So, Soul Brother #2 and I are at Whole Foods (or as one of my friends calls it—Whole Paycheck) looking for food to grill. We also needed to find something to eat right then and there. I tend to eat when my body demands it. I don't eat before I surf and often don't eat until hours after a session. As I've said before, I'm not into food. I eat because I must, not because it's enjoyable or some kind of orgasmic experience. Anyway, the little man likes faux sushi. You know, cucumber surrounded by rice wrapped in seaweed. Here's the rub: he won't eat the cucumber. He meticulously pulls it all out and proceeds to eat what is essentially sushi rolls with a hole in them. Anyway, as I leaned down into the case with the pre-packaged sushi (cos, you know, I still refuse to do the bifocal thing even though I can't seem to see much of anything even though I wear glasses!!!), I could feel the movement in my sinuses. Luckily, I stuck my hand under my nose and quickly stood up. Lo, here comes the flood!
At least I didn't drip that stuff all over the sushi. I'd moved fast enough to be safely away from the case as it all flowed into my hand. The child gave me that look of his which silently expresses his exasperation. He hasn't yet learned to act like he doesn't know me.
My Memorial Day surf was a quiet one. I hit the home break about an hour after dawn and was the first one out. I wanted to beat the inevitable crowd. I was lucky enough to have the place mainly to myself for over an hour. (There was one interloper who felt the need to be where I was even though the entire stretch of beach was empty. I paddled away from him enough that he eventually got the hint.) I don't know if the waves were good as I don't use that adjective when there's no swell in the water. I just surf. Later, one of the locals paddled out near me and I could tell he was not amused by the conditions. He then yelled to me, "You made it look good!" Ha! Sorry, dude.
Memorial Day, which was established in 1868, is not a holiday for celebration. It's a day for remembering those who died in the service of this country. While I'm no patriot, I do support those who served in our armed forces and those who've died for this country. War is hell . . . but somebody's got to do it. And for that, I thank them.
This is Why 8 Year Olds Don't Make Great Videographers
Would it be wrong to show the little man his handiwork and ask, "Soul Brother #2, what the f%@k?"
Yeah, I agree. He's a great kid so I just let him be. I bet if Spongebob had popped his head out of the water, that camera would have been locked in something fierce. But, as we know, a mom isn't as cool as Spongebob!
Well, there's not much notable swell in the water, but I continue to paddle out regardless of things which indicate that I might want to stay on land. The mist was thick when I got to the home break today. The wind was up too. But damn if I didn't see some shape out there.
And I was right. My Almond Joy and I dodged the closeouts while picking off whatever shoulders we could find. No leash. No fear. I swam a couple of times, but, for the most part, kept the board from leaving my side.
At this point in my surfing, I'm definitely partial to pigs and displacement hulls. The only other type of board that has gotten my attention is Wegener's Bluegill (which is, I think, more of a planing hull type of board).
The trigger has been figuratively pulled. Once the template has been made for the size I want, my BlueGill will be shaped. That last session I had on it was for two hours. I got to see what the board could do. I also got to see what I need to work on as a surfer. The board was great. I was not. I will say I was pretty good on it though. I just need to get that controlled slide thing into my head. That will come with time spent surfing that board. I must admit, my quiver is making me very happy these days. I like what I see when I approach the rack that holds my boards. I'm even at the point of thinking one or two of the boards can find new homes.
Wait. What am I talking about? I know how I am. I retract that last sentence. I'd lost my head for a moment. It's back now.
I'm anxiously awaiting my next session on a BlueGill.
Wegener knows what he's doing. And he does it quite well.
I really like this funky little board. It skips across the water while you remind yourself to stay low. I tried to stand tall a couple of times, felt the board get the equivalent of speed wobbles and got my happy ass back down to a point where my center of gravity kept the board from careening out of control with me on it.
Yes, but can you turn the thing?
Uh, yes and no. I noticed that when I took a wave backside, I could easily redirect to go frontside. However, if I was going frontside, my attempts to then go backside were met with the "heartbreak of psoriasis". Why did I say that? I have no idea. That saying just popped into my head; I know it's from some commercial from my childhood.
Yes, I digress once again.
So, what do I think of this board? It's great. I don't think you would use the word "great" to describe the way I surf it. I would use that adjective to describe how it, like a surf mat, forces you to think outside the box. It makes you see waves in a different way; you have to know how each surf craft works in the water. The mat won't work like the pig, which won't like the BlueGill. My quiver is the size that it is because of my need for variety. None of my boards is like another. Yeah, I have several longboards, but each one does something different. Three hulls? Yep. And I can tell you how I determine which one to ride given the waves I'm presented.
