Something Other than Surfing…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Surfing for Fun (and some new illustrations)

It’s not ready yet, but I’m working on a piece about forgetting Stephanie Gilmore. Actually, it’s about a few moments of surfing in which Stephanie forgot herself, her image, her contest persona, her heat strategy; forgot everything except the joy of the moment.

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It’s something we all forget when dealing with the crowds, the conditions, and our own expectations for ourselves.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other recent drawings:

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Stephen Davis Gets a Barrel (Roll)…

HEY, REALSURFERS, my site is a mess. I’m aware of this. I decided it might be easier to just do a monthly thing, adding new stuff when it comes up; probably not a good idea, but… hey, here’s something I came across in my many-times-daily search for whatever information I can find to determine when I can best avoid getting skunked.  IS IT A GHOST SURFER, or someone who went out in storm surf, found a corner of a wave in the corner of the bay, and got on camera?  I don’t know; couldn’t help but share it.

OKAY, and, incidentally, it’s also Barrel-roll Stephen Davis’s birthday; and he’s lucky to have made it to this one. Read on; there’s other new stuff.

…ADAM WIPEOUT wades into the crowds in Southern California; ARCHIE ENDO heads back to Thailand; the (UNOFFICIAL) PORT TOWNSEND CREW (with HamaHama backup/alternate) hike (to a non-secret-but-unnamed spot) in, separately and together, and score; MANY SURFERS travel and get skunked; ANOTHER BEACH ACCESS IS SHUT DOWN, another ACCESS IS THREATENED; I sneak in a few sliders before THE WESTPHALIANS show up;  and other news that doesn’t include revealing any secret spots on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Steve at one of his day jobs, pre-roll.

But first… Headed up a Big Island highway at six in the morning on Friday the 13th, en route to his job (one of his jobs) as a crew member (and guy who swims with dolphins AND tourists) on a catamaran built and owned by legendary surfer Woody Brown; Hydrosexual STEPHEN DAVIS, in his words, “Nearly met my maker.”

“Oh,” I said, Saturday afternoon, Steve having called me back while I was on a slippery roof trying to finish a paint job; “But you’re okay. Right.” “Kind of. I’ll send you some photos.” “Okay. I mean, but you’re okay.”

“Mostly. The first thing I did when I got out of the car was say, ‘Mother-fucker!'”

We both laughed. Since he was okay, I was imagining Steve’s impression of me in boss mode, crouching-down, hands splayed-out, saying, “What the fuck?” Yeah, it’s pretty accurate; at work; never in the water- very chill, not as chill as Steve.

I didn’t look at the photos until a couple hours later. Steve’s quick reactions, no doubt, saved his life. A DISTRACTED DRIVER was in Steve’s lane, head-on. Steve swerved, the other car hit him in more of a glancing blow.

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WAIT! WHAT! Yeah, a glancing blow that…WHAT! I had to text Stephen. It went like this:

“Did your rig flip?” “Several flips and spins. It was upside down when it came to rest. Had to kick the door open all laying on my head.” “Geez, man, just had a chance to look at the photos. thank you Jesus. Trish and I are en route to Mass.” “Ya. Super grateful.(emojis) Will you thank God for me please?” “Sure, already working on it, and trish has a bit more clout, and I’m sure your appreciation is noted. You were definitely barreled.”  “Gracias. (more emojis).”  A bit later; “Okay, mentioned your accident to the Priest. You’re all set. Be strong. No, you are strong.”  “Mahalo (emojis).”

Now, please don’t think I’m like, super religious; but I am a believer in something mysterious and beyond our understanding.  I think Stephen ‘Barrel-roll’ Davis is, too. I was ready to drop the ‘hydrosexual’ part of Steve’s nickname anyway; getting too many spam attacks from porno promoters.

OKAY, I have to go. I’ll get back to the other alluded-to news; but, ARCHIE seems to be stronger than when he arrived in the northwest after over 90 days in the hospital after a stroke in Thailand. Part of this has to be due to the above-mentioned Stephen Davis taking him to the pool in Sequim. “He lit up like Christmas,” Steve said. AND Archie is talking about getting back in the surf. Better. He better.

