Sunday, January 18, 2015

Axe Handling

In his poem Axe Handles, California poet Gary Snyder (whose intimate 70th birthday party I crashed and got loaded on sake because he was in love with my at-the-time girlfriend) helps his son make a new handle for an axe head that was lying around.
The tool to do this? An axe.
The complete axe shapes the new handle, and also serves as a model for the tool he's making.
He recalls Ezra Pound, who wrote, "when making an axe handle/the pattern is not far off."
True that.

Because he's Gary Snyder, he muses on the moment, concluding: "Pound was an axe...I am an axe, And my son a handle, soon to be shaping again, model and tool, craft of culture, how we go on."
Ezra Pound shaped him, he is shaping his son, his son will--in turn--shape his own children. This is how we craft culture--modeling ourselves to future generations. In doing so, we get a cool axe to make more shit with.
Perhaps the zen-like purity of making an axe handle with your child is a bit clouded by the mini-me narcissism of the poem's central message, but it's nice to think about during the more challenging moments of parenthood.
For instance: on Friday, my five-year-old drew a (remarkably accurate...I think mirrors were involved) likeness of special ladyparts on the living-room wall. In Sharpie.
After the initial shock, then a brief period of inquiry, then an accompanying period of overthink followed by a web search, we removed the offending image together with toothpaste (thanks, Google!).
At one point I looked down at my youngest child, her sweet, sausagey, cherubic fingers busily scrubbing genital graffiti off our wall with Crest Whitening, and thought, "what the fuck?"
It was later I recalled Snyder and Pound and found some comfort.

Also finding comfort in the craft of culture this week is Rick.
Rick ordered up an 11ft, Skip-Frye inspired Glider. Although I didn't have the original item in front of me, I did have a handsome interpretation by Larry Mabile, which I used as a model. Frye to Mabile to my own hands. I am still very much an axe handle, but these masters before me are most certainly axes.
Also an axe is Rick, evidenced here passing on some new-board stoke and first-waxing tips to the next generation of surf shredders, led by his grandson.
This is how we go on.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Executive at Rest

Winter rains be damned, Spencer split from his mountain hideout and headed Down South in search of shreddables. What'd he pack?
A lighter gauge of neoprene, a fresh bar of wax, and brand-spankin new Executive.
Way back when, I proclaimed the Executive would only come in two lengths, would only feature three stringers, and would only have a glass-on fin. In short, I was gonna make these sleds the way I wanted to, and you were going to shut up and ride them.
Well, I say lots of stuff, people. Exhibit A: in 1991 I claimed I would never tire of the Spin Doctors' Pocket Full of Kryptonite album. Need I say more?
Spencer's Executive is 9'3ish.
Mid glassing: full volan wrap, tailpatch, lovely redwood stringer. Waiting for a fin.
All shined up and ocean ready.
 The Executive's my interpretation of a mid '60s Hobie Phil Edwards model--clean, classy, and stylish wide-point back trim machines.
Many of the features (rocker, rails, foil) have been modernized and adapted for our steep beachies, but the mojo remains.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Of Jamestown, Noseriders, and Beaujolais Nouveau

