Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 03  

then.....when you least expect it

Mon, 18 Aug 1997

I walked out of the air-conditioned comfort of the Foonpalace into the hot, wet, air that sent temperatures in nearby Washington, DC to record levels -105 degrees and over 110 heat index. Surf conditions the day before were none existent and I didn't even check for waves out the window of the palace before I grabbed my beach stuff and headed for the dune. The first thing I noticed as I cleared the building was that the hot, steaming air was blowing "offshore"!!! This never happens! When I got to the top of the dune I was amazed to see a long, perfectly breaking 4 foot shorebreak peel the length of my beach. I have no idea where this swell came from (and I don't care) except there had been a long and continuous Southeast wind for the last few days. As a result there was a infrequent but noticeable swell that lapped our beach at a decidedly severe angle. I dropped my junk and headed back for my gear. I knew as the tide went out this would get better.

At midmorning the beach was strangely empty of tourists. The day before a small diesel spill had occurred. In addition there was an algae bloom that made the water turn bright green and smell putrid like.....well like Malibu on a good day. Finally, the incoming tide had brought a nasty infestation of sea lice which pretty much cleared the water. As a result, there were few people on the beach and no one in the water. Though the surf at mid-tide was a suicide break of tombstone shore-dumpers, I suited up anyway knowing the tide would cause the waves to break further off shore. The good shape and obvious power demanded respect and I intended to get my share but be careful.

I noticed two lifeguards setting up for the day and they were practicing their flag signaling. I used to know this stuff so I stopped and watched what they were saying.

"Watch, this old fart kill himself in the shorebreak!" hmmmmm ha, ha, ha.

My favorite sandbar was setting up some fast rights in front of one of the guards I had not seen on the beach before. After I watched how the waves were breaking for 10 minutes I began to tentatively make my way into the break. As the tide moved out, the pound of the waves increased as they broke in shallower water. My first few rides were long sizzling walls that I barely broke out of before they dumped with pile driver power on the sand. Soon I was gauging the speed and peel perfectly making the most of every wave before I would punch through the back.

Fully stoked and now ready for anything I began a series of rides that had me catching waves without a rest for about 20 minutes. I caught and milked at least 6 increasingly bigger and better rides until I was gasping as I lined up the best of the bunch - a long and smacky wall begging to be sliced that held the promise of a big finale. Peaking farther out than the others I caught it with little effort, and immediately searched the face for the maximum trim zone. As the wall mounted I realized the inside part was actually a doubleup that had combined with a smaller wave. The whole thing down the line was actually getting bigger not smaller. My confidence was high based on my previous successes and I was certain I could milk this mother and escape at the last second. Unfortunately, I was totally tapped from my previous succession of rides and truth be told, this little monster would not be denied.

As I dropped down to gain the speed that I was certain would catapult me through the back or over the top of the wave I noticed a lot of sand moving up the face. I was not happy to realize I was turning in about a foot of water. I made a weak and feeble attempt to make the punch through but at the last second the wave lip flicked me over on my back, board pressed firmly to my chest. I don't know why I thought at that moment the full moon the night before was one of the prettiest I'd ever seen, but in times of stress your mind has a tendency to deny the obvious I guess. I was planted, back to the sand as my thankfully soft deck bodyboard got bounced off my face. I guess I was stunned by the concussion, but I knew immediately I did not get hurt. Nevertheless, I just laid there in the swash of the next wave which pushed me to a dry spot on the sand bar as I enjoyed the moment.

Within seconds the faces of two lifeguards appeared above me. Staring down at me they both looked real worried. One asked:
"Hey mister, are you ok?"
"Uh, don't know yet."
"What's your name sir?"
He looked up at his friend and said, "Get on the radio Brad, this one's out of it."
"No," I said. "I think I'm ok, I'm just resting."
"Well, you took a real nasty hit on that last wave, good ride though."
For an old fart, I thought. Suddenly the pretty face of my favorite guard, Pam, came into view. I've had a crush on her ever since she carried me out of the surf fireman's style one May morning when she took her guard's test.
"What do we have here Brad? Oh. Mr.Foondoggy! Are you OK?"
"I think I need mouth to mouth resuscitation, Pam." I said with mock seriousness.
"Great, Brad here is a new guard and he needs all the practice he can get. Lay still now. Brad, you're up boy." With a look of horror, for a micro-second Brad actually thought she was serious.
"No Pam, I'm all right."
"Do you need help getting up?" Brad was trying to be helpful.
"I don't know, I haven't checked yet. I supposed I could use a hand." The two fellas gave me a boost and we all proceeded to start looking back at the ocean. Finally one of the guards said, "You know Mr.Foondoggy I've been guarding these beaches for a few years now and I've never seen an (old) guy like you tear it up like that. How many years have you been doing this?"
"I just started this year." I said with a wink at Pam as she grinned about our private, running joke.
"No he hasn't," she said, "He's been doing this stuff for years and rides better than some of the stand-up guys. I always feel better when I see him with his hat out in the water. Then I know I've got someone out there watching my swimmers. You be nice to Mr.Foondoggy now." I thanked them for their concern, asked about the diesel spill and algae bloom, then moved toward the water.

Slowly, and creakily I started back into the break. By now the tourists had gotten the idea that the diesel fuel had disappeared, the algae bloom stunk more than it was dangerous, and it was so hot on the beach thousands of people were willing to get sea lice in their suits rather than melt into the sand. The offshores continued to blow hot as the mouth of a blast furnace and the shorebreak moved farther out with the tide making an altogether wonderful and unexpected session. When I finally crawled out after the three hour session I found Mrs.Foon sitting in her usual spot. "How was it, I saw you get some good rides?"
"OK, better earlier before the crowd showed up. I got my share."
"Why are you scratching your crotch?" she asked.
"Don't know," I smiled, "Maybe I got something unexpected."
"Well go take a shower, you stink to high heaven. And don't forget to take your Motrin, I won't have you whining about your aches tonight at dinner."

-Foon (Stinky, sore, and delighted)

Dead, skunked in the middle of a season

Thu, 21 Aug 1997

As we approach the one year anniversary of the arrival of one of the best surf generating Hurricanes in recent memory (Edouard, over Labor Day Weekend) I can't help but lament the terrible wave drought that we have suffered this year. Sure, spotty windswell conditions have kept me from borrowing some golf clubs, but let's face it, that stuff was just a tease.

I've read various explanations about this drought including theories of a Super El Nino, and the fact that Dr. Gray uses a Ouija board to do his predictions. The facts are as we reach midhurricane season, we've seen bupkus. I'm probably going to catch-up on a lot of reading over Labor Day this year. Hopefully some good books, some good surf reports from our good friends on the Left Coast and maybe just once I'll take out the 50-60 shots I took of Edouard last year and sigh. Rumor has it, due to the El Nino, the Left is about to experience one of it's most active winters in history. Don't bet the farm, we were supposed to get at least a half dozen hurricanes this year too.

Good luck,
Prozacfoon :^(

bub bye, boy

September 18 1997

Too long, too personal, too depressing -Perfect therapy.


I was lying on my back in the sand, looking up at the sky on what would be my final evening as an homeowner at my homebreak. The miniature waves lining up and dribbling over the sandbar whispered an intermittent farewell. I gazed up at the few stars that began to twinkle in the growing darkness. In an hour the full harvest moon would appear in the Eastern sky and blaze a huge yellow swath of sparkling light from the horizon to the very edge of the shore. I loved moments like this. The beach was almost totally empty except for a few young strollers holding hands in the distance. I closed my eyes and played back my fondest memories of the homebreak and relived the glorious times I'd had on this beach.

