…as we tend to do, turning the channel to avoid any unpleasantness from Ukraine or Uvalde, we look for, yes, pleasantness, peace, quiet beauty. The previous piece, available with a simple scroll-down, was a lightened-up alternative to a harsher, much harsher one. Yes, it is in my files. Ready.
But now, here is the latest work from my friend, Stephen R. Davis.
There is a certain distance from Steve’s paintings at which abstraction becomes rendering.
I am considering the places in our minds in which we look at the crazy, fucked up world at the proper distance. Considering. I’ll get back to you on that. Meanwhile… peace.
The main complaint I’ve gotten in the feedback from my most recent manuscript is the side-stories, the deviations and detours from the direct route. I-5 is the fastest route from where I live to San Diego. If you’re in a hurry, take it. I have, and, metaphorically, I am trying to do the same with “Swamis;” focused, tight, direct.
It won’t happen. Because I am past this point in my latest rewrite, I will post it here. I have always envisioned my friend Stephen Davis as Gingerbread Fred (maybe it’s vice-versa). Steve and I have, particularly on long drives to and from surf trips, gotten a bit… verbal. Scream therapy I call it. If you know Steve, sure, picture him. He says he doesn’t mind.
We’ll scream it out soon.
Oh, I mention the Holders in this chapter. That’s going away. I haven’t really done the research to know if Carson Holder, about my age (70- echhh), who I met years ago at Grandview, is related to Dempsey Holder, legendary surfer from the late 1950s, or not. It’s a minor thing in the story, and it’s being cut, but, yeah, I do wonder.
Because I definitely over-explain, including this and other little true life references, is in part, part of my trying to make anyone willing to push through the turns and twists to possibly, actually believe this fiction is… believable, maybe even part of a view worth slowing down for. This doesn’t mean I disagree with the criticism. It is accurate.
I just realized my friends Day and Phillip are in this chapter. It is true they were busted for ditching school and did have to do cleanup for team remainder of our senior year.
Although some of this won’t survive, it is still copyright protected.
Thanks to real life role models for fictional characters.
CHAPTER 12- FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 1969
It wasn’t even dusk yet. I could have been surfing. Instead, I was at home. I had pulled the cord to the phone in our living room as far as it would reach, pulled the cord from the phone to its limit, and leaned against the picture window with a view to the coastal foothills to the west.
This paragraph is in present tense; it works better.
“I get it, Phillip, you can’t go.” I listen. “Okay. Hanging out at the base stables, yeah; probably more important.” Listen. “No, I think she does… like you. You have to… passing glances aren’t enough. You must… talk to her.” I nod, tap on the window. “No, man, before dawn; beat the crowd. Weekends. Shit.” Move toward the coffee table. “Yeah; it is so…” Set the base of the phone down, whisper, “Fucked up. Chulo. Yeah… so weird he was there… when my dad…” Inhale. Chuckle. “No, you’re right; he wouldn’t have intervened with the school board. Not for you and Ray… or for me… whatever people say.” Listen. “Really. Superintendent; not just the Vice Principal? Multiple truancy. Ditchers. So, what’s your punishment?” Turn on the TV. “Really? That’s it; pick up trash around the campus?” Laugh. “Every day? Nutrition and lunch?” I sit on the couch. “Well; no; I knew there weren’t enough detention hours before graduation. Still…” Laugh. “Good luck with the horsie girls then. Bye.”
My mother had not allowed me to go to the coast after school on the days immediately after Chulo’s murder. Just after arriving home, with Freddy, she was questioning my going on Saturday. “Too soon,” she said. “I don’t trust… the station wagon. It needs a tuneup. And… Larry says the investigation is ongoing and the scene is all a mess.”
“Larry says?” Larry. Wendall. She clamped her mouth shut. “I do have to go to work. Saturday? Tony’s? I can take the Volvo.”
The Volvo had been picked out, with my father’s help, from vehicles the Sheriff’s Office had impounded for various reasons, and, for various other reasons, these vehicles had not reclaimed. While my father would say, “it’s Swedish,” he meant ‘exotic,’ my mother routinely followed “Swedish” with “Safe, and practical.” What she meant was that it was hers. Freddy and I were not allowed to eat in it, and it was definitely not a car she would, or I could take to the beach. The Falcon had been the family station wagon, mostly, before the Volvo, before my father was allocated a full-time county rig, before I got a license. It had become the school and back vehicle, the beach vehicle, the mildew smell probably permanent.
