29 January 2008

The Leftovers

Did it rain on Monday? I can't remember. All of these rainy days now run together in my brain. As far as I'm concerned, it's still too soon to get back in the water. I was back on the bike today, on yet another mission. I wanted to try and document the amount of trash that flows out into the ocean when it rains here in L.A. Mind you, I know it's been days since the last rain. My reasoning in doing this was simple: whatever trash I found was to be considered leftovers from the voluminous amount of trash that ran out of the storm drains over the last few weeks. I purposely rode down the Ballona Creek bike path, knowing that the creek was one of the best places to find what I was looking for. And what I found . . . was quite depressing.
I spotted that majestic bird sitting proudly amidst all of that trash. What I want to know is how, if at all, does the County of Los Angeles clean this up?
There was trash on both sides of the creek, as far as the eye could see. I wanted to believe this guy was doing his part to clean it up, but I knew better. I rode a little further south before turning around to head home. When I came back down the creek, I realized he was collecting plastic bottles. By that time, his bag was just about full!

Truly disgusting! Again, this is the leftover trash. I shudder to think of the amount that didn't wash up on shore.

The question of the day: how does this get cleaned up? Does the County get people out there to do it? Or will it sit there until some knight in shining armor (a.k.a. The Surfrider Foundation) makes the clean-up happen?

Stolen From Oceans Waves Beaches

I recognize that we surfers don't walk in lockstep on every issue. Some of you, those who are keeping quietly out of the fray that is the 241 toll road debate, apparently believe that no harm can come from extending the toll road. It's all so very abstract when everyone is simply talking about it. Well, the Oceans Waves Beaches blog shows the horror that the extension will bring. I couldn't help but steal some of the pictures.

This isn't a joke. There's no going back if this toll road is extended. Instead of making room for more people and more cars, why can't our state government come up better solutions to our overpopulation problem? That's what all of this is about, isn't it? My parting shot? Oh, it's a good one relating to Arnold. AT LEAST I'M COMFORTABLE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I DIDN'T VOTE FOR HIM.

28 January 2008

The Lineup Won't Be the Same Without You

From the Los Angeles Times:

Near Mountain High, a ski resort in the Wrightwood area on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, the avalanche victim was identified as Christopher Allport, 60, a veteran character actor from Santa Monica.

An experienced backcountry sportsman, he had been skiing out of bounds from the resort, northeast of Los Angeles, with a friend, according to John Johnston, an L.A. County reserve sheriff's deputy. His body was found under 10 feet of snow about 9:45 a.m.

Out-of-bounds areas are clearly marked, but Mountain High employees do not have the authority to stop skiers from going beyond cleared slopes because the resort is located in the Angeles National Forest, according to resort President Karl Kapuscinski.

Those who knew him recalled Allport, a musician as well as an actor, as a passionate adventurer.

"He would surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon," said his friend Jordan Roberts. "He was knowledgeable in every conceivable outdoor activity."

Allport -- whose credits include the TV series "Mad Men," "Commander-in-Chief," "CSI: Miami" and "Felicity" -- had written a story for The Times in 2004 about the pleasures of powder.

"With backcountry savvy, the right equipment, survival skills and a sense of adventure, skilled mountain hands can leave the masses behind and experience the freedom and solitude of the wilderness in winter," he wrote.

But, he added: "Any excursion into the mountains requires awareness. . . . Know your limits and ski within them."

27 January 2008

CityZine Article #3

Surf Reporting At Its Finest

A surf report is a surf report is a surf report. Los Angeles, like so many other coastal cities and towns all over the country, boasts numerous websites that provide a once or twice daily description of the waves at the more notable breaks. The typical surf report usually sounds something like this, “1 to 2 foot with poor shape but expect it to clean up a little with the tide change.” Such information is helpful to surfers, albeit for a small window of time since the tide, wind and current often change quickly. A report given at 6:30 a.m. is of little or no use to someone sneaking out of work for a 10:00 a.m. session. As a result, surf reporting is a thankless task. Surfers are more likely to curse surf reporters than to praise them.

