Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Farewell To Winter

You easily psych yourself up to surf. You've got your six mil winter suit with those five mil gloves and those seven mil booties, you're practically praying for snow. The romantic ideal of being that guy just propels you into full on frigid surf froth. Especially when you're heading out from your cozy home in your cozy car, your suit quickly becoming a sweaty hot box as you hustle to the water's edge.
It's the water's edge that kills you.
You look out, feeling the proximity of that churning, ice-cream headache, face-stinging paddle and realize you've made a terrible miscalculation. But you blunder on, the pure shame forcing you forth into the nettle-like abyss of sub-40˚ water. After the sputtering lobster claw flailing torture, you heap yourself upon your board just that side of the lineup as that second ring of cold water hell focuses uncomfortably into view.
Or, I should say, out of it. This moment you realize just how hobbled you are in that coffin-like hood, peripheral vision blacked out completely. This is when you realize just how important hearing is to your whole wave catching mojo.
These foundational, guttural limitations dawn on you in such nauseating succession, you're sure you'll paddle in after your first take over the falls. It's all too much.
Then a wave chooses you, dropping you in, and that bizarre, one of a kind insta-joy relief sets in.
You breathe, laugh a little. You were right all along.
Until you gotta get outta that suit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

California Dreaming

It's either excellence or efficiency. Or at least the striving to be one of the two. That whole cliche ven diagram of cheap-good-fast thing usually holds true. Of course "good" is a pretty malleable idea. And fast definitely has its perspective issues. And frankly, what's inexpensive to me, is certainly not inexpensive to someone else. Does this all bear repeating? No? So yeah, what were we talking about? California! C Street! Rusty Ritenour used to wait for me in the parking lot at New Dorm while I snoozed long past the alarm in my cozy hole in Clark Q. I could hit that snooze button all I liked as Geoff, my deaf roommate, needed his specially timed lamp to get him outta bed. I'd role over eventually, hustle out to that well-warmed red pickup, Rusty would give me a bad look and we'd head down to C Street. I don't know why always C Street. Past Biltmore, Hammonds, Miramar, Sharkies, whatever was happening in Summerland and Carp, past Rincon and Little Rincon and Mondos and the overpass-I-always-forget-the-name-of. But there we'd be. Cold, early in the morning. God I love C Street.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Notes For Telemarketers

The mind pings back and forth. Yes, no. One, zero. Digitally confused or certain. There is no in between, for the moment you loose your certainty it is confusion and of course the other way around. The sooner you work this out, this fact that you are confused half the time, and as soon as you are certain you will likely go right back to being confused, the better off you'll be with all those expectations of yours.

With this in mind, remember: one man's thing to one man does not mean the same thing as that same thing to another man whose thing it is not.

 If you do not dance, you are not dancing.

Photo Cred: AJ Ogilvie, Lecturer, Humanities Department, PhD Candidate, UC-Santa Barbara


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happening : It Doesn't Not Work

Check out the Surfline post!
The Surfer's Village post!


People are singing "Jeremy" on the porch in that deep nasal-throaty mouth fart voice. People are pulling out their potato chip thrusters (the ones that magically didn't snap in half) and giving them a go. People are willfully believing the Ozone layer can still be shored up with a healthy dose of sun tan lotion. People are loving going back to 4:3 aspect ratios and interlacing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

It Doesn't Not Work

Happening : Italian Surfy Doc

Design-Apart invites you to join us as we ride the wave premiering “Natural Goods”, a short documentary directed by Marco Mucig celebrating Luca Bressan and his project, Solo Surfboards. 

Bressan, raised in northern Italy in Valdobbiadene, at the base of the Dolomites Mountains, fell in love with surfing while cruising the coast near Venezia. From then he knew he wanted to design surfboards made from natural materials and wood, nostalgic from growing up among trees and mountains. 

