Thursday, November 17, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. The Uber driver wears a silver set of boxing gloves around his neck. When a paunchy and balding sixty-something driving an SUV honks maniacally, nearly running the stop sign and smashing into our Prius, gesticulating wildly, our driver quietly chuckles to himself. Someone from the back seat lightly posits “I think we could take him,” and the Uber driver raises his eyebrows and says he’s pretty sure it wouldn’t be a problem. “Golden Gloves,” he flicks the dangling silver pendant. “My dad started me too early. I was fighting in the ring by the time I was eleven. By 16 I'd beaten everyone. There was no one left. I'm all about pressure points now. You can beat anyone with a pressure point. The cops don’t like it.” I reference a southern Kung Fu style, “ooh, Mantis style? That's illegal. Who taught you? I carry around a taser now. I had a guy make me a taser glove once. The cops got it. I got caught and the cop just took it, didn't even arrest me, wanted it for himself. They’ve got a device they put under the hood that will open every door and latch in your car, electric or mechanical. No joke.” No one jokes.

2. In an effort to keep my life under control I start deleting my Instagram app from my smartphone and downloading it again every time I want to post a picture. This keeps me from mindlessly flicking my thumb at any given spare moment; standing in line, in the kitchen, driving my car. It also spares me the full brunt force anger-envy that wallops me every time I see a shot of a Long Island beach break working in any fashion.

3. I travel to 45 minutes north of Austin, Texas to make a film about a dog. As most things concerning dogs, I learn a lot. 

4. Forgive me father for I have not surfed in weeks. I have not even seen the water, the waves, the sand, the horizon line. The problem is, your highness, that there is a problem with guilt. It’s not that one should not feel guilty, guilt can be an incredibly useful motivator, mentor, best friend. It’s that people seem to feel guilty at all the wrong times.

5. I am often asked how I like my eggs. It is a standard question. At 5:45 in the morning I walk into a fancy restaurant in an airport and ask to be seated at a table with four seats in front of a T.V. showing a rerun of a women’s international soccer game and even though the restaurant is empty, the hostess states she will only seat me at a table for two far away from the T.V. I leave without telling her how I want my eggs. The fact is I almost never know how I want my eggs until the last minute. It can take a slightly embarrassing amount of time to decide, and at the last minute, the waiter tapping his toe, this can be awkward.

6. I stop surfing altogether and am now simply a father in a city. And surfing, the normal kind of surfing, the kind of surfing I still see in magazines, is not part of my normal life. I like being a father though. I like my kids.

7. I would like people to stop using the word ‘just’ around me. Cut that crap out. “Can you just…” “It’s just that…” “Why can’t you just…” “I just feel…” It’s ridiculous. If you can’t figure out why I feel this way, well then you’re just dense.

8. I turn 42 years old and fail to re-elect a slim sliver version of status quo laced with stubborn hope. The actual result feels like a new, scary reality, a dawning of a new, scary era, but in reality it is the dusk of an old scary era. Had I elected the other one, the one I had wanted to elect, it would have simply prolonged a charade. I face a reality. There is the garden variety misogyny, racism, tribalism and strains of ignorance communally tended to in varied states of ignorance and delusion. But I am now firmly in the opposition and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be opposing.

9. People are asking where we went wrong. Some people say it started with the loss of Glass-Steagell or with Bush V. Gore or with the failure of school desegregation. Some people think it is faulty polling, identity politics or disconnected rhetoric. I personally see a significant correlation with the disappearance of video rental shops.

10. Leonard Cohen died this past week. A long time ago he introduced part of me to the rest of me. For that I am grateful.

11. On the plane to California I watch Ferien “... a prospective district attorney takes her father’s advice to get some rest and relaxation and heads to an island - where she makes friends with a series of strange inhabitants (German with English subtitles.)

12. I try, when able, when not traveling with my children, to wear a suit when I fly. I have a few suits. A very expensive one, which is also the most non-traditional, making it the hardest to find a moment to wear. A cheap ready made black one that I had tailored to fit my oddly shaped body and is worn with a very narrow tie and a white shirt with a collar that is just slightly too large. A medium-dark blue cotton one that I bought at a fancy store in downtown LA and I imagine makes me look slim. And a light blue summery suit that I have worn only once, to Antonio's wedding. On this flight I wear the third suit with a light blue, very thin cotton oxford that opens between the buttons in an embarrassing way that exposes my belly button. But I feel like people treat me well because I am in a suit. Everyone except the people who naturally distrust people who wear suits.

13. I visit Jef and Joce, my French friends who are reopening the mythical, legendary, iconic Brooklyn bar Zebulon in the Los Angeles neighborhood called Frog Town. These two men make me smile, they make me happy, but mostly they make me squirmy. Their massive authenticity and pride, the very apotheosis of manliness sometimes a shade too overwhelming for me. I nod and titter and try to understand everything they say through their shruggingly manly French accents. When all is going badly and I think I may fail, I dream that perhaps after it all I will just move to L.A. and bartend at Zebulon and not surf there either.