Surf reporters remain a faceless group—devoid of personality or any traits that distinguish one surf reporter from another—that provides a cut and dried service for which surfers pay a monthly fee. In the world of Los Angeles surf reporting, there is one face in that crowd, one who uses his surf blog as an outlet for his musings on surfing, Venice and the world at large. He bikes down to the beach every morning at dawn, takes pictures of the ocean, makes note of the conditions and then returns home to head out to his real world job working for a Registered Investment Advisor. Those who subscribe to SwellMagnet know him as “MC,” the surf reporter for the Venice area. The blog world knows him as “Dogtownsurfer,” the writer of Random Thoughts of a Surf Reporter (www.venicesurfreport.com), a blog that is part surf report, part hobo soap opera and part daily rant.

Hobo soap opera? In a word, yes. Early last year, Dogtownsurfer decided it was time to get to know the homeless men who lived by the Venice Pier. These are guys who local surfers and people in the neighborhood see and ignore on a regular basis. In his March 8 post, Dogtownsurfer wrote that he was going to make an effort to meet these men he later nicknamed “The Boyos”. When asked about it recently, he explained further.

“I always found it fascinating that as I was getting ready to head for work, freshly shaved and showered, there was a group of guys who lived on the beach and were looking for their next beer at 6:30 in the morning,” he mused. “While I think, for the most part, I was seen as a source of beer money in the beginning, a real friendship was established with most of the guys along the way.”

For a time, The Boyos were the focus of the blog, their relationship with Dogtownsurfer a curious one. The rule they all understood was that any money Dogtownsurfer gave them was to be spent on booze, not food. Many readers surely thought Dogtownsurfer’s attitude toward these men was one of condescension. He supplied them with alcohol, took pictures of them when they were often at their worst and seemingly used them for his own amusement. Any regular reader of the blog knows The Boyos were more than blog fodder. Dogtownsurfer, unlike the average reader of his blog, does not judge them. He accepts that their lives revolve around alcohol. When one of them, Dave, returned from 90 days of rehab only to discover he could not find a sober living facility to which to transition, Dogtownsurfer was clearly disturbed about the probable outcome of the situation:

“Dave is a likeable guy and I think it would be a shame if, after staying sober for 90 days, he falls back into the life simply because he doesn't have a place to stay that gets him away from the constant drink-pass out-drink-pass out-drink-go to bed-wake up with the shakes-drink-pass out lifestyle that is The Boyos.”

If this were a big budget Hollywood movie, Dogtownsurfer (as played by Matthew McConaughey, who in real life fancies himself a soul surfer) would work hard to help The Boyos get clean and sober. One of them would fall off the wagon and die, thus serving as a reminder to the others of the life they no longer want to lead. Well, this is not a movie. The Boyos are perfectly happy drinking their lives away. This is probably the reason why they developed a liking for their benefactor. Dogtownsurfer accepts these men for who they are. They are homeless. They are drunks. They are still people (who happen to be homeless and drunk). Tommy, the one who claims to hold a post-graduate degree, reads the newspaper religiously. Christian was once a Marine. Victor is a cancer survivor who recently disappeared from Venice because he was at the VA receiving chemotherapy for a recently discovered cancer. Dogtownsurfer’s blog reminds us that these men have stories to tell, even when we want to turn a deaf ear to them.

Random Thoughts of a Surf Reporter is not a blog for the faint of heart. When Dogtownsurfer is on a tear, no group is safe from one of his rants. Some have accused him of racisim. Others believe him to be sexist. What is clear from reading the blog is that Dogtownsurfer never hesitates to say what he thinks, regardless of whether he is being politically correct or careful not to offend. Okay, he is rarely politically correct and is often offensive. His August 13 entry, entitled “Why I Love My Blog,” answers a reader who accused him of racism for saying a burned beyond recognition grilled cheese sandwich looked like Wesley Snipes:

“It's the fact that I own it, I can say what I want, and when a fucking gutless punk named D**** B*****, or B***** D****, writes in to say that I am both fat and a racist because he didn't like my Wesley Snipes grilled cheese post yesterday, I can go ahead and tell the whole world exactly what I think of this loser dipshit cumstain asswipe fuckwad pussy assed loser of a fucking spastic coward and I don't have to worry about offending him or a boss when I do it.”

