Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rejoining the Herd

Unfortunately, i've somewhat rejoined the herd. No longer am i a surfing vagrant:::atleast physically. I paid my first and last months rent for my new home today. A two bedroom beach cottage in Leucadia, North County, San Diego. West of Highway 101, within walking distance of numerous solid surf spots. My roommate, Stefanie, is a super smart, chill massage therapist. I was drawn to Leucadia two years ago, when i saw a local campaign with the mission statement: "Keep Leucadia Funky" ...I will certainly do my part.

Had a fun week with my parents at the oceanfront condo. Kinda tough to go from being on my own, with an open road and waves as my only obligation to being with my folks again. But i very much appreciate all the love, support and advise that my parents provide.
It was nice to show them the area that they've heard me ogling for a couple years. The draw of this place is obvious.
We checked out the usual attractions...Coronado Island, La Jolla and the Gaslamp District, but definitely my favorite was the San Diego Zoo. Incredible botanical gardens and a myriad of animals. The highlights include the gorillas, giraffes, elephants and a lonely rhino.

It was obviously awesome to wake up in the morning, walk down a few flights of stairs and be in the ocean. A very fun combo of SW and NW swell stuck around most of the week. I went to 25th st. Del Mar a couple times and surfed solid waist to shoulder high waves without much wind until the afternoon. My father took a couple of good action shots of me.

The "BlueJay Dirty Bird" bottom turn

Me, from the deck of our condo.

Seals in La Jolla Cove

Swami's sunset

I move in to my beach bungalow on Wednesday. I've started the process of getting a job in a local school system. I've met awesome new friends and i continue to learn something everytime i stand on my surfboard. I love you all.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dynamic Favorable Forecast

The surf forecast for Tuesday the 24th looks very promising. A combo of Southwest groundswell and Northwest windswell will hopefully create super fun, waist to shoulder waves throughout San Diego County.

In the meantime, i have been having a blast getting to know the area and chilling with the numerous close friends that are becoming established locals. On Friday, Tom and i went to the Scripps Pier and surfed waist high, crowded waves with an increasing wind. On our way to get some lunch, we quickly stopped to check out a famous spot in La Jolla called Windansea. Much like San Onofre and Malibu, Windansea is a seminal location in the culture of California surfing. Many of the greatest characters in surfing history grew up surfing these reefs. Miki Dora, Phil Edwards, Mike Hynson and Butch Van Artsdalen: all world-wide legends.
When we arrived, to our surprise the peak was relatively uncrowded. Waist to chest high peaks broke over the shallow rock reef shelf. The iconic grass shack stood watch over the beach. Built in 1946, it has seen more of surfing's soul than any other structure on the planet.

Sitting in the lineup was an honor and an interesting sensation. I've never felt water shift and move like it does over these reefs. Sets peak up head high and immediately dissolve into knee high shoulders. Sometimes it felt like the current was running 4 directions at once. Windansea: a very dynamic Oceanic arena that i will visit frequently.

Windansea circa 1960.

Windansea today.

On Friday night, Tom, Pattie and I went to play the ponies at the Del Mar Race Track. It was my first time at a horse race::: It was actually a really cool scene. I didn't even gamble much but as the horses would come down the home stretch, i boisterously cheered on whatever horse i deemed to have the coolest name. Tom is a veteran, so he was running all the numbers and making educated, pretty accurate bets.

Del Mar Race Track

Tom, Pattie and I....she was the big winner.

Tonight, i sit on an Ocean front balcony in Solana Beach. My parents arrived in San Diego yesterday and are staying the week in this amazing condo. I sleep on this balcony to the sounds of Mother Ocean and the sun wakes me up early to simply walk down some steps and surf a spot called, Rockpiles. Goodnight.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


As i crossed into San Diego County, i knew i was home.

I woke up yesterday morning and headed to San Onofre Surfing Beach on the border of San Diego and Orange Counties. Important to surf history as a place where surfers from all over the coast would camp and chill as early as the 1930's. A very soulful beach. Grass shacks and VW buses still abound. The Plastic Fantastic was the perfect board for the waist high, soft rollers.

San O tandem surf

San Onofre circa 1968.

San O today.

