Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 05  

God Bless Snowboarding!

Sun, 08 Feb 1998

Ok admittedly the ramblings of a winter stranded, surfstarved kook, but when has that ever stopped me.

I don't know much about snowboarding. The two neighbor boys are "in" to it deeply. It's all they can talk about, and it even ranks higher in their hearts to skateboarding. Both are accomplished skate and snowboard halfpipers (thanks to them I almost killed myself last Memorial Day).

No, the most I've ever witnessed were some highly stylized, and glamorously photographed snowboarding movies that spent long languorous minutes of super slow-mo footage tracing every nuance of some guy carving mile long turns in some snowfield at the top of the world. The airs were infinite, the drops worthy of carrying a chute, but in the final analysis I came away with the feeling these guys were just some frustrated surfers or skateboarders looking for a bigger, colder, wetter thrill. The Olympics has changed my mind.

This weekend I sat through 6 hours of tedious, mediocre Olympics coverage before I got to witness real competition in just one event. If CBS network is trying to blow their chance at an Emmy for their reportage, they should just lay back and continue what they are doing. As terrible and frustrating as the two week long commercial that was the Atlanta summer games was, CBS seems committed to killing you with the tedium of their talking heads and boring video pieces, in the hope that the actual competition will keep you clinging to their every 8.5 minute commercial breaks. I've already busted one remote in disgust.

So on a frustrating Saturday afternoon I sat down for what was to be the first event of Giant Slalom Snowboarding. I was mesmerized. These boys can carve and not in slomo but at what appears to be 150 mph. The centrifugal force of the turns around the gates has most of these guys laying out so far some have mounted skid plates on their thighs so when they lean over and touch the snow, they aren't slowed down. Real time views of the Giant Slalom were fixating - the speed, the control, the balls. I'm a believer. My blithe comparisons of snowboarders to surfers have been thrown out the window.

And what a wacky crew of characters. Contrary to the rigid and reserved demeanor of the other competitors, the snowboarders are letting it all hang out. Using their own peculiar sport jargon which one called "Shredonics" the world journalists are turning to each other in wonder at what language these boys are talking. When one was asked how he puts up with all the attention the new sport is receiving by the world press. dudeboy slim answers without hesitation "I imagine all of you naked." Well imagine Nancy Kerrigan saying that!?

I really hope the snowboarders shake up the international Olympic community, and I'm not saying here I ever want surfing to become an Olympic sport either. It's just that compared to ice dancing, biathlon, Nordic skiing, curling and ice sculpture, snowboarding is the most interesting, exciting, balls out thing going at the Winter Games.

One journalist wrote that CBS's preliminary coverage of the games was so insufferably bad that he decided to go "channel snowboarding" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If the sport can do no more than replace surfing as the metaphor for cruising channels or the internet then I for one will give it a great big tip of the old "Surf Free or Die" cap and say most sincerely... YOU DUDES RULE, MAN!!!



Tue, 10 Feb 1998

Andy Willis wrote:

can anyone provide me with details of breaks in tobago

I was in Tobago over Thanksgiving Andy and it is truly a beautiful if primitive island.

Though I didn't have a lot of time to search and try all the breaks, my tour of the island did reveal a few. The East, or Atlantic side generally breaks more often because of the prevailing Easterly winds. I started my search in Scarborough and immediately observed several beach breaks worth riding. Just past Scarborough is Minister Bay formed on the East by Minister Point. This appeared to me to be a big grinding left with several reef formations on the outside and a booming beach break on the inside. It was too big and rough the day I went by. All along the coastal road from Scarborough up to Roxborough I saw several inviting beach and point breaks with nobody out. Given the right swell and wind conditions, anyone of these places, most with no names, could be good.

But for my money the very best place I rode was on the West or Caribbean side, at a place called Mt.Irvine Bay. A classic reef right with a prevailing offshore breeze. It gets crowded because it gets so good. There is a public beach right there with changing rooms, restaurants, and a surf shop which rents all manner of boards and equipment. The people are very friendly. For more detailed reports on breaks, I'd check the shop at Mt.Irvine and talk to them about other breaks.


Surfing El Nino, Bayou Style

Tue, 10 Mar 1998

I was in New Orleans recently and after 4 days of attending the Mother of all Analytical Chemistry conferences I was ready for some "wildlife". In my short stay near Bourbon Street I had learned a few facts: "Hurricanes" are both a lethal kind of storm and a lethal kind of drink served in tall glasses and made with powerful rum. Things don't appear to be what they seem under the influence of a hurricane i.e. the dropdead gorgeous, statuesque, longlegged blond, wearing a painted on mini over the world's most perfect ass, that I was following down the street one night.....was really a guy (who was appearing in some transvestite show on Bourbon). The worst Jazz bands in New Orleans are better than most jazz bands anywhere else.

With several nights of prowling the French Quarter to recover from, I decided to head out of town for an airboat ride in swamp country. Guided by the non-specific suggestion to "head for Murty's" I drove East into some of the wettest real estate I've ever seen.

El Nino has not only taken it's toll on the Left Coast, it's deposited a record amount of water in the Bayou country. Areas that were once above water and just soggy, are now several feet under water. The locals are predicting a very bad spring in the low country of Louisiana this year. The Bayous of Gulf coast Louisiana are strangely beautiful and wild. The brackish water is teaming with wild life and kinda stunk as it perked in the hot sun.

I missed the turn to Murtys Airboat Rides three times since the land mark and sign to turn was actually under water. As I drove up to his wreck of a cabin he shuffled out on the porch wondering what kinda city slicker was he going to have to deal with now. By my reckoning Murty looked to be between 80-95 years old, wrinkled, bent over, twitchy, blind in one eye and mebbe 4 teeth in his head. Eons of swamp living were etched on his cocoa brown face but the one good eye twinkled with life and the slow speaking drawl did little to hide the razor sharp wit of the man. He'd been dealing with tourists and thrill seekers all his life.

