Monday, December 28, 2009

The White Stuff

New England Dispatch: currently it's snowing, raining, foggy, and below freezing simultaneously. Not sure how this can happen, but there it is. Every time someone opens a door to the outside my California born-and-raised daughters start crying.
The weather does inspire a few of my favorite things, though (alcohol, sweaters, and beards), so I'm all for it.
Ironically, it's not so different from my shop in Northern California, where white-out conditions descended after a dust-collection snafu (Dustgate '09). When I appeared inside after the incident my week my three-year-old said, "Santa came!!!"

And perhaps she was right, especially if your name is Sean and you ordered yourself a spiffy new quad fish this holiday season.

Sean ordered it clear, perpetuating a seasonally-appropriate white-out theme.

Although unglassed quad fish photos aren't really cutting-edge in the surf blogosphere (as recently pointed out to me in an email by gentle reader Tony from North Carolina), these pictures celebrate the last gasp by my beleaguered point-and-shoot, another victim of Dustgate '09. RIP.
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brown Eggs are Fresh

Stoked bro from the north Konrad showing off his new 7-something egg behind the scenes at the Fattyshack.
2+1 with a Skip Frye flexie and some bamboo under the hood for maximum overdrive.

Ground's a little frosty, sky's a little blue. flannel's a good call .
Ahhhhh, winter!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

War Pony Chronicles: The Lost Boys

For a few short, sweet years in the late 1980s, teenage heartthrobs The Coreys (Haim and Feldman) ruled the Tiger Beat set.
Then they went underground in pursuit of other creative projects, like hanging out and resisting impulses to exercise.
Recently, Corey Feldman resurfaced in Lost Boys: The Tribe, as Edgar Frog, "Vampire Hunter and Surfboard Shaper." IMDBs character page for Edgar Frog states, "This character biography is empty." One can only imagine this still holds true after Feldman took a stab at it.
Not to be outdone by his teenage compatriot/nemesis, Corey Haim began loitering around my shop in pursuit of shaping tips and lukwarm Tecates.
Although he didn't have the skills to shape his own, Corey possessed the eye of a connoisseur, and couldn't resist pulling the trigger on a new War Pony.
Haim. War Pony. Fattyshack.
The War Pony is a vampire slayer in its own right. Curvier than my standard quad fish template with a souped-up rocker and bottom contours specially formulated for driving stakes through the hearts of northcoast nasties.
Haim made a personal trek to the Fattyshack to meet Leslie and have a glass or two of whatever local red Bob was pouring at the moment.
His hair was perfect.
Take that, Feldman!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Airing out the Inbox

Sophocles once quipped, “The true mark of a man lies in his email activity.” Amen. Modern social anthropologists, like yourselves, long ago forsook sifting through the garbage of humanity in search of answers, choosing instead to focus their lenses of scientific voyeurism onto more digital affairs. Is someone aligning themselves with terrorists? Check their email. Is there one amongst us who shops Amazon with Les Affaires abandon? It’s in the inbox. Do thoughts of adding girth to his flaccid schvantz occupy the lion’s share of your teenager’s time? I wouldn’t recommend it, but a quick AOL search would reveal the answer. You see, only email can fill in the blank spaces on the map our character.
That is why, under the banner of honesty and full disclosure, every third Tuesday I fling open the doors of the HHG inbox from the past few weeks. Onward into the unknown!

Dear HHG,
Is it possible my husband Paul ordered another board from you within the last month? I ask because there’s a blue longboard with double pinlines in the garage that I haven’t seen before. When I ask him about it, he just mumbles and points at our son. He's eight.
Thank you,
Paul’s Wife Who Is Saving Up For The Down Payment On A New House
Under the Shaper’s Disclosure Act of 1999, it is not compulsory for me to answer your query. However, I will say that as of last week, Paul is one step closer to a free sandwich*. Also, when he picked up something the other day (not saying what it was that he slipped into his new 9’6 board bag), he did mention how much he loved you, and how understanding you are. Maybe not in those exact words, but still.
*The HHGSC (HeadHighGlassySandwichClub) offers a free sandwich** from Traverso's, a Santa Rosa tradition for four generations, for customers who reach a certain number of board orders. In order to stave off a run on new orders, I won't give the exact number, though it's between five and seven.
**Sandwich includes one (non-alcoholic) drink, but no chips, as chips are ridiculous.
This may, or may not be your husband's new stick.

