Contacts From the Past

I had to crawl around in the attic, trying to find some obvious sign of a short circuit. Didn’t find it (which means it’s somewhere in a wall, or, I’m suspecting, the light fixture I installed- had to quit looking to go surfing), but did find some old artwork.

During my tenure at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (a transfer there got me here from San Diego), I got into the sign shop (I had, after all, started out as a sign painter apprentice, 1969, Oceanside). While there, I took advantage of having a drawing board to, well, draw.

Most of the drawings started out on 17 by 22 inch paper, too big for most printers, but, because I was also doing posters (and I grabbed any artsy projects that came in- keggers, picnics, that kind of civil service boondoggle), I took advantage of the shipyard photo lab to get illustrations photographed.

I do have some surviving silk screened posters (if they are artsy, I’d prefer to say serigraphs) as well as some (and, sadly, not very many) originals. These are SOME of the contact prints I had in a padded envelope inside a now-moldy box. They are all pre-1990 (when I left the shipyard), and, if there is a difference in my style, and I would say there’s been some (maybe) development, if not (necessarily) improvement.  The bigger difference is that I took a lot of time on each illustration, lunchtimes, breaks, and, I think I mentioned, I had a Civil Service job.

Many of the contact prints are too small, the detail too dark. I’m going to get them blown, hoping to open up some light between the lines.  We’ll see.

When I took some of the prints to show my friends, Trish became very possessive of some of the drawings of Victorian houses in Port Townsend I did, claiming I’d ruin them somehow.  I didn’t, but, in the excitement of seeing waves, I did leave my shirt on the hood of my car. And then it rained. You know how soft racks leak onto car seats in heavy rain? No, the drawings came through it, but I got to go to Safeway with no shirt and a heavy, pervert-esq coat. Yes, fully zipped.

So, here are a couple of examples. I want to say “Portraits from the Artist as a Young(er) Man.” So, each one, and there will be more, is over 28 years old.

Image (62)Image (59)Image (61)Image (60)

 

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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.

stephendeckhanding.jpeg

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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Sum-mer-time… Skunked on the Strait, 66 degrees at Swamis, 1967…

The surf report and forecast for the Northwest portion of the contiguous U-nited States of A-merica (dashes added to more closely reflect prideful way we pro-nounce stuff) is pretty bleak. You’d have to believe the Pacific Ocean could churn up something more than a two foot swell.

Hey, it’s summertime. Painting season. Hydrosexual Stephen Davis and I, both of us drinking coffee, were each sitting in doorways of our vans, paint gear spread around. I asked him about water temperatures in Baja (last fall) and Hawaii (this last winter). “Oh,” he said, “Baja was right between trunking-it and wetsuit temperature; probably 66 degrees or so.”

“Oh,” I said. Pause, both of us nodding our heads. “You know, back when I was a teenager…” Now Steve was trying to avoid rolling his eyes. “…when the water temperature got up to 58 degrees, somewhere around Easter; if you were still wearing a wetsuit… and bear in mind we only had shortjohn wetsuits… you were a pussy.”

“Uh huh. Pussy.” “Really. And you couldn’t put one on until it got back down to 58, somewhere around December; before Christmas, anyway.” “Uh huh.”

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What I didn’t bother to tell him, but probably drifted off into remembering, was an early summer morning when Phillip Harper, Ray Hicks, possibly Mark Metzger and Billy McLain, and I; no doubt in two cars from Fallbrook, all hit Swamis at about the same time.  I was first down the stairs.

I surfed Swamis enough from 1965 to see the basic reef, sort of fanned, overlapping shelves, hold up while the shoreline would change more dramatically; erosion, refill. Seasonal. The wave conditions went from one high tide peak too close to the bigger rocks; to mid-tide and two distinct peaks; to ultra low tide, one running crazy and almost hollow wave; from the December ’69 swell; through dawn patrol, after school, between classes-at- Palomar and work-in-Oceanside sessions (pre-1971); to the times I lived in Encinitas (’74-’76) and could sneak in a few; to New Years day ventures while working in San Diego because I didn’t have work in the Northwest (1991,’92); everything from Santa Ana mornings to south wind chop, onshore, glassy; overhead to flat; overcrowded to almost empty; with so many memories… they’re all memories now; haven’t surfed there in twenty-five years.

