Bang the Drum slowly
15 Dec 1998
This year's annual introspection walk was Sunday during a miserable,
gray, rainy, Right Coast Nor' Easter. I walked a mile or two along the
Bunker Beach and saw no one. The surf was chopped out with a 15 mph
onshore that pocked the horizon with little whitecaps amidst a slate
gray ocean that blended right into the sky. Depressing? Well yes......
but I had a years worth of memories and thoughts to entertain me.
As I looked out to sea I imagined the best days of this year and year's
past and was immediately pleased with the vision of bright sunny days in
classic beachbreak waves. I looked up at the Bunker Balcony to see our
Mascot, "Clyde" the 100 lbs green cement cactus, wearing his Santa's
hat, and draped with twinkly lights, smiling back down on me. The chill
of the wind and rain was no match for the warmth in my heart as I
relished the thought of just being at this beach. Even in winter there's
something that draws me here like a magnet.
I sometimes wonder why I continue to pursue my interest in this sport.
I'm older, less fit, and prone to injury. I have health problems which
surfing could aggravate or cause permanent damage. My doctors have
warned me repeatedly about sun damage and I rarely have a session where
I don't have to take some healative. I don't expect at this point that
my efforts will ever improve my performance. So what is it? Why do I
For nearly every day of the last 7 years I have played the same drum. It
is a 10 inch deep Pearl, Brass Shelled, Free Floating head snare. It is
a professional quality instrument that is expensive and very complex to
tune. In that entire time it has been in precise tune exactly one time
that I can remember. Drummers are famous for dicking around with the
sound of their drums and I'm no different. Though I practice daily and
I have improved greatly at this skill, I am in no way, nor hope to be, a
professional caliber drummer. So why bother? Between dicking around with
the tuning of the Pearl and spending hours and hours playing along with
music, what can I hope to accomplish? I don't hope to accomplish
anything........I just love it.
Surfing is my other drum. I hope to practice it slowly, and meticulously
for as long as I can. I don't care if I ever ride a wave perfectly
again. (If I ever did it was probably that time at Sunset Cliffs when I
was totally housed and screaming my lungs out.......so scared I'd be
doing a face plant I didn't particularly care it was possibly the best
ride of my life). So why bother dragging my creaking bones out in that
ocean again and again.
It's as simple as banging the drum slowly......I just love it.....
Happy Holidays everyone. I hope you get what you want. I think this year
I'm a little more thankful for what I have and the friendship and
company I've received from this group is no small part of it. It
continues to be a source of great entertainment, information and fun,
and as a forum for discussing one of the things I love the most, it has
no equal. Thanks to everyone for contributing. As far as the group and
the sport (and ok, food, sex, music, friendship and laughter too) I
always recall the words of Mae West: "Too much of a good thing can
and Goethe: "Every day look at a beautiful picture, read a beautiful
poem, listen to some beautiful music, and if possible, say a reasonable
In God's Newsgroup
21 Dec 1998
There comes a time each year, when the enormous pressure of end of the
year deadlines rams head on into the planning and budgetary process of
the upcoming year, combined with the emotional stress of the holidays
and ignited by one of the most historic events of modern political
history. This volatile mix makes people think and behave in ways that
are not always normal and the knot of tension that forms in the minds of
many screams out in a loud and distinct voice for the only remedy that
will soothe this manic beast, ......."CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY!!!"
The word went out on the afternoon grapevine and blistered it's way
through 6 floors of offices like the fuse on a keg of gunpowder. A local
restaurant lounge had been targeted as ground zero for a spontaneous
gathering of people who needed to "VENT." Long before the quittin
whistle tables and barstools were occupied by burned out workers whose
only hope in salvaging the intense week was to suck the life out their
favorite beverage and recharge their emotional batteries for the home
stretch before Christmas.
I knew things were bad when I entered the bar and the diminutive
secretary from the sixth floor headquarters was starring intently at
what was formerly 3 shot glasses full of tequila. It was 4:45 pm. The
sucked clean remnants of three lime wedges and the tipped over salt
shaker gave mute testimony to the fact that she would not be driving
herself home that night. An office pool was already forming at the end
of the bar making odds on how many shots it would take to knock her off
that stool. The noise of excited and almost out of control conversation
was deafening. Washington was in a fever, impeachment fever.
