Tuesday, February 28, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I look at myself in the mirror and realize I haven't done so in a long time. The last time I can remember looking at myself this way was maybe high school. I'm talking about looking at myself and really trying to discern what I might look like to other people. I try on a few looks I can remember I might throw at my kids, my wife or a co-worker. Surprise. Disbelief. Confusion. Each expression looks unfamiliar to me.

2. Two weeks ago I hit a point in my clothing cycle when most my shoes gave up on me. I just looked at them all and they all looked back apologetically, shrugging their shoulders.

3. Questions:
A) Do you use your windshield wipers sparingly or do you just flick them on, letting them flap away?
B) Do you try to avoid using a shopping cart at all costs, filling up the little basket to the point of discomfort?
C) When making your child's bed, do you take extra time to carefully arrange his/her stuffed animals so no one feels left out or lonely?
D) Do you find the seeming uselessness of laundry lint galling?

4. My younger child plays an uncanny resemblance to those baby pandas in the baby panda videos people send around on Facebook. The videos where the baby pandas cling to the zoo keeper, turn over the baskets full of gathered leaves and generally disrupting any attempt to make their life more orderly. My older son plays a decent mimic of those sloth videos.

5. I firmly believe that nine out of ten dogs operate on the spectrum.

6. I think there were some ridable surfboard riding waves in the greater New York urban area today. The surfboard shaper guys across the hall from my studio had what looked like a wet wet suit in the bed of their truck. I haven't surfed since the last time I surfed, and that certainly wasn't today.


The Worst Surf Films Ever

Between 2007 and 2014, coincident with this blog, more or less, I managed a healthy habit of filmy making. A habit to the tune of about 209 distinct (albeit often very short) films. 56 of those were "surf related" or otherwise "surf films." Made with the chintziest videoing equipment possibly, or possible for me, the almost three hours of really poor filmmaking amounts to a labour of masochistic love, often with my surfing soul pal Antonio Sanchez and the now departed (to Australia) Angus Wilson.

Here are the three volumes for your viewing pleasure.

To see all 209 (or 153 other films, for those with the maths skills) head on over to Works On Digital Paper.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Timely Repost From 09.23.2010

Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!


Click the pic.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Today's Thought

Will "Slightly Sad Surf Porn" be the next thing to hit surf filmmaking?

Admittedly, I did ask this question a few posts ago. Seems I've already missed the boat.

Another pick up from the people who bring you Making Friends.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Notes On Surfamily Holiday

There is a special little evil demon lurking in the heart of every surfer. A little misshapen scowling gargoylish thing that hates. It's the secret tension that might just "make" surfing. Like Golem's precious, that little hoarding troll in our heart spews vile spittle at every other surfer in the water, in the magazines, on the video embed and wherever else it finds them. Billabong slyly used it against us. Rip Curl played upon its desires. But in the end, it comes down to a very simple fact: only a surfer knows what it feels like to not surf.

We sit, passively chasing the sun on Hanalei Bay. My younger son shoves his mug into mine and yells "Hi Papa!" He does this multiple times repeatedly at interval throughout the day. I wonder at his budding existentialism, desperately working at interrupting my customary otherness with an affirmation of us-ness. We are here! Right now! He points at the water and says "big water!" He sees helicopters exclaims "helptr!" Then "airplane!" He sees two helicopters and screams excitedly "two helptrs!"

The human intellect is a weighty burden. Its offering a slight two paths to wander, neither particularly gentle. On the one hand, it seems entirely bold to rebel against one's intellect, dismissing all the cognitive dissonance and embrace a binary certainty, an action fathomless to me. The other avenue is the lazy way maybe, the easy way, accepting the frustratingly simple complication of things, wallowing in the double binds and inherent contradictions that pepper our pot.

My older son wants a boogie board and I get him a boogie board. I ask him if he'd get up early with me and go look at the surf. He tells me he might not be into surfing so much. He says this, "Papa, I just don't think I like surfing as much as you do." My younger son screams when I take him to the water's edge. He screams and demands to be picked up and carried into the water and when the waves are too big and they crash into us he screams and wants to go back the ten feet to shore.

What's that line Matt Warshaw quoted the other day? The one about crossing the beach to get to the waves?