Traffic on Random Thoughts of a Surf Reporter is up to 600 to 800 hits a day. Google Analytics leads Dogtownsurfer to believe three groups of people read his blog: those who read it for the surf report, those who read it for the content related to Venice and those who enjoy the humor.

When asked what he finds most rewarding about the blog, Dogtownsurfer expressed an appreciation “for the positive feedback” he receives. “Knowing that my 20 minutes of work each day gives someone a laugh, or helps one of The Boyos get some stuff they need or someone buys them a beer because of the reports, or even just makes the day a little bit more bearable for one person, is really very rewarding.”

All photos by Dogtownsurfer

26 January 2008

It's On and Poppin'!!!!!!

Soul Brother #1 and I took a bike ride this morning. I guess I should ride east sometimes. Screw that! It's west or nothin'. When we got to the end of Imperial Highway, I could see lines rolling in. Even there, the shape of the waves was decent. I knew from that moment that there was a good, well-directed swell in the water. I needed to see more and we headed north. Well . . . damn!! Offshore winds, good shape and at least head high on the sets. Guys on shortboards were out there killing it! Of course, that dirty water might later kill them. I'm not getting anywhere near the water any time soon, but I did enjoy those who did.

25 January 2008

Turn the Damn Faucet Off Already!

I'm tired of rain. I'm tired of the pool. And there'll be no paddling out in that filthy water any time soon. I know I was in favor of the rain months ago, but it's time for a veto. Enough already!!!

The blog, of late, has had a life of its own. Flame wars. Aspersions cast every which way. The K-word being bandied about. All I can say is knock yourselves out. If you expect to get a rise out of me, you won't . . . cos I don't have a dick (yeah, I know that was an awful pun).

Now look, this blog is written for me. I don't have a counter. I'm not hooked up to Google Analytics. I don't even do the AdSense thing. I have no idea who reads it or why. And I don't care whether you read it or not. Nor do I care whether you like what I say. I'm just here talking about surfing and documenting my progress (or lack thereof) throughout the years. While I do know that people are out there reading this blog, I do my best to say exactly what I mean and exactly what I feel. So you disagree. That's fine. I'm not going to argue that I'm right or that I'm not a kook. Maybe I am a kook. Maybe I'm not. I have but one question: why do you care? I'm not running for office. I have never been and will never be the "Peace and Love" candidate. I'm the "Leave Me Alone to Surf in Peace" candidate. Most of the time, I think the world is a wonderful place. But I do have my moments, as do all of us. Again, have at it if it makes you feel better about yourself. Initially, I thought I cared. Now that I've had some time away from the blog, I realize that I don't. I still leave the comments wide open (while other bloggers understandably use comment moderation). However, I'm not averse to deleting comments that do nothing but suck all of the air out of the room.

My latest surf article for this L.A. CityZine is about the Random Thoughts of a Surf Reporter blog. Now that the story is done, I realize that there's so much more that needs to be said. I've sent out a query to a decent surf publication to see if they're interested in a longer, more comprehensive story. I'll reprint a copy of my latest story in a few days. The publisher of the web zine asked that I wait 48 hours before putting any of my articles on my blog. I'm fine with that.

Finally, I ask the following question: are we really going to let Arnold punk us like that?

23 January 2008

It's Not Looking Good For Us

19 January 2008

What Are His Motives?

From the L.A. Times:

Schwarzenegger's support comes at a time when the state is facing a $14-billion budget gap.

To deal with the problem, the governor has proposed 10% cuts across the board for state agencies and cutbacks and closures involving 48 parks.

Schwarzenegger noted that the Foothill South project was a public-private partnership that would rely on private capital, not state and federal funds, for construction.

He also mentioned that the TCA had offered $100 million to reduce the effect of the road on the park and provide improvements to San Onofre, San Clemente State Park and Crystal Cove State Park.

"The State Route 241 project gives us a chance to protect our parks and our coastline and reduce one of the most damaging environmental problems that plagues our state: traffic gridlock," Schwarzenegger said in his endorsement letter.

He's like a crack addict who kills someone just to get a $5 rock. Traffic gridlock is an environmental plague but building roads that wipe out pristine open space is not? Don't just sit there!