I found a table of co-workers and MrsFoon discussing "seriously" the
merits of castration as a reasonable alternative for the articles of
impeachment. Rounds of drinks kept showing up out of nowhere and most
everyone unconsciously starting marking cocktail napkins with little
hash marks to keep score of how many they had consumed. Not only to
judge whether they should at all consider driving home, but to settle up
on Monday when the inevitable memo would come around declaring that the
boss had picked up a $600 bar tab and expected everyone to pitch in and
cover his ass so his wife wouldn't think he'd been out with an expensive
hooker that night.
As conversation further deteriorated into the merits of other forms of
government throughout history and how difficult it would be to compare
the Secret Service with the Palace Eunuchs of the Ming Dynasty, I felt a
little nudge on my leg from MrsFoon. "Don't forget Foonboy, you rented
that surf movie you've been wanting to see for awhile."
That's right, I'd picked up a copy of "In God's Hands," the day before
and had reserved the best seat in my house (the Foonrecliner) to view
it. So reluctantly giving up the impulse to comment on the use of public
stocks as the best means to punish our president, I allowed MrsFoon to
steer me out into the fresh air and go home.
The combination of a really bad week (month) and the explosive release
of the office party put me in rare good form to watch this masterpiece.
My impression? This putrid piece of cinematic surf twaddle was
simultaneously too deep and/or too shallow for me to make any sense of.
The characters, story, plot, and content of the film were clearly
secondary to the eyecandy of images that unfolded on the screen. In
short, given my work damaged frame of mind,...... I loved it. After the
first 10 minutes I didn't even bother to judge whether the writing was
so good, or so bad, as to render the rest of the film unwatchable,
because I was mesmerized by the site of 5 story waves trying to crush
these little guys riding surfboards.
What struck me as odd was as the so-called thinly drawn stereotypical
characters revealed themselves through terrible acting (the headquarters
secretary was doing a better job of going mental when I left the bar
compared to the young kid in the clutches of a mysterious fever) long
blank incomprehensible stares (saw a bunch of those sitting at the bar
too), and painfully embarrassing dialogue (check the Congressional
for Friday and Saturday), I started to make comparisons between them and
personalities on the newsgroup. In the interest of not starting a war
just before the holidays, I will refrain from naming names. But for each
and every primary character in the film, I picked out a person here on
the ng who would probably be well suited to play them (including the
writer). For those of you who've seen it, think about this. Then think
about some of the personalities and the opinions they've expressed here.
As the credits scrolled and the last surfing montage faded along with
the music I turned to MrsFoon and said "Well?" She is the queen of bad
cinema (her current fav is "the Mask of Zorro") and can tolerate almost
anything except slice and dice movies. She hesitated a second then
offered, "We've seen worse. And it was perfect Friday night post office
party entertainment." Then she said thoughtfully, "Do you think real
surfers will think these characters represent them fairly? I mean they
don't come off as being too intelligent and these guys riding Jaws have
to have some kind of death wish." Like any sport, there are all kinds
of people who participate. I suspect there are those who may identify
with some of the characters in this movie, and there are those who will
reject the stereotypes. Ultimately, it's just a story put to film,
basically the writer's opinion. Most of us could dream up a story that
is way more representative of what surfing really is. But would anyone
make a movie about it?
"In God's Hands," can be as real or relevant as you want it to be. But
it can be no more surreal or incomprehensible than what is happening in
the Nation's Capitol these days. Talk about a bad movie.
I saved your life today
Dec 30 1998
I saved your life today, you just didn't know it.
You and your buddies blew off work or school because you heard there was
a new swell in town and decided to try it out. Sure enough, when you got
to the beach the place was mackin. The four of you scrambled out between
some big sets and proceeded to rip the place apart. All of you,
accomplished and experienced surfers, knew the waves were dangerous but
you'd surfed stuff this big and meaner before. All morning every one of
you got terrific rides, standup dry headed barrels, and spectacular re-
entries. Damn you're good.
