, scanning the lineup. A board hit one of the big rocks to my left. A hollow, solid thud. On the next wave it drifted back out, moving in the rip toward Big Rock. I just watched it. In moments, it seemed, two lifeguards passed me, passed the woman, both leaping into the shorebreak. As everyone watched the rescue, I looked at the woman.
The guy was all right. Kook; never should have been out there.
The woman looked at her watch, crossed herself; the last move, smoothly executed, seemed to be part of her own ritual, her fingers pointing out to sea, then to her lips. Her hand opened, fingers fanned. She reached into a pocket on her coat, pulled out car keys. She did notice me. probably staring, as she opened the door to her (I was surprised by this) fairly new, fairly expensive car. When I didn’t look away, she gave me- not a smile- maybe a bit of a nod.
The tide was going out. “La marea esta’ bajando.”
The almost-true, partially-true Surf Route 101 short story is only partially written, but, with a few moments to screw around before I have to go to work, I did some searching for a photo that might work as a temporary illustration.
If I can share the thought process: Thanks. The story is about a woman who shows up at Windansea as the tide comes in, possibly twice a day. She never saw a body and refuses to believe her man would drown. I initially looked up ‘habeas corpus,’ thinking it means, “show us the body.” Close. It means “You (should) have the body.” The definition varies.
I decided, when I couldn’t find the Latin for “I should have the body,” that Spanish might make more sense. Windansea seemed like a likely location, partially based on Bob Simmons famously having drowned near there (and this thought may have been pushed further forward in my mind because I was just talking about a Port Townsend surfer also named Bob Simmons). I believe his body was found, but the body of Dickie Cross, from the famous 1943 Wiamea Bay story, never was washed ashore.
And I have some history at Windansea. Almost ancient history now. 1970s. And I have some history in getting into situations in surf where I told myself I wouldn’t drown. No; not me. Never. So I wrote some phrases for the woman, in English, google translated them into Spanish; started writing.
Forty-some-odd years later; have to wonder if the woman still shows up. Oh, yeah; it’s mostly fiction; but still, it has to be real in my mind. Working on it. I took a few too many minutes.
Angels Unaware- Mostly-True Tales from Surf Route 101- First Draft. 02/05/16
It was one of those still-Winter, cold light, late dawn mornings; only the ridges across the highway fully-lit, the snow level obvious, and obviously lower, an obviously-new dusting that will disappear from the dark branches by noon; the kind of morning where someone you don’t really know well, on the pump across from you, might just say, blowing out warmth into the chill; “Another day in Paradise, huh?”
Sure, but it’s winter, heating season, and just the fact that the daylight hours are so few means less work; less work, less money. But I’m putting some alcohol-free gas into the car my wife inherited, the nice car; the good car; the car we cannot afford to have any mechanical problems. There’s a ten cent discount for cash, so I went to the ATM, got the fast forty, went inside, made a deal to get fifteen of the higher octane fuel (in case my wife asked- the car needs the high test). The other fifteen would be the regular; the regular unleaded still seventy-five cents or so higher than the price for the alcohol-added regular; and that price, well…
“Great,” I said to the new guy at the counter (there have been a parade of people behind the counter since the store reopened, the only gas for fifteen miles in the three directions one can go, mountains blocking the west- and we’re not supposed to complain about the price), “I look for the cheapest gas I can get for my rig; but for my wife’s…”
He nodded, I nodded; he gave me my change; ten dollars. “For my gas… later… somewhere else,” I said. “You’re set,” he said. “Just give me a signal when you switch.”
The woman I seemed to be holding up from getting to the counter with my whining looked like she had forgotten something, but, as I started to fill the tank with the high octane fuel, she approached, holding a bank card in one hand. “Can you spare a dollar?” She made some vague motion toward her car, parked sideways away from the pumps.
“I only have the ten,” I said, the bill still in my hand. She said nothing. “Why is it always me?” She nodded.
“I’ll bring you back the change.”
I handed her the bill. “She doesn’t know,” I was thinking, “how poor I actually am.” She couldn’t know that I was waiting for one job to start, waiting for someone at some desk somewhere to get to the paperwork necessary to close the deal. I was hoping a check I’d written would take a day or two longer to get back; I was hoping, worrying, taking small jobs to fill in. Then I thought about faith, and how we’d always survived; and how we’re tested, and how…
“Shit!” I’d allowed twenty dollars and fourteen cents worth of the high-priced fuel to be pumped; and couldn’t quite figure out how to make the switch. The woman saw me waving, alerted the counter guy. He switched the pumps.