After sharing a mudbug (Louisiana crawfish) poboy sandwich with him that I had brought along we moved very slowly toward Murty's ancient aluminum airboat. I sat on a bench seat hanging onto a rope for safety and Murty gave me some ear protection because the engine got kinda loud. Murty was a slow moving guy until he sat up in the captains chair of that boat. Then, godallmighty, the old coot became a raging Cajun. Since the water was high, there was lots of open spaces to "get it on" and once we cleared the small swamp channel, Murty opened that sucker up! Though it seemed like we were going 100 mph, we were really only doing about 50-60. Murty didn't know, or care when I asked. It was plenty fast for me. I could hear him cackling behind me through the ear protection and engine noise as he tore ass up one channel and down another whip turning that battered chunk of aluminum on a dime, almost throwing me out a few times (oh, he loved that, HA!!)

After about an hour of high speed "fun" he back tracked through some overgrown but truly gorgeous swamp pausing to show me the sights, including a collection of extremely large and ominous gators.

Back at his crummy shack, Murty and I shared a local beer called Abita and he briefly expanded on his philosophy of life and surfing. (?)

"Didja see them goddam surfers on Good Morning America this week young feller?"

"Well, yeah Murty, they were showing some big wave riding that occurred in Mexico recently." (I was stunned that Murty had a TV.)

"Sheet boy, them goddam surfers must be outta their minds surfin that El Nino like that. That's the biggest water I've ever seen. Tall as a swamp cypress. You'd never catch me goin' in no ocean to face that kinda thing. Damn foolish if ya ask me."

"Didn't you ever do anything foolish in your life Murty, just to see if you could do it?"

"Sure, me'in my brother used to rassle gators for the tourists many years ago. Some were biguns too."

"How big Murty?"

"Mebbe two-three hunnert pounds, and nasty..... But them gators was smart, they knew if they hurt me'in my brother they wernt gonna get that live chicken for dinner at the end of the day." (Murty broke into a hysterical cackle) So they let us flop 'em around and stick stuff in their mouths, and later we'd give 'em a chicken."

"Sounds dangerous to me Murty."

"Oh, it was dangerous all right. One of them biguns roll on top of you, thrashing around, you could get broke up pretty good. You can't tell the mood of a gator looking in them eyes. Them eyes is dead eyes, no life,....dead staring blank. Reading a gator is all body english, you watch for the signs, then move outta the way when they gets to twitchin." "So Murty, wouldn't you agree that surfers challenging big waves to test their skill and courage against the ocean is similar to you facing off a gator?"

"Sheet no boy. You get caught by one of them huge waves, you a dead man. With a gator, once he got a chunk of an arm or leg, he's happy....and you can survive that." As he held up his left hand missing 2 fingers and started laughing his toothless cackle again.

After seeing Taylor Knox take the 50 foot drop in Mexico some weeks ago, I had to agree, Murty had a point there.


Death is a distant rumor to the young

April 03 1998

Long, introspective, grab a beer or change the channel.

"Life would be infinitely happier if we were born at the age of eighty and gradually approached eighteen."
- Samuel Clemens

Foonman woke up with his usual subliminal precision. He opened his eyes at precisely 6:00am and stared peacefully at his wife who was sleeping quietly beside him. He looked at the woman, worshipping her very existence and wondered what his life would have been without her by his side. A twinge of pain seized him at the very thought.

He sat up slowly and looked out the picture window of his bedroom that overlooked the beach in Duck, North Carolina. The retirement home he'd built in 2004 had been his life's dream and a reward for the hard work and conscientious saving he and his wife had done most of their lives. It was his pride and joy. At first glance he knew the long awaited swell from a gigantic offshore Hurricane named Nancy had arrived overnight. Windows shook in their frames with each concessive explosion of another wave pounding the beach front. Surfers all along the Outer Banks had been waiting and watching for this day to come. Though the storm remained well offshore, the massive swells spoke volumes of it's strength and power. Foonman had made his own preparations for this day.

He was as ready as he'd ever be.

Walking slowly into the kitchen to get his already steaming cup of coffee, compliments of his Mr.Coffee machine, he went through his mental checklist of aches and pains. The arthritis in his hip was bad as usual, but after warming up and taking his usual 800mgs of Motrin, it would calm down. His lower back and shoulders continued to be very sore from working in the yard, but he could ignore that. Curiously the knifelike pains from his stomach were absent this morning, letting him make the decision to skip his pain pills today. He needed to be on top of his game in the water. It was going to be a big day.

He'd been waiting all summer for the kind of swell that was here now. The doctor had told him to go ahead and go surfing as often as he wanted and the summer had offered up a variety of swells to let him practice on. He always looked forward to the peace and tranquillity he found in the ocean and the long hours he spent there helped him sort out all the things he needed to think about. Just recently he had spent a few days with his lawyer and accountant setting up a trust fund for his daughter and checking on his investments and insurance policies. Though he'd made a killing in the bull market of the late 90's, financial matters were of no interest to him now. Let the accountants sort out all that stuff, he had waves to ride.

Walking back to the bedroom he leaned over and kissed his wife softly and whispered in her ear. She murmured her response and he left, slowly closing the door behind him. On the way down the stairs to his dented and rusted out old Ford Explorer he glanced over the protective dune to see the first amazing signs of what would be a glorious sunrise. He decided the old 8'6" round pintail would be his ride today. Good floatation and speedy enough to race a few waves. He tossed a small thermos of coffee and a bag of donuts on the passenger seat then hoisted the board onto the roof rack. Suddenly he heard the soft woofing of his old dog Jake, who even at age 14 was always eager to join him on dawn patrol. He walked over to the slat wood fence and rubbed the dog's aging, white mussel through a space. Jake looked up hopefully wagging his tail, eyes begging to be invited along. The huge Chesapeake Bay Retriever had been his companion on many a morning run, but today he was just going to have to stay behind. Foonman had no idea of how long he'd be gone this day and hesitated to bring the big dog along only to have him stay in the truck.

On the way to the Army Research Pier the first fiery tendrils of dawn began to streak the horizon. The massive spirally walls of the storm could be seen as they textured the distant sky. Pulling into his secret parking place Foonman was surprised to see no one there. "Oh man," he thought "it must really be going off down South, either at the Hatteras Lighthouse or Buxton." The cool offshores were holding the big walls up until they were well into the sandbars, then they would pitch out and crash down with jackhammer perfection. This was some serious poundage. He walked back to lock up the truck but just tossed the keys on the driver's seat instead. He wasn't sure why except there was no one around.