Dear HHG,
Is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 the best fall-related ode?
Yours in poetry,
Tina from Marina

Hi TfM,
No. It is clear Shakespeare never visited California during this most lovely of seasons when he penned, “when yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang/Upon those boughs which shake against the cold…”
Instead, let me recommend Keats’ To Autumn. At just 24 years old, he nailed it right from the opener: “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…”

How do you know when you’re getting old?
Humbolt-er Every Day

Do you make strange noises when you sit down?
Do you ever wish your board were 2” thicker?
Have you ever opted out from a surf session to work in your vegetable garden?
Wait, that might just be me...

Dear HHG,
I’m thinking about relocating—does Sonoma County have good surf?
California Dreamin’

Dear CD,
No, SoCo does not have good surf. Especially last week.
San Diego does, though!
What we do have is excellent wine. Let me recommend Trentadue’s Old Patch Red (2005). A 2008 Sonoma County Harvest Fair winner in Best of Class, and a steal at Bottle Barn right now for $9.99. The convenient screw top makes it even more appealing as a daily drinker.

And with that, I seal the HHG inbox for another month.
Don’t forget this Thursday’s Surf Movie Night at Santa Rosa’s Toad ‘n The Hole Pub in historic Railroad Square. This month’s feature is going to be solid. Festivities begin around darkish.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Spitfire

On a warm summer’s day in 1940, Adolf Hitler commanded his air force, the Luftwaffe, to bomb the hell out of England.
The United Kingdom, with its trademark gusto, dispatched the Royal Air Force. The Battle of Britain, the first campaign ever fought entirely by aircraft, was officially underway.
The Luftwaffe had firepower, but the British had heart. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth refused to leave Buckingham Palace, inspiring the nation with their pluck. The Germans seemed indomitable with their Messerschmitt Bf 110s (nicknamed the Zerstorer or ‘Destroyer’), a fast twin-engine, long-range aircraft.
But the RAF had a feisty retort: the Spitfire.
Designed with clean lines for speed and elliptical wings for agility, the single-seater Spitfire immediately began kicking ass. It could accelerate faster than the Zerstorer, bank in tighter arcs, and fire more rounds.
The result: the RAF, powered by vigor and the Spitfire, handed the Nazis their first defeat and turned the war around. Not too shabby.
San Francisco shred enthusiast Giles is lucky enough to have a real-live war hero in his family. His stepfather served in the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Wanna know what he flew?
The Spitfire.
He was 19 years old.
Each of the color marking on a Spitfire conveys meaning--the yellow rail bands and black-and-white stripes communicated their allied association, while the British flag was represented by the red and blue circle (interesting fact: RAF and American fighter planes during WWII ditched the red part of the circle, as they could be mistaken for Japanese aircraft). The pilots put red tape over their guns to keep them from freezing, as seen in the pigment 'patches' in the nose of Giles' board.
Every color on this board is pigmented resin.
A mistress of understatement, when Leslie saw a drawing of the task before her, said only, "I'll need to order more tape."

Monday, October 26, 2009


Ever since the first zygote divided into two separate embryos, humans have reserved special places in their rites and mythologies for twins.
The Igbo peoples of Nigeria saw twins as a curse, and would sacrifice them to the forest (as detailed in Chinua Achebe’s excellent novel Things Fall Apart).
The Navajo
honor twins as descendants of the twin gods of sun and moon, believing that they will help restore order to the chaos of the world.
Americans like to stick a fake goatee on one of them and call them Evil.
Dr. Spock’s evil twin showed up in 1967, sporting the trademark Evil-Twin Beard.
Cartman's evil twin broke social boundaries, becoming the first elementary school kid with an Evil-Twin Beard to go prime time.
Surfers have our own preoccupacy with twins--twin fins, twin pins, Twinzers, the Hobgoods. Even our own Leslie Anderson isn't immune to their thrall, as evidenced by a pair of longboards that recently left her shop.
Jason's diamond tail log with 3/4" red cedar stringer seems to have shared some embryonic developing time with its twin below, blogged about here:
Both were shaped by hand in Sonoma county with smaller Northcoast waves in mind . Both feature single fin goodness, volan glasswork, and resin art by Leslie.
But what is perhaps most intriguing about twins is how they differ--which one is more popular with the ladies, which one is more fearless in the hockey rink, which one dances with their tongue out.
The differences in the above boards are equally intriguing—the bigass cedar stringer vs. the high density foam one, the diamond tail vs. the rounded pin, the clean shaven vs. the goateed one (one of these is not actually a design feature).
Although some may see one of the above boards as an evil incarnation of the other, I prefer the Navajo interpretation that twins are two parts of the same whole. That they, together, can separate the good from the evil, and order where before existed only chaos.
Or at least score us some waves when it’s head high or under.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Green Machine