After San O, i planned on departing the OC and heading for San Diego....but then i remembered that the Surfing Heritage Foundation was headquartered in San Clemente. After receiving council from a great old-head, i located the most important bastion of surfing's soul and history that exists on the planet. I entered the brand new facility and almost dropped to my knees in reverence. Before me stood over 100 of the finest wave riding vehicles to ever exist. From 1800s Hawaiian wood planks to Tom Blake's hollow boards of the 1920s to the first shortboards and a Laird tow-board. The best public surfboard collection on earth. Also, i was the only patron around, so i received a guided tour from Tom Pezman, the Foundation's Director. So freaking amazing!!! He also showed me around the office, including the library that is making an attempt to catalog everything ever written about surfing. Next he showed me the earliest footage of people surfing:::Waikiki 1908. Great experience and i look forward to becoming an active volunteer for this wonderful foundation.

Surfing Heritage Foundation- This row contains boards from the 1800s to the 1940s.

Finally, after experiencing the best that the OC has to offer I headed into San Diego County. Crossing Camp Pendleton, i felt my soul stir. I was home...(for now). I stopped in Oceanside to catch a quick session at the Oceanside Pier. I had fun with minimal swell and a gusty wind. Still found some shoulders to stretch out on.

Oceanside Pier

I decided that i wanted to surf my favorite spot before dark, so i hustled down into Encinitas to check out Swami's, a right hand point break with Swami Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship looking down from the point. Botanical gardens line the cliffs and people young and old hang out and talk story in the parking lot. I had the surf basically to myself, and if you ever catch Swami's uncrowded its either pretty flat or the world is ending. So the waves weren't great, but the water felt great. I'd rather float in calm water at Swami's than almost anything else.

Self-Realization Fellowship....Surfer Crossing

As the sun exited my vantage, i headed a little ways inland to stay with close buddies, Brad Lafferty and Chris Walsh. The suspected nonsense ensued with discussions of donkeys eating waffles and Skippy McGee hooyah-a-flewyah round trippers. I love these guys.

I woke up this morning and went to Pacific Beach to meet up with another good friend, Tom Delerba. We drove to the Ocean Beach Pier and surfed hard for about 2 hours. Chunky waist to chest waves provided plenty of good times. We then ate world famous Hodad's Hamburgers and checked out the mega chiller vibes of OB. Ocean Beach Surf Shop is a classic with boards being shaped within sight of the customers and a half-pipe out back.

Tom then gave me a quick tour of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach: very young beach communities with thriving bars scenes and apparently busy tattoo parlors. Eventually, after playing with Tom and his sweet girlfriend, Pattie's dog, Marley and letting the tide drop a bit, we paddled out just north of the Pacific Beach Pier. It was waist to chest, clean and crowded. The Dirty Bird skillfully picked off a few waves to herself and had a blast till the sunset.

Welcome to San Diego


It is 3 days later, but the Rick Griffin exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum is still commandeering much of my thoughts. Since visiting my first art museums as a child, i've always been fascinated by the recognizable individual strokes viewable in original works. I think of the artist in the heat of creation... this color here, this texture there. Considering Griffin's state of mind during much of his creation, the up close perspective is especially interesting. Frantic cross-hatching and exploding colors.
Griffin was a very prolific artist...Surfer Magazine comic in SoCal, psychedelic poster and album cover artist in San Fran, underground comic with R. Crumb and Zap Comix, psychedelic Christian artist and soulful artist of waves with surfboard as his brush.

Some highlights from the show:
-A childhood friend's closet door with an emerging mural of Griffin's seminal surf character, Murphy.

Murphy even made the cover of Surfer Magazine-1962

-a surfboard that Griffin painted and surfed frequently...i thought about the wild things that went through his head while he rode this board.

-many many original ink and board drawings of everything from Murphy to concert posters.

-a Griffin cartoon of The Beatles

-large psychedelic Christian oil-paintings created after Griffin was born again.

Surfer Magazine insert-1971

Murphy's Mystic Eye

Movie Poster for John Severson's last surf movie, "Pacific Vibrations"...1970. I've been trying to view this movie for years, even going as far as asking Severson himself. No copies are available because the music rights were never secured. Of course the exhibit included an excerpt making me want to see it even more. This large original oil painting was on display.

