Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Post NY Surf Film Festival

Here's a shot of me hard at work judging for the 2010 NY Surf Film Festival. There were still waves from Hurricane Igor this day, but I had 30 films to get through, reading to complete, and a different blog to manage (for the course I TA at Parsons). The film I'm watching in this shot is called Stoked and Broke by Cyrus Sutton. It didn't win, but it is a damn fine surf film and I recommend it to anyone looking for great footage of shredders on alternative crafts (the kid Ryan Burch absolutely kills it) and which also has an entertaining and enlightening storyline. As you can see here, my wetties are drying on the fire escape. They got plenty of water time during Igor, which produced the shapliest surf I've gotten in quite some time. Managed to ride my fish, my shorty, and a borrowed 6'3" widow-maker (Grey Ghost Surfboards) in the space of four days. As for the surf film fest, it was a blast. I only went for Saturday's showing of the brilliant short titled Darkside of the Lens and the feature Fiberglass and Megapixels. Darkside of the Lens won top honors for best short. I'm calling it the Joy Division of surf films. Nuanced. Dark. Beautiful. Only slightly bothered that it was funded by an energy drink, but hey, if someone's gonna throw you cash to make a surf film, you better put that cash to good use. Fiberglass and Megapixels is a highly educational film about the pro photo scene on the North Shore. First "surf film" I've seen to ever turn the lens on the lens, which is highly refreshing. You get a fish eye view into the heavy photo crowding situations at Pipe and a pretty complex view on how surfing as an industry relies on the shots taken on the North Shore every winter. It's not my cup of tea, but it is very true to reality. And in case you are curious about the results of the NYSFF, well Dark Fall, a film about New Jersey surfers, took first place for best film and viewers choice. Not a big surprise there, being that it was the best East Coast surf film, and well the festival is on the East Coast. It was good, I'm not saying much else...... Patrick Trefz's Idiosyncracies won for Best Cinematography and Dane Reynold's epic, no-talking, weird shred show, Thrills Spills and Whatnot, won for best soundtrack. Best part of Dane's film? Drawing a heart around Kelly in the water and writing BFF. Oh and did I say there was no talking? So refreshing. Dane and I must share the opinion that listening to surfers talk (unless they're British or Irish) is a pain which must be registered on a certain level in Dante's Inferno. In the end I am stoked to have been a part of the NYSFF. Tyler Breuer and Mike Machemer really put on a great event. Open bar. What? And Mike was throwing down the best vinyl tracks I've heard outside of myself djing at random bars with no dance floors. I remember his set went Sweet Dreams (are made of this) --> Ceremony --> So In Love --> Love Will Tear Us Apart, etc. awesomeness. I wanted to start creepy dancing in the middle of the surf party, but no one else got it, so I just threw Mike a devil shaka. Last note of the post. See my loafers in the photo? My pal Asa turned me on to wearing loafers. They're Florsheims and they're soft as a baby's bottom. Best with slim pants, a button down shirt untucked, and a v-neck sweater. So Italian in all the right ways. TTFN.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall and all of its Glory

This might be the last photo for a while of me waiting for a train to take me back to Brooklyn. The car is fixed and in my possession. Perfect timing for hurricane season and you can bet that I'm psyched about the arrival this week of Hurricane Igor. It's looking like Igor will produce 3-4 days of swell to Earl's 1-2. Definitely a word of caution to all beginners. I have learned that when there are waves the East Coast is no joke. You can get hurt and tossed out here just as bad as anywhere. Well maybe not Teauhupoo or Hawaii....Also coming up is the NY Surf Film Festival, of which I am one of the judges. I hope those dvds arrive soon or I'll have nothing to judge! Not sure which films I'm aiming to check out in the theater, but I think I'll shoot for Saturday night's Dark Fall about New Jersey surfers and the season we are heading into right now. Regarding the hopes and desires listed in my last post I have decided to nix a return to pro surfing. Philosophy and especially aesthetics and an interest in fashion theory has just won me over for good it seems. Plus I am surfing enough and having a blast doing what I love. As for lessons, well, nobody seemed to bite this summer. Too expensive perhaps? Well folks a good teacher ain't cheap, so I'm sticking to my guns. I'll try to keep the car in action to the best of my ability because I understand that that really increases the value. I did have one pupil this summer, Rachel, and she was awesome. She went from barely being able to catch waves to making drops on her own. She also developed a nice slouchy style ala Thomas Campbell flicks, which is always nice to see. On the music front, another Rachel I know has invited me to dj 80's music with her at Iona's in Williamsburg every other Thursday. Last Thursday was a blast, with Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen definitely taking the crowd's fancy. It always does. Kind of like Cuts You Up by Peter Murphy. Well that's a wrap for now. I'll try my darndest to update more often throughout the fall.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Sands