I see the BlueGill as something that will help you press the "Reset" button. We surfers can get lazy surfing waves we know on boards we cherish. My recent forays into therapy are shining a light on why I am the way I am. By that I mean, I now understand why I can't stay in jobs, why I have a good-sized quiver, why I tend have several athletic endeavors to choose from (even though I prefer to surf most of the time).
Boredom. I am someone who is easily bored by things, therefore I crave variety (in boards, in pastimes, in music, jobs, etc.). So while I might be loving my Almond Surf Thump today, I'm just as happy on my Paul Gross hull the following day. The BlueGill certainly will round out the quiver to eliminate boredom. It's kind of hard to be bored when you're side slipping down a wave thinking of Herbie Fletcher and laughing your head off (which is what happened to me today).
There are pictures from today's session. Alas, there's not much to see other than fog . . .
and a successful bottom turn. Notice this turn is from the tail and not on the rail. This board is giving me a fit. I'm loving every minute of it. Yep, I'm pulling that trigger.
All I can say is my new friend Micco made me do it. He called me out, thus bringing all of my Dale Webster-like tendencies to the fore. We'd met a L.A.'s best-known break three days ago when I flagged him down and moved my car enough so that he could park. A friendship began with that one gesture. The waves were quite good that day and we didn't get to talk much. The following day, for reasons that were unclear to me, I headed right back up there in all of that thick mist that was being blown hither and yon by the onshore winds. Once I got to the break, I sat there trying to decide what I'd do. I was actually kind of stuck there. At that hour, going back in the direction from which I'd come was a nightmare. So, it was either sit it out or get in.
Micco arrived soon after I did. As I sat there thinking about what I should do, he knocked on my window. All I remember is him saying "fair weather surfer". Me? Oh, brother, you are tripping! I got your fair weather surfer right here! I was in the water not long after he paddled out. And, no, the conditions weren't good. But you can't beat having this break to yourself. Even on a bad day like that one, I got several rides all the way to the beach. Micco was the one ripping it up. He's got 42 years of surfing under his belt and is as stoked as anyone you'll ever meet.
Anyway, today I decided I'd had enough of that small, bumpy, Victory at Sea nonsense. Micco suggested he might sit this one out too (although I'd bet he didn't). I hit "Pause" and did something I haven't done in eight years.
I went for a run in the soft sand.
That used to be one of my favorite pastimes. When you run in the sand, you know better than to worry about how far you've gone or how fast you're going. You just put one foot in front of the other, get out of your own head and go. And go I did. I ran from the home break to the S.M. Pier. I marveled at my accomplishment. Then I ran back. And my knee didn't hurt at all. Not one bit. I didn't even notice it was down there being all bionic and shit. I just ran, listening to Peter Gabriel all the while and thinking about how much better life is when you don't give in to your fears. It's well-known that most doctors, experts and know-it-alls will say you cannot run with a knee replacement. It's thought the pounding will cause the titanium bits (which are glued into the bones) to loosen.
Whatever. Life is too short. If they loosen, they loosen. My doc said,"Try and wear that knee out." In my mind, he was saying, "Go live your life like you mean it. Rule it!"
You can't rule it from the place of fear if that's not a place with which you're comfortable. Is it possible that running will make the knee wear out faster? Yes. Does that mean I should sit quietly in the hopes I can make this knee last until I die? No. I might die tomorrow or next year. And if I don't do my thing on my terms, I'll be mad that I played it safe.
As I get older, I find I'm less inclined to play it safe when doing so makes me unhappy.
If the waves cooperate, I'll take myself off "Pause" tomorrow. I got the BlueGill back from Wegener. I've decided, OF COURSE (!!!!!), to pull the trigger on one. However, I'm going to get one that's a bit shorter and easier to turn. The turning is hard on the knee so a shorter one will be a bit less painful for me.
You know what I think? Life's too short not to rule it completely . . . if you have the guts to do so.
No surf for me today. I got one astoundingly good day at the home break on Wednesday. Then, Thursday and Friday were back to being astoundingly bad (which is par for the course at the home break).
I'll be returning Wegenger's BlueGill today because he needs it for a shoot. I want it back though. I'm not done with my test drive and, frankly, that little board is a lot of fun. I want one!!! Where's that tax refund check already?
