Category Archives: He Said
This is the final installment in the brief life history of the little maul oak tree I purchased from Theodore Payne Nursery back in the late fall of 2008 to commemorate the election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States. I actually didn’t get it planted in the ground until the day Hillary Clinton was sworn in as Secretary of State. Whether planted in the ground or in a pot, no matter what I did, I couldn’t make this tree thrive. I just barely kept it alive. Obamas’ uplifted face proclaiming “HOPE” on a decal on the back of my Volvo is now a faded white rectangle. I’m not blaming him. I think we all know how hard it is to get anything done today let alone with the lack of support he is getting with the loudest voices in the Senate trying to cram the entire nation into their angry time machine to repeat the mistakes we’ve made before. But wait, I’m getting a bit too political here. This is about my little oak tree that I envisioned, yes and HOPED my kids could climb, maybe fall out of and slightly fracture an arm, lob water balloons at unsuspecting speeding cars from, have birds build nests in and hatch their eggs.
Sadly, the maul oak tree is dead. I just put it in the green waste bin to be recycled with the rest of our compost to be picked up early Wednesday morning with the rest of our bins. So what do you do? You start over again. You get your butt out of bed every morning, wake your kids up for school and warm up the espresso machine and hope the things you do make a difference.
There’s a surfboard amongst our quiver that doesn’t really get taken out much. It’s a custom Gordon & Smith 6′-2″ swallowtail made around 1973. It was my brothers’ board. We picked it up in La Jolla on on way to the Hawaiian Islands from Florida for a family vacation. I remember we took the board out at Wind and Sea the afternoon we left the surf shop. I was on my purple G&S which now resides in Lois’ garage on the north shore of Kauai and my brother Allan was on this board. I honestly don’t remember how we hauled those boards all over the islands back then, but I do remember Allan stepping on a sea urchin near Kona and peeing on the bottom of his foot. I’m not sure how I ended up with his board. I vaguely recall him handing it over to me the last time I saw him probably 10 years ago. It was all dinged up and I took it to Skip at Aquatech who said the board is great and belongs on a wall. Ollie took it out this morning at Bay Street. As he was walking into the water one of the other older guys who often stand on the beach looked at the G&S then at me and said, “Nice board.” I told him a brief history while Ollie caught a small right. “Looks, like he’s got it dialed in already.” he said.
Rummaging around the “camera closet” for my old Canon 5d’s that I’m thinking of selling to get a new Sony A7. It’s called the “camera closet” because that’s where we keep the camera gear along with what remains of my comic book collection, my Corgi cars that my Nana Louise rescued from my childhood and returned to me before she passed away