14. I visit my mother who has voted for Trump. She had not voted for two presidential elections and then decides to vote for Trump. I ask her incredulously, I say, "you could have voted for McCain, for Romney, for Obama... why did you come out of political retirement to vote ... for Trump?" She coughs a little cough and waves her hands with fingers pleading, "you don't understand, how could you understand? You're not my age! I had to live through Bill Clinton and that, that cigar! I had to bring up my children, trying to explain to them about that Lewinsky girl! I cannot have another Clinton in office." I nod and understand better. Ok, so that left a mark on you, having to explain to your kids about that sort of thing. It really scarred you. A full 24 hours later, sitting in a hotel room bathtub I realize that I, her youngest son, was already a year married and working as a television cameraman in San Francisco when the Lewinsky scandal broke.

15. I text my friend Jamie to see if he'll be in the vicinity while I'm in California. But he'll be in New Smyrna, Florida. I text back, "you know what they say about New Smyrna." "What?" he replies. "A real upgrade!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Respect


Respect


Of all the distantly intimate losses in the last couple years... Lou, David, Prince... this one has hit me hardest. Leonard Cohen was a mentor to me when I needed one in a way unparalleled in my life. Thank you for guiding me through and to.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Happening : Surfer's Blood



SMASH Production is proud to host the New York Premiere of the highly praised SURFERS' BLOOD by award winning photographer and filmmaker Patrick Trefz.  The film premieres Monday, November 21st, 7PM at The Wythe Hotel. SURFERS’ BLOOD tells the universal story of true individuals that share deep bloodlines connected to the sea. From the old world fishing history of the rugged Basque Coast via oar and surfboard shaper Patxi Oliden, to the modern metropolis of San Francisco and the eccentric computer shapes of Apple fame designer Thomas Meyerhoffer. A Sonoma Valley Art Museum that exhibits hydrodynamic surfboards via avant-garde curator/surfer Richard Kenvin, to 3 time Mavericks big wave champ Darryl 'Flea' Virostko's struggle to overcome an almost fatal meth addiction and the bittersweet loss that came with it.

"For me, the film began as a personal interest," he continues. "I see my work as an anthropologist would. Here are these interesting profiles, from figures of different eras and places - from the most preserved villages of the Basque region, to the technological heart of San Francisco, to Santa Cruz - where you have this lineage and this passion for the sea. Let’s see how we can find what makes them different. Let's find what they share." - Patrick Trefz, Surfermag.com

Date: Monday, November 21st, 2016
Where: Wythe Hotel: 80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY
When: 7PM - 9PM
Ticket Price: $20
Live Q&A with the Filmmaker

PATRICK TREFZ lives and works in Santa Cruz, California. He is a director, producer and photographer and is widely acclaimed for two feature-length documentary films, Thread (2007) and Idiosyncrasies (2010). He has directed multiple music videos, commercials and shorts. As a photographer, his work has appeared in publications including Surfer, Big, Geo and The New York Times. He is the author of Santa Cruz: Visions of Surf City (SolidPublishing, 2002), Thread (PowerHouse, 2009), and Surfers' Blood (PowerHouse Books, 2012).

BUY TICKETS!

And for more information go to: http://smashsurf.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Todays Thought : 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller



The wonders do not cease. Available here.

"In January 1975, Fuller sat down to deliver the twelve lectures that make up Everything I Know, all captured on video and enhanced with the most exciting bluescreen technology of the day. Props and background graphics illustrate the many concepts he visits and revisits, which include, according to the Buckminster Fuller Institute, “all of Fuller’s major inventions and discoveries,” “his own personal history in the context of the history of science and industrialization,” and no narrower a range of subjects than “architecture, design, philosophy, education, mathematics, geometry, cartography, economics, history, structure, industry, housing and engineering.” In his time as a passenger on what he called Spaceship Earth, Fuller realized that human progress need not separate the “natural” from the “unnatural”: “When people say something is natural,” he explains in the first lecture, “‘natural’ is the way they found it when they checked into the picture.” In these 42 hours, you’ll learn all about how he arrived at this observation — and all the interesting work that resulted from it." - Open Culture

Saturday, October 8, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I ask my father if he has any regrets; how he feels about his relationships with his sons. “I don’t really, no. There’s only so much I can do. You all make your decisions, or started to at some point and all I can do is be there if you need to talk about something.” This is a fair answer. I have never asked my father a question like this, or maybe I hadn’t since right after he and my mother separated almost twenty years ago, and I have no expectations. His response dovetails cleanly with his actions. If I call him he’ll be glad to talk. If I don’t, he is seemingly glad to wait while we both do other things.

