Monday, June 5, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. Head High Hammonds Reef, early to mid nineties, the old, heavy red 9'6" single fin. Springtime. A good crowd was out, and I can't remember whether the tide was pushing or pulling. For some reason I was riding without a leash and lost the board to the shore. After retrieving it, paddling out felt funny and I flipped the board over to find the fin box had cracked, fin gone. It was such a beautiful early evening and I was surfing well, maybe the best I'd yet surfed. I had North Shore fresh in my mind and I figured I'd give it the old Chandler go, sans fin. After spinning and kooking for a couple waves, a local heavy paddled up and inquired after my fitness to surf the break. I flipped the board over, his eyes got a little wide and with a laugh he said "take the next one," a fresh set popping up. In that one ride it all came together. The foot drag, the hand dig, the subtle shimmy slippage, a long ride and finally the 360 ending in a whooping face plant. The heavy would provide cover for me the rest of the evening.

2. Slightly Overhead Mira Mar, early to mid nineties, probably the old Cactus Mexican popout three finned hybrid 8'11". Yes, slightly overhead at Mira Mar. The break getting crowded and Hammonds looking like it was really working, Ian and I start to paddle up past the mansions when a clean up set appears out of nowhere with the two of us somehow in the perfect spot. We both drop in and weave back and forth, hopscotching across the face, passing all the gassers, all the way to the beach.

3. Knee High Refugio, 1997, a borrowed 60's single fin plank. Mid romance, a month before getting married. I'd been watching this older guy struggling with the board for a while and when he finally paddled in, I asked him if I could give it a go. After about 45 minutes of truly magical fun I returned the board and the guy asks, "are you a pro?" This moment was perhaps the height of my surfing hubris, at knee high. A few months on and I'd be sitting in the somewhat scarier swell at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, pissing in my suit, wondering where I could find that guy.

4. North County San Diego, a handful of years ago, Whitney's hybrid Leucadia 9'0". Surfing between San Onofre, Grannie & Papa's in Carlsbad and Swami's for about a week over the winter holidays I magically find my groove again. Deeper-than-they-should-be cutbacks, easy foot fiddling and lots of nose time on a board certainly not made for it. I haven't felt as proficient since.

5. In between there were lots of silly moments. A few trips where I underperformed to the point of questioning my memory. There were some fun days in Montauk. At Gilgo. At Smith Point. A few good waves in Saladita, a handful of great sessions at C Street. One or two waves in Puerto Rico. A good day in Rockaway. Lotsa mornings at Old Mans. Some fun days between Washington and Laurelton.

6. A couple years ago, on a shoot for Nike in Long Beach south of L.A. I show up at Ian's house in Torrance for an early surf off the Esplanade. Knee high, at best. Wavestorms. The water is unseasonably warm, incredibly clear. My ankle is killing me. Ian's knee is killing him. The waves are small, short and foolishly fun.

7. There was that one time I opened solo for a band at that big music hall on Bowery and played Radiohead's Creep on the ukulele. It seemed like a packed house. As far as I know this was the first time anyone had played Creep on the ukulele. I'd never heard it done anyhow. This was before the hipster ukulele craze. I also played the Happy Birthday song. That brought the house down.

8. There was that time I was flipping through the kung fu magazine in the editor's suite while waiting for a render, finding an ad for "Fei Yue" kung fu shoes for ten bucks. I ordered two pairs in different sizes over the phone. As far as I know I was the first person to buy those kung fu shoes for purely fashion purposes. After a couple months of regular wear around Williamsburg, I see them prominently displayed for sale in a shoe shop on Bedford.

9. There was the time I told the "Clown Joke" to warm up the crowd at an IPO party for some website at a big event hall in Dog Patch in the late nineties. I'm not sure how many people were there. A thousand? More? When I finished the joke, ten people laughed. They laughed hard.

10. True stories, as far as I can tell.



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