Monday, May 28, 2012
Surfers of all sorts, summer has a arrived on the East Coast and it's a bag of mixed treats.
First let's start off with personal news: I have my phone back, so calling and texting are firmly planted back into daily affairs. I am still writing papers from this past semester: one on the style of William James, another on Heidegger's Being and Time, and the third on narcissism in the early psycho-analytic works of Sandor Ferenczi and Karl Abraham. I hope to be finished before mid-June. One never quite knows, but yes, I'd like to get them out of the way. Any who have taken a surf lesson from me know that it is not without a few philosophical musings. I consider this a major upshot.
I have taught a nice handful of lessons in the last few weeks of May. All quite successful. All wonderful people per usual. Many return clients from last summer looking to get back into the swing. Lots of people still paddling with their legs apart. Minds in stomachs people and pull those legs together! The body should form a straight line down the middle of the surfboard and should be held taught by the amazing band of muscles near your solar plexus (often called your "core").
So summer. It's more crowded this year than ever, which means lessons are really going to focus on the social aspects of surfing—how to find waves to yourself, maneuver around crowds, communicate with other surfers in the water, read lineups, etc. This aspect cannot be underscored enough especially since the sport is growing and looks to continue to grow despite what grumpy old carps may have to say about it. Long Beach has added many more beaches to its surfing rotation. A full schedule can be found here: Long Beach Surfing Schedule. All beaches in New York can be surfed and are free for entry before 9am (except a few like Gilgo and Lido must be arrived at before 7am). For this reason I want to schedule all lessons as early in the day as possible. Parking also becomes an issue on the weekends. For daytime surfing, the only free beaches available summer-long are 67th-69th and 87th-92nd at Rockaway. As close to the train as they are, these are bound to get nutso on the reg. You better have your crowd surfing skills in check to stay calm, catch waves, and not get hurt (or hurt anyone else). Early mornings are still uncrowded (New Yorkers being the party animals that they are), so I highly recommend owning your own board and getting on the dawn patrol.
I have decided never again to use the word "pop up". It makes it sound as though getting to one's feet on a surfboard happens all of a sudden in a kind of jerky motion. We shall call it getting to one's feet. There are a variety of different ways to go about it, some more efficient and graceful than others. Most of all it is important to take it easy and breathe even in this most crazy of moments—you've just caught a wave, it's exciting, but you need to slow down and pull yourself together. Surfing is all about taking in the tiny moments and appreciating them.
I think I'll leave this post off here. The above picture of me was taken at Fire Island by my pal Thad's dad, Dennis, with my iPhone. I'm riding that Forstall mini Simmons doing a little float. Such a blast! Upcoming posts will concern surf techniques, links to vids and websites you should be watching, and other cool surf snippets.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
I went to Baltimore this past Sunday/Monday and thought I had lost my phone. It turns out that I left it in an antique shop and my mom's friend has recovered it for me, but it's still en route to New York. So for all lesson inquiries simply email me. Should have it back up and running by Saturday.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
My friend, B.'s, brother, G. and his brother's friend, M., picked this board up at a surf swap -- they all three kind of co-own it -- in a sense it's a community board. It's a 4'11" Mini Simmons shape by Steve Forstall. The Mini Simmons was designed by Bob Simmons. Simmons was a pioneer of surfboard and skeg design. Surfline has a very concise history about him that you can read here. The little gem pictured above was my first encounter with such a shape. I saw it first at B.'s loft-warming party in Bushwick (no joke -- as a digression I am also doing research on the origination of the hipster phenomenon in Brooklyn -- I am having trouble deciphering whether I am one and then that makes me think that the category is far too large). It was love at first sight. I could barely talk to other people at the party. I knew that I had to go out with it some time. Then B. came down with a gnarly case of ingrown toenail so he was out of commission from February thru April. Time passed and I put the hope of riding this board out of my mind. Then May swung around and B.'s toed healed up. Of course he never stopped monitoring conditions and thus he shot me a surf text the day before a fun little swell was predicted to arise. A mission quickly formed and set. I picked up Th. and T. first in the Lower East Side, then cruised to the outer Wick to scoop B. He had two boards in hand: his 5’6” simmons-esque quad and the above 4’11”. We did the 6am hustle out to Long Beach and were greeted by hazy 3-4 foot peaks. I rode my thruster for the first hour or so. Got a few sneaky head dips, but nothing too special. The tide came up quickly and the waves started to bog out. We had left the little wonder on the beach -- first come first serve style. When I went in to make the switch B.’s quad was in its place. So I took that out. It’s really skatey but a bit too loose and stiff for my taste. Just doesn’t have that magic zip. Still I rode it a bit until I saw that B. got tired and went in. The time finally arrived for me and the 4’11”s first date. Everything that followed was pure bliss. Paddling was cake. The thing absolutely zooms into waves. I caught wave after wave, weaving and dashing into the shorebreak. I hadn’t felt that sort of speed and responsiveness since the first time I rode my CI fish (which still goes great by the way -- just a bit of a different feel). This board provides the kind of surfing for me where I don’t need to think too much. Its curves and my style have a natural symbiosis. I have surfed it twice since then and those sessions were equally as enjoyable. The new dilemma: how do I own one for myself? I will get more chances to ride this one but I definitely need one of my own. I’d also like to experiment going smaller -- like 4’6” or so -- real biscuity. I have since looked at other Mini Simmonses and they all have this bulky and heavy look to them. I like that this one is made out of very light epoxy and has shortboard-esque rails to it. I do know that this board used to belong to Montauk shredder Mike Detemple (whom I don’t know personally), and I’ve tried to contact him via Twitter to see if he has any others for sale, but no dice. That’s cool. I might just have to dig harder. Thinking about getting Steve Forstall to shape me one. I did some research on him (see link). He was very influenced by this design in his early shaping days and has immense knowledge about east coast waves, plus he shaped this wonder, so he’s definitely worth contacting, but then I dunno how I’d get it to NY from Florida on a gradstudent budget. I think a good route might be to talk to some surf shop bros or to just find a longboard, saw the nose off, find some skegs, and make my own. Whatever route I take, I am determined to make something like this mine. Oh and if you want to read/see more info on such like boards check out Hydrodynamica’s cool little piece on them here.
Here's a pic of the pick up of my first lesson for this summer. Davith's wife, Lexi, bought him two lessons for his birthday. Here they are getting ready to go to the beach in front of Saturdays on Crosby. The lesson went super well and we're all looking forward to #2.
I've also started receiving a lot of other calls and emails regarding lessons this summer. Start booking now to ensure you get your slot! Also, remember that my lessons are not so much focused on getting you to stand up on the board but are more about the overall experience and knowledge and style of surfing. Surfing is 95% paddling, seeing, judging, and navigating and 5% standing up on a wave. Summer and its crowds makes this even more true. I see so many beginners every time I surf wander into an area where they should not be. You can avoid this kind of catastrophe by learning the right way the first time. You will also get better faster because you'll learn how to find waves where others don't.