2. I haven’t surfed in a week or three. Since the last time I surfed and those two or three times I didn’t surf because of dumb reasons Antonio and I cooked up on the fly. I went swimming in the swimming pool twice. I used the foam roller a number of times. My back has started to tighten up. 

3. The zipper on my winter wet suit is broken. At the end of last season I ordered a replacement zipper that’s supposed to fit any wetsuit, a magical, easy fix. It doesn’t do that. I struggle to get the metal bit to even fit onto the teeth. So I’m stuck here anxiously anticipating the upcoming cold months when all I don’t need is one more reason to not get up in the pitch black cold dark and paddle out into frigid water. “Oh! My zipper is broken!” I can hear myself exclaim in mock surprise, hoping someone is listening while I dawdle alone in the basement. “Ugh. What a bummer.”

4. There is a new faux-Jewish, hipster-retro, Katz’ like deli on a corner in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The bagels are very good, the smoked fish is very good, the prices are very high and the line is very long. I go in there to pick up our order, annoyed and agitated. 

5. There is a moment in a certain young person's life when they hear John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” for the first time. Maybe the second or third (they just weren’t paying attention before.) The soaring majesty of heavily considered extemporaneity offering a glimpse of the esoteric joys of the freedom of flow state, like a window into another window, into another house, down the street, maybe across town, maybe in another town altogether. The youth thinks he understands, gripped with such authenticity and intensity there is no denying. I don’t know when that moment was for me. The exact moment I heard it anyhow. It did impress enough that I would spend the better part of a cool Spring morning in a back bedroom of a Salinas, California ranch style house on a cul de sac in the Chicano part of town (is there another part of town in Salinas?) eating a homemade breakfast burrito delivered by a shuffling abuela, staring at the velvet painting of Mother Mary, fielding queries from passing kids on their dirty bikes as if my pain was their take-out window for sniggering, feeling slightly nauseous as Primo impaled my arm on the end of a buzzing needle, digging harder and deeper, longer and longer as the blood streamed down to my elbow. The resulting mush of a tattoo, Primo’s initiative go round, I the initiate, later legible to many as a pulpy paean to a favorite Taco Bell menu item, was in fact my own maybe second, arguably twelfth, attempt at defining myself as myself, apart from some younger, older myself. “A Love Supreme” seemed to me, in all its spiritual exhaustion, the perfect mix of where I had been, was, and was going. A couple years later, when Primo had actually ensconced himself in a Monterrey tattoo parlor proper, gifting himself nagging tendinitis and a niggling sense of regret, he would plug white ink into the swollen shut holes of the letters, an attempt at retroactive definition. For years after that I think Primo felt sheepish for the protruding distention that would make the black-bluish blob adorning my upper left bicep look just like that. But I’ve never been sorry for any of it. The slight diarrhea caused by shock and grease of that fly-bitten morning nor the subsequent quizzical looks of scrunched up nose-bridges trying to make out what the thing might say. I don’t think I’ve ever really “gotten” the Coltrane track. Could I? Does anyone? But somewhere in my own dermal acclamation I believe I’ve hit upon something approaching. 

6. In Chinese astrology there is the animal identity your birth year bears you into and an element the quadrennial cycle bears to you. In my case, I am a wood tiger. There is something similar, I think, that our life brings us. A sort of daemon on the shoulder we acquire through years of pain and coping. In my case, the little bugbear is insecurity. Most believe insecurity is a weakness, a sign of… insecurity. But it is not. Not in my case anyhow. I use my insecurity offensively. A violent reaction that allows me to pull away in an attempt to create safe space, an indiscriminate habit, insatiable. It is my shield and my sword. If I don’t pay attention, its little sharp teeth sink in quick as a whip I can do little to prevent. If I pay attention well enough, it becomes a constant argument trying to shout over all positive, rational emotion. Funny stuff.

7. I could have gone surfing this morning. I woke up early enough, my wife doesn’t have to be at work until noon today. I took the dog for a walk, replenished our coffee bean supply and read the newspaper, finally settling down to tap out lines for a surf blog about not surfing. I’ll go surfing tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. It is balmy on a mid September morning. Usually in New York the seasons are pantomimically proverbial. Out with one, in with the other, one day to the next like the Sunday comics. This year the summer has hung about the city like a wet rag, no hint of that refreshingly slight chill in the air we're used to around this time. I wake up around five, hoof my finless pink softtop to the curb and wait for Antonio. He too is like clock work. A template veneer of mild mannered grumpiness hiding a ready joke. Our session is punctuated by Mike hooting and laughing and calling everyone in and burning everyone at the same time. We surf at Little Tokyo down from the Hebrew school. I figure out how to turn my board around mid face but can't quite catch the knack of getting it all the way around today. The waves are a little fat, a little high, providing not quite enough catch for the soft rails. We drive home happy, complaining lightly about the air we breathe.