Just about noon you paddled farther out than normal suspecting you were
due for a big set. Within 15 minutes a huge set appeared as you
scrambled to cut the best wave out of the pack for yourself. There were
hoots and hollers from the inside as your friends picked off the lesser
waves and envied your good judgment. With practiced ease you took off
left of center of the big peak, whipped a round house 180 and raced
across the face just beating the massive lip as it came over and covered
you for a good 5 seconds. Man, this is what it's all about.
No one was sure what happened next but you and your board got tangled in
a hellacious tube that rag dolled you so badly you had no idea which
way was up. What you did know was either the nose or fins of your board
were viciously jammed into your abdomen sending a bolt of pain to your
brain like a skyrocket on the 4th of July. You fought to maintain
consciousness, and reeled in your board by the leash as soon as you
broke the surface. Your gut was on fire and you paddled slowly back
toward the beach, walking painfully up on the shore.
You sat down still shaken from the pain but other than a really nasty
bruise on your stomach, you didn't see anything wrong....it's just that
you felt really lightheaded. Some of your friends came out to see what
happened and you told 'em your story of the best ride you've had in
months and about the truly nasty wipeout that ended it. One of your
friends observed you didn't look so good, kind of pale and a little
blue around the mouth. You mentioned that you were feeling kind of worse
and thought maybe you should go home. As you got up to pick up you
board and leave, you passed out cold.
Your friends thought you were kidding at first but quickly realized you
were in trouble. One of them ran to a beach house and asked someone to
call 911. Within 15 minutes an ambulance and EMS crew arrived and were
working on you. They checked vital signs and noticed your pulse was
racing but your blood pressure was about half what it should be. They
checked your lungs and other signs, lashed you to a stretcher and
quickly got you into the ambulance for the ride to the hospital.
On the way the crew radioed ahead your blood pressure was still
dropping. When you arrived at the emergency room, a code red team of
doctors, emergency techs and nurses set to work on you, stripping off
your cheesy shorty and trunks and hooking you up to a half dozen
machines. Though your lungs were clear, the bp kept dropping. One doctor
took a look at the severe contusion and your distended belly and knew
you were bleeding to death, internally.
Immediately, the doctor called for 4 units of blood to be ordered and
they started the IV. He inserted a tube into your abdomen and you
spurted blood like a geyser. A surgical team was paged and you were
whisked up to an operating room for emergency surgery. The team opened
your abdominal cavity and found a lacerated artery that had bled about
half of your body's blood inside of you. The team carefully sutured the
cut, waited to see if it would hold and not leak, then checked every
other vital organ before they sewed you up. You have a nice scar to brag
about now bro.
When the doctor came down to talk to your parents he called you a very
lucky guy. Had you stayed out in the water or had the emergency team
acted less quickly you could have very easily bled to death. You were in
stable condition after receiving 7 units of blood and were expected to
recover completely, but you wouldn't be surfing for a couple of months.
Somewhere seven different people took about two hours of their time one
day to go to a blood donation center. They got poked, prodded, pricked,
questioned, observed and relieved of one pint of their own precious
blood, the very same blood that saved your life, so you could go surfing
again. If they had not done this, you'd be a dead man.
I saved your life today. So did six other people. You just didn't know
about it.. I gave blood, gladly, to save your life or the life of anyone
I could. Don't thank me, but think about doing it yourself sometime.
It's a good feeling.
My offer of last year still stands. For every one who gives a pint I owe
you a wave. Da Hulk is the only one who's collected.
12 Jan 1999
My Left Coast clipping service sent me an article by Scott Glover, from
the January 2, 1999, LA Times, that almost broke my heart. It was a
story of Joe Wolfson, bodyboard pioneer and inventor of the 360, or
bellyspin (Whirlygig take note) To summarize:
A former bodysurfer, Wolfson saw his first bodyboard in 1971 in
Manhattan Beach and went on to be come an international competitor. He
became a fixture at the breaks of Manhattan Beach, well known to
everyone for his bodyboarding.