I'd spent the late afternoon finishing packing up ten years of surfing and vacationing at this beach. There were towels, posters, wetsuits, boards, fins, beach chairs, cigar boxes, umbrellas, coolers and all kinds of beach junk to box up or pitch in the dumpster. After I loaded most everything in the truck Mrs. Foon (in a very weepy mood) shooed me out so she could clean up the place for the new owners. Both of us needed a little time alone with our thoughts, so I walked down the dunepath for the last time.

As twilight turned to darkness my thoughts carried me to the epic sessions we'd had over the last two seasons (95 & 96) Damn, we got spoiled fast. This year's chump change swells were a bitter disappointment yet I still had such strong feelings for the place my chest started to hurt with emotion. Great Foonboy, good way not to have to leave the beach forever - just stroke out and die why don'tcha?

Presently, in the distance I could detect the soft snuffling sound of a large, curious dog moving down the beach. hmmmmmmmmmm I squeezed my eyes shut and lay very still trying to avoid the inevitable. Soon the soft and sour breath of a dog was blowing right in my face. I knew it was futile to try and play possum any longer. I opened my eyes and stared straight up at the huge but upside-down head of a 200 lbs. Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Jake (the coolest surfdog). The flaccid folds of skin that made up his face and muzzle drooped down directly overhead as he stooped over me to look quizzically and sniff at my face. The most disturbing aspect of this sight was a large gob of drool forming at the side of Jake's mouth that in seconds would drop down and pool on my nose. Desperate to avoid this I said, "Hi Jake! You come down for a swim??" This was an unfortunate question. Jake knew very well what the word "swim" meant and next to running up and down the beach, Jake luuuuved to swim. Delighted with the mere mention of the activity, Jake barked a big sloppy "woof" right in my face, drool and all.

"Gaaaccccckkkkkk!!!!!" I yelled, and rolled over to get away from the now deliriously happy dog. Jake's way of showing affection was to trap you under his huge body and lick you 'til you screamed for mercy. I was already in a full throated yell as the dog laid on top of me and barely heard the low whistle from his owner, Tank. The sound released me from the dog's rough and sloppy tongue and sent the big lumbering lug dashing to his owner's side. Out of the dark I could hear Tank's deep chuckle and the tinkle of a few beer bottles clinking together.

Tank dropped his own huge carcass down in the sand next to me and handed over a Dortmunder Dark. He launched the 2x4 he used as Jake's fetch stick into the darkness sending the gleeful dog into the surf.

I looked at the bottle and then Tank. "Broke out the good stuff I see. What's the occasion?"

Tank looked at me with a long sad-eyed stare then said softly, "JoAnne (mrs.Foon) told me you'd be down here. I already said my good-byes to her and now........I figured it might be a good ask you about........the money you owe me?"

We both laughed at this since neither of us had ever kept track of the $10s and $20s we had handed over to each other through the years. We both looked out at the rising moon watching Jake play in the small waves. Every once in awhile he would come back and rest his big wet head on my leg, look up at me with soulful eyes, letting me scratch around his ears. I could barely see the big scar on his head, the result of a jetski accident two years ago. I sensed the big dog knew something was up, he seemed very restless, as though he could feel our awkwardness.

Finally Tank, a man of few words said, "We had some good ones here Foon, didn't we?"

"Yeah, Tank. This was the most fun I can remember in my life. Thanks buddy for all the good times."

"Who's gonna be here to keep the tourists in line Foon?. Who's gonna pass on the stoke to the kids out in the water? Who's gonna tease the female lifeguards into smiling? Who's gonna entertain us with the most pathetic excuse for surfing we've ever seen?" He smiled in the darkness waiting to see if I'd rise to the bait.

"I'm passing the bar of wax on to you Tank. You're gonna have to pull up the slack." "No way Foon. I don't relate to people the way you do and in addition, I surf much better than you." He laughed quietly.

For the next 20 minutes we played, "Remember when."

"Member when Jake jumped up on that girl and accidentally popped her top off Tank?"

"Yeah Foon, I wound up going out with that sweetie for three months. God she loved that dog. I think she agreed to see me just so's she could play with Jake."

"Hey Foon, member the night you and JoAnne got caught skinny dipping by the police?" He started to giggle trying to supress the memory.

"Yeah, and I remember who I thought swiped our clothes too." Staring straight at the big man.

"I didn't do it Foon, I swear. You were both so blitzed you just forgot where you put them, that's all."

"Yeah, well that's the last time she ever dipped anything on this beach." We both laughed some more.

Finally, the bottles were empty and we both slowly stood up. Tank grasped my hand in a viselike grip as he spoke in a low, slow manner. "Foon, it's been a great pleasure knowing you and being your friend for the last 5 years. I want you to know how much I appreciate your friendship and good counsel. You are always welcome to come back to stay and visit as long as you want. The next good swell I expect to see you in the lineup."

I've never ever felt my throat feel so tight as I grasped Tank's hand and simply said, "Thanks, Tank."

I stooped over and picked up the 2x4 and waved it around to get Jake's attention. He immediately jumped up, eyes on the stick. I looked at Tank and said, "I don't want to be here when he brings it back." "I understand Foon." As Tank turned his head I could see in the slight moonlight a small pool of gleaming liquid at the base of his eyes. I had only seen this of the man once, when he was holding Jake's head the day he was runover by the jetski and he realized Jake would survive.

I chucked the 2x4 as hard as I could toward the ocean and Jake took off, barking his deep chesty woof. I turned to walk away saying, "Bye Tank."

"Take care, Foon."

As I walked up the dunepath I could hear the satisfying splash of Jake flopping around in the shorebreak....... "Bub bye, boy," I mumbled to no one in particular. I notice that someone (named Tank) had written in magic marker or crayon on the railing that borders the dunepath

-"Foondoggy Rules 139th, Forever." That did it. The eye faucets opened up and I had to walk around for awhile to regain my composure.

I walked back to the Foonpalace for the last time and helped load up the last of our stuff. As we both sat in the truck ready to leave, suddenly I got out and said, "Be right back."

On the top shelf of the storage closet that held all my surfing stuff for years, one only I could reach, I wrote in black magic marker, "The Foonpalace, February 1987 -September 1997" I doubted whether the new owners would ever find it and I don't know why I did it, but it made me feel better. When I got back in the truck Mrs.Foon was crying quietly. "Where to now hon?" I said softly. "You're driving Foonboy, somehow no matter where you steer this thing I imagine we're gonna wind up at a beach somewhere."

You can bet on it.


"We are never so happy nor so unhappy as we imagine."
-La Rochefoucauld

I was just thinkin'...

October 14 1997

I was just thinkin' last Thursday......

the operating characteristics (OC) curves of the testbed for a=0.05 and various values of n. Let @1 denote the true standard of variation then the OC curves show the probability B=B(a{.05,} n) if then failing to conclude that @1 exceeds @2 when @1=@2-b.....

Whoaaaaaa, wait a minute, I'm a liberal arts major. This surf drought is way more serious than I thought.

It's been a long month since the twin disasters of selling the Foonpalace and injuring my neck surfing the dregs of Ericka. In that time the shitstorm I call work has made me so crazed, Mrs.Foon and I have wound up spitting at each other like cats and Foondogs. Not a pretty sight. All in all, the month has made me very depressed and for that reason I called Mrs.Foon and told her, "Clear your calendar, we're going in search of our sanity and some waves."

