Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

More Free Hugs

I've been traveling the world lately. Part of my job is to talk to people, not "to get inside their heads" but to give them a bit of a platform to puke their thoughts out in whatever manner they'd prefer. Maybe puke is the wrong word. Anyhow, I spent some time in Paris talking to street soccer players. Street soccer is like, well, it's like the street version of soccer. Smaller spaces, usually on pavement. Faster, often more inventive, way more stylish than your average 11-a-side grass fed game. But even as the creative quotient is turned up, these guys I've been talking to have their limits. There's this other sort of soccer called "freestyle" and it sorta inhabits the same realm and sensibilities as street soccer. It's all about the crazy wacky stuff you can do with a ball. It's all about juggling and putting the ball through the legs of whoever's around you. The street guys, by and large, think the freestyle guys are goofballs. They don't see the point. And while all of it fascinates me, I love seeing a clip like this from Thrasher that so eloquently makes the enduring case for skating and surfing. There's no point. No point at all. You're not trying to score points or goals or get one over on your adversary. You're having a good time. It's ridiculous, pointless, farty, rad. And that's the point.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It Doesn't Not Work 2016

That's right, the little design symposium cum sidewalk barbecue cum slap happy good time that could is on for its third year at the Picture Farm Gallery space. The brainchild of a quick powwow brainstorm during one of our show openings a few years ago become a real living and breathing get-together show & tell.

This year we have scheduled the event to happen on the same weekend as the Long Beach Fish Fry, swell permitting, so there might just be the added dimension of test rides.

We're also looking forward to exhibiting Andreea Purcaru Waters photos from her book SURF NYC during the event, celebrating this talented local surf historian's keen observations.

It's always a family event filled with stories, high fives, fist bumps, hand shakes and free hugs. Not to mention an impromptu sensibility that you just don't find so often in the dazed, overthunk and hyper stylized environs of NYC living.

Prospective participants can submit their works of art, failure and middling successes at the IDNW website. The show is free of charge and open to all ages, surfer and gawker alike. For those not so in the know, it is a perfect moment to acquaint yourself with some of the best parts of surf culture and ask all the dumb questions about surfboard design that have been burning a hole in your mental pocket.

Simply put, it's my favorite show we put on at PF Gallery. The vibe just can't be beat.

Check out to see the full story and submit a surf craft!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I think every airport ought to have the words DIGNITY and ELEGANCE printed in simple font on placards dotting the terminals. I believe that before every taciturn airline employee and dopey TSA agent assumes their post, they ought to repeat these words as a personal mantra.

2. On my way to Texas I order a double espresso and pay $2.17 for it. After finding out my plane is delayed an hour, I order a single espresso from the same counter and pay $2.17 for it, receiving the exact same amount of dry tasting Illy coffee as the first order.

3. I happen to be in Austin during the SXSW tech week, an eyerollingly embarrassing happenstance for my normally tetchy take on group-think. So many strivers, connivers, and thinkers and even more wanton hangeroners, hopeIgetluckiers and uselessideasquatters. It is all so blatantly, gratuitously, corporately dorky, everyone with their brightly colored, creative-classified laniards displaying their earnest intent. I can sit and judge from afar because I'm here for another reason, but the fact is, it's not all cringe worthy. These same jolly herds produce a collective smile of social submission that somehow conjures a whiff of desire for the better. I can't fault that in the end.

4. The ubiquity of Tillandsia. One of the most lovely, astonishing things in all Texas.

5. We sit in a chain restaurant to the left of a clinical smelling Marriott in Commerce, 20 minutes from Athens, Georgia but we don't know that as we haven't bothered to check the map, unconsciously settting ourselves up for a needless Applebees v. Ruby Tuesdays Decision 2016. Ruby Tuesdays is approximately 45 footsteps closer and wins the pole thanks to geographic merit. We wait five minutes to get our hands on a menu, another ten minutes to take a sip of water, a further five minutes to receive our beers (and order) and another twenty minutes to dig into our "simple, fresh American food." No less than three waiters and waitresses have attended to us on a night where one can only make out a two-top, a couple four-tops and three stragglers at the bar. From the moment we start eating to the moment we walk out the door, we are approached no fewer than seven times with abject apologies for the lack of service. "I'm really sorry! It has been craaaazy tonight." Commerce, Georgia has an alternate definition of craaaazy to the one which we're accustomed.