Surf like you mean it and catch some waves for me!
This board is not an alaia, but it's close. Note the two tiny twin keels
Note to self: This is also not a traditional surfboard. This is what it looked like when I tried to turn it as if it was one.
I did not find this board difficult to ride at all. It paddled easily and popping up on it was no problem. After the session, I called Jon Wegener for advice on turning. He said that experience riding alaias or snowboards will help one to understand how to make this thing turn. I have experience in neither, but I remain undaunted. I've been watching videos of him riding the board. I think I can work some turns into my rides . . . or die (LAUGHING!!!) trying.
Will I be pulling the trigger on a BlueGill even though the arrival of my last board had me saying my quiver would remain static for awhile? Probably so. The only thing stopping me is money. Of course, I always find a way around that problem when it comes to getting a board. This one will have to wait. However, the wait won't be long. The tax refund check should be arriving any day now.
The waves at the home break were actually quite good today so the BlueGill shared the session with my Almond pig. I will have both of them out there again tomorrow.
Reason #5396 to Support Your Local Shaper: "Here. Take Mine."
That's essentially what Jon Wegener told me when I expressed an interest in trying one of the boards I'd seen at Sacred Craft.
Granted, you can't just walk in off the street and get a shaper who doesn't know you to loan you his board. However, that's why you establish relationships. I don't know Jon Wegener well, but I know people who are in his circle. He also knows me from my blog as well as from another endeavor which has given me an online and real surf world presence under my legal, alliterative name. So, when I wrote him to ask about this board, he eventually said I'd just have to try one. Then he volunteered his.
It's people like Wegener who give surfing a good name. I will always support my local shapers. Always.
The last few weeks have seen me become totally preoccupied with Peter Gabriel's concert at the Hollywood Bowl. "Preoccupied" probably doesn't do my mental state justice. I was obsessed with this concert for more reasons than I can list (including, but not limited to, the fact that I haven't been to a concert of my choosing in about 20 years, the fact that I rarely go out at night for entertainment, the fact that my kid loves PG and had never been to a real concert before and the fact that I just plain wanted to hear this man's voice live).
How many hoops did I jump through to make this happen? I lost count after only a few days of debating whether or not I would go and wondering how on Earth I was going to make this happen with no disposable income. I finally made the decision to let something (else!!!) not be paid on time. What do I get for paying the cell bill (whether in a timely fashion or late)? Nothing really except the ability to use the phones enough to generate another bill the following month. What do I get if I go see Peter Gabriel in concert? Joy. Memories. A night out. A wonderful introduction to live music for my child. A night out. Fresh air. Beautiful music. A night out. And, of course, a night out.
The next problem was the tickets. Not having been to anything in decades, I was unclear as to how all of this worked. E-tickets? What the hell is that? What do you mean they email you some tickets? And they really allow you to get in with tickets on pieces of paper? I didn't know what to make of all of this.
The prices were obscene. But, as I told people, this was a situation where it helped to be low on cash. I couldn't just buy some tickets. This was money that was supposed to go to something else, so I was going to get my money's worth in these concert tickets. I swear I know every section in the Hollywood Bowl—that's how much time I spent studying the seating chart as I searched for tickets. At some point, I decided we would be in a box. Period. I grew up going to the Bowl several times a year. I'd never realized until now that I've only ever sat in boxes at the Bowl. As a result, I wasn't feeling seats on the benches. I wanted a box. And I was going to find one for a good price . . . especially if that meant we would be facing a past due reminder for some household bill that should have been paid with the money for said box.
Well, I spent hours on both eBay and Craigslist. All I can say is that the scalpers ought to be ashamed of themselves. One guy won a box on which I was bidding and then immediately put it on Craigslist for several hundred more dollars than he paid. During my search for tickets, I actually got the impression that people snapped up the tickets in order to sell them for a profit. The only rub is that we buyers weren't playing that game. At no point was the market for Peter Gabriel tickets a seller's market. That worked to my benefit. Everyone was selling and as the day of the concert approached, the prices were dropping fast. I just kept waiting and watching. I knew how much I was willing to spend.
Finally, on Wednesday night, I spotted a Craigslist ad listing a box for half price. Bam!! Even though I was at work and unable to access my email account, I sent that seller a text. I was the first person to contact him. And I made it clear I wanted that box. He had others who were interested, but we quickly established a relationship (through texts, no less!!) and he said he would hold the tickets for me until 12:30 the following day. And I got 'em!