“Just be careful. No one’s been arrested… yet.”
If my mother had been able to read my mind, as I often believed (not just mine), she would have known my look was a question as to whether this was inside information- Larry. I held the look a while. “It was on the radio,” she said.
The sound came from the TV before the black and white image cleared. A commercial. We would get a color set when they got it perfected, my father had said, not because my snotty and spoiled friends had one. Ours was the kind where the TV screen was only one part of the TV/record player/AM FM radio console. Furniture, nonetheless. Swedish modern. Blonde. Exotic? Practical.
I considered sitting in my spot on the sectional my mom had covered with some sort of almost-burlap fabric that was pretty much impervious to spills and such. I looked over at my father’s chair, overlarge, overstuffed, a rough sort of brocaded material in a purple-ish red, worn armrests. I hadn’t sat in it since his death. Actually, I had never sat in it.
My mother looked at me, turned her eyes toward the recliner without turning her head.
“We sent a crew back up to North County, following up after Tuesday night’s… murder.” I sat down. It was comfortable; it had the perfect view of the screen. Optimal.
“Gingerbread Fred,” I said, louder than the news anchor, jumping up, moving closer to the screen.
It was daytime in the footage and the camera seemed to select him, Gingerbread Fred, from the small group over by the bluff. No shoes, no shirt under a well-worn v-necked sweater that I knew to be tan on the greenish side. He had on an almost-matching and equally worn, hand-crocheted watchcap on his head, his almost-matching blondish-red hair exploding from underneath it. The camera seemed to move in, then up to his face, a lot of gray in his beard.
I hadn’t noticed Freddy behind me, takeout from the Fallbrook A&W, my dinner, in his hands.
“Fred,” the man on the TV said, microphone too close to his face. “Fred Thompson, Ma’am. Folks ‘round here call me…”
“Fred,” Freddy said, moving around the chair, and very close to blocking my view, “like me.”
Our mom smiled, ruffled Freddy’s hair. “No, Freddy; you will get a haircut.”
“Nothing like you, Freddy,” I said. “Gingerbread Fred’s supposed to have surfed Tijuana Sloughs and Killer Dana, and some mysto breaks outside of Windansea. Simmon’s Reef.” Not looking away from the TV, I added, “It was verified, I’m told, by one of the Holders.”
“Oh,” my mother and brother both said.
“The kid, lives… around the corner; he’s a Holder. Not sure if he’s related. Dempsey, Dempsey Holder… pioneer, legend.”
“Holders,” my mom said. “You should ask him… the kid.”
“I just saw the flame, man; it was so, um, uh, intense. You know?” Gingerbread Fred’s hands seemed outsized, moving around the same way they did when he talked surf. “Bright. You know? I thought I’d heard something, over by the…” All his fingers, both hands, were pointing. “The… compound. There was just a sliver of moon. I was coming up, just at the top of the stairs when I seen it. The flames.” Fred clapped his hands in front of him, way too close to the reporter. “Flash!”
She and the camera angle jerked back.
It was a woman reporter this time; young, thin, with a sort of post-beehive but sprayed-stiff hairdo. When she didn’t move the microphone closer, Fred moved closer to it. He was looking at her, then directly into the camera. “And a car was pulling away. No lights. It didn’t squeal out, but… it was loud.” Fred moved his right hand to mimic a car taking off fast.
Gingerbread Fred mimicked the sound. A rumble turned into “Errrrrrrcuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh!” He stopped, put a hand on the reporter’s hand, on the microphone. The camera jerked again, from her frightened expression to Fred’s face, his eyes equally as wide. “Just, um… that might have been… before… before the, the… fire. Yeah. No. After. That’s why I looked over; it was the fire. And then, there was… screaming. The… all at once. In the air. Scream. Ffffwwwwwwweeeeeewwwww! And… it seemed like someone else, like… I thought I saw… on fire. Fire. Fire in the air.” He paused. Rather, he just stopped speaking, but kept looking straight into the camera.
