Wed, 23 Jul 1997
I could not have picked a prettier day to drive from SF to Santa Cruz
along Hwy 1. The only bummer was the cigar steward at my hotel was in a
meeting when I checked out and I couldn't buy any decent stogies for the
Driving straight West on Geary I hit the coast just as the sun began to
burn through the morning haze. I headed South on 1 and struggled to both
drive and watch the surf at the same time. Something was happening out
there, but I wasn't sure it was a legitimate swell. I took my time
checking a few places like Pacifica to see if I could catch some of
those nekkid surfers flashing their goodies, but all I saw was a whole
lot of people ripping up some adequate surf. During the trip I should
have been arrested for the number of times I veered off the road to
check a spot. I was like a kid in a donut shop.
On the way to SC I was very fortunate to be able to stop and visit Bill
Morris. If there's a nicer more hospitable guy on this group I'd like to
know who it is. Bill was very gracious to take time out of his day to
speak with me and give me a tour of the breaks in Half Moon Bay, which
ended in a cliff top panoramic view of the then quiet Mavericks. Though
my knee was sore, I was determined to see the place from the best
viewing location which is up the hill by the radar station. Heck of a
climb. Though it was not breaking the spectacle of seeing the legendary
spot from above sent chills down my spine. Bill's stories of epic swells
and the brave locals who pioneered the spot made me marvel at the
entirely other level big wave riders operate on...something most of us
cannot even imagine.
After lunch I thanked Bill and hit the road for a glorious, sun drenched
run down the coast highway. There were at least a half dozen spots
breaking with no one out. Doesn't anyone surf on Thursday afternoons
anymore!? Later in the day I carefully checked as many breaks as I
could from Davenport all the way to Manresa State Beach. Several were
showing a weak South swell but side and onshore winds were mushing them
up. Recognizing that there may be some potential to surf over the next
few days, I pickup up some gear at Freeline Surfshop and recognized one
of the women behind the counter as one featured in Surfer Magazine's
profile of women who surf in Santa Cruz. Very friendly.
Though I did not go out there the surf and talent at Steamers Lane
impressed me the most, especially Friday afternoon when it really
started to go off. But what also horrified me were the number of total
rookies who caused things to get real scary (and ugly) at Steamers. The
food chain system of wave riding is really in effect there with the most
assertive personalities copping the good waves. I was equally surprised
by the number of very good women who surfed there, but ladies....the
Language!!!!! My my my, do your mothers know you speak like that? The
highlight of the afternoon was watching what I believe was the longest
cheater five I've ever seen, starting at 1st peak and going well beyond
the stairs... it just kept going and going and......
The purpose of my trip to SC was to visit my cousin and his family. Some
of you may remember when I posted last year about the skunking I
suffered at Cowells the day I took my nephews there to bodyboard. If you
do then you also remember the big South that showed up the day I left.
I promised the boys last year I would return (like MacArthur) to attempt
to take them surfing again. This was greatly assisted by two of our own,
Steve Hull (Da Hulk) and Gioni Pasquinelli, both of whom were very kind
to send me information about a longboard contest Steve was organizing
for the weekend at Manresa State Beach. When I got to my cousin's house
and announced to the boys not only would we be able to surf, but to
witness a surfing contest, well the reaction was overwhelming:
"Uncle Foonie, are you lying to us like you did last year?"
"No boys, Uncle Foonie wouldn't do that." as I crossed my fingers.
"Uh huh, Daddy said that if we couldn't surf this year we shouldn't
settle for some crumby t-shirts and that we should ask you to buy us
some wetsuits and stuff."
"Well I'm not surprised your Daddy would try to avoid buying surfing
equipment for you especially if he thinks you can guilt me into it." I
leered at my cousin who looked very uncomfortable.
"Here's the deal boys, if you don't get to surf, I'll buy you that gear,
but if you do then your Daddy not only gets to buy it, but he also gets
to buy me a box of expensive cigars."
Knowing a win/win situation when they saw it the boys exploded in joyful
yells, "That's a deal Uncle Foonie!!" My cousin looked dubious,
suspicious I knew something he didn't. I did.
Taking three little boys (we borrowed a spare from a neighbor) to the
beach is like launching a new nation....it can't be rushed and it takes
forever. Though I was awakened at dawn by 2 boys screaming "WE'RE GOING
SURFING!!!!", it wasn't until 9:30 when we were able to finally hit the
road with all the appropriate beach stuff and gear... the boys needed a
lot of stuff to make their beach trip successful.