Back in college, the dorm affectionately referred to as KW (Keyes-Wasserman) was comprised of single occupancy rooms only. In college, single occupancy rooms exist for two reasons:
1. Occupant is seeking a tranquil venue for contemplation and study.
2. Occupant is seeking a tranquil venue for getting it on.
Both make sense to me.
So much so that when identically-initialed SF shred enthusiast KW expressed interest in a board, I waved all aspects of my formal vetting process (hazily-framed inquiries regarding beer and pornography preferences) and got to it.
The product, a double-wing quad fish, speaks to Kevin's interest in a more sustainable surfboard (100% recycled EPS foam, epoxy resin, bamboo fins) and my Atlantic Coast nostalgia. Either way, this floating venue will provide a platform for both contemplation and getting it on, surf-wise.
On a side note of appreciation, I'd like to point out that there are very few glassers out there highly skilled in EPS/epoxy applications. There are fewer still (in fact, I can't think of any offhand) who are masterful enough to tint--that's right, not opaque, but tint--over EPS foam. There are perhaps a handful of people in the world who would tint a shaped EPS blank, sand it, double pinline it with resin, create a custom matching resin logo, then gloss and polish it.
Did I mention Leslie also gardens, breeds reptiles, and plays a mean guitar?
101 bambo quads keep boards snappy and happy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long Board and a Short Sentence

Like most of us, Ted’s aquatic aesthetic mirrors his terrestrial one. In the water, his lines are clean, sparse. His movements always seek the economical. I once saw him track so high on a wave that it seemed reckless, but his fin trail was a thing of beauty—a lazer-straight scratch etched into an impossibly steep wall.
On land, Ted has brought the voicemail board order to a similar artform. His messages are so spare that they, too, flirt with recklessness. How else could you interpret his first voicemail order?
Or this single-syllabic beauty from a few years ago:
This gem came in last year, wide-open in its interpretational range:
Sometimes Ted’s voice seems disguised, as if trying to limit the actual breath he's expending.
Thankfully Ted opened up a bit with last week’s message. Compared to the others, it seemed more Tom Robbins than Ernest Hemingway.
“Hi Pro-Log. Styro.”
Still, I had to admire the effort. Beside the abbreviations for 'performance' and 'longboard,' he substituted ‘EPS’ for ‘styro,’ saving himself a syllable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blue Wednesday

I'm not a demanding husband. I know how this sounds--defensive, unscrupulous, smarmy. But it's true. I love my wife and want to see her wave-shredding skills showcased on the best board possible.
This is why certain measures were taken a few weeks ago. Measures that would usher her into a new realm of wave-riding delights. Measures that she might resist at first but, ultimately, be welcomed as liberating.
Measures that would ensure the retirement of her beloved 8'0.
Not her beloved 8'0
You see, my lovely wife is a God-awful surfboard customer. She has ordered an average of one board every 3.33 years in the ten years we have known each other. Not bad for the recreational surfer, but pitiable for someone married to a dude who spends 20+ hours a week up to his nipples in foam dust.
And none of her orders stick. Here's the rundown.
Board: 80's style swallowtail thruster.
Purpose: commissioned for trip to mainland Mexico.
Report: two sessions at El Rancho. Loved it. Sold it the day after we got back.
Source of Dissatisfaction: color was 'too green.'

Board: 8'0 mini longboard.
Purpose: to replace older 8'0 mini longboard (at shaper's insistence).
Report: who knows? Someone picking up another board from the house loved hers, so she sold it on the spot.
Source of Dissatisfaction: none. "He was nice," she said of the gentleman who bought it.