I won't even go into the further drama about the park and ride shuttle that never arrived, our mad rush to the Bowl by car, the nice little trip on the 101, the rush back to the Bowl, the $30 parking (which was cheaper than four of us taking that shuttle) and the stupid ass people who were sitting in our box when we arrived. With regard to the last thing, my friend said the look on my face was one she'd never seen before. My mom has seen that look my whole life (although it was never directed at her) and says it can stop a car dead in its tracks. I can only imagine how those two stupid people must have felt when we arrived and they were then met with "the (insert my first name here) look". Let's just say those folks beat a hasty retreat.
My opinion of the Bowl's alcohol policies? "Surely you jest." They say you can bring in no alcohol, no bottles and no cans. But they are more than happy to charge $9 for a beer once you get inside. I wasn't even going to play that game. I was taught by a master. I'll just say this: a certain South of the Border beverage looks an awful lot like an electrolyte replacement drink, especially when poured into said replacement drink's container. And, you know, it gets really hot during one of those nighttime concerts. It's best to ensure you stay well-hydrated, right?
My opinion of the concert? Peter Gabriel's voice is truly incredible. I've said all day that his voice was the best instrument on that stage. The orchestra behind him sounded so . . . perfect. And his voice put them to shame!! I think many people expected him to sing his well-known hits. Perhaps they expected a dance party. I knew better. If an artist is appearing with an orchestra and has stated there would be neither drums nor guitar, you should not expect a rock concert. This was better!!! This was a musical genius at his best. When you're in the presence of genius, don't hamstring it. Give it the freedom to express itself. This is a 60 year old Peter Gabriel with an orchestra. He's in a different space now. And that's fine. This isn't MTV. I wasn't waiting for a video I saw in my youth. I didn't care that no monkeys were shocked or that no one was digging in the dirt. The flood never came either. None of that matters. I stayed in the present. And when he sang "My Body is a Cage," it seemed like the heavens were opening up. And I'm not even religious. But he was just that good.
I won't wait so long to attend my next concert. Erykah Badu? Where you at? Front and center, please.
Kooky is as Kooky Does (or How Not to Make an Entrance)
It was a sight to behold. It took two cars to get them all there.
The first thing they did wrong was bookend one surfer's car. Their first car was parked right on that surfer's front bumper. The second was just a few feet away from the back bumper. (With little swell in the water and ample parking, there was no need for this unspoken breach in etiquette.)
The boards were strapped to the top of the second car—four of them piled high on the bare roof rack. No board bags. No towels. And when the boards were taken down, the sound of each surfboard being dropped on the ground was easy to discern.
Then they suited up.
It was the guy with the sleeveless wetsuit, one I'm certain was a 2 mil, who caught our attention. He was very proud of having emerged with a swagger from his black Mercedes like some kind of ersatz Mafioso. Again, sleeveless. I was polite enough to tell him the water was seriously cold. No matter. He put on his gloves, got his crew together and headed for the shore.
As we watched them head toward the water, someone pointed out to me that one of the boards only had two fins. Being the benefit-of-the-doubt-giving person that I am, I assured myself that the board in question was a twin fin or twin keel. But in my heart of hearts, I knew. So when the board was finally in a position where I could see the bottom clearly, all I could do was shake my head. It was a tri fin. Not a 2+1, but a tri. The fins were all the same size—the two fins that were left. The center fin and the right fin. The left fin was nowhere to be found. They either didn't notice or didn't know any better. By this time, they were too far away for us to point it out and suggest that perhaps this was not the ideal situation for teaching someone—the kid with the two-finned board!!!—how to surf.
And then they made their way out into the water. On a seriously low tide. Rocks were everywhere. Big ones. Little ones. Hidden ones. Destructive ones. They barely made it past the rocks before turning around to start what we assume they thought was surfing. You can guess how this went, can't you? We watched the macho Mafioso dude paddle for a wave and run right into the other guy in the group who was paddling for a wave. A few minutes later, one of them tried to catch a wave and hit one of the big, destructive rocks. That was enough carnage for me. I didn't want to see anymore. There was no way this could end well, but it seemed to us from the get go that they were confident in their abilities, that there would be no entertaining of suggestions from surfers who are regulars.
Let this be a lesson. You know how they say "Don't be that guy"? I'll just say: Don't be that crew!