Go to wavewatch.com for your local surf forecasts
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I went out today, it looked small and managable but there was no one else out. I took about 14 waves on the head before I got outside. I then sat there geting ripped south by the current until i caught my only wave which I crushed. Fast turns, high lines, all power no room for mistake and then a launch off the top like a carnival ride. A good wave. Well worth it.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I picture a cup of coffee in a white porcelain cup while he sits at a rickety table outside of a shop, no view of the beach from where he sits but he can hear the sea birds begging and fighting for scraps and the smell, he notes as he sips his coffee, is something that he has never experienced before it's a combination of an afternoon on-shore breeze and the loose dirt kicked up in the streets. It's the sea and the earth combining in that moment, in a new hemisphere, in a time of silence. Maybe he will walk directly to the beach upon finishing his coffee or maybe he will find Chloe with her camera in hand and they will foot the path together. And upon reaching that final track of dry land before the ocean seperates the two worlds they'll leave the camera still, for this sunset is theirs and theirs only.
But I share none of this with him. I don't want to influence his action and I don't want to impede on my version of his reality so I respond to his e-mail with the following:
I imagine you down the railing from me checking the surf, both with coffee cups clad in our hands, eyes fixed on the horizon thinking thoughts of two separate worlds. Each paddling out at his own speed, each surfing his own way, in his own style, and for his own reasons. Two people existing in the same time and in the same place, seemingly doing the same thing, but in reality, each conquering or capturing or configuring his place in the swell, in the world, and in his mind. And soon enough my friend, you'll have wisdom unmatched to share with me and I'll learn it in the silence of watching a quiet sage, a nomad walking on water like a myth brought to reality by the hands of one who is blessed. We will surf together soon my friend, we will surf together soon.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
“I remember the fall and the coming of winter, the water got cold. It was a time of the west swell. A swell of change – a swell you rode alone.”
These are some of the hollowed words from the 1970’s surf movie, Big Wednesday. Since the first time I saw that movie in the dank basement of Nates Parent’s house, my life has been altered. Friendships have been strengthen and dreams sought out because of the life written and captured in this film, but not until today, February 9, 2007, have the words above rung true or done anything more than to further the plot of the film along. For all these years the words: “a swell you rode alone,” had meant nothing more than one man in the line-up. Existentialism and ones personal place in or outside the lineup were a void to us and moreover to myself.
Today, alone in my car, cup of coffee snug in my hand, fish sung atop my car, I drove down Goldenwest to P.C.H thinking that this day, this session would be no different than the one the day before, or the one from days prior. I Pulled into Bolsa Chica State Beach and walked my coffee out onto the sand, stood there in the wind and watched longboarders struggle to pick off the wind blown peaks. I harbored no thoughts of grandeur toward my forthcoming session, and simply resolved to get wet and call it what it was, me trying to cleanse my mind before a long day at work.
I left Bolsa and pulled into North Dog Beach, cut the engine and leaned upon the cliff top railing. Some lines, some peaks, no sets. I looked further south to where I had surfed yesterday: Cliffs or Dog Beach or South Dog Beach, you decide. Yesterday was my first experience at this peak, and as I joked with a fellow surfer out there, it was nothing to send a postcard back to mom and dad about but it was a good day. A new spot in a way, though it is probably just over a hundred yards north of Goldenwest, I found that it holds the swell better and has a longer line, both right and left. And though it was some 24 hours ago, I can barely for the life of me, remember how I surfed or the details of my session. I know I befriended a surfer in his 40’s. We talked shapes, had some laughs, and more hoots and cackles than anything else as he on his 7 foot “longboard” and I on my super thick fish, caught more waves that the squash tail fellas sitting inside. So looking down the beach, looking back on yesterday, I fired up the car again and drove down to the next parking lot, pulled into the same spot I did yesterday and suited up. I taped my toes, pulled on my booties, stretched the frayed rubber around my frame and then stretched out my arms. I scraped my board and then rubbed on a little wax. I walked down the cliff and then stood there, watching the size come in: three, no, four, no, five deep sets which appeared to be chest high or better. I had made a good decision.
The details of the session would be too numerous to list here and I’d honestly rather tell you of them over a cold Narraganset by a campfire so I’ll just point out a few way marks and leave the rest for our reunion.