At 9:45 am we were heading South on Hwy 1 past Capitola. The noise of
three boys in a full on surf frenzy from the back of the car was
incredible. The car stereo tuned to KPIG (107 oink 5) was pumping out
the hypnotizing sound of Mumbo Gumbo, a zydecoesque band whose songs and
drum patterns would be implanted in my brain for the rest of the
weekend. I was fairly confident we would get to ride based on my
surfcheck of the previous day and the mornings surf report, which
predicted 3-4 foot waves with an occasional headhigh set. When we got to
the beach at Manresa I was both surprised and delighted. It actually was
better than I thought it would be....glassy, long lines about waist to
chest. We unloaded a ton of gear and walked the half mile down the beach
to where the surf contest was. There I met Steve Hull, organizer,
alt.surfer, and generally nice guy. We watched the current heat of good
longboarders do their thing in some nice longboarding waves. The boys
went into a panic when someone mentioned the waves might decrease as the
tide came in so we trudged back up the beach to catch some of our own.
I paddled out into a group of 15 longboarders, me being the only
bodyboarder. I lurked inside the group picking off anything they didn't
jump on. I was regularly buzzed by a young lady who, though an adequate
rider, had an attitude a mile wide. Every time I paddled near her she
teed off on me warning me to stay away from her. So I judiciously rode
my waves and steered clear of her when she took off. As fate would have
it she would be the one paddling out when I caught a bigger than average
wall that was moving in her direction. I was both sizing up the wave
and watching her kneepaddle out like a she-bat from hell. It was obvious
she was not going to take any evasive action to avoid me in the interest
of getting through the wave before it broke. I'm not sure she was aiming
at me but soon I had to decide what it was going to be...a great wave or
run over my first female longboarder. With about 8 feet to go,
screaming high in the fast moving and steep wall I just about herniated
myself snapping a neat 180 turn to avoid her. She made it through the
wave dry headed and I was left to soup it in hoping the wave would
reform on the inside.
As I paddled out I expected no comment, hoping she would do the same
courtesy for me sometime. I was surprised when she paddled over and
said, "Nice cutback, some guys would have tried to run me over for
getting in the way." I smiled and said, "I don't run over people unless
I know them." She considered this then smiled, "I guess I'm glad you
don't know me." I nodded and paddled away thinking, "Yeah, but now I
do." Later, totally unexpectedly she gave me a wave she could easily
have made. It was a gooder too.
As I tired I let myself drift down the beach toward the longboard
contest. I got out and went up the beach to find Steve again. By chance
I bumped into Gioni and started up a very friendly conversation. Soon we
were joined by Steve. As I stood between these two big and friendly men
I was struck by the joy I felt a that very moment. Here was a great day
of surf, meeting two guys who had made me feel most welcome on the Left
Coast, and another great memory to save and cherish. It occurred to me
that if I get nothing more from contributing to this newsgroup than the
chance to correspond with and meet people like Bill, Steve and Gioni
then I will be totally satisfied with my adventure in cyberspace.
Herein lies, I believe, the true power of the medium... a chance to meet
and discuss ideas, face to face or on the group, with all types of
surfers. It is truly a good feeling.
During my time there I wallowed in Santa Cruz. I just absorbed it into
every pore. Believe me I will come back. That night my cousin and I
"did" Santa Cruz like a couple of sailors on a 24 hour pass...Drinks at
the Palomar Inn, dinner at Coasta Brava, coffee at the Cooper St. Cafe,
and some big, stinky, Nicaraguan cigars from the cigar shop. My cousin
didn't even blink at the cost of a box ($180), judging the day at the
beach with his boys to be one of the most fun he'd had in years. "Money
well spent," he said. Later we cruised the Catalyst, Blue Lagoon and
Moe's Alley finishing up with ice cream from Marianne's and a box of
fresh ones from Ferrell's Donut House...God what a day. I LOVE Santa
Cruz. If I missed anything, please any and all suggestions for next
years trip will be gratefully appreciated.
Now about that Route 17 down to San Jose. What the hell kind of fucking
road is this!!!! Does the California Highway Administration know what kind
of an hellish engineering nightmare this is??? The government should
declare that thing it's very own log flume ride to HELL.
Thu, 24 Jul 1997
By chance I caught this documentary about surfing last night on PBS. I
was very skeptical when it started then I noticed many of the references
and pictures of surfing history from books I own. As the program
progressed I was impressed by the interviews with legendary and current
surfing stars. Finally, I was intrigued by discussion of real surfing
issues like how representative the pro surfing world is of real surfing.
The writing, though a bit puffy did show that the authors knew their
subject, it's just that the piece had to appeal to a mostly uninformed
audience. At the end of the program they pitched copies of the film for
purchase. For those who have friends or relatives who are not big
surfing fans, I'd get a copy and pass it around.
A bit of trivia I didn't know was the speculation that the reason Bob
Simmons invented the hollow surfboard was because he was physically
handicapped by an injury from a bicycle accident. He couldn't handle the
100 lb boards of the day and worked to invent a much lighter more
manageable board. Also I didn't know he drowned at Windensea.
