Sunday, 19 October 2014

Superstar.

Earlier I heard a song on the radio that gave me goose bumps, yep, 6 Music again, I love that station.  The song, Sonic Youth's version of the Carpenters 1971 song, Superstar which I have heard before, probably on the film Juno, but talk about powerful!

Wanting to hear it again with some volume, I scoured my CD's, but it doesn't appear on any of the Sonic Youth albums that I own.  In fact it was recorded for a tribute album released in 1994, entitled If I Were a Carpenter.

My gosh, it is a thing of beauty. I just watched the video, and it pretty much brought a tear to my eye.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

June Gloom, Sea Fog Enveloping Malibu Pier.

A few weeks ago I heard a piece of music on the radio that stopped me in my tracks. This happens every now and then, and when it does I get such a shiver of excitement from hearing something that is so pleasing to the ear that it is tangible.  Often when this occurs is is not merely a reaction to the arrangement of the music alone, the experience is so much more than that. Sometimes it can be a song that I associate with a memory or experience from the past, sometimes it is a person, and on occasion it is a place.  But I do love it when music has this effect on me.

The song that I heard that Saturday, played on the Huey Morgan radio show (Katie Pucrick was sitting in) was Heart is a Drum by Beck.  Now, I am quite the fan of Beck, but as I haven't bought any of his albums since Guero, I have to say that this song and the album that it is taken from, Morning Phase passed me by.  (Although this has now been rectified with the purchase of the said album). But what a song it is.  It has that real So-Cal vibe that is at the same time melancholy and sunny, which on first hearing it reminded me of the Pacific, palms fringed beaches, and that magical time as the sun dips over the horizon and everything glows orange and gold. In a word, beautiful.  But on listening to it again, it becomes apparent that the context of the song is less than cheerful. Katie Puckrick described the scene that is created in the minds eye as being June Gloom over Malibu pier, which I thought was an absolutely perfect description and gives the song an onomatopoeic quality.

There are several songs that do this for me, one is Observatory Crest, by Captain Beefheart another is Tiny Dancer, performed by Elton John.  Funnily enough, I am pretty certain that the first time I heard each of these songs was on the Radio, on a Saturday morning.  Maybe I am just more receptive at this time!  But the common feature of all of them is that they sum up the LA/So Cal experience for me.  I love this area, and these songs have the power to take me there, pretty much every time I hear them. 

One of my favourite singer/musicians/writers/people is David Byrne, he wrote a booked entitled How Music Works, in fact it was given to me as a birthday present by K last year. Writing this piece has reminded me that I must read it.


Three songs that take me to straight to California:-













A Great Little Shop.

On the weekend I set foot in one of the best surf shops that I have experienced in an awful long time, in this country at least.

The shop is Trans Surf, in Mawgan Porth, which is just up the coast from Newquay in Cornwall.  I happened to be in the area for the weekend and while exploring I came across the shop.  Being in the market for a new suit, boots etc for winter I thought I would look inside.  Not that I actually need much persuasion, when it comes to surf shops my resistance is pretty much non existent, so I would have ventured in anyway. But I am so glad that I did.

It became immediately apparent that Trans Surf is one of a rare breed. To begin with, as soon as I set foot inside the door it struck me as being a 100% real, genuine, authentic surf shop, one with sand on the floor and everything! It is within sight of the beach and the Atlantic beyond and above all else it had a friendly vibe.  The lady working gave me such a smiley, friendly welcome, something that I have to say is becoming a novelty these days, in any shop, but especially surf shops. Anyway, I was delighted to discover it was also packed with surfboards, wetsuits, accessories and great clothing too. Basically, it is full of the right stuff. In fact the selection of items on offer at Trans Surf rivals that of any shop that I have been in in the world.

So I was looking for a suit, but got instantly distracted by the other things, it really did give me that feeling of being in a sweet shop as a child.  For everywhere I looked there was amazing surf stuff, things that I really like, brands that I am really into. But I remained focussed on my task of looking for a new suit. Seeing that I was a little lost, the lady working asked me if she could help, and upon me telling here what I was looking for, she pointed me in the right direction and even apologized for eating her cake!  The suits turned out to be right where I was looking, sometimes I really do deserve the Magoo title that my partner gives me!