On the particular morning I was remembering while talking with Steve, shadows of the bluff extending into the water, there was a chalk board on the still-empty lifeguard station. “Surf 2-3, water temp- 66.” Whoa! Warming up! We would probably end up surfing what we referred to as Swamis Beachbreak, the quarter mile or so between Swamis proper, and Pipes, pretending there was a better lineup off this rock than off that. “Hey, I WAS on the nose!” “Hey, did you see that rollercoaster?” “Hey!”

I hit the water straight out in front of the stairs, caught a left just as my friends hit the sand. “Hey!”

Not that Stephen would be all that impressed. “Uh huh. Do you have any more coffee?”

self realization

“Uh. Um. Yeah.” I’m certain many of us will look back on the times we went searching for waves on the Strait. Sometimes it can be… “Waves?” “Waves? No, I got skunked.” “Then why are you smiling?”

 

 

A Nod is Good Enough- John Severson

 

 

IN MY MIND-VIDEO VERSION of the very brief encounter; looking past the front desk where the receptionist was still telling me that “John, John Severson, actually reads over all the submissions himself, so, so…” when John, John Severson; appeared through an open door, moving from the right to the center of the (my) frame, to the center of what must have been the visitor side of his desk. He stopped, looking at something, then turned toward the visitor side of the “Surfer” magazine office, maybe focused for a moment, and gave the almost-seventeen kid a nod.

I probably just froze.

A NOD is everything, really; an acknowledgement of co-membership, perhaps; a gesture that says, depending on who gives it, that things are all right between us.

YEAH, maybe that’s reading too much into a simple gesture. Or not. Maybe a nod is just so ancient, so basically human, we forget that each one of us learns more from studying expressions than we do from language. In a fight-or-flight world, a nod can and has stopped many a conflict.

OKAY, now I’m thinking of times I’ve paddled out into a lineup, seen a surfer I chatted with on another beach. Nod. Nod returned. AND NOW I’m thinking of my first venture out at Windansea, seeing two guys I’d surfed around in Pacific Beach. I nodded, they, sitting well on the shoulder, kept their gaze down. No eye contact. AND NOW I’m thinking of the times my nod, paddling toward the lineup, was returned with the STINKEYE.

SO, I had written a bunch of stuff, my best longhand on college-ruled notebook paper, and had sent it, along with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, to “SURFER” magazine. I waited for fame and recognition, my writings in the preeminent surf publication, the magazine I studied, front to back; the basic visual images that popped up like a slide show in my dreams.

“They’ll probably have to put some in one edition, other stuff in the next one,” I, no doubt, thought. “My friends will be so… so stoked. Me, my writings…”

I did mention I waited, telling myself this sort of self-induced insanity (waiting for someone else to realize one’s stuff is great), is what a real writer endures.

THIS WAS ME in the summer of 1968, living in Fallbrook, twenty miles from Oceanside pier, about the same distance, straight west, across Camp Pendleton, to San Onofre. If I was riding with someone who had the proper ID card, we’d often surf there, park on the beach. Otherwise, it was go to Oceanside, north on 101 (pre- I-5 connection), deemed “Slaughter Alley.” The “Surfer” magazine headquarters was somewhere north of there. I’d find it.

A WORD on what I’d written: Mostly, I’ll have to guess, crap; the kind of overwrought drivel one might expect from a hormone-afflicted, surf-crazed, skateboarding-‘cause-I-fuckin’-live-in-the-hills dreamer, just starting to get competent at surfing might right. There were pages of the stuff.

borrowed from “Surfer,” article on John Severson staring down Richard Nixon

WHAT I WROTE as a twelve verse (epic?) poem on those blocking access to surf beaches, became, in the fall of 1968, when I was back in school, shorter, better. I’m not sure if I ever got my original pages back, but I received a check for ten dollars and a copy of the magazine.

