A Good Day on God's Day
05 March 1996
The smell of coffee interrupts your dream about the gorgeous blond with
the f--- me pumps, short/tight minidress and the big boo...ooooooom
Big Boom? hmmmmmmmmmm
The noise, like the muffled sound of an artillery shell exploding in the
distance, makes the sliding mirrored door in the bathroom medicine
cabinet rattle, ever so slightly. One eyelid slides open. The bright red
digital numbers on the alarm tell you it's, SUN 5:30am. The eyelid
slides shut and you return to the vision of those perfect...
You slowly raise yourself to a vertical position and turn to glance at
your wife sleeping quietly in the dark. I wonder what she would look like
as a blond with a pushup...? Never mind, something else is happening
You shuffle into the kitchen, grab a mug off the rack and pour a big cup
of coffee. Thank you, Mr.DiMaggio, for putting a timer on your machine.
Sliding the glass door open to the deck you step out into the sultry,
warm darkness. Toward the East the faint light of dawn begins to redden
the horizon. The beach break looks deceptively calm, only a few small
waves are evident in the still air. Was I dreaming or...? Your eyes
begin to adjust to the darkness as you sit on the swinging bench and sip
at the steaming cup. In a few minutes there is movement in the distance
and you sit forward to watch.
A set begins to take shape and the first waves find the formative drag
and pull of the sandbar. Oh, this looks good. And the next one is very
nice too, a little sectiony...but. The third is - now we're getting
serious and finally - oh my. You stand up and stare in disbelief at what
you just saw. You are not a very religious man but suddenly you realize
that here and now, God Almighty has spoken directly to YOU!!
"Use the Pintail"
"Yes sir", you mutter as you snatch your trunks and rash guard from the
rail, still damp from the previous evenings session, and trip down the
stairs that lead to the beach. Dressing quickly under the deck you grab
the pin and head for the break, hoping the caffeine will kick in REAL
You reach the water's edge and kneel as if in thoughtful prayer, but
really just to attach the leash. Your peripheral vision detects movement
and you look to see only a flock of seabirds up the beach. It is
deserted. The water is surprisingly warm as you step across the shallows
of the sandbar. The next set begins to evenly unwind on the outer edge of
the break and you realize it's much bigger than you thought. The first
rays of sun backlight the emerald green walls and for a minute you stand
and watch in silent awe of the power of the first visitors from a storm
named - Felix.
Paddling out through the break it occurs to you that you are going to
worship in, "God's own Liquid Cathedral". Brothers and Sisters, can I get
a BIG AMEN!!! Thank yooouu Jeeeezus, say Hallelujah!!!!
You spin turn around to pick off the final wave of the set. Suddenly your
religious fervor shrivels as you realize that the blond in your dream was
really Mrs.Werely, YOUR 5TH GRADE TEACHER!!! (minus the glasses)
As you drop in the wave throws out over the sandbar revealing just how
seriously hollow it is. Oh shit -- God is gonna get me for this.....
...and he does.
It is Sunday, August 20th, 1995, the Right Coast's Summer of All Time.
Reverently Foondoggy +
How will we pass on this Sport?
26 March 1996
One of my oldest surf bras, Dropin Vin, is a single Dad. He has custody
of his two boys, Justin age 12, and Chris age 9, every weekend, most
school holidays and all summer. He also attends their other school
functions like soccer, and every Sunday they all go to church (they pray
for surf, natch). Vin has made huge personal sacrifices to stay in his
boy's lives and though he holds an important job, every nickel he can
spare is for the betterment of the boys. Among them they own about 10
surfboards, all short except a Dewey Weber noserider, which they foist
off on me when I visit. The sport has created a very strong bond between
Vin and his sons and he has tried to teach them to be good surfers and
Every summer the boys live at Vin's house. When he's at work, they are
dropped off at a local beach club where they are closely watched by
friendly lifeguards and staff. The boys surf whenever they can and
perform odd jobs around the club when it's flat. This is an incredible
life for these kids and they just love it. In the mornings, evenings and
weekends, Vin, the boys and various surfing bras, prowl the area breaks
for anything rideable. Vin has taught the boys well, they are fearless
riders but know their limitations. If they get creamed on a bad one and
feel shaken up, they know to take a break and paddle in. On big days,
everyone watches out for the boys like a family. I've seen both boys take
major league wipeouts (especially last summer) and they come up spittin'
and scratchin' like anyone else. Though they are experienced, they don't
mind taking off on some hairy kamikaze walls just to polish their "go for
it" chops. Like all kids, they seem to have limitless energy.
