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Showing posts from 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.

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…

A Great Little Shop.

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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 i…

On the pier.

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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…

An Autumn state of mind.

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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…

100% Skate Boarder

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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 …

Surfing history, brought alive.

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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 Grannis.  Each 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 encapsulat…

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

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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,…

Labels.

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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 …

One California Day

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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 …

California On My Mind.

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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…

On my bike.

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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 run…

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.…

Given to ride

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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 …

Pearl Jam in the 'Dam

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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…

Sliding Across Waves

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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.…

The Surfing Life

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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…

Lines, Curves and Soul

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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…