Surfboards will be on display at Design-Apart’s living showroom as we celebrate the latest addition to Ritratti di surf, a series produced by Onde Nostre to illustrate the creative realm attached to Italian surf culture. 

Wednesday, March 19from 7 PM to 9 PM
Design-Apart New York - 110 W. 25th St. 2nd Floor

The Rockaway Classic via Italics & Hyphenations

There's this extra added regard when some landlubber finds out you're a surfer. That dollop is tempered, of course, by the necessary personal acceptance that ego-capitalizing on that instant and misplaced confidence is a toxic bit of self-delusion. Shit, if you want to capitalize on it to make some scratch, to pay your bills or to get a kiss, that's all fine. Just don't start thinking you're a surfer and giving that any credence whatsoever. That'll just mark you. Now, try adding to that dose the almost overwhelmingly cool exclamation that not only do you surf, but you surf in contests. It's almost too much for your mud-hugging friend to handle. They've been introducing you as their surfer friend for years and have been asking you to teach them how for almost as long. To each new acquaintance and to each beseech, you've tossed your salty locks, squinted ever so slightly to make those sun-painted creases flex just so about the ends of the eyes, and laughed it all off blithely. And now you surf surfing contests. If you were a single guy... you start to imagine all the free love you'd luck into. It's almost too much to ignore. For a moment, a real bonafide moment, you allow yourself to cross that line. I surf contests! you say to yourself in your best Keannu Reeves inner voice. The glass cracks, the crow darts, a dog barks and a horse neighs uneasily, scratching softly at the dirt. The hair rises on the back of your neck, itchiness descends upon your wrists, a bit of dirt suddenly lodges in your eye...

The fact is, surfing is a spectator driven activity at every turn. You aren't trying to put a ball through a net. There's no guiding rule about what a score is. You're just trying to look good. Whether it's for a bevy on the beach, a crew in the water or just for personal satisfaction, the whole goal is to be smooth, nonchalant and stylish while making the most of the precious face time. Or at least not look like a kook trying.

And here is where the very idea of entering a surf contest, no matter how homemade, inconsequential or half-assed you're telling yourself it is, fills you with inexplicable dread. The looking-dumb-possibility-matrix is pretty high in a normal surf session where you can laugh off a blunder with an I-meant-to-do-that-goofy-shit wink. But in a contest you're using up precious wave time allotted just for you to look good in front of judges and spectators. The psychological mini drama playing out in your head running up to the event can get out of control.

But when you're not looking stupid while surfing, you're looking great, frankly. At least I think so. And I'm of that certain age where I think it's ok to not care any more. I think to myself, "I've reproduced, I'm outta that biological rat race, I can look any way I damn well please." And so it is. I'm going to try and enter as many surf contests as I can. I won't win a single one, but it won't matter. My kids will think I'm rad.

The Rockaway Classic via Emmanuel Agnelikis

There's this whole generation of surfers out there who've grown up with ready access to images of themselves surfing. The digital revolution has been kind to these whelps. I think it's probable my own was the last generation to feel like the surfing photo is a kind of holy grail. My friends didn't have cheap water housings for a digital point and shoot. We didn't carry around some specially made underwater Go Pro with a magically never-ending memory card. Most my friends didn't give two whits about taking proper photos. First of all, we didn't have any place to put them, besides the drawer. I can count on my fingers and toes how many pictures there are of me surfing, and I can take three of those appendages away when I count how many attractive images there are of me surfing.

Here is a clutch of images Emmanuel captured from the day. He had one roll of 35mm film and made the best of it. The digital drawer gets filled a bit.

Imagine the inevitable crush of what amounts to salty slush. I was just fine with not making it to the next heat. Just fine.