Ah the dog days of summer are whizzing past like the speeding motorcycle in the Daniel Johnston song. I still do not have the car back, but the part has finally been sourced. I’ve been praying that it would be ready before the weekend of my 30th birthday so that the girl and I could throw the longboard on the racks and head out to Montauk for a day or so. But unless he calls really soon, as in today sometime, it looks like we’re Brooklyn-bound for the 22nd/23rd. Overall this is fine with me. I have a tradition of surfing on my birthday, so maybe a day ride out on the LIRR to Long Beach or Montauk, fish under arm, will have to suffice. Other than these surf related musings, how about this summer? Has any other summer gone by quite as fast? I do not believe so. Between reading Proust, researching fashion history stuff for Hazel Clark over at Parsons, planning the new print version of Canon (the interdisciplinary student-run journal for the New School), waiting tables, teaching the occasional surf lesson, and/or just paddling around myself, the days have passed like sand through a sieve. Fortunately there seems to be an interminable yet finite amount of sand still to sift. I am looking forward to fall, to my last year in the MA program, to wearing a jacket more often, and to figuring out how to execute the multitude of crazy plans that I’ve stirred up in my brain over the past few weeks. These include a possible PhD in Comparative Literature, a top secret fashion line, and a perhaps a minor return to competitive surfing……..we’ll see.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Heaving Pits and Car Trouble

Yes I do take a while in between posts and I'm not sure that the situation will be ameliorated any time soon. On the left you have a brilliant picture taken by my pal, Wayne Kelly, on an absolutely firing day out Babylon way in April. It isn't the last day I scored overhead surf, but it's pretty darn close. This was a day that made me super happy to be living on the right coast. But then again my car was still in action. So this is an update for those of you who might have been directed here inquiring into surf lessons. The little 02 that could is currently in the shop for head gasket repair and may stay there for some time till the proper part is sourced. Lessons are still happening, they just don't include a ride. The new situation is that we meet at Boarders Surf Shop on 92nd St. in Rockaway. This location is accessible via the A train (transfer at Broad Channel for the S). I am working on getting the 9'6" down there and hiring a locker space, but until I do, students must rent boards from the friendly dudes at Boarders. They have a complete stock and I'll be there to help you get the proper length. Of course this is non-issue if you already have a board. I will update this again when my car is back on the road.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fish out of Water

This corrugated photograph was taken with an iPhone under the subway tracks at the Marcy JMZ station. Riya was sitting on the hood of our car making sure we didn't get a ticket for parking in a 'no standing anytime' zone. We were on location for a shoot by German photographer Stephan Pielow who's putting out a coffee table book in 2011 about New York and people who do watery things here. He's associated with a publication called Mare, which deals solely with ocean related topics. For this shot Stefan didn't want to do 'surfer at the beach' because it's too obvious. Instead he wanted the whole urban surfer vibe. I think he achieved it nicely enough. I also had the 9'6" down there with me and almost mowed over a few Hassid and Orthodox types when turning it around to get the closeup shot. Whether this shoot makes the book will be up to Stefan and the publishers. It was a fun shoot anyhow. It felt so New York I could hardly believe it. One of those moments when you have to pinch yourself. I wore a quintessentially 'me' outfit: an oxford shirt, my twill gstars, brown oxfords no socks, co-op tie, and my vintage pierre cardin blazer that I scored at Static in the upper Haight about 4 years ago (Japanese do vintage right!). Sometimes I do go for a darker aesthetic but this shot needed lighter clothing or I would drown in the shadow. The board I'm carrying is my 5'9" Channel Islands Ksmall - no rocker, glass on fins - a real wizard of a board. It goes well in anything from 2ft mush to 5ft ramps. How did this happen anyhow? The kind folks at Mollusk Surf Shop NYC gave me a ring out of the blue and then linked me up with Stefan and his wife Tina. I got an email that read: "Wear a Joy Division tee and bring your hot rod." I wore the Joy Division tee for our first meeting, but that too was too dark for the location. All in all it was a good time. I was a bit stressing about the car in traffic as blue smoke had been wafting out of the hood accompanied by the lovely smell of burnt oil, which reminds me of a jetski or a rickety ski boat. We took the car in the day after. It's looking like head gasket repair. Yikes! Hope to have it back soon, but if not I'm doing surf lessons by train. Just hope I don't kill any innocent bystanders lugging that 9'6" down to Rockaway.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thomas, Josh (x2), Felix, and I.

