31 July 2011

Talking Surf Mats, the BSA and Life with Jeff Ho

After today's session—one that was mediocre at best due to the gutlessness of the waves and kookiness of the crowd—I went over to water plants that local photographer Randy Wright planted in an effort to beautify this spot. As it so happens, Randy was sitting nearby on the rocks with Jeff Ho and someone else.

Jeff Ho!

That's skating royalty, boys and girls. That's our history, kids.

As I approached, Randy introduced us and happily exclaimed, "Mary rides a surf mat . . . like George Greenough!!" Well, I wish I could ride it like Greenough does, but I knew what he meant.

I exchanged a few words with them about the mat. Ho asked me what the mats were made and we talked for a bit. I decided it was best to get a mat from the car to show him.

So I did!!

I sat down and talked with Jeff Ho!!!

I'm holding his dog while he examines my mat.

Talking about stuff the Beach Boys wouldn't have understood.

I will be in touch with Ho again. We exchanged contact information. If possible, I'd like to do an interview with him for Liquid Salt. He also mentioned some kind of fundraising event related, I think, to cancer awareness. His wife was recently diagnosed with cancer, one that is in its late stages. I also know that there is a community effort, and this has nothing to do with our talk this morning, to help them with medical bills. You can check that out here.

In other news, I have no other news.

As you were.

28 July 2011

Saltwater Smackdown!!

Close . . .

but no cigar!!

Once again, I had no idea I was that close to getting a small barrel. Those home break closeouts are crafty little buggers. I was concentrating on not losing the board. I never did get a good look at that wave, so I was totally unaware that I was almost in there. Almost. And then, as is typical at the home break, the saltwater curtain came down all at once. There would be no curtain calls or standing ovations. Instead, I made the swim to shore to retrieve my board.

Some day, I will actually be looking at the wave when it does that nice little barreling thing. Some day. But not today!!

27 July 2011

Cyrus Sutton, Wayne Lynch, Surf Mats and Perspective

26 July 2011

I Am Not a Beach Boys Fan

I loved the Beach Boys when I was a kid. The stuff about which they sang was so different from the life I was living. I suppose I was captivated by the idea of the beach, the sun and surfing even then. The Beach Boys were the closest I would get to any of that for a long, long time.

As the years progressed, I got tired of the group. They were too happy-go-lucky for my taste. That life of which they sang was seemingly too good to be true. I've lived a relatively easy life, but I still couldn't relate to the Beach Boys at all. Perhaps, in all truthfulness, they were just too stereotypically white. Of course, I've since learned that the surfers of that era didn't like the Beach Boys either.

This song is one I love. Perhaps it's the hint of melancholy in both the melody and lyrics.

I've been in a bit of a funk of late. This song, for whatever reason, makes me feel better. Whenever I hear "uninspired/drenched and tired," I feel like they actually get it. Life isn't about "having fun all summer long". It's also about making difficult choices and trying to survive. I hear that in this song.

I'll just keep playing it until I feel good about the world again.

22 July 2011

A Mat Session in Pictures

In 2008, I talked about my first session on a surf mat. We'd even gotten pictures of that fateful day. I remember laughing as hard as I've ever laughed in my life. I also remember feeling completely lost and being thoroughly confused since I don't think I'd ever seen one ridden other than on YouTube.

The mat doesn't confuse me as much as it used to. I can't say that I've mastered it. I will say that I know how to ride it now. You learn something new with each session. What's been even more helpful is that the community of mat riders is now making a concerted effort to get together in the water. More experienced mat riders don't hesitate to pass on their knowledge. There isn't much in the way of competition since there isn't much about which to be competitive. There are no contests. There are no magazine spreads. There is no sponsorship. You get a mat. You ride the mat. You smile and laugh a lot!! There is no pressure when you ride a mat. You leave your ego on the sand, in the car, at home, wherever. You know that when you paddle out on a mat, people are going to stare. People make cracks about pool toys. People ask you what the hell you're on. Every once in awhile, someone will mention George Greenough or tell you how cool it is to see a mat in the lineup. Those instances are rare though. Mats are curiosities. I am happy to let them stay that way.

First, you inflate the mat.

Then, you kick and paddle out to the lineup.

One a good day, you'll catch the first wave you go for.

You spy photographer Randy Wright making the beach a better place for everyone.

You learn how to apply the brakes before heading into the rocks.

If you're lucky, a shoulder will present itself, allowing you to floor it.

After the session, since the mat and fins aren't heavy, you are easily able to pick up trash on the beach. (I also snagged a cool rock and cool seashell too.)

The End

Beware of Badlanders Bearing Red Sharpies!

Malba decided he wanted me to change my foot placement on the board. So, out came the red Sharpie. He asked for permission to draw on the top of my board before he did it. So now my skating has gone back a few steps as I try to get accustomed to the new placement of my feet. It feels wrong, but I figure it will eventually become second nature. Eventually. Won't it?

20 July 2011

Wanna Try a Mat?

Now is the time!! There's a sale over at 4th Gear Flyer. I'd jump on that if I were you!

From now until the end of September, all the high-end 4GF models (Standard, Tracker, Fatty, Vespa, XL and UDT) will be on sale for $165.

In addition, we'll be sending all new mats out with "hot waxed" decks. Everyone who has tried the soaked/wax deck has liked it, so why not? It takes us about 20 minutes to do the procedure, and it saves the mat rider the hassle of doing it themselves. (Details on the waxed decks are here.)

There is one proviso that goes with these lower prices...

Currently, delivery times are slower than in recent years. Our goal has always been to get mats out within 2-3 days after receiving the order...and for the most part, we've achieved that. But our fabric supplier was in the path of one of the tornadoes that swept through the mid-west this past May, so the flow of fabric to our shop has been intermittent. And, we have family obligations up in Oregon that require me to spend time up there this summer.