The camera panned smoothly back to the reporter. Fred released his hand from hers. When he stepped back into view again, he was crying. “It was, it was a long ways away. I couldn’t…” He stopped again. His hands dropped down, out from his sides; then moved forward, palms out, then up, into a gesture, I thought, of surrender. “I ran, but, you see, I don’t run. Used to.” The camera moved in too close to Fred’s creased face. “It was like, um, the second coming; maybe; But then… then I could smell the… the fire. Chulo. Good surfer. One time, down at Windansea…”
Gingerbread Fred was gone, gone into his memories. The camera switched, abruptly, to the reporter. She seemed more frightened than moved by Fred’s meltdown. Irritated. “Well,” she said, “we will continue to follow…”
She continued. She looked, I thought, angry, pissed at herself for losing her composure. TV. It shows every emotion. I stopped listening. Gingerbread Fred, looking even more confused, walked past, in the background, and over to an older man in a heavier-than-necessary coat. That man allowed Fred to come close enough to embrace him.
“Wally,” I said, pointing at the screen.
I jumped up and moved closer to the screen. I was pretty sure I had seen Ginny Cole, a camera at her face, standing with but behind Wally; but the pan of the crowd passed too quickly.
“Ginny,” I said. “Ginny Cole,” I whispered. Ginny. There was no rewind.
I had my own rewind. Words. Images. Blink. Remember.
I was standing. I was frozen.
“And now, the weather,” a voice on the TV said.
“It’s all right, son; you can sit in your father’s chair… if you wish.”
“No; it’s fine, Mom.”
“Well, sit somewhere; your food’s getting cold.” I sat in the middle of the larger section of the sectional. “Oh, and… I, we… have an offer on the place. Where would you like to live?”
I briefly tried to picture everyone who had been at the wake; then, in my mind, I was cruising Neptune Avenue, looking at houses. Waterfront, on the bluff. Out of reach.
“Nine seconds,” Freddy said, sitting in our father’s recliner, motioning me away from his view of the screen. “I took a few of your fries because, you know… nine seconds.”
I checked with Chimacum Timacum to see if the quote and the story behind it were correct. CONFIRMED. Yes, he had witnessed Keith’s ride from the perfect vantage point, on the shoulder, looking into the oncoming wave. Keith did, indeed, backdoor the peak, did get tube time, did come flying out with the mental wherewithal to add a few swoops into the mix.
SO, then Tim got a ride (no doubt pretty good to amazing). Because of the pervasive rip, they are both walking back up to the point. Tim catches up, possibly taps Keith on the shoulder and… here’s the QUOTE: “Wasn’t that enough for you?”
I won’t keep you in suspense. No; not enough. It’s not just Keith who can’t get enough waves, but, yeah, it is Keith. I get it. I understand how, while getting a few mediocre rides will cause any real surfer to keep going until he or she gets a pretty good ride on a really good wave, or a really good ride on a pretty good wave, or even a really good ride on a shitty-ish wave; getting a really good ride on a really good wave will not necessarily cause him or her to say, “Yes, Tim, that was as good as I can hope for during this particular session, and I believe I will now go home.”
NO. Especially not Keith. Even without factoring in that Tim might get an even better wave, possibly from deeper, or that Tim might… NO, enough is rarely enough.
I have noticed that supposedly surfed-out surfers can suddenly spring back to life and compete fiercely for waves when… No it isn’t just when I go out, late in the latest swell window, but, yeah then. And I have been on the other side of that; back out for just a couple more because Chris Erdley missed my best rides, and, hey, I can still make it to Costco before it closes.
ALSO in my cell phone conversation with Tim, we discussed, as surfers do, past sessions. As you, as an avid reader of realsurfers, are aware, I have been ready to break my resolution to not surf until I have my submission package for “Swamis” ready to go. NO, I actually said I would have to have the novel’s third or twentieth polish/edit done. Backtracking. WELL, now I’m almost there on the submission, and totally desperate to get in the water. I’d be stoked,, rocks and boils and chop and all, to surf something like the wave in the photo, and, after twenty or thirty rides, I would be ready to… no, I pretty much stay until the waves go away for any one of several known reasons, I break a fin, or I just have to get somewhere else (not always Costco) and I’ve run out of time.
