Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"A Bit Too Much Drone. But the Last 26 Seconds. Jesus." (or) "F 4k. 70mm or Bust."

First, let's all watch that. Watch it. Take it in. It's the best surf film you'll see all year. Ok, it's not a surf film. Not like this is a surf film. But it's an amazing piece of art that may be one of the better amazing pieces of art you see until 2016. I am in awe of this. Just great.

 Second, the JJF "Blue Moon" trailer dropped and it is the trailer for a real surf film. A more quintessential surf film full of incredible locales, breathtaking waves and savant surfing. The whole way through I was just hating it. For the better part of the length of the clip I was quietly grinding out all the things I could possibly say about this overblown piece of cinematic puff pastry. All that wasted gasoline in the service of visual masturbation when a little bathroom-bound internet connection would do. All that expected we've-seen-it-before-just-not-this-good footage of mind-blowing grandeur. The absolutely hideous voice over.

But then... then..
The final minute hit. And my stupid brain shut up.


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Digital Revolution Will Not Be Televised. It'll Be On Radio (Part Deux).

The wonders of our interconnected digital age. All of Alan Lomax' recordings here. Or at least a great many of them.

Click this word here... here... to transport yourself to a wonderful black hole of time, space and enjoyment.

"The Sound Recordings catalog comprises over 17,400 digital audio files, beginning with Lomax’s first recordings onto (newly invented) tape in 1946 and tracing his career into the 1990s. In addition to a wide spectrum of musical performances from around the world, it includes stories, jokes, sermons, personal narratives, interviews conducted by Lomax and his associates, and unique ambient artifacts captured in transit from radio broadcasts, sometimes inadvertently, when Alan left the tape machine running. Not a single piece of recorded sound in Lomax’s audio archive has been omitted: meaning that microphone checks, partial performances, and false starts are also included. This material from Alan Lomax’s independent archive, begun in 1946, which has been digitized and preserved by the Association for Cultural Equity, is distinct from the thousands of earlier recordings on acetate and aluminum discs he made from 1933 to 1942 under the auspices of the Library of Congress. This earlier collection — which includes the famous Jelly Roll Morton, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Muddy Waters sessions, as well as Lomax’s prodigious collections made in Haiti and Eastern Kentucky (1937) — is the provenance of the American Folklife Center at the Library. Attempts are being made, however, to digitize some of this rarer material, such as the Haitian recordings, and to make it available in the Sound Recordings catalog. Please check in periodically for updates."

More on this sort of thing here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Reel Life

Is the power we have over ghosts simply our ignorance? You get that odd feeling, the hair on your neck stands, your skin feels prickly, the heart beats. You capture something in the shadows. A face! A gesture! You're sure something far older is here. The scalp tightens under your hair. But whooosh! It's gone! You're thinking about something else! The dog, your baby, wifey maybe your terrible terrible schedule tomorrow. The ghost is gone, reduced, watching again, rueful that it couldn't take its chance to really spook. No, that damn iPhone got in the way again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happening : Anna Harrah at Picture Farm Gallery

Anna Harrah’s oil on paper work makes one conjure the distinct possibility that Kazimir Malevich and Albert Einstein had a love child who currently practices Tantric paintings.

Picture Farm Gallery is pleased to announce the opening reception for her 4 Corners exhibition this Saturday, October 24th from 5 – 9pm.

“4 Corners is a figuration of time referencing undefined geometry terms and using the cube as a subject. Point, line, plane and set all define the parameters of inquiry.

‘Time does not move linearly, and from the four corners and literal paths that we take, we can often travel in time, experiencing things once past and altogether existing on the same plane in our sensory understandings.’

The body of work is an execution and exploration of color combination and surface tension, drawn from all things experienced, seen and forgotten. It’s a way to move through and on.” – Anna Harrah

Saturday, October 24th Reception 5pm – 9pm.
Sunday, October 25th Gallery Hours 12 – 6pm.
Oct. 26 – Nov. 6th. By Appointment.