“I had to do it,” I told myself, preparing for what I’d tell my wife. “Maybe she was really…”
The woman came back out, handed me my change. A five and three ones. Eight dollars.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
“Sure,” I said, draining the last of the fuel into the tank.
“You’re an Angel,” she said as she fondled the Lotto ticket I’d just bought her. “Wish me luck.”
I did a little project for the HamaHama Seafood Company, family-owned-and-run for five generations. The business is located about halfway down the portion of Surf Route 101 that snakes between the back side of the Olympic mountains and the Hood Canal.
If I wanted to be clever (and I do), I should add that the Hood Canal is, itself one of those TENTACLES that reach from the ocean, SURFROUTE 101 widely used by surfers coming up to the Strait, or down to the various surf opportunities to our south.
SO, here’s some old guy sitting on the toilet in one of two bathrooms (easily available for customers, and there’s a sani-can outside) now sporting octopus graphics. I’m pretty proud of this illustration, adapted from drawings provided by a designer, but the second bathroom’s drawing…. WELL, my original contact at the HamaHama, Adam ‘Wipeout’ James, fifth generation of loggers and seafood folks (with a sixth growing up quickly) said, of the second illustration, a reverse of this one; “Now you’re really killing it… (or something similar- hip and positive and suggesting that one was even better- ‘crushing it,’ maybe).
ACTUALLY, I was working for Adam’s sister, Lissa. The second I showed up to start the painting portion of the store renovation project I got a call from Keith Darrock. Something about buoy readings and wave possibilities. I told Keith I was working for Adam Wipeout’s sister, Lissa Wipeout.
“ACTUALLY,” Lissa said later, “it’s more like Lissa Freakout.” This may have been a bit of pre-employment intimidation (possibly based on what Adam may have told his sister about my pre-surf mind games- guessing); Lissa has only been gracious to me.
IN FACT, everyone at the HamaHama, from those who work the tides, the folks in the retail store; those workers who shuck oysters, and prepare them for markets all over; those who talk to bigtime clients; Louie Lakeness (who grew up in the oyster business up the canal in Quilcene, and who does several jobs AND is a childhood friend of my son James- JJ to him); and Adam’s sister-in-law, Kendra, who his brother, Tom, met while earning a PHD in Forestry at Yale, and who is now the CEO; they all seem so… so HAPPY in their work. WIERD.
I mean Weird. Unusual. Happy. ALL I’M SAYING IS, when you’re headed up or down 101, stop in. If you have boards on your rig and Adam is around, expect him to talk you up on where you’re going or where you’ve been; what you expect or what you surfed.
ONE MORE THING. We were told, when driving over those two double bridges (look like the bridge at Haleiwa, huh?), it’s good luck to repeat “Hamahamahamahama…” as many times as you can on each one. Maybe it’s to distract you from the narrowness and the log truck coming at you, but… try it.
OH. There is a more flattering photo of me, on Facebook; but I don’t do Facebook, but my wife, and Adam’s newest Friend, Trish, won’t let me download it from her Page. OH, and there are less flattering photos you’ll never see.
UPDATE: Here’s a shot of my nephew, Fergus Lynch, at Waikiki Beach in Ilwaco, close to my father’s house in Chinook, Washington. Wait, is this a surf spot? Ooops.
It isn’t really a secret spot, but it is really quite well protected. While I was driving around looking for a place to park where I wouldn’t have to hike past a beachfire attended by what, from a distance, I would have to think were surfers, parked in someone’s back yard; surfers who would, no doubt, be unhappy to see yet another non-local drawn to the unmistakable (to another surfer) long distance view of glassy, heavy, twirling barrels, my nephew, Fergus, did take the hike. Not a surfer (other than the times we hit Seaside Cove while visiting my Dad- Not this trip, however, on Christmas Day), Fergus got some great shots. This is, in my opinion, the best of them.