I stroked out in what I thought was a lull in the sets but ended up taking four waves directly to the head, cold water flushing through my beard and through the neck of my wetsuit as I pushed under the thick white wash. As I came up laughing after each one, I started to feel that today would be different. I settled right into the middle of the pack and took my first wave, a low chest sized left, not too steep, not too fast, just a nice welcoming wave. I took the drop and then laid into a huge cutback right in front of one of the guys who was kind of eyeing me, but it wasn't a sharp cut back and it wasn’t aggressive, moreover it was fluid, just like a strut of a cut back, all style, all hip movement, right in front of the guy and then off through the white water and back off the wave. I don’t know where it came from, I hadn’t cut back like that since I the last time I longboarded but this time there was about four feet less of fiberglass under my feet. That first wave was all mechanical, I hadn’t thought about it at all, I just popped up and then the waves was over. On the paddle back out I thought about what I wanted to do on the next wave. Granted I had just executed a cut back that would have made the men of the 1950’s proud but I knew I could have done more, so I mapped out my ride before hand. The next wave was backside (first was frontside) and I had decided to cruise the line and gain as much speed as possible instead of the drop and the cut back, so I pumped it and pumped it and then dug my left arm into the water and just pulled the best cutback, back frontside for a second into the white water and then back backside again. When I got back up to the top I shot down the face again and when I dug my nose back into the wash, finishing my wave ::::: dig this, I had the Beatles "Getting Better" in my head . Out of no where the song just came to me and I started laughing. "It's getting better all the time."
The pop was there, the drop was there, the pump was there but furthermore the stoke was there and I was cognizant of it all. Everything; the burn in my arms, the salt on my face, the wind seen only in the spray, it was a transcendent moment in my life that I had complete control over. And I was alone. Surfers to my left and surfers to my right but not a single person with a name. It wasn’t a lonesome solitude, like I’ve felt so many times before, but rather it was full, like I had learned how to fill my void with myself, or better yet had grown whole again, completed my being. While still in the water I knew that the session was going to end well, it’s that feeling of knowing you’re going to win. The feeling completely void of arrogance and full of well deserved confidence. This wasn’t 15 foot faces, and it wasn’t the biggest or hardest I’ve ever surfed but in a way it was: I had finally faced myself; my inhabitations, my solitary fears, my weaknesses, and my self inflicted void of confidence. I don’t know how many years I had been hiding and darting in-between these flaws of shortcomings and excuses but today, today I surfed them out.
The water was cold, the swell came from the West, I surfed it, and it made all the difference that I went at it alone.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
This has sat with me for the past week or so and left me to contemplate the colloquialisms that I use on a daily basis and further more, the ones that I use within this forum to describe what is beautiful to me and to describe what moves my soul, what keeps me up at night and gets me out of bed in the morning (and for those who know me, I use the term "morning" loosely, very loosely). Both Dannimal and Kaveman have served as creative sounding boards for me for as long as I can remember and it has taken until now, until Dannimal's non-direct slander of this voice the masses of us use to describe our time in the ocean. Nor him or his brother are free from these descriptions but rather they have stepped back once further and taken stock of what it means to use fresh wordage in comparison to the habitual terminology that is intertwined into the surf culture; both in the water and in the corporate advertising office.
While driving back from Orange, which is in-land, this morning, I had my foot pressed about 80 miles per hour to the floor for I wanted to check the surf. Knowing that we were due for some swell I could think of nothing more than a session before work. Then I could think of nothing more than Dannimal's words. They sat and festered as I tic-taced through semi's and suburbans while racing to Huntington. Then it hit me. The guilt, the half shame, the personal let down of so easily using this cliched vernacular to describe my desire. I'm a writer, I have been published on both sides of this Country and some places in the middle as well, I have given reading in all four corners of this Homestead, and have a 30 page book anthologized in the sweaty catacombs of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and yet I use a formula un to my own.
Can I ever break from this? Do I really want to abandon it all? An entire language which I've spent the better half of my life trying to master all thrown away on two e-mails? Over head, double point break, outer reef, dredged rouge wave, throwing a translucent lip giving way to a green room with not a drop of water out of place. An epic session of lefts and rights, floaters and just getting wicked slotted, stalling and crouching to duck under the pitching peak. Brah.