There are more images to be found at the Rockaway Classic FB page and NYCUrchin

Notes from Mastastico

You Know You Like Something When You Fight For It

This year's Oscar for Best Foreign Picture went to La Grande Bellezza. It is currently playing at the Angelika and at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Facts I had, as is my way, completely failed to register, instead impulsively renting the film on iTunes at first sight. One might normally, and rightly, assume that this cheapened the cinematic experience of the film, the watching of such a sumptuously shot, gorgeously performed and wonderfully directed film (not to mention whatever sonic ecstasy) in the confines of this small squeeze box of digital disappointment being a kind of art degradation bordering on immoral. I cannot argue with this, and in fact plead guilty to the host of disrespects. However, something happened while just trying to watch the movie that somehow added to the mystique of the film, sort of let the film itself reach out into my world for an extended period of time, infecting my experience with a sort of melodrama bizarro-mirroring the quiet emotional pandemonium in the film itself.  The following is my side (really the only side) of an email conversation (more a monologue) with Shashi B. a member of the iTunes support staff. I present it here more as proof of the beauty of La Grande Bellezza; a kind of self indulgent alternative movie review.

Mar 9 at 10:31 PM

(To the iTunes Support Staff)

The film I rented, La Grande Belleza, stopped playing. When I restarted the computer, the film was gone and I could not find it.
This has happened before, but I never thought to say anything about it.
The iTunes set up is very difficult to understand as well. 
Bad design. Sorry, but true.

Please refund me for the movie.

Thank you,

Todd Stewart

Mar 10 at 9:44 PM

Hi Shashi,

Yes, I went to my iTunes purchase history and it wasn't there... however, I did as you said and looked at the "Current Downloads" section and saw it there, downloading. I continued to download the movie, but during that period I received the notification that the rental period had expired ON THAT SAME MOVIE. Bizarre.
I am including two screen grabs of this process as "proof."

Now I'm not sure if this all will show up on my purchase history, and one might assume that if it didn't, I should be thankful or harm done, but I wouldn't be, in fact, the case. This sort of thing actually makes me not trust the processes that Apple has put in place, disrupts any normalcy I might be trying to bring to my life via my Apple products and causes me to take time out of a stupidly busy life (yes, it is a bit stupidly busy, and yes that is a bit of hyperbole) to write emails to you.

Here are the facts so far:

1. Last night I rented (or thought I rented) Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty," which iTunes assumed I rented as well as it allowed me to start downloading it. 

2. During the download and subsequent viewing, the movie stopped downloading and stopped playing. 

3. When I restarted iTunes (and then the computer, when that didn't take) the movie was no longer in my iTunes rental library section of hell.  I say section of hell as iTunes is so oddly organized to me at this point as to be completely counter intuitive to a normally non-troglodytic middle aged man.

4. I asked for clarification on this from iTunes support.

5. iTunes support (you) told me I never rented the film and gave me some directions on how to prove that point.

6. Tonight I followed the directions which both proved and disproved that point: (the rental was not in my purchase history) & (the rental then magically started to re-download).

7. The download stopped AGAIN, with iTunes stating that my non-existent "purchase" was expired.

8. Now I am emailing you again.

9. I am now going to RE-RENT that Italian movie (on your dime or mine I still annoyingly don't know.)

I'm hoping I once again "won't be charged" for a purchase "I'm not making." But the fact that I couldn't finish a movie I rented last night because of your cruddy technology, a technology you stake your reputation and business on, and then had to explain all of this in a time consuming email, ought to AT LEAST get me a free rental of this film if not some sort of gift certificate to the butcher down the street. If you ask, I 'll tell you the name and number of the shop and you can set that up.

I look forward to your research regarding this snafu.


Todd Stewart

Mar 10 at 9:55 PM

Hi Shashi, 

Sorry I forgot to add the images that document the oddities here... plus my re-rental, where  iTunes asked me if I wanted to "re-rent" a movie "I'd already rented" which you pointed out that "I never rented."

Attached are those...

Mar 11 at 10:21 PM

Hi Shashi,

I see you are not so quick to respond to my emails as you were the first time.
Now I have rented the film again and tried to watch it, only to have it stop playing and have the rental period expire a second time.