What is most important, I believe, is the exposure the boys get to their
Dad and his friends (they call me Uncle, though I'm not). They seem so
much more mature and confident in the water. Their behavior and
decision making show that they have indeed benefited from being around the
When I see kids acting up and doing something stupid or dangerous in the
water, I can't help but think that they need the guidance and experience
of someone to help them. I've had several young kids come up to me in the
water and ask for help; like how to catch a wave or how to paddle out? By
observing me and others, they seem to sense even a relic like me knows
what I'm doing. I could blow these kids off and ignore them, but I'm
concerned that this sport be passed on the right way. I always answer
their questions thoughtfully and honestly (kids have the best bullshit
radar on earth) and I always add a little surfing etiquette to make
certain they understand the rules of the sport (Don't EVER take off on
the old dude with the baseball cap!!) Often in bigger surf, I'll paddle
up to them to make sure they're all right or to point out some dangerous
condition they don't have the experience to see. Many do not have an
adult male figure in their lives and they appreciate any attention or
information they can get. Some have come up to me later on the beach and
we'll chat surf stuff. One tried to set me up with his divorced mom.
(Mrs.Foon loved that one).
For the last two years Vin has taken, at some considerable expense, his
sons on a Spring surf trip to Barbados. This is such a treat for the
boys, they talk about it all year. Last Fall Vin mentioned to me he
didn't think his equipment was up to the challenge of the conditions they
might face (big, hollow, fast, point/reef break) and he wished he could
get a new stick; he had just bought new boards for the boys, they having
outgrown their old ones. I noticed how interested Justin was in the
conversation and he questioned his Dad closely about the problems with
his current ride. For Christmas the boys presented Vin with a new board,
custom shaped by a top Right Coast surfer. The boys had saved up enough
money from allowances, tips, odd jobs, and gifts and had collaborated
with the shaper to get their Dad what he needed for the trip to Barbados.
Though the shaper knew Vin, he worked on the board in secret and got a
special job done on the artwork and finish. I could tell Vin was a little
choked when he told me (me too).
When Vin and I started in this sport during the dark or enlightened ages
(take your pick), we didn't have to be so careful about people we hung
around with, and it was always the older surfers who showed us what to do
and not to do. I wish all kids starting in this sport today could have a
mentor to teach them right. The kook factor I think would be much less.
Vin and the boys will always have the sport to thank for great childhood
memories and experiences (we still talk about trips we took 20 years
ago). I'm sure the boys will pass on to their kids what they have learned
from their Dad. Through the sport they have learned valuable lessons
about life, friendships, and personal responsibility; and above all
else, how to do it right. (Vin has told them never to take off on me, so
they only do it when he's not looking, and I never tell.)
Born again, on Good Friday
05 April 1996
Crucified on the cross of injury and sickness, and after 112 days of
surfless misery, I rolled back the heavy stone from the tomb of painful
physical therapy and emerged, born again, to the sport of surfing!
Now God may forgive me for that shameless metaphor, but surely many of
you and definitely my very religious sister will NOT! Hey, I PRAY for
surf regularly, even though I don't partake always.
It occurred today, Good Friday, when I tentatively made my way down to
the shore amidst the jeers and boos of some local kids on Easter Vacation
and some of my dearest surf bras. Fully suited (still leaking too), I
eschewed the Gath since I was determined to fully experience the
sensation of getting back to it (right Pete?) and I hate those things
anyway. Luckily the weather was just changing from mild to cool, but the
water was a tad brisk at 42 degrees.
I endured the first exhilarating moments, as we all do walking in, then
pissed to compensate for some very cold water gathering in my groinal
area. Months of doing laps in a pool made it possible for me to zip out
to the break dry headed. The adrenaline was giving me a buzz.