A fair weather pattern was moving East and there were some encouraging reports from Wrightsville Beach. I tossed the keys to my wife and said, "Work your magic sweety," and five hours later "leadfoot" had me paddling out at Crystal Pier in 75 degree water, into a somewhat clean 3-5 foot break.

The surf was by no means excellent, but I vibrated with joy at just being in the water and grinned with pleasure as the first long wall presented itself for my attention. A few quick strokes and I was gliding left on an increasingly hollow 4-foot wall. My lack of surf all season made me much more desperate to ride so I cavalierly trimmed high for speed, confident I could outrace the gathering wall. Instantly the whole thing came over catching me on the head and neck. My not fully healed neck muscles sang a sharp and painful song telling me, "Don't be goin' there Foon." I realized quickly, even in these small waves, I had to protect my neck from pounding and whipping. A good lesson learned but one I would periodically forget in the next 4 days.

About 2 pm the after school crowd took over the break and the demographic was decidedly young male. What surprised me most was the large number who were longboarding. True, the surf was not a carvers dream but the boys seemed very intent on polishing their noseriding skills. I would find out later there was a contest that weekend and some had entered longboard events. Several of the boys were stone cold nosehounds.

Not so surprisingly the boys tended to treat me like a bodyboarding leper until my own excellent rides demonstrated I knew the rules and presented no big threat to them. After I waved a few into waves that were rightfully mine, they seemed more willing to share the break with a "speedbump". By the very nature of the break, I spent much of my time inside of the longboarders catching some of the more "zesty" waves of each set. You'll all be happy to know the "leash, no leash" argument is also raging on the Right Coast and about half the riders were not attached to their boards.

As luck would have it, I would often be inside when some of the guys lost their boards and they washed in near me. It was no big deal for me to snag the boards then paddle them out to the owner by pushing them in front of me and leg kicking my way out to the break. Several of the young riders thanked me sincerely but one asked me not to do it again since he was also trying to build his conditioning by swimming. Fair enough. I pushed one guys board out to him so many times he started calling me "Fluff" after Tiger Woods' caddie. The afternoon session was the perfect break in for a guy who'd been out of it most of the summer. Needless to say I was a sore but happy camper when I left at dusk.

I had no great expectations for Saturday and we left early for the beach without checking the conditions. It just didn't matter since I was going anyway to see the contest. As I crossed the bridge into Wrightsville I could see flags gently blowing offshore. My pulse quickened as I walked down by the contest area and saw a dozen riders practicing in some very tasty and hollow waves. With the tide due to come in, the morning looked to be ideal for some riding. I decided to drive up to Ben Bourgeosie's homebreak, E. Columbia Rd. and found some excellent waist to shoulder high waves breaking with only a few guys out. Since I'd already had my Bowel blowout, courtesy of Moms Foons' Bowel Bomber Blend coffee, I was feeling fairly frisky for an old(er) guy. I paddled out into some excellent conditions and parked myself on one of the better peaks to ride three smokers in a row. I was totally stoked.

As the warm and bright sun got higher and the waves better, it seemed like every time I looked up there were 3-4 guys paddling out. For a while there was plenty of room and sufficient waves to go around. But as often happens at a well known break on a good day, the "Big Dude of the Break" finally shows up to exert his Alpha Male presence. I've seen these guys many times and generally avoid being around them. This "Dude 'o the Day" was a shaved headed, goateed, tattooed, and pierced walking stereotype, riding a rainbow colored board. Not so true to type, the guy could rip, so I thought of him merely as....Sandboy. I moved down the break away from his domain as he proceeded to dominate the break for awhile with his flamboyant style and clever stunts (360 semi-air was a favorite).

It was almost preordained that I would meet this guy on a wave since I was the only bodyboarder, and sure enough we both wound up taking off at opposite ends of a long swell that was destined to closeout and bring us together. As I glided smoothly in the pocket, Sandboy was whipping his way down the line toward me....the space between us shrank quickly. I wasn't about to bail out until I knew the section was coming over, but Sandboy was scowling at me with a major stinkeye as we got closer. Just as the section began to wall and tumble I slid over the top to safety.... and Sandboy wound it up for a big 360 air. Since my location on the wave had ruined his plans for a big finish, he whipped the tail of his board around and launched it at me (he had no leash). I had a fraction of a second to move my arms before the fin side of his tail came slicing down like a triple bladed guillotine. The center fin stuck in the deck of my board about a half an inch, approximately where my right arm had been resting. I waited for Sandboy to swim over to me before I pulled his board free.

As he approached he eyed me warily then feigning concern said, "you ok?" Both of us knew he had just launched his board at me on purpose and the comment was a feeler to see if there was going to be a confrontation. I didn't answer but stared directly at him as I yanked his fin free. Finally, in a very low and quiet voice I said in the most serious tone I could muster, "Let me warn you pal, if you had managed to cut me seriously, that lady sitting up on the beach (I pointed to Mrs.Foon) would gleefully hunt you down, kill you without hesitation, and then find and kill most of your family." Sandboy stared wide-eyed for 5 seconds at me after this statement wondering what my message really was. Then figuring it was a bluff, grabbed his board and started to paddle away saying, "Yeah, maybe you need to watch where you're going next time." There wouldn't be a next time if I could avoid it.....but that was not to be.

Just 20 minutes later, after I decided to catch my last wave, Sandboy paddled around back of me to snake me on a beautiful set wave. I saw him go at the last second and yelled the usual, "Comin!!" but to no avail. Pissed as I was, I took off after him and amazingly he left me enough clean wall so even though I was eating his spray, I could get right up on his ass. He never even glanced back to see if I was there which was a bad mistake. Just about the time he leaned back into a sudden cutback I drove my board high and into the backs of his knees (by mistake :) sending him flying over my head, and me over his board. We wound up coming up facing each other in a classic standoff. He knew what he'd done and was willing to consider the consequences. He stared away first on the pretense of looking for his board and I suggested maybe it was getting too crowded to surf safely and started to go in.

Suddenly I heard Sandyboy speak tentatively, which almost had me burst out laughing: "Uh, hey man, sorry 'bout cutting you off.....You won't uh, tell your wife will ya??"

-Foondoggy (Wrightsville was a very gracious host this weekend, I hope others on the Mid-Atlantic got some)

Rocktober Classic - a keeper

October 27 1997

Two old buddies e-mailed me last week about the epic conditions at the "Ranch" near Montauk, NY during the Nor Easter that recently kicked the Right Coasts ass. The glowing adjectives and hyperbolic descriptions (Bigger and Better than Felix, Foon!) made me all the more depressed since I had waited out that storm at the home of a friend and didn't have as much as a paddleout to show for it. My last good session was two weeks ago in Wrightsville Beach.

Another good friend from Boulder, CO was spending this week with us and as luck would have it she had never been our guest at the Foonpalace. Mrs.Foon took out the old photo album and proceeded to show her 10 years of photos which documented many great days and fantastic times. The people in the pictures were shown having a gloriously good time on the beach, in the surf, in the Foonpalace and at parties. Quickly for me, the pictures became painful to look at.

The weekend weather conditions were lining up to create a window of opportunity for waves at the old homebreak. Spontaneously we decided to head for the beach for a day trip to find some surf (and coincidentally a $125 bathing suit for Mrs.Foon for our Trinidad trip) Saturday morning dawned gray and foggy, but fair weather conditions including offshore winds were promised so the 150 mile drive seemed all that more urgent.