Fri, 25 Jul 1997
In the summer, which is high season at my homebreak, I have a Love-Hate
relationship with the beach:
- I love having a vacation home at the beach and being able to go there
whenever I want.
- I hate having to leave it and go home to work, especially when the surf
- On a holiday weekend I love the 300,000 people who show up to vacation;
next to surfing people watching is my favorite beach activity.
- I hate when 22 of them from Baltimore (pronounced "Ball Mur") show up
at my beach, sit right next to me and proceed to get shitfaced drunk
(and you should see the Kids!!)
- I love it when a Tropical Storm or Hurricane swell makes the conditions
at my beach so good I feel compelled to keep going back in for more
- I hate after several sessions in a row I'm so sore and tired I ignore
waves I would give a major vital organ to have on other days.
- I love it when the lifeguards shoo the stand-up surfers out of the water
at 10 am.
- I hate it when, despite all their disrespect for bodyboarders, many of
them are right back in the line-up riding bodyboards (many surfing better
then when they stood up).
- I love it that many surfers I see are young women who are serious about
- I hate it when one of these is a young mommy who not only has enough
skill to defer to no one in the line-up, but enough attitude to snake me
when she thinks I don't have what it takes to make a section, grrrrrrrr.
- I love it when black surfers at our beach get along so well with the
white surfers that even when there's an argument over a wave, it never
deteriorates into a racial thing.
- I hate when I think that this color-blindness does not cross over into
much of society.
- I love as an adult, I can choose to smoke a cigar and drink a beer at
the beach - one of life's great pleasures.
- I hate the fact that so many young people, especially young women, seem
to have taken up smoking and abuse alcohol. I hope I am not setting a
- I love to listen to my favorite jazz tapes on my walkman at the beach.
- I hate the fact that even though I am using earphones, some asshole has
set up a huge boombox nearby and is blasting almost incomprehensible
RapCrap music, so loud I can hear it over my own music.
- I love the fact that the jerk with the boombox has not checked the
hightide mark and has set up his box below the line, so as the tide
comes in eventually it soaks the boombox and the jerk is too zoned from
drinking to realize it until too late.
- I hate the fact that the tide has driven the boombox jerk up the beach
even closer to where I have placed my own chair -exactly on the hightide
- I love the fact that the beach is the quintessential place for families
with kids to vacation.
- I hate the fact that many parents seem to check their brains at the
dune and set a very bad example for kids, drinking too much, swearing,
acting stupid or foolish in the water and leaving litter all over the
- I love the fresh seafood we buy at a nearby seafood market.
- I hate the fact that now I am not satisfied with how most seafood is
prepared at restaurants.
- I love when two guys, older than me, (probably in their late 50s)
showed up at my beach in an old Jeep Wagoneer with two classic
longboards stuffed inside. I really loved it when I tossed one of them
some wax and he said, "Thanks sonny boy."
- I hated it when they both went out and gave the rest of the beach a
real clinic on wave selection and stylin, and I realized that at my
best, I was never as good as these guys are now.
- I love all the different shapes of female bodies that are decorated
with all manner of lovely bikinis and the fact my wife lets me look all
- I hate the fact.......you know I just can't find anything to hate about
- I love the fact that some young man who was missing his right arm up to
about the elbow, could still take a bodyboard and fins, and go out on a
good day to charge waves with the best of them.
- I hate the fact that some of the surfers figured the guy didn't have
what it took to handle good waves and routinely snaked him.
- I love my new green and black Quiksilver boardshorts.
- I hate the fact that I saw the same shorts on a big, fat guy from
Philly, who was so hairy it looked like he was wearing a fur shirt under
his too small hot pink Tank Top, and who wore black socks and sandals.
- I love to see how excited little kids get when they get near the ocean
screaming, yelling, shrieking, laughing and twilling around in circles.
- I hate the fact that sometimes I find all this noise very annoying.
- I love to sit on top of the box at our beach that holds the handicapped
beach/wheelchair to check the surf.
- I hate the idea that it may not be too many years in the future that
the chair could be the only way Mrs.Foon can get me down to the beach.
When that happens I've instructed her to take me down on my beloved
sandbar at lowtide, lock the wheels and walk away. Surf Free or Die.
- I love when I'm sitting out in the lineup and I see, a very attractive
woman who tries to enter the surf but a particularly powerful wave pulls
her not securely attached bikini top down to her waist, exposing her
lovely and cute pink nippled charms to every guy sitting out in the
lineup with me.
- I hate when that woman is Mrs.Foon (True story)
- I love when I see a middle-age guy line up a perfect 5 foot set wave
and as he pulls into the tube the lip of the wave breaking on his back
is so powerful it peels his loosefitting boardshorts down to expose a
huge expanse of alabaster white ass.
- I hate when that middle-aged guy is me (Another true story).
