Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Year in Sissyland

December 06
I have to start my year with a trip to mainland Mexico in December. I know it's not technically this year, but since 12/07 was a bust, I'm going to count this shot taken by my wife of a set wave at La Lancha among my greatest moments between Decembers.

January 07
It snowed so much last January that I white-knuckled the whole drive over the coastal range. The road was a sheet of ice, and we pushed forward, finally stopping in Cannon Beach (not being able to drive south to PC until the roads warmed up the next morning). I snapped this shot from the snowy beach the next day.

February 07
This was one of those sessions where, for some reason, there was nobody out midday at a very well known break. It was Sunday and I remember wondering if the Superbowl was on. Just three friends in the rain, sunbreaks, decent waves, and a rainbow to boot. Let the gay pride cracks rip.

March 07
Same place as the above drawing, except much bigger. We were surfing a hollow grinder along the shore all day and when we paddled in, noticed that the outer bar had started firing. Again... not too many dudes out, for some reason.

April 07
This was a drawing from a great day where I skied (for the first time in my life) paddled a river, and surfed in the same day. We called the water-fueled marathon "Spring Runoff" and documented it on film for the new outdoor apparel company Nau. It was really cool to teach somebody to surf who had taught me how not to be a "gaper" earlier in the day.

May 07
Ah. My little jewel. The Mandala Winged-D 2+1. When I ordered it I asked Manny to make something that could handle bigger, steeper waves than my 5'8 quad. He sold me on the design when he said, "People may think this board looks funny as you're walking down the beach, but you'll have the last laugh when you take off way outside spray them from 50 feet away."

June 07
I was cruising through my blogroll when I made my usual stop at Surfy Surfy. It was there that I found out Sissyfish had been featured in an article in my favorite magazine The Surfer's Journal (thanks for the subscription Mom and Dad!). JP, who wrote the piece, wondered in the article if I'd ever score. I promptly emailed him and told him that by including me in the illustrious mag, he had ensured that I did. I was psyched.

July 07
Nicaragua. The most challenging surf trip I've ever been on. The powerful waves there claimed two of my boards very quickly (including the aforementioned Mandala), leaving me to paddle into some serious surf on my trusty little fish. This pic is of one of those "oh shit" moments that makes for good bar story.

August 07
After a few weeks of small swell, a group of friends were reunited for a session in Pacific City. The waves were great: peaks everywhere, sun shining. We surfed until the sun went down and I took this picture of a moonlit sea that whispered of a great autumn to come.

September 07
There's a popular break in our neck of the woods that "core" surfers just love to hate. I learned to surf there, and it has remained one of my favorite spots. Maybe it has something to do with the long lefts that roll through midweek in the autumn.

October 07
Surfing with friends. That's what this blog is really all about. This fall we seemed to get some of the biggest, cleanest waves of any season since I started four years ago. It's always great to share those moments with your best chums.

November 07
My second to last surf session of the year was a macking day at Smuggler's Cove where I hesitated to even attempt the paddle through the shorebreak. When I finally did, I was rewarded with some of my biggest waves there. I shot this as I packed up to leave.

December 07
Nico dropped into our lives in November, and I spent the whole month of December getting to know the little feller. I haven't seen the ocean since his arrival, and I can't say that I've had much time to miss it. More challenging than any wave, he's my greatest treasure... but I can't wait to go searching for treasures again in the sea!

Animal Collective - Peacebone

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rock & Roll Windansea

This short was arguably the biggest hit of the first Sissyfish Surf Movie Night. A visual feast of pot smoke, fist fights, teeny bikinis, short shorts (on the girls too), mullets, guitar licks, and sunburned shoulders. Oh yeah, there's some soul-arching surf footage in there as well... Found it on R. Kenvin's Youtube channel - In the spirit of New Year's Eve, push the play button and get the party started!

Ratt - Round and Round

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I was just wondering why people can't act like it's the holiday season year round. Good food, family, being kind "because it's that time of year." All the wacky, silly consumerism aside, Christmas is a pretty cool time of year. Hope you enjoy however you spend the holidays and New Year.

Catch a couple good ones for me!

Donde Esta Santa Claus?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Flatter, Fatter, Faster

Casper Jr., the Friendly Hull.

I just received this great video link from Kirk at Consafos Press: Richard Kenvin ripping Rincon last week on a hull/fish hybrid based on scaled down version of the Simmons dual-keeled planing hull. I believe the first version of this board, the original Casper, was called "The Pocket Protector" and you can see why in this video. The board is short and square-tailed, but -- like I discovered in my own limited way on a traditional hull -- moves in perfect synch with the wave's sweet spot. Unlike classic hulls though, I hear that these boards work in a wider range of conditions... Shaped by Joe Bauguess and Larry Mabile, there may (or may not) be some of these in the works through the Swift Movement. All I know for sure is that it looks one "hull" of a good time!