AND, HEY, what do you do when your first ride in a session is quite possibly going to be your best?
But, if you do happen to see me paddling out, please bear in mind I’m kind of… hungry. Next time, something on ADAM WIPEOUT that isn’t actually about that one wipeout I keep promising to write about.
Now that Stephen R. Davis is kind of settling into Big Island life, and has made progress toward, possibly, becoming what he referred to another surfer over there, a “Haole Local,” I speak with him less regularly than when he was over here on the crookedy corner of the contiguous states. I mean, like, really, what do I have to say, surfwise? King tides and southwest swells and skunkings and underwater gravel migration that cuts a wave-killing channel through my favorite reef? Mean-muggers and packs of high-fiving white guys on SUPs who, obviously, got their training chasing ferry boats? How the number of new surfers add to the Olympic Peninsula demographic of most frustrated surfers per hundred thousand?
Yeah, the usual stuff, plus, since it’s this time of year where every surf trip starts AND ends in the dark, and the political shenanigans continue, unabated, as does the virus, and the unavoidably (except by Congress) obvious toll the pandemic has taken on regular folks (for example- several Port Angeles restaurants in business the 42 years I’ve been here have for sale signs in front of them) continues to rise; and, oh yeah; it’s Christmas time, which, if I had my choice, would take place in August when I actually have some money for presents (my kids don’t call me the Christmas Dick because I seem particularly jolly)… so, again, just the usual stuff is going on in my life, making it extra pleasant to get a call from Stephen R. Davis.
Steve called me to say he’d gotten redemption at a sketchy break that features a dry-reef-takeoff, a couple of cruisy sections, and an opportunity to get barreled or pummeled. We did talk after an earlier session in which one of the non-Haole locals said something that Steve understood, but, with him using the pidgin pronunciation, left me with no clue as to what he was talking about, even when I made him repeat it. But, placing it in context, because, when he looked around, all the other surfers were heading for shore, I’m guessing the phrase probably meant something like, “The tide’s too low, Haole.”
Now I imagine Steve nodding, as if he understood the implications, but staying out for an uncontested wave of two.
As I said, this time, with some water on the reef, Steve, who says, with the opportunity to surf consistently, he is surfing better than he ever has, and he was already a very good surfer; this time… redemption.
WAIT! I was just watching some pipeline footage and suddenly reef that Steve said he was doing the outfit with the two hands in the wave face, meaning one hand behind him. “Wait,” I exclaimed ( or asked, perhaps- less dramatic), “you mean like Clay Matzo at Honolua Bay?” “Yes. ” “So, you Marzoed?” ” Guess so. ” “Okay.”
Steve sent me a few photos. This one is a little beefcake-ish and buttcrack-ey, and he says it isn’t him, though he claims he can’t remember the name of the guy and, although I just don’t know of that many people who have that much fucking hair (and I have seen some Stephen Davis wannabes).
It’s a bit interesting to me that I’m working on this while considering how much weight a 4/3 full wetsuit adds to a surfer, that with a one mil vest (with hood) and booties, all of which take in and hold a certain amount of saltwater and/or urine (no, not the hood, urine-wise); and that I have two baggies of assorted chocolates on a side table, and a selection of seasonal cookies easily available; and that working on finishing my novel “Swamis,” (self promotion here) and whatever else I’m doing from a chair that can recline if I’m too tired to sit upright is not exactly like burning calories.
I did mention the Christmas Dick thing.
Anyway, and not just because I have some free (as in no one is paying me for it) time, I will, soon, post some photos my friend and contemporary Tom Burns sent me illustrating a trip some of his friends took to the channel at Mavericks on that recent day, best in years, you are probably already familiar with. But, just because my sister Suellen sent me this, I may as well include a shot of our dad, Suellen, me, and my next sister down, Mary Jane, en route from Surf City, North Carolina to San Diego, December 1953.
Merry Christmas; try not to be a (not a sexist comment- I’m talking behaviorally) dick; in or out of the water; and, for godsake, Steve or non-Steve, tighten up those boardshorts!
