Sunday, December 14, 2008

The 10 Commandments of Oregon Surfing

Having just crossed the threshold of 100,000 visits on Sissyfish -- and having been busted for kooking-out almost as many times -- I thought it might be good time to compile a list of the top 10 rules that everyone who picks up a soft top and rental suit should know before paddling out in Oregon. I'll start, and you guys can add to the list. Hopefully by the end we'll have something definitive, sacred, and infallible that we can chisel into a couple redwood blanks and hold over our heads at the crest of Cape Neahkahnie.







The rest is up to you... GO!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

HANG LOOSER: Surf Movie Night

I was going to say, "Here's some insta-stoke to get you through the winter doldrums," but if you've been anywhere near the ocean lately, with any kind of wave-sliding vehicle, you've been scoring.

If you were there last time, you know what to expect: great movies, cool peeps in flannel, Tecates, and really good music. Rumor has it they'll be showing Five Summer Stories and On Safari to Stay and maybe, possibly, Sliding Liberia. Starting around 8pm, this is guaranteed to warm your soul faster than eggnog...

Thursday, December 04, 2008



Take your pick. Two views of December 4, 2008:
1. Picture pilfered from Mark Mekenas morning email.
2. Picture pilfered from a much-hated (much-checked) surf cam.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Give the Gift of Inspiration

Another Black Friday has come and gone, and I didn't even go shopping. This year I want to give better gifts. I want to make artwork for friends and support local shops and friends' businesses.

On that note, I've been helping a friend out with a blog for her online wine shop Wines and Makers and in return she's turned me on to some amazing limited-production wine producers. I like the idea of the impermanence of wine and how a good bottle forces you to slow down time and really pay attention to subtleties: to live in the moment--kinda like surfing does. And I love how a good red can warm you up and provide inspiration to write or draw.

WAM is having a big Friends and Family sale right now--ALL BOTTLES 20% OFF and CASES 30% OFF, with free shipping for orders over $99--so if you have the urge to pick up some wine for yourself or as a gift, check 'em out. A bottle St. Amant Zin I drank literally blew my mind... I'm buying a case of it.

On the subject of gift-giving, I've reconnected with Writer, who gave me a-learnin' a year ago about naming/drawing surf spots on the web. We've since buried the hatchet and exchanged t-shirts, parenting advice, and surfy knowledge. He just told me that he's giving me a surfboard blank to shape as a birthday gift. He's even bringing it up to PDX for me. So, that's just a lesson on the power of surfing's positive power to facilitate good vibes. Talk about inspiring gifts! You'll be hearing much more on this as the story unfolds...

Until then, get some surf! I know I will...

I Wasnt Really Drunk - Eef Barzelay

Monday, November 24, 2008



I'm sitting in an SLC office where it is cold and dry... But my mind keeps wandering back to perfect 5' a-frames at XXX XXXX yesterday. Offshores grooming the waves to a slightly rippled, silky surface, with dramatic plumes of mist coming off the lips, easy drops, long rides, and turns, turns, turns!

It was seriously the best I've ever surfed it. And looking out at XXXXX, it appeared to be a cold-water indo with a golden transparency that was reminiscent of a still from One California Day - but better.

I need to check your link when I get out of this meeting.

Nice that you're getting a jump on the holiday though!

Let me know when you get back to town. This is going to be an epic winter for surf.


Email by Chum
Tweaked photo by Mark Mekenas

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Piece It Together

Some waves are so intense that afterward, as hard as you try, you can't remember the details of the ride. I caught one on Saturday that was literally the biggest I've ever ridden. I remember sitting way outside everybody else with OS and seeing a freakish swell growing out of the horizon line like a big blue carpet rolling backwards toward me, gaining size with every yard it advanced. We both looked at each other as it reared up in front of us and he said, "If you go for this one, it'll be the biggest wave of your life," to which I yelled, "I'm going!" turned, and paddled with all I had. As I popped, I saw the nose of my board hovering over thin air, a good 12 feet above the trough, then I dropped and locked in. And that's where my amnesia starts.