Sometimes it reads like a hyped up, half drunk monkey who has a smouldering cigar clutched in this teeth, is writing the rags and web-sites I read everyday, but I understand this madness. Maybe I've prescribed to the stereotype I search to defy, or maybe this isn't as black and white as I would make it out to be here in this post. In baseball one would never refer to the pitch as "throwing it down field" or in throwing from one player to the next it is not labeled as "passing"
as it is in football but rather simply "throwing."
In either case, my dear reader, I'm going to leave you to throw my stick in my car, head down to the beach, wax it up, and go stroke out into the breakers and try and catch a line before I have to go to work and articulate how much it pains me to stand up straight and bow at the same time. And while I'm gone please read the aforementioned e-mail I have posted below. Kaveman is a warrior, a writer, a foul-weather friend and a man of our generation who forges his own artistic way.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Just patched up my wetsuit, carpet thread and a hooked mattress needle that looks like something out of the basement in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Drank some coffee on my porch, listened to the Stones, talked with Taylor, sowed up my suit, turned her inside out to really dry her and hopefully there will be some surf in the next few days. My booties are sitting in the corner of my shower and I spray them with Febreze to mask the funk. They stink so bad I don't even want to touch them, I guess that's what happens when you leave booties in your trunk for 11 months and then use them for 2 weeks in a row. God do they stink.
Monday, February 5, 2007
I broke my Newport streak today by surfing 17th street in Huntington Beach, the spot which I wrote about yesterday. The swell was coming in harder and the tide was weening off high so the conditions were much more favorable and from the small cliff I could see lefts and rights in two or three of the six or seven wave sets. I enjoy surfing in this area, from Dog Beach south down to 14th street, for several reasons. First, it is an expansive area with many different sand bars so over crowding is rarely a problem, a few guys on each peak on a crowded day. And the peaks, they shift 15 yards one way and then back the other on what seems to be every other set, so you can find yourself surfing a backside wave one set and then a frontside wave the next set and never really have to anything more than paddle straight back out from where your last ride dumped you off. And finally and maybe most importantly, is the vibe. It's a vibe of innovation. The wave here is big and slow and unless you're surfing a bit more to the north at Cliffs, your 6'3" square tail just ain't gonna be enough foam for you to catch these waves, so what you have instead is an assortment of fish, thrusters, hybrids, eggs and longboards. Many days I have surfed here and watched surfers flip their boards over to show each other their new fin set ups, to compare the depth of insets between swallow tails or to show how they trimmed the rocker off their latest project design. In these sets lies creation and innovation and some damn good surfing without the attitude of the Pier or the lower jetties in Newport.
To me it's always pleasing to surf here and today was no exception. I traded front and back sides for a while and then mainly went backside looking to pull into a fast line but kept finding myself careening off the top and pointing my stub nose back down in what is one of my favorite things in surfing, the backside re-entry. I think I draw such favor from this because for the first part of the ride, you have your back to the wave, you see what is ahead of you but, and at least to me, it's like you kind of don't know what's right next to you. That is until you hit the lip and point that girl shore side. For that second that feels like an entire weekend you're poised at the top of the world and you're set for a drop-in completely unlike the one you executed to catch the wave in the first place. Though in your mind that moment is frozen, the reality is that there's a wall of white water rushing toward you and a now crumbling lip behind you and it's decision time: re-enter at an angled pitch and continue pumping down the line or drop straight down, gain as much speed as possible and see if you can't flick that piece of foam and fiberglass back up there to do it again. I'll let you decide...
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Neither of us ended up going out at 17th Street, I opted not to because I knew that the swell wasn't powerful enough, the tide was mid-way on the out and unless you had around 9 feet of fiberglass under your toes, you would have just floundered on these deceivingly slow rollers that don't break until they hit the sand bar shelf just off the shore line. I would hazard to guess that none of these factors were a part of his decision but rather the factors that his girlfriend was hanging on his arm and Jack's Surfshop down on Main Street was probably having a sale, drove him away from the water.