FIRST, I have completed, pretty much, my complete re-re-re-edit of “Swamis,” the fake memoir, coming of age, mystery, romance novel. Yes, I do want to do a bit more polishing, and, yes, it’s probably way too long at somewhere around 123,000 words, 295 pages at 12 point. NOW WHAT?
ANYWAY, we’re all stuck in the omni-demic; surf spots on the coast of the Olympic Peninsula or on the Strait of Juan de Fuca are shut down or have access that is even more restricted than usual, and some are counting it as better-if-not-good news that the surf might not be optimum.
Here are a couple of fairly recent shots of my friend, Stephen R. Davis, setting up a wave and hitting the inside section. Now that the writing part is almost under control, I have asked Steve to do some illustrations for “Swamis.” Since the book alleges to be a memoir by Joseph Atsushi ‘Jody’ DeFreines, Junior; real person Erwin Dence, a minor character in the manuscript (mostly so readers won’t think Erwin is anything like Jody) will also be doing some of the drawings.
True to the secondary title of realsurfers, ‘Name Droppers and Shoulder Hoppers,’ “Swamis” does include some other real people (Margo Godfrey, Cheer Critchlow, Corky Carroll, Billy Hamilton, to drop a few), along with fictional characters based on individuals or composites of people I’ve come across.
I recently called up Ray Hicks. I offered to change his name, and that of my other best original surfer friend, Phillip Harper (though I only use their first names- could become Ron and Paul, perhaps), most specifically because they didn’t do most (but not all) of the things they do in the manuscript. Ray said he’s sure the statute of limitations has run out on anything he might have done fifty-some years ago.
I did have to tell Ray that, actually, some of the things we did do are in the manuscript, put onto other characters. Like, remember the time five of us got to ride in the back of a CHP vehicle because we got busted for…
Hey, it’s in the novel. Meanwhile, stay safe. Hopefully, we’re all sliding toward some better version of a new normal.
Maybe you check the World Surf League site often, even knowing the big time contests are, like just about everything else, on hold, put off, or just plain off; maybe hoping there’s a little video or something that might give you some inspiration.
If so, you could easily find the photo that I have adapted for this drawing. I won’t say copied because it’s like, if ten people draw their interpretations of the original Mona Lisa or a statue of David, which one is a copy? Which one, objectively, does the original justice? Also, this isn’t the final version. I’ve done some printshop magic, reversed the black and white, and added some highlights that will, hopefully, add to the same feel that the original photo has. I’ve also reversed the image (going left rather than right), made some other changes.
Oh, yeah; after Keith Darrock, Olympic Peninsula soul rebel and librarian whose library is currently closed to the public, said “the nose of the board is a little too kicked-up and pointy” I fixed it. So, sure, I can adapt.
I’m getting ever closer to finishing a full manuscript editing of “Swamis.” Keith and I have discussed the possibility of doing some sort of online reading. We’ll see. I would, of course, let you know.
I hope you’re all hanging in here, adapting to whatever new reality this is; and getting a few sliders when you can.
Here’s a bad scan of the illustration recently stolen from the Cellar Door in Port Townsend. Bad because, even on the third attempt to properly crop and square the drawing on my printer/scanner, I couldn’t get it quite right.
AND YET, another copy of the original, a gift to Cellar Door owners, Stephen and Oceanna (last names on next post down), was deemed worthy of theft.
ALTHOUGH I told Steve I could get them another copy, he told me that Oceanna is very determined to get that one, with date, authentication signature, and some sort of personalized ‘good luck’ message on the back, back.
SO, when Trish told me I’m sort of a sensation on Facebook, I was surprised that people are liking and commenting and doing whatever it is when one person spreads it to other groups- not quite viral, and not actually tracking all the subsequent hits back to realsurfers.net, but it is impressive that Oceanna is so concerned.
I decided to look through some of my scans, just to see if I had any other pieces that might fit in the underground location, theft-worthy or not.
Excuse me; but is this the window to the CELLAR DOOR? So tantalizing and intriguing!
Door frame, again, not crooked in the original.