Danny we hardly knew Ye
July 28 1997
At a nondescript government office building on a Friday afternoon in
suburban Washington, the hallways and offices are deceptively quiet due
to the large number of people who are off on vacation. In one office a
Division Chief talks with a high-paid consultant about new and inventive
ways to have computers further confuse and terrorize his staff of
overworked employees. Off in the distance a phone rings and a series of
strange hoots and yips can be heard.
Within seconds a blur of motion rockets down the hallway as the words
"Seeya Boss!" can barely be heard over what sounds like a ricocheting
bullet and the rustle of papers that are left floating around by the
force of the moving air.
The consultant looks at the Division Chief and says, "What the hell was
The Division quietly looks up and replies, "Surfs up."
I'd been checking the progress of TS Danny, a surprise visitor to the
Right Coast who'd taken an inland route to get here. Reports off Va
Beach told of chest high but disorganize surf on Thursday. My homebreak
started making noise Thursday night.
While at work Friday I got two very distinct messages, one from a
Delmarva Peninsula surfrelated mailing list which said simply "GO NOW!!"
And a phone call from my homeboy, "Tank" down at the beach: "Foonboy?
You'd better get your sorry ass down here bro. The winds are offshore
and Danny is kicking sets in chest to head. Tides going out this
afternoon and the evening session is shaping up to be schweeeeeet! The
tourists are thick as flies but I just saw some potatohead bodyboarder
from Boise get housed for 5 SECONDS! If you don't believe me, here's
Jake (the coolest surf dog) to give you the real skinny. Here boy, tell
Foon what the surf's like - Wooofff!"
Though Tank's reports are given to some exaggeration at times, Jake's
are not. His sloppy, saliva-enhanced bark told me he was jonesing to hit
the surf himself, chasing frisbees or stray bodyboards. Jake has never
lied to me.
So I'll skip the drill which you've all heard before. Yes I called
Mrs.Foon and yes we left work like a bat outta hell and yes she outran
two Maryland State Troopers using special shortcuts only she knows about
and yes we vaulted a half open draw bridge at 90mph making our trip to
the beach seem like a chase scene out of "the Dukes of Hazzard".
We got to the beach in time for a fine evening session and for once I
was glad to bag work, fight traffic and brave the tourists to ride my
Saturday: with the tide low at 7:00 am it brought remarkably good
bodyboarding waves to the homebreak. Danny's effect could still be felt
with wellspaced and powerful chest high waves pounding the sandbars to
a pulp. Longboarders were completely out of it, shortboarders struggled
but failed to master the fast round cylinders. Only the bodyboard crew
had what it took to fit into the oil drum round pockets that raced in as
the last gasp of Danny. I got my share and DAMN!!! when was the last
time you got sucked over the falls on a fourfoot wave that slapped you
silly. The size/power ratio was deceptive.
By late morning and my bones tired from a very satisfying session, the
tide came in and the wind shifted to the South, and the whole thing
deteriorated into a massive mush session with a zillion boogie toy
riders in the lineup. All rules of right of way and etiquette were
suspended. I enjoyed the fact that my aggressive riding cleared a 75
foot space along my sandbar where swimmers and boogie riders hesitated
to roam for fear of encountering that crazy dude with the Black
Bodyboard and white hat. It's easy to mark your turf with fear.
Foon to the rescue:
It is with some small pride I can report I rescued a couple of kids from
a fast moving rip. As the tide started to come in, every significant set
would pour more water over the sand bars. The water would seek to return
to the ocean by the easiest route and this developed temporary but fast
moving and powerful rips at low spots in the sandbars - like fast little
rivers flowing out to the ocean. Coincidentally one of these rips formed
right next to my favorite bar and I watched it gather strength. Two
little kids on boogie toys were in waist deep water one minute with
their mom. In exactly 15 seconds they were swept out by the rip right
passed me 150 feet offshore. They weren't 35 feet away from me when I
heard their mother go ballistic. The kids were only about 5 and 7 years
old and were very spooked. Though mom was shrieking the guards didn't
seem to hear her. I paddled quickly over to the kids and told them they
were caught in a riptide and that we had to paddle to the side to go
back in. They were too small and scared to comprehend this, all they
knew is they were way out in the ocean in water way over their heads.
I said everything would be ok and told them each to hang onto to one of
my fins and that we were going to play tugboat. I was going to tow them
in. By this time the guards were standing up on their stands just
getting wind of what was going on. I checked the outside to make sure we
wouldn't get caught by a sneaker and felt both whimpering kids latch
onto my fins. I then armpaddled just 30 feet to the side of the rip and
angled in toward the beach. By time I got us back to chesthigh water one
of the guards was there with a float. He grabbed one and I grabbed one
and we walked them both in to the hysterical mom. The guard was thankful
I'd seen them and claimed he couldn't be sure we weren't just some
bodyboarders out in the break. The mom was effusive in her thanks and it
made me feel very good. In 10 minutes the rip was gone and the beach
returned to normal.