Kneeling on the shore to attach his leash and mutter the prayer for safety he always made anytime he entered big water, Foonman was suddenly seized with a spasm of pain so sharp an involuntary sob escaped his lips. Damn, he thought, the doctor said it was going to get bad but thought it might be weeks before he had to use the self injected morphine packs. When he'd learned that the radiation treatments he'd endured all summer had done little to stop the raging stomach cancer he had, the doctor offered to supply him with the injectable drugs whenever he wanted. It was all he could do for him. The doctor quietly told him he had a few months at best and the end was going to be ugly and painful. Strangely, Foonman was not frightened by the prognosis and deep in his soul he knew it would never come to that. He was certain of God's love and protection.

As the spasm receded he slowly hoisted his board and waded into the shorebreak hoping to beat the next big set and the next violent spasm outside. His board lurched ahead swiftly through the water propelled by arms that had worked tirelessly in the gym and daily surfing sessions in preparation for just this occasion. Luckily he made it over the big spraying tops of the next set and made it outside into the lineup. His experienced eye told him the swell was building. It would be closing out within the next hour or so.

Picking off a few smooth walls he rode a few shoulders to get used to the speed and movement of the, exciting and violent when they broke. His abilities would be sorely tested today and he fought to maintain a high clean trim, inside rail glued to the wave face, for maximum speed and the option of launching out the top when they came over. He tried to relax and enjoy the session. If only he could ignore the ever increasing pain in his gut. Twice when spitting out seawater he could see the spittle was tinted with blood.

During a long lull he reflected on his long and good life. His wife and daughter were such a joy to him and his years of activity in the sport of surfing had carried him through some hard times and enhanced the good times. There was many a time when he sought the good counsel of the ocean, to settle his thoughts and put his life in perspective. He glanced at the shore and admired his beloved Outer Banks, the jewel of the Right Coast. He'd been visiting these special waters almost all of his life and they'd supplied him with a lifetime of good memories.

This particular day was becoming one of those epic days. The waves he'd managed to ride had been some of the finest he'd caught in his life. The tremendous feeling of accomplishment he felt almost offset the sharp pain in his midsection that felt like someone grinding a giant corkscrew into his stomach. His life was good, his life was complete. He loved his family and this very moment with an intensity he hoped would carry him through whatever he faced.

A dark green shadow darkened the horizon as a 5 wave monster set formed outside. The biggest and last wave was a massive uniform wall of water destined to closeout when it found the shallow drag of the sand bar inside, but it would be no less...the wave of the day. Foonman raced outside to meet the gathering wave knowing it may catch him as he did so. The adrenaline rush erased all sensations except that of excitement as he sized up where he would make his turn. As he whirled his board around toward shore he could see the warm sun toasting the seaoats in the dunes, the flocks of seabirds and the beautiful sand beaches. It took his breath away.

With two strokes he launched into the wave face, turning high he inched up on the big board for maximum speed. The pintail found it's groove and raced down the line toward a distance point it would never reach. Suddenly he realized it had always been his dream to pull off a Cheater Five on a big wave like he'd seen Jeff Hakman do in the movies at Sunset Beach. The wave seemed big and steep enough, the water was clear and blue and it seemed like an ideal time to try....what did he have to lose? Slowly he shuffled toward the front of the streaking board and semi-squated near the nose, tentatively reaching his right foot out to the tip. The time/space/slowdown thing he'd experienced on big waves before, kicked in as he sat in wonder of it all. His every sense soaked up the nuances of the moment and his mind drifted to thoughts of his wife and family and the exquisite love he felt for them. He turned to glance at his reflection in the perfectly smooth waveface and he saw a man at peace with himself and his life....smiling, performing a maneuver he'd never done before in his life. He was as happy as he'd ever been.

Out of nowhere a thick-lipped piledriver of water crashed down on him, ripping the leash from his leg and driving him down to the very bottom. He felt himself pinned to the sandbar on his back and he stared up in wonder at what had happened. It occurred to him that he loved it where he was, and he never wanted to leave. But slowly, as the whitewater dissipated and cleared he could see the sun as it shown through the green tinted water and he began to float toward the surface....toward the bright, warm, light of the sun.

* * * * *

She had cleared the messages off the answering machine but remained puzzled by Dr. Wheeler's voice. It seemed strained. It had been two years since Foonman had drown and she still kept in touch with the doctor as she attempted to put the pieces of her life together. The insurance policies had covered and secured everything, but just recently she knew she could never stay in the beach house, with it's joyful memories left to taunt her. She'd just put the place on the market.

She dialed Doctor Wheeler's number and waited for him to pickup.


"Hi, Roy, it's JoAnne."

"Oh, hi JoAnne. I know it's been a long time but something has been bothering me for the last two years and now that you've made plans to leave the area, I needed to come clean with you."

"What is it Roy?"

"The autopsy. I lied. I wrote that your husband drown hoping that the insurance companies would not investigate his condition and think that he committed suicide. But that wasn't the case."

"What do you mean Roy? What happened?"

"He didn't drown JoAnne, there was no aspirated water in his lungs and the tests showed cause of death was not due to drowning." Dr.Wheeler's voice got a strange tone to it.

"Then how did he die Roy. What was it?"

"This is hard to explain JoAnne, and I'm not really sure I can. I've never seen anything like this, even with a person in your husband's condition. It's like......he just decided not to live anymore. As though he'd gotten to a point in his life where he'd tried and done everything he wanted and decided to stop living....I....I can't explain this."

"I understand Roy. You'd have to have lived with the man to know what this means and I know exactly what happened. It wasn't fear of death, it wasn't the fear of what was left of his life. It was experiencing the love of his life and the knowledge that he may not be able to have that any more. He was not a coward, but in my eyes he was a hero. Thanks for calling Roy, you've answered a question I've had for a long time now. Thanks for your help."

"Bye JoAnne, take care."

She hung up the phone and pondered the whispered statement Foonman had spoken to her in the darkness of their bedroom that morning. Instead of saying, "I love you honey." Like he always did before he left, he said,

"I'll love you forever." She couldn't remember what she said, but recalled feeling vaguely at peace. Just as she did now.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear,"
- I John 4:18

- Foon

Surfing...the perfect Mid-life Crisis

Sat, 04 Apr 1998

While down in the basement surfshrine the other night, by way of a weird configuration of heating ducts, I could hear MrsFoon up in the living room with two of her friends, dishing their middle-aged husbands and the new behaviors they were demonstrating.