Lovely day for a post. Finished my last paper for the semester on Tuesday and scored epic waves the following day. Yesterday was spent making flyers for Ceremony NY II, cavorting around Soho, and reading a bit of Wilde. While in Soho I stopped by Saturdays and had a chat with the dapper Josh. We talked surf lessons and Keala Kennelly's gaping barrel on and how it's just generally a great time to be a surfer (when was it not?). In the course of our conversation I really put my finger on what makes my surf lessons special and unique and have consequently updated this blog as a result. To the right you see what I've come up with, and to the left you see Felix, our 1975 bmw 2002, with my current quiver strapped to the roof. This is just before we took off cross country last June. The big red board with the yellow tail is the authentic surf craft on which I plan to teach a majority of my lessons. It was shaped by Dane Peterson for Thomas Campbell (who did the paint/artwork). Thomas gave the board to my friend, Josh (not the owner of Saturdays - this Josh is aka the graffiti name Amaze), who in turn gifted it to me. Needless to say, you'll be learning on a piece of surfing history. It's about 9'6" and floats and paddles amazingly. And I think I'll leave off now. Until next time, mine the spice!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Here's a photo from the dead of winter at Rockaway. It was so cold this day my fingers nearly fell off even wearing 5 mil gloves. Well things have gotten much warmer since then and now I am just hoping that more swells like this pump through intermittently throughout the end of spring and on through the summer. Especially since I will not be leaving the New York region. Beyond surfing and wishing for waves like this, I am busy whiddling away two papers to cap off the end of this semester. The Disclosure of Politics seminar ended yesterday in fine fashion. Our lovely professor, Maria Pia Lara, was so grateful to all of us for helping her work out her 'disclosive political model' that she took us for wine after class. Seven of us shared three bottles of Gruner Veltliner. It was snappy and minerally with some crisp apple - perfect for a warm spring evening. Kind of like the waves above, minus the apple. Now I am at home watching the 6.0 Lowers Pro and reading The Question Concerning Technology by Martin Heidegger. The wheels are certainly turning. Oh and we're doing another Ceremony on May 31st at Heathers Bar. Riya and I have flyer making date on Sunday! I am extraordinarily excited about playing a few tracks off of Christian Death's Catastrophe Ballet and at least one song from every Joy Division record and single I own - just to show that both Roz Williams and Ian Curtis live on!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Power, Corruption, and Lies

Good morrow world.
I am waking up earlier and earlier as the temperature steadily rises into summer. I forgot how much one can get done in the wee hours. I mean until two years ago I had never slept past 9am. A lot can change in two years as far as the old body clock is concerned. I think I'm going to stick with this retro setting, as I have been more productive.