Around noon a woman and her family came and sat down near us on the
beach. In her arms she carried a young girl about 8 years old whose legs
hung limp and lifeless from her body. The withered legs were covered in
some kind of white fabric leggings and were no thicker than my wrist.
The woman plunked the girl down on the sand and from that moment all
afternoon never touched here again to help her move around. This kid was
amazing with arms and shoulders like a little gymnast, her body a
perfect V. Whenever she wanted to get in the water she would asshop her
way down to the shore with her arms pushing her worthless legs in front
of her. In the water she would swim around like an eel dragging her legs
behind her. To leave the water she would simply ride a wave in then ass
hop her way up the beach. During the time I watched her she boogie
boarded, raft rided, played tag with some other kids, threw a frisbee
out in the water and played keep away with some boys. In the water no
one could catch her! And even on the sand she was so fast moving around,
she caught the boy who was it twice!!! Late in the afternoon the woman
announced the had to leave. The little girl looked very unhappy sensing
her time of fun was over. She hopped her way up the sand and almost
unwillingly allowed her mother to pick her up for the walk to the car.
The little girl laid her head on her mom's shoulder and quietly began to
cry. As they slowly walked away I lost it too. But I have no doubt this
little kid is going to have a great life.
During the waveriding wars that occur daily at our beach when 1000s of
tourists rent boards and surf, occasionally there are a few who get in
my way (like every 10 seconds)
On this day a big (6'5" 240) stoooopit guy from Joisey was straight
riding waves and was generally making a nuisance of himself. On one
particularly good wave I rocketed by him and nudged him out of the wave
he'd snaked me on. When I turned around "Godzilla" was thrashing my way
offering to tear me a new butthole. Of course he couldn't catch me since
I had fins and he spent a good 10 minutes chasing me around. Everytime
he'd get near, I'd take off on a wave and sweep by him laughing out
loud. Having to avoid this thug was getting old so I offered to meet him
up on the beach to discuss it. With his girlfriend and buddies gathering
around "Tony" (what a surprise) was looking to get into it with someone
he could easily stomp (me).
Screaming and swearing at me for being a jerk, Tony came real close to
throwing a punch when I did not acquiesce to his demand for an apology.
simply said, "Look my friend, you simply got in my way and I moved you,
now your pissed. Shit happens pal, and now you want to take it out on
me. Just be certain that if you so much as lay a finger on me, I am
going to drop to this sand like a house of cards and play dead. I assure
you dozens of cellphones at this beach right now are going to be dialing
911 and you, my friend, are going to be in a world of trouble." I could
say this with some impunity, mainly because my own backup muscle, Tank,
was standing in the crowd trying not to laugh out loud and sort of mock
motioning dialing 911 on his own cellphone.
Tony apparently woke up and saw the logic of my argument and simply
blew me off telling me to "Stay outta my way, you jerk" "Likewise, I
shot back." And the rest of the afternoon was spent blissfully cutting
up the mob. Danny was not all we had hoped, but it did salvage what
would have been a deadly boring weekend at the beach.
Shark Week -Regurgitated
Wed, 06 Aug 1997
I missed most of the first Shark Week last year so I'm not sure if what
PBS or Discovery or whoever is offering this week is original
broadcasting or reruns. In the two nights I've spent watching the Jaws
Wannabes barely a segment goes by they don't mention how attractive
surfers are to sharks because they look like seals or sealions. Then
they hype this with endless pictures of people paddling and HOTDAMN some
quality surf footage from Hawaii.
Discussions center around Northern California (great Whites at the
Farallon islands) and Hawaii (Tigers everywhere) and the very few
attacks that have occurred. I get real tired of the hyperbolic prose and
images so calculated to increase fear, then they pop that bubble by
citing statistics saying it is safer to surf than it is to drive to the
goddamn beach in a car. So why do these shows spend hours jacking the
public around about sharks, staging feeding frenzies and showing cute
little surfers with their delicate tasty legs hanging in the water?
Don't answer that, it was just rhetorical. We all know why - Ratings!
I gotta admit I got suckered by the hype when I was in Santa Cruz
recently and a seal swirled some water real close to me. Involuntarily
my first thought was -Shark. It just pisses me off that these shark
shows jack up the big predator stereotype, then reveal that the science
shows they're mostly a bunch of pussies who if they even take one bite,
spit you boney surfers out and say "Ptoooey!!"
I've had it with Shark Week. The slowmo shots of these creatures
thrashing and knashing, teased with hundreds of gallons of chum then
taunted with a horse leg on a rope are disgusting. Even the legit
scientific study segments are rampant with ominous footage and music.