Board: Contemporary quad shortboard.
Purpose: to replace her long-sold 80's swallowtail thruster (see above).
Report: fun .
Source of Dissatisfaction: pregnancy.

This is why, several weeks ago, measures were taken. A board was shaped, then glassed. It was presented (gently!) to my loving wife after a Bud Light and a glass of local zinfandel (her favorite combo). It was received with a sigh and a certain flattening of the lips. These were interpreted as signs of success.
So far, so good.
It currently rests, unmolested, in the upstairs bedroom (we have limited surfboard storage space). Curing. Waiting. Avoiding inspection by two-year-old hands. Keeping a low profile.
We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Glasser's Choice

The exhilaration in making a shortboard lies in the imagination—wondering what lines the board will be asked to draw, what spaces on the wave-map it will be asked to fill.
The shortboard, the thing of it, is a tool. A vessel. It gains us access to something else.
Shaping longboards, for me, is a different experience. The joy in making them comes from the thing itself. Witnessing its taking-of-form—its process is its own end. Not that the lines of a shortboard aren’t beautiful, or that shaping a longboard doesn’t stimlate the imagination. The bend of a nose rocker or the curve of a rounded pintail can absolutely shorten the breath, and walking down the length of a longboard rail is as close to shaking hands with Velzy as I’ll ever get.
But when people are in my shop and there’s a longboard on the racks, they can’t keep their hands off of it.

And sometimes I can’t get my hands off of them when they come back from Leslie’s shop.

This one's got some bells and whistles--blue high density foam stringer, red cedar sticks, opaque pigment volan deck patch, glass leash loop, and some sweet resin deck lines from the hands of La Meistra.
Poplar and bloodwood fin, and some resin tip-nips to keep things real at the nose and rear.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Surf Movie Tonight!

Just a reminder to head on down to the Toad 'N the Hole Pub in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square tonight sometime in the seven o'clock hour. Live music, surf movie, special guest Longboard Vineyards, and a trivia contest with prizes--you may even score a brand new wetsuit.
Toad 'N The Hole welcomes surf enthusiasts of any age, has some stellar brews on tap, and is located at 116 5th street. Try the veal, it's great!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Egg Man Cometh Back

Food is the ultimate indicator of seasonal change. Forget the sizeable NW swell showing on the buoys, the cool inland temperatures, or rain over the weekend, the true proof that summer has faded into memory lies in a forensic comparison between friday night's meal (tri-tip, grilled on the deck while wearing flip-flops) and saturday night's meal (jambalaya, slow-cooked in the crock pot while wearing socks for the first time since April).
The first, a celebration of warmth. The second, an attempt to regain it through cajun sausage.
Speaking of food, local shorter-board shred enthusiast Paul is on the fast track to a free sandwich*. His new 7'0 egg is designed to get the job done when the 6'4 is approaching maxed-out status.
Red cedar is good for stringers, fiberglass Rainbow foils are good for fins, and glassjobs by Leslie are good for shaped foam blanks.
If the pics look dark, that's because it was--summer's over, people.
*The HHGSC (HeadHighGlassySandwichClub) offers a free sandwich** from Traverso's, a Santa Rosa tradition for four generations, for customers who reach a certain number of board orders. In order to stave off a run on new orders, I won't give the exact number, though it's between five and seven.
**Sandwich includes one (non-alcoholic) drink, but no chips, as chips are ridiculous.
Speaking of Santa Rosa traditions, come on out to Toad 'N The Hole Pub this Thursday for Surf Movie Night. This week features live music from Chris Lods and the Friends, an insanely good surf movie, and a trivia contest with a wetsuit giveaway. Nuts!
Festivities begin at 7:30, but I recommend showing up a bit early to soak up some of the atmosphere/plant it at a table for maximum enjoyment.
All ages welcome, so bring the kids.
If you don't have kids, bring a friend who knows a lot of surf trivia. We're talking free wetsuit, here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer Curves

Double wing quad fish in recycled EPS for SF waveriding enthusiast Kevin.
Shaping EPS allows me to bust out specialty hi-tec tools, like a paint stick with sandpaper glued to it.
Who was it that said that you had to lock your car doors in Vermont in early September for fear of finding your passenger seat filled with squash?
Calvin Coolidge? Robert Frost? Bernie Sanders?
I'm currently having a similar vegetable situation inches from the shaping shop. The pepper plants have reached epic production levels, and I can't ask my family to eat any more. Thinking about handing over a pepper or two with each board order (for a limited time).
Bell curves are nice to look at.
Eat local food, drink local beer, support your local shapers and glassers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Undecider