As I cleared the dune of my old break I thought my heart would leap out of my chest. I don't know where the swell came from (and I didn't care) but maddeningly uniform lines were angling in at dead low tide forming long, makeable and juicy surf. The scythe-like wave lips were peeling down the beach, some for a couple of blocks. A week ago the huge Nor Easter had made a major sand grab off the beach, scouring tons of fine beach sand and depositing it in nice new sandbars offshore. The precision of some of the waves was, to coin a term, Magazine-esque. I leaped into my gear, foregoing my usual stretching regimen and paddled out. The most astounding aspect of the whole thing was there were only 4 guys out and three of them were local bodyboarders.

The next hour and a half was stuff that Rocktober dreams are made of. The incoming tide brought regular sets of waist to headhigh waves that walled and were held up by the brisk offshore winds for long rides by our standards. The power of the waves was deceptive and foolishness was not tolerated by the hunky tubes. I few attempts at styling got my bell rung solidly. The lone shortboarder was a local ripper who couldn't do much more than shred like a madman. My bodyboarding brethren were holding a clinic on who could get pitted deepest, and still make it out. I joined that class and held a long wall for the longest pocket I've had since Hurricane Hortense last year. Lack of real surf time conditioning was finally my downfall and I staggered out of the break after several successive stoking rides. I sat on the shore removing my gear and sighing a deep satisfied groan of relief. This Rocktober classic was a keeper.

I dumped my gear in the truck and looked around for Mrs.Foon and our friend. I looked up at a condo where a local realtor was holding an open house and saw her waving at me. When I entered the unit, it was a plush oceanfront place, fully furnished, equipped and decorated, with a wide balcony overlooking my old home break. As I stood there with Mrs.Foon watching the locals tear it up she looked at me and said, "You know Foonboy, it has not gone unnoticed that you have been very depressed since we sold the palace and consequently, not very much fun to be around. The look on your face today is the old Foonboy I know and love. I was watching from this balcony and clocked you for about five seconds in the pocket on that long wave you had. I could see the grin on your mug all the way up here. What are we gonna do about this?"

I started to look around the place and really liked what I saw. Sort of talking to myself I wondered how much a neat place like this cost. The friendly realtor who had been hovering around us to answer any questions presented me with a spec. sheet on the unit, pointed to the price and the monthly expenses. I looked up at Mrs.Foon and smiled, "Honey, isn't it about time we got out of the stock market and into some real estate?"


What coincidence? Life's too short....

Thu, 06 Nov 1997

Scientists guess the universe is about 300 billion years old, give or take a billion. More accurately they say dinosaurs ruled the earth for about 150 million years and can almost pinpoint the cataclysmic event that precipitated their extinction (Meteor hit near the Yucatan). Homo Sapien and his various cousins have been around about 5 million years and when the history of the species is written it will be found that the event which caused his extinction will be the invention of the internet. (More specifically -Chatrooms)

Whenever I get metaphysical after reading one of Peter Brown's (Mountain Man) postings I often search my memory for the seminal moment in my life when an epoch of cosmic and natural forces brought me together with my first wave (Memorial Day, 1963, Gilgo Beach,Long Island, NY). My limited comprehension of time, space and infinity pales in comparison to the magnitude and importance of this event to me. I cannot reason this occurred by mere coincidence. There must have been a plan when those water and air molecules were formed a few Billion years ago, to create the little waist high musher that transported me a few dozen feet, and a lifetime. Divine intervention? No one can answer that (well sure Peter can) so each of us must define why we are here for ourselves. Wouldn't it be grand if the master plan intended us to ride waves? Can't wait to find out in my next life if it is something we carry over.

When the internet has been around as long as Dinosaurs, then I will take it more seriously. Until then, the vehicle I choose to give my life satisfaction, meaning and inspiration consists of energy and water.

Foondoggy (Jeez, what WAS in that coffee today?)

Re: Air 33 Water 48

Tue, 18 Nov 1997

Gschaefs wrote:

Fry 11/14, Maine, a snowstorm pulled through leaving 3-4 inches, sat. the wind was offshore and sweet waves, I lasted an hour and a half before I really felt it, wearing a 4/3 with too thin gloves and booties, I was hanging outside when me and another guy saw the horizon bulge paddle paddle paddle, several bigguns coming, I'm freezing so I take the first one- as I'm catching it I hear the second wave breaking--- boom--- I air drop- bodyboard-- and am nowhere near making the section but straighten out and go defrost, My feet were cold for hours, then I felt great. never surfed with snow on the ground before. Weird.

This story brought to mind an episode during my early kook phase on Long Island. One February New York had a small snowstorm that closed the schools. I begged my mother to lend me her car so I could go shovel driveways with my friend Tomas. After we dropped her off at work promising to return at 5 pm to pick her up, Tomas and I got our boards and gear and left for Long Beach. In those days we used divers wetsuits that were thick, and unwieldy, and leaked like a strainer, but since we were young and stupid we didn't care. Though cloudy, the beach was brightly lit with 6 inches of new snow, and the small perfect waves were oily glass and slate colored. We managed to survive the near freezing temperatures for about 45 minutes, then had to come in, blue to the bone. We spent the rest of the day in a Diner and the movies thawing out. Unfortunately when it was time to go home, the car wouldn't start. Finally, I had to call my mother at work to tell her not only would we not be picking her up at work, but we couldn't get the car started. When I told her where we were she said, "YOU WENT SURFING IN THE MIDDLE OF FEBRUARY??!!"

A few hours later my Dad showed up to help us with the car. Though he had a stern and angry look on his face, I could tell by the tone of his voice he was trying to keep from laughing out loud. For this faux pau, I was grounded from going surfing for the rest of the winter, couldn't drive the family car, and had to shovel our 200 foot long driveway without crabbing every time it snowed that winter. Good thing I guess, that damned divers wetsuit (the ones with the tail) would probably have killed me that year.

Frosty the Foondog

Trini-trippin Pt.1 the Ugly American

December 04 1997

This story begins a chronicle of my trip to Trinidad/Tobago. Recently I have not contributed much to the group because I literally had nothing worthy to write about. These stories will not be strictly about surfing so if you're not interested in my narratives, I invite you now not to read further.

Pt.1 the Ugly American

Prologue - As we took the Washington DC Metro to National Airport the day we left for Trinidad, I wound up gazing at a wall advertisement for the subway system that showed a Metro Train coming out of some huge grinding barrel of a wave. The ad was promoting the systems website and the copy simply read, "Surf the Net." A black cloud of misery formed over my head and I dreaded the thought that this would be the closest I got to any surfing on this trip.

Trini-trippin - Let it be said that traveling with someone who is invited by the government of the host country is the only way to go. Mrs.Foon was to be the guest speaker at a conference of South American and Caribbean countries meeting in Trinidad, and was to teach them some things about trade agreements. When we arrived in Trinidad, naturally our luggage was the last off the plane. The single line through customs and immigration stretched into the distance and it was already 11 pm. Both of us were bone tired after flying most of the day (my arms were really tired. ok -old joke) and the prospect of waiting two hours to get through customs, then drive 20 miles to our hotel over badly marked roads where they drive on the wrong side, did not appeal to me.