One quote actually said, "If sharks were as dangerous as the popular
media make them out to be, surfing would be suicide."
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
"There's nothing I'm afraid of like scared people."
Summertime is Surfer's Time
Wed, 30 Jul 1997
Recently I was sitting out in the lineup with a longboarder who was let
us say, my age contemporary. We had been trading and alternating waves
for awhile in a very friendly manner, and struck up a conversation
during a lull. He finally looked at his watch and said he had time for
just one more wave, since his wife was holding him to limited amount of
time to surf. In mock horror I said,
"Wait a minute friend, these waves are still good!!! You don't have to
go in, you're on Surfer's Time!!"
He laughed and said, "What's that?"
I explained, "When the waves are rideable, all surfers are relegated to
a time zone that is wholly theirs- Surfer's Standard Time (SST). The
time zone applies as long as the surfer perceives that there are waves
worth riding. Further, the total time in the water can be deducted from
any other landbased activity that is not surfing related, without
He asked how I knew all this and I told him I work for the government
scientific agency that invented and maintains the nations official
atomic clock, the NIST-7. This little ticker shoots lasers through
Cesium gas and counts the vibrations accurately keeping time in the
Trillionths of seconds. I'm told the next generation, NIST-8, will use
Rubidium and will have a sweep hand that looks like a surfboard and
lights up in the dark. I went on to explain that the clock was so
accurate it had to be reset to accommodate the imperfect rotation of the
earth. Therefore, we had to add a whole second to the month of June. I
have through a special arrangement succeeded in having this official new
second be designated "tubetime" so that all surfers who claimed time in
the tube during the month of June can add a second to that time.
Though I was very convincing in my explanation of this phenomena, the
Longboarder was not buying (hard to believe, I was very sincere :), but
he said his wife might just believe it if I could give him the name of
an official responsible for this event. I told him this information is
given with the authority of President William Jefferson Clinton who we
all know would never lie about a subject as serious as "making time."
I spent my extra second tearing hell out of a chesthigh wave, June 14th,
Wrightsville Beach, NC. How did you spend yours?
"The only true time which a man can properly call his own, is that which
he has all to himself; the rest, though in some sense he may be said to
live it, is other people's time, not his."
A View from the Deck
Wed, 13 Aug 1997
Surfstarved ramblings - not for the squeamish.
The view from the deck of a cool, beachfront rental house on E. Columbia
St. in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, gave three middle-aged surf
buddies a chance to spend four days to relax and share our lives. We'd
vacationed together last year and had a good time (see my "No Ms.Travis,
it's not like riding a bicycle" post on Dejanews) so we promised then to
meet again this year to try it once more. What we did in four days
could fill a book, but I'll just give you a few snapshots from this
Summer of '97.
Throughout the four days a tide sensitive 4 foot swell would tease us
into going out for long frustrating sessions in mediocre surf. Not what
we'd hoped for (actually there was a $20 bet I lost promising some
hurricane swell. My surfshrine let me down) but as Lifelong Right
Coasters with over 30 years experience each, pretty much what we
expected in August. During the first session on Friday, my good
friends, Stan the Man, and Big Ed, both snaked me repeatedly. Since the
surf sucked I generally expected that any good wave that came along was
worth stealing. Payback, as usual, came in the form of me ramming them
from behind, grabbing some legs with a death grip and tumbling in front
of the breaking waves, a tangle of arms, legs and boards.
When that rare good wave did come along, I happened to score one. As I
slalomed down the uneven wall I saw Stan paddling out. The X Y
co-ordinates of the path of my ride and his paddling destined us to meet
somewhere inside. If I'd cutback he would have been ok, but familiarity
breeds contempt and all my friends understand clearly what the Foondoggy
waveriding policy is. Given the choice between making a sweet wall or
scaring you shitless - I'll take the wave every time. Appropriately,
Stan headed for the bottom just as I climbed the wave to go over him and
his board. Unfortunately, my fin caught his leash - wave over.
There were long stretches of doing absolutely nothing but sitting on the
deck and watching the meager conditions improve or deteriorate. This is
the miserable plight of most Right Coasters in the summer -waiting and
watching, and bitching, and whining. Luckily all our wives have been
through the drill many times before and steered clear of us, not
wanting to hear the same surf stories for the millionth time, and not
caring if there was surf or not.
During the lulls we got to catch up on our personal stories and view a
variety of beach scenes from the deck. There we sat, Big Ed, the
entertainment mogul, Stan the Man, a broker on Wall Street, and me,
Government flunky. We were all feeling very good this summer. Big Ed had
just closed a deal to produce the half-time show for the Super Bowl this
year, the Stock market has made Stan a very rich man, and I just painted
a dragon face on the bottom of my body board to scare away sharks.(Thank
you Shark Week).