This is horse shit, pardon my language. 
But really properly ridiculous.

The film is beautiful but the technology that allowed me to watch it, and apparently the support staff for that technology leave much to be desired.

I have submitted an obvious and true factual recounting of events and you've done nothing for me besides tell me things that are patently wrong.

I look forward to your reply.
Again, I apologize for the foul language.

Todd Stewart

Mar 13 at 5:41 AM

Hi Shasi!
Thanks for getting back to me. 
I have now rented the film three times in total.
The first time, which was shambolic.
The second, which resulted in a very long download time, and thanks to my schedule (and internet connection) I only had time to watch a few more minutes before the rental period was exhausted again.
And then, last night, a third time to finally finish the film. A film I had the full time to watch in total the first time I tried to rent it.
So you see how these things snowball. 
I guess at this point this means I've paid for the rental, as you refunded me the "first two" rentals, right?
This circumstance is far from satisfactory of course, but the milk has already started dripping off the table and luckily I have a dog to lap it up. 
Again, I apologize for my use of the term "horseshit" in an earlier email and I'd still accept a prime cut of beef from my friend Andrew's butcher shop down the street. He is not the butcher, but he is the owner and knows his meats!

The Great Beauty is an amazing movie by the way. Oddly, it was worth whatever trouble it took to watch it. I only wish I'd paid the same amount that I've paid to Apple (however partially refunded) in both time and money and caught it in the theater.

I also wish I had a TV and a DVD player and that those things were still the de facto home entertainment vehicle for films. Heck, I'd take VHS over this process.

Anyway and anyhow,
None of this, as always, is "your fault" rather the residue of that megalomaniacal Steve Jobs and his ilk. And Time Warner's of course. Without their proto-fascist desire to slow what should be free flowing information to a crawl where would we be?

Thanks for checking back in,

Todd Stewart

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Hundred Feet To The End

There are few things scarier than falling into patetic pace on a relatively empty avenue with a stranger in New York. You can feel the awkward distrust; the annoyance at encroachment. All in context of a confining city so packed on certain boulevards you could bash into someone without fluttering a lash. But this is the consigned fate of the dog walker. Dogs have a mind of their own, and one with rhythms that ask for more apparently. If you catch me lock step with you on a deserted stretch, just know it's the dog, the dog.

Friendship has its own meanings. It keeps them to itself. I do not feel obliged to pry. But everyone has their own version of it. A slight to one person is another person's homage. Hog the scene and one guy'll sock you. Skedaddle and another will forsake you forever. The fine lines only get finer too. Me, I'm the "in a pinch" sorta friend. There for the big event, if it doesn't put me too far out see. Often ghost-like in the mundane perhaps. This is fine with me, but others see it differently. But I wouldn't know, I never ask.

Apologies are like that too. Some people like to hear you apologize. Sorry a byword for buddy. I'm not one of those either. I'm too sold on evolution. Shit, that asshole you were yesterday? Frankly I'd rather not hear from him again. What's new Stan?

Saturday I drenched myself in cold water and good company, bobbing around on too long a board with a rattling fin with its emergency seat elbow room in the box. I hate going left with a hood on, my equilibrium, that inner compass of fleeting (or fleeted) athletic prowess, shut out, muffled intrusions only giving me the wrong cues. But really, the beach was an all star cast of good people. There are times when one shows up to a surf community event and it's all hand wringing and stare downs, everyone out to prove they're up to snuff. Saturday was one of those gatherings where everyone had the right attitude. Maybe it was the seasonably warm weather that caught everyone off guard.


"The ending of World War II brought new materials — balsawood, fiberglass, and resin.  Joe Qigg, Matt Kivlin, and Bob Simmons grasped the possibilities the new materials provided for surfboards; manuverability and lightness were further advanced."