MrsBill: I don't know what's gotten into him lately, all he thinks about is his damn sports car. He can't even fit in the thing without folding up like a lawn chair.

MrsBob: All Bob lives and breaths is golf. He is consumed by every facet of the sport.

MrsFoon: Foonboy, plays the drums everyday, listens to jazz music, smokes an occasional cigar and surfs. Of course he did all this when I met him, so he really hasn't changed that much.

MrsBill: Every weekend Bill is off to some rally or sports car club event. Sometimes he's gone for the whole weekend and when he does come back he stinks of booze, grease and oil.

MrsBob: Bob and his buds are gone at the crack of dawn every Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes they play golf all day then they hit the 19th hole for drinks and before you know it, it's almost dark. I never see the guy and when he does come home he goes right to sleep in his recliner (unless there's a golf match on).

MrsFoon: Foonboy leaves me at the crack of dawn whenever there's waves, usually with a kiss. But luckily the surf sometimes blows out by midmorning and he's back making me breakfast and dithering about the cool rides he got. Sometimes he'll make a pitcher of Margaritas late in the afternoon and we share it on the beach.

MrsBill: I mean the guy spends a fortune on that damn car, and accessories, repair books, special wheels, rally packs, driving gloves, sunglasses, sport shirts, club jackets, club memberships, car shows, trips and customizing stuff.

MrsBob: You wanna talk money. Don't let him get into golf. Bob has 4 sets of very expensive clubs, 10 pairs of golf slacks, countless shirts, golf gloves, golf bags, spikes, videos, how-to books, club memberships, trips to Myrtle Beach, and magazine subscriptions. Now he's talking about buying a vacation place in a golf resort somewhere where the membership is $10,000/year.

MrsFoon: Foony bought a new bodyboard two years ago for $150, I gave him new wetsuit for his birthday three years ago. He wears the same clothes for years- hats, shirts, sunglasses, flip-flops, shorts, jackets. He watches the same 3 videos over and over and over. He probably spends more money on drumsticks and cigars than he has on surfing in the last 3 years. Unlike skiing or golf, you can pretty much surf for free and it doesn't involve that much equipment. His only indulgence is buying the beach place which we both love and enjoy.

MrsBill: God, Bill is so outta shape. He's got big gut on him now. He doesn't do anything to work out and all he does is cruise around in that car and go drinking with his buddies.

MrsBob: Ha, Bob claims golf is what's keeping him in such good shape. Yeah right, the guy rents a cart to haul his fat flabby ass around the course, then he and his buds go out eating big steaks and drinking afterwards.

MrsFoon: Surfing is a very rigorous sport. Foonboy works out in the gym a couple of times a week to stay in shape, and sometimes the surfing sessions go on for hours. He's usually exhausted when he comes in. But the doctor told me for a guy his age, he's in fairly good shape. The only thing I worry about is he's clumsy and prone to injury. He's had some bad ones in the last two years. I hope to keep him alive for a long time.

MrsBill: I worry sometimes. Someone told me they saw Bill driving a cute young blond around in that damn car one day. It's such a babe magnet, I can see why the cuties are attracted to it. I told him when he decided on the red one it was such a mid-life crisismobile that it was a cliché. He didn't seem to mind. He likes it when his car gets attention from the girls.

MrsBob: I've heard the horror stories about the golf groupies and the hired "help" on those golfing trips. Ball washers my ass! Those girls are hired to boost the egos of bunch of decrepit used up old guys that's all. If I every catch Bob catting around with one of those Bimbos, he's toast.

MrsFoon: Far as I know there aren't very many women in surfing. Sure it takes place at the beach and there are many young and cute girls to look at. But our policy is he can look all he wants. Usually Foonboy is too tired and stoked to take much note of the bikini girls, but when he does, he claims all he sees is me. Whether that's true or not, I don't care, he treats me wonderfully everyday.

MrsBill: It makes me sick I tell you, every time I go into the garage and he has those Pirelli calendars with the naked women on them.

MrsBob: Oh Bob has a calendar called the "Girls of the Greens" which shows topless women holding the flag sticks on different famous golf courses.

MrsFoon: All Foonboy buys each year is some surfing calendar that shows waves, but for some reason he always looks in the front of the Surfer Magazine when we go to the news stand.

MrsBill: Well now he's hooked up to that goddamn internet. He spends hours every night looking at sports car websites, ordering more junk and getting information on events he wants to go to. What an enormous waste of time and money.

MrsBob: Think that's bad, Bob spends all his time on the computer trying out golf, video games that let him play all the famous courses in the world. But when he does this he closes and locks the door to the study so I know he's also visiting those porno sites too. He's especially, er, affectionate after spending a few hours with those.

MrsFoon: Foonboy uses the internet to meet and communicate with people all over the world about surfing. This so-called newsgroup is a forum to discuss topics, voice opinion, exchange information, and learn more about the sport. He even makes up these little stories that have absolutely no basis in reality and he posts them to the group. Some of them are pretty good, but whenever he talks about our personal lives I give him a dope slap in the head. He claims most of the people he's met on the group are really fine folks and a few times he's actually met a few.

MrsBill: Eeeeeuuuuwwwww, What a perv JoAnne, how can you put up with that kind of behavior. Don't you know what kind of jerks inhabit those chatrooms and newsgroups.

MrsBob: Yeah, if I were you I'd be hiring a lawyer. There's no telling what kind of trouble he's going to get in with those people. God, if I knew Bob was meeting people on the internet, I'd be filing for divorce.

MrsFoon: Hmmm, maybe I better start monitoring his time on that damn machine.

Foon (punchy from my latest dope-slapping :)

Remember when...

Mon, 06 Apr 1998

It never ceases to amaze me how universal some of our experiences are, no matter where you live or surf. I've been criticized by a few for living off the cadaver of my past to make up for the lack of present time experiences. Touché. Yeah, I dwell on the past sometimes, but the great memories of the past are the motivation that keep me going back in the water. Numerous people have thanked me for sharing these memories because they so closely paralleled something that happened to them also. A shared experience, whether we shared it at the same time or not, is still a connection we all have. Like the cliché, "Only a surfer knows what its really like," all the little anecdotes of things, like dawn patrols, big swells, danger, humor, discomfort and sheer fun, bind us all together in a mutual experience we can enjoy. It is a primary reason you are reading stuff on this newsgroup now.