ADAM JAMES, on a surf-and-oyster-sales-related trip, surfed Pipes, twice at Swamis, another time at San Onofre (that I know of), tried to teach northwest-style surf etiquette to my old surfing grounds.

WAIT, here’s an UPDATE (October 16)- Now Adam has added MALIBU, VENTURA POINT, AND COUNTY LINE to his list of Southern California conquests. Nice business trip.

County Line from the rental van.

SO, parking in someone’s yard to access a rivermouth break west of Port Angeles, which has been shut down before, is shut down again. Plans for a Land Trust parking area are stalled, on hold, or just not happening, and the alternative is a long walk. When some surfers from Port Townsend hiked in from one direction recently, they found other surfers from Town who hiked in from the other direction.

AND, AGAIN, people who camp out overnight in a parking area/access to another rivermouth spot are SERIOUSLY RISKING the closure of this area. IT IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. Park somewhere else. Please.  Thanks. As far as surf etiquette is concerned; it takes some nerves to tell a local at any break that, “Hey, that was my wave.” And, I think Adam is planning on hitting Malibu before he comes back home. “Excuse me, but; you know; I’ve been waiting, and…”

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?”

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“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?”

 

 

Latest (like minutes ago) Stephen Davis Hawaii Photo

I’ve been waiting for a story from Stephen Davis, still working and surfing and swimming with sharks (confirmed) on the Big Island. The story is one he’s writing of his time in Mexico, with Pirates and Federales and waves; and he claims he’s almost done with it. MEANWHILE, he’s hanging with the locals, sort of.

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He said the swell today was probably the best since he got there a couple of months ago; and, evidently, even on a big island, word gets around. “There were, like, 65 surfers out at ________. So, either I could get involved in that, or I could go to some Kook longboard spot with old Haoles.”

OR HE COULD check out the canoe races at this spot. I’ve got to think it’s either a secret spot, a should-be-kept secret spot, or a I-Just-think-I-should-keep-it secret spot. Steve actually sent three photos from his phone. Notice the guy who looks like he’s caught inside. NOW, this might be a treacherous spot that Mikel “Squintz” Cumiskey, who lived in Hawaii several times while his wife was teaching there, claims is “Locals Born and Bred Only.”

As far as Stephen swimming with sharks… waiting for more info on that one. Not sure who won the canoe race. “You have no idea how big a deal this is over here,” Steve told me. “Okay.” I’m pretty sure the guy made it to shore, however. Obviously not a Haole.

I’m just sticking this here to save it. Love the lone figure at the bottom right. Hope I remember where it is. Oh, right; it’ll be on the page of downloads.

With Apologies For Burning the *(Now) Unnamed Longboard Local,

…the LONGBOARDING LOCAL, who, after a tough week (evidently), paddled out at a spot, a fickle point break, where he considers himself a local, with a fairly obvious and focused attitude that he was there to surf.  I saw him paddle past me, mustache waxed, ready to rip, crowd be damned (okay, this is a judgement call by me, a guy whose motto is, ‘I’m here to surf.’)

DEFINITION- A Sociopath is someone who knows something he or she does is wrong, yet continues to do it. I’ve often thought all good surfers are sociopaths. This probably isn’t totally true, but what it takes to be good at anything is a certain competitive drive. To be good at surfing, an, admittedly, self-centered sport, increasingly, with more crowded conditions, takes a certain amount of aggressiveness. If I can stop just sort of confessing to being a sociopath, I will admit to being, at least in the water, aggressive.

John Peck, a legendary surfer, somewhat older than Erwin Dence, doing (and obviously enjoying) a bit of kneeboarding. Photo by Nathan Oldfields. Find it, if nowhere else, at mollusksurfshopscom

DISCLAIMER (Or maybe it’s a ‘claimer’) ONE- a) If you can’t walk to a spot in less than, say, forty-five minutes from your home, you’re not a local. b) If you pay to park, you’re not a local.  c) Mitt Romney is a local at Windansea, Bob Dylan at Malibu. Or would be if they surfed.  d) The guy who lives in his van is probably More Local than you.                 SO, we go to ever-expanding circles of Local-ness; the above-mentioned Longboarder Local being Local-er than I am, with me being Local-er than, well, lots of people.  AND I have been a TRUE LOCAL several times; Pacific Beach, Encinitas; AND, some credit must be given for working in close proximity to surf. ADD Oceanside Pier to my local history; I worked two blocks and some railroad tracks away for over two years. OHHH, and add Lower Trestles; I worked up the hill, with a view of the place, and drove out on the beach every working day for ten months (an hour and a half lunchbreak, a third of it legal)  in 1975.