Thanksgiving!
The word itself inspires a Pavlovian response. And why not? It’s about food, for chrissakes.
The true story of Thanksgiving isn’t rooted in family, or sharing, or even celebrating the bounty of America (whatever the hell that means). It’s about not starving, and it goes like this:
During the mad scramble for ‘New World’ wealth and resources in the early 17th century, Spain and England squared off to expand their empires. Spain scored gold in South America, and England hoped to repeat that success in North America. The Virginia Company, named after the ‘virgin’ Queen Elizabeth I, was hastily thrown together with the following plan: go to America. Get gold. Send it back to their shareholders in England. Also, kill any Spaniards you see.
Chris is scoring some of his own gold this Thanksgiving
Plymouth, Massachusetts was not the site of the first--or even second--English colony in North America. The first was Virginia’s ‘lost colony’, which, as you can tell by their name, did not end well.
The second was the Virginia Company, who landed in Jamestown in 1607.
Why? Well, they missed their intended destination, but whatever, they were in the New World. Problem was, they posted up on an island in the James River, which was basically a brackish malarial swamp unsuitable for farming or, really, human habitation.
It did provide an excellent outpost to protect from Spanish invasion, so there was that. The Spanish never invaded, though, so there was that, too.
Seventy-five percent of the colonists died in the first two years. Why? First, their geography was not good for farming and drinking water and such. Second, the Algonquins didn’t like them, and sometimes killed them. Contrary to popular belief, the Native Americans weren’t roving bands of hostile nomads, they had established communities up and down the coastal east coast with established trade routes and everything. They had it dialed. Know who didn’t? The Virginia Company, who, two years after they arrived entered what they called the ‘Starving Time’, which doesn’t really need further explication.
First they ate their livestock and pets. Then mice and rats. Then they ate their belts and shoes. They sucked the starch off of their shirt collars. They dug up the graves of their fallen and ate them. And then the cannibalism.
No judgement—times were tough.
Sixty of the original five-hundred survived.
Then, in June of 1610, help arrived in the form of another English ship carrying food supplies. Just in time, too, as they described the Jamestown colonists as, “Shrunk down almost to the skeleton, resembling corpses held upright by marionette strings.”
The sixty remaining colonists were saved, and decided to commemorate their lack-of-starving-to-death by eating some life-saving food. Hence, Thanksgiving.
So there you have it. No funny hats and shoes (they’d already eaten those). No sharing with the indigenous peoples (who didn't think they'd survive much longer, anyway). 458 miles from Plymouth Rock.
It was about food. And it is still about food.
So eat up on Thanksgiving, then go out for a surf—it’s good for digestion, meditation, and fun times. Things those in the Virginia Company didn't have the opportunity to enjoy.
Chris will be surfing his new Thanksgiving 9’5 noserider. I could say something here about his feasting on waves with it, or giving thanks to the bounties of the ocean (whatever the hell that means) or, even worse, gobbling up pointbreak peelers while perched on the nose, but I'll hold back and just wish you a peaceful holiday.
Suggested pairing: All Thanksgiving boards should be paired with a Beaujolais Nouveau. This shit was still on the vine, like, six weeks ago! If wine snobs tell you that Beaujolais Nouveau isn't worth drinking, then they've never gotten a good buzz off the stuff and then made out with someone. Recommended.






Thursday, November 13, 2014

Of Broadswords, Treehouses, Rum, and Poor Photography

Before.
After.

7'10 Broadsword for Brian, a local acolyte of shred, treehouses, and mindblowing single-malt rum.
Super rich coke-bottle green tint by the new guy at Almar. Fins courtesy of Rainbow Fin Co. Cedar stringer produced by the earth.
As a note of personal defense, even JP at Surfy Surfy, the guy who takes more pictures of surfboards than any other human being who has ever lived, admits it's hard to take pictures of surfboards.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smoke This

I like it when they go from this:

To this:
To this!

Deep blue 7'6 Bonzer for local shred-and-jazz enthusiast Guitar Jim.
This is the Cigar Volant model--a hi-pro, beachbreak shreddy egg that rocks anywhere from one to five fins with joy in its sweet, foamy heart.
Resin cigar bands really tie the board/concept together.
Lotta junk in the trunk on this one.
The feels that laminators, sanders, and polishers get in their guts when they see a bonzer with e-wings and glassons come through the production line is completely canceled by the feeling the surfer gets when laying into their first fingertip-dragging, rail-burying, fully-involved bottom turn on a head-high wave. Value added!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nice Pair