Disguised as tourists (Surf Free hat, Hawaiian print shirt, camera bag around neck) we were obviously the only Americans on the flight. Suddenly a very pleasant and friendly customs official invited us in his endearing island patois to leave the line and join him in the diplomats lounge where we would be cleared immediately. This privilege was accorded Mrs.Foon as a way of saying welcome to Trinidad, and we both really appreciated it. When the Customs official asked me if we had anything to declare I said, "Why yes, I'm in the mood for some strong rum, hot music and cool waves!!!" Eyeing my shirt and hat I'm sure he pondered rejecting my entrance into the country on principle, but that would have been awkward since they did invite Mrs.Foon. So he tactfully said, "That's not exactly what I had in mind Mr.Foondoggy, though I am sure you will find what you are after in Trinidad."

Thereafter we were assigned a driver who would take us directly to the Port of Spain Hilton, reputed to the be very best hotel on the island, where we registered in minutes and were shown to a top floor suite stocked with snacks and island rum punch. Our room overlooked the huge Queen's Park Savannah where during February the Carnival Festival raged night and day. At other times it is the practice field for dozens of Soccer leagues on the island. The magnificent view must be absolutely stunning during carnival since the Park is hundreds of acres. Our bellboy looked curiously at my "Surf Free or Die" hat and the bodyboard bag that contained my traveling board, an old creased and punctured Mike Stewart Turbo, which if it were lost or stolen, I could live without.

The next day I waved good-bye to Mrs.Foon as she was wisked away in a government car. I turned to Anton, the Bell Captain, and said, "I need a driver who knows the island and beaches very well, and who is someone I can trust implicitly." Anton picked up the phone and while dialing said to me, "That would only be one man." In 10 minutes a huge white Oldsmobile Regency rolled up and I was introduced to my new best friend, Jambsheed Khan. "Nice to meet you Mr.Foondoggy, welcome to Trinidad." When I tried to get Jambsheed to call me Foon he demurred saying, "As long as I am in your service sir, you will be Mr.Foondoggy."

Jambsheed had worked as a driver for Shell Oil for 50 years, and now retired, owned his own taxi. In Trinidad this is a very lucrative business. I explained to Jambsheed I wanted to see and know about the island especially the city of Port of Spain and the North facing beaches reputed to be where there might be waves. I explained that ultimately I wanted to surf that day and he nodded his cocoa colored head topped with shocking white hair knowingly, already planning our destination. I noticed when we climbed into the huge Olds that the steering wheel was on the left. Jambsheed explained that many years ago Shell had brought over a dozen of the big American behemoths for it's executives to drive. When he retired after 50 years of service, he was given the car as a present. The car had over 300,000 miles on it and he and his sons had to travel every year to Miami to get parts for the Olds and two Chevys they owned. They worshipped the cars like family.

Let me say that Trinidad is a country of astonishing beauty, brutal poverty, and joyous life-affirming music. Some of the conditions I would witness are considered the worst in the Caribbean. The tour we took was both stunning and breathtaking and I was to come away both humbled and shaken by the experience. Jambsheed would take me into nightmarish neighborhoods explaining, matter-of-factly, the social, economic and political reasons why things were the way they were. He was never bashful or embarrassed to tell me not to wear jewelry or a watch on the arm I rested on the door sill, for fear that someone would literally cut it off me with a machete to get it. In the slums many people carried machetes and the island bruddahs who lived in those areas were some of the fiercest looking humans I've ever seen, many missing fingers and eyes as a testament to their habit of flipping their machetes in the air and catching them, or not. There were areas that appeared like some terrible Fellini movie and living conditions that were indescribably bad, literally subhuman. Where the government had leveled a whole block of apartments in the city because they were too dangerous or disease ridden for habitation, the residents took up living in the piles of rubble that were left. This was an island of astonishing contrasts from the plush houses of government officials, or businessmen up on the beautiful mountainsides, to families living in squalor in a burned out minivan. At times I could not believe my eyes.

We moved slowly through the city absorbing the good (music) and the bad karma (don't even ask about the prison). Finally Jambsheed pointed the big Olds toward the North Mountain range and the beaches. On the North Coastal road, a 4-door Nissan pickup truck barreled past us with 4 shortboards hanging out the back. I begged Jambsheed to follow the truck closely but he said his car could not take the bad roads as easily as the truck and anyway he knew exactly where they were going. As it turned out he did.

-Foondoggy (Pronounced "Fuundaggy" by the locals)

Trini-Trippin Pt.3 - Island Fever

December 05 1997

Note: I should probably post this to, but what the hell, it's part of the series and you guys could use a little culture.

Island Fever

Trinidad is the home of Steel Pan drumming which was invented during WWII by the natives when African Drums were banned (I'm not clear why this occurred). The sheer excess of steel oil drums dumped everywhere on the island made them ideal vehicles for drummers to create sounds. The process of making these drums is complicated and fascinating. An expert level pan drum with 32 notes hammered into the top by hand can take months to create. The big bass pans with only two notes are racked on moving platforms for the Carnival Parades and can literally shake the ground you walk on.

An orchestra of 130 pans backed by an African drumline of dozens of pounding, sweating, shouting madmen, is a soul-stirring and amazing sight. As I wandered the grounds of the Queen's Park Savannah I was taken by how easily the many races and nationalities mingled. The common bond was the music. Everyone was a pan or calypso addict.

Knocking back some strong rum from a wineskin someone offered me, my throat erupted in fire as I realized, "Dis ain't da tourist stuff." I began to get the urge to pound something large and loud. At the end of one of the tenor drumlines was a pile of drums and mallets, which almost anyone could pickup and join in. I hoisted one of these drums by the shoulder strap and was immediately confronted by a huge Rastafarian looking fellow who later I found out was named "Horace". I nicknamed him "Psycho" since his artificial right eye had a way of wandering off in all directions when he stared at you. He glared at me malevolently until I fell in easily, pounding a fairly easy almost waltz-like African beat with the other drummers. He watched me closely as the leaders would change the tempos and after awhile smiled a huge gap-tooth grin deciding my chops were up to the task of playing along.

These men practice drumming for hours, even days in anticipation of the Carnival Festival in February. Fueled by strong rum, what I suspected (by the smell) was powerful gange (nuttin but buds mon) and the spirit of drummers everywhere, they are a living, breathing drum machine that never quits. Just standing in line, the only caucasian, trading licks with these guys gave me gooseflesh.

After awhile, Psycho (who took to calling me "whiteboy" or "Blue-eyed-Devil") explained that the practice of a beat changed about every 64 bars. The next person in line would pick the next beat to practice. Then the big bass pans, congas, and tom players (I called them "the BOOM Boys") would pick up the beat and they'd thrash and pound thunderously. Other percussion lines of picolo, soprano, timbali, bongo, bamboo, shakers and bells would fill in the gaps creating an amazing textured quilt of syncopation. The overall effect was one of controlled chaos and mind-blowing sound.

On down the line came the responsibility of leading the group. Many were eyeing me, wondering I guess what I would do. Psycho leaned over to me and shouted in my ear in his island patois, "Yer turn is soon whiteboy. Eet bettare be goood, mon. Yer life depends un it!!!" Then he looked at me wild-eyed (the right one looking up) and laughed hysterically. Standing in a rum induced haze I felt little pressure when my turn came. I simply repeated a beat I'd heard hundreds of times in "the Endless Summer" movie and finished it off with a double handed, accented triplet that I stole from Led Zeppelin's late drummer, John Bonham (only he used his foot). The BOOM Boys erupted in shouts at my brazen challenge since my suggestion had doubled up the time from the easy going calypso beat sending it into a face-paced, piledriver time zone. The BOOM Boys yelled and hooted encouragement to each other but took off after the beat like a thundering runaway freight train. The noise level increased 10 fold and the sweating flailing arms of 50 men became a blur of motion and sound. I was stunned but very happy my lead was appreciated and I leaned over to Psycho and shouted asking if my life would now be spared? He smiled broadly, while pounding away, nodded his head up and down in the affirmative and shouted, "NO!!!"