SETTING THE SCENE- I was actually, after getting skunked (or unwilling to wait for a possible properly-aligned swell/tide/wind/crowd combination), the first one in the water on this particular afternoon. And it was working. So, yeah, hurry, gorge it up.  BUT, too soon, others showed up. First it was two guys, friendly nods followed by the guy on the bigger board totally taking off in front of me. I didn’t freak out. I did, somewhat later, return the favor. SO, Even. THEN, more surfers showed up. ONE goofy-footer was totally ripping; down the line, under the lip, a few controlled freefalls. Everyone else was surfing. I, 65 year old guy with pretty screwed-up knees, was (and maybe this seems counter-intuitive) kneeboarding, taking off farther up the line, driving across. I was totally enjoying it. A longtime local, and the best kneeboarder on the Strait of Juan de Fuca who wears fins, someone who I first surfed this spot with (with as in, he was also out) in 1979, was catching some waves, always in the barrel. Hey, he was kneeboarding.

DISCLAIMER TWO- RELATIVE AGE OR LONGEVITY in the sport aren’t valid arguments for any kind of preferential treatment. They never have been.  Having said that…                                                                                                                       DISCLAIMER THREE- THE DISPARITY in surfing equipment is an issue that contributes to tension in the surf zone. I have felt the frustration when I’m on a longboard and three A-holes on SUPs show up, their training in lakes and at Yoga Camp obvious.      ADDENDUM to the disclaimer- I started on longboards in 1965, made the switch to shortboards; never rode another longboard until 1989, never rode an SUP until I was 60.

SO, on the first wave I saw ridden by Longboarding Local, he was driving, hit a section, lost his board. Leashless, Longboard Local’s loose board came perilously close to hitting (she would later say ‘decapitating’) a woman who would, a little later, catch one of the waves of the day. Longboarding Local seemed angry that he had to rock dance his way in.  OKAY, so it’s sort of badass to not wear a leash, but, in crowded conditions, PERHAPS sort of irresponsible.

NOW, I had actually gotten out of the water after two and a half hours or so, AND the surf had dropped, the crowd increased. BUT, my friend, who I’ve advised to deny any friendship, after surfing elsewhere, had moved to this spot, and claimed more sets were coming.  I went back out.  HE WAS RIGHT; after what was probably a 45 minute lull, a set approached, and I, inside, was paddling out. As were others. As was Longboarding Local.  The woman Longboarding Local’s loose board had nearly decapitated took the first one. Someone else, possibly her boyfriend, was on the second. I turned for the third. Longboarding Local was, I swear (judge or judges), still paddling out when I turned and committed. BUT, deeper than I was, he turned and took off.  I COULD HEAR YELLING (despite wearing earplugs and my right ear pretty much plugged, again, from the narrowing of the ear canals, that caused by bone growth, that exacerbated by surfing in cold water, that condition first diagnosed when I was 20) behind me, I could feel Longboarding Local’s presence. I pulled out as quickly as I could. These weren’t two person (or PARTY) waves. MAYBE Mr. Local would have made the wave. I’m certain he thought so. I caught the next one (yeah, guess there was another), cruised out of the possible-confrontation zone.

PADDLING back up the point, I couldn’t hear anything, but could see big arm gestures; L.L. making his case to my (although he doesn’t, as I’ve said, have to claim it) friend. WHEN I got even with my friend ______, he wasn’t entirely sympathetic to my explanation.

PRIORITY RULES (historically)- There was no ‘taking turns’ back when I, still thirteen years old, was learning to surf. A wave belonged to the surfer farthest out, closest to the peak. That was it. This was enforced through  peer pressure and intimidation, real or imagined. IF YOU wanted to challenge the big dog, you moved closer to the peak, farther out. IF YOU waited for your turn, you got one, occasionally. IF YOU wanted all the waves to yourself, you pretty much weren’t out on a great day at a great spot.  A LOT of surfing at a good spot (picture Swamis, late 1960s) consisted mostly of moving around, sharking the  inside, waiting for a wave everyone missed of someone fell on. SCRAPPING. IT IS a classic situation where someone sits too far over, can’t make the first section. OR, someone goes for a wave, you don’t, and that person does not catch the wave. AGAIN, differences in equipment have made this more of an issue than in the past; THOUGH, not actually catching or blowing a wave that then goes unridden, particularly if done several times, will not make anyone popular.

