Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Jon Frank's "Broken"

An interesting and broad interview with the bizarrely talented photographer and cinematographer called Jon Frank. I am relatively new to Jon's work, or at least accrediting it properly, having seen it for years without putting the two+two together on the plaudits he deserves. His sensibility is spot on every time, rarely putting a wrong foot, visually. And he once told me my Long Island house-thing feels like a boat. So there.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. For my 43rd birthday I make time for one of the only other pastimes for which I attempt to make time. Besides surfing. The Russian banya. On a mid-November Tuesday afternoon there is a small group of Scandinavian women, a couple single Russians, a quiet gaggle of Hasidic men and a loud group of Financial District business guys. There is also an immensely beautiful and statuesque Black woman wearing a very skimpy bikini.

2. And the middle aged businessmen in the shvitz talk openly, brazenly, about hookers and cocaine and "Christmas Binges." This is a true story. At a certain point one tells the others about being so congested during last year's holiday debauch he was shoving little "boulders of blow" into his nasal cavity and "waiting for them to dissolve."

3. I wonder if the magically obstructive alchemy that is my self-doubt and impatience will ever let me write anything other than this. As was once said, "consistency in style can be important for confidence in production but can lead to insecurity through the gift shop."

4. My wife gives me a tall bottle of mezcal and three slim books for my birthday. Lydia Davis, Maggie Nelson and Wallace Shawn. I am sure I'll never get out of this alive.

5. And while I continue to believe that a concerted discipline to free associate is at the core of most successful endeavors, I miss the now entirely unlikely possibility that I might find a still-smoldering cigarette butt in my french fries.

6. And I wonder if the intellectual laziness that overcomes me in times of emotional trauma will ever release me from its grip. As was once said, "truth is like an invisible object of which we can only make out the edges when we blow smoke its direction."

7.  New York's latest flirtation with something more sustainable has come in the form of a small, brown, plastic waste bin one is supposed to fill with one's composty stuff. The New York Times has referred to it as a "plastic totem," which seems likely given the city's ability to make lasting, positive environmental change. All I know is that I get a truly serene amount of satisfaction from hauling the little bucket out from under the sink and throwing orange peels, egg shells and onion ends into the tiny pungent heap.

8. Today it is so windy in Brooklyn that an adult London Plane tree is cracked, leaving half lying across the walking-path next to the dog-run in the park across the street from my house. I don't think there are any other casualties.

9. The surf forecast two days ago stated that tomorrow New Jersey might be pushing 5-7 feet with ambivalently equivocal winds. A look at that same report tonight predicts it will be flat. New York metropolitan surfing at its finest.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ice Cream Headaches

What can one say that has not already been said? A fantastic frog and a lovely limey infatuated with surfing find themselves a fruitful relationship in New York documenting their passion in the new environment, letting their naturally curious outsider's perspective infuse a newly minted co-production of interviews and photographs describing a scene that exhilarates them. And so is born Ice Cream Headaches, the aptly named archival website and now full-on book publishing adventure. Tilting at windmills you say? Perhaps. But the sort of moon shot dream that does appeals.

Or, as they say:

"Hello. We are Edward Thompson (from England) and Julien Roubinet (from France), a writer and photographer living in New York. 

After moving to New York a few years ago, we met and became friends in and around the ocean. We found ourselves thinking of New York as a surf city, something that goes by almost unnoticed by most people living here and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who pass through each year. 

To celebrate the diversity, creativity and humor of East Coast surfing, we set out to create a book of interviews and photographs documenting local surf culture.  

We aim to shed light on the surfers, shapers, photographers, filmmakers and writers who represent North East surfing and the challenges of lives lived with an obsession for the ocean. Our focus is finding people who experiment with new forms, materials, ideas or surfing styles."

And now you can listen to these two guys speak in the appropriate accent for each on the Swell Season podcast on KPISS :

Saturday, November 4, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. Commercial airline travel always begins with the same things. Second guessing the luggage weight. An anxiety filled car ride. Splurging at an unimaginatively stocked airport chain bookstore. Fear of the automatic flushing toilets. Awkward queuing. The middle and end experiences of commercial airline travel vary more widely but will surely entail uncomfortably spiking body heat. 

2. Francis, the pink and blonde shop boy, explains for glasses to fit properly they ought to reveal the wearer’s brows mostly unobstructed. This is dependent on the proper width of the bridge and the forgiving length of the temple. Here I can think of an implicit joke.   