Part of the musical tradition of Calypso is story telling and shout and response. Many languages are spoken so everyone just mimics what is being shouted to the best of their ability. Wailing away on my drum and yelling at the top of my voice I found myself shouting, "KOOMNAH TOOKAI SHOKRA FOON!!" This at the time seemed very appropriate and I wondered if maybe they were honoring my presence in the group. When I asked Psycho what it meant he laughed gleefully and shouted, "It means, TONIGHT WE ROAST THE WHITE GUY!!" (Hahahaha, he's such a kidder).

I have no idea how long I lasted (during all the fun someone stole my watch). It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. It seemed like a rhythmic lifetime for me. At one point, when I'd collapsed from exhaustion, I began talking to a Jamaican guy. He told me to really learn how to play the drums I should come to Jamaica. When I asked him about the surf there he looked at me skeptically and said, "You surf mon? When you come to Jamaica look up the Reggae Boyz drum band. Day have some surfers in da group. Day tell you where da good waves are." Yeah right. "Oh, and bring some sun lotion too mon," He said staring at my sweat covered freckles, "or you will surely die."

At noon the next day Mrs.Foon gently woke me up. I felt like I'd been hit by that runaway train driven by the BOOM Boys. When I asked Mrs.Foon how I got back she said she didn't know but woke up to find me standing naked (not a pretty sight) on our top floor balcony and howling my brains out at a bright blanket of stars in a pitch black sky. When she tried to calm me down she said all I could scream was, "KOOMNAH TOOKAI SHOKRA FOON!!" And that I seemed very upset by this. When she called the hotel doctor he simple said, "Mrs.Foondoggy, your husband has Island Fever. He'll survive, but will never be the same."

A few hours later I sat, zombie-like, at the edge of the Hilton pool, my brain and body painfully wracked by the throbbing after effects of loud drums and mindnumbing rum. I was reading the note Mrs.Foon found stuck in our hotel room door that morning. It read, "Dear Lady, Please take good care of you husband. He has the soul of a drummer, but should not be left on his own around rum and music. Bring him back to us at Carnival, we can always use another line player." signed Horace.

I gazed up from the letter to sip my first Caribe beer of the day only to see a smiling Jambsheed Khan coming toward me. He looked concerned when he saw my condition (Mrs.Foon had described me as "pathetic") and nodded his head sympathetically when I explained what happened. He said, "I hesitate to mention this Mr.Foondoggy but just this morning my son called from Galera Point, at the North East coast. He mentioned to me that the swimming beaches were being closed because the waves were up to 2 meters high." I quickly did the math and squinted painfully at Jambsheed. "How far and how much my friend." He smiled and said, "It is an hours ride and $240 TTs" (Trinidad/Tobago dollars, worth about $40 US) I sighed deeply not really wanting to abandon the poolside tranquillity that was just beginning to heal my injured brain. "Get the car please, Jambsheed, and meet me around front in 10 minutes. And by the way Jambsheed - if there are no waves, it's only $120, Kapish?" "As you wish, Mr.Foondoggy. And I should also mention to you sir the roads are very bad up there." "Aw shit," my head hurt even more just hearing that. As he turned away I could see my driver smiling broadly in amusement. God this was going to be a long day.


Trini-Trippin Pt.4 Good Ju-Ju Risin

December 1997/12/05

On one of the small trips Jambsheed took me on, we went to a government run beach park where many tourists would come on weekends. On this weekday morning the place was almost empty and I pretty much had the small tempting, chest high waves to myself. I joined a few local kids out in the water and immediately my presence was cause for great interest. The boys were all riding flat pieces of polystyrene packing foam as boogieboards and were mostly going straight in.

After my first few rides going down the line, completed with spray-spewing pullouts a small boy about 10 years old asked me how I did that? I explained to him the nature of my bodyboard and the use of swim fins to catch waves, and to turn and control the speed and direction of the board. I then launched into a few waves to demonstrate. He seem very enthusiastic about riding the waves so I pushed him into a few of his own, but my fins were too big for him. Nonetheless the boy named "Naz" was a quick study in the use of a bodyboard and soon he was catching and riding waves of his own. Later I discussed the aspects of tricks like belly spins (which he easily mastered) and tube rolls (which he didn't.) Soon I was having more fun watching him try different things on my board than I was riding, so I went back up on the beach.

About an hour later Naz came out and returned my board praising its speed and color. We both sat down under a shade tree to talk about surfing. Soon Naz went over to a small cluster of bushes and pulled out an old African hand drum. He proceeded to play happily amazing me with his expertise. When I showed some interest in the drum, Naz told me he and his brothers would play at the beach for tourists hoping to make a small amount of money. He explained to me the sacred heritage of his drum and other types of African drums he had. Then he demonstrated the incredibly complex and creative way to play the hand drum, showing me each area of the fingers and palm to use and where and how to strike the drum to achieve a distinct sound. The kid had more chops at age 10, than I would have in my whole life. I was truly humbled by the sincere way Naz explained all this to me, willingly and without hesitation.

When it came time to leave I thanked Naz and pulled on my t-shirt. As I pulled it down Naz was mesmerized by the comic image on the front. It showed the muppets character "Animal" flailing away on his drums and it read "Always take your Drums Seriously." Naz could not take his eyes off this shirt. As I got up to leave impulsively I took off the shirt and gave it to him. His eyes went wide with delight and even though it was many sizes too big for him I could see he was ecstatic with joy.

I found Jambsheed parked under a shade tree. When he asked me about my shirt, I mentioned the boy Naz. Jambsheed said he knew the boy and his brothers well. They often would play drums for the tourists, but were very poor and lived in a squatters shack on government property nearby. He added that the boys did not go to school and had a very bleak future due to the bad island economy. Drumming was about the only thing they could do for money. Thinking about how cheerfully Naz had talked to me, this piece of news would bother me for days.

On the last day of our trip I asked Jambsheed to take us to the airport. He did so gladly since over the entire week he'd made over $200 US just driving us around the island. Descendant of an old Hindu family, Jambsheed's family had made a living for generations in the service industries of Trinidad. I found Jambsheed to be totally honest, trustworthy and loyal, and he was a pretty funny guy when you got to know him. (He really had a way with knock knock jokes).

As he unloaded our bags at the gate to the airline, I took out a huge wad of TT dollars, far in excess of the fare to the airport, and which would be totally useless to me in the states. I realized there was no way to redeem them at the airport so I took Jambsheed aside and thanked him for all he had done for us. I gave him the wad of bills but he refused to take more than he was owed for the ride. I stared him in the eye and said, "Jambsheed, I am going to ask you to do one last thing for me which, if you agree, you will have earned this money. I want you to take my bodyboard and give to Naz at the beach and tell him it is a gift from me." Jambsheed looked up at me for a long time and considered this request. Finally he said, "Mr.Foondoggy, you know the boy will only use this gift as means to make money. He will sell it, or more probably rent it to tourists at the beach. He will not properly keep it as a gift." I nodded that I understood this and said, "It's not important what he does with it Jambsheed, it's only important that he get it. Of all of the people on this island Naz is truly the only one to give me a great gift. He gave me such great knowledge and understanding of his hand drum that it is something I will have forever, and for that I am very grateful."