Last year, at the age of 49, he was diagnosed with inoperable lung
cancer. In October he left his job as recreation official for the City
of Carson to pursue treatment. The treatments only served t make him
weaker and sicker. On veterans Day, he coughed up so much blood he
decided to end it all. That night he took his Dr.360 signature model bb,
paddled himself out in the darkness and tethered himself to a buoy
waiting to die. Through the night his body temp dropped to 81 in the 59
Unfortunately for him, his plan was thwarted when his good friend and
lifeguard showed up for work the next day to teach a surfing class and
rescued him. Though he survived his recovery from his attempted suicide
he was not convinced he shouldn't try it again until 33 letters from the
surfing class at New Manhattan Beach Middle School showed up. It was
only then he realized what an impact his life had .
A typical letter:
You have been a role model to me since I was a little kid. I loved to
watch you ride the waves. It was incredible to see you doing your great
tricks and famous 360...Your great, "YAHOO!!" always cheered me up after
a bad day. Right now I could just yell YAHOO (for you) as loud as I
could. Everyone cares about you and I especially do. Please don't go.
Joe has renewed his radiation therapy calling himself, "the human Pop-
tart" and continues to bodyboard, but if things get really bad may
consider a trip to Oregon (legally assisted suicide) or outside the
country. Though he is hopeful, he remains, "coldly realistic about his
At age forty-nine (my age) this guy is even a role model to me. The
picture of Joe in the paper appears to be of a 70 year old man riding a
wave on a bodyboard, giving mute testimony to the ravages of radiation
treatment and the sun on his face. But the guy's spirit is something to
God bless you and keep you Dr.360.
-Foon (Never did a bellyspin, too much belly)
Pipeline, What's up wiff dat?
02 Feb 1999
Bad week, need therapy, Dr. Surff, save me:
At 6::30 am I'm in SouthEast Washington D.C., a crushed and beaten up
neighborhood of working class folks struggling everyday to make a living
in a burned out part of town. While waiting for a job to finish up at a
local printer, I walk across the street to the Casablanca Diner for a
As I walk in I notice two things immediately; 1) I am the only white
person in the place, 2) A song by Snoop Doggy Dogg is playing way too
loud. I order my breakfast special (2 eggs, grits, scrapple, biscuit,
coffee $1.99) from a sweet-faced little girl with cornrows and a cute
smile. In seconds it is offered up to me in one of those segmented
The only place to sit in the crowded dining area is between two huge
men, sitting at a picnic style table and talking loudly across the small
room to everyone they know. Neither seem to take much notice of me as I
squeeze my not too small body between them and reach for the condiments.
The food is mediocre and I'm starting to get creeped out by the stares
I'm getting from people all around me. I start to wonder how these
locals treat someone passing through.
From behind the counter the little girl declares, "I'm sick of Snoop's
tired ass shit!!" and she reaches up to spin the radio dial of the old
Sanyo Boombox mounted on the wall. The dial lands on some local
"oldies" station and the sweet sound of the Ventures' "Pipeline" comes
pouring out of speakers that almost sigh audibly in relief after pushing
out the bass heavy notes of Snoop's rap song.
In a microsecond almost all conversation stops. Quizzical looks start
darting from person to person, but slowly I begin to see fingers tap and
heads nod to the infectious but mellow beat. Though the boombox's
speakers are shot, the guitar work sounds exquisite. A few of the
Casablanca patrons are beginning to smile in response to a kind of music
they don't often hear.
I get the feeling the guy on my left is looking at me. As I turn my head
I notice his name stitched over the breast pocket of his dark green
"Marvin" takes another bite of his fried egg sandwich, swallows and
says in a deep low voice, "Yo, Whitebread. You know dis shit?"
Figuring (and Hoping) "Whitebread" is a term of endearment, I nod.
"Yeah. Pipeline - by the Ventures."
Marvin contemplates this fact, not sure what to make of the statement,
and listens a few more seconds.
"What's up wiff dat? Jazz 'er sumpin?"
"No," I say quietly and take a deep breath, looking around to gauge
how the next piece of information will be received now that I am the
focus of nearly everyone's attention.
Marvin's eyebrows go straight up, but he nods his head with complete
understanding. "Dat's some mellow shit, man. Those soifers is cool."