I WAS PUBLISHED. Oh, I mean, I WAS PUBLISHED! But, what John Severson had done is take the first verse, delete everything from the middle, add some of the lines from the last verse. It had changed enough from the original that, when asked to read it aloud in English class, I couldn’t quite get it right. “Didn’t you write this?” “Yeah, yeah, but…different.” Penny had to read it. She did a great job.

STILL, it was, probably, still a bit, um, overwrought.

IN 2001, the poem showed up again, in “The Perfect Day… 40 Years of Surfer Magazine.” I was, by this time, up in the Pacific Northwest, rarely surfing. Trisha’s nephew, Dylan Scott, surfing down in San Diego, saw the coffee table book, surprise, on a coffee table at his dentist’s office. “That’s my uncle,” he, according to him, said. “Whoa. Really? My poem?” Yes, we do own the book; it’s on a coffee table.

HERE’S the poem, written by me, edited by John Severson (he even shortened the title, though I forget what it was).

REFLECTION

The promised sand, Forbidden land,

Restraining line With sharpened spine;

NO SURFING HERE: The warning sign.

Perfection waves, Reflecting mind;

Humanity

Could be so blind.

HERE’S WHAT JOHN SEVERSON DID: He gave a nod to all the punks and kooks and kids who wanted to be surfers. He took a disparate group and made us a tribe. If we don’t always acknowledge this in the competitive, sometimes combative setting of the lineup; it’s hopefully different when surfers meet in some other setting, a grocery store or distant parking lot. A nod of acknowledgement.

I’m actually a bit amazed at how shocked and saddened I am at hearing of Severson’s passing.

Psychedelic in B&W, And In Color, Plus three cartoons

Trish recommended I add some flowers to a sort of abstract wave drawing I did. Hedging my bets, and because I wasn’t really sold on the idea, I got some copies of the non-flower version, then drew the flower outlines onto one of those, got copies of that, and then, this morning, added some color to one of the smaller (eight and a half by eleven) versions.

Image (186)Tilt your monitor/screen until the deeper and richer colors show up. It will be available for you color to your satisfaction in my next version of the realsurfers coloring book. Soon. Since I keep drawing, I’m going to produce limited editions, 20 or so each run, 48 images per copy, each with some favorites, some new drawings.  I’m hoping to get some done  tomorrow, run them down to my sister, Suellen (who got me into my surf addiction when she let me ride/hog her new-to-her Hobie back in 1965), before she heads up to Alaska.

If you want one, write me at realsurfersdotnet@gmail.com

Okay, I’m adding a couple of the cartoons not-accepted by “The New Yorker,” which, of course, they should have printed, but didn’t. I do have a “Blog,” “Stuff That Goes On,” at the “Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader,” and was trying to post them there. It looks like I could only do one at a time, and I wanted to do these two. SO: Here’s my money and/or politics collection:

“Yes, there’s “in” someone’s pocket, and “IN someone’s pocket.”

Trying to Catch That Glass

It’s all about lighting; the perfect surfing photo or drawing; and color helps. We know that waves, spray; these can be translucent. At some point, rising and throwing out, a wave can seem, or even be transparent. And foam; it’s white because of the air bubbles. And the reflections, the shine, the shimmer; maybe these are easier to capture with pencil, charcoal, pastel; something pushed and dragged across the flat surface.

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I just keep scratching.

MEANWHILE: I’m sure the northwest has been sending lots of waves, along with the rain, down south. If it doesn’t lessen the drought, maybe it’ll clean some of the toxic waste from the highways; and maybe, after a prescribed length of time to avoid getting sick from the water, surf.  Or maybe a die-hard surfer will get a course of shots and paddle out. “Just keep your mouth closed,” possibly not the best advice.

I did catch some waves recently, can’t be too specific about where, or maybe even when; trying to adhere to Clint’s Rules of Modern Surf Etiquette (which I promise to list when I get them all straight in my mind: Don’t call people from the beach; don’t talk specifics because someone will back-check against the buoy readings and figure out when the spot you named, but shouldn’t have, works; other rules); but I will say it ran contrary to the surf forecasts we all study.