CityZine Article #2

Aloha To You Too, Grand Poo Bah!

Imagine yourself sitting out in the lineup on a warm July morning. Much to your chagrin, L.A. is in the middle of another flat spell. There is almost no swell in the water. You paddle out anyway to catch what few thigh high waves might roll through. Watching the horizon, you laugh to yourself because you know no one will yell “Outside!” during this session. It’s calm and quiet, a good day to enjoy the beauty of your local break.

Then you see something strange out of the corner of your eye. Was that Santa Claus? Shaking your head, you wonder why anyone would buy a red wetsuit and imagine the Santa Claus jokes that guy will endure wherever he goes surfing. The quiet is now broken by the sound of laughter and many arms paddling out to the lineup. What the hell? You finally turn around . . . and there are no words to describe what’s paddling toward you.

There are, in fact, three words for the event: Doo Dah Surf. Costumes. Surfboards. Laughter. Party waves. The beauty of the Doo Dah Surf is its freedom from the constraints of the often rigid rules that exist in the water. What began in 2002 as an attempt by several surfers to inject fun into L.A.’s hostile lineups eventually morphed into a large-scale celebration of the Aloha Spirit. The 2007 edition of the Doo Dah Surf saw participants dressed in costumes that baffled both the onlookers and the other costumed surfers. A typical conversation in the lineup involved speculation as to how others were able to surf in those costumes.

How the Grand Poo Bah (Barry Hackett) was able to surf without losing the headdress remains a mystery. It is probably the reason why he won the Doo Daher’s Choice Award. The costumes, as it turns out, are only a small part of the Doo Dah Surf experience. One thing you notice about the surfers who participate is that they are always doing one of two things—smiling or laughing. The waves, the surfing, the surf etiquette are secondary to the fun. When a wave comes, everyone goes. There’s no calling someone off a wave at the Doo Dah Surf.

The party wave then culminates in boards crashing and bodies flying. People nonetheless paddle back out with smiles on their faces as they adjust their wigs or look for wayward pieces of clothing floating somewhere in the water. Yes, Timmy, there really is Aloha Spirit in the L.A. breaks. You just have to know where to find it.

17 January 2008

I Knew He Was On Crack!

Governor Announces Support For Trestles Toll Road
January 16, 2008

Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a letter in support of the proposed 241 toll road extension in South Orange County. The letter was issued just two weeks before a critical vote by the California Coastal Commission to determine if the proposed extension violates the California Coastal Act. A staff report prepared by the CCC concludes that it does.

"We are absolutely taken aback by this," said Surfrider Foundation CEO Jim Moriarty. "For the Governor to take this unprecedented step of interfering with the workings of an independent and non-political commission, an entity which was established by California voters and whose sole responsibility is to decide the future of California's coasts and beaches based on law and fact, is entirely inappropriate."

The disappointing announcement comes just six days after the California Governor unveiled his plans to close forty-eight California State Parks, allow for the early release of prisoners from state correctional facilities, and raise Department of Motor Vehicle fees.

"We had hoped that Governor Schwarzenegger was insincere in his threat to close state parks and beaches," says Moriarty. "It now appears that he is absolutely intent on sacrificing our state park system and natural resources for his political objectives."

The California State Parks Department has maintained that they may be forced to abandon nearly sixty percent of San Onofre State Beach Park, including the popular San Mateo Creek Campground, should the proposed extension to the 241 toll road be completed,

Governor Schwarzenegger's failure to support San Onofre State Beach Park by endorsing the 241 toll road extension is in direct contrast to the efforts of his Republican predecessors, President Richard M. Nixon and then-Governor Ronald Reagan, both of whom worked to establish San Onofre State Beach as a part of their legacy; hoping that it would exist as a resource to be used and enjoyed by future generations.

The Surfrider Foundation activists and other opponents to the planned toll road will be gathering in Oceanside, California on February 6th for a planned rally outside the California Coastal Commission hearing. All members of the public are invited to attend. Please go to www.savetrestles.org for more information.