It was a little early in the season for the full range of Winter stock to be in, but there were one or two early arrivals that the lady was happy to recommend based upon my size and budget. One of them really took my fancy, this was an O'Neill Pyro Tech and was an absolute beauty. The one on the peg was in my size, and a really cool colour too.  However, it was a little more than I had to spend on the day, especially in light of the fact that I needed boots too.  So while I was more than tempted to just get it there and then and had that whole what the heck, get it anyway feeling, I resisted and reluctantly I put it back.

That said, I was so impressed by the whole experience that I will definitely be going back with a view of getting my new suit in the near future.

As I mentioned before, there are so many shops where the experience is exactly the opposite, in that they are incredibly unfriendly and make me feel as though I have invaded their private space by my being there.  And they want me to spend my money with them? Good luck with that guys!

I really do hope that Trans Surf are doing really well, they deserve to.  For me it is like stepping into how a surf shop should be. Everything about my visit was so positive, I am only sorry that I didn't buy anything from them, on this occasion at least.  Rest assured I will do in the future.

I am super stoked and then some to have found them, thanks to Trans Surf my faith in British surf shops has been restored!


They have a really great logo too!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

On the pier.

One of my most favourite things in the world is to be on the pier at Porthleven while the waves pass underneath, I've been doing it for years.

The experience differs from season to season, but I find it incredibly enjoyable throughout the year, by day or at night.  There are provisos though, ideally the swell should be clean with the wind off shore. Also the waves don't want to be too big, this is a fairly important consideration as I don't want to be swept in, that wouldn't be so much fun. But when the conditions are good, I can't think of a better way to enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic, without actually being in it.

The best vantage point is right above the place where the waves break, the impact zone. They pass just beneath your feet before unloading with all of their power as they reach the shallow water, quickly travelling those last few metres of their long journey.  The waves first appear as swell approaching the end of the pier. These then become steeper and steeper before gravity does its thing and they reach their tipping point.  It is at this moment that the full beauty of the wave can be seen, directly from above, providing a fantastic view of the movement of the water, sometimes just centimetres below your feet. The colours and textures of the water can be seen in all of their beauty, exposing the most incredible patterns and aqua tones. The shades of green, turquoise and blues are almost unrealistic, such is their ultra vivid quality.  As the wave breaks, the water takes on the appearance of blown glass for the briefest of moments before it is infused with a translucent quality, then turning the purist white. 

In the aftermath of the breaking wave, the water remains turbulent and the colour quickly changes to a minty green. Gradually it returns to its previous state and in a very brief period of time the last trace of the wave disappears with a fizz as the surface becomes smooth once more.

Then a new set will roll in and the whole thing can be enjoyed again. The beauty of watching waves from the pier is that it is never the same twice and the smallest of swells makes it more than worthwhile.  Each new swell provides different elements of enjoyment, the weather and light change things dramatically, as does the darkness at night. And if there is a clear starry night with a bright moon, well that really is something to behold.

Each of the senses gets a treat when on the pier. For while there are the visual elements, there are also the sounds, as well as the smell of salt water and the feeling of the spray as it hits your face.  Not to mention the shudder that passes through the pier structure, as the wave slams in to the reef below. All of which contribute greatly to this fantastic experience, which I have to say is up there as being one of my favourite things to do.














Saturday, 13 September 2014

An Autumn state of mind.

With it fast approaching mid September it is safe to say that Summer is pretty much over. But it's been a good one, weather wise at least, could have done with more surf, but you can't have it all, plus any waves would have been absolutely mobbed by the hoards that descend on Cornwall during the Summer.

I have mixed emotions about the passing of Summer, for on the one hand the temperature is dropping, the days are shortening and while it is sunny at the moment, the rain and wind is probably just around the corner.  That said, there is something comforting about the transition from Summer into Autumn, which is probably instinctive and related to the notion of preparing for Winter.  Plus the tourists have pretty much all departed, that alone is something to be thankful for.