The conversations revealed a wide range of interesting tidbits. These
you can take to the bank. Stan predicts the market will go to 18,000 by
year 2000. His motto about the market is, "If you're not in it, you are
out of it." When I begged Big Ed to pander to his Baby Boom generation
when picking the talent for the half-time show by getting the Eagles or
for God sake, John Fogerty, he said, "I hate to pop your bubble Foon,
but the demographics dictate a much younger act. Put your money on
seeing the Spice Girls at half-time." I considered this important
information for a minute, stared directly at Big Ed and said, "Who?" He
smiled and murmured, "Exactly what I mean."
Big Ed provided some modest Cuban cigars, courtesy of Emilio Estevan
(yes, Gloria's husband and Ed's good friends) Stan contributed several
bottles of Mexico's finest Tequila, and I was good for a bag of Cheese
Doodles. (Hey, they were the crunchy kind!)
While we sat one day taking in all the beach sights we noticed that a
newlywed couple from the bed and breakfast next door had finally decided
to come out on the beach. The young man was a surfer and he'd brought
his board down on the beach, but each time he made a move to go out, his
nubile young wife would grab his hand and pull him back toward the
house. (smirk, smirk).
At one point, when we were all out in the water, this pathetic young man
finally paddled out into some lousy waves. He just sat there next to us
peering out into the ocean even though we kept telling him his wife was
calling him from the beach. He steadfastly kept looking out to sea and
said to us it made his wife crazy to think he would choose surfing over
being with her. Three middle-aged heads nodded in understanding. Then he
said he thought his wife was trying to screw him to death so he wouldn't
have the strength to surf. Three middle-aged men smiled in envy. The
whole time he was out he never even tried for a wave, happy to just sit
and have a little time to himself, alone with his thoughts in the ocean.
Three middle-aged men knew exactly how he felt. Welcome to the club son.
Late one afternoon, as usual the surf was shit, but a man came down to
the ocean on a bicycle that had a long board rack attached. Accompanying
him was a little boy on tiny bike. The father took a longboard and a
very small Doyle-type sponge surfboard off the rack, both trifins. The
little boy didn't seem old enough to walk let alone surf, but he was
outfitted in the smallest springsuit I'd ever seen. His Dad even had to
attached the little surf leash to his ankle. Off they went into the
minuscule waves, Dad pushing the little boy on his blue sponge
surfboard through the shorebreak, then teaching him how to paddle and
push through waves. As they slowly made it out to the break, it was
obvious this was a first time surf lesson. Dad spun around several times
to catch some waves but always returned to his son's side. Eventually
Dad began to push the boy into little waves, telling him to paddle and
stand. Though the little kid was a plucky little guy, he always got
nailed. But just as quickly he'd get on the board, straighten himself
and start charging out again. Dad would always paddle or ride in to help
him and give him encouragement.
This little tableau went on for an hour, with the boy only catching but
not standing or riding a few waves. At one point Dad pushed his son into
a fairly large 4 footer and the boy just got worked. He scrambled up on
his board and laid very still, but we could see the heaving sobs from
where we were. Dad came paddling back and laid next to the boy on his
longboard with his arm over the tiny shoulders, talking and comforting.
Soon we could see the little boy gather himself and start charging
outside again. It was so obvious the kid was totally tapped we wondered
why the Dad persisted in urging him to go on. On the very next wave Dad
pushed the little boy in, he took the drop on his tummy but popped up,
steadied himself and rode the wave all the way in using a wide Greg Noll
type stance. Three middle-aged men erupted from their deck chairs
hooting, yelling and screaming. We gave the kid a standing ovation. We
could see the boy's face light up like a neon sign. His Dad paddled in,
gave us a thumbs up sign, and soon they left.
Bout an hour later the Dad came by to thank us for making a big deal
over his kid's first ride. He said all the boy had talked about all
summer was trying to learn to surf like his Dad, and this had been his
very first day. We invited him to sit and visit but he declined saying
he wanted to be there when his son woke up from his nap. He thanked us
again and left. Three middle-aged guys smiled and felt real good. The boy
is five years old.
Big Ed is the schmooze master of the world. He makes friends with
anyone. One afternoon he met a woman on the beach named Priscilla
Bourgeosie. She mentioned she surfed and since Ed did not see a board
nearby he offered her his. She declined saying she had plenty back at
the shop. It turns out Priscilla and her husband Chuck, own the
Sweetwater Surfshop in Wrightsville Beach. Their son, Ben, is a young
professional surfer, currently sponsored by Quiksilver and touring. He's
been featured in several magazines and is an example of Wrightsvilles
finest young riders. Nice people, nice shop, good surf family vibe and a
credit to the sport.