Marvin sucks deeply on his Newport Light and exhales, letting the smoke
and the statement drift softly toward the naked florescent lights. As an
afterthought he says to no one in particular. "I bet Master P could
sample some dat."
The song continues and almost everyone seems to be enjoying the reprieve
from the hard pounding rap......almost. Suddenly, the spell is broken.
An angry voice from the back of the room yells, "HEY, you boney-ass
BITCH!!! Turn that fuckin' shit off and put Da Dogg back on!!" A half
dozen shouts of agreement go up and the station is returned to the
piledriver riffs of another incomprehensible song. Marvin goes back to
eating his sandwich and nodding his head. I get up to leave, ignoring
the last half of my scrapple patty remembering it's made from parts of a
pig I don't even want to know about. As I move away from the table
Marvin looks up and smiles, "Surf's Up, Whitebread." and dissolves into
a deep rumbling chuckle as he laughs at his own joke.
"Yeah," I reply as I walk out the door. "Somewhere it is."
"There is no solitude in the world like that of a city."
- Kathleen Norris
SoCal Soiree, Day I
18 Feb 1999
It had been 25 years since I last lived in San Diego, so I was kind of
anxious to arrive, and somewhat annoyed by the three flybys our pilot
was forced complete due to heavy traffic into the airport. This didn't
seem to bother at all the middle-aged gynecologist I was sitting next to
since it gave him even more time to practice presenting a paper he was
giving that night on "cervical blooming." Not once did I wonder what
the multisyllabic medical terms he was practicing pronouncing meant. My
one mistake was inquiring what the "Zanverelli Maneuver" was?
Thankfully, the explanation came well before our in-flight vegetarian
lasagna. I assure you, it is something you guys never want to know
I arrived mid-day in San Diego with high hopes but no definite plans. I
had my usual fight with the rental car bozos, who wanted to put me into
some tiny two-door roller-skate, instead of a real car. We went through
the list of possible rides and I was sorely tempted to take the Black
Yukon with tinted windows. But for the same price I could have had a Jag
XJ. Finally, in honor of my SoCal adventure I settled on a purple
"Malibu" - fully loaded including a kickass stereo.
In my flight bag were a slew of emails from folks who wanted to hookup
(every goddamn one of you mentioned the AS points as incentive- a guy
could get a complex). I spent the balance of the dark and rainy
afternoon making calls and leaving messages. (And checking the ng on the
portable field communications facility) My first callbacks were from
George Barnes and Tom Keener who both having had good sessions that
morning, seemed eager to hookup the next day. We agreed to meet at my
hotel (out of their way but very nice of them to offer) and "truck pool"
to Sunset Cliffs in George's huge Red Suburban. (A lot of Mexican dust
in the wheel wells of this rig.)
In a flurry of other calls and distractions I left a message with Carson
telling him where we'd be, but forgot to leave my number. Sorry man, my
bad. I'd warned him to watch out for us on the cliffs and in particular,
for me in the water. I consider getting run over a piss poor way to meet
someone from AS. That night I partied like it was 1999 with an elite
corp of technoweenies who rarely get out in the real world (or sunshine)
and who after getting sufficiently lubricated with Cape Cods from the
ever open bar, exploded in a frenzy of weird dancing and falling down.
"Love Shack" by the B52s became the most requested song though "I don't
Wanna Work (I just wanna bang on the drum all day)" was a close second.
By 2:00 am I was definitely ready to bang something, but after being up
21 hours, suffering from massive jet lag, and drinking a little too much
party "punch," the only thing I was going to pound was my head into a
Though it stormed that night, dawn came bright -unlike myself, and
George followed by Tom showed up right on time. It was extremely
pleasing to meet both these men, having read their posts and
corresponded with them for awhile. After intros and equipment transfers
into George's truck we lit off to the cliffs. Now I'm 6'2" but I had to
stare up at both these guys. George is 6"6' and veteran kneeboarder, Tom
is 6"4' and a longtime bodysurfer. They are both immensely likable men.
There was this instant camaraderie I've experienced meeting other ASers
that is fascinating to observe. Though we are strangers, it's like
finding a long lost friends.