When it was evident that he was taking photos, one of the surfers came in, walked up to Fergus, said, “You better hide that camera.” With his next breath, he asked, somewhat excitedly and unexpectedly, “Did you get my last ride?” Fergus gave him a digital review of his photos. He had just caught the last of the surfer’s last ride, an attempted kickout close to the rocks. Perhaps Fergus, not looking like a threat, probably more like a hipster (and this is the last time I will ever use the word- hipster, that is, not tourist) tourist, and maybe more so when his parents caught up to him, got away with taking a few shots on what had to be a rare, but definitely epic (by any set of standards) day. What’s amazing to me is how great his eye is. But then, his mother is an artist. Great work, Fergus.
I actually had to bug my sister, Melissa, to bug her son to get the photos to me. Then, because he sent it in one format… not a big part of the story; I have the photos now, and next time I’m down visiting my father, I might take that hike.
UPDATE: Just received photos from Melissa. The last one is of furtive photographer Fergus and his father, Jerome, in disguise. No, I won’t be hiking-in anytime soon.
HEAD SONGS- It may have been an early Fleetwood Mac instrumental playing in my head. Whatever it was it was perfect for the afternoon, some mix of northwest swell and just the right tide creating fast lines from near Pacific Beach Point to the south end of the parking lot at Tourmaline Canyon. It was turn-and-tuck on each thin, fast, backlit wave, tuck until you are finally engulfed by the tube.
SUMMER SOLSTICE: The longest days in San Diego seem to end by 8:15 or so. In the three years or so, starting in November of 1971, I lived in PB, just up the long steep drop to the parking lot, I always checked PB Point. It seemed like there should be great, Swamis-like waves there; there just weren’t. No, not ever. On one summer day, unlike the first story (and probably with a different tune moving as a different wave in my head), the waves were peaky, with the best peak halfway to the actual point. I went out after work and stayed long enough to walk back up the hill in the dark, across the street to the La Jolla Bella, long since, I’m sure, condo-ed out and priced out of reach for a newly-married couple, even if both work.
ANOTHER SUMMER DAY, not working on workday, I was out on a little peak just off the actual point. Starting out shoulder-hopping, I was soon mid-peak, then back-dooring the wave, most likely on my Surfboards Hawaii twinfin, the going-right fin moved as far forward in the box as it would go, the going-left fin back because, if I must explain, I surfed differently going backside; more forward-trim going right. I also had my first leash/kookstrap on the board, already shortened by breakage because they were then made out of something like surgical tubing, effected negatively by saltwater corrosion. So, mid-peak, I took a hit, the board slid out from under me, the leash dragged me, kicking and clawing, across the reef. I came up with green stuff under my fingernails. Perfect. Go again.
WINTER SOLSTICE: On the shortest days of the year, it seems, as I remember, to get dark in San Diego somewhere between 4:30 and 5pm. I mention this because, in the Northwest, way farther north, but also farther west, the longest days go close to 10pm, but the shortest days turn dark before 4:35. Interesting. Not really, but, on one of those winter afternoons, PB Point was working. It was, and I don’t exaggerate on wave size, six feet. I must admit I’m daunted by larger waves (less daunting, more excitement on a point break compared to a beachbreak), but I found myself comfortable. And the waves just got bigger, until, just before dark, it was, by my standard, eight feet and I was still more excited than concerned. The darkness closed in so quickly, exhausted, looking way down the beach toward the lights, that I decided to go up the cliff. I climbed a fence or two, went through some rich person’s yard, and walked back down the road toward home.
ONE MORE STORY: My friend from Fallbrook, my first surfing accomplice, Phillip (long since Doctor) Harper, and his first wife, Pam, because they had to work weekends, would often come down to San Diego, or we’d meet at Swamis or somewhere, on a Wednesday or Thursday. On one of these visits, Phillip and I were surfing quite small and pretty crappy beachbreak at Tourmaline. I wiped-out on a wave, my even-shorter leash wrapped around the back of my board, and, when I came up, the board hit me right in the eye. What was interesting was, because I thrashed (and still thrash) boards, and rarely patched them (or patch them), a week or so later the glass on the nose of the board was broken away. It would have been a different result, Jack.
OKAY, TWO STORIES: That board was getting so thrashed that I would frequently go home with several new cuts on my legs from the board. On one winter afternoon, the tide very high, most of the surfers not catching any waves, I was taking off, kicking-out close to the shore riprap, close to the parking lot. When I got out, a tourist, an older woman probably escaping snow or something, said, “You look like you were having the most fun out there.” “Probably was,” I said, some new line of blood running down my leg.
