Sunday, 19 October 2014


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.


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.