Also, the Autumn swells should beginning to hit us any time now, beyond that there should be surf throughout the Winter months.  This year I am going to make the most of it.  For a start it's time to invest in some new Winter surf essentials, by that I mean a new suit, boots, gloves and even a new hat.  And while I have no interest in chasing storm surf, or going out in ugly grey slabs, I have every faith in there being enough cold, crisp, smaller days to keep the stoke up through the cold, dark months of Winter.

I might change my mind once we've had a few weeks of it, but right now I am welcoming the onset of the Autumn, the evenings remain light enough to get out and about, biking, surfing, or simply enjoying the incredibly fresh air and amazing sunsets that this time of year yields.  Then in a few weeks time, it'll be a case of wrapping up warm, getting the sunshine and waves when I can, but making the most out of it is probably what it will be all about.  That said, if it gets too much I can always get a cheap flight and escape to somewhere hot for a few days. There's always an option to escape.

Autumn swells.



Thursday, 21 August 2014

100% Skate Boarder

The week before Jay Adams passed away, I watched Dogtown and Z Boys for the umpteenth time. K, my partner always gets sad at the Jay Adams section, and as always I assured her that he is actually doing okay. In that I have seen photos of him surfing, gouging big turns, skating with style and absolute gusto, as well as clips of him being interviewed in which he is looking really healthy and well.  All in all he always seemed to a doing lot better than at the time when the Z-Boys film was shot in 2001. So we watched the film and K did not get sad at the Jay part.

Some six days after this latest viewing of the film, I heard the sad news that he had died.

So many people have said so much in honour of him already, there is a lot of love for him, that's for sure. For one individual guy to connect to so many people the world over, is a real accomplishment, I did not know him as a person, and yet he touched my life to such a degree that I felt as though a friend had died last week.  I feel that this is down to something considerably more than Jay's skateboarding ability.  While the entire Dog Town and Zephyr crew can take credit for the advent of modern skateboarding, it is Jay Adams that I feel is most deserved of the title.  He obviously lived a tough life, but despite everything he stayed true to skating and surfing right up to the time of his death, which happened in Mexico while on a surf trip with his wife, Tracy.  He epitomised skateboarding for the sheer fun of it, not for the contest scene, the money and the kudos, but rather the simple act of having fun, doing something you love.  For these things I have the utmost respect for this true legend.

The surf and skate world has to a degree crossed over in to the corporate arena, as such there isn't a whole lot of room for characters and individuals.  More often than not the pros have to fit in with the image as defined by their sponsors, so I don't think that it is likely that we will see another Jay Adams, or anyone with like him anytime soon. He gave so much to the culture, that I think we are all indebted to him. For these reasons, he will never be forgotten.  
















RIP Jay Adams.
February 3rd 1961 - August 14th 2014. 


Surfing history, brought alive.

I have had a deep fascination with surf photography for a number of years. A really great shot which captures a moment perfectly will spark my imagination and take me to a different place, or an entirely different time.

There are a number of photographers, past and present, who's work I really admire and never tire of looking at.  But I thought I would note my appreciation of the photography of Ron Stoner, Ron Church and Leroy GrannisEach of these guys were responsible for capturing the surfing experience so perfectly, both in and out of the water.

Many of their photographs are so incredibly simple and yet they manage to portray surf culture in such a way that it is if the photographs were staged. Although, on close inspection you can see that this was not the case, rather they all had an incredible eye for photography, knew surfing, had a deep understanding of the ocean, and a love for all of these things.  These incredible attributes ensured that they could perfectly encapsulate a moment in time that would otherwise have been missed, thus preserving these nuggets of surf culture for people like me to appreciate all these years later.

These guys were at the top of their game during the era before the surfing boom, that very small window of time before things went bananas and surfing became an industry and everyone wanted to be a 'surfer'.  The simplicity and purity of the scene at this time is visible throughout their body of work.  Capturing some of the most legendary surfers from an age that has long gone, these guys have provided the surfing world with some of the most iconic images that there are.