THESE DAYS, because I need new gloves, I seem to get a new wound on my hands from each session, though, donning my old (properly thrashed) suit for a second session, recently, I noticed, later, that I had new scratches on my knee where the wetsuit was ripped. Should repair that.
You’re switching from a site featuring photos of ‘mature’ nude women to WM-SL.com. “LIVE NOW” is flashing at the top of the page. You hit on a photo of perfect waves. It takes a long moment to buffer. Eventually, with a few stops and starts, an image of a man standing in a parking lot, most of the crowd obvious tourists, including an older (‘more mature’) couple with matching t-shirts reading, “Obviously we’re Tourists.” The angle moves in on an attractive man in his thirties, obviously unaware the show is about to start.
JACK E. WILLIAMS (holds microphone close, wipes his eyebrow away from his right eye):
Oh. Hey. So, the second semi-final heat of the World Mind-Surfing Tour is about to start. Welcome to all you web and mind surfers, and to the crowd here in the parking lot at the edge of the cliff. Yes, we’re at Swamis, world famous point break in Encinitas, California. The surf is… how would you describe the conditions, Pete?
PETER POTTER (looking out at the lineup, eating a slice of pizza. He motions that he’s still eating, then spits pizza over the bluff):
Blown-out. Simple, Jackie; blown-the-hell-out. (pause) Um, it’s a boiling cauldron of mixed-direction swells. I mean; Surfline called it; six to eight south Chubasco-generated south swell, north-northwest Santa Annas howling, and a long-period northwest all the way from Alaska. It’s, I mean; it’s Swamis, for gosh sake, and no one’s out. (takes a bite of pizza) Back to you, Jack.
JACK (drops hand mirror from shot):
Peter, the field is down to four Americans. Oh, one’s from Hawaii; but, Pete; what happened to the Brazilians and the Haitians and that guy from Indonesia? And Don Reynolds, John-Jack; wildcard entries. None of them could make it out of the elimination heats.
PETER (wipes mouth with back of hand, hand on t-shirt):
Accents, Jackie. The judges couldn’t understand what they were saying. I mean, geez. Mumble mouth, shyness, that won’t get you to this level, Jackie. I mean, maybe you.
JACK (rolls his eyes):
Well; Peter, always real. Maybe too… hey; we’re going to get underway; this is a different game; the waiting is over. There’s tension, and we have waves, AND no one out to spoil the mind surfing… great. We’re now going to Brent Savage, over in the contestant’s area. Brent, are the semi-fnalist’s ready?
BRENT SAVAGE (older guy in Hawaiian shirt, glasses, standing next to the public bathrooms. He puts a woman’s purse behind his back):
Sure enough! Ready! Now, in semi-final one, Simpo Martinez narrowly defeated Sleeter Kenny, our wildcard entry from the northwest; great event for Sleeter; just… it was that floater into the inside rock finger, with the Hawaiian pullout… awesomely described… I mean, it was like you could see it; that gave Simpo the victory. Here’s the after-heat interview:
SALLY DeBOIS (very tall blonde, French accent):
So, Simpo; you took down a legend in the mind-surfing sport. It’s said Sleeter’s wave knowledge and experience in, um, challenging conditions, is… did I already say, ‘legendary?’
SIMPO MARTINEZ (with flower neck tattoo):
Um, yes. Uh, yeah; Sleeter; maybe this wasn’t his year; I, um, most definitely… all respect… he’s… yeah.
SALLY (moves in front of Simpo, looks at camera):
Yeah? I mean, that’s your answer? Yeah?
SIMPO (steps around Sally):
SLEETER KENNY (about 60, with dark sunglasses, wearing a track suit, walking by, stops):
I’m coming back. Seriously. No. Wait. I’m through.(puts on hat that says, ‘FTS’) Fuck this shit! SALLY (chuckles as Simpo reaches out for Sleeter’s hand, Sleeter smiles, shakes his head as if to suggest he’s just being dramatic: Back to you, Jackie-bird. JACKIE (fakes shock, chuckles):
Okay; we’ll be seeing Simpo in the finals. Sleeter, greatest mind surfer of all time. I think he’ll be back. He personifies the sport. But first… Pete; re-introduce us to our semi-final contestants.