P.S. Fsacto, long lost director of my five minutes of fame, proved how small a world it truly is by sending me the above photos he shot the same day. Is that Joe Curren or Kenvin again?
Carla Bruni - Quelqu'un m'a dit

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dropping Lines

I just got this great new pen from my neighbor and Squiggly Studios partner Jud. Of course the first thing I drew after dipping its massive nib into the ink well was a surfer decked out in oily 5mm, grabbing rail and locking into a nice Pacific Northwest slab. You can read more about the pen my other post HERE.

Bowie and Bing - Little Drummer Boy

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kouple of Kooks

The first Sissyfish movie night went off without a hitch. A few old friends stopped by and a few new friends were made. It looks like this event could become a regular thing, so watch this space for the next announcement.

Halfway through the evening OS, who helped organize the evening, pulled out a big box of t-shirts and handed them to me. With some reconnaissance by my wife (who ransacked my computer for art) he made a bunch of shirts using the controversial graphic from the infamous t-shirt post a couple months ago. There was even a small onesy in there for Nico. You'll notice that they didn't put the spot name below the drawing, thereby keeping it "mysto."

I have 25 of them. The idea is that, instead of contributing to my birthday board fund, OS wanted to give me a chance to sell the shirts and maybe make a bigger dent in cost of a stick for bigger waves. I'm lucky to have friends who believe in my artwork. I'll do another post soon on sizes and how to get one, if anybody is interested.

Don't worry Gaz, you get the last freebee. Actually, Writer gets one too, since he was probably more profoundly moved by the concept than anyone else.

In the top picture above, I'm teaching Nico how to throw a shaka. In the second, he almost looks like he's getting the hang of it. Yeah. We're kooks for life.

David Bowie - Kooks
"...Will you stay in our lovers' story
If you stay you won't be sorry
'Cause we believe in you
Soon you'll grow so take a chance
With a kouple of kooks
Hung up on romancing

We bought a lot of things
to keep you warm and dry
And a funny old crib on which the paint won't dry
I bought you a pair of shoes
A trumpet you can blow
And a book of rules
On what to say to people
when they pick on you
'Cause if you stay with us you're gonna be pretty Kooky too..."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

DOWN IN FRONT: Sissyfish Surf Movie Night

Hey Portland Surf Massive!

I'm hosting a surf movie night Friday, partly in honor of my birthday last week and partly because I need a few beers with a few bros. Last summer I hatched all kinds of plans to do a movie night at a bar, but it never materialized. Probably because I was too busy surfing. Now, more than ever, I need a little stoke injection.

Among the films I've rounded up for the event are:

Glass Love
Rare Windansea footage from the 1970s
Swift Movement Goodies
...And a very secret, "I-swear-you've-never-seen-this" PDX premiere...
(We'll see how many we can get through.)

Also on display will the coveted, one-of-a-kind Sissyfish book of drawings (a gift from my wife). And, as an added bonus, Nau--the great green outdoor company--will be giving away some swag. How could you miss it?

The bonanza starts Friday, December 7th at 7pm at the lovely bar Leisure in NoPo.

Leisure (click for map)
8002 N. Lombard St.
Portland, OR 97203
503/ 289.7606

Let me know if you're stopping by...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Curse of the Bambino

So my friends all came into town for the holidays and, of course, they wanted to go surfing last Saturday. I heard the forecast was looking good, but I haven't checked buoys since I came to terms with the fact that I won't be getting wet for awhile. Gee (on a homecoming from LA) swung by my house, said howdy to Nico, and borrowed my quad. I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting a teeny weeny bit, but--I swear to you--one huff of baby smell makes my temporary land-loving ways beyond bearable. He's awesome.

Anyway, I'd actually forgotten that all my chums had gone out when my phone rang in the early afternoon. It was Gee...

"Dude, I have no idea what happened," he said. "The forecast said 5 feet at 10 seconds, but I haven't experienced waves that big in a long time. It was hairy!"

He told me about how there were some macking waves to be had, but also a lot of closeouts that made the prospect of throwing your juevos over the edge a little sketchy. Between all of my friends on this Thanksgiving surf reunion, only one wave was ridden--and that was if you added all their failed rides together.

I was actually cradling the phone between my shoulder and ear when he called, because I was rocking Nico in my arms as I watched a college football game. I looked down at the infant, who was sliding in and out of dreamland, and imagined that he had somehow influenced the elements from the magical unconscious place.