Partially, what I wanted, was to catch a few waves to myself before I try to play the odds and go when the forecasts seem to guarantee waves. I’ve been on the beach before, with twenty or thirty rabid surfers (or in various stages of rabidity- a real word, I looked it up) standing around, perfect conditions on the forecast, and even the buoy readings the same as they were on days that were great (see, back-checking, or, more likely, anecdotal information gleaned over years), and there’s one guy in the water scratching for some dribblers, and the waves are just not there.

I’m just saying; it happens. And it explains why, the farther one has to travel, the more one has to invest, the more likely one (or thirty) is to lean heavily on ‘sure thing’ forecasts. But, I slid a few waves alone to sort of indemnify myself against a serious skunking.

AND, I do know Adam Wipeout got some waves. Not sure where, exactly, but I do know he did score because he wouldn’t tell me. Clint’s Rules. I think he would, and it’s probably all right to talk about sessions in crappy conditions. Come on, Adam… I won’t be posting. Really, I’m not sure why we want to know… Oh, yeah, I do. Because.

Here's a colorized version. It all gets washed-out a bit from the scanner/computer connection

Here’s a colorized version. It all gets washed-out a bit from the scanner/computer connection

Why’s This Funny?

FIRST, let me say I’ve been doing drawings of what amuses me for a long time. Somewhere in the early eighties, bored with my Civil Service job as a painter at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton (having transferred her from the Public Works Center at 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego as soon as I could after they moved/promoted me from a temporary to a Career-conditional employee), I, along with working on a novel (during breaks/lunch- mostly reading new stuff to other bored workers), put together a little collection of cartoons under the loose title of “Absurd Delusions.”

None of my co-workers thought any of the cartoons were funny.

The caption is, "No, I said I drew them 'for' the "New Yorker," not that they were "in" the "New Yorker."[optional] I also have some that weren't 'in' "Playboy." " A reasonable explanation for my new drawings as I solicited feedback.

The caption is, “Okay then; drawn ‘for’ the “New Yorker,” not “in” the “New Yorker.”[optional] I also have some that weren’t ‘in’ “Playboy.” ” A reasonable explanation for my new drawings as I solicited feedback.

SO, HERE’S THE DEAL: A couple of months ago, while working on my Realsurfers Coloring Book, and possibly because I’d heard that several cartoonists for the “New Yorker” had died recently, but mostly, probably, because I (along with thousands of others, no doubt) got an e-mail from Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor, inviting me to get more involved with the magazine (I had entered the caption contest a few times; never really came up with a killer line for anyone else’s work- gave it up).

WELL, sure. I had a few ideas, found out the submissions are all handled online nowadays, e-submitted, maximum of 10 original cartoons per month, nothing that had been previously published, even in a blog/website like this one.

I just submitted my second batch of brilliant cartoons on the 14th, so, though I never received confirmation that they hate/dislike/don’t get/ don’t want any out of the first set, I’ll have to assume it’s safe for me to display some of them here.

Big fan of "New Yorker" staff writer William Finnegan's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Barbarian Days;" a surf-centric biography by a Real writer who lived/lives a real surfers life. Yeah, some jealousy possible.

Big fan of “New Yorker” staff writer William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Barbarian Days;” a surf-centric biography by a Real writer who lived/lives a real surfers life. I was kind of hoping someone in the cartoon department might just… you know, pass it on. If not, expect to see the “I was different” line again. And, yeah, there’s some kissing-up obvious, some jealousy quite possible. Port Townsend librarian Keith Darrock, and I, having already solicited legendary surf writer Drew Kampion for help, are hoping to persuade Billy Finn, Finn-o, to participate, even if it’s by Skype (my backup plan idea) for the Third Occasional Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca Event.