If I haven't already, someday I will spew the story of my very first surfing experience Memorial Day Weekend, 1963 at Gilgo Beach, Long Island, Nu Yawk. In it, I expect you will all see a little bit of yourselves and when you first clambered onto the deck of a surfboard, and aimed yourself out at the ocean. A pivotal experience, I imagine for most of you.


The King is dead

Mon, 06 Apr 1998

Thirty years ago this weekend I was a college freshman on break from school. I had driven down to Rockaway NY, to meet some friends and go surfing. It was April 4th 1968 and at the time I'd been surfing about 5 years. I went to the designated street about mid-afternoon but my friends were no where to be seen. There was a slight onshore breeze and the dirty brown water was punctuated occasionally by a 3-4 foot set of waves.

I put on an old and leaky wetsuit that was clearly inadequate to the task of protecting me from the mid 40 degree water and testily waded into the surf. The first flush of frigid water telegraphed to me this was going to be a short session. Both my gloves and boots had been ripped and repaired many times and leaked like a sieve. In those days the wetsuits were primitive and did not have taped or even stitched seams. I endured the lousy conditions for about an hour and when my friends didn't show decided to sit up on the beach to try and get warm in the weak sunlight. I stripped out of the wetsuit except for the pants. The black rubber absorbed the sun's rays and radiated warmth all over my body. I slipped on a hooded sweatshirt and my carpenter's jacket and spent the afternoon idly warming myself on the beach.

Around dusk I packed it in and went back to my car. I loaded my board on the roof of the old '64 light green VW bug and lashed it down for the ride home. I drove North on the way to the Southern State Parkway but as I did I noticed there were lots of people in the streets. In the black neighborhoods I had to drive through, groups of people were gathered on the street corners, some of them crying, some of them yelling and gesturing. I couldn't make out what was going on.

While I was sitting at a light, suddenly a group of five men bolted for my car and attempted to open the doors. They were yelling and screaming at me, and one of them jumped on the small running boards of the bug attempting to rip my board from the roof. I was so surprised by the attack I popped the clutch and took off running the light. Just before the guy dropped away from the car I heard a loud thud on the roof, then quickly I heard rocks or bottles hitting the back of my car. I was so scared I ran every light and stop sign until I got to the parkway. I thought about trying to report this to the police, but decided to wait until I got home.

When I pulled into the driveway of my suburban home I quickly got out to get my board of the roof. I was stunned to see a philips head screwdriver stuck cleanly through my board right up to the handle. I was clearly amazed by all this as I turned questioningly to my father who'd just come out of the house to check on me. He looked at the board and the screwdriver and shook his head silently when I told him what had happened. Then he said, "Son, a very great man was murdered today in Memphis. What you saw tonight is just a small reaction to this terrible tragedy."

That night we watched news reports of violence from all over the country including the nations capitol, which was burned and beset by riots in reaction to the killing of Dr.Martin Luther King. I didn't know at the time, but for years afterward, my life would be affected greatly by the racial strife that boiled to the surface that night. During college, 3 of our spring semester finals weeks were canceled because of racial incidents and antiwar demonstrations. In my entire time in school, I was only to come to be friends with 3 Black men who eventually turned away from me to become Black Panthers. Two of those men were themselves murdered, and one I have come to know again and respect as a lay preacher in the mean streets of Philadelphia.

A lot of important dates in our nations history I can relate to by way of surfing experiences. I consider this to be one of the saddest. One of my biggest fears is that the racial problem that faces this country will never be resolved, and will serve one day to be it's downfall. End of sermon. Sorry but I felt compelled to mention this.


The Meaning of Life

Wed, 08 Apr 1998


You're 16 years old, you live in the armpit of the Mid-Atlantic, York goddamn Pennsylvania (I've spent "quality" time in some of the better printing establishments in York, so I know of what I speak) home of the world famous "York" dumb bells (I mean free weights), you're on the threshold of adulthood and you say:

Trav wrote:
I have been thinking lately, and instead of having more of a confident idea of what I started with, I am now more confused than ever.

Well welcome to the real world my friend, what teenage boy has not had those very same feelings at one time.

If you're seeking advice, I'd say you have taken the first step to success. As a teacher I was usually not surprised to find out that every teenage boy, knows everything there is to know, about everything (As a teenager I was living proof of that axiom). What you do with our good advice is another step in that direction, but the choice lies with you. If you really are into the surfing life, here's a bit of advice I'd like to give you. Get an education.

And not a fact spewing, regurgitive, narrow discipline kind, but the kind that teaches you how to teach yourself. How to seize upon a subject and learn all there is to know about it. First and foremost is the ability to read and comprehend, and I don't mean reading a few screens of factoids off a computer monitor. I mean books with hard covers that delve into a subject with more than just a glancing blow. What good is all this? With the power to learn by yourself you can accomplish almost anything. Sure the structure and discipline of formal education is important, but the quality of what you come away with is essential to your success.

What about surfing? Smart guys like Robert Brannan figured it out early. There are ways to incorporate it into your life. Going to college near a beach, scheduling classes so you can take advantage of morning or late afternoon conditions. Hanging with guys who surf so's you can all sponge (mooch) off each other for rides and gear (and food and $). Picking jobs or careers that allow you to do the same thing. Few guys in this world are good enough to make a living off the sport. If you want it, its just as hard work as anything else. I'm glad I don't make a living off the sport, when I surf it's pure recreation and fun.

John F. said it's a sport you can do all your life. At age 48 I intend to live up to that expectation (God willing). But at times in your life it won't be the most important thing, at times it will. You get to decide what those times are.

We can't predict what will happen if you choose certain paths Trav, that's serendipity (Look it up smart guy) because the meaning of your life will be different from everyone else's. My best years behind me, I get to say in the way of sage advice: get an education first, use common sense, start an IRA ASAP, work hard at whatever you choose, keep a good sense of humor about everything, and surf as much as you can. (oh, and take a good multivitamin, avoid fatty foods, and wear your seatbelt!)


"Mistakes are stepping stones to failure."

"The trouble with the rat race is even if you win, you're still a rat."
Lily Tomlin

"You only live once -but if you work it right, once is enough."
Joe E. Lewis

"Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans."
Thomas la Mance

Who Rules?