Question:
What's red and green and shiny all over?
Answer:
This sweet, shiny set of Bronsons headed for the newly-minted SEALS Watersports right here in downtown Santa Rosa.
SEALS, formerly Pinnacle Dive Center, is a one-stop shop for the Northern California waterman/waterwoman. Dive, fish, spear, surf, the whole deal.
Here's how I describe the Bronson on the website: the Bronson is a rounded-bottom trim machine good for all conditions and waves up to a bit overhead. Like it's namesake, the Bronson is classy and versatile and looks good with its shirt off.
The deep, deep red opaque is a rounded-pin 2+1 measuring in at 8'9".
Because 8'9 has been scientifically proven to be fuggin rad!
It should cook from knee to overhead.
The coke-bottle green Bronson is a 9'2" single fin. Gets the job done with flair in just about any condition you can imagine that doesn't require an inflatable vest or serious breath-holding skills.
Technically a double stringer: one basswood, one redwood. Ebony and ivory. Chocolate and peanut butter. George and Wheezy. Together forever.
Handshaped in Sonoma County. Color lamination, sand, and polish work by the good, dusty folks at Almar Surf Works in Santa Cruz.
Zeke's got a good command of the surfier selections at SEALS. Stop by and chat him up. If he looks tired, it's because he has more small children than you, and one of them's going through a hitting stage. Maybe bring him a chai latte to help out?
SEALS. Physically here: 2112 Armory Drive in Rosa
Electronically here: http://www.sealswatersports.com/
Facebookally here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SEALS/594226577357457

Monday, September 29, 2014

Of MiniSims, William Butler Yeats, and Fruta

Early fall is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. The best of times because it’s amazing. The worst because the pool is going to close soon--where the hell am I supposed to get $2 MGD drafts and $1 microwaved hottogs between now and May 1st?
Also, a house on my street burned down. Not good. 
Also, we got hammered with an early season winter swell. Good. 
Also, it rained. Weird, as it hasn’t done this for a few years, as far as I can remember.
In his oft-quoted poem The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats wrote, 'the center cannot hold,' in reference to some kind of global event (his interpretation of a global event is not a rosy one). Over the years, I've repositioned my thinking on this one. Not to challenge Yeats, but I think the center is the thing that holds us in difficult times. The center is, well, the center. The core. The strongest part of our selves. The outside may crumble off like decaying bark, but inside, at the core, there’s still bright, fresh wood.
This morning I woke up my five-year-old, who was in the throes of a dream. “You were in my dream,” she said, sleepily. “Only it was just half you.”
“What was my other half?” I asked.
“You were half man, half strawberry,” she stated.
"Which half was strawberry?" I asked solemnly.
"Whatever," she said, then rolled over and fell back asleep.
I liked her response. It was correct: it didn’t matter if I was a strawberry with arms and legs and a human head, or if I was a human torso with a strawberry head, or whatever. The point was that it was me but not me, but underneath it it was me.
There’s an essence to things, an inside we can feel but not see. The center, and it is strong. It can hold. The details aren’t important—arms, legs, seeds, a stem, whatever.
What’s this got to do with Woodworker Dan’s new 5’4 MiniSims? Not a goddamn thing, that’s what. But not everything has to connect. Sometimes the great world spins and it lands us on a pair of snake eyes and we get the prize. Sometimes the great world spins and our neighbor’s house burns down and a long-period groundswell graces our shores and your boss gets a new car.
Sometimes it spins and spins and we tuck into a clean section of wave on a freshly-minted slab of foam  with two fins and suddenly we’re spinning, too, and when we stop we’re half strawberry and could use a strong cup of coffee.
What I’m saying is: we lost our third hockey game of the season 7-0 last night, and I’m sad this morning.

Know who’s not sad?
Woodworker Dan! He’s got some fresh foam and a new punch on his sandwich card. He's got a great wife and a great kid and is the source of many of the tailblock woods you've been admiring for years. He's got two earrings in his left ear (!), so you know he shreds.
Speaking of sandwich cards, I would like to take this moment to remind you that I care about you. Because of this, I’m offering yet ANOTHER choice on your punch card. In addition to Ike’s incredible lunch sandwiches, and Devil’s Teeth incredible breakfast sandwiches, you now have the choice of redeeming your punch card at Fruta, Sonoma County's own Michoacan-style ice cream shop (Michoacana palateria y neveria), after a mere five punches. 
!Dios mio!
Because of the incontestable goodness of Fruta, I can no longer say the following words in my house, lest my girls go apeshit: Fruta, fruta, Fruit, Froot, Ice cream, Michoacan, neveria, Phineas and Ferb, Taylor Swift, dessert.