Aside from temporality and my relationship to it, I had a very interesting evening last night. I was invited by the NY Surf Film Festival to be a judge in the fall and so they gave me some free tickets to see the world premiere of Taylor Steele's Castles in the Sky. The crowd for the screening was a mixture of the surfworld I am familiar with in CA and that business-y, model-y NY crowd who are all over 6ft tall and not so much good looking as they are vacuous. But I haven't met them all, so there still might be a gem among them (personality wise). As for the the film....the camera work was gorgeous and the crew certainly scored fun waves in interesting locales, but something was off. I think I am jaded of the whole white surfer guy goes to "exotic" locale tapes his adventures and a few "natives" doing their "native" thing. In this version they bring another white guy to do the sound and learn the "natives" instruments. In one scene they have a room full of Vietnamese school children sing two songs for them to record. All the while the school teacher is looking at the camera with extreme suspicion, as she should. The whole film has a very exploitive and colonial feel to it. Not to mention all the surfers are white males. There is a tiny narrative element, but it is ever so slight and awful vague. The surfers repeat the sentence, "There was a man who became unstuck in the world....." before the beginning of each new section. I would preferred for it to have said, "There was a white man who had the leisure to dig into his pockets and take a surf trip away from his wife, kids, job, responsibilities. On his trip he saw other cultures and their myriad ways of life and realized how strange it was that they never travel to his land nor do they have the leisure time to do nothing but surf. He wanted to feel grateful for his life, but instead he felt unsatisfied. He questioned his values and his sense of freedom. He no longer wanted to objectify the "exotic." But how to make a surf film and not do so?"
Well something like that would have been nice. Just a little hint that Steele and co. have brains in their noggins and are able to access a somewhat larger picture of the world beyond surfing.
Feeling thus, when the Q&A came about I had to throw some darts. I was a little buzzed and antsy and so asked my question with too much hostility. I asked if they had ever read Orientalism by Edward Said or if they felt at all conscious about the white male centric rape and plunder aspect of their film. Only one out of the five white men had nary a response. It was the "writer" who put forth his prescription for better living in the west: "Go travel and come home changed." Okay all well and good, but changed how? More full of valuable experiences bought with heavy coin on the experience black market? The feel good surfer thing will never cease to baffle me. I do not need them to be angry - I am not angry. I'd just like to see a thoughtful, reflective, critical, meditative, and witty dimension to surf culture. No matter how beautiful the images are without this element surf videos are just lame. Fortunately there are surf films that contain a bit of the necessary edge, but are also honest about their pornographic nature: Jack McCoy's early stuff, Litmus, Glass Love, and the Thomas Campbell films are all much more conscious than this post-Momentum artful jackoff shite.
So I ranted and had the whole theater glaring. But then afterwards I was approached by three people at separate times that really enjoyed my question because they too look for a deeper approach to surfing and the surf lifestyle.
There is so much more I could say on this topic, but I'd really have to sit down and get all of my thoughts out on paper and then organize them into a coherent whole. I love surfing. I could not live without it. But it's not all tea and cakes and we have got to be held accountable for that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Daily as of Right Now

The daily routine: I wake up anywhere from 9am-12pm depending on what time I went to bed the night previous. These days the Other and I have been staying up till 3am watching various things via netflix livestreaming. Last night we watched the first three episodes of Californication. If you’re from a broken CA home and have at least one parent from the east coast this show seems to make perfect sense. I love how disgusted by the word ‘blog’ Hank is. This was the case for me for quite some time, but I, like Hank, have submitted for practical reasons. Brand yourself or die. Sink or swim. Etc. So after waking up the first thing is caffeine. I started drinking black tea at around age 5 with my anglophile mother (to her credit we have a lot of British heritage, so it’s not off base). These days it’s a cup of french press with half and half and two tsp of sugar. Morningtime crack. Then I sit down at my computer and go through the ritual of checking my yahoo email, my newschool email, facebook, surfline, and the ny times. If an aspworldtour event is running I’ll get on the live feed immediately. The women just finished up in Sydney and the men are currently holding an event in Brazil, which is on hold until 11am this morning. Hopefully they’ve worked out those internet issues. Nothing worse than a live stream that constantly cuts out. Making breakfast depends on how involved in the life of the blue screen I have become. I usually eat something before 2pm. Today is a breakfast day because dinner didn’t happen last night. Today is also a street cleaning day and I’ve already moved Felix (our 1975 bmw 2002) once. 11:30am is the next move and then