ACTUALLY, one of the first drawings I did was an update on the classic R. Crumb “Keep On Truckin'” drawing, imagining the character 48 years later. I thought of this, possibly, because my drawing style, cross-hatch-based (though I claim to have made some kinetic line changes), and which anyone old enough and real surfer enough to remember it, is directly linked to the “Surfer” magazine drawings by Rick Griffin. Still, my style is often compared to that of Mr. Robert Crumb, a contemporary of Mr. Griffin’s in the “Zap Comics” and ‘underground’ era of the late 60s.

SO, I wasn’t planning on doing this right now, maybe still hoping the “New Yorker” will come to their senses, but, since I’ve gone this far… No; I’ll give them a few days. I did write to Mr. Crumb, seeking his permission to use his image. When I got this response I was… I was so thrilled. So thrilled.

HMMMMM; I have to re-scan Mr. Crumb’s email and my response. That means setting up the scanner and… I’ll take that as a sign. Not really, but I’ll update this in the morning. No, really.

 

Woman (actually) Surfing Illustration

I was showing someone the first run of the RealSurfers Coloring Book, and couldn’t help but notice; probably because he pointed it out, that I have quite a few illustrations of women, but only one of a woman surfing. I almost said a girl surfing, and, in fact, did title this “Girl (actually) Surfing Illustration.” Whoops.

It’s part of the myth/fantasy/history/tradition, I guess; and, having just hit 65 years of age, I probably should also stop thinking I’m not 46 years or so removed from being anything like a surfer boy. Surfer Girl, Surfer Boy; nope, doesn’t even sound proper.

This is a slightly-altered version of a drawing already posted. Trish asked me if it was a woman or a man. "She needs a little more... definition." Okay.

This is a slightly-altered version of a drawing already posted. Trish asked me if it was a woman or a man. “She needs a little more… definition.” Okay.

Still, I do prefer a woman who surfs with flow and grace; Margo Godfrey Oberg, Jericho Poppler, Stephanie Gilmore; and, sure, throw in a few carves and power moves… no matter how manly a ‘man hack’ sounds, it’s all done on water. Water. Woman.

This week, men and women, boys and girls; I’m promising myself that I’ll get to the Printery. Not Monday; it’s a holiday, and I do have to go down to my Dad’s, and I do have a lot of work… this week.

Drawings: One New, One Redo

Image (90)I was thinking Honolua Bay, but probably not soon enough. Almost done, I had the thought that I should have raised the horizon to actually give the effect that this is from up on a cliff, and the waves are coming in from the bottom right. Okay, too late, but, still unable to try to verbalize and explain… working on that.

Image (89)I went through a lot of drawings a while back with my sister, Melissa Lynch, the real artist, and the one I’d done of The Little Mermaid, adding some waves rather than a harbor, was criticized, and Melissa doesn’t go into detail, at least when I’m flashing drawings at her, but the mermaid’s chin was too, um, prominent. Always (now) thinking of the coloring book, I redrew it, also doing a little lightening-up.

I have about twenty drawings (it’s four at a time for the pages) ready to add to the coloring book, coming soon, I promise, with… here’s my new idea: No staples, but (and I’ll experiment with this) maybe a ribbon in the fold, plus instructions to take out a drawing, make a copy, and color on that. That way, you can save the original book, maybe add to it down the line, and use marking pens (if you like), which would bleed through the paper.

If I have to explain that; it’s maximizing content on my end, having cake and eating it too on your end. Yeah, cake; if you’ll forgive my… even if you don’t. Coming. Oh, and I hope you don’t feel resentment for those times when you misjudge the surf situation, and, though you could have gone, you missed it. Fuccctttuppppppttuupdddd! Yeah, trying to get over the last (yesterday) episode of that story. NEXT TIME. Next…sob…time… yeah.

It was hot, Saturday, I couldn’t surf, didn’t want…

…to work… not that I need an excuse to draw, or even to post two drawings today (and I am going to do some real work today) in two days. Wait, three drawings; finished one yesterday morning (please check out Rico’s essay), started two, finished one, finished (finished is when I just can’t figure out where to put more lines) the other this morning.

Image (87)Image (88)Okay, so, so now I’m thinking, imagining what I want to see next. But, meanwhile…