Winter has made its wet, windy presence known now, and I can't think of a better time to have a bambino and be an Oregon surfer.

Pylon - Working Is No Problem

Monday, November 26, 2007

Surf in Art: Bwana Spoons

I've been a fan of Bwana's since I met him at his little store/gallery Grass Hut here in Portland. His drawing style is really inspirational... I especially love looking through the little mini comic he makes called "Soft Smooth Brain" where beardy dudes like the artist himself reside. I don't know if he really surfs, but waves, surfers and sea life appear in much of his work.

He even did an art show called "Welcome to California" with Grass Hut co-proprietor Scrappers with a killer flyer where the artists are getting shacked in tandem. That's Bwana in the front. Nice.

If you're doing some Christmas shopping, stop by his website or the store and buy some art, or maybe even a pair of killer sneakers!

David Bowie - Kooks
(This weird Libertines shrine video is all I could find with Bowie's original Kooks.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Minnow

I spent the morning listening to reggae with my new best friend Nico. His favorite song is "Night Nurse" by Gregory Isaacs.

"...I don't wanna see no doc

I need attendence from my nurse around the clock

'Cause there's no prescription for me

She's the one, the only remedy

Night nurse

Only you alone can quench this Jah thirst..."

Nico arrived Friday morning at around 8am and he's proven to be a bit of a night owl. So I'm getting used to his schedule. Late-night binge drinking seems to be his favorite pass time; it's been awhile since I've pulled an all-nighter, so I'm working on my stamina. Handling him reminds me of the first scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones transfers a bag of sand onto a stone scale that's the exact weight of an idol. Very careful, or there are some extreme repercussions.

Anyway, Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright and baby Nico's doin' alright too. Dims? 7lbs, 70z x 20" long. Thanks to everyone who has given us support, snacks, love, champagne, and Cohibas.

Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One California Year

Going through some old boxes in my basement, I found a notebook with papers from my freshman year of college. I went to LMU film school for a year and a half, fulfilling the California dream I'd formulated in middle and high school. I brought a surfboard, but only surfed once or twice at windblown El Porto. I didn't have many friends down there. None who surfed. So I did the typical freshman thing: drinking, studying and walking around Hollywood.

I took my film classes pretty seriously, discovering Wim Wenders, David Lynch, Jarmusch, vintage Coppola, Scorsese, Truffaut. I made a short movie in my Film Production 101 class that was selected to be shown on the campus big screen. It was a super-8 vignette about an epileptic painter named Rabo.

But film seemed too production-oriented and formulated for me. Too much organization and delegation to others between the initial creative impulse and the final work. And Hollywood freaked me out. The next year, I quit film school and moved back to Oregon to study painting.

In the basement notebook I found some critiques of my first films from fellow students. One name in particular stood out: Jason Baffa. I remember him well--we hung out on occasion, as a matter of fact. I borrowed his film splicer/viewer to edit one of my films. He was one of the more motivated and articulate guys in the class. He was also a surfer. Now, he's making some of the most artistic surf films out there, including One California Day and Singlefin Yellow.

Thinking back now, I'm pretty sure he offered to take me surfing. I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to some better breaks with him and gotten obsessed with surfing back then... totally obsessed like I am now. Would I have stayed in California, surfing my way through film school?

The making of One California Day.

The Byrds - My Back Pages

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tree Talk

I have these two tall trees out in front of my house that are the same species, but one always keeps its leaves about three months later than the other. So while the first litters the sidewalk early in the fall, the more hesitant one stays green late into the winter. I imagined what the leaves might say to each other if they could talk and wrote it in a marker pen. Several weeks later, I noticed the "death" one face up on the sidewalk about halfway down the block.

Neil Young - Old Man

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Left to right:

1. Red Shred Sled (22x22)
2. KG Quad Fish (5.8)
3. Mandala Winged-D 2+1 (5.11)
4. Aleutian Juice Occ-ster (6.1)
5. McCoy/Pautsch Nugget (6.2)
6. North Pacific Rounded Pin (6.4)
7. Hammer Evo (6.6)
8. Plastic Banana (8.?)

(The McCoy and Hammer are for sale...)

Band of Horses - Is There a Ghost?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Gimme Shelter

For some reason, I felt a bit desperate on Sunday. I keep thinking that every session could be my last for a while. The baby could come any day (we're 3 weeks away now) and because many of the breaks I surf are out of phone range, I worry that I'll miss a call saying the water's broken.