PETER (pouring beer into a red plastic cup):
Hey, Jackie; I’m… never mind. Look, web-lackys; and I do love re-explaining this all the (mutters) time. Slider Gustovson, from Oceanside… well, now Escondido; and Jay Coxworth, our Australian; have thirty-five minutes to describe what they’d be doing if they were actually in the water. The five judges, separated from the contestants and from the actual water, will view the surf on several monitors, each from a different camera angle. That way, reality and what’s being described; hopefully you get that. Not that you couch surfers get a vote. We had a drone, but it got too close to the Self Realization compound, the authorities were called, and, well, the footage is available on our site. Not pretty. Also, we didn’t think the nudies would be out around the point past Boneyards, what with the wind and all. (winks) Check my Facebook page, Droners.
JACK(checks out attractive woman in the parking lot as he looks out at the water, holding his hair down with one hand):
So, we’ll be in our roving WM-S League studio, seeing the same thing viewed by the judges AND the contestants; listening to the descriptions of each ride; seeing how the judges score. Roger Platnik, five time Mind Surfing Champion, will join me for analysis. After this break. So exciting.
AN ADD FOR HANSEN SURFBOARDS starts and stops, ends with “We used to sell surfboards; now we’re all about the fashion; a few surfboards upstairs and on the world wide web.
A SHOT OF THE PARKING LOT shows three old vans and an even older RV, awnings connecting them, in the back corner. Jack pushes Brent out of the RV. Brent kicks the tires, pulls out and lights a cigarette. He opens the door and looks back into the RV. The woman Jack was checking out earlier, adjusting her top, steps out, then throws a kiss back inside, pauses for a moment, throws a kiss at Brent, hands him her purse, goes inside the RV.
A WORN KANVAS BY KATIN BANNER RIPS down the middle in the wind. two sides flapping.
THE SURF IS SHOWN, BIG AND BUMPY, BUT with some shape coming off the point.
SLIDER (voiceover): I’m on a 5’10” Hynson Fish, black, with all down-rails; and the extra flotation allows me to, it mitigates, one could say, the chop, as I paddle through. Ew, duck dive that one. And up.
JAY (voiceover): I’ve just switched to a Channel Island semi-gun, template taken from a classic Yater. I think there’s a bit of Pat Curran in there. Sorry, Aussies; it’s, yes, Cal-i-for-ni-an. I’ve just paddled past Slider, out and around, and I’m going to take a chance on the inside break. A little bit cleaner, perhaps. (breathing a bit heavier) The wind is just brutal. Thankfully, I’m wearing my new O’Neill Windbreaker hood. Yeah, also Californian.
PETE: Geez; have you seen these guys? I mean, fuckin’ Slider is old and fat and no way he… what? Oh. Okay. Sorry. I just… (cuts off).
SLIDER: here’s… second wave of the set; clean, backlit; I’m…(breathing)… I take off late, in the shadows, drop… freefall… connect; cranking it… vertical; slam off the heavy lip. OW! trying… my fins are free; side-slipping, my right hand deep in the wall; no! Tucking-in. Owwww! And out! Cranking, everything onto the rail. Yes! Back up, pull it off the foam; down again. I aim for the shoulder as another section grows, opens…
JAY (talking over Slider): It’s an outsider. No, it was a ploy; I’m hitting the long section, driving straight off the roll-in whitewater takeoff. Will I connect with the… pumping, a long floater off the roof; down swoop, set my eye on the…
SLIDER: Hey, Jay; you didn’t have time to get outside; Wanker. Meanwhile, I’m still going, a few jukes and go for the nose on the rock ledges inside. So clean, so… JACK (breathing heavily): Oh, oh! Amazing! What did you think, Roger… Platnick… Plats? (pause) And, um, where are you, Plats? PLATS: Upper bunk, Jackie. Watching the show. Here, let me turn on my, um, actual camera.
THE VIDEO FREEZES. It may never recover. You switch to PETERPOTTERPUNTS.com, see a still aerial shot of the old couple on the beach, pulling off their t-shirts. You wait a moment, open another bag of cheetos, then hit the arrow. The next day, on the site, there’s an update. An interference by Jay Gustavson, Slider goes on to the finals, the finals then put on hold due to the surf cleaning-up and fifty surfers heading out. Photos of the contestants are from years past, though a rival website, Wasted Mind Surfing.org, shows the actual surfers. Brutal. Keep mind-surfing; we’re all champions.