Jambsheed looked at me with a steady eye and smiled, "This is a very good thing you do Mr.Foondoggy. I will be happy to give the board to Naz for you. Thank you very much on his behalf."

With that I shook Jambsheed's hand and hoisted our bags to go to the departure gate. Mrs.Foon immediately reminded me I'd forgotten my board. When I told her what I'd done she stopped and stared at me, shaking her head. "You know Foonboy, every time I think you are a complete unredeemable asshole, you go and do something like this." "Yep" I said. "The kid made a big impression on you, didn't he?" "Yep" I said, again. We walked along a little way then she stopped and asked, "I hope this is worth it to you Foonboy?" Then she added, smiling intuitively, "You're going to write about this aren't you?" I grinned and continued onto the security checkpoint. "Yep" I said.

Believe or not there are times I am a man of very few words. I didn't utter a peep as the burly airport security felt me up looking for weapons. When he asked me if I was carrying a machete all I could say was, "Nope". But I thought, "Now I ask you, do I look like a guy who would carry a machete?"


Trini-Trippin Pt.6, My Caribbean Dream

Sat, 06 Dec 1997

Daniel was a dude.....he was also the elderly taxi driver who had taken us the day before for an island tour of Tobago. At age 67, a native and a very religious man, there wasn't much Daniel didn't know about Tobago and proved it around every turn of the corkscrew road that followed the perimeter of the island. Everywhere we went people would wave at Daniel, be they relatives, friends, acquaintances or just people who recognized his ancient tricked out Nissan four door (More chrome bolt on shit than a Manila Jeepney).

Daniel was also a businessman. He was one of several licensed drivers who regularly taxied people at our resort hotel. When Daniel was on duty he always wore a light-weight suit, long-sleeve dress shirt, matching and complementary tie, a light colored porkpie hat with attractive headband, and some tasteful and expensive looking gold jewelry. He was extremely polite and quickly won our hearts as the goodwill ambassador of Tobago. During out tour he gently warned us not to do certain things that were too dangerous - walk in the jungle or swamp (Dengue Fever) or rent a car and drive around the island at night (Bandits who thought nothing of blocking the road and robbing obvious tourists). But at the same time, Daniel would delight us with stories of his island and it's people. I thought this place must be much like Hawaii was before it was exploited.

That night I curbed my Rum punch intake in anticipation of going to Mt.Irvine Bay early the next morning, Sunday. I'd hoped to get there before the crowd of locals showed up as was suggested by my friend Tee-o-dor. When we drove by the point on our tour I had gotten very excited by the Malibu-type long lines I'd seen wrapping the point, but was equally offput by the 30-40 surfers I saw fighting for position. It was true, Mt.Irvine was definitely the place to ride, with a rock/reef bottom, clear clean water, a prominent point for waves to line up on and a mostly prevailing and warm offshore breeze. It also seemed to hold waves up to headhigh plus very easily. I spent the balance of the evening watching all the other tourists in the hotel do their thing. As the only Americans we were considered somewhat of a curiosity since we weren't acting like total assholes. By my observation the Germans drank too much, the Brits talked too much, and the Canadians......geesh what planet are they from? eh? Talk about inferiority complex, they felt they had to defend everything Canadian to us, because there's so much American influence in their country.

The next morning I was out early telling the dozing Mrs.Foon to come join me at Mt.Irvine if I didn't come back soon. It was actually a long walk or a short drive, so I struck out on my own down the single lane road working up a sweat quickly in the humid 85 degree air. Shortly I heard a car coming behind me so I moved to the side of the road. A light horn tap turned my head and I saw Daniel peering out the window of his car smiling and gesturing me to come closer. In the back seat were Daniel's 3 great grandchildren - three of the cutest little girls I'd ever seen, all dressed up in their church clothes.

Daniel was taking them to Church services but offered to drive me to the beach, no charge. As I got in the car I could hear the melodious notes of some calypso/gospel music playing on the tapedeck. I looked in the back and smiled at the girls who immediately collapsed in giggles (Who dat funny looking white man grandpa?) As we got near the beach I told Daniel I hoped I'd be early enough to beat the crowd. Daniel said most assuredly, "Dere won be no local boys this mornin, Mr.Fuundaggy." When I asked how he knew that, he replied, "All dem boys is ver religious. Dey all be in church dis mornin at lease til noon, den dey be back at da beech."

Daniel slowed the car and pulled off the side of the road to let me out. In the distance I could see the point cranking. Long lines of 4-7 wave sets the biggest looking about headhigh, a slight offshore breeze....and only 5 guys out. I could not believe my luck. I said good-bye to Daniel who generously offered to take me to his church. I smiled and said, "Today Daniel I'm worshipping at the Temple of the Emerald Wave right here at Mt.Irvine." He laughed and said, "Dere aint no such church here Mr.Fuundaggy, but I do believe you could start one, I know plenty of boys who would come."

I quickly put on my rashguard and hat and fairly bolted for the water. The tide was low so there was a nasty rockdance situation which I quickly averted by deciding to paddle out in deeper water where some fishing boats were moored. When I got out to the line up I was to receive possibly the biggest shock of my trip. Of the five men out 4 were young or middle-aged shortboarders, all of whom could rip. The fifth guy was a bodyboarder and this I swear to God is true. The guy was my clone. A bit younger but the same coloration and body type, and this is what really got to me. He was wearing a white baseball hat and blue rashguard, just like I do. As soon as we saw each other we kinda like blinked as if we saw something strange in a mirror, then immediately bonded. Our skill levels were almost identical, Tomas had a few more tricks up his sleeve, but both of us could hang in the pocket as long as the wave was unwinding. We quickly formed a friendly union, trading waves and hooting each other as we paddled out.

The outside point set up with a long leisurely wall that was ideal for the shortboarders, they could windmill and rip til their arms fell off. Even if the lip caught you, it was easy to drop down below the whitewater and still have enough slope to motor out onto the wall again. After doing this a few times I realized this was not the part of the wave I wanted. Inside as the waves felt the effects of the shallower reef, they really stoodup and pitched. They could form a small but hollow barrel, not quite big enough for a stand-up to get in, but plenty large enough for a bodyboarder to tuck into. And God did I get tucked!!

Tomas turned out to be a Venezuelan of European descent. Very personable, educated and worldly. In between sets we would compare stories of our experiences in Trinidad, and he would tell me about South American surfing. When the waves came, the standups would snatch the outside sections but get bored or too lazy to paddle all the way out, so they often would abandon them after taking the initial wall. Tomas and I pretty much had the inside to ourselves and had a blast ripping and stylin the waves all the way in til it became too shallow and dangerous to ride. In three hours I rode more waves than I had collectively on my whole trip.

About noon vans and pickups started to arrive with many new riders. The line up soon became clogged with dozens of superb surfers jockeying for position. As always the prevailing attitude toward bodyboarders was less than cordial and I noticed that the right of way rules were ignored when Tom and I got a wave first. Normally, I would do something to assert myself in these situations, but I was painfully aware I was a guest in this country and most of the local boys were not about to put up with a pushy outsider. Besides, I'm sure everyone of them had a machete in their lunch box.