14 January 2008

Poor Little Bonzer

Is there a law which states this board is not allowed to get within 100 yards of a wave with a shoulder? The board was shut out each time I took it out. Today, I actually made the effort to find a wave with size. It's a wave I know to have a shoulder. What I didn't know were the conditions. I leave the house each morning ready to gamble. It's too early for any surf reports and often too dark for the cams. So I load up the car, drop my little man off at school and then take my chances at the beach. Often, I come home unsurfed and end up doing an alternate workout. Sometimes I'm forced to drive around a little until I find surfable waves. But it's not like I've got time on my hands to look for and wait for surf. I do have a job and I remind myself that time I spend surfing is time for which I'm not paid. I was prepared to lose a little money today in my quest for a decent wave.

I took a big chance and drove down to Orange County in search of waves for the Bonzer. I'd noticed the surf report over the weekend showed that the waves at this particular break were 4-7 and overhead on sets. Those conditions are a bit much for me. That was one reason why I stayed away from that break on Saturday. The forecast for today mentioned the swell would be decreasing. I figured waist to head high with maybe a bit overhead on sets. It was worth a shot to take a look (even though I knew a morning drive on the 405 might see me stuck in traffic for an hour or more). Well, the drive wasn't bad. And when I got to the spot, there were very few people in the water. But the waves looked a little ferocious. I got there just after low tide and decided to sit for awhile, letting the tide come up and soften the waves. Yeah, I was scared. I freely admit that. I think I sat for about 40 minutes before going in. The paddle out didn't kill me; it was nothing like the paddle out at El Porto a few weeks ago.

It took me awhile to calm down once I made it to the outside. I guess I thought the waves were worse than they were. They weren't bad at all . . . and therein lies the problem. I wanted walls rushing at me. Instead, I got wannabe walls that slowly rolled through. When the big walls came, they had no shape. And much of the time it was flat!! I got three rides . . . straight toward the beach. What made it even worse was the fact that the place got crowded. And for what? You could feel and hear the frustration in the water. It didn't help that the current was pulling us all south. It took a good 10 minutes to walk back to my car when I finally gave up and got out.

The Bonzer remains untried on a wave with both size and shape. I'm not giving up though. It'll all come together eventually. On a positive note, two guys were walking behind me on the beach as I walked back to the car. When I started picking up trash, they followed suit, saying I'd set a good example that they felt compelled to follow. Perhaps they'll pick up trash the next time they paddle out and then someone else will follow their lead as well. I'd like to think that if we can get a lot of surfers to pick up a couple of pieces of refuse, especially plastic, after each session, the surfing population will start to see this as part of the surf session ritual and everyone will do it.

13 January 2008

My First L.A. CityZine Article

Surf Survival 101

The purpose of this list is to help new surfers understand the often unspoken rules that exist in surf lineups throughout Los Angeles. If you plan to start surfing or have only been surfing for a short time, commit them to memory before you go back to the beach.

1. This Ain’t the “Aloha” State

Surfing in Los Angeles is a contact sport. When you paddle out, be prepared to be run over, yelled at, threatened or pushed off of a wave. No one is going to greet you in the lineup with a lei and a kiss. The fact is that there are too many bodies in the water these days. When the waves and weather work together to deliver a beautiful day, it can get downright ugly; the presence of newbies, particularly those who fail follow surf etiquette, is unappreciated, to say the least. It is best to be prepared for this by learning the rules (which one can find online) and learning your place in the surf lineup pecking order.

2. You Aren’t Kelly Slater and This Isn’t Blue Crush

Unless your skills are such that you can surf anything and everything, leave your ego at home. Neither a $700 shortboard nor the cutest Roxy wetsuit—with matching zinc oxide face paint—will miraculously transform you into the surfer you are in your dreams. The space you occupy is at the bottom of the surfing totem pole. Be patient, and take the time and humility to work your way up.

3. Nobody Cares How Much Money You Have or What Car You Drive

Money talks at The Ivy. And Spago. And wherever else the monied class chooses to congregate. Money means nothing in the water. Waves cannot be bought. Respect cannot be paid for. Your surfing and behavior speak for themselves. That $70,000 car that you arrived at the break in could be a $70,000 car with waxed windows and flattened tires by the time you and your superior attitude emerge from the water. Remember, your position on the surfing totem pole remains the same whether you are rich or poor.