I ended up back at 56th Street just out of habit I guess at this point. I think I like surfing there because it reminds me of surfing Rockaway in Queens, NY. Rockaway, much like Newport, CA, consists of many jetties lined some 50 yards apart and when the surf is just right the lefts that come off the tip of the jetty are long and very wallish, not much close out on the right day, just nice rides, that is if you can win position with the locals, the die-hards of winter having their day in the summer sun. I look back fondly on my sessions at Rockaway and Long Island. Dan and myself away from the madness of the city and enjoying something similar to what we would have been doing if we were back in RI. Sitting right in the pocket next to the jetty, in better position than the locals, i would flick my 9 foot longboard on a leftward angle and stroke into a quick drop and a long shoulder. Wait a second and then cross over, cross over and though there's no lip to shoot, I'm in a cheater stance, crouched and trying to position my situation just a little higher so i can throw a few toes off the front. This was how I could assimilate with the New Yorkers, the Rockawayers, most of the hard core locals had a nice quiver of boards and always surfed the appropriate boards on the appropriate days so when it was a longboard day they were right next to me laughing and hooting at the cross overs and cut backs. If you show respect you gain respect. I'll leave it at that for the time being.
But today's session was not unlike the others of late, small surf, uncrowded line-up, sun darting in and out of the clouds, me singing and laughing to myself while no one notices. The only real highlight of the session was one right hander I slid into near the end of my session. It was kind of a fluke of a wave, bigger than the rest of the day, and i happened to be in the right spot at the right time (I'm talking like this was some 15 footer with a hollow 6 foot tube lined with hula dancers when in reality it was probably nothing more than chest high). I dropped back side and to my surprise i was not met with a fast forming wall of closeout white water as the case has been all week, but rather a slightly bending shoulder. For a second, I thought back to last Spring while surfing Trestles habitually and the long, rights just lending themselves to cutback after cutback. So I pump my fish, once and then again, very quickly down the line and let her find the lip on her own with her own speed. Cresting off the top, I dug my left arm into the water as a sort of pivot and whipped my board back toward the beach and then straight back into the direction from where I had come and in a fluid moment pushed the tail into the fast approaching white water and rode the rest of the close out toward the beach. It was the sort of wave that you finish with on a day like today but i was greedy and wanted another one. Nothing much more would come but I was left the reminder that yes, I could surf, and that damn it felt good to put together a line.
Friday, February 2, 2007
This is me: Garrett Seiple. San Celmente, CA: Winter 2005/2006
(Copyright Chloe Lee 2006)
Taylor Rock. Ala Moana Bowls, HI: Summer 2006
(Copyright Jamie Ballenger: Hawaiianwatershots.com, 2006)
Kevin Lang. Sachuest Beach, RI: Summer 2006
(Copyright Chris Lang 2006)
Landon "Lando" Merrill. Sachuest Beach, RI: Summer 2006
(Copyright Chris Lang 2006)
Chris "Daddy Warbucks" Lang. Sachuest Beach, RI: Summer 2006
(Copyright Chris Lang 2006)
Thursday, February 1, 2007
County Board of Health recommends avoiding ocean contact
up to 72hrs after significant rainfall.
This is nothing new to me but it still makes me hang my head. We've fucked up so much that we can't go into the water after it rains, something has to give. I'll post it as a reminder as to who is trying to help.
(Image and Water Safety report are copyrighted to Surfline.com 2007)
The next few waves were a literal wash of pain coming from my foot and my out of shape arms and stomach not syncing up properly thus resulting in a poor pop up, which would subsequently result in me dragging my toe, again and again. Through the cont. pain and the 50 degree water the pain in my foot seemed to dull itself out and left to me concentrate on my pop up. Every time I went to pop it seems as if there was a big watery hand wrapped around my feet that would hold me back just enough to delay my pop and i would then go racing down the face of the wave with both of my feet over the dual skegs of my board. This lasted for a little while but i broke the mental block and remembered what Nate had told me one when i was in the position before: "When you pop up make an A-Frame with your body. Don't let your hands go from the rails until your feet are planted, and for a second your body will form an A-Frame and then only after your feet are planted can you let your hands go." Obviously this wouldn't work in all situations but the words have always helped me break my mental blocks of being out of shape, or cold, or frustrated or just downright discourage from not performing as well as I know I can perform. So I took his words, nailed the frame and skirted left around some white water, slid across the shoulder of the the small dying wave and pointed the nose of my girl back to the horizon to return back to peak to find another one. A smile had come across my cold, wind and sun reddened face.
Alone on the south side of the 56th street Jetty in Newport, Cali. I tried to block out all that drove me to question who I am. When that smile finally came across my face is around when those familiar thoughts and feelings came about. The shit that drove me to surf today, the shit that drove me to find my escape. It's work, it's women; it's family, it's loneliness; it's success, it's flailing; it's moving, it's being static: it's the abundance of one and the lack of the other. Today I combat these feelings by singing out loud to myself. I alternate between random Bob Marley songs and Billy Joel's "Downeaster Alexia," the ballad of a New England commercial fisherman's plight. And it works to an extent, I begin to surf better and even manage to try and throw my fins and tail off the top of a waist high wave, but would stall from lack of speed and have my face find the water with a relative quickness.