April 14 1998

I'm riding shotgun with MrsFoon screaming down the big "eye Nine Five" highway, like we're on some berserk rocket powered logflume ride from automotive hell, watching my beloved smash every speed limit and a few landspeed records to boot. I'm very conscious of the fact that her Wanted Poster in every State Police Barracks from New Jersey to Florida lists an alias under her cuteface picture as "leadfoot". Finally, as we reach the North Carolina border and I finally find the best Rock'n Roll radio station in the Carolinas (WRDU -Wilson-Raleigh-Durham RULES!!) I can hold my tongue no longer:

"Don't do it hon."

"Don't do what?"

"Don't try to keep up with them."

"Keep up with who?"

"The New Yorkers"

"What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"I know them, they're my people. New Yorkers Rule I-95. Besides, they're on a mission from god."

"Foonboy, have you been huffing the wetsuit glue again, what ARE you talkin about?" "The New Yorkers, the ones blowing your doors off at 85 mph that you keep trying to catch. Most of 'em are trying to get to Florida in time for the beginning of Passover in just 12 short hours, and the others are draggin their families to Disney World for Easter Vacation. Believe me I know these people. No one or nothing will stop them, sweetheart, just let 'em pass."

Seeing the logic in this and noting a NC State Mountie in a plain wrapper on the turnout up the road, she lowers her speed to 75 mph. I look out the window and see a van full of college kids roar by with a hand made sign that reads, "Deaf Tones Rule". Really, I think, someone has got to, but the Deaf Tones?. Just fill in your favorite band why don't you.

We were down in my beloved Wrightsville Beach for the Easter holiday and the informal World Surff(ohio) Day hoping for some good weather, some good waves and some good barbecue. After dropping MrsFoon off, saying hi to Moms Foon I headed straight for the Crystal Pier. Well at least the barbecue was good, and I did burn my bald spot thanks to the intense sun. The waves? For a Good Friday, it wasn't very. 2-3 faces (RightCoastian) a stiff offshore breeze, a million beginners in the lineup with all manner of boards, but the noseriding long ones ruled.

Easter Sunday comes and I'm on preDawn Patrol with my two nephews, a box of KKs, some coffee and hope in my heart. I've promised my sister we will be at church services, if there are no waves. Blocks before we get to the beach in the predawn light, there are dozens of cars and people in the streets. Damn, I think, it must be humpin. Then I pull up to the beach and I think, Damn, its a sunrise service at the beach featuring what will be a truly beautiful sunrise, but no waves.

The inevitable strikes us with sledgehammer force. There are no waves and my sister's spies will inform her of that fact, we're committed to going to church. The boys are hangdog unhappy and bummed, but manage to wolf down 4 donuts each.

Pulling into the church parking lot later, I'm not sure what to expect. It had been a few years since I'd been to services at the Monkey Junction Charismatic Pentecostal Church of the Gooey Death and Discount House of Worship. First thing I notice as I settle in the pew with Moms Foon and the boys is the 7 piece band tuning up. The two drummers are laying down some stuff. I like one of 'em but the other is too fill happy and he doesn't know how far his set carries in the church. Jumpin in on the handclapper first tune are a Hammond 3D organ, piano, bass, and guitar. The lead off number is a feel gooder and the pastor invites everyone to greet their neighbor around them. A kid in a Surfboards Hawaii t-shirt turns around, looks at me and says, "Didn't I see you out at the pier Friday?" I nod yes, and he grins, "Mebbe we better pray for some waves then." I couldn't agree more.

It's a big crowd and even though the service goes on for 90 minutes, the music, dancing maidens and flaming tambourines give the event quite a festive air. My youngest nephew gets stupid by saying, "I've been coming here for years on Easter, and the story is always the same." Well Duh! I dope slap him for being so smart and receive one myself from Moms for being a jerk. Ahhh family. Families Rule.

I notice several young men in the church with shirts proclaiming the brand of board they ride and figured they we're in the same boat as we were. But Southern families have a strong church going tradition the boys are all well mannered in church. If that would only carry over into the lineup on a good day, things could be a bit more mellow. Manners Rule.

The pastor kept it mercifully short, going over the facts of the Easter story and making it extremely clear to anyone who may have had any doubts -Jesus Rules!!!! Are you willing to risk the consequences if you believe otherwise?

Back again to the beach for hopefully an afternoon session only to find gusty winds and no surf. I hung out on the beach with my nephews both of whom have blown off college to find their own way. One's a well respected chef in a local restaurant (and Bass Player in an alternative band). The younger one is just embarking on his training as an electrician. Both have asked me honestly how to face the future and keep things in perspective. Both would love to continue to surf as much as possible, but realize the necessity of work. Though their father and mother are very worried about these boys, I recognize an innate quality- they are honest workers. They can and will survive and most likely do very well, thank you. So counseling them about their futures and urging them to go to college was going to be delicate. I kept my advice short and to the point, trusting they would see the message, "Boys.... you rule. Your decisions, your intelligence, your common sense and good character will rule every aspect of your life. Don't fear mistakes, don't hide from risk, don't do anything stupid, and things will be all right. And lastly, don't ever snake your Uncle Foon out of a wave. If you do, you're outta my will. Kapish?" The boys nod in unison, grinning ear to ear. They at least will have one relative to surf with for as long as he can get his fat butt in the water. Plus he knows the answer to the question:

Who rules? You do.


Hello.....I'm a Beachaholic

Thu, 16 Apr 1998

Warning therapy masquerading as real posted material. Read at own risk.

Hello, My name is Foondoggy, and I'm a beachaholic.

I come to this group not to find a cure for this affliction, but to be with people like me who feed off the stoke of being on or near the ocean.

It started when I was young, actually before I was born. My Dad was a Coastie in WWII and he patrolled the offshore waters of the entire Right Coast. His family owned a beach house on the Jersey shore and that's where he met my Mom. When I was born, I was delivered by a retired Navy doctor who served and saw a lot of action on the blood soaked islands of the South Pacific. My earliest remembrances were of warm summer days spent on the polluted beaches of New Jersey. My parents owned a house just minutes from the water and my Dad took me to the ocean when I was just months old. Throughout my childhood our family vacations were spent visiting the many beaches along the Right Coast that my Dad had patrolled off of.