Tom and George hit it off quite well, since they are both engineering
types who speak a different language and use special programs for their
work. They both know some of the same people too. Both are a wealth
information about their respective areas. I should have paid them money
for the valuable tour they gave me. They got to jawing about stuff and I
didn't once (well ok once) think they were making fun of me :) I was
involved in my own trip down memory lane when we pulled onto Point Loma.
I fairly shook with emotion and soaked up every detail. It's remarkably
similar to when I last saw it 25 years ago.
George entertained us with great stories about the area as we took a
long walk along the cliffs at Garbage, telling us about sessions and
locals and epic conditions he's seen. They indulged me my little
stories about the year I lived behind a church and surfed all summer at
OB and the Cliffs. Since the conditions were blown out, we pushed on to
Tom's neighborhood, of La Jolla.
Again I was given a valuable gift of a local's knowledge and experience
of a particular area. Tom has the cove and other breaks wired and he
explained in detail the setup during different swells. As we cruised by
WindanSea we half expected to find Tom Tweed manning the barricades
against non-standup surfers, but the welcoming committee (the guys with
the brass knuckles) said Tom had canceled the daily ritual of roasting a
bodyboarder over an open fire by the shack in the interest of making us
feel more welcome, or at least less paranoid. I should mention that
Tom's e-message to me was very tempting and generous, a session at
Blacks, and I did appreciate the offer.
I won't take up your time with details of the rest of the day though the
companionship, fresh seafood, brewskis, and the opportunity to watch two
engineers (who to this day had been strangers) team up to execute a
precision perfect tire change in the middle of heavy traffic at the
cove, were things I will cherish for....awhile.
And since the conditions were less than ideal (worst wind in months
according to my guides) they got to repeat the oft spoken lament, "Ya
shudda been here yestidday." oh, har har hardee har har. I consider my
time spent with these guys to be one of the highlights of my
trip. I am both thankful and honored they would take the time to show me
around their homebreaks. Regarding the details of the session we
shared, MomsFoon has always taught me it is rude to contradict your
hosts. But needless to say, the check in is the mail.
Day II to follow.
SoCal Soiree Day II
19 Feb 1999
A disappointing series of mixed signals prevented George, Tom and I from
hooking up the next morning at North OB. It appears we all came within minutes of each other but just missed. Eventually we all went our separate ways in search of separate waves, George to Garbage, Tom to Boomer, and me to Avalanche.
I wound up getting my ass tattooed with 5 mini-thumpers and was not pleased with my performance. I was willing to fool myself into believing it was because I didn't know the beachbreak setup well enough and the bright pink, sway backed, mutt of a BZ bodyboard George had graciously lent me, was not enough equipment to accommodate my advanced style of waveriding (Insert Guffaw here). In fact, subsequent sessions convinced me that in the future it may be more prudent to take my own board, something that floats me, and that I know how to ride. The little BZ had a tendency to plow slowly on the fast moving wave faces. But the pink color did match my skin when I eventually peeled outta my wetsuit. At 54 degrees, the water was a tad cooler than I expected.
I called George and left a message with my regrets only to find out later he'd had a good session at North Garbage earlier. I'm sorry we did not share the water together. By the time I'd gotten there, they were backing off and were not really bodyboard worthy.
I discovered in my meetings with George that though friendly, as a "core" local, he has a bit of "enforcer" in him. I realized this after he described how he handled some trespassers at Garbage who were not demonstrating even the most elementary rules of etiquette. I was glad I could count him as one of my AS friends and not face him in the lineup. At 6'6", 200+ lbs of well muscled and sinewy fitness that give testimony to his almost daily go outs at the cliffs, George is not the kinda guy I want to be apologizing to for snaking on a set wave :^)
With my San Diego county maps opened to coastal roads and towns, and Eric Clapton up loud on the stereo I aimed the purple Malibu North for my self-guided tour of beaches. My ultimate destination was the San Clemente pier, for a special meeting with some other ASers.
