Friday, May 30, 2008

Giant Surfboard Lands on Staples Center

Big enough to be Pau Gasol's daily driver -- definitely not Kobe's (he obviously rides boards that are too small for him) -- I wonder if this thing is a pop-out?

Apparently, small forward Luke Walton surfs as well. Here's a quote from The Guy Report:

"I surf, but not during the season. I can get up and go straight. I got a huge board. So I kind of just start yelling, if there’s other people on the wave: ‘Either get out of the way, or we’re going to crash’.

A lot of my friends surf, so I’ll go out with them and they’ll clear a wave for me. They’re my boys. They get on both sides of me and they’ll take off. And I’ll be fine, I’ll just go straight. Otherwise, I’m gonna crash into someone and it’s not going to be pretty."

Get out of the way, indeed. The Lakers are headed to the NBA Finals.

Fineline "Lakers Egg" via Shipworm and Gribble.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bunker Funk!

Brought to you by the hepcats behind Super X Media, this movie looks like it's going to be more fun than a pile of blow cut with Viagra...
Just kidding, Mom.

See the whole trailer HERE.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dream Sponsors

All this talk about working (or not working), combined with watching the Chopes contest last week, got me daydreaming about how cool it be to be sponsored to surf. I also just read Matt Archibald’s wild tale of being offered a boatload of money by Gotcha when he was in his teens just to put their sticker on his board and wear their clothes. Of course, he had incredible talent and had to perform regularly to maintain his standing with the brand, but the concept of being paid/given free gear to represent a company got me thinking: What five companies would I want to be sponsored* by if I could choose? Granted, this exercise does require some suspension of disbelief considering the level of my surf skillz, but you get the idea...

1. Apple – Basically, they have everything from computers to big screens to a bottomless supply of music. Pretty much a given.
Swift Movement – A great stable of shapers that would give me way more variety than I’d know what to do with.
Patagonia – I wore one pair of Minimalist II trunks the whole time I was in Mexico a couple weeks ago. Amazing surfwear, wetsuits that will improve with time, and even more surfboards, should Swift miss something I need in the quiver.
Travelocity – First class air travel? Check. Five-star lodging in far-flung destinations? Check.
Volvo – They’re doing some cool things with alternative fuels in Europe, their cars are safe, and it’s one of the coolest logos in the world.

Which five would you pick?

*Incidentally, any offers by companies interested in sponsoring Sissyfish will be entertained… Got plenty of room for banners here and on the wide decks of my shred-sleds. :-)

Monday, May 12, 2008

The End of Nau

For those of you who didn't know, I was "blogmaster" for the outdoor clothing company Nau for the past two years. It was a job I really loved because I believed in the products Nau produced and their mission to change the apparel business by using more sustainable materials and donating 5% of their sales to social and environmental causes.

I heard about Nau almost a year before they opened their doors and interviewed for a job that would be both a copy editor and photo editor position. After several months, I realized that I didn't get the gig--that they actually hired two people fill those roles--but a few months later, when Nau decided they wanted a blog to be their first web presence, I interviewed again and was hired to "curate" the Thought Kitchen as a freelancer. I have Sissyfish to thank for that.

Despite the fact that I was asked to bill a rate that was almost half my normal editing/writing fee, it was an amazing two years of work. Nau's target audience was, in their words, "Artists, Athletes, and Activists" and it was with those loose parameters in mind that the blog content was created. As a surfer, I could write about my experiences in the outdoors; as an artist I could contribute illustrations and photography; as a person concerned about the environment, I could talk honestly about how I was trying to do my part to do less harm to the planet. I was never asked to pimp products on the blog or to overtly sell anything. That was the website's job. Blog posts contributed by employees that I edited came from the same honest perspective.

While I was in Mexico, I found out that Nau went bankrupt. It all happened in a matter of days and I couldn't wrap my mind around how a company that seemed so healthy and well-loved could disintegrate so quickly. Everyone I talked to at Nau (mostly within the creative department) seemed genuinely surprised and shocked by the closure. I was suspicious that somebody high up in the company was aware of financial troubles brewing but kept it a secret, because I hadn't received payment for a month's worth of invoices. And this was a company that had paid me promptly every week for almost two years.

Not long after, I was blindsided by the fact that Nau probably isn't going to pay me for that month of work. The company closed with just enough money to cover payroll and send their "real" employees packing. The liquidators took over, and from what three lawyers have told me, I should expect, "pennies on the dollar, if that."