PRIORITY RULES (current)- No matter how many times I’ve had this explained to me, I still don’t get it. If I get a set wave and you don’t; and you’re waiting on the shoulder; I shouldn’t paddle out past you, looking for the next set wave? I should allow you to opportunity to go for it, unchallenged? It’s your turn. MAYBE these new rules are the work of surfers who… okay, I’m not going on about ‘participation’ awards and such things… these rules are, at least partially, the result of increasingly crowded conditions. AND they’re really more a WISH LIST than something adhered to.

OKAY, I have tried going by the new priority etiquette. Really. I know how painful it is to not go for the one wave in a one wave set. I had a brief version of this discussion with _____, acknowledging I’d done L.L. wrong. “Well, you could apologize.” “I could.” I paddled up the point, got even with Local Longboarder, apologized. “I come here to get away from this shit,” he said, his arm gestures a bit refrained in comparison to earlier. “We all do,” I said. Not sure if L.L. heard me as I paddled away, but I did say I was leaving,  he could have all my waves. I heard he settled down after I left. Great. Sorry, Longboarder Local. I owe you one.

ONE.

*I’ve actually had a bit of discussion about this incident; the kind of thing that happens, one would guess, thousands of times a day around the world. But, I chose to write about it. If part of my point is that Longboarding Local overreacted, it’s easy to say I have also. “Okay.” AND, some have told me my apology doesn’t seem truly sincere; AND, in fact, almost seems like I’m burning the guy again. “What?” Anyway, I have decided to delete his name. If you just loved the pre-redacted version so much you printed up a copy, please burn that. Really. I’m sincere, here. Truly.

 

 

 

The Right Wave Will…

…wash the grownup out of you.

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I have seen a few grownups who surf. They probably shouldn’t. It just has to be too frustrating dealing with the snakings and the non-looks and the stink-eye, AND, all the while, trying to maintain some sort of ADULT-NESS.

If surfers try to, let’s say, exude a sense of COOLNESS, the sight waves, lined-up, peeling, even if nowhere close to perfect, can seriously damage the facade. Oh, you can maintain the posture, but the glint, the Mona Lisa expression… A great ride, that one section that you shouldn’t have made, but did; that one wave where your board suddenly leapt to light speed, that one cutback you made despite throwing in some extra oomph; Owwwwww! The coolness is gone.

KOOK OUT!

‘GIDDY’ is the word I’ve heard over and over by surfers who would otherwise pass as adults. “I was laughing the whole time.” “It was, it was… I can’t even tell you how…”

Yeah, we know.  Cool it.

All right. I’ve been thinking of the time between surf sessions. I’m doing a little research based on some vague remembrance of a movie about composer Nicholai Andreyevich Rimski-Korsakov. You’re not surfing right now. Are you getting mentally prepared? Does the down time… yeah, thinking about it.

The Line Between Respect and Pity

I’ve been trying to get an image of how thick that line is for a couple of days; or even if this is the line I’m really concerned with. Maybe, probably, I’m a bit too sensitive to my own position, as I, um, mature… okay, we’ll just say ‘age,’ in the overall surfer lineup. Maybe? Definitely.  Actually, I always have been.

When I first started board surfing, I’d sneak into the pack at Tamarack as if I belonged there, a big, kook smile on my 13, almost 14 year old face. Soon I was paddling, head down and blind, into a wave at Swamis that, undoubtedly, had someone on it, with me as an impediment to a great ride. I did stay in the lagoon section at pre-jetty extension at Doheny, an eye on the surfers out on the reef. I was learning, frequently thrashed by waves, but always happy to be out there.

It wasn’t too long a time before I tried, hard, to be one of the better surfers out on any given day. Competitive.