The waves, clear faced and waist high (Overhead on a sponge!) but nothing
to brag about, were just beautiful to me. I kicked effortlessly into the
first one, angle turned into the face, and took the whole thing on my
back. The instant pain of an "I scream" headache was a startling wake up
call, which shrieked, "WELCOME BACK!!" I cursed Pete Amschel for making
me think I could get away with a hoodless session.
The wetsuit, leaking and too thin, took some getting used to with the
added weight and restriction, but after 5 waves I was camping out on the
tail of one of my friends who, when he snaked me for old time sake, just
"knew" I couldn't catch him. So he was sort of surprised to feel me
nudging him from behind seconds later.
My foot cramped up badly in the cold water, but I kept putting it too the
test to be certain it knew what all the therapy was for. Eventually, it
realized that this was no longer laps in a pool, this was the real deal.
Occasionally spike like pains shot up the heel warning me I still had a
way to go. The pain was a vivid reminder to be careful.
The drought is over, I can now return to posting about something more
than my wet dream surf sessions from last year (I can hear the shrieks of
joy throughout alt.surfing now). But there are no guarantees, anything
can set me off and I may get inspired by Sandmange and Surff! I look back
at some of my posts and realize how far from the alt.surfing path I got
sometimes. I'm sorry - and thanks for tolerating the ramblings of a
hurtin, frustrated, cranky guy who's had to come to accept the fact we
all begin to die the day we are born. But, it's not when you end the
journey that counts, it's how you make the trip. As for me, though the
trip may be prone on a sponge for a while, I'll still be screaming down
that barrel of life, stoked on - Surfing!!!
Too much? Yeh, I thought so too. Sue me, I AM stoked!
My new ride is frighteningly fast. I know it will cause me to try for
waves I have no business going for. This could be my downfall in big surf
since I normally use the board to launch myself off the front or back,
sort of running leaping wipeout.
This spring surfing stuff is COLD! I hope to head South soon in the mean
green surf machine to find new spots, check the old one's, get some
authentic pulled pork barbecue, and reacquaint myself with the
friendliest folks on earth, Southern Belles!
Foondoggy (I'm prone to go surfing again, eh?) :^))))))
Golf and Surfing - Two totally different Sports, or are they?
10 April 1996
Golf has been described as "The Relentless Pursuit of
That's why I could never do it. It's totally different
from Surfing - or
The perfect course, the perfect driver,
the perfect putt.
- Golfers and Surfers both get up early to practice
- They both spend hours (weather permitting) practicing
- They both would gladly ignore family, friends and
work to practice
- They both travel extensively to exotic places in
search of new
experiences in their sport.
- They both wear funny clothes while practicing their
sport (Lime green
golf pants vs. Neon green board shorts).
- They both spend hundreds of dollars and more buying
equipment designed to enhance their performance.
- Both sports require specialized equipment for certain
(Woods, irons, putters vs. Guns, pintails, thrusters).
- In the 60s both sports had Cadillacs as a status
symbol (the first
surfwagons were often hearses which were usually Cadillac
- Both are not generally team sports.
- Organized competitions are usually dominated by a few
top names who
compete in weekend tournaments.
- Both sports are showcased by a few major periodicals
- Both have been ridiculed in movies (Caddy Shack,
Gidget or Point
The perfect wave, the perfect board, the perfect
THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION
nah, there nothing alike.
PS. I was going to add that at the end of each session
wash their balls, but I figured the Surfing Sisterhood and
would kick mine (flamingly speaking, of course).
The Devil Waves of Santa Barbara Made Me Do It!
24 April 1996
We drove up 101 from LA to Santa Barbara on a Friday morning. It was one of those
Golden Fall Classic California days where the coastal clouds burned off by
mid-morning revealing a brilliant blue sky. By noon the Santa Ana (Devil) winds were
moving gently down the canyons pushing offshore. The air was dry as a tic, crackling
with negative ions. We checked into one of the oceanfront hotels downtown on the
main drag. Mrs. Foondoggy and I were in town as guests at my cousin's wedding on
Saturday. Outside it was hot.
Cousin "Raymoondo" was the brother I never had and a lifelong friend. I was here to
participate in his second wedding and to make up for my bad behavior at his first.