So, orders will now take 3-4 weeks from the time they are received until the time they are shipped. (Delivery times after shipping will remain 2-3 days in the US, and 7-14 days foreign. US shipping is free, and foreign shipping is $25.)

These turn-around times may change for the better some time in September, but for now, you should count on a delay. We hope the new, lower prices will help make up for the inconvenience.



18 July 2011

I Often Suffer in Silence

See, this is why I can easily switch between the mat and the surfboards. I was all about the mat last week, wasn't I? Mat this. Mat that. My mat sessions were providing more stoke than I'd experienced in a long time. But, as we all know, all good things must come to an end. And all of that good matting came to an end on Friday. The break was crowded. The waves were backing off. The mat was petulant. And I couldn't catch #$!@. Yet I stayed, waiting for things to come together. Well, they didn't and I got out of the water totally frustrated and silently cursing that session. What does that mean?

It means I'm ready to switch back to a surfboard. The mats can stay dry for a bit while I get my surf on . . . until my boards piss me off, sending me right back to the mats.

I also suffer for my skating. You know what I realize about myself? Here I am, 48 years old with a prosthetic knee and no health insurance . . . but I still have little fear of falling. I say I don't want to fall. I do my best not to fall. I cannot knee slide (as the new knee lacks the range of motion for a knee slide). Still, I'm willing to give certain things a try. And, well, that resulted in me hitting the deck twice yesterday when I was hanging with my group of female skaters. One slam probably would have seen some bodily injury had Micke Alba not been spotting me (as I was learning to drop in). As it was, I fell on my butt. Since I have a good amount of padding back there, the only thing I bruised was a tiny bit of my ego—which made me go back to the top of that ramp and try it again. I have no idea what I did on the other fall. I was up. Then I was down. On my butt. Again. The natural padding did its job. Again.

In a couple of hours, I will grab a pig and look for surf. I've enjoyed the points of late. I actually prefer the beach breaks during the summer though. They're wide open and spacious. There's room for all of us at the beach breaks. When it's only the points and reefs working, it gets a bit crowded. Okay, it gets damn crowded. In fact, this last burst of good surf had the points so crowded that those of us who regularly surf RPB went elsewhere. Even though we know that break and love that break, there were just too many bodies in the water for us to enjoy that break. So, I headed up north to surf that mat. Others headed north as well. We ended up all over the top part of L.A. County. Thankfully, we're back to normal summer weather and waves. The beach breaks are plentiful. There's now room to just spread out and surf. That's the way I like it.

14 July 2011

The Art for Which I Suffer

Photo by Ken Samuels

10 July 2011

I Suffer for My Art

Not really art. I'm not artistic. I am good with words, but I'm not sure one can call that art. I did suffer for my mat though. When I emerged from the water after today's session, I was a bit battered and bleeding in several places. Since I've never been on a surf trip and don't foresee going on one any time soon, I'll have to assume that this is the closest I'll get to being bounced off a reef. The rocks at the spot where I rode the mat were covered with something sharp. And I wasn't paying attention to the fact that the tide had gone down . . . a lot. So, as I cruised in, my uncovered legs (since I was in a springsuit) scraped along those rocks. Ouch! #@#$%&! By the time I stood up, it was too late. There was blood running from my right knee and my left ankle. Lesson learned. And I'm no wimp. I'm going right back out tomorrow. I'll be in a fullsuit though. I wasn't quite warm enough in the "Liberation" wetsuit that I had been saving for just the proper occasion.

I decided to head away from the popular L.A. breaks. I'm just tired of the crowds, the insanity, the kookiness and all that summer brings to the beach. I'm not putting people down. I think everyone should enjoy the beach. I just don't think I have to enjoy it with them. So, I got on the road. I met up with two other mat riders for a session, one which saw an inquiry to another surfer about his Mini Simmons turn into him asking, "Are you Surfsister?" Doh!

The spot we chose wasn't overly crowded. We all got waves. We all got good waves. It was certainly worth the drive. In fact, I'm returning to the scene of the crime tomorrow. Today, just as we were leaving, a fourth mat rider showed up. He would later say that the waves got even better. Apparently, he stayed in for something like seven hours!! My goodness!! I don't have that kind of stamina. I was happy with two and a half hours. Then again, I was freezing in the springsuit by the time I got out. I'll be in a fullsuit tomorrow. And, no, I won't be in the water for seven hours.

In Greenough We Trust!

08 July 2011

Tyler 8'6" Mini Zeke For Sale

My buddy Neil needs to sell this beautiful board. It's in excellent condition. If you want a Tyler at a decent (for a Tyler board) price, you'd better jump on this! If interested, call him at 323 252 1107.

05 July 2011

This Still Isn't a Skating Blog

I just can't believe what I'm seeing. D-Face had Ozzie and the crew throwing it down at Ridiculous. D-Face is a true genius. This is brilliant!

03 July 2011

Just Skate

01 July 2011

The Proper Occasion

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions.

The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.

NBC will not be able to predict the winner at 8:32 on report from 29 districts.

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.

There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkins strolling through Watts in a red, black and green "Liberation" jumpsuit that he has been saving for just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damn relevant and women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow because black people will be in the streets looking for a brighter day.

The revolution will not go better with Coke. The revolution will not fight germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will be no rerun, brothers. The revolution . . . will be live.

Roy Wilkins would never have worn red, black and green. Ever.

But I will sport my red, black and green "Liberation" wetsuit whenever the proper occasion presents itself. Summertime surf seems as proper an occasion as any.

Power to the people!