MEANWHILE- while I’m working on a drawing, Happy Thanksgiving. No Hate, No Fear. I spent a lot of last Thanksgiving watching the currently-on-hold Target Pro from Honolua Bay. I actually love that the WSL allows the rest of us to watch quality surfing and, yes, do some mind surfing ourselves.
FIRST, and I’ll be removing this later, but, to terrorist/cowards everywhere, who chose soft targets rather than any battlefield, who consider themselves martyrs when they are murderers who create martyrs; there is no glory in this; there is no reward waiting, there is no God anywhere (and if you, as I, believe there is but one God, is that God not the God of all children?) who would condone massacre, the killing of the innocent and unarmed. And to those who incite and promote violence: Your hatred and fear are consuming you; the flesh is already rotting from your bones. May this only hasten, destroying you rather than infecting others. May God extend peace, wisdom, and mercy to the many. And True Justice. I wrote this to vent after the attacks in Paris; but it applies in way too many places around the world. Always has.
This is a photo taken on a recent day when Tom Burns did a lot of driving and never got to ride a wave.
He took this while on a long walk with Doug Charles. “Kindred spirits talking story” is how he described the visit. If your search for waves takes you to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, you probably know who Doug is. He’s “Uncle” Doug to many, the guy who tells you “you’re really not supposed to be here” to others. If you do surf, you are a guest.
Respect given is respect returned.
Hey, I’m not all enlightened. Far from it. My inner motto, in the water, is “I’m here to surf.” We can get into the sociopath-ic-ness of that another time.
I’ve been trying to include the journey, the there and back, the interactions with other surfers, even with non-surfers, as part of my surf sessions. This is not a natural or easy thing for me. If I were a fisherman, I’d be inclined to only count the time as ‘fishing’ when I was reeling something in. When there are lulls between waves, I’m more prone to sharking, paddling left and right, than patiently waiting. Even if I chat with some other searcher, I’ll most likely be checking my lineup, looking for indicators, trying to make sure that, when the set comes, I’m in position (that is, a better position than others in the water). More likely, I’ll go for some of those inside waves and hope I’m not on one when the set arrives. I’ve only sort of given up on counting my waves. Sort of.
I’ve also been trying to come up with a phrase that might crystallize the experience for surfers in a place that is so rare; the fickle, imperfect, wild, access-so-frequently-denied, beautiful, frustrating secret coast. I haven’t been successful, but now claim ownership of “Keep it Strait.” It was a throwaway line in an reply (to one of my usual overly prosaic emails) from Drew Kampion, the man who penned “Always Summer on the Inside” for O’Neill Wetsuits (with the image, made quite an impression on the 16 year old me) and the now-and-for-years cliche’, “Corduroy to the horizon.” I’m saving his email saying I can have it, but, all respect, Drew.
It’s tempting to add, “If you can’t keep it secret… keep it Strait.”
It’s semi-related to the North Shore expression, “Keep the Country Country.” I do include all the negatives in thinking of how to illustrate this. Those are all part of the journey. The journey is part of the session. As in all things, working on it.
DISCLAIMER AND ALERT- Immediately after I read the RANT section to my wife, Trish, with the intention of deleting it from the post (she asked why, if I meant it, should I delete it; so… maybe later), while checking my e-mails (and all this was immediately after the Seahawks lost the Sunday night game), I discovered I had a comment pending. It was from Foamclimb (probably not a given name- self-given, maybe). “Could read a bit homophobic, no? How about ‘Sometimes better than Lake Michigan?'” It just didn’t compute. Was he saying something about the RANT?
Maybe I was delirious from the defeat and the ‘knock-em-out’ pills Trish had given me for the headcold I’d exacerbated by surfing two days in a row; whatever; it was when I woke up (sort of, not actually fully awake yet- this is how those pills work) that I realized it was about “Keeping it Strait.”