It takes me three days to surf after touching down on Kauai. Two of them shuttling the family from one rainy, windswept beach to another with a rented Wavestorm strapped to the roof of our family Jeep. It was my wife's idea, the Jeep. Standing at the rental counter I had been content with a little hatchback economy number, an acquiescence that darkened my wife's brow immediately. She is right of course, the rain of Kauai making each parking lot look like a wackamole game. By the afternoon of the second day I am petulantly pouty and by the third morning I am hurtling through the blackness of pre-dawn Kauai in search of a pulse. This Kauai darkness is a character trait the guidebooks don't forewarn. The absence of street lights, making pre dawn and post sunset Kauai more or less pitch black everywhere but on your lanai.

Pulling out of the sudden dawn onto the Robinson Estate on the west side of the island, Jeremy and I are treated to a beautiful Sayulita-like sternum-high left point. Jeremy is making a long term go of Kauai and I can see why. This begs the question burning on my pursed lips: why are family vacations so awful?

Hanalei reminds me a little of Montauk in the mid 2000's, just before the deluge of hip digital yuppies but some time after the Brooklyn artists and yoga instructors had descended en masse. This similarity driven home by the sight of Donovan Frankenreiter, a fellow I was once mistaken for at summertime Poles, finding myself congratulated for the great set I had apparently played the night before at the Surf Lodge.

Vacations of the beachy sort can be implicitly predicated on an admission that one isn't enjoying the quotidian life one wants to enjoy. That some other sunnier, sandier reality needs to be explored. This, and the fact that most family vacations don't allow enough time to actually vacate anything. By the fifth day, the day before we're set to return to the mainland, I am finally happy. Of course on the fourth day were chased off Anini Beach by a strung out mid-lifer waving a butcher knife.

We visit the exactish spot Wifey's parents parked the bus the day her little brother was born 40ish years ago. Powerhouse Road. We buy bumper stickers and hats at the little grocer where her parents weighed him in the vegetable scale. Wainiha General Store. We eat poke bowls and grill tuna steaks and eat bags of oranges (bags) and drink water and Kauai rum. Child One reads seven novels. Child Two becomes infatuated with the farm cats.

In the end I surf only twice on Kauai. Once on that wonderful little left hander and once in the lovely head high-ish rights of Hanalei Bay. I surf in Cardiff when we stop over in California to visit family and a couple days after we get home I surf perfectly fun New Jersey. My surfing magically mirrors my leg strength. Diminishing. Still, I manage to maneuver and twist and I think I've finally come to grips with a parallel stance I'm happy to embrace. The other day I was watching some Tom Wegener clips and I thought "yep, that's it."

I am now 42 years old and in 42 years I still haven't mastered a proper technique of standing and putting my underpants on without catching my big toe and almost falling over. In Italian one says "dio cane!" a blasphemous curse; a throw away line about God being a dog. I think I understand the impulse.

A colleague died of cancer a few weeks ago. We worked together for a number of months last year. She hated my taste in music and when she figured I was shooting too much footage she would sneak up behind me and hiss loudly, "we've got the pickle!" She was German and tall and difficult but had lived a full life. She had sailed all over the world and even sailed across the Atlantic by accident. I liked her.

Now I'm not some spiritual type. I mean, I've tried most mind opening, soul revealing special substances that are out there. From cheekfuls of dusty iboga in West Africa to mouthfuls of vomitous Peruvian ayahuasca. From LSD that had me swapping bodies with a golden retriever to mushrooms that had me prowling Prospect Park as a grizzled old lion. I've dug beneath the Wailing Wall and taken my shoes of at Al Aqsa. But the fact is the other night I took a kundalini meditation class and afterwards my knees hurt. But listen to this: the next time you're walking down the street and feeling like you hate everyone, or the next time you're in some sort of argument with some know-nothing and you can feel your patience slipping into dangerous territory, try looking between the eyes of that person standing on the other side of the counter, or those jerks walking down the street. Look right where the Hindus say the "third eye" is supposed to be, just a touch north of smack between the eyebrows. I don't know what it is, but whenever I do that simple thing it softens me right up.

I don't think the benchmarks Americans generally set for their intelligence are high enough.

And don't forget to feel your feet.