Luckily Hendo, a new surf chum from NZ, was sitting far enough inside to witness most of the wave, until he had to try and duck it. Rather than trying to put into words another wave-of-my-life moment, I asked him via email to describe what he saw:

"I've surfed with Chum a couple of times before, and on this day we were treated to some really amazing waves in a great setting. One wave of Chum’s waves really stands out and will be ingrained in my memory banks for a while. Chum and another buddy had paddled out in search of a couple of sets that had been breaking further over towards the rocks… It looked like they were going to be out of luck until a big rogue set reared its head on the horizon. Chum picked out a big one and went for it… Watching from the inside I was hooting and hollering as he paddled in, honestly I thought he might eat it as the waves were throwing pretty quick, but he rose to his feet perfectly and flew down the line riding nice and high in the pocket. The wave definitely was a beauty and one of the best I’ve seen ridden in Oregon, don’t quote me on size, but double overhead for a man of Chum's stature wouldn’t be far off."

I tried to draw a few pictures of what I can remember: the huge shoulder, the foamball threatening to engulf me, the tip of my 6'7, and Hendo scratching for the outside, pausing long enough to hoot me in. Thanks for the memories, Hendo.

And to the guys who filled our shoes with sand on the beach: Thanks for only using sand.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Can you find the wave in this picture?

We may not be the best surfers in the world, but it takes a special kind of skill to be able to paddle out into this at 8am on a Saturday morning and have a good time. Were there diamonds in the rough, or just really rough diamonds? We took some serious smackdowns for the few corners we found.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pipe Dreams

Right around the time the leaves started changing, I was taking a walk through the neighborhood and I stopped by a yard sale. Among the flotsam and jetsam piled on the folding tables--the old books, board games and brick-a-brac--I found a wooden box of worn old pipe bowls. Next to the box was this brass pelican.

I picked up the weighty bird and asked the old man tending to the sale what it was for. "It's a pipe holder!" he barked. The bird's wing had an emblem reading "Daytona Beach, Florida" on it. It turned out that all those old pipes were his father's.

This was literally the same day that my 10-month old had finally started to go to sleep at 7pm, which left me with three full hours of "me time" in the evenings. I could think of nothing better than sitting on my porch with a big glass of red wine (or scotch), a pair of warm slippers, a pipe full of fragrant tobacco and my thoughts.

I bought the pelican and a pipe for $5 bucks.

The first time I smoked it, my wife almost ejected me from our bed, my hair, breath and skin smelled so pungent. She literally asked if I had snuck out to The Tube during the hour that I was outside the house. The next morning, I awoke with a sore throat the feeling that I spent the night licking the floor of a brothel. Not the best way to face a fresh-faced baby.

Since then, the pipe and pelican sit on my desk, a reminder that I can (and will) give it another try. I have to admit that I sometimes chew on the stem when I'm trying to channel Mark Twain... like now for instance... and usually it doesn't work.

Gulf Shores - Palace

Thursday, November 06, 2008

imm O rtalized

My "o-face" was recently immortalized as part of Patchie's series of surf blogger illustrations. Posted the day before the election, I wonder if my expression was an omen for the O-man's victory.

You know, hanging out at Doug Fir the other night, one thing became crystal clear: Hope makes people horny. Seemed like everybody was either making out or trying to get some post-election action. Long live love.

Thanks, Patch...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I almost got used to that feeling of having a dark cloud
over my head all the time.

I almost forgot what it felt like to have hope --
a sense of pride in being American.

Until last night.

I went out with OS at around 10pm to "tap into the energy of democracy."

I'm inspired, and it's nice to know
I'm not alone.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bon Voyage

I sent these watercolors/drawings to Brazil for the Santos Surf Art show last week and they just arrived. Now my wife's telling me that she wants to send me down there for my birthday... How do you say "stoked" in Portuguese?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stop the perfect left, I want to get off.

A little stoke nugget to keep you busy while I'm out of town tomorrow. I'll get back to you in about two days. Rumored to be in Chile (confirmed to be in Africa), the left in this clip lasts about that long.

Thanks to Slim for sending this the day before a weekend where I couldn't surf. And don't forget to do the new poll over there --->

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Standing in the same spot, with the same set rolling through, I snapped three shots from the north to the south. Wednesday was pretty fun.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pretty Crowded

But there were still some pretty cool moments to be had...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


A Surf Movie Night

Falzon's 1972 surf-hippie/cockfight masterpiece "Morning of the Earth"
Jeremias & Baffa's 2007 epigrammatic epic "One California Day"
And other gems, guaranteed!
(Surfy DJs Too!)