Happening : Belinda Baggs at Patagonia Bowery

"Meets awesome Aussie soul surfer Belinda J Baggs this Thursday at Patagonia Bowery store. It's a free event, with live music and it starts at 7pm. Patagonia is going to be offering 20% off on all girls wetsuits during the event and have people to help size them on location."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Get Older As I Get Wiser

If you know anything about me, you know I love soccer. To the point that I call it football, a habit that shamefully borders on lame in some quarters. But I like soccer so much I end up watching games with soccer people and reading soccer news written by soccer people. And those people? Expats who come from countries where they call soccer football. So I get kinda used to it. Because it's football.

If you know anything else about me, you know I'm not a great team player. I like to do things on my own, more or less. Not so much a loner really, because I like people, more like a person who doesn't like to do things with other people. Like driving to go surf. I'll meet you at the beach but I'd rather not drive there with you. Get it? I have my limits.

I think these limits have always hampered me in team oriented stuff of course. I'll admit that. In school I could never figure out how to fully respect a shouting coach I played for. I could never figure out how to stick with a sport that required my undivided attention. I could never get with the idea of accountability to my my school mascot or whatever.

A lot of people have had this experience. There are lots of non-team-sports oriented people out there.

But I love soccer. I love the pace and the style and the tactics and the athleticism. I love that you have to watch every moment of game to enjoy it. Look away once and you've missed all the build up to that whiff of a chance. Not even the build up to a goal, but the build up to a miss! Miss a moment and miss the game. And that's two uninterrupted 45 minute halves of zen eye glue.

And now my first son loves soccer. Almost surely because I love soccer. And I'm watching him go through the motions of being part of a team. A serious-ish team that they don't just call a team or a league but they actually call an academy. Which is how you know it's serious. And it's fascinating. It's fascinating to relive vicariously the contradictions and agonies of team sports.

And the most fascinating contradiction of all? The fact that team sports teach one amazing thing that you just don't get anywhere else. Not leadership, or discipline or commitment or sacrifice. No, team sports teach one how to cheat. How to get away with murder. And most importantly how not to lose one's cool when someone else just got away with murder. Because that's what happens on the field of play. Rampant, relatively unimpeded skulduggery. And as a player, you gotta take it or else you lose! Invaluable.

Last night I watched the Democratic debates for a little while. I say "for a little while" because after that little while I had to turn it off. Starting off with that embarrassing title roll at the beginning that felt like a crumby parody of a MMA fight teaser, moving on to the ridiculous stammering each candidate couldn't get over and, for me, finishing up with Bernie Sanders not quite getting his vocal fingers around any sort of clear statement regarding gun control. It was all so depressing.

But I'm sad I missed this. Something that's been all over the social media, but deserves all the attention it gets. If only because it shouldn't even have to be said. 

"I am very very grateful to be on this stage with this distinguished group of candidates tonight. And what you heard tonight ... was a very very different debate from the sort of debate that you heard from the two presidential republican debates.
On this stage you didn't hear anyone denigrate women, you didn't hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants. You didn't hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious beliefs. What you heard was an honest search for the answers that will move our country forward, to move us to a 100 percent clean electric energy grid by 2050. 
To take the actions that we have always taken as Americans, so that we can actually attack injustice in our country, employ more of our people, rebuild out cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more of our people in the sociopolitical and economic life of our country.
I truly believe that we are standing on the threshold of a new American progress, unless you become discouraged about our gridlock in Congress, talk to our people under 30. You'll never find among them people who want to bash immigrants, people who want to deny rights to gay couples. That tells me we are moving to a more connected, generous, compassionate place, and we need to speak to the goodness within our country". 

 That's pretty great. And then I read this quote today by that actress who played Anna Wintour in that movie with the girl from Les Miserables.

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

That's pretty good too. But a totally different kind of good.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Joaquin Pops out of the Oven Piping Hot

It's very very hard to get lasagna wrong. I think this claim can be classified a truism. If you've somehow made a slow-cooked casserole of cheese, flat pasta, tomato sauce and whatever spices and meats and vegetables you've added somehow inedible, well, you're a special sorta cook.

Last night over a plate of abnormally perfectly rendered vegetable lasagna, my wife admitted to reading this blog "every now and then." She went on to say that she really likes the way I write (!), using her peculiarly intelligent sort of vocabulary to describe my writing as "round, full, well wrought." Or something like that. In fact I think she made a few more adjectives out of geometric shape and spatial considerations as that's how she thinks. I think. But then she went just a touch further: "I really like it. It can be funny. But..." and here was the kicker, "it's always kind of a bummer. There's something about the way you say things that bums me out. Like, I dunno, after I'm done reading it, I want to push it away or something."