Contractors and freelancers who had been working steadily--and under intense pressure, in some cases--were hung out to dry. I think there are about 20 people in my situation, and we're all going to be grouped in with Nau's other debtors which probably include huge vendors like Chinese factories and the Beverly Center, where Nau opened a store about two weeks ago. I wonder what the lease is on a store there? Millions? Our invoices are a drop in the bucket.

This sucks.

It sucks because the people who we worked for were our friends. It sucks because a company that claimed to be "sustainable" knowingly let a large group of their friends down. It sucks because somebody didn't have the foresight to tighten the belt a few notches when times got tough, resulting in a hara-kiri style ending to what could have been an enduring brand. It sucks because this brand was actually making a difference. It sucks because I have a family to support.

In the spirit of the company, one that held up TRANSPARENCY as one of its tenets, I would like to be able to know what really happened at Nau. If they spent $35 Million in 18 months, but still owed so much money that they couldn't pay their freelancers (people who were all asked to significantly chop their rates and work until the day the company closed), where did they go wrong? I think this information would benefit other companies with noble ambitions who don't want to suffer the same fate, or at the very least not harm the people who loved them.

OK. This rant is over and the bad puns are finished ....... Nau.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Keep the Tip: How to Turn Like a Sissy

After reading a few Surfer magazines that give detailed instructions on how to do things like boost airs and disengage the fins for tail-slide hacks (which always lose me after the first sentence), I was inspired to do my own version of "tips," Sissyfish style.

1. Chum has actually found a wave to himself, despite the fact that there are 15 guys going after the inside stuff. He's trying to compose himself, keeping his hands below his shoulders and looking ahead to see if this small peeler is indeed going to have a shoulder of its own. He wonders if that Chivas on the rocks last night was such a good idea after two margaritas.

2. Realizing that he'd better stop going straight, he applies a wee bit of pressure to the toe side of his back foot, almost falling over in the process. To regain his balance, he drags his left hand in the face of the wave, which gives the impression (for one frame) that he knows what he's doing.

3. The bottom turn has actually projected our hero a little farther away from the "critical section" than he'd like, so he starts to do a cutback, or at least what he thinks is a fin-humming cutback, pointing with his lead hand where he'd like to go: back to the swim-up bar at the hotel.

4. Notice how Chum has crouched a bit lower here. That's it: the extent of his flexibility. He is unable to get his ass any closer to the board or his knees any nearer to his chest. Doing so would surely pop a hammy, so he counterbalances with both his arms. But, helloooo? What's that coming off the wave behind him? Can anyone say "schralp?" Thank God nobody was back there or they may have been blinded by the spray.

5. Economy of movement is what this next part is all about. Chum hasn't changed his body position at all but somehow has faded back into the mushy pocket. Note how he's completely focused on the next sloping shoulder he's about to destroy.

6. I believe the old Aussie Roo Shampoo bottles said it best: Rinse and repeat, mates.

Put some Roo in your Doo and stay tuned for the next "Keep the Tip" installment, when Chum shows you how to bail your board with style on a closeout section.

Cinco de Mayo in Mexico: Fishy Fishy

How I spent Cinco de Mayo: Woke up like a fisherman at dawn and stumbled out of bed, wandered up the beach and caught some fishy waves on my fish (avoiding dead puffer fish along the way). Went to lunch at Taqueria Rossy, the best fish taco place in the world, and ordered dos de pescado and dos de camaron. The hipster in the Mollusk shirt was calling for some fish tacos too, but got denied on account of being toothless. Maybe next time, amigo!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

My Wife Caught Me...

...Doing absolutely nothing on this big, perfect left! She showed up with "El Nino" strapped to her chest, Baby-Bjorn-and-John style, snapped five shots (which were only from the second half of the wave, when she realized it was me), concluded that the blazing sun would turn our son into a fried camaron, and left five minutes later.

In my own defense (if anybody is wondering why I'm not throwing buckets or even thimbles off the back of this screamer): I had forgotten how fast my quad goes when slotted on a glassy wall. I'm not going to lie to you, I was hanging on for dear life and my knees were rattling like an epileptic Elvis Presley. Oh, that and the fact that I really don't know how to hit the lip without ending up somewhere behind the wave or headfirst in the trough... It was fun though. About 100 yards of racetrack that had my heart pumping out of my chest from the late drop to the nerve-racked kickout near the sand.