Meanwhile, here’s an update I did on the “Keep on Trucking” drawing, submitted to and rejected by the “New Yorker,” used with permission (and so stoked about that) of R. Crumb; who wrote that the “New Yorker” wouldn’t use it. You might notice there’s some client’s phone number or something at the top. Cropping.
Since every drawing comes with a story; here’s the story on this one: Also not scanned until today; and then I had to up the resolution or whatever to 300 and use the ‘grayscale’ feature. It was drawn as a submission to the “New Yorker” (or is it “The New Yorker”?). I spilled something on it (not unusual, my originals often have coffee cup rings, little dots of coffee shot from my mustache in bouts of mouth breathing, and such things- look closely). My late sister, Melissa Lynch, way more talented an artist than I even dream of being, loved it. I didn’t like the roughness/incompleteness of the door, and redrew it. “No,” she said, “I want the other one’ the good one.” The original caption was: “It was the suit, wasn’t it?” It could just as well be, “This is the Cellar Door, I presume.”
Here’s three more of mine, just to be a little naughty. They are from silkscreens done in the 1980s, found in my attic. They do include windows if not doors. The Cellar Door is more a nightclub than a restaurant, and has already featured live bands, karaoke nights, private functions, and Vaudeville (not sure what all that includes, but it sounds just a little naughty).
I should include a couple of paintings by Stephen R. Davis himself. If the Cellar Door is going to be known as a place to see and/or steal artsy stuff, Steve’s stuff should be included. They have their own stories. If Oceanna gets the Cellar Door drawing back; yeah, another story; and a mystery, possibly, solved.
Here is Port Townsend’s newest landmark. Stephen Davis, back from a trip down to Baja, back up again, with stops (to visit friends, some surfing) along the way, is giving the celebratory high sign for the sunset I painted on “Shortboard” Aaron’s house. It’s high enough and visible enough that I (humbly) suggest it is the newest landmark in Port Townsend.
It wasn’t super easy. I started with the yellow and the dark red, painted one half of the entire thing; then Aaron came home, asked, “Are you happy with it?” “Well, um…” The intermediate/transition colors did look, I had to agree, a little like makeup foundation. SO, I got a quart of dead-ass orange, rearranged the ladders, and… Yeah, now I am quite (humbly) happy with it.
HERE’S a shot of Stephen’s friend (one of his friends), Stig, in Hawaii, showing off his modern version of the classic PAIPO BOARD, the precursor to the boogie board.
NOW, according to Steve, Stig, who I have yet to meet, insists on surfing in speedos (aka bunhuggers), so, kind of okay with this shot. No, he would wear a wetsuit in the northwest; pretty sure.
FINALLY, here’s a shot of some poser posing (as poser’s do) with Stephen’s ukulele. YEAH, it’s like Geppetto saying, “Look, Pinocchio, I can wail!”
YES, it is sideways. I’ll fix it. MAYBE.
SO, just to kind of even out the poser scale, here’s my son, James, actually wailing on guitar, with me (not posing, I’ve been playing for about fifty years and have many dead harmonicas to prove it) on harmonica.
JAMES DOES WAIL! And, yeah, honest, there’s a harmonica behind that Geppetto hand.
MEANWHILE, even the coast is looking dismally flat. Hope you’re getting some waves.
OKAY, If I choose to write about surfing, surf culture, real surfers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I can, because it’s America (one day from Memorial Day, and the official start to outdoor grilling season), I can say pretty much whatever I want. Freedom. YEAH, well; then there’s popular sentiment and, I must admit, some self-centered reasons for not writing EVERYTHING.
HERE’S what I can’t write about: CAN’T name spots, even those pretty much everyone who has ever surfed the Strait knows; CAN’T publish photos of any waves over one foot (should these photos even exist); CAN’T divulge tide/wind/swell direction formulas (mine or any one else’s) for determining best chances to avoid getting skunked (even if not getting skunked means, merely, getting some of those previously-mentioned one footers); CAN’T besmirch or demean any local surfers by name or, even, by giving away clues as to the identity of said locals (and I’m not defining or arguing your definition of locals here).