Fortunately for me, my partner and friends know what I like and get good gifts, as a result I have obtained quite a collection of books that are dedicated to the work of Mr.Stoner, Mr.Church and Mr.Grannis. Whenever my stoke flags a little bit and I become disillusioned with surfing and I need some real inspiration, I reach for one of these books. On doing so I immediately become retuned with what surfing is all about, the beauty, the fun and the lifestyle that I really relate to and connect with in a big way.


Photos: Surfer Magazine

Ron Stoner, self portrait
Phil Edwards, by Ron Church


Ron Church



Leroy Grannis

This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I'll get back to you.

In light of the sad news of James Garner's recent death, I thought I would write a few words on The Rockford Files, and how this seventies show provided me one of my first tastes of California.  I believe it was this show, and others like it from the same era that instilled the fascination with California which has remained with me for all these years.

To begin with, the show was shot in such a way that it created a kind of sun drenched effect, everything was bathed in this orange glow, the sea shimmered with a gold sparkle, the beaches were pure white stretches of sand and palm trees grew everywhere. The whole show pretty much summed up the quintessential California experience.  LA itself was depicted in a manner that really struck a chord with me.  On the one hand it was a wash with criminals and low life hoods, but looking past these elements, as I did, I became enchanted with it from a very young age.

But a large part of the fascination with this world was derived from the cars, the trucks and the super wide highways that carried them.  As a young boy, I loved pretty much anything that had wheels, be it cars, or trucks, but the American variants were my real favourites.  Watching a show like the Rockford Files was a veritable car fest, Jim Rockford's gold Pontiac Firebird is every bit as as awesome now as it was then, added to which the show ostensibly revolved around a city in which car culture is unrivalled. Therefore, the street, road and highway based scenes provided a snapshot of the cars from the era, which was great then, but watching it now is akin to opening a time capsule, such is the array of cars on view.

Cars of every description are depicted in their element and in every day use, spotting even the most everyday of vehicles offers a level of excitement with every episode. In fact I am pretty certain that every such scene featured a VW Golf (Rabbit), or a Merc of some description and of course the ubiquitous Californian Beetle or Combi, invariably these were in a funky 70's colour, but always featuring the US DOT spec bumpers and lights, making them far more appealing than their British and European counterparts.  Although, now I realise that these features kind of detract from the aesthetic, and people in the US go to great lengths to get such cars looking more European.

I know that James Garner had a long and successful career in film and television, he was a great actor, a truly colourful character and a real icon, these things are a given.  But it was the Rockford Files that had a really profound and long lasting effect on me.

It's been a while, soI I am going to make sure that I watch at least some of the shows again, I feel it will have aged well.









Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Labels.

I don't like to rant on this blog, it ain't about that.  But occasionally I feel the need to air some of my thoughts on what I see happening in surfing, here is one of them.

One of the things I love about surfing is that traditionally it is a great leveler.  It doesn't matter what social group you belong to, how far up the career ladder you have got, or how much financial wealth you have on land.  All that stuff is left behind and doesn't account for anything when you are in line up.

But in recent times I have seen a significant shift in this paradigm.  For I have noticed wealth indicators have snuck in to the domain of surfing that was previously free from such things, on the whole.  These days it is becoming more and more about the purchase of kit, expensive kit at that.  Certain brands of boards are given vast amounts of kudos, not because they have been hand crafted by a master shaper, nor because they have any heritage.  More over they have come in to this world by way of a CNC router, much the same as the majority of mass produced boards, regardless of their price. They have the label, a cute little name and a price tag that puts them at the top end of most peoples budgets.  The same goes for wetsuits.  These days so many of these have become branded luxury goods, designer suits if you will. But really, does the level of warmth and comfort justify the crazy price?  Personally I wouldn't know, because even if I could afford to do so, I would never spend that much on a wetsuit, or a suit, suit for that matter.  But from what I hear, they don't match up to the hype.  A mid range suit will almost certainly keep you just as warm and will undoubtedly last just as long.