I spent several hours checking breaks from Del Mar to Oceanside. A weather front had kicked some strong Santa Anas offshore which tended to closeout many of the unprotected beach breaks. All the beaches were showing some swell, but conditions varied almost by the mile. My first brush with quality came at Cardiff compliments of the famous Swamis, or "Swarmis" as I was corrected later.
The mid-morning local crew of two dozen riders were picking apart some glassy chest to headhigh slow ones. I watched from the cliffside parking lot as a display of foodchain snaking made me feel just a little queasy. I decided that a single, big, freckled, sponger, paddling out on a pink bodyboard, unfamiliar with the break and prone (ha!) to trying for waves he had no right to, might be as welcome as fire ants at a picnic. Beautiful as it was, I wound up going to my secret spot.
In 1971 a friend and I were surf camping our way down the coast. We camped at the State Campground in Carlsbad for a few days and stumbled upon the little town of Leucadia. There we surfed several glorious days at a place called Stone Steps. On this day Stone Steps was very glassy with some chest to headhigh sets popping up, and only 6 guys out.(two bodyboarders) There was so much break to choose from I virtually paddled out into my own private waves. I was just ecstatic with pleasure. What a fantastic day!! The stubborn and slow little BZ choked on the first three waves, but as soon as I figured out how to bend the rocker out of the board as I rode it, the little sucker just took off, often with me on it :) For an hour I carved and cruised a succession of luminous green pockets and marveled at the perfectly crafted waves. We just don't see this kind of stuff regularly on the Right Coast. I had finally conquered my SoCal wave curse. My ordeal of 3 1/2 years ago was a memory (See "5 days in the Valley")
I'd forgotten the walk back up Stone Steps was a half dozen switchback trails that went up the side of the cliffs. This was nothing like my workouts on the stairmaster in my gym, so when I got to the top I was geezin and wheezin like the outta shape old guy I am. For a half hour I just rested and took a few nice pics of the place to remember it by. Soon I was packing up to move on to make my meeting with History. I was already stoked beyond words and it was still only morning in the Southland.
* * * *
"Right Coasters GO HOME!!" Uh oh, I thought. My disguise hadn't worked, I've been made by the forces of evil. I was filling the parking meter at the San Clemente Pier when I heard the words come from a pleasant looking guy, who had what was obviously the worlds worst dental hygiene. This charming character was none other than DDaniel and he was there to give me the scoop on his neck of the woods. The really ugly choppers were a prank, intended to rattle me, but which didn't faze me in the least. A guy with my looks doesn't care really too much about others appearances, but it was going to be really hard talking and eating with this guy and not mention the tremendous advancements in false teeth. Before too long, since I didn't go shrieking, running away in fear, he
took them out revealing....no teeth at all. Just kiddin'.
DDaniel is not entirely what you'd expect from his presence on the ng. He is well spoken, smart as a whip, congenial, funny, and friendly....and a bit of a scamp (that you might know). We strolled out on the pier while we waited for Neon and proceeded to watch a lone bodyboarder get thoroughly, out of view, shacked on a succession of small waves breaking right next to the pier. I shouted down encouragement and praise for several rides and even though I'd had two sessions that day, toyed with the idea of getting my gear for another. My petrified muscles vetoed another go out.
Soon we were joined by Neon who introduced me to an older gentleman who,
though unsteady from a recent fall, greeted me with a warm smile and a sincere handshake. I was face to face with the legendary "Tubesteak." I don't know about you guys, but it is not a frequent occasion that I come in contact with surfing history. I spent the entire balance of the meeting thinking to myself, "Christ Foon, this is THE Tubesteak!!" I could not get over this monumental fact and I'm still quite taken with and starstruck by the idea.
Over a great lunch at a restaurant on the pier, the four of us spent a lively afternoon talking story, trashing you guys, and revealing things to each other we'd never say to you. Let me just say that these men proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when it comes to surfing roots and history, there are few here that can go deeper than these guys. At the end of the meeting I was slack jawed with awe.
I kept thinking about the afternoon as I sat in endless traffic North of San Diego, compliments of the Buick Open at Torrey Pines. When I blew into the room back at the hotel, MrsFoon knew immediately I'd had an exceptional day. Surfing, visiting famous breaks, meeting and talking to new friends and legends.......DAMN, it was worth sitting in three hours of traffic!!