OH, SURE. NO; never gave a thought to how that might sound to, you know, surfers who might not be heterosexual. AND, OH, maybe (referencing an earlier usage of ‘straight,’ as in not drunk or stoned) surfers who might be stoned or drunk or otherwise drug-influenced (like me on the nighttime cold pills) may also take offense. We can’t have that. No. AND, when I thought it might be good to add, “If you can’t keep it secret…” GEEZ. NO.
SO, let me say I did not mean anything mean, or to demean anyone except those who do not respect and appreciate the rare gift we are sometimes given of a few cold sliders. AND, when I say a few cold sliders, I’m talking about waves and really can’t imagine any other twisted usage of the phrase. It’ not like I said, “a few long straight tubes” or…
WAIT; In going through a few wave descriptions that could (maybe) be construed as sexual, and not wanting to be too crass, I’m thinking back to the artwork by a guy in San Diego who managed apartments for my brother-in-law. His stuff was definitely not in any way PHALLIC. Quite the opposite. So, I asked him what the opposite would be. “VAGINAL,” he said, with a straight face. “Uh huh,” I said, “vaginal.”
OKAY, THEN; I may not ever progress farther with “Keeping it Strait.” I’d give it back to Drew Kampion, but, once he sees how negative it can be, he may not want it.
Maybe it was just a sort of harmless prank; maybe it’s a statement that those wave-hogging, SUP-riding, Aloha-be-damned surfers should always hold on tightly to their paddles. Yeah; even if there’s sixty yards of spinning inside tube ahead of him. And yeah, even if the set-wave-grabbing lineup Dominator is somewhere on the downhill side of sixty, with bad knees and… I mean, you should have seen him trying to get to his paddle as the tide dropped… yeah, he may have deserved this.
I might agree if it wasn’t my paddle.
I’ve been working toward posting something on realsurfers that might go viral. A few pieces, over the three years or so since realsurfers hit the electronic cosmos, have had a sort of slow-motion version. But, what I do know is, even if someone as athletic as whoever found the paddle and jammed it into the wire rope-held pilings pulls it out, King Arthur style, the story will spread. Quickly. After all, surfers hanging out on the Strait, waiting and hoping some sort of swell might show up, might just have to tell the tale of how the baddest-ass, kook-burning-est, wave-catchin’-est, loudest, least cool guy ever to knee-board an eleven foot board from the pilings to the fence got a sort of comeuppance.
I’d argue with the description if it wasn’t supposed to describe me.
There is more to the story; coming soon. If this wasn’t a happy ending for me (still feeling a bit outside of the tribe of mellow, never-took-off-on-anyone-ever-no-really-like-never-surfers, I’d probably guess anyone ever frustrated by SUP-riding over-compensators might just go, “Right On, Man!”), there is a surprise twist in this little morality play. This twist is forcing me to question my initial reaction to be hurt, then pissed-off at being singled out for this little prank; then humiliated by my pathetic, clumsy, and unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the paddle (witnessed by anyone who cared to look among a gathering crowd on the beach). These feelings were followed by a momentary-but-deep (why me? am I really that much of an asshole?) depression combined by a significant amount of anger at people who I would like to think of as peers (even friends). I aimed these feelings to those responsible, and to those who (owing to a different strain of tribal-think) would never reveal who did this. This rather quickly morphed into ‘fuck them/I don’t need them,’ a throwback to my days as a loner/outsider (yeah, I know you think you are. Probably not) with a fully-functioning (as in, I got waves) ghetto-mentality surfer in Oceanside and Pacific Beach, and Swamis, and Trestles, and made me almost proud to be the Antagonist.
Still, until I sort it all out in my mind, I’m leaving it at this. [not true- I’ve already added to this piece several times] I’ve been very satisfied with the many surfers I’ve met over my years surfing in the northwest, an contrast this, happily, with my time in California.
Here are a couple of things: I won’t drop a paddle again. I catch almost every wave I try for. If you aren’t getting enough waves, take off in front of me. Really. I’ve never really yelled at anyone for this (wait, once I yelled, “Really?”), though my usual thing is to sarcastically yell, “Waikiki!” or “Party!” but, my new and humbler self might just smile and say, “Aloha!”(Durn; still a bit bitter, but working on it)
I’d give acknowledgement to the photographer, but, just in case he’s maintaining a safe distance, I’ll just say, ‘nice photo.’ Oh,and Trish said, “If you had a ladder, you could have walked out and climbed up to get it.” “Oh, uh huh.”