3. Have I spoken of my distaste for the flagrant practice of showcasing mid-coifed clientele in large storefront windows of hair salons? Like specimens in some sort of wacky performance art meets ghoulish science experiment gone embarrassingly inchoate? It’s true, the sight of someone having their wet hair yanked this way and that, exposing their state of undoneness for all to witness fills me with disgust. Brazen co-optive marketing at the expense of dignity. 

4. Six days after Gerry receives a text apparently mistaking him for another Gerry where he is propositioned to drive to 'Jersey because the texter has "heard it's pumping," I arrive at his doorstep in Clerkenwell. Gerry shows me this mis-targeted text and I conjecture that it may indeed be meant for another Gerry I know who happens to live in the same building in Brooklyn where this Gerry, standing here in front of me, also has a routinely vacant apartment. That other Gerry also lives part time in the building, the other part on Kauai. And he surfs. This Gerry here lives the other part of his time in London and does not. I wonder if the mistaken texter has entered this Gerry's name into his phone mixing the two up based on a shared address. This would explain a lot.

5. Jeremy says free will is the location on our tongue where we taste time. 

6. There are moments that occur to me. The moment I want more yogurt than granola in my bowl. The moment the weather changes and my ankle hurts less than it did. These are little mile markers of advancing age. 

7. I go to the Basquiat show at the Barbican. I see an old friend in two polaroids encased in glass. I stand in line behind two French women bent on listening to the full 22 minutes of outtakes from a Warhol/Basquiat T.V. show. They can feel my looming over them, impatient. I wonder if I look like Trump looming over Clinton in that one debate. I'm not sure I can help how I may look and feel.

8. But I feel like a real New Yorker at a Basquiat show in London.

9. The American in his black t-shirt, black cardigan, stiff jeans and well-worn Stan Smiths has been on his feet for twenty minutes, pacing as he talks on a cell-phone conference call in the powder blue Australian cafe. At the end he says "brilliant" then "lovely" then "cheers" then hangs up and goes straight to the bathroom, leaving his aging golden retriever waiting beneath his table. In the bathroom there is a hidden mirror in a slim cupboard opposite the toilet. I suppose this is in case you'd like to observe yourself going to the bathroom.

10. Antonio texts to see if I'd like to surf together this week.

11. We run into our friend on the sidewalk who is going to the introductory night for a later sex party night. She says she's going to accompany a friend who actually is looking to be accepted to the sex night, but feels insecure going alone. Try-outs for an impending orgy, in other words. Two nights later I ask her about the experience. She says it was certainly odd and she left early but with a certain esteem for the people who could feel so brazen and fulfilled in their desires.

12. People in London walk terribly on sidewalks. All over the place. Higgledy-piggledy.

13. When I hear an English accent I think of violence and intelligence and dry, sometimes annoyingly effete humor.

14. While in London I have two surfing dreams, neither of which contain surfing. In one I am on a playground filled with all sorts of metal monkey bars jutting out in opportune angles. I swing around them all, hopping weightlessly from set to set, spinning and twisting. In the other, my eleven year old son and I are in a grocery store on a cruise ship dancing in a kind of intuitive Bob Fosse way through the aisles, clapping our hands and snapping our fingers.

15. On the flight to London, my seat-back screen breaks, leaving me with no choice but to watch the latest installment of "Planet of the Apes."

16. I meet a Danish-French photographer at a cafe on Portobello Road. We find we have many mutual friends and a copacetic misunderstanding of the mysteries of being 20th Century men in a 21st Century world. I mention surfing to illustrate video communication.

17. While walking in Notting Hill some friends from Brooklyn text and ask me for advice about surfing on Kauai. I refer them to that other Gerry. In four conversations I have with introduced strangers in London surfing comes up as a short-lived topic.

18. I have a seat next to a window on my flight back to New York. I've been on flights where the attendants have asked everyone to close the plastic pull-down shades. This never fails to upset me but I can see why they ask. Keeping the glare off video screens. Allowing people the choice to sleep. But I love the light without exception. I love, at least, the open windows without exception.

19. There are many evenings when my wife asks me to keep the window near my side of the bed open. This can be slightly annoying as it will cause uneven breezes to flit across my face all night.

20. One thing I’d like the one-minute-younger me to remember to say to the one-minute-older me: stop trying so hard to be heard. I wish that one-minute-older me would stick around long enough to remind the one-minute-from-now me of that wisdom.

21. This past week at different moments, both in his apartment, Gerry twice spontaneously adopts a sort of cockeyed old-timey persona and states in a drawl, "You've got two ears and one mouth! Use them proportionately."