done. So where am I? Oh yes daily routine. I have yet to fit updating this blog into it. When my internet travels are sufficient I pick up either an assigned text for this semester or another book I may be using as research for a paper. This part might seem boring on paper but usually the things I read jazz my inside world to a very high degree. Recently finished a bunch of Oscar Wilde (if you’re inclined towards elegant prose and pithy philosophy I recommend you pick him up forthwith). Picked him up on a hunch from Simon Critchley for whom I am writing a paper titled An Ethics of Stupidity. The research for that paper continues this morning. That’s pretty much it for the early parts of my days. When I go surf the only part that holds is the coffee and the internet. There are a few waves today, but seeing as it’s the business end of the first year of my MA program, I’m staying put. Later I’m off to Logic, my two hour philosophy break with my pal Louis, and then Simon’s lecture from 8-10. The routine is going to get a good shake come May. No more classes, warmer water, and money making to be had.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Awesome. Now if we could only figure out a way to make this work on a global scale. We have a hard enough time in the micropolis of the surfworld. The irony of this sign is that it's posted at one of the most uncrowded and friendly spots in the entire country. Go figure.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This photo was taken a little over a year ago outside the amazing antique mall off of Bayshore Blvd in San Francisco. It's shortly before Christmas. Riya, the better half, and I had bought iPhones that morning. It was a classically rainy and gray day. We found some crazy embroidered vintage stockings, one with a santa and the other with a tree. I was all suited up in my prize $80 three piece I bought from Aubergine vintage in Sebastopol, my standard black H&M shirt, and my prized $3 vintage plaid tie. The overcoat I got a few years ago at Ben Sherman and it's still going strong. I've had all the buttons reattached. Damn ready-to-wear buttons. They suck. On my feet are a Macy's special Calvin Klein wannabe combat dress boots. They have a zipper on the side, which is shameful, but they're black and combat booty enough and so I love them. About the suit: it's totally from the 70's but the lapels still have a the 60's skinny thing going on. Had this not been the case I would never have made the purchase. The pants came with bell bottoms and up top were as tight as all getout, so I had the tailor taper them and take the waist out as far as it would go. Voila. Modern suit. Dark and formal and super powered. A commander of my own real imaginary realm. I remember also that Ceremony was that night, so I just put on my go out clothing first thing. Now, the cars. The car on the left is Riya's old 1973 Agave BMW 2002 that I bought her for her birthday in July 2008. The whole affair was romantic as hell, but I'm not going to tell the whole story here. We just happened to park next to this 1974 Inka of the same make and model. Pop! Damn BMW came up with some kickass colors. Oh and the the cars innerworkings aren't so shabby either. In fact in my humble opinion these are the best cars ever made. It's like you're driving in a fishbowl - no blindspots - and they exude some type of 80's teenager cool that's hard to beat. Why 80's teenager? Because an 80's teenager's parents would have bought one of these in the 70's, graduated to a more "practical" car, and handed the whispering bomb on to their raucous teenager. Hence many ended up totaled or rusted to hell.
A note on the surf racks: these are called Aloha racks and they only fit on cars with raingutters. I think car manufacturers stopped producing cars with raingutters in the mid 80's. It sure made attaching surf racks a gazillion times easier and cheaper. The modern Thule or Yakima racks for non raingutter cars run at least $350. The Alohas are $70. So if you're going to surf and drive a sedan go raingutter. Otherwise do like my friends Barry and Josh and buy ubiquitous white worker vans and stuff them full of boards. Then drive to the beach and catch all of the medium inside waves that no one seems to care about. Or decide to surf tomorrow, put on a suit, have your girlfriend drive you downtown in her cool car, go vintage shopping, eat veggies at home, load your trunk full of records, head down to the bar, and spaz out all night long. Next morning surf, come home exhausted, put on New Order Movement, read Nietzsche and Plato, write, and do other gonna-die-eventually shit.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hell yes. Finally found a bar with some turntables, Heathers in the LES, and now can share my lovely collection of dark delights. I gotta whole slew of stuff I'm dying to air out. I have not heard nearly enough Bauhaus since I moved to New York, so definitely will be playing at least 4 of their songs. Another band that will be in heavy rotation is This Mortal Coil along with Xymox and of course Joy Division. So yeah, Sunday, March 21st, 8:30pm - 2am. It's a bit earlier because it's a Sunday, but that doesn't mean we won't have fun. Hopefully will be joined by guest DJ Templar, but will have to update further on that. I do not want to speak for him since we've just had casual chat about it. I will be attending Underworld and Red Party this week (Spring Break!) to promote. I will also being doing heavy reading/writing sessions at home and at Bobst Library. I'll be damned if I cannot muster the discipline to finish my paper on self-discipline.