In the non-writing category, the main no-no is calling up your buddy from some spot with one footers sloppily lapping on rocky shores (and, hopefully, you’re being charged Canadian roaming fees, with tariffs), with a ‘Hey, Hipster-Bud, High-Bank is just f’ing firing. Calf-high sets. No, really. How long it might take you to get here from Gold Bar? No, I don’t know about the ferry backup or if the Hood Canal Bridge is closed, or if 101 is closed due to an accident, or if downed trees are blocking 112. Sheet, man; I’m just trying to get you some waves.”
It is kind of okay to tell surf stories and reveal surf secrets to people who have no real interest in ever challenging you for a set wave; and it’s kind of okay to brag about your latest surf exploits to a few friends, AFTER THE FACT.
Most of these ‘can’ts’ are, admittedly, self-serving. Surfing is just sooooo cool. I don’t mind (or fear) saying that. I don’t want MORE SURFERS in the water; some of them, undoubtedly, ready to get pissed-off because someone might be getting more tiny tubes than they are. Or many more.
ANOTHER ARGUMENT for not sharing is that it takes away from the joy one will feel when discovering these things for him or herself. YEP, there’s nothing like the thrill of hiking through the woods, down a slippery trail, only to find… nothing. NEXT TIME.
ANYWAY, I will reveal two of my secrets: If Keith goes camping or Adam makes a stealth run; there will be something. A problem there is, they might not (probably won’t) let me know until it’s over, or, at best, when that small window is closing.
SO, one (non-specific) day last week, checking the buoy readings and tea leaves frequently; I decided to go (mostly because my painting project get shut down due to the client not happy with the color she chose). I talked my friend, Stephen Davis, into going with me, promising waves based on the hope that the angle would improve, and that Keith was out there somewhere, no doubt, scoring AND, SURE ENOUGH, it was big enough to ride if one didn’t worry about losing another fin.
SIDEBAR: Tyler Meeks had a bunch of fins for sale at the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, sold them all. ADVICE: If you go, bring extras.
Okay, if you recognize the spot, one, don’t tell anyone; and, if you do, be sure to say this is a big day.
BUT, since I’m not the only one willing to be fooled by buoy reading that should mean waves, there’s always the enjoyment of hanging out.
I keep forgetting to take photos of real surfers, but here’s Tugboat Bill, ready to rip.
This is Gavin, originally from South Africa (once sat next to Jordy Smith at a restaurant at Jeffry’s Bay), an electrician and Whistler ski instructor; cooking lamb (smells good, not willing to taste it- did once) after his wife, Char, invited Steve and I to tour his Sprinter van. Though Steve is planning on going to Baja soon, Gavin is “through with Baja.”
So, yeah; one learns a lot while hanging around and waiting. NOT PICTURED is this other guy who was sitting on a five gallon bucket when we got there, quite willing to talk about how, possibly because he disrespected some Hawaiians, he suffered… (I don’t want to get into it, and, because he kept talking about it, I decided to risk my last unbroken fin).
AND, I MUST ADD, others pulled into the parking area, drawn by the hope and the anticipation. DARREN was lured into the water, possibly, noting that SEAN, teacher from P.A., and I were rock-skimming.
STEPHEN took a nap.
SO, THREE DAYS LATER, Adam having made at least one stealth strike, Keith extending his camping trip, Steve and I risked skunking again. And, now, finally something I can’t write about. I have at least one photo, though I should have taken more that I can’t publish; more of real surfers.
Here’s my daughter, Drucilla’s, new van and the woman she bought it from. Le (pronounced Lee, but, she told me, ‘with just one e’), originally from Vietnam, but of Chinese ancestry, and… things you learn in parking lots. This one is outside the Quilcene Post Office, down on Surf Route 101. The second photo is of the Deli section in the Poulsbo WalMart, taken because, there, partially because Dru only has a learner’s permit, and I was the duty instructor; but, mostly, because, Trish (at home on the phone) didn’t believe that there was no longer a place where one could get non-pre-packaged macaroni salad.
YEAH, not a surf story. Not that I don’t have some. SO, to all folks in the many many vehicles with multiple surfboards on them, with hopes and anticipation of overhead bombs; GOOD LUCK; hope you have some great stories you can’t tell.
Except, maybe, in some distant, out of cell range parking area.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.