4. Get Out of the Fucking Way

This one is self-explanatory. Remember to look left and look right before you paddle for a wave. More often than not, there’s someone already up and riding. All too often, a beginner or oblivious surfer will drop into a wave right in front of someone, thereby ending the first surfer’s ride. Always apologize and, more importantly, never do it again (at least not in that session). Dropping in on an experienced surfer is good way to find out the depth of someone’s hatred for you and your kind. If you are still at the point where you cannot pop-up and surf without trouble, stay in the kiddy pool and leave the better waves to those who can appreciate them.

5. No One Owns the Waves, But Squatter’s Rights Often Prevail

You will find locals at just about any break you surf. Locals lay claim to that beach and to those waves. When you step out of line by ignoring surfing etiquette or disrespecting those who surf those waves day in and day out, the locals will put you in your place. They will take your waves, curse you and your firstborn and make you run home with your tail between your legs. Remember, a good attitude is your best defense. A little civility goes a long way when dealing with the locals. (All bets are off at breaks where the “Locals Only” code is enforced. Those breaks are well-known; enter at your own risk.)

6. Stop Staring

Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore. The stereotype of the young, blond and male surfer died a slow and painless death a long time ago. This is Los Angeles. The diversity you see on the streets is the same diversity you will see in the water. What? Never seen a black surfer before? Look to your left. There is another one over there. Yes, that guy who just dropped in on you is your grandad’s age. He also surfs better than you do. And so does that Asian woman tearing up on the longboard. Get over your preconceived notions about what a surfer should look like and remember where you are.

7. Never Underestimate the Women in the Water

While some women, particularly newer surfers, will back off when a sexist wave hog asserts himself, the more experienced women will not. Those women who have been surfing for years know what to do with the likes of you. They will take your wave and then give you the stinkeye when they paddle back out. The smart guy leaves it at that. The not-so-smart guy, the one with the bruised ego, says too much. Before he knows it, he is facing off with that woman’s (a) boyfriend/husband, (b) girlfriend/wife or (c) male friends. Give the women the same respect you give the men.

8. Treat Your Equipment With Respect

Are you one of those surfers who straps the board to the top of the car wax-side up, and then drives away with the still-attached leash swaying in the breeze? Do you see nothing wrong with jamming a nine foot longboard into the back seat of your sporty little convertible? If you are serious about surfing, prove it. Buy a board bag. Buy a vehicle that accommodates both you and your board. Stop looking like dorks! (You will thank me for this advice when you follow it and realize people no longer snicker at you when you pull up at a surf spot.)

9. It’s Not Your Trash, But Pick It Up Anyway

Our beaches are filthy. Be part of the solution. When you see trash on the beach, take a few minutes to pick it up and throw it away. Keep your eyes open for plastic refuse. Plastic does not biodegrade. It simply breaks down into smaller pieces, toxic pieces that are eventually ingested by sea life. Plastic will be the death of our oceans unless we learn to recycle. Your homework for today, class, is to read up on the “Pacific Garbage Patch”.

10. Give Respect to Get Respect

Enough said?

12 January 2008

Found Dog = Big Deposit in the Bank of Good Karma

Is it possible for a session to simply be described as a mistake? That's the only way to describe today. The much-hyped swell never materialized at the break I surfed. There was some energy in the water. It just wasn't enough energy. I was looking forward to big waves that required little to no paddling (given the way I've been taxing my body over the last few days). What I ended up with were slow waves that barely broke. They weren't even worth all the paddling that was required to get into them. Sleeping in would have been the smarter thing for me to do today.

The session wasn't a complete failure. I did my good deed for the month before I made it home. There was a dog that was alternately running around on the beach and up on PCH where the surfers park. No one paid much attention to the dog until she ran onto PCH a few times. Then a few of us tried to catch her. Thankfully, she headed back down to the beach. I grabbed a leash (a surf leash out of my car) since she had neither a leash nor a collar. We didn't chase her. The few of us who showed concern tried to get her to stop. Finally, she walked up to a woman who was about to paddle out. Then she, the dog, sat and let the woman pet her. That's when I fashioned my leash into a dog leash and slipped it around her neck. I spent a good 45 minutes walking around trying to locate the dog's owner. I had no idea what to do with her. She was such a good dog too. I didn't want to leave her there, not knowing if her owner was in the water or whether someone was looking for her. I also didn't want to leave my leash, thank you very much. The lifeguard said he was too busy watching the water to call Animal Control. He was also too busy to give me the number. So I tried to reach them on my cell phone. I won't go into it. Let's just say I gave up. I finally decided to take her to a shelter. But how to get her in the car? Luckily, the nice guy parked behind me helped to get her in. And away we went.