My childhood Doctor lived right on the beach. His son (my best friend) and I spent entire summers playing on the beach and in the surf at his house. When the weather was bad or the surf too big we stood next to a giant Ships Wheel the Doctor had installed in front of a large picture window that faced the ocean, and pretended we were on a ship out at sea. Thus began my fixation of watching the ocean.

My earliest experiences with the ocean and beach were not all good. According to my Mom, I was part fish and would simply not come out of the water unless I was ordered to and threatened with punishment. There were days I would spend the entire time, except for lunch and the requisite half hour rest, in the water. Since I was a freckled, strawberry blond kid I suffered some incredible sunburns. Three times I was taken to the hospital with severe sun poisoning which consisted of blisters the size of golf balls head to toe. Because of this my Mom took to coating me with a layer of zinc oxide all over then making me wear a thick T-shirt and a sailor hat turned inside out. Once I'd rolled around in the sand with all this on, I was a pretty sorry sight. One oogly kid.

By time we moved to Long Island I was just 12 years old and I already knew I wanted to surf. By chance a neighbor of mine had an old Keioki Popout with routed redwood stringers in the deck. I learned to surf on this 10 foot whale by endlessly paddling out at Gilgo Beach, and endlessly falling off if I ever did catch a wave. By time I had learned to ride and I'd cut enough lawns, I was able to buy a 9'6" Jacobs, with a two inch balsa stringer and a laminated diamond wood skeg. I was never so proud in my life as on the day I brought that board home from the surf shop. From then on, every spare moment of my young life was spent at the beach.

This type of imprinting does not go away easily. As a young adult I was fortunate to live in Southern California for a period of time to really immerse myself in the beach and surfing culture. But when I finally moved back East, I was unfortunate to wind up living 150 miles from the shore. Those were really tough times and I suffered severe withdrawal hanging around some suburban pool being very depressed.

A friend of mine finally bought a vacation home at the shore and I volunteered to do nearly every chore, including cleaning and cooking, for the privilege of using the place. When she finally sold the place to move onto a bigger and better home in North Carolina, I quickly decided to buy it myself. This was the original Foonpalace. We occupied this place for almost 9 years. Some of the best times and best waves I've every experienced were out in front of the old place.

Due to circumstances beyond my control I was compelled to sell the Foonpalace last Fall. This was a black letter day for me as some of you may recall. Little did I know what a tragic error this was. Once you've owned, lived in and enjoyed a beach place, you realize what an addiction it can become. Losing the place was like going cold turkey off a very powerful and seductive drug. I have rarely experienced such physical and emotional trauma.

I began to work long lonely hours. Late nights, weekends, holidays were fair game for my self pity. Both my health and my marriage came under enormous pressure and I began to disintegrate from unhappiness. I became morose and fixated on maudlin ideas like death and injury (hard to believe, huh?) I was a very unhappy camper and according to MrsFoon, a First Class Prickbastard to live with.

Diagnosis: Terminal Beach Withdrawal

Prognosis: Mental and Physical deterioration punctuated with extreme antisocial and pathological behaviors enhanced by alcohol abuse and watching surf movies.

Cure: Get another Beach Place bub.

I always do what my wife and doctor tell me (yeah right Foon) so this weekend I will be closing on a new beach property calculated to give me many years of pleasure and little worry. This new place has been nicknamed the "Foonbunker" because basically that's what it is. A poured Concrete and Steel condo with larger than normal beach setback and hurricane shutters rated at 125mph. It is a massive monolith of low rise technology that has not had one repair or insurance claim due to storm damage in it's lifetime. Plus it comes fully furnished and equipped. The ocean view is just splendid.

The former owners were literally the little old retired couple who used it only a dozen times a year for family holidays and vacations. They even left all their beach stuff including two boogie boards which I have marked "For the exclusive use of the Sandman or Surffohio." I hope the Foonbunker will inspire some more uplifting and worthy writing from yours truly in the future, and will be the scene of many a good surfing day.

I AM a Beachaholic and I am Stoked!!.

Tales from the Bunker

Mon, 27 Apr 1998

It was only a dream, but I was enjoying the hell out of it. MrsFoon and I were dancing on the beach in front of the Foonbunker as dozens of our new neighbors laughed and clapped and wished us well. We were swept up in the moment and soon the dream turned to a swirl of images all associated with passed and future good times at the beach.

A huge orange orb appeared in the sky and bore directly into my eyes blinding me with it's brilliance. I started awake........damn, I was looking directly out the picture window of the bedroom directly into the rising sun. Someone hadn't closed the blinds the night before. Damn that was annoying.

I could see directly out to one of the many breaks in front of the Foonbunker and already there were two longboarders trying the small but well formed waves. These guys were earlybirds and beat me to the punch. I swiftly retrieved my coffee and a set of binocs and settled into an easy chair on the balcony to watch.

Conditions were pretty good for early spring. A weather front had passed through and the offshores were grooming a fairly long washboard of South easterly swells that I could discern through the binocs way out in the ocean. I zeroed in on the longboarders only to discover it was a couple of old coots I'd seen surfing the breaks at the Foonpalace last year. These boys were older than I was, but they could sure slide pretty, each catching the swiftly moving walls and trimming instantly for a quick exhilarating 50 foot ride before they dumped out. With water temps in the mid 50s they wore full suits but no hoods. The waves were breaking in waist high water.

I decided to bag going out to join them since I was going to our first condo association meeting that morning and wanted to work up a bunch of questions about our building and property. The brunch meeting was being held at a local hotel, and judging by the number of BMWs, Mercedes, Cadillacs, Lincolns, Expeditions, and Lexuses, in the parking lot we were going to be in rare company.

When I walked into the meeting later I was immediately approached by the two older gentlemen I'd seen in the water, Duncan and Don. They'd seen my truck in the parking lot with the Toobs sticker on the bumper and wanted to know if I had children who surfed. When I told them I was the bodyboarder and who I was they both queried,

"Are you that guy from up town who surfs with the hat on?" "That's me." I offered and we all broke into big smiles. "Welcome to the building Foon, we're the only surfers here and since age has it's privileges, you will be deferring all the good waves to us. We meet every day there are good conditions at dawn down on the beach, and if our break is not happening, we get in the Rover and go looking. You are welcome to join us but the rules say the new guy bring the coffee." These are my kinda guys. "Either of you guys like cigars and krispy kreme donuts?" I grinned. Both glanced at each other and Don said, "We swore off them both for our wives. But we'd be happy to watch you." grin grin.