So Sunday felt a little strange; the water was choppier than I would have liked and I couldn't seem to position myself on the shifty peaks. Every once in a while a speedy left would roll through way outside to the south, so that's where we ended up, away from the crowd that battled for a more consistent (but poorly shaped) right. After more than an hour, I'd only snagged a couple sloppy waves and was starting to get frustrated. My internal clock was ticking.

Finally, OS, Rye and I decided to paddle far outside and wait for the next big left that would roll through. Bobbing around out there, we commented that getting on one of those rifling set waves would make the session. So we waited. We thought we were too far out, then we got caught inside. Closeouts shut down across the cove. The tide went out. Rye grabbed one that looked pretty good. More time passed.

Then, finally, a set wave approached that showed potential. I paddled hard for it, made a late (and somewhat sketchy) drop, set my left rail, then burned along, taking a high line. It felt good. About halfway though the ride, I saw a guy paddle onto the shoulder and drop in. "Hey!" I yelled, "Douche!" The obvious tunnel vision of a newbie. He jumped off and I avoided his board, pumping back up the face.

I ended up about halfway across the beach, so I hoofed it back down to the rip on the south side to see if I could grab another. You know what? I did.

The photo above is kind of weird. I was on my way in after my last wave of the day, just bellying on some whitewater, and the wave just smoothed out and reformed. So I popped up, did a quick little turn, and noticed that it was going to pitch a bit so I tucked into the little closeout. I guess I'm trying to extract as much nectar from the session as possible. Rye had gone in and was playing with my camera on the beach. OS is on the left with a new Black Beauty under his arm.

Ah, precious moments.

Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

Friday, November 02, 2007



Guided by Voices - Official Ironmen Rally Song

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Luckiest Surfboard in the World

When we were in Nicaragua, we made friends with a guy from SF named Walker who we surfed with daily for a week. He must've felt sorry for me because after two of my boards were knocked out of commission, he gave me his 6'6 and said that I could either keep it (and give it back to him next time I was in the Bay Area) or give it away, if I found somebody who might need it.

The last couple days of our trip we surfed with a local kid who charged every wave, no matter how unmakable, and seemed to be having much more fun than anybody else. He wore tattered boardshorts and a saggy rashguard, with curly black hair and a bright smile that seemed to pop from his dark complexion after every wave.

On our last day, after watching him get a nice little cover-up, I asked him in broken Spanish how long he'd been surfing. "Seis meses," he said, six months. The kid was already much better than me and I could tell that he was on his way to becoming a local hero, like the other older guys who shared the barreling beachbreak with me for the previous three weeks.

His board was an absolute disaster. It was old and yellow, with open dings and big delams. It had tiny sparkly star stickers that he'd applied to the deck, probably to emulate the pros that rolled through town. I knew that he was the right person for the stick that I'd just inherited, so I told him to stay there and that I'd be right back. I paddled in, ran back to the condo, grabbed the board and a couple bars of wax and headed back to the break. When I got back, the kid was standing on the shore with his old board laying it the sand. It was broken in half.

"What happened?" I asked. He gestured by arcing his arm over his head, smiling, "Grande!" At that, I handed him the new board and he looked it over proudly, running hands over the white deck.

As we paddled back out to the lineup together, I wondered how this coincidence could have occured . Had he been nursing his old board through waves, knowing that it was at the end of its life? Did he finally just put it in a more critical spot when he knew something better was on the way?

It didn't matter really. It took him two rides and he was back up to speed again, slotting himself under lips and doing celebratory flyaway kickouts after good waves. The boy was lucky, but maybe the board was luckier--having been given a chance at a second life where it could be ridden all the way into the ground.

The Sea and Cake - Crossing Line

Walker, if you're still reading this blog, this is where your board ended up. Sorry it took so long to give you the story.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Yesterday I was the first guy out and I'll be damned if it wasn't double overhead again on the set waves. This is going to sound even wilder, but there were also an a bunch of beachcombers watching from the rocks and when I took off on my first one and they cheered as I made the drop. No pressure there...

My first three or four waves went really well, although I felt sort of immobilized by the speed and gravity of the situation as I skipped along on my 5'11. After a knee-buckling bottom turn, I'd go up and down the face of the wave, but wasn't too keen on trying anything more radical than that.

Then, spurred by some kind of lapse in judgement brought on by the "audience" I decided to scratch a little later and deeper into a set wave. I heard that initial "whoooooo!" as I went for it, then "ewwwwww!" as I felt myself free-falling with the lip, my hands still on the rails.

As intense as my first couple rides were, the payback was just as extreme. "Ragdolled" doesn't even begin to describe the tumble I took, arms and legs being twisted behind my torso, complete darkness surrounding me. I was dragged and dragged, at first in the lighter whitewater, then quickly sucked downward into the heavier turbine below. My mind just said "Relax. Don't fight it." I thought about fantasy football. Then the spinning lessened and I could see light behind my eyelids. A couple more strokes and I could finally suck wind.