This hasn’t changed in fifty-two years. Hasn’t changed yet. Yet, though I’ve always pushed them, I’ve always known my limitations. At least I knew there are limitations. When I was a kook, I knew it. If I didn’t, other surfers told me. I was told to go (by one guy in particular, but also by consensus) to the Carlsbad Slough to practice knee paddling when I pearled on an outside wave, causing four or five surfers to scramble. I didn’t go, but moved away from the main peak. I was sent to the south peak at Grandview when I lost my board in a failed kickout, putting a ding in John Amsterdam’s brand new Dewey Weber Performer. I did go, looking longingly back at the rights.

It’s not me, though I did once have a VW bus (and hair)

Another lost board incident, with a near miss with some stinkbug-stanced kook Marine swimming after his borrowed-or-rented board found him standing on my board in the shallows. “You like this board,” he asked, threatening to break it into “a million pieces if I ever tried to hit him with it again.” He had two friends to back him up; I had my second brother down, Philip. “Okay.” Still, I paddled back out, ten feet away from him and his friends, brave look on my face.

I persisted. With the nearest waves twenty miles from Fallbrook, I always went out. South wind, north wind, white-caps, big or small. There were setbacks, times I just couldn’t connect, couldn’t get into the rhythm; days where trying to get out for another closeout seemed like more work than it was worth; but I was improving.

Hey, this will have to be part one; I just have to go, and I don’t have the whole arc figured out. I’ll be sixty-six in August; I’m still as stoked (and as immature, emotionally) as ever; still want to be, during any given surf session, competitive.  I do admit to having more handicaps than I’d like.  I’ve adjusted. Bigger board, mostly.

I had two sessions this week; the first, at a mutant slab with a massive current. I was humbled.  While I was thrashed and sucked, others were thrashed and got some great rides. I would love to say I wasn’t embarrassed as much as disappointed in myself. That’s what I’d love to say; the truth is, again, I’m still working that out.   Possibly to make up for this, I went to a more user-friendly spot the next day. I didn’t suck.

just coming up. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

Not really surprisingly, a couple of older surfers I’ve surfed with before showed up. When the waves went from almost flat to pretty darn good, one of them, as cool a surfer as one would meet, admitted that, when he sees great waves, “I just get giddy!”

This giddiness, something so profound that we can forget the posturing and coolness, is at the very heart of surfing. It’s something common to all real surfers. Maybe it takes a better wave to bring it out in some, but that bustable smile is there.  We’re all, occasionally, humbled.  The ocean always gets the last word.  Not actually ready to be humble, yet, I’m persisting.

 

Swamis, Trancendental Meditation, and Passing Wind

This piece insn’t necessarily surf-centric. I wrote it for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On,” at the ptleader.com. I’ve been featuring some of my cartoons, after they’ve been rejected by “The New Yorker.” Here’s the one that goes with, kind of, the story:

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One of my favorite surfing spots is Swamis, Encinitas, California. It is so named because of the gold tulips adorning the high white walls around the adjacent compound. Founded by followers of Swami… sorry, I really don’t want to get into more of the history than that which impacted me. Again, sorry. The compound was a sort of mysterious place for surfers, and what was known back in the middle 60s, when I started (board) surfing [at least three stairways ago, when the parking lot was smaller, the bathroom was of the pit variety], was that people inside spent a lot of time on their gardens. And meditating.

Trancendental meditation. Groovy. Maybe it played into the rapidly changing surfer self image as the end of the 60s brought more of a drug culture; bearing in mind drug use was ‘mind expanding’ and ‘experimental’ at the same time. Not that I participated. I didn’t. Some surfers also, by the end of the 60s, switched gears into the Jesus ‘Freak’ mode. That was more my speed, though they had a zealousness that my (short, to be sure, I turned 18 in 1969) lifetime of attending church didn’t seem to give me.

In 1975 Trish and I had moved to a house we bought in Encinitas. Swamis was still my favorite spot, and in the time we had lived in San Diego, the secluded beach around the point and directly below a meditation garden inside the compound had become a nude beach. I discovered this, not by word of mouth, but by… hey, I was just trying to go surfing.

The nudity caused a problem with the people inside the compound. It’s evidently difficult to fully get trancendental-ized when naked people are cavorting (didn’t look it up- sure it’s accurate) below you. It eventually made the paper, it made the TV news. Meetings were called. Dennis Weaver, Chester on “Gunsmoke,” was at one, livid, leaning into the cameras to make sure the point was made that this distraction was not acceptable.