Not knowing what to do, I called information and got the address for the shelter in Santa Monica. They said they couldn't take her because she was found in an area they don't serve. They told me to go to the shelter in West L.A. And away we went again. Once I'd found this shelter, the people there told me they couldn't take her either, that I'd have to take her to the shelter in Malibu. WTF?? (The dog did not have a microchip.) This was getting old. As pissed off as I was getting, I was ready to drive her to Malibu. I'd want someone to do that if I lost my dog. I asked them to find the address to the Malibu shelter. When the guy who went to find the address came back, he said I could, in fact, leave her with them. Neither he nor the other people at the desk knew their shelter serviced the area in which the dog was found. I then took a picture of the dog so I could post it here. From what I understand, the shelter holds dogs for five days and then puts them up for adoption.

I'm glad she's now safe. I do hope her owner is looking for her. However, I also believe someone will adopt her quickly. Here she is:

11 January 2008

It's Time to Move On

Can it be? Am I really ready to call it quits? No, I'm not talking about the blog. I'll probably write this thing until I'm so old I can no longer stand up on a surfboard. What I'm referring to is my beloved Chris Slick longboard. It was the first "magic" board in my quiver. It was truly love at first sight, love at first pop-up—just pure unadulterated love. For the last two years, it's been my all-around board. I've taken it everywhere (which isn't saying much since I've not surfed anywhere farther south than San O and anywhere farther north than County Line).

But now it's time for a change of pace. My surf abilities and my surf style are leading me in another direction. As much as I love my single fin, I now need two additional fins. I realized today that what's changed is that I'm surfing faster. I'm turning harder. I'm now stringing moves together on waves. I'm looking way down the line, eyeing the section and then getting frustrated because I can't get to it. Mind you, I can do that on the shorter boards. However, the conditions don't always warrant the use of a shorter board.

With that said, today's session on the Slick was fantastic. CYT and I met at the site of yesterday's session. We thought it would be giving up a little something before the high tide killed it. Alas, it was so flat that you never would have known the place was actually good yesterday afternoon. So we stood there having our typical indecisive discussion. CYT: "What do you want to do?" Surfsister: "I don't know. What do you want to do?" Finally, I decided we should try my new favorite spot, which is right in the middle of the L.A. breaks. It's no secret. It's got a cam. There's a guy who does a surf report on it every morning. Yet I still seem to catch it when there's hardly anyone in the water. Today was no different. See, I figured that the tide would be slowing the waves down by the time we got there (which was important since I only had my longboard with me). I was spot on. When we got there, guys on shortboards were leaving in droves. The tide was killing it . . . for them. It made the waves just right for us. I felt very much in tune with the waves and the board today. I remember, years ago, when I always felt like a gust of wind could blow me off a surfboard; I was that unsteady or uncomfortable or something. Today, I felt like my feet were glued to the board. Everything came together every time I popped up. The Slick is a great board. It's served me well. But now it's time for me to kick it up a notch. I plan to have my new longboard by March. Wait until you see it! Wait until you see who the shaper is!!!

10 January 2008

Too Tired to Surf?

I blame the rain! It rained so much last weekend that I neglected to pay close attention to the surf reports. I was giving way too much credence to the weather reports. If you'll recall, there was talk of rain on Tuesday night or Wednesday. Whatever. In my mind, that meant 72 additional hours away from the surf. In order to compensate, I've been back in the pool and in the weight room. Wasn't I surprised when it didn't rain and then I discovered a swell was one the way? Now I'm sore. I'm trying to hang on until this swell passes. I can rest when it's flat.