The Rockaway Classic Via The Mastic Bureau

I've been meaning to write something about the amazing Rockaway Classic experience, but have been shut out time and inspiration wise. In the meantime, here is Lentini's manual rendering of a pic circulating on Instagram of me mid-humility.

Keep Fracking Outta The Water.

Click the above pic for rally info & more here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lessons learned in Mexico #1

Always shake out bathing suit before putting it on in the morning. Even if you think you're staying somewhere nice.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Official EBNY No Surf Surf Blog of Champions Website Of The Day

Today's Very Profound Thoughts

This is one you might want to listen to while doing anything. Everything. Give yourself a task that allows you to listen for a bit and put this on. There are incredible moments of insight and illumination. 

"There is a place in the soul where neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch."

 "God is only our name for it, and the closer we get to it, the more it ceases to be god."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happening : Rockaway Classic

Representing Endless Bummer NY No Surf Surf Blog Of Champions! Mos def! Anyone have a cruddy old single fin I can borrow? Mine are out east...

Clic le pic.

New York based thinking surfer DS Mattison is the Editor-in-Chief of this one, hot off the digital presses. Yet another reason to maintain a toe hold in this environment so unkind to surfing.

"Canon is the sole interdisciplinary student-run magazine of the NSSR. The magazine is an open forum for scholarship and perspectives for subjects in and out of academia. Canon is not associated with any single discipline and uniquely aims to represent the scholarly passion of the entire NSSR student body.
From 1988 to today the publication now known as Canon has gone through a variety of transformations. The Newsletter of the Students of the Graduate Faculty began as a brainchild of the newly formed Student Senate in order to keep students informed about university happenings. As it developed into a platform to voice concerns the publication was briefly re-named Rant and Rave.
Never was this outlet more important than during the uprising of 1997 when a misunderstanding regarding the observance of Black History month and the Holocaust caused students to organize and dissent. At this time it was re-titled Canon as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the type of curriculum the New School has always strived to overturn.
Since then Canon’s tone and content has been a veritable rollercoaster ride, subject to the whims of the shifting student editorial staff. In 2001 Canon launched its website and in 2006 went completely online.
In Fall 2010, the print version was resurrected as a means to place Canon back in the hands of the students who provide its content. It was a major success. Moving into the spring, we editors seek to maintain an academic core for Canon to showcase the intellectual diversity of our peers. At the same time we also desire to retain the New School’s tradition of institutionalized dissent by providing a forum for critical student voices."

Notes on Movies by Someone Not Surfing

On Friday I played hookie from afternoon work, taking my seven year old son to Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, a longish relatively unmagical animated biopic about the Japanese aeronautical engineer who designed the Japanese Zero. There are moments of magic, sure, but also moments (for me) of snooze-worthy bits. Bits, however, in which my son's nimble, young mind, routinely unsated and animation-addled, easily found the requisite sparks of excitement my older, slower moving one could not. In that film a mantra is repeated a few times, one in which an older character exhorts a younger one to push for excellence as one's lifespan of creativity really only lasts about ten years. At first this statement of artistic fact didn't faze me too much, but the second or third time, I started to feel uncomfortable. At what point in this mystical ten year period am I? Does this period even exist in such raw, undeterrable fashion? A depressing thought to come away with from a film made by a filmmaker who has always left me with the highest, hopeful feelings.

Oscar night I was talking to one of the producers of another film I saw last week, telling him my theory about the emotional vacuum in his latest film and how I connected so much more with the last one. He accepted that, generously, as it was more or less a slight criticism leveled against his own work, but turned it around, saying he had many conversations with a certain sort of European viewer who found the narrative setting as moving, sentimental and touching in this one as I experienced in the American fatherless-boy-scout context of the last. This made me think.