My next few attempts were the same. I'd just get pitched and gobbled up. I thought I'd experienced heavy wipeouts in Nicaragua, but these were way worse. The good rides from earlier were already losing their crispness in my mind, replaced by the thumping darkness. I commented to OS that I seemed to be logging more time underwater than on waves.

After about 30 minutes, I finally locked into one a little earlier and made a drop, milking it to the end where the shoulder rounded off into the channel. Back outside, I talked to a guy who I'd surfed with before at that location, and he said he didn't trust anything under 7'0 on that wave. His normal board out there was a 7' x 3" thick Black Beauty.

It got me thinking that I might want something a little bigger for days like that. I started envisioning a 7' x 2.75" rounded pintail quad that would get me in earlier and have more edge in the wave as I dropped down the face.

It looks like I may have found a target for the next birthday board fund...

Danielson - Did I Step on Your Trumpet?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Myth and Surfing

I love myth. It's what our culture is built upon. So much of what we experience in life has parallels in mythology, one could say that those ancient stories have a direct impact on our very perception of "living." If you haven't read Joseph Campbell's "Power of Myth" or seen the PBS special that it was based on, I highly recommend it.

Campbell broke down myths that occur in culture into what he called "The Hero Cycle": a course of events that occur as a rite of initiation in every myth, pinpointing the need for mentors, villains, elixirs and jesters along the way.

I can't think of anywhere this cycle is illustrated better that surfing in Oregon. As a surfer here, you're always embarking on new quests and adventures, facing real and perceived obstacles and villains. Sharks, rips, sneaker sets, snakes, rocks, angry locals, freezing water. You hear about all of these potentially fateful entanglements prior to making the decision to go on your adventure, and they provide a barrier to entry that filters out the weak of heart. Without these, surfing wouldn't be the quest we all love.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that as much as I hate localism, it has it's place in the story of Oregon surfing. It can't be easy to be a regulator, always looking over your shoulder, harbouring a constant paranoia, walking with heaviness in your heart.

Last night I surfed until the moon and stars were the only light in the sky. I had a lot of time to think, to rinse away anger, to find the holy grail that isn't an actual object, but a simple, basic joy in that sacred place we call the soul.

Then, after paddling in, changing in the dark, marveling at the warm breeze that came through the pines, I enjoyed an elixir (or two) with a close friend and remembered what this is all about. I think Campbell would have smiled.

Horse Feathers - Falling Through the Roof

Monday, October 22, 2007


So this is what my car looks like. Old Toyota, low miles, runs good, white. It has a few issues. The driver's side window broke last winter, which was a real bitch when summer came and I couldn't roll it down for fear that I wouldn't be able to get it back up again. Hot. The A/C crapped out ages ago. The cost to fix it would have essentially totaled the car. I haven't washed her in probably a year, so the paintjob looks off-white from afar. It has a layer of mold on it. What's that they say about a rolling stone gathering no moss? Not true in this case.

The stereo and antenna seem to have a mind of their own. The radio goes on and off as it pleases. I have a technique that I learned from the Fonz where I punch the dashboard, the antenna goes up, and sometimes the radio works until I hit a bump or railroad tracks. Then the aerial goes back down again and it shuts off. It wears the old crusty roof racks that I bought off craigslist like a crown. What else? It gets awesome mileage.

I like this old car. I know it's going to last me a long time and that it'll get me back and forth from the beach as often as I like without breaking down.

Built to Spill - Car

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Coloring Book

I've decided to forgo the t-shirt idea and make a coloring book for my baby instead. Thanks for your opinions on the drawing though.

Art is power.

The Clientele - Book Shop Cassanova

Monday, October 15, 2007


I missed the "epic" day Saturday and was stressed that Sunday would suck. Our setups in Oregon seem so fickle that if someone farts out of the south, things will get blown out for a week. Sure enough, despite heaps of good stoke karma being projected at our planned destination, the SW winds were flatulating when we arrived, making PC look like bumpy old road. Not to be deterred, Ebb, OS and yours flu-ly scoured the coastline until we found a wind shadow. I swear it was bigger than these pictures suggest, but our stealthy lensman snagged these snaps at the end of the day when the tide had changed, the swell had dropped, and the wind crept into our wee wave haven. Anyone who knows this spot knows how quickly it can change. Imagine it bigger and glassier and you'll have an inkling of our unknown pleasures.

Joy Division - Shadowplay