Throughout the weekend the beach house was a turmoil of activity with
teenagers coming, going, surfing and yapping, asking for money and
car keys. Our wives bonded together to protect themselves from the evils
of too many old surf stories and too many Cuban cigars. We three guys
basked in the warm glow of a Carolina sun and the good friendships we
had with each other. We wondered if it was possible to smoke too many
cigars, drink too much good tequila, ride too many crummy waves and
retell too many funny surf stories. We tried and failed, but promised to
try again next year.
For all of you young guys who hang together - cherish your young surfing
years. Establish and maintain the friendships you forge now. In 20-30
years, if you're still out there charging, hopefully it will
occasionally be with some old surf buddies who know you and understand
why we do what we do in the ocean. Hopefully too, you can take you
children out into the ocean and pass on this great tradition.
"You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but
you must approach each man by the right door."
Henry Ward Beecher
The Joy of Icing
August 15 1997
I'm no athlete and I've been in better shape in my life (1978). Even as
a kid I was picked last for most teams unless they needed a big
uncoordinated guy for a tackling dummy. Like most athlete wannabees I
tried and failed many sports and learned which ones to stay away from.
And like most middle-aged men who perceive the inexorable passage of time
as a phenomena that does not apply to them, I cling desperately to the
few sports I am able to practice with some success.
I have X-rays of hips, knees, ankles, back, neck and feet that make
orthopedic doctors wonder how I'm still walking upright instead of on
my hands and knees. My drug of choice is an 800 mg salmon colored Motrin
which I take like vitamins. My doctors warn me that taking too much of
this could aggravate and accelerate a congenital disease I carry called
Polycystic Kidney. But that may not get me until I'm over 60. By then
it'll be too late.
There isn't a morning I don't wake up to discover some new ache or pain.
Yet despite all this I still go surfing whenever I can, play racketball
whenever Mrs.Foon feels like whuppin my ass, and spend three torturous
sessions a week in a gym lifting weights, and repeating back and stomach
strengthening drills. I hit the stairmaster for 40 minutes 3 times a
week which has awarded me my Doctor's praise as the fittest physical
wreck he knows.
Unlike my contemporaries, I will not embrace or take up the sport of
golf until I must do it from a wheelchair. I will not take up sports
which quite frankly will kill me, like skiing, snowboarding,
handgliding, or skating just to reaffirm my youth. (what's that old
quote, "youth is wasted on the young") But what I will do is cling
tenaciously to the one thing I find physically challenging and
spiritually cleansing -surfing. Sure, I only bodyboard and gave up the
standup version years ago, and we can spend another 20 years of posting
personal opinions regarding whether it is surfing or not. Frankly, I
couldn't care less what you think, I love it and will continue to do it
until Mrs.Foon can no longer launch me into a shorebreak herself.
But as the years go by this gets tougher. One of the things I have
discovered in my many years of overextending my less than physical
nature is that due to stress and extreme movement the muscles and joints
of an average body tend to strain and hurt. Over the years it has become
my practice to ice down any part of my body I think will hurt after
surfing - neck, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, anything. In fact, I can
think of only one joint you probably shouldn't ice if it becomes sore or
swollen after to much usage. And if that joint is really sore or swollen
after a session, maybe you should stop spanking it for awhile.
Icing has been a very good therapy for my short term and long term aches
and pains. Most of you may recall I've had foot and ankle injuries in
the past. Well bodyboarding with fins can wreak havoc on these structures
and there have been times I've had to leave in the middle of a good
session because of the pain. With a good regimen of icing and my
favorite analgesic (Motrin) I can be out there charging the very next
day in search of more body abusing tubes. Don't forget too, pre and post
session stretching. It can really help avoid those tiny muscle pulls
that can easily develop into sharp pains that will wake you up at night
from a sound sleep when you move.
I envy the young men who blast, thrash, and crash through the big waves
with impunity. I once believed too I was indestructible. Even though to
this day I suffer from a back injury I received when I was 12, I chose
to ignore the discomfort and trust my youth and vitality would prevail.
I know an emergency room nurse who has described to me the most
atrocious injuries she's treated among young men and women who practice
extreme sporting activity without the experience, skill or even
protective gear they should have. I'm talking about shattered bones and
crushed ligaments. I'm sorry to say they also will experience the not
too fond remembrances of those injuries as they get older.
So think of me each time there's a good swell in the Mid-Atlantic (few
this year) and the fact that after every session I'll have ice on my
left ankle (bad fall off a halfpipe), ice on my lower back (bad fall as
a kid), ice on my right shoulder (old volleyball injury) ice on my right
knee (racketball injury), ice on the arch of my right foot (racketball
again), ice on my left hip (congenital scoliosis) and a tumbler of ice
in my right hand, full of my favorite Doctor, Jack Daniels.
And look after yourself out there, nobody else will.
-Foon (on the rocks)
"To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the
most difficult chapters in the great art of living."