The light is light earlier. The winds will shift quickly after. There will be a period between when the surf is good enough. Until then, you have to sit through meanderings about movies.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kenvin-Machemer Grudge Match

Clic Le Pic

Happening : Pilita Garcia at PF Gallery

On Friday night we are opening Pilita Garcia's beautiful solo painting show at Picture Farm Gallery. An incredible feat, overcoming the unimaginative stolidity of the greyer of urban pressures, Pilita's colorful sensibilities make for a violent incursion into our mundane winter slog. You should come.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Notes From The L.A. Bureau

My fellow filmmaker and sometime filmmaking partner, Scott Duncan, travels the world shooting crazy, off the cuff stuff for all sorts of concerns. Recently he found himself at one of his homes finding the surf doing surfy things.

Thoughts On Trying To Write Something Of Substance For a Surf Blog

"I'll tell you what it was like. Go to the Uffizi in Florence, or the Louvre in Paris, and you are so crushed by numbers, once the might of greatness, that you go away distressed, with a feeling like constipation. And when you are alone and remembering, the canvases sort themselves out; some are eliminated by your taste or limitations but others stand up clear and clean. Then you can go back and look at one thing untroubled by the shouts of the multitude."    -John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

Truth be told, I love pizza parlors. An all you can eat buffet, a little quarter arcade nook near the bathrooms, some Roaring Twenties style stained glass light fixtures. The place you went with your soccer team at the end of the season. To get even more truthy, I once read the whole of a thousand page tome about the history of India in multiple sittings in a Taco Bell on Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco. A cosy, pink, molded formica seat at a Baskin & Robbins is about as comfortable a perch as I might find. I read articles about old people hanging out at McDonald's all day sipping cheap coffee and eating like birds and I understand their sensibility.

The other night I wore a black bow tie and a black suit and a pair of sensible rubber galoshes to the New York premiere of Wes Anderson's latest film. I felt like a million bucks but could easily have looked like a pair. But feeling is where you get your feeling and if you don't feel sexy, you never will be. The Wes Anderson Film Experience is a polarizing one it seems. People love them or hate them. Maybe there are some indifferent people out there, but I bet if you scratch half a little, they'd bend one way or another. And no wonder. He tends to make films a couple ways. One, he makes a list of all the little elements, tropes, references and inside jokes and ticks them off dutifully, letting rhythm and intelligent casting make tidy, aesthetically taught movies. Or two, he does all that stuff and somehow then adds human emotion. I tend to forgive the lack of the latter in the former simply because I like romps. This persuasion then tends to glorify the latter in my estimation, when the latter is achieved, perhaps far beyond its proper place. Perhaps. This latest film, one about a hotel concierge in a fictional Central European country, is far more the former, while his previous film, Moonlight Kingdom, is far and away in the latter camp. No pun intended. I say this only because at the after party I witnessed Bill Murray riding the elevator at the Russian Tea Room. I mean I witnessed him continuously riding the elevator, making motions to get off at the floor (I was observing from the the third) only to turn around and get back on the elevator at the last minute every time. He must have made that loop six times. Times three floors. Each instance settling back into the rear of the car, shaking his head and nodding at some other passenger with a wry smile, mouthing "oh no, that's not it." Comic genius in the flesh I suppose. Not everyone likes Wes Anderson films. But I do.

I recently got back from surfing around the north western bit of Puerto Rico. It was fun, headish high the first night, fun shoulder high the next morning, fun waist high later that day, then sorta cruddy fun waist to nipple high for the rest of the time. I gratefully borrowed a sorta crumby Walden nine foot longboard that worked just well enough to have a great time paddling around in gorgeously warm water. Nothing beats warm water surfing. Nuffin.

(Ed. Note: Antonio (("The Other Gustav")) just flew off on a surf trip to Mexico with none other than the dynamic photo force known as Chris Pfeil. I'm hopeful he'll return with a story or two publishable here accompanied by maybe even some great Pfeil pics. You never know with Tony Jr.  He's been promising to post more for years. Deadbeat.)