That's another story and another time, but suffice it to say that when he
first got married in Redondo Beach to the sister-in-law of the then-owner
of the Dallas Cowboys, Clint Murcheson, the episode with me and one of
the Dallas cheerleaders, who was also a bridesmaid, did not endear me to
the family. Nuff said.
Raymoondo's current fiancee was the middle daughter of a prominent Santa Barbara
psychiatrist, whose plush cliff side home overlooked the Pacific, and would be the
outdoor site of the pending nuptials. Thirty thousand dollars had been spent on flowers
and re-landscaping the yard. This was to be a first class blow-out.
From our window I could see some wave action building out front of our hotel. I
guessed that Rincon might have something to offer. I was anxious to burn off some
energy and I had borrowed a too short board from the bride's younger brother. I
wished Mrs.Foondoggy luck in finding the perfect dress shopping downtown and
pointed the rental wheels for Rincon.
Paddling out at Rincon to the break with the most bodies, the waves appeared vapor
thin, but they had a real nasty, evil quality to them that I immediately liked. The
moderate but long-line swells and hot offshore wind combined for some devilishly
mean-spirited surf and I tore the faces out of my share.
I was maniacal in my need to abuse and destroy the beauty folding before
me! It had to be the wind, I've never surfed so possessed in my life!
Wave after wave came through and were picked apart by the pack.
Screaming walls, slash and burn shoulders, inside cover up sections, you
could do no wrong except trying to stand up through the lip. (Got me
twice) The crowd was in a feeding frenzy as each rider challenged the rest
to "TOP THIS!" In two hours I was tapped, yet uncommonly agitated.
The rehearsal dinner that night was a casual affair to meet and greet friends, relatives
and guests. My cousin announced that all men participants had to go to the local formal
wear shop the next morning to pick up our tuxes. The future bride had forbidden any
type of bachelor party so I gratefully hit the sack early and had vivid dreams of vicious
waves in a blood red ocean. The Santa Anas were blowing stronger, hot and very dry.
The next morning at 9:00am, Raymoondo drove three of us downtown to the tux store
only to find out that a minor adjustment to his pants was needed. While we waited I
suggested we pop down the corner to a little Cantina for a beverage. I was parched.
The little bar was very cozy and we ordered some Bloody Marys. After two rounds
the best man decided to make some toasts to the groom using shots of Cuervo Gold.
Not soon enough, we realized we had to get back, fast.
Staggering back to the shop and picking up the clothes, we then rushed back to the
home of the bride. As we tumbled up the front stairs the door flew open and there
stood the bride and her Mom. We had delivered the groom two hours before the
ceremony - whacked! The look on the bride's face drilled a hole in my already aching
head as she said, barely moving her lips,
"You have 120 minutes to make this man right. If you don't, he will regret
it the rest of his life. I will make sure of that!"
We looked at Raymoondo and asked, "Cold shower, or cold ocean?"
He slurred, "Ocean!"
And off we went with the bride's brother, some boogie and surfboards, some strong
coffee, and ok, a few beers, in search of the closest beach. The cuz was a trooper, he
actually managed to paddle out before he blew chunks, and later said he felt so much
better after he got a major hosing by a cleanup set. With 60 minutes to go, we
deposited him back with an empty stomach and a new attitude.
By time the ceremony everyone was mostly OK. Raymoondo looked green but he was
holding up. Luckily for me we look so much alike (we've been mistaken for twins) a lot
of the distant relatives and friends who'd only seen pictures of him, mistook me for the
groom. Got some nice congratulatory kisses from a few young female relatives on the
(Yo Ray, I can tell you now that one of her younger cousins slipped me
some tongue! You missed it dude, you shoulda seen her face when YOU
took the long walk and not me!)
The wedding was perfect. I made a little speech which sounded coherent to me when I
said it, but Mrs.Foondoggy said was laced with references to Devil Waves and Hot
The bride said to me later that if Raymoondo hadn't been up to the gig by showtime,
since I was the only male cousin, I would have stood in for him and had to explain to
the entire congregation why he couldn't.
She promised it would be one of the worst days of my visit.
Midway through the party, the bride's brother got a call. Rincon was going off, epic!