This might come across as being a bit like sour grapes, I can assure you that it isn't the case.  For I come from the school of thought that says that it doesn't matter what you ride, what you wear to keep you warm, or how much money you shell out on surfing kit.  If you have the moves, the skill the style, you get the respect and admiration, oh, I should also add the right attitude, that last little attribute is priceless.  Buying the latest, greatest designer kit won't make anyone surf better.  In fact the ocean has a funny habit of making anyone look like a goose, no matter how much money they spent on their premium board and suit combo.

Rant over.


Yuk! Chanel 'surfboards'. I bet they ride well.

Friday, 4 July 2014

One California Day



While on the subject of California, I thought I would say a few words about one of the finest surf films there ever was, One California Day.

This film sums up the California surfing experience for me perfectly. In fact when ever I am in need of some Cali sunshine, it goes on and never fails to lift my mood by taking me to the Golden State, by way of the DVD player.

Having got the goose bumps when I saw the trailer for the first time, I got to see the full film early in 2008, when K had managed to get me a copy for Christmas, (I am fairly confident in saying that I had the first copy in the UK, coming straight from Jason Baffa).  This was a defining moment in my surfing life.  For here was a film that wasn't backed by one of the corporate surf companies, it didn't feature the main-stream pros of the time, no competitions, no groms and none of the ego driven BS that is so often found in surf movies.  No, it was pure California, featuring some of the most soulful, stylish and down right great board sliders there are.  Shot beautifully in 16mm film and set to a blistering sound track, OCD is one of my favorite surf movies of all time.  In fact I would place it in my list of all time favorite films, full stop.

As for the surfing, simply put, that is just beautiful, from start to finish it is all about the purer elements of Californian surfing, from San Diego, right up to Crescent City way up there in the far north of the state.  Each section focuses on a different area and its local icons, perfectly demonstrating the diversity of the waves on offer as well as the rich surfing heritage that is evident there.

I can honestly say that OCD opened provided me with an entirely new perspective on surfing.  For this was not an historical account of surfing that was, this stuff was happening now, in a place that I know and love.  Shortly after seeing it I got my first longboard with ever intention of learning to ride it properly.  I can't tell you how much stoke this gave me and I have never looked back.  I now ride a longboard as often as I do a short board, and have learned how to cross step, and ride the nose.  It has altered the way that I surf, look at waves and view surf culture.

So it is safe to say that One California Day had a real impact on me, and was at least part responsible for providing me with a whole new approach towards surfing.  For that, I will be eternally grateful.


 
 


Thursday, 3 July 2014

California On My Mind.

I have spent a fair bit of time in Southern California, having made a number of trips there in the last decade.  I love it.  But, one of the things that really strikes me each time I am there is the level of development and the incredibly high density of people who reside on or near the coast, how people mange to co exist like that, I don't know.

I often wonder what it was like before the population explosion, pre mass development, when much of the coast was concreted over? I'll bet the line ups were quieter, that's for sure, probably less polluted too.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy spending time there, else I wouldn't have been so many times.  It's just that being a nature lover, as I am, I can't help wondering how it would have been say in the fifties, which lets face it, ain't that long ago.  My guess is that it would have been a much more pleasant environment, more open space, more wildlife, less people. 


To be fair while the beaches have seen an awful lot of change, by and large they have survived and remain pretty much unscathed.  But when you look back towards land, that's when you realize that the strip of sand is the only open space around, for there is barely any land that doesn't have stuff built on it.  This is particularly true for Orange County and beyond.  Heading towards San Diego on PCH, it seems that the only break in the mass development can be found at the San Onofre State Park.  Sadly even this sanctuary is under threat due to there being plans to extend the highway, right through the middle of the reserve.  The highway project was shelved in 2008, but I do fear that this stay of execution is temporary and that the powers that be will throw their toys around enough and eventually get their way.

The level change that the Californian Coast witnessed in the latter part of the twentieth century is particularly well documented by the California Coastal Records Project.  This is basically a vast photographic record of the entire coastline, border to border, from Oregon to Mexico.  The first of the photos were taken in 1972, with the latest being from 2013, what is striking is the level of development along the coastline in the intervening years.  The site is well worth looking at.