I don’t think his appearance helped, but, before Chester and the spreading of the news throughout the San Diego County area, and about a week after I discovered the nudity, I actually went to work for local (Cardiff) painting contractor “Two Coat” Charlie Barnett, on a project to paint the exterior stucco surfaces at the enclave. We had to be quiet, I was told. Okay, but first break time, two of the helpers on the crew said we should all go up to the meditation garden and ‘watch the nudies.’ “What, you know about this?” “Hey, man; everyone knows.”

One thing that struck me was that, during what was evidently a women’s retreat, meals were taken in silence. That’s fine. I mean, there was the sound, no doubt, of chewing, maybe some loud swallowing. After the meal, partially-filled and enlightened participants went back to their stucco cabins for private meditation.

Now, everything around the compound, the gardens, the paths, the concrete, was supposed to be spotless. All the attendees were dressed in white. Although Charlie had hired the aforementioned helpers to insure cleanliness, he was having trouble getting his final payment until all spots of paint were cleaned up. So, Charlie and I were crawling around the sidewalks with wire brushes and lacquer thinner, cleaning. Oh, Charlie and I were also dressed in white, as is traditional, but with spots of colors, more so on my clothes than Charlie’s.

I was just trying to get the job done, but couldn’t help but hear, around pretty much every guest cabin, the unmistakable sound of someone passing gas.

Amazing. No doubt related to trancendentalizing. On a related note, Trish claims her father, always the ideal image of propriety, would often pass gas while under the headphones, listening to phonograph records. And then there’s the almost absolute need, possibly because of the altitude, while riding in a plane… hey, this isn’t a secret. As far as whether there’s still a nude beach at Swamis; haven’t a clue.

Here’s another rejected cartoon: Image (34)It’s Nietzche. I explained it in another blog post at ptleader.com  Go to “Blog” at the top of the home page, click on “Stuff That Goes On.”

As far as my fear of meditation… another time.

Chapter VIII or so, Stephen Davis Saga

I’m suddenly really busy. Painting season is starting to come. Finally. Stephen got back to the Northwest about a week ago, he’s leaving today for Hawaii. He, and I don’t feel sorry for him, had to work while he was here, and missed possibly the only small window of opportunity. I caught the last of it, just for reference.

One of Stephen’s friends, old or new, he seems to constantly be adding to the group, whose name, because he never actually spelled it out for me, is always going to be BEAR; came through on his way to Canada. He passed through a town along the seaside last Sunday. Walking to the Point, not a secret spot, two different surfers told him it was “Locals only.” Oh, so, if one can’t surf, it is, evidently, fine to watch others surf (no photos, though, bro). So he did; and, when those locals, real or imagined, got out of the water, he went in.

When Stephen sent him out to check out the Strait, Bear got skunked. WELCOME. Then, just outside a convenience store in a port town; a store my kids, when they were young, and because it had an American and a Canadian flag by the gas pumps (long gone), called the “Canadian Store,” and one I’ve long referred to as the ‘half a rack store,’ based on seeing folks (like carpenters and our like) coming out in the mid afternoon with a custom sandwich and a box of beers (long sentence, you still there?); Steve and Bear ran into some locals who, perhaps, surf, but who Stephen knows mostly from the local skatepark, and mostly from ‘back in the day.”

So, evidently these guys had some issues with someone who spent three months in Baja. “Erwin, you know how I always say everyone hates me These guys…?” “Uh huh, Steve; but, really; I mean, I kind of hate you.” “Yeah; like that.” “What did you say?” “I said, ‘you’re allowed to your evaluation, but it was my choice, and I earned the money to do that.’ and then…” “But, this was kind of embarrassing; I mean, your friend…” “Yeah, he thinks it’s a very friendly place.”

stephenDavisSunsetPanaramaStephenPortrait

I took these from Facebook. I actually was thinking of the panorama shot when I drew… wait a second, this:cropped-image-178.jpgYeah, maybe it’s hard to see the connection. Anyway, Steve promises to send me some photos of big island slabs; and continues to promise to send me some stories of Baja pirates and passports and Federales. Meanwhile, and as always, looking for those briefly- opened windows.