Having already had a brush with the Devil Waves of Santa Barbara, I couldn't risk
leaving the reception to surf.
It already was the worst day of my visit.
Pedro Says, "You are a Beeg Weener when you stop at - SOUTH OF THE BORDER!!"
May 08 1996
There's probably not a Right Coast surfer who's traveled
along I-95 on
the way to Florida who doesn't know what this means. This
landmark of RestStop tackiness has been at the North/South
border, near the town of Dillon, since the early 1950s. It
much bigger, but no less an adventure for the late night
When I first started driving to Florida, I-95 wasn't even
the way down and you had to get on State Rd. 301, to get to
South of the
Border. But since it was the only road South, you passed
place there and back. Years later, the story has it, I-95
was designed to
bypass the town of Dillon rendering SOB obsolete as a
stopping place. The
powerful and influential owner (a Jewish guy from of all
places, Nu Yawk)
persuaded State politicians with the judicious use of heavy
contributions, to lobby the Transportation Dept. to adjust
the path of
I-95 to pass right by SOB. Imagine that!
How can I describe this place? Unless you've seen it, the
would be giving it too much credit. It sort of mutated over
building by building from a dinky little reststop and
fireworks stand, to
a stupendously ugly yet interesting point of interest. It's
aura is the
same as the reason people stare at car wrecks when they pass
What set SOB apart from every other cheesy roadside stand
Howard Johnsons and Stuckeys -anyone every actually eat a
was the billboards. Starting about 200 miles away from SOB,
every 2-3 miles there was a billboard painted neon green and
announcing that South of the Border was only X-miles away.
This was done
exquisitely using the grossly racist and stereotypical
who as the lazy Mexican, was always announcing on billboards
phonetically Hispanized English, things like the title of
this post. In
those days it was no big deal to insult an entire ethnic
group in the
name of advertising. It took sheer willpower NOT to stop at
trap after being bombarded for hours along with way with
come ons. SOB
had every piece of tourist junk you could imagine, in
addition to the
world's worst food, watered gas, and terrible (but
Bad as it was, there were many non-stop surfing trips (21
Florida in my friends VW van, stacked with longboards, when
eagerly anticipate stopping there. In the wee hours of the
was no better place to drain the vein, pick up some
fireworks, eat some
runny eggs and lumpy grits, wash down some high test coffee
psyched for the last stretch. With that kind of buzz, you
Sebastian in another 9 hours, if you survived the two lane
driving Georgia's deathmarch Route 17. 10 foot wide lanes,
except swamp, and huge Semis making a fresh peach run to the
North at 75
mph. Without a balls to the wall caffeine jolt and a new
driver, this was
a suicide run.
My one and only truly scary memory of South of the Border
1969. We had left Nu Yawk in the early afternoon trying to
by midmorning the next day. We got to SOB at 3 am, road
urine possessed. My friends headed directly to the diner for
relief and some food, while I waited for "Pedro" to fill the
wandered across the road to the fireworks factory to take a
look see. To
this day I don't know why, but amidst huge "NO SMOKING"
I walked in the front door of the place and, surrounded by
explosives, stopped to casually light up a cigarette! The
lone cashier, a
sweet-faced Southern beauty, turned chalk white and
soundlessly gasped as
she pointed to me and then the signs. It took longer than
normal for my
road-fried brain synapses to connect, but slowly it dawned
on me that the
speechless little girl and I were dangerously close to
sharing our last
moments on earth since I was holding a lit butt less than 2
some big ass skyrockets! I very slowly walked backwards out
of the place,
then sprinted for the diner, because something soon would be
my leg. I never told the guys, but I'm sure the little girl
had a lot to
say about that "stupid Damn Yankee" when she got home.
These days I don't make the speed run to Florida (I fly) but
when I'm on
I-95 I can still see the cars with boards and roadcrazed
down the interstate in search of waves. Now, when I'm
Carolinas I take I-95 south to Dillon, SC, visit my friend
old times sake, then hang a left and head for Myrtle Beach.
From there I
take the slow and wonderful Rt 17 North looking for new and
to practice my favorite sport - eating barbecue!
-Foondoggy (the trip and pulled pork are so close I can