I have a huge place for California in my heart, I really do, but I am really fearful that the natural beauty of the place is being spoiled by this rampant level of development.  I can understand that people want to live there, I would too, but it does worry me that many of the things which make it so special are being destroyed in the name of 'progress'.  For me, heavy industry, strip malls, and highways are no substitute for open country and coastline. I know that I am by no means alone in thinking this, but I just hope that those of us who value the natural environment have a loud enough voice to stand up against the destruction of nature, on such a massive scale.








Wednesday, 2 July 2014

On my bike.

I went out cycling again last night after work, it was only a short ride, ten miles at most, but so much fun!  Now I am not what you would call a dedicated cyclist, I don't go out in bad weather, I don't time myself and I do it purely for the fun of it. I also try my very best to avoid roads, for me cars and bikes simply do not mix.

I love to take the time to look at the view, say hello to people and generally appreciate being out in the countryside or on the coast having got there through using my own energy, and nothing else.

They have opened up lots of new trails near to where I live, in fact you can see a section of one of them from my house.  And they are fantastic, the views are astounding and give a whole new perspective of an area that I thought I knew well.  They combine open countryside, with woodland and coast.  Last night the weather was super fine, so everything looked amazing, the land so green and the Atlantic sparkled in the evening sun.  There was some swell running to, so this added another dimension to the experience.  The combination of serene country, right next to the power and energy of the ocean provides a great contrast, not to mention an amazing colour combination.

And then there's the wildlife, on a bike you see so much of it, arguably more so than when I am out walking.  Although Bella, the unruly little black dog might have at least something to do with the wildlife running to the hills when she's in the vicinity!

Being out on my bike provides some excellent thinking time, I find that it gives me the space that enables me to work things out, or to simply get them out of my system.  It also gives me that feeling of being in the moment. There are precious few ways that I can achieve this, but when it happens it stays with me for quite a time afterwards.

Surfing does on occasion provide these things for me, but the sessions that enable me to pretty much detach from the everyday world, as well as to fully appreciate the natural elements are rare, for a number of reasons.  That said, it does sometimes happen, more often than not on smaller days, when I am out on my longboard, in a quiet line up with no distractions, feeling so relaxed.  I find that these are the days that I remember fondly, much more so than the busy surfs where it all seems so busy and hectic, not to mention increasingly competitive, which can sometimes border on being stressful.

So I have decided to try and make these sessions more prevalent, to do my very best to capture the things I love about being out on my bike while I am surfing.  This will mean some forward planning to avoid the crowds and the hub bub of modern surfing, but I really want my surfing to provide me with this connection with the natural world and level of contentment that I so crave.  I am fairly confident that this change in outlook will rejuvenate my love of surfing and I am really looking forward to sharing my experiences on here.











Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Great city, great band, great time!

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I was about to visit Amsterdam for a few days, during which time I was going to see Pearl Jam, one of my most favorite bands.

Well I am now the other side of that trip so thought I would say a few words about how great it was.  First off, Amsterdam is an incredible city on so many levels.  It is beautiful to look at, I love the style of the architecture and the majority of buildings have avoided the hand of modernization.  Being on a network of canals means that you are never far from the water and the goings on that occur on and around it, I liked that a lot.  We stayed in Haarlemmerbuurt which is the oldest part of the city and known locally as 'the Pearl' of Amsterdam, a title it really does reserve.  It was incredibly quiet and had a village feel to it, while being only a short walk from the Jordaan and the city beyond.

The other thing which struck me was just how friendly people were.  In fact everyone we met were nothing short of lovely.  We were made to feel incredibly welcome in each and every shop, bar, café or restaurant that we visited.  Not only that, people in general seemed laid back and in much less of a hurry, compared to many other European cities.  The pace of life certainly suited us and lent itself nicely to ambling around taking in the sights and atmosphere of this great city.