Mrs.Foon came to the beach later and we spent the afternoon watching the locals put on a surfing show like I hadn't seen in a long time. Got some pics too. Tomas and I parted ways congratulating each other on a fine day of riding. That night I collapsed in a hammock outside the beach lanai and listened to pan drum music while watching the brightest stars in the blackest sky I've ever seen. The Old Oak rum worked it's magic and in my dreams I was tearing up another emerald island wall.

There are few trips in your life when you get memories that stay with you. This one is a keeper for me. I don't know if I'll ever get to go back, I kinda suspect this was a very special circumstance that cannot be repeated. So I'll keep the images locked in my mind and pull them out like an old photo album this winter, when I'm freezin my ass off. I'll sip a little rum, play a little calypso music and send myself back to my Caribbean Dream.


Eat the Rich

Fri, 12 Dec 1997

During the first few months of my first marriage, my ex was determined to impress me with all the rich people her family knew. To that end she got us invited to the summer home of one of the President's of Prudential Insurance in East Hampton or Amagannsett. I was unknowing of how rich people lived but I was soon to find out it's a whole different world. As I drove my '68 Beetle Bug up to the huge iron gates one sunny day in July, 1971, I thought for a moment I probably shouldn't have brought my surfboard on this trip. The gates looked ominous and threatening and they definitely conveyed the idea of "do not enter." (unless you're wealthy)

We drove the quarter mile of crushed white granite driveway through the impeccably landscaped formal gardens up to the main house. It was a huge brick colonial Jeffersonian mansion with white columns and towering windows. It was no Hearst Castle, but DAMN, this was only a summer place and it smacked of plantation mentality. The doorman greeted us with genuine phony pleasantness and told me my car would be driven down to the garage (pronounced ga-ridge) All the better to hide it I assumed. My wife's friend was the son of the family named Steven, and he came and helped us with our stuff. We were given a room in a guest wing of the house that had 12 bedrooms, all with separate baths. The main part of the house consisted of a huge salon area bordered with 3 different dining rooms, one room on each side of the house except the front. Steven invited us to get settled then asked us to join him on the pool patio overlooking the ocean.

Steven was a rich kid who after receiving a gold plated education at Yale, decided his life's work was to restore old Harley motorcycles and surf. My wife told me he had spent a few years driving around the country on his bikes, living off his dad's money and surfing wherever and whenever the spirit moved him. He was a long haired and bearded rebel who obviously was not the apple of his Daddy's eye, but as long as he stayed out of trouble, he could do his thing.

Steven's Father was a hugely arrogant rich man who's family name reeked of "old money" and to whom fabulous wealth was as normal as breathing. This summer mansion had been built by his father during the big money days of the 20s and it sat like a massive testament to his families good fortune on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The 12 foot ivy covered walls that ringed the 10 acre property kept the riff raff out, and the money in. Every day in the summer he would fly is own private plane from Montauk up to Hartford (pronounced Haatfud) Connecticut where Prudential's Headquarters was. On the night we met him, he had just thrown a full plate of food against one of the diningroom walls because his green beans were not hot enough. The man was the living personification of the words "pressure" and "unhappiness".

After surveying the sumptuous accommodations (24 carat faucets in the bathroom) we joined Steven on the pool patio for a gin and tonic (Tangarey, of course) Steven was a likable sort, who genuinely wanted to connect with the little people. He just had no concept of how people who didn't have money lived. As we looked out at the private beach his family owned, a pleasant looking beach break was throwing up some nice looking waves. He invited me to join him in a surf before the cocktail reception that was being held in our honor later in the afternoon. When I told him I had to go to my car to get my gear, he said, "That's all been taken care of Foon, just get in your trunks and meet me on the beach."

My wife decided to stay by the pool and get a headstart on her buzz for the reception. I quickly got my trunks and headed down the stairway to the beach. On the beach the service staff had set up a temporary canvas cabana complete with real wooden lounge chairs, aluminum coolers of drinks, and a picnic basket of exotic snacks. Big, fluffy, dark blue towels were neatly folded on each chair and my board and shorty wetsuit were set out for my use. I met Steven and he laughed at the look of amazement on my face when I noticed my board had been "pre-waxed" by one of the staff. He smiled, "They make it pretty easy for us here, but that's their job. Actually they all love working for my dad, he pays well and is rarely around." I looked at my waxed board and said, "Maybe one of the staff would like to paddle me out while they're at it." Without blinking Steven said, "Well they can't do that, but if you want me to ask them to get the skiff, I'm sure something can be arranged." At that point I was sure I had entered the twilight zone.

Steven and I spent a great two hours trading rides in the light green waves of Amagannsett. There was no one around for miles. About four o'clock one of the servants rang a large ship's bell on top of the cliff, signaling us we were expected in soon to dress for the reception. I finished off my last wave and was met by one of the staff by the water's edge who offered to take my board and suit and store them until the next day. Having a "board caddie" made me feel real uneasy and I already was developing a bad attitude about the rich. The reception was my worst nightmare come true.

The pool patio had been newly decorated with fresh flowers and twinkly lights. An open bar was off to the side in a quickly erected striped tent. The quests were mostly young rich people who showed up because they were so monumentally bored and wanted to do some "face time" with their rich contemporaries. I was not informed that I was expected to "dress" for the occasion, so my canvas shorts, OP T-shirt and flip flops pretty much set me apart from the richly dressed but casual crowd. Air kisses abounding and I quickly got sick of being introduced to limp handed socialites who never looked me in the eye but said hello out of obligation as their eyes glanced around looking for someone way more important than me. The caper came when a half bagged, rich bitch cornered me and asked, "Are you of the Foondoggies from Cincinnati?" Obviously a reference to a blueblood clan of the same name that could be found in the "green book" (the handbook of the social elite.) I stared this pathetic vacuum-brain in the eye, swigged my beer and burped, "No, I'm of the Foondoggies from Nu Yawk City!" Her eyes flew open in surprise as if I had farted loudly, and she quickly moved away saying, "oh my."

Besides feeling distinctly uncomfortable among all the rich people who's preoccupation with their own empty lives became very boring, I was getting fairly pissed off by the fact that my host was hitting on my wife. I decided to walk down to the ga-ridge to see what kind of iron the rich folks drove. The eight stall garage was "eat off the floor" clean. Dad had a big Rolls for tooling around town, Mom had some cream colored convertible Mercedes, and there were also an assortment of Jaguars (pronounced Jag U ars) Beemers, and a Range Rover. In the corner Steven had set up his restoration shop and had two Harleys in various stages of rebuild. In a rack on the side were at least 15 boards of various sizes and flavors neatly placed in size order. My stomach churned at the thought.

Later in the evening, after a formal dinner of stuff I couldn't even pronounce the name of and a cigar smoke and brandy filled few hours of billiards, we excused ourselves to go to bed. One of the servants approached me and asked not only what we would like for breakfast, but which dining room we would like too eat in? When I asked what he suggested, he simply said, "Crepes in the East room sir." Instead I said, "I want donuts and coffee down on the beach by 7, and have our bags and car packed ready to go by noon, we're leaving." With obvious surprise the man said, "Yes sir, as you wish. Then added smiling, "It's been a pleasure having you as a guest Mr.Foondoggy, it's been a long time since a real person has actually entered this home. But I understand why you must leave."

After two hours of glassy, good waves I carried my own board up to the house and trudged through the living room, sandcovered and soaking wet saying my good-byes. I'd never see these folks again which suited us both. As we raced down the driveway, I was relieved to get outta there and away from the stink of old money. Eat the rich. (Bill Gates ... beware)


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