Thursday October, 16th
232 SW Ankeny St. 503 248 1600
Stumptown, USA

I met this guy at a restaurant who surfs and he bought me a drink when he found out I'm the salty dog behind this blog. A few weeks later he told me he's hosting this killer surf movie night Thursday that should be a stoke booster/slump buster on a rainy night. I made him the art above using an old sketch I did from pausing "Morning of the Earth" on my old TV and drawing the quintessential crouchy singlefin bottom turn with a #2 pencil. I was glad I could find a use for it.

Pass it on!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Hunted a ghost peak Sunday morning.
It never seemed to be where I was.
Or was I never where it seemed to be?
But the wind was light and the water warm,
Haunted and happy was me.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hollywood Wipes Out Again: Knight Rider

In case you missed it last night, the new Knight Rider Episode "Knight of the Iguana" featured some of the kookiest surf moments Hollywood has ever put on film. From shots of Mavericks and Pipe representing Todos Santos, Baja, to Kitt rolling "inconspicuously" with boards strapped to the roof, to "Mike" laying on his board with his legs spread eagle, radioing to Kitt to find out how to stand up as a huge setwave bears down on him.

The dialogue in the show made Johnny Utah's surf-speak in Point Break feel authentic. Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"Seems to me you gotta live life like surfing a wave. Some are big, some are small, but in order to ride any of 'em, you gotta let the wave take you."

"But what if it takes you somewhere you shouldn't go?"

"Heh. Shouldn't is a word that isn't in my vocabulary."

Please, somebody, capture this video on the Knight Rider website before the show gets cancelled. It's an all-time classic to be filed alongside surf gems like:

The North Shore

Point Break
Gidget (TV)
Surf School
Blue Crush
Batman Surfing

If you don't have 45 minutes to devote to the rerun online, you can see the trailer HERE.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This is WOR!

Somebody asked for some coolness this week, since I've been lacking in that department of late. I hope a little radness will suffice. Love 'em or hate 'em, the the Warriors of Radness seem to embrace the attitude of not taking themselves all that seriously in a land (and a sport) where that happens all too often.

Would Dora:

A. Be rolling over in his grave?
B. Be laughing hysterically from the grave?
C. Be cashing a bad check somewhere and not give a shit either?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Battle of the Surf Bros

I'm the Grass Stains, OS from Mojomentum is the Cockblockers. This is our third year in the same fantasy football league and it's always fun on those Sundays when we square off. Oftentimes we're surfing during the games, so we check our scores on the drive home. As you can see, I'm pretty anemic at the the WR position. I'll let you know how it went on Monday.

King of Carrot Flowers - Neutral milk hotel

Thursday, October 02, 2008


This goes out to all the haters out there: If you're actually lucky enough to surf, then why are you so surly?

Since the '80s I've wondered why so many surfers are afflicted with that permanent stink-eye/chip-on-the-shoulder syndrome that seems to be the complete antithesis of the amazing activity they're involved in. And lately that attitude as trickled onto the comments of my blog, which I created almost four years ago as a celebration of the pure joy of surfing.

Oh well, maybe "The 'Tude Adjuster" will sort 'em out.

Drawing by Andrew Jeffrey Wright.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturday Secret Session

Saturday was amazing. Reports from up and down the coast made it sound like spots were lighting up like firecrackers on the Fourth. We were pretty happy with our early morning decision, as you can see from the shot above. Nice being the only ones in the water (for a few hours) on days like this. Sorry I couldn't crop out the landmark, though. I hope I'm not giving anything away, but then again, most of you can probably tell where this is by the way the wave is breaking. But if you can tell where it is by the way it's breaking, then you already know the spot. But if you already know the spot, then why would you care about a picture that doesn't name it? Wait. I'm confused.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sissyfish in Brasil

I'm incredibly stoked to be a part of the upcoming Santos Surf Art II art festival on the beautiful coast of Sao Paulo, Brasil. This is a country I've always dreamed of visiting, and now at least my drawings will be making the pilgrimage to paradise... Lucky art!

My art is also lucky because it will be hanging near some of my heroes, who you can see by enlarging the Nat Russell-drawn poster above. Albe "Morning of the Earth" Falzon? Andrew "Litmus" Kidman? Jamie "We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations" Brisick? Sea "The Guy Who Did My Blog Banner" Mouse? And that's just to name a few!

