Sunday, April 26, 2009

Leary had it right...

As strange as the man was, he had it right. Pseudo-shaman Timothy Leary, prophet at the center of the now decades old LSD centrifuge, once said that surfers were perhaps the most "evolved" of all people groups. We give up accumulation for the sake of "the dance". We forsake cultural self-evaluation and the consequent neuroticism for "the dance". The stage becomes more important than the audience. The improvisational act becomes more relished than the expectation of a scripted life. "The dance", the pure moments experienced while riding on a wave of energy moving through liquid beneath your body, is a consuming presence in the surfer's thoughts.

As it is for a wave it is for a life. The moments spent creating compel us onward. The emergence of a new paradigm is a moving target, but worth pursuing. Doodle becomes sketch becomes painting becomes triptych becomes installation becomes interaction between idea and the viewer. One wave becomes scribble becomes board dimensions becomes draft shape becomes a realized board design strand. Creative acts build upon their own younger brothers' foundational steps. Just as that first wave transforms into that life-long memory of a wave. Just as one board design becomes an access point to another design.

Above, Manuel C. Caro shares a snapshot in the evolution of his surfing and shaping dance. He is a man who relishes the creative act for the full engagement that is required of it and the rewards it brings in like kind. The only description of riding a hull that has ever intrigued me beyond, "that's a cool trip." I was fortunate enough to handle a fine little stubby, fruit of Mr. Caro's hands, and can honestly say that I'm ready to give the shape a go. The dance goes on.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Terry Martin has literally spent as much time holding a Skil 100 in his hands as Griffin has spent breathing. And yet, there is a kinship.

A web of experience links us dynamically. There is the shared excitement of the night-before-the-dawn, the early bird's delight, The moment of real fear when you are a ghost of your dream surfer, peering over the edge of your local break at just-out-of-comfort-zone size. We see it in each others' eyes, glassed over from a glass half-full outlook on life born of a transcendental pursuit. The pedestrian act of the surf check is our weekly parade through the stations of the cross. Our collective memory revolves around saints who you might meet on State Street or on the hills of Oregon. Accessible, assessable.

But really, it is a selfish enterprise. We want to share the love of the experience, but not the wave. A grand argument between theologians has long surrounded the question of the true nature of the human spirit. Are we generous and good? Are we selfish and bad? Yes.

And in the picture above Griffin is listening. And Terry is telling. And so goes the stoke of one surfer to another. Shaper of yesterday and now to shaper of tomorrow. Here is the difference. Here is how surfing and surfboards are different. Mass produced commodities of the pre-pubescent mega consumer be damned. Bring forth the young and the willing to listen, learn, surf, and shape. Griffin, when you shape your 100th look me up. I've got an order for you.

Photo Marsek

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Celestine Aquifer...

On a hill above the southwind beachbreak live a pantheon of surfers. All more adept than me. Or you.

My son and friends walk through a hallway. Windows show syncopated fin flicks, tail slides, and speed runs on either side of the corridor. GG traces a winding line through the hall, gazing through each shrine's window. He observes, questions, places himself amid the scope and scale of the ocean's varied inhabitants.

We lay for a moment on the floor. In front of us and above us is a pane of glass. On one side concrete, petro chemicals, the necessity of land preservation (my son says "Thanks, Mr. President.") On the other is a column of water, stacked with an array of creatures each of their own dignity, wholeness. Our eyes scan the portal. We imagine ourselves as creatures of the sea.

Outside the building I look down at surfers playing in the happy swells. I scan from Cave Cove to Triton Pier. A thousand times I've surfed those waves in my mind's eye as I stood watching them. A thousand times I've slipped the surface that binds me and entered the water below. Today I don't dream of surfing the waves. Today I imagine that I am below the waves, immersed completely in the salty, holy water.

Happy Birthday GG. It was a happy day for me, too.