6. Jefferson, Georgia is the birthplace of anesthesia. It has a Lee Street and two commemorative statues for their brave Confederate boys in grey. Sometimes I wonder if they actually wore grey. I text my father the news and he responds, "Sounds like a sleepy town."

7. My borderline paranoiac fear that someone might overhear a personal conversation makes me a terrible long-distance lover. This psychosis takes conversationally warm phone calls out of my interpersonal repertoire. Instead I fill my texts with dumb observations (like these) and bad selfies. This is admittedly thin fare.

8. Glenn McDaniel moved from Atlanta to Seattle in the mid 80's, inserting him (and his family) into our lives in that gracious, entertaining way that Southerners can muster from the moment they pop out the womb. The first topic of conversation I remember (the only topic, really) was The Varsity, a one of a kind hamburger and hotdog joint plopped down in the middle of Atlanta. A sort of Georgian Dicks as far as my mind could understand it. And my mind tried to understand it, transforming tales of this spectacular drive-in into myths and legends that would haunt the periphery of my life's goals. In fact, I've never wanted to visit Atlanta for any reason other than giving the epic grease a go. This is a quest I repeat to anyone who'll listen during my two days in Georgia, eliciting a hundred enthusiastic bits of ordering advice. The gaffer: "Get the Frosted VO!" The stylist: "The Heavyweight!" The second AC: "Go All The Way!" After our shoot we hustle back to the big city, drop our bags and head out into the warm Southern night in anticipation of gastronomical debauchery. My mind ponders the instagram photo I'll take to record my dream fulfilling triumph as we race down the highway in an Uber, ignoring grumbling from the back seat. I scroll through my notes on proper ordering phrases, missing the growing protestations from my comrades. Just as I settle on the burger/dog/onion ring/frosted orange spread I'm going to set myself up with, Adam the cinematographer startles us suddenly, "we're going the wrong way!" I look over at the rotund lady behind the wheel. She looks confused, harried. I look back at my cohort. They look crestfallen, fearful. I look at the dashboard clock. 10:20. "Wait, The Varsity closes at 10:30... right?" The driver looks at me, shame in her soft eyes. I look at the back seat. My producer checks Apple Maps, the photographer Waze, the DP Google Maps. We miss two more exits, make three more u-turns, change our plan of attack four times. Pulling up, tumbling out, sprinting wildly towards the light. 10:31. Protestations. Pleading, begging, storytelling, and finally, consigned silence. As we hang our heads I start to laugh. We all start to laugh.

9. The next morning on an Uber to the airport we retell the story of our failure to the driver, a tall, trim middle aged black man in a tie. He laughs softly, sympathetically and adds, "To be honest, I think it's overrated." He is from Detroit and refers to hot dogs as Coneys. "After Coney Island?" "Yep." Pat chimes in that Norwegian Coneys are overrated as well, to which Kaia the Norwegian takes offense. Adam declares that Chicago has the best Coneys and our driver agrees. I offer that Coney Island Coneys are overrated and everyone goes quiet.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Long Beach Long Island, Seminal Surfing Symposium

I don't know what it says about the importance of these spots that I've lived near and/or frequented and/or regularly surfed in the close vicinity of five of these ten spots over the last 20 or so years... it certainly doesn't bode well for the idea that these breaks generate top quality talent. But it's neat the Long Beach gets a bit of due. Click le pic.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Another Week In Not Surfing

1. I watch the Eddie in London and get that rush of excitement that comes with tuning into a live surfing match over the internet. I am a sucker for streaming surf contests. It hits a pleasure center buried deep in my brain I couldn't have figured was there. I can watch for hours. But unlike, say, NFL games on Sunday, I have no interest of "having it on" in the background just to soak in the sounds to set a festive mood. Maybe it's just the WSL guys though. The commentators who talked over the Da Hui Shootout a month or two back were cracking me up.

 2. What did someone say? Underwear can be worn five ways? Outside out frontwards, outside out backwards, inside out frontwards, inside out backwards and the way you've forgotten you've already worn it?