Today's session was somewhat spur of the moment. I'd spent most of the day working while keeping an eye on one particular cam. Throughout the morning, the place was a swamp. Then I started to see a few lines. That was all I needed. A few lines trumps no lines. I'd given myself a small window of time to surf since my little man was to be picked up at school at 3. I was in the water just after 1. I was out by 2:30. It never fails that the waves get even better when it's time for you to leave. It's probably best that I couldn't stay in longer. My shoulders are heavy and full of lactic acid. I caught my share, although I didn't have as much spark as I do when I'm running on a full tank. Why expend it all now? There's more to come in a few days. I need to keep something in the reserves for that. I was on the longboard today. I'll be on it again tomorrow. On Saturday, I'm switching to the Bonzer. Perhaps that'll be the day I can really put it to the test.

08 January 2008

New Gig

I will be doing some writing for an L.A. online magazine. There's no pay involved (dammit!), but I'm fine with that. I opted to do it as yet another way to make me write regularly. I've committed to two articles each week. My Friday stories will be about surfing. I'm going to post my articles here as a way of keeping a record of what I write. My first piece is due on Thursday night. I'll be giving my own version of the rules new and clueless surfers should know about our sport.

The surf looks tasty today. It's actually a little hard to sit here without giving serious thought to a paddle out. I want to go, but I also want to live. The rain this weekend was no joke. Our living room ceiling can attest to that yet again. (Does the fact that we need a new roof mean I should stop planning on making a surf trip? What about the other board I want to add to my quiver?) I know it's filthy out there in the water. Give it another day or two. I'm thinking I'll surf again on Thursday. That's as long as I can hold out, especially with some swell in the water. Play it safe, everybody. The waves will be there for us. If you go now, the toxins in the water will be there too. Take one more day . . . if you can.

05 January 2008

That's What I Call a Surf Film

I watched Chasing the Lotus tonight. I must admit that I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. For some reason, I was unaware that it was a documentary. When it came out, I thought it was just another funky surf film that would bore me to tears. I was so wrong.

Yesterday, I hit my local female-oriented surf shop to buy a 2008 calendar. While I was there, I grabbed a Chasing the Lotus tank top that was on the sale rack. As she rang me up, the shop's owner commented that I must have liked the film. I hadn't seen the film. I'm just a woman who loves tank tops. In my world, you can never have too many tank tops (at least not while you have the physique for them). As it turns out, the shop loans out videos. When I left, I had my calendar, my tank top and my loaner copy of the film. Not wanting to keep the DVD for too long, I watched it tonight. What a wonderful film. I loved seeing Lopez in Indo and Occy at J-Bay. What I liked even more was the history lesson about the filmmaking and photography of Greg Weaver and Spyder Wills. Like I said before, I love a good documentary. If you haven't seen this film, do check it out.

03 January 2008

More Lemmings

Today (Thursday) NW swell is slowly starting to build along the California coast. I don't think the forecaster was suggesting that you paddle out, sit in frigid water and wait for it! What were they thinking? It's flat!

01 January 2008

Say It With Me: Lemmings

That's what we were this morning. How else can you explain a handful of people sitting out in cold-ass water on a flat New Year's Day? We stood around staring at it for a long time. It started out with three of us. Eventually the crowd grew to about seven. We were there commiserating with one another about the lack of swell. No one said it, but it was clear we were waiting for someone to make the first move. Eventually, one of the original three, the one who'd gone home to get her board, was back and heading toward the water. Then another one spoke up, saying he was in. That's all it took. Off we went to our cars to suit up. No, it wasn't worth it. It was flat and probably the coldest it's been in the water this winter. I've yet to wear my booties (Beavis and Butthead, "He he, she said 'booty'"), but I was giving them serious thought after today's session. I was going in no matter what. I wanted to bring in 2008 on a surfboard. I only got two rides. One was on my bonzer. The other was on Ria's longboard. Those two were enough when you're in the water for about 40 minutes and it's flat.

I checked another spot before going to the home break. It was there that I ran into Whiff. We watched one lone surfer to the north working hard to catch something, anything, on his shortboard. We wanted him to succeed. He was our gladiator. We wanted him to win. But the ocean would not be defeated; she was kicking his ass with those little waves. Whiff threw in the towel. Smart man. I moved on to the home break. To be a surfing lemming.

Happy New Year!