Thanks you guys, Day II was another highpoint in my trip. Unfortunately, due to the excitement, fatigue and jet lag, I was out cold that night by 9 pm. Party animal, not.
-Foon (I almost shit when Tubesteak said he reads my stuff)
Like a freight train in a tunnel
22 Feb 1999
"Some times a cigar is just a cigar."
I looked down at Neal Miyake's worried face. He felt compelled to tell me something he knew absolutely.
"You'll die Foon. Even veteran, experienced watermen think twice about surfing the outside reef at the Pipe. You don't have that experience man, believe me."
I tried not to scoff right in Neal's face. After all he did invite me to the islands and offered to guide me around the North Shore. Now that I was planning to bodyboard 20 foot outside Pipe, he was sort of backing off. "What do I care Neal, it's just another break in the long line of big wave spots I've dreamed about. What did jb say once? "there's not enough desperation in most alt.surfing posts." "Well wait 'til they get a load of the one I'll write after this."
I picked up my "Big Bruddah" bodyboard and duck walked my way into the immense shore break. Timing is everything in life and I apparently had found a lull as I walked into the water and began making the 200 yard paddle out to the outer reef as though I was in a trance. Not a wave threatened to crush me, I felt extraordinarily peaceful.
It never occurred to me I wouldn't make it back. I felt as safe as if I were in my own bed. Intuitively, I lined up at the very peak of the outside reef and waited, splashing water on my face to cool off and laughing lightly at the battery of photographers lined up on the beach, not to mention the flashing lights of the emergency rescue vehicles. Did they really think this was impossible to do. They were dreamin.
In about 10 minutes the set of the day lumbered into view. Not feeling too sure of my lineup, I began to paddle out since the big walls had started to feather almost 300 yards outside of me, but never really threatened to break. I quickly sized up the one I wanted, not the biggest but surely the one with the longest potential wall.
I started my paddle early knowing full well I had to compensate for both the wind and water moving up the face of this huge wave at such a rate it had to be almost vertical for me to catch. What it required was total commitment to catching and riding. Any hesitation would put me in jeopardy of getting pitched over the falls and hammered into the reef.
The sun was blotted out by the cascading lip as it came over in dreamlike slow-motion. My Big Bruddah fairly dropped like a rock down the face of the wave skipping twice before we found a groove, sinking a rail into the face. The hard part was over, I was just along for the ride, though I kept tilting the board downward along the face as the rushing water tried to send me up to the top.
The swell was feeling the full effect of the reef now and the dark green water turned sea foam green as it hit the shallows. From behind me came the most ungodly roaring as the wave fell and exploded in the impact zone. Hey, this was kinda cool. I wonder why Neal thought this is so.........
What!!!! What the hell had whacked me in the FACE!!????
The wave continued, I could still hear the ominous rumbling of the breaking wave.
My eyes flew open to see MrsFoon staring down at me. She looked very angry.
"Foonboy, you know I just flew in from the Coast on the redeye and I'm very tired. You are snoring as loud as..as"
"A breaking wave at the Pipeline?" I offered
"NO YOU BONEHEAD, LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN IN A TUNNEL!! Either you cut it out or go to the guest room!"
Damn, I felt bad. But quickly returned to my dream as I was sitting out in the ocean on a beautiful clear day. The water was absolutely flat. I couldn't figure out where all the waves were.
Finally, in the distance a little tiny ripple of a wave came slowly into
sight. If it was one foot tall it would be saying a lot. I started my paddle early since I knew waves this big took a total commitment of paddling, and often they were so small you could never catch them anyway.
Easy as pie I caught the little ripple and angled my Little Bruddah, bodyboard into the face. I glided smoothly down the line with just the hint of a wave lip dribbling over on my shoulder. I could only here a mere whisper of splash as the curl folded quietly on my back. The ride ended in 5 inches of water and I rolled off the board laying on my back, looking up at the sky and relaxing. Ahhhhhh, that's better.
Sweet dreams dear.
-Foon (In "your" dreams)