As for the gig itself, that was nothing short of superb.  We had some great seats, directly above the stage, which provided a fantastic vantage point and a great way to experience the show.  And what a show it was, they played for roughly two and a half hours and the set list comprised of many my favorite songs from throughout their career, right up to many of the songs from Lightening Bolt.  They were tight and every single song was played with absolute energy and vigor, which the crowd clearly appreciated making for an amazing atmosphere. There were certainly a number of hairs standing up on the back of the neck moments.  One of the highlights for me was when they began their encore with slower songs, before going on to blow the roof off with some real barnstormers, including Go and Alive and ending the whole thing with Indifference.  The band delivered everything with absolute gusto throughout. Mr Vedder had evidently sustained an injury to his knee, but this didn't stop him from delivering a fantastic performance, with lots of interaction with the crowd.

All in all the trip was a heap of fun with too many highlights to list.  It is safe to say, Amsterdam is now firmly fixed on our list of favorite places.






The above clip is Even Flow, one of my most favorite PJ songs.  It was not shot by me, but was evidently filmed by someone in a similar location to ours!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Given to ride

I love boards, riding them, looking at them, or simply talking about them gives me a real kick.  Sometimes it's the graphics, or the lines that I like, but more often than not it is the fact that they are built for one thing, to be ridden.  Whether that is on water, asphalt, concrete, wood or snow, these things have a kinetic energy, it is this that gives them their allure.

When I look at a surfboard for example, preferably one that has seen a lot of action, been used and abused, travelled, I can imagine the waves it has slid on, the moves it has pulled, the spray the rails and fins have generated, not to mention the adventures it's owner has put it through.  This is particularly true of some of the used boards that I have picked up over the years.  They might be beaten, and have seen better days, but these are the qualities that make them special.  It is the history that they have that makes them more than the sum total of the materials that they are constructed from.  I look at them and cannot help wondering who owned them, where they have been and how they have been used?  Each ding, fracture and dent tells a story. Of course some would have happened in transit, or occurred as a result of a mishap on dry land, but I like to think that the majority have come about while they have been in use.  One of my favourite examples is a 6'4" thruster that I picked up for $100 in Huntington Beach a few years back.  From what I understand, it derived from Australia, saw a lot of use by the looks of it, before ending up in HB.  I bought it with every intention of using it and then either swapping it for a t-shirt or two, or even giving it away.  But I ended up becoming attached to this beat up beauty and gave it a new home in Cornwall.  I would love to know the stories it has.

Boards that you just know have history are just really appealing to me, quite often I will walk in to a surf shop and make a bee line to the used rack first, for the brand new boards just don't always have the same level of interest.  Don't get me wrong, I genuinely love all surfboards, apart from pop-outs that is.  I think it's that when a board has been in use for a while, it develops a history, the narrative of which gets more interesting the older it gets.  The new boards just haven't got this, they will given time, they just need some real use to achieve it.






These are a few of my boards.






Pearl Jam in the 'Dam

Tomorrow I fly to Amsterdam for a few days, and I cannot wait.  I always enjoy exploring a new city for the first time, and love travelling, but this trip also has another element.  I am seeing one of my favourite bands, Pearl Jam play on Monday!  I am one lucky boy to have a partner who gets me such amazing Christmas gifts as this!

This is a band that has consistently been on my life sound track for over twenty years now.  I have seen them live just the once, at the Cardiff CIA back in 2000.  The new album, Lightning Bolt has a sound and feel that is reminiscent of the Ten era and there is not a disappointing track on the album.  All in all it should be quite a show, I am sure they will perform a lot of their back catalogue, plus the new stuff too and I am thinking that there will be a few hairs standing up on the back of my neck moments, fantastic! 

I am also looking forward to my stay in Amsterdam a great deal.  I have heard so many great things about it, it looks beautiful, so many museums, places to eat and as with every trip abroad that we do, there will be plenty of scope for mooching around, soaking up the sights and sounds of the city.  Plus we will get to see Holland play Spain in their opening game of the World Cup on Friday night, and I am pretty certain that'll be an incredible experience too!

Excited? Just a little bit!