Numbers scare the hell out of me. Want an example? 300. Terrifying number.
This is why I have a deep respect for Northcoast shredder and beard-growing enthusiast Chris, who chooses to remove numbers from his life entirely.
Chris wanted a board, but didn’t concern himself with the details. Our conversation went like this:
Me: What are you looking for?
Chris: Shaper’s choice.
Me: Glassing?
Chris: Have at it.
Me: (scrunching eyes with what-you-talkin’-‘bout-Willis-like suspicion) When do you need it?
Chris: Whenever.
With respect to Chris, I went for a shortish, wideish, thinnish little number that would like nothing more than a wave about yay-high--preferably with water temps hovering around just right.

Leslie's glassing is good.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Darkness Knight

Local craftsman, father, and five-fin enthusiast Bobert probably surfed this morning. He most likely drove out to our local in the dark, paddled out in the dark, and and caught an excess of waves before the usual dawn crew squinted out at the ocean, cups of coffee cradled in their hands.
Surfing the predawn hours in our pinniped-rich waters requires equal parts stoke, denial, and chutzpah. Bob’s got an abundance of all three.
It also requires a big, white board—can you imagine losing your dark-colored stick in dark-colored water in the dark-colored morning in white shark territory?
Bobert’s 8’7 is designed for his immoderate morning rituals. Pulled in nose, thickness under the chest for hefty paddles in thick rubber, thinned tail for snap.
Five fingers of fun under the hood from master craftsman and all-around nice guy Marlin Bacon of 101Fin Co.
Normally, I'd say something like, "Watch out for Bobert and his new board blah, blah, blah," but it's pointless. This guy is out of the water, showered, and hard at work while we're still tucked under the covers, sleeping off our last Tecate, dreaming about the miracle of daybreak.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Egg Man Cometh

All of my potential clients are subject to a grueling set of questions of the highest personal nature. They may, but are not certain to, include the following:
Why, according to Chinese Zen master Sozan, is the head of a dead cat the most valuable thing in the world?
What are your favorite twin cities, and why?
Which member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee—current or past—do you most resemble?
Local aquatic shred enthusiast and fellow educator Paul nailed the early queries, citing Victor/Driggs Idaho as his preferred twin cities, as “the airport hot dogs are better than in Pocatello.”
His last question, however, gave me pause. Paul named California’s 30th district Representative Henry Waxman as his House Oversight Committee likeness.
To be honest, I don’t see it, believing Paul to carry a closer resemblance to Massachusetts’ 6th District Representative John Tierney.
You, sir, are no Henry Waxman

Regardless, Paul’s board was shaped—a snappy 6’4 egg with a 4+1 fin setup and foil, rocker, and bottom contour to excel in the steeper stuff. Red cedar stringer adds some flex and a bit of class.
Plastic from Lokbox, Fiberglass from Rainbow and True Ames, and rubber by Crocs--throw in a long period south swell and a country-cured ham and you've got yourself a little heaven on earth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Otto Pilot

Otto relocated from Dusseldorf to Northern California ten years ago in pursuit of a different lifestyle. He found it, and now he cruises our coastline with the passion of a convert, his feet snug in a tube sock/Birkenstock combo.
He orders boards with a timeliness and regularity that would make a Swiss watchmaker clench his tiny fists in envy.
Our latest conversation went like this:
Me: “Hello?”
Otto: “I’m looking for zomesing to fill in z'oles.”
Me: “Z'oles?”
“Za holes!” he screeched (Otto will not be remembered for his patience). “Za holes in ze quiver!”
Once Otto quieted down, we set to the issue of the holes in his quiver, finally deciding upon z'yprofiche (the Hi-Pro Fish).
Z'yprofiche features a similar planshape to the contemporary keel, but the foil and rocker have more in common with the modern shortboard (dusty camera lens does not come with board).
A little extra curve in the tail, continuous outline, double concaves, and a quad setup should fill in z'oles nicely.
If Otto's rocking his his red jeans when he picks up the board, I'll snap some pics and post them on the blog. Wie erotisch!