Some 25 yards south of me there were two teenagers, thankfully out of earshot, and on the beach a couple sat huddled together watching the three of us for about 35 minutes. When I left the water there was a woman in her early 30's standing alone of the jetty and we exchanged eye contact for several steps and then I composed this exchange in my head:
I started the exchange with what i thought to be her thoughts:
"Why do you surf alone?"
"Have you ever walked a beach so barren that when you turned back to where it was you called home that the only footprints were those you had left on your way out?"
"No, I've never seen such a beach with no one else on it."
"Well that's how I feel when I surf alone. Like I am the only person on that beach, just walking back and forth over the footsteps, happy in knowing that they are mine and that they were created out of respect and love."
It ended there for i was back upon my car and now under the clock to get to work. Work, the spirit killer, wiping the asses of the rich so i can stay middle class in both monetary aspects and as well as respect. These people think that their gold American Express cards allow them to disrespect you at free will. For the first few hours I'm still stoked, I'm helpful and fast with my job, but by the end of the night I have no smile left anywhere in my being and I am ready to drink it all away again. I have a glass of wine with dinner as I sit at a table on the floor. I close my eyes, and try and get back there, I try and leave the suit and tie and return back to the ripped wetsuit and the booties, who I really am. It doesn't work, and I feel as if I have failed myself and my inspiration from earlier in the day.
Alone in my apartment I crave to go to the kitchen for a glass of scotch or to the store for some beer or to the bar for a Manhattan and it's driving me crazy. Dan has sent me an e-mail telling me he's proud of me but saddened that I'm where I am. He suggests tea over booze and though I know he is right and it is what I would eventually do later in the evening I just wanted to yell at him for making me make the right decision, the one you never want to make. And I am alone tonight, no roommate, no lady caller, both had broken their word. Not that it matters, and not that this is the first time but I had wanted company this evening. I'm almost at the point of chewing my teeth and it seems like there is no alternative than getting 14 sheets to the wind in record time just to pass out for i can not sleep anymore. I find 4 in the morning far too often whether it be from excessive drinking or just pure insomnia. Though this is not like Dan's insomnia where there is no sleep, this is the secondary version, where there is no sleep at night but through the day. This fears me tonight, I want to sleep, I want to wake up before noon, I want to surf again tomorrow. I want to not feel chained to the bottle. So I walk to the kitchen, make a huge pan of pop-corn, turn the kettle on and pull out some herbal tea. I walk back to my bedroom with these things and then head to my bathroom and swallow two sleeping pills. One vice for another I guess but I'll go with cliche of the lesser of two evils at this point. I watch Boondock Saints, drink my tea, eat my pop-corn and wake up at 9 in the morning. Still alive and not craving insanity.
I’m four days sober now and every time I twist my neck or back the room slows to catch up with my sight, as if my spine is a wet towel and I’m wringing out all the soaked up booze. The days before I have surfed and gone to the gym to work out, have eaten fruit, chicken and salads, have drank tea and found bed early. But this morning is like the final exhaustion of the toxins and my body is telling me not to force it but rather rest and let the recovery run it’s own course. Still my mind says fuck to my body and I want to go with what my mind says but I recall that that is how I got here in the first place, by letting my mind win while my body suffers. My selfish little gray mass puts me at more odds than it produces solace. Though in the long-run I always go with what it says, so I cut the bullshit of debating and pack my car: Surfboard, wax, wetsuit, rash guard, booties, water, what’s left of my coffee and my tired six foot, three inch frame and I set off to find the awake of the cold pacific on my bearded face. I go to find the solace never found within my minds own eye.And tonight while I lie in a fantasy, whether alone or with the company of a very real manifestation of a dream, I will be no where near the flesh upon my bones or wrapped around my being. I will be cold and happy, for I will still be sitting there waiting for Catalina to appear through a break in the clouds or from the sunset. Though I may return to answer a question, be it from my bedmate or my insanity, I will not be torn from the brine of my escape and when either asks why I seem distant: I will smile as my response and remember why I moved here in the first place.