Sliding Across Waves

At the risk of sounding horribly clichéd, there is nothing that can match the feeling of riding a wave, I mean really riding a wave.  It's a feeling that comes alive when I drop into a decent wave, large or small it doesn't matter, but it is the sense of doing something that precious few can do, less still really appreciate.

I love that sense of being committed to the wave that I get when the speed at which you are paddling, matches the forward motion of the wave, and it has you. That feeling of anticipation, trepidation, excitement and wonder all rolled into one.  Looking down the line to and taking a quick snap shot in and in an instant planning a route, taking the line that will allow for the most speed and the best moves, all of this information is computed in that instant just at the point of take off, before the ride begins.

Once taken off, the whole plan is executed and the only thing that I am focusing on is the wave ahead of me, nothing else matters other than the ride.  Looking up at the wall of water, the wound of the board as it slides across the surface, the feeling of motion, being propelled by the wave alone, all contribute to the overall feeling.  But it's that butterfly in the tummy, pure excitement that surfing gives me which makes it truly special.  This is heightened with every decent turn, with each critical move and from the sheer speed at which it all happens.  That is what I strive for, that is the thing that I feel when I dream about surfing, and if I think about some of the best waves of my surfing life, I can feel at least part of the feeling through re living the experience, of which there are many.  But the best part, is that I get to feel this way pretty much every time I go surfing. Catching a decent wave and riding it to my best ability is a feeling that is timeless.  Longboarding, shortboarding, big waves or small, that sensation of doing it, and doing it well is why I still get the buzz that I do from sliding across the face of waves.

The Surfing Life

I surf and I surf well.  I should do too, given the years or should I say the decades that I have dedicated to it, although that last bit does make me feel a tad old, but hey ho, it's just a number.

From the day I first began surfing, way back in '86, surfing and the culture that surrounds it has pretty much defined who I am.  Although to a lesser extent in recent years, due to constraints on my free time and the fact that I have developed interests in lots of other tings, in the past it has been my everything, and nothing would get in the way of its pursuit.  My entire life would be planned around the next swell, plans would be thrown out of the window to go surfing, school was missed, jobs and girl friends were lost and turmoil created at home and away in the name of riding waves.

Surfing immediately put a spell on me, it gave me exactly what I was looking for when I was a young teenager in need of a direction.  It opened up a whole new world of fun, excitement and possibility, not to mention friends and a sense of belonging that was so important to me.  It has provided me with countless experiences that are being added to all the time, in fact I would say that my world view has been heavily influenced by surfing and surf culture.

In short, I love surfing.



Photo Max Buchanan





Lines, Curves and Soul

I am not a fan of super cars, I find many of them ugly trinkets of wealth that have the power and the price tag, but lack true style and for want of a better word, soul.

That said, I have a real soft spot for Porsches, especially the 911, old ones that is, and preferably those that were current from the mid sixties to the mid seventies.  During which period they came in some fantastic colours, they had the Fuchs wheels, were trimmed in chrome and the entire model range had small details that set them aside. The price tag, and indeed the speed and power mean very little to me, although admittedly, the race heritage does add to the attraction. There is something about the style of the body, the face and the overall aesthetic that I really do like.  From the earliest carnation, to the current model, the 911 has a look that is un matched.  For me the attraction is derived from the look of the car, which from nose to tail is perfect.

The 911 has lines and curves that give it a real sense of personality, and a clean overall shape from which you can see the close family resemblance that it shares with the Beetle, one of the other cars, of which there are precious few, that can wear the icon tag with true credibility.  But while the newer examples are fully race bred, very expensive cars that only a few can afford, the earlier model line ups consisted of less quick, lower spec'd but more style driven cars.  Cars like the Targa or the Carrera.

I doubt if I will ever own one myself, for I fear that much of the allure could be shattered by trying to keep a forty plus year old car in good working order, without the level of expertise to do the work myself.  But I know that I will never tire of looking at 911's, in pictures or in a real life context.








 
 









 
 






See the entire film here: -

https://www.reelhouse.org/mos/urbanoutlaw/