Excerpt from "Pacific Vibrations"... the only footage of Griffin painting that exists.

Trailer for "Pacific Vibrations"

Aoxomoxoa...Grateful Dead album cover........A Griffin created palindrome

Rick Griffin Resources:
Laguna Art Museum
Rick Griffin Galleries and bio
Article about the exhibit

I will attend this exhibit again soon. I could spend 24 hours in there and not feel satiated.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Surf Hard and Preserve Your Soul

As my adventures continued out of the LA concrete and back to the Pacific sand, i felt the nomad within come to life. I've spent the past 2 days riding waves and exploring South LA County and all through the OC coast. Many many good vibes...and a few bad.
El Porto, Manhatten, Hermosa, and Redondo are all South LA surf communities with ample sand bottomed waves. Palos Verdes is a peninsula with a diverse coastline and infamous localization. Stories of rocks being thrown at outsiders walking down steep cliffs and car vandalism are rampant. Supposedly the PV Police usually turn a blind eye. The rumors worked because most surfers stay away. The area, however is strikingly beautiful.

Palos Verdes

I reached San Clemente last evening and met up with Scott Alexander. Scott took over the OU Surf Club when the founders graduated. He now lives 100 yards from the San Clemente pier and has a sweet gig working for Quicksilver. His hospitality is much appreciated. We surfed the Pier until sunset and then grabbed some super tasty fish tacos from Pedro's.

San Clemente Pier

I woke up today and headed directly for Trestles. Featuring friendly, high performance surf and close proximity to the surf industry: this place breeds progression. The waves were waist to chest high and very glassy. I surfed Lowers for awhile and then paddled to Uppers for a few less-quality/less-crowded waves. I learn so much here because the waves peel perfectly down the cobblestone point.

Lower Trestles

The railroad trestles that make the place Trestles.

Infamous Trestles surf wax graffiti

The next stop on the journey will forever be remembered as a non-Ocean (although it became strangely Oceanic) hightlight of my whole trip. I went to the Laguna Art Museum to check out an exhibit entitled, "Heart and Torch: Rick Griffin's Transcendence." Surfer, artist, psychedelic guru. I have been staring at Rick Griffin artwork in Ohio for years. To be in the presence of his original work was incredible. It was the greatest collection of anything i've ever seen. I will cover the exhibit in a future post.

Next i met Scott in Huntington Beach, where he gave me a tour of Quicksilver International Headquarters. It is a huge compound with a large skate bowl for lunch breaks and concrete floors for inter-office skate sessions. Interesting perspective on how a large surf conglomerate operates.
Then i entered the belly of the beast: Huntington Beach Pier...the court ordered "Surf City USA." The place makes me sick to my stomach. It has history, but $$$ came along stole most of its soul. There are some small pockets of the purity left, I only hope they can survive. I will certainly tackle this issue in depth sometime soon. I attended the International Surfing Museum and rode my skateboard through town.

Huntington Beach Pier

Preparing the South side of the HB Pier for the circus that is the US Open of Surfing.

International Surfing Museum- HB.....very very old boards.


HB- These are all made of stone.

Duke Kahanamoku- HB... Strange dynamic here as the greatest all-time waterman is surrounded on the sidewalk with a junk sale from a corporate surf shop. I will write more on this later. Where did all the soul go? Riding waves with friends and enjoying the ocean: it is so simple.

My final OC stop was the long stretch of jetties and piers known as the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. At the southern most end lies a spot known for breaking necks and dragging unsuspecting spectators out to sea. It is known as The Wedge and it can be as heavy as any wave on the planet. Not much water moving around today, so i swam out for a rousing round of "Log" and some dry-sand shorebreak bodysurf toobs.

The Wedge-Newport Beach

The Wedge gone nuclear.

There is a blackball on hard surfboards during summer days, so The Wedge is left to the bodysurfers and bodyboarders...probably actually better off that way. People would die. These waves are breaking in about 6 inches of water.

The Wedge today

I'm headed into San Diego tomorrow. The OC was another interesting adventure. It is all very aesthetically pleasing: the women (although there is enough silicon around to drown us all) and the geography.