Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Preparation Stoke

True: you can tell a lot about a person by watching them surf.
Possibly Truer: you can tell more about them by how they get ready to surf.

--Trust me, the presence of this 7'10 egg will eventually make sense--

A local at my local drives to the break wearing his wetsuit, board strapped to the bare roof with a single piece of rope. He springs out of his car, pulls off the board in one motion, smiles at us suckers with exposed skin in 30 knot wind and sub-45 temps, then jogs down to the water.

My buddy Reynaud has three jugs of water, all of differing temperatures that he pours over himself sequentially, starting with the coolest, as he suits up. His cigarette stays lit as he does this.

The Guy With The Blue-ish Dog has his gear packed in individual crates. Each of his three wetsuits are as soft, pliable, and fresh-smelling as the day he bought them. He has a Semper Fi tattoo on his arm.

My lovely wife begins her preparations in full modesty, then, after a prolonged struggle with neoprene, ditches ditches towel entirely. Casual passersby are enthused.

Some guys never paddle out, opting instead to drink coffee and wear oversized flannel. Some spew to The Boys on their cell phones. Some sit quietly in their cars, watching the ocean. Some lack wax, some have extra. Sometimes there's a dude all suited up, tending to a fire on the beach.

There isn't as much variance with post-surf rituals. For the lifers, there's usually a little friendly banter, a remark or two about the conditions, then the drive home.

It's the getting ready that's interesting. The preparation. The window into someone's soul as they contemplate the cold, or the power, or the wind, or the sun, or the bliss.

The board order process is a similar window. Last week there was a cryptic, gravely voicemail:"Name's Don. Need a replacement step up for M___ _h__. Nineteen inches wide. No f@#$&ng color!" This message terrified my two year old daughter.

Sometimes the entire order is taken care of in the water. "Make me one of those," someone will say in a parking lot or during a paddle out, pointing to my ride. "I'll call when I'm ready to pick it up."

Sometimes, like with Santa Cruz D and the above 7'10" Quad-Plus-One egg, the process is entirely electronic (we exchanged 34 emails before a planer ever touched foam), though no less indicative of character. Through the course of our preparations for his new ride, we discovered in common: babies, birthdays, occupations, and a love of blood oranges. Speaking of which, this one's getting some color work, so stay tuned for the post-Fatty pics...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blue Monday

Blue Monday is when I display the blue board of the week, and open the HeadHighGlassy email account in attempt to answer your queries.
Today's board features the resin work of Leslie Anderson and her striking Hastings pigment coloration.

And today's first query comes from Primo, who writes:
Dear HeadHighGlassy,
I like looking at pictures of other peoples' surfboards on the Internet. My girlfriend doesn't approve, claiming that we have plenty of surfboards to look at right here in our apartment. How do I tell her that my looking at other surfboards doesn't at all detract from the ones available at home?
Your e-friend,

Hi Primo,
Healthy relationships are built on communication. Clearly, your relationship is not healthy, so I suggest waiting until your girlfriend is in the shower until you pursue your hobby. This might mean getting up early if she's a first-shifter. If that's a problem, you might want to get a new job where you are at home with a speedy wifi connection while she is at work, thinking sweet thoughts about you and your trustworthiness.
ps--Never forsake the 'clear history' feature on your browser.

Blue resin pinlines (top and bottom!), and a blue-tinted deck patch under the rear foot, as if a Blue Man had pressed his ass directly onto the tail of the board after an award-winning Las Vegas performance.
Next letter!
Dear HeadHighGlassy,
My name is Dave, but the guys in the parking lot want to attach an 'O.' What do you think of DaveO?

Aloha Dave,
Adult men should not append their name with an 'O.' This doesn't apply to Steve or John (but does apply to Jon), or Magnet. You should exercise particular caution if your name is Poley, Orie, Tont or the first questioner.

Leslie's patented HourGlass laps on the bottom of the board cap the Lokbox finboxes. Much strength, and enhanced fishy shape.
Last query!
Howdy HHG,
My wife recently balked when I suggested bringing a jambalaya to a Purim gathering. What's your take on this?
Meshuggina in Morro Bay

Dear Meshug,
This is a particularly tricky one. Were it Simchat Torah or even Pesach I would say mazel-tov, but Purim is tough...oh what the hell, Haman would have hated it, so I say live a little and enjoy your Jambalaya!
ps--there are Jews in Morro Bay?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Births, deaths, tragedies, hangovers--these events have the power to remove us from ourselves, to provide a brief recess from the countless factors we're required to juggle at any moment.
Shaping grants me some of this same constricted focus, a break from the self-absorption that engulfs more than a few of us.
The word itself, shape, is onomatopoeic in the way it mimics a surform pass along the rail (ssshhhaaaaape!) or the slice of a finely-honed hand plane on a basswood stringer (ssshhhhaaaaape!), or the slash of fin through the thin lip of a cresting wave (ssshhhhhaaaaa) followed by the ping of water droplets (ppppeeee) on the flat water behind.

The Twin Keel Fish pushed me out of the water and into the shaping room ten years ago. Early on it was about the buzz: the joy of creation, the thrill of new tools, and the fear of screwing up perfectly good foam all provided a heady rush in the shaping bay.
Now, it's about the calm, the meditation, the quiet.
I was reminded of this transition--from frantic to tranquil--while shaping Rob's twin keel last week, as well as how shaping itself has altered my life.

Parenthood (you knew this was coming) grants us a similar opportunity. We are shaping a young life and, in turn, we are being shaped in the process.
California writer Gary Snyder's poem Axe Handles captures the moment where the speaker, when showing his son how to make an axe handle with an existing axe, realizes that in modeling a shape, he is also modeling his life to his son.
I love the simplicity of this idea. If we all keep in mind the notion that we, ourselves, are models for future generations, that we are axe handles or shapers, then maybe we will exercise better behaviors when a kid burns us in a crowded lineup, or a beginner ditches their board in front of us, or a stranger shows up at our favorite semi-secret spot.

We are shapers, every one of us. The foam of our futures is spotless, unlimited in its possibility.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pit Boss: know when to hold 'em

Much like its namesake in the casino, the Pit Boss keeps things in check when the dealing gets rough.

This one's loaded: five fins, red cedar stringer, and handsome coke-bottle resin tint with matching resin pinline by Leslie Anderson.
Stands a proud 6'10".

Clive Owen, who attempts to pull a fast one on his pit boss in the excellent Croupier, stands seven-and-a-half inches shorter.

Russell Crowe, a Roman style pit boss in the gladiator ring, is a mere 5'11". A board this size would not keep things in check when the dealing got rough.
At least not up here, even if you were wearing leather danglies from your waistbelt.

Bamboo glasson fins by the talented craftsman Marlin at the 101FinCo.

This Pit Boss got a tour of my house after I received several expressive emails from a surfy French buddy informing me that wood floor photos of surfboards had become cliche in the SurfBlogoShpere. Who knew?