I can tell you this: I wish I had brought my new 6'7 down for waves like these. Not only is it tons more stable, but it seems to move in a slightly more methodical way on steep faces. I've only tested it one time, though.

Oh, and for my chums up in Oregon that think I never go backside, I caught a couple rights as well that were actually a little smaller and for some reason easier to turn on. Wish you were here.

As a side note, this local sponger I've been surfing with the past couple days said today was the best he's ever seen this spot. I guess I kind of am a bit of a swell magnet...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Mexican Board Breaking Party

Hola from Baja Sur! We're two days into our first vacation to Mexico as a family: seven days at an all-inclusive resort in San Jose del Cabo. The accommodations are a bit cheesy, but the food is decent and the beers are cold and there's a punchy beachbreak right outside the hotel that has been very good since we arrived.

Above are some pictures I took yesterday morning, before the wind came up. A handful of local surfers charge this spot with almost suicidal enthusiasm. The beach is steep, which causes a pretty dramatic shorepound that has the potential to take its toll on body and board. Here's a story:

Yesterday while I was taking pictures, I met to a local guy who had been body surfing. He explained that he normally rides a surfboard, but that he'd snapped his and was waiting to get it fixed. He proceeded to point out that the left to the north was better for tubes, and that he surfed a "new style" that wasn't about doing too many tricks, but just flowing with the wave. Size wasn't important to him, shape was everything. "No cords," he said. No leashes. You can see the little left in my second photo. By the time I returned my camera to the hotel, fed the baby, taped up a ding (thanks to airline baggage) and waxed my board with warm water Zog's, the wind came up and blew the surf out. I caught a few, but it wasn't great.

This morning I was determined to do better, so I woke up early and headed up the beach. The south swell bump that was predicted (6 ft at 18 seconds) had finally hit and it looked more like 10-12 foot faces that held up in threatening walls until they finally exploded in the shallows. There were three guys charging on step-ups and I watched them with my trusty 5'8 under my arm. They were riding all the way inside and pulling out at the last second before things got hairy. I'll admit that I was a little gunshy, especially after one of the guys snapped the nose off his board on a somewhat benign cover-up.

Then, trotting down the beach in a black t-shirt with a skateboard under one arm, a sepia-toned, crusty old Rusty under the other, and a joint hanging out of his mouth was the guy I met yesterday. He was hooting and pointing up the beach at the same left he had been so enthusiastic about before. It didn't look that great to me, but every once in a while the wave would peel perfectly in a teardrop-shaped shoulder high barrel toward us. The guy asked me for wax and I asked him where he got the board. He said he got it for $30 bucks. Looking at the yellowed foam and patchwork of ding repairs, I thought he may have gotten ripped off, but I handed him my wax and watched him quickly lay it on the old deck. We stood there a minute longer and he re-lit his mota, asking, "You wanna try?" I said I was good, to which he said, "No, try the waves!" I said I'd watch a few more minutes and then join him. Next thing I knew he was running down the sandy slope to the waterline and yelling as he launched past the first wall of whitewater, no leash to tangle his feet.

It took him about five seconds to get his first wave and he did it with complete fluidity. Backlit by the sun, he carved a few turns, the trailing wake from his tail curling up behind him into the throwing lip, but kept things pretty compact and in the pocket until he got nearly to the dry sand, where he hopped of and grabbed the board in ankle-deep water. As he paddled back out, I watched the other three surfers who were still attacking the bigger bombs to the south. One attempted a 360 bunny hop on the open face and landed it. I turned back to watch my new friend and he had already latched himself into another picturesque left, doing graceful turns off the top, inside, the wave hit some backwash and it doubled up, causing the lip to throw out higher and farther than expected. The guy pulled in really deep with tons of speed but the lip came down ahead of him. I could see his dark figure sliding along behind the curtain for a few seconds before it turned into a big foamball. When he popped up, he was in waist-deep water and he made a funny gesture at me, pulling his two hands apart. I looked for his board and instantly knew what he was telling me: it was broken in half. That was two boards in about 10 minutes. I ran south to grab the fin side and he chased the nose. When we met back up, he was smiling. He looked at my shiny board and joked: "Maybe we should use yours now!" His name was Jose.

I did paddle out about 20 minutes later, after things settled down a little, and caught three really solid waves. They were exactly where Jose had been telling me to go the whole time. Then the cleanup sets came and washed me up the beach, dangerously close to the inside section (pictured in the last photo). I decided to call it a day. The wind was coming up anyway.