I could only laugh, shake my head, and laugh. She's right. There's a kind of sadness to how I practice writing and observing and commenting here. A sort of self-relegation to an unhappy hinterland. I wanted to point out that of course the name of the blog has "bummer" right there, and that the blog is just a compendium of feelings about the difficulties of maintaining a surfing life in this relatively surf starved place. How all the angst created by not having a daily discipline involving salt water and swell must find its outlet somewhere. But in the end I think what she is getting at is that there must be a dark, snarky, angry chunk of black coal in my chest that is weighing me down, spreading a diseased tar substance of dissatisfaction through my veins and and out through my fingertips, making my breath putrid and my body odor unfortunate. I think she's saying I've become a kind of dishonest crank, a scapegoat in my own internal battle of situational belligerence. I think that's what she's getting at. And dammit, she's probably right (and frankly, she's got a dog in the fight.)

So I vow to be better.

In the meantime, here is a video and a link that illustrate just how hard up New Yorkers are for real surf of a consistent kind. In each image, each frame of beauty and excitement, lurks that gross nugget of habitual dissatisfaction buried between the layers of self-congratulating hype.

New York can be a difficult and dispiriting place to live. The good times, and our maniacal celebration of them, only go to show how desperate we usually are.

And then of course, there's this...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

"The magical wave elves shovel heaps of barrel-dust like frosty cedar chips upon the birthday cake known as Long Island, and they are called by their spritely house name Joaquin the Destroyer of Productivity, and wear robes of brown."

It's true. It happened. There have been waves for seemingly weeks. I wasn't here for all of it, but I was here for enough to remember how to have fun. I didn't see anyone break a board, but I did see some wonderful moments of balance and drive.

The thing is, while the waves were good, they weren't really, you know, absolutely mind blowingly incredible. I mean, they were good, right? But more in this kind of terribly consistent at a size and pace that isn't quite the norm here. The regularity of lines just dazzled.

And I didn't ride a real surfboard the whole time, still experimenting with the overly floaty, adjustable rockered, three inch railed nine foot soft-toboggan device. And it worked, more or less (to my amusement, anyhow). I can't say what I was doing was beautiful, more like just this side of quasi-suicidally functional. But there is some sense of style in that for me. Style in the sense really that style is the ginger-topped step child of "why the fuck not." Or maybe it's the other way around. And maybe the kid is raven haired. She looked Irish whatever she had under her bonnet and her kisses were sweeter than wine. Or maybe it wasn't a she after all? Sweeter than kefir? Who can tell these days. Who cares? Right, that's the point. Fact is I surfed some "real" waves for the first time in months (since our trip to Oz, really) and I couldn't be better off.

A couple links to photo spreads...

Red Bull

And a couple different ways to pair New York waves with music:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Alright. The App.

Gid Obarzanek is a pretty singular personality. One of Australia's great choreographer/dancer/dance company honchos, he is also a fine and stoked surfer. I surfed Bells with him a number of months ago, then met up with him in Brooklyn a few months after that.

A couple weeks ago he sent through this text for which I am eternally grateful.
Get involved & click on the pic for instant reassurance.

Ghosts Of October

Of all the surfable days of the last couple weeks, I've only surfed three of them. But they were three happy, happy days each one with its own character and mood. The first, last Wednesday, fun and loopy. A goofball fest. The second, Monday morning, a heavier grey with hints of surprising. The third, this morning, almost didn't happen but turned out bigger and more lined up than I'd imagined, offering a couple enjoyable, brain fluid giggling massage moments along with a few very lined up zoomers. All on my beloved big pink softtop of doom. Two of them in the company of the lovely Ty Breuer, who makes every session a super session.

A little look at the action from Thomas Brookins.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Happening: Stephanie in the Water: Tomorrow Night

Stephanie in the Water is showing at The National Arts Club Tuesday Oct 6th at 8pm. This event is free and open to the public with RSVP to youngmembers@thenationalartsclub.org

We approve of this film.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Problem With Surfing Is How Much Anger It Inspires

This morning's unused equipment, an abstract mirror of inner anguish.