Duncan, 53, a former Two Star General in the Army, career military now retired, saw some action in Viet Nam and then pounded hallways in the Pentagon. Works as a consultant for a military contractor. Winters in Florida. Rides a 9'6" triple redwood stringer Surfboards Hawaii. Don, 56, former CEO for the biggest insurance company in Maryland, retired, now works "the stock market" and travels with his wife all over the world. Rides a modern Stewart Longboard shape.

They both tried surfing in the 60s then stopped only to pick it up again in 1981 when they bought their units in the building. Both have a certain primitive grace and natural instinct for wave harmony. No tricks, pure glide. Both possess a very ingratiating self- depreciating sense of humor that immediately made me like them. When I told them I bodyboarded, they both rolled their eyes. Duncan said, "that's ok Foon, but we both don't see so good so don't get offended if we accidentally don't see you on a wave. By the way, your unit is on the highest floor with the best view of the beach, so we'll be using it for post session happy hours." "Anytime I'm there gentlemen, you're welcome."

"Oh no Foon, you don't understand, we want our own set of keys so we can use it even when you're not there." They laughed at this. "No problem gents. MrsFoon is the keeper of the keys and condo social secretary, you can ask her for a set." It was all I could do not to bust a gut laughing. Wait 'til they meet her.

Turns out Don is head of the Insurance and Building & Maintenance committees and is a very important man to know. He is also well connected locally and a reasonably good surfer. I count myself lucky to have met these men and I'm glad they are going to be my neighbors. It's the other guy, Sonny, who I met at the meeting and has the word "mafia hitman" written all over him that I wonder about. He lives next door to me and said he works as a "problem solver" and travels extensively. I hope I don't cause any problems that Sonny needs to fix.

By my reckoning we are the youngest owners in the building, but some of these folks have a lot of life in them. One of the ladies is planning a beachparty Octoberfest in Oct. the weekend of my birthday. I told her I'd be happy to help out, but it being hurricane season then, I may not attend if the waves are good. She stared at me for along time and said, "Are you one of those surfers too?" When I nodded yes, she smiled and said, "Welcome to the building Mr.Foondoggy, you'll be in charge of the half kegs."

I think I can handle that.

Re: Tales from the Bunker

Thu, 30 Apr 1998

the Sandman (infamous NW surfer) wrote:

I've got a better idea(or at least a more entertaining idea!); Why don't we trade places for a few months? You come out here and stay in my trailer down by the river and I'll leave my backpack, shortboard and machete for you to use. You can hook up with agent Utah and blaze trails subsisting on nuts, roots and berries. It is Spring time, ya know. You'll surf every day. In the mean time, I'll take a plane flight out to wherever the hell your yuppie condo is and settle in for a couple of months. I'll do a little redecoration, meet all the neighbors and create a general aura of unpredictability in your little sheltered yuppie condo community. Maybe Surff Ohio could come up and bring some items I won't be able to pack in my luggage? Like a chainsaw, jackhammer, and a sledgehammer as I'm sure we'll have a little remodeling to do on the Foonbunker before I feel "comfortable".

Next to the groveling, bloody knee, begging I've received from friends and relatives to use the Foonbunker on every weekend this summer, your troll for an invitation is somewhat refreshing. ;^) I like the psychology of heaping abuse on me and my mode of wave riding, not to mention lifestyle of choice, then offering to switch with me as an antidote for my miserable existence -knowing full well that a person of my health and injury persuasion would surely die a violent and ugly death in the environment you would have me go to. Meanwhile you and your sycophant, bootlicking lackey (words used purely as terms of endearment), SurffOhio, :^) will live a comfortable life ensconced in the luxurious surroundings of the Foonbunker, drinking my booze, smoking my Macanudos and "teaching my wife how to surf" (that's a euphemism I'm sure). My only recourse in extricating you from this cushy scam would be asking my condo neighbor "Sonny da Hitman" to "fix" the situation. Nice try my friend, take a number. I can schedule you for a nice weekend in February 2002. The water should be cold enough for you by then. :^)

Love and hisses :^)


"In life it is difficult to say who do you the most mischief, enemies with the worst intentions, or friends with the best intentions." -
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Fatal Attraction?

Thu, 30 Apr 1998

Ok, I'm stepping into the end of the intellect pool I have no business being in, and I hope some of the brighter bulbs on this group will take my question and give a scientific explanation even I can understand.

What is it about the lip of a breaking wave that inspires both fear and desire? It is at once the place we want to be the most and least, as the energy of the wave is released. When I paddle out on a bigger than normal day, the place I fear the most is the impact zone. The place I desire the most is that point just in front of the impact zone, on the wave face that is at that point going vertical. Is it true that the point of the most energy release is the breaking lip?

One of the worst hosings I ever got was in small surf at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. Paddling out during a minus tide I attempted to turn turtle as a head high wave almost sucked the reef dry and I got tangled up in the kelp. As the wave came over, it literally pulled me up into it and spit me out the top in a rag doll free fall that made me dizzy. Then the lip slammed me down violently into the shallow water and planted me on the reef. I felt so beat up I had to leave the water. From then on I have been exceedingly respectful of even small waves that break hard.

So what is it you Einstein's? What is this fatal attraction we have for breaking waves. Is the release of the power of a wave at it's peak at the breaking point? Or am I just a victim of Huey's bad sense of humor? Simple but inquiring minds want to know?


"You can observe a lot just by watching."
Yogi Berra

"The greatest tragedy of Science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."
Thomas Huxley

Surfing Vancouver Island wrote:

There is nothing more life affirming than getting the shit kicked out of you. It brings us in touch with our own mortality, and until we come in touch with our own mortality there is no opportunity for spiritual growth.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it


Well put Cam, no one suffers a good hosing as badly as I do. Part of what I consider a good session to be is the joy and wonderment I feel of just having survived at all. And part of the fun is screaming down a tube shrieking, "I CAN MAKE THIS!!!" And having Huey announce in a calm clear voice in your head as the wave tattoos your ass, "No you can't."

Something to contemplate over a good stogie.

FatallyFlawedFoon (say that three times, fast)

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