The event is taking place from January 20-26, and if you want to read more about it, head to the Santos Surf Art Blog, where I'm currently experiencing my 15 minutes of fame.

Special thanks to Jair, the super-cool, super-talented guy who's organizing the whole thing. Who knows, maybe I'll figure out a way to make the trip after all...

(If you want to see some examples of my artwork that's been featured on this blog, click HERE.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere...

Los Angeles. Tuesday. As we sped up PCH from LAX toward Malibu for a voice-over session (details to come), I noticed something crazy... There were waves everywhere. Guys were bobbing in the lineup at what seemed like every bend in the road between Santa Monica and the 'Bu.

From the cliff-side house where the sound studio was, I had a perfect view of Malibu and the pier. Waves seemed to be rolling in with amazing consistency. We stayed in Santa Monica that night and over drinks I noticed big lines smashing the shore near the the boardwalk there.

Wednesday morning. Our call for the music video shoot was at 6am. This time we were in Marina Del Rey, and again, explosions of whitewater blasted above the rise of sand between the beach house where we were shooting and the Pacific. The day went really late, and as the sun set, I noticed guys catching windblown lefts off a jetty on the south side of the beach. Mist from the breakers chilled our extras during the golden hour.

The next morning I was beat. Got in a plane and flew back to Oregon. Mission accomplished. But zero waves surfed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Jet Setting

I'm traveling a lot for work lately.
Salt Lake City last week and LA tomorrow...

Unfortunately, an early call makes surfing out of the question down there. Sorry for the lack of posts since the shit-storm resulting from my Labor Day pics. But I do have scientific evidence proving that most of you have no idea where those photos were taken.

I'll resume regular programming on Friday.

(That's Mt. Hood in the photo above...)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

"Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans
as the symbolic end of the summer."

It was a wave-filled Labor Day today.
Bye-bye summer, welcome fall.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Dear Surf Gods,

Thank you for serving up a bacchanal of hollow waves on Saturday morning. We checked the beach above first, noticed a growing crowd, and moved along. The next location was about twice as big and breaking twice as far out. As we paddled out into the glassy beachbreak, joining a friendly group of five guys, we counted our blessings.

The swell continued to build and clean up, and we joined in on the feast. I distinctively remember dropping into a perfect left and hearing OS yell, "PULL IN!"

I didn't...

But yay, the thought did cross mind that Oregon never gets waves like this, as I locked into the pocket, moving faster than I ever had on my round pintail. Guys were getting shacked. I threw myself over the ledge on some "head-and-a-half" rights. Can I get a witness?

I guess you could say it was a good day.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One Beach, Many Faces

Finally made it back out again in Oregon on Saturday. It was really cool because my wife and el nino joined me (along with the rest of Portland). The air was incredibly warm, the waves were decent, and the water wasn't really that crowded. What I did realize is that after surfing in Mexico and sparingly in small surf before that, I'm really no longer in "Oregon surf shape."

Duckdove about 10 waves on the paddle out and got a crazy icecream headache (and I was wearing a 5 mil with hoodie). My arms burned like hell and my lungs screamed. It took like ten minutes to get the heart rate back down again so I could catch some waves. When I did finally snag a few, my pop-up was kind of off. I think I was still tired.

After spending about 2 hours at the south part of the cove, I went in and checked on the family. From the beach I could see that the north side was looking much cleaner and nobody was riding this one peak that was groomed by the offshore wind. I spent the next hour down there and had a much better time.

Afterward, a cool cat named Jed who I'd met at the Sissyfish Movie Night walked up and handed me the CD of his band, The Pink Widower. Check out "Let Me See" on the link. I'm digging it. Maybe an official Sissyfish music review to come?

Hopefully this weekend will give us some more gems with that hint of autumn. I've been doing push-ups and pull-ups all week to get ready.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blame It on the Board (Again)

So I finally had the chance to read the article “The 40-year-old Barrel Virgin” on Surfline last week and was interested in the story on many levels:

1. Because at age 35 I haven’t gotten a legit, witnessed, in-n-out tube and...
2. Because I mostly ride what might be considered “retro” surfboards by the author.
3. Because three people have mentioned the article to me in the last week.