2. Two days later and it is warm again when Antonio shows up late. We've taken to a new regimen to capitalize on his car and my lack thereof. His car had not been locked overnight and someone had stolen his $25 waterproof watch, a fact he grumbles about for half the drive to the beach. I ride the funny green triple stringed fish. Or rather, The First Board Jeff Taylor Ever Shaped. He warned me about it, making sure I'd know it wouldn't work but I borrow it anyhow, figuring there's no sense in not giving it a whirl. After a morning kooking and gassing, the only word I can use to describe it is "exceedingly." Exceedingly flat. Exceedingly straight. Exceedingly odd. I am not master understander of shaping or a master rider for that matter, but perhaps in certain circumstances this allows me a perspective on how something feels when it isn't working. And it doesn't work. In texts to Jeff later I tell him it sorta bogs down in the takeoff because of the exceeding flip in the nose (maybe) which means that one has to paddle in a bit late (maybe) but as it is so exceedingly straight and flat there is no pivot to make up for it (maybe.) Once I get it in the straightaway it's mostly fine, as long as I mind that tendency to bog. In the meanwhile Mike Ming is there again, hooting and calling us in. We drive home happy, complaining lightly about the air we breathe.

3. Two days later and it is the third envelopingly warm morning in a sorta happy mid September semi-swell. The sort of semi-swell that is just called a normal day in places like California. Here it feels like we are in the grace of the almighty. I wake up at our preordained time, suddenly fighting a cold. It is very early and the light has not begun to peak over the apartment buildings. I drink some garlic tonic and some apple cider vinegar tonic and I take some oregano oil and I blow some Thieves Spray into my mouth and I brew some tea. And I wait. I put the fins back on my softtop to give it one last go before making my way back to the real world this fall. And I wait. I put the board out in front of the house and I blow my nose. My kids start to wake up and my wife is startled that I'm still home. Antonio has overslept his alarm. My cold is getting worse.

4. Another two days on and the season finally seems to be kicking in. It is dark and frankly cold with a light drizzle coming down that turns into a not so light drizzle. I text Antonio to make sure he is up and take the bitter tinctures and venomous liquids that are supposed to make this full blown cold go away. They only seem to make my breath worse and my throat burn. A little into the waiting period Antonio texts. His battery is dead. I am too far into my second espresso to make it back into the bed and get the sleep I need. Antonio and I send texts back and forth imagining what they might put on our tombstones:
"He tried. But not that hard."
"Always a bridesmaid, never in the water."
"Early bird catches disappointment."
"You can lead a horse to water but it's blown out."
"Where there's a will there's always a way that has a different idea."
"One in the hand is worth diddly squat."
"If at first you don't succeed you should realize you were wrong in the first place."
"You can't knit a silk purse out of a dead battery."
"When in Rome you're not surfing."
"Don't count your chickens before the battery."
"It's like the pot calling the kettle into a wave while they both sink."
"Life's a beach but you can never get there. "


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Happening : The 2016 Rockaway Beach Bodysurf Contest



The Rockaway Beach Bodysurf Underground and Rockaway Beach Surfers Association will present the first annual Rockaway Beach Bodysurf Contest on Saturday, September 10, 2016 at the Beach 84th Street Jetty ("The Box")

 The Contest is open to male and female participants of all ages, to compete for a Grand Prize Trophy designed by legendary Bodysurfer, Honolulu Lifeguard, and artist Mark Cunningham, as well as additional prizes. Mark Cunningham will be in attendance for the contest.

To enter the contest the fee is $20 + $2.95 processing fee, all contestants get a free t-shirt and many stoked vibes!

After party location TBA

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I'm pretty sure my fascination with hands and the odd shapes they make all started with watching my immediately older brother eat nachos.

2. Along these lines, I'm pretty sure my unshakeable suspicion (read: neurosis) that no one actually wants me around also has its genesis in my immediately older brother.

3. After a couple years of serious failure in college, the administration allowed me to create my own major, a combination of anthropology, history, classical philosophy and comparative religions, creating a nearly straight A student overnight. While this is a true story, it is also true that I opted to write my final thesis on Hegel not Heidegger, an admitted misstep.

4. "We are, as Dan Ashcroft put it in Nathan Barley, oblivious to the paradox of our uniform individuality." -Rob Smythe

5. Today I leave for a vacation in a relatively swelless corner of the Iberian peninsula on the same day the swell season is seemingly ramping up here at home. Classic stuff. Go surf. Please imagine I'm there hooting you in to a couple fluffy ones.

Respect


Thursday, August 25, 2016