3. My shower has two bottles on a ledge: “Shampoing” and “Apr├Ęs Shampoing.”

4.  At 40+ years of age, perhaps you should not find yourself at an underground techno party off the Champs Elysees at three in the morning. But maybe you should, and this is where I find myself pulled along by my Dutch crew after wrapping our shoot. The bouncer tries to expel me from the bottle service section, an area that sounds posh but in fact suffers from the same sloshingly slick floor, flailing arms and friendly-strange hugs as the rest of the place. He is massive, far over six foot and weighs likely 250 pounds. When he yanks my arm, I move. To my startled protestation, he lowers his eyes to me, then to the Dutch, then to me again. Smiling faintly, he lets go of my shoulder, winks and moves off, like an enormous octopus drifting through seaweed.

5. I turn the corner at the Gar du Nord fiddling with my camera, not paying attention. From the immediate distance I hear, then see, the angry African approaching just in time to duck my contraption and keep him from snatching it out of my hands. As I shift my shoulder into his chest we are in a sort of bro hug as my friends pull him away. His spittle on my shoulder, he screams about not filming, and something entirely unintelligible. We point to the soccer ball, point to the camera and back. He doesn’t care. We don’t care. Fifty feet on we start filming again.

6. The odd, burping series of mumbles and laconic gestures that become my standard French Interpersonal Communication Method starts slowly as Brain One reaches back into Brain Two, scrounging around with a naked hand in a knife drawer, looking for those early French lessons my parents inexplicably gifted me. It must have been an experimental era of proactive parenting that somehow didn’t stick. They would rarely engage in that sort of overt forethought again, my subsequent way found unfettered in the easy, sheltered nook they’d carved. But I've always treasured that abortive attempt at teaching me something useful. Between that and the concurrently laborious piano lessons, I have an enduring ear for the language. Or at least an enduring ability to contextualize three words in a basic sentence of eight or more and nod or shake my head appropriately. Last night the couscous, mergez sausage, mint tea and baklava at Chez Omar just happened to be the perfect thing to agree to.

7. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been to Paris. Five? Six? Usually for at least a week, but that is not enough. Men of a certain age and sensibility wear capes in Paris. Not superhero capes, but classic, heavy, weather ready capes over their smart trousers, relaxed blazers and Mr. Rogers cardigans. Paris has more bookstores and movie theaters than anywhere else I’ve been. I’ve heard Buenos Aires has more bookstores per capita than any city in the world, but Paris must surely be second. The amount of bookstores dedicated to photography alone must outnumber the regular bookstores in any other vulgar, plebeian city.

8. There is an intellectual brutishness to a certain sort of bougie Frenchman. It is as if they, as a species, have borrowed from their father’s father’s father, moving that generation’s aesthetic heroism so far into the future, assuming the official mantle of “Overly Concerned But Over It.” A slack jawed, guttural consto-critique, pointing and opining and chewing food throughout. The air of indignancy is rote learned. The hair, to greater or lesser degree, bouffant, carries before them their impatience. But the true wonder of this sort of Frenchman is their eyes. Slightly drooping and pleading, asking to be noticed. He is, after all, the spiritual descendant of Descartes, Voltaire, Foucault, Sartre. Genet! Their harried pantomime is the primary weapon in their battle for relevance. Flapping lips, wiggling fingers and rolling pupils. One such Frenchie keeps me company a table over, having dinner with his disinterested partner. He is a one man score. A droning click track to my meal and an enjoyable sideshow I am grateful for.

9. After two weeks of shooting and traveling, we are spent. Johnny and I have friends to call, but we opt to have the easy night without heavy conversation and simply walk the city. There is a famous dance bar we know of, and standing in line a small group of hilarious looking Parisian youth saunter by. Johnny and I trade the knowing look that comes from working together on a tight production and step out to follow the cadre to wherever they end. We keep a safe distance, going five or nine blocks before they disappear into a hole in the wall. When we approach, the gorille gives us the look up and down and says the party is winding down. We laugh and say ok and head back to our original line which has grown twice as long. We wait, shuffling slowly and talking about Situationism. When we get to the door, the gorille looks us up and down and informs us we can’t enter without female companions. We have a good laugh with this gorille and head home in relief for a happy sleep.

10. I have Euros left over, looking for a gift when a t-shirt in a fashionable shop catches my eye through the window. As I hold it up I ask the shop keeper the gender. He ruins the destination but I buy it anyway. He asks where I’m from and I tell him. “You know, we have a shop there too. In Soho.” “Yes, but it’s more fun to buy things when I’m not in New York.”