It’s no secret that I’ve only been surfing for 5 years and I’ve been chronicling my quest to get shacked on this blog, in the process getting comments from readers that I should try a tri-fin thruster to help me go slow enough to allow the lip to throw over my head. Someone even recently brought up the article in one of my blog posts a few weeks ago.

The story basically claims that “retro” boards are anything that diverges from the 3-fin potato chip-style surfboard professional surfers favor, stating that the design features of quads, keels, Bonzers and single fins are not only ill-suited to good waves (the kind that barrel), but are essentially just a passing fad.

Granted, it seems pretty obvious that this piece was written to ruffle feathers and instigate a war of words between “alternative” surf craft enthusiasts and “traditional” thruster advocates. Controversy equals traffic. Initially published in Water Magazine, Surfline's re-publication was definitely successful in that regard: They had to shut off comments on the story at over 200 responses, some of which were pretty inflammatory and others downright hilarious. The argument degenerated to jocks vs. hipsters, rockers vs. mods, Jets vs. Sharks.

Despite the fact that this kind of polarization of the surf community based on what people ride, or even wear, is one of the things I hate most about surf culture, I have a take on the sentiments expressed in the article and would be interested in hearing yours.

First, the classification of boards with resin tints and fin configurations that aren’t a thruster setup as simply “retro” is a complete generalization that is mostly wrong. In my understanding, recent iterations of alternative surfboards, whether quad-fin or twinny, bonzers or eggs, are shapes that have evolved over the last 20 years to incorporate new design philosophies into the mix. Certainly, templates, contours and fin configurations engineered for speed and early entry into waves will require that surfers figure out a way to get back to the curl, whether it be to “brake” or stall by applying backfoot pressure, dragging a hand, or simply delaying or extending a longer bottom turn to position yourself under the throwing lip.

But once under the lip, speed becomes your friend again and it helps to be able to quickly outrace the foamball. This is where you see guys on traditional thrusters having to pump like hell to get out of the tube.

My understanding of these techniques comes from watching experienced waveriders on video (and not just in Sprout) and also from a lesson taught to me by a guy a met in Nicaragua who was getting numerous barrels on his Pavel-shaped Speed Dialer. His advice for getting tubes boiled down to two methods:

1. Drop in late and get up into the wave's sweet-spot immediately.
2. Drop into a wave that you see is going to throw ahead, bottom turn back up the face, then jacknife the board back at a downward angle in a quick pivot motion under the lip as it is throwing. It almost looked like he was "hooking" himself in the wall under the curtain.

Seemed to work for him.

The article makes it sound like a tri-fin has the perfect amount of drag via a center fin to place you into the greenroom without much additional skill or technique. Just drop into a hollow wave, bend your knees, and enjoy that sick liquid tunnel until you miraculously shoot out in an explosion of spit, shaking shakas over your head.

Perhaps the funniest thing about the article is that the author claims that he's been surfing with his retro-loving friend for "decades" and that the guy has never been shacked. Seems strange that the equipment is to blame, since the whole "retro revolution" in surfing only started about 5 years ago. What was his friend, with 20 years surfing under his belt, riding before?

But then again, upon reading the story a second time, with it's artificial dialogue (e.g. the annoying Chuck Norris quips) and exaggerations (organic pine tar glassing?) it became obvious that this is a work of fiction anyway and meant to be taken as such. A satire, if you will, on the emergence of hipster surfers... He almost got me fired up.

Now where's my thruster?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mexican Blooper Fiesta

So here I am, still posting about Mexico because, frankly, I have no other material. Above is one of my many attempts to squeeze into a tiny toob. Hey, I may be wearing a lip sombrero, but my arm got totally shacked and my hand is still claiming it.

Stop, drop, and roll.

Our housekeeper hid the key to the front door, then left a big note on the front door telling us where the key was. Under the mat.

Oops. She wasn't going to make the section... uh... yeah. This serves a a permanent reminder not to get pissed when people accidentally drop in on me. The expression on her face says it all: "Oh no he di-in't!" Trust me, her wave count was still higher than anyone else out that day. My most embarrassing shot ever.

We drove about 50 miles and when we got out of our car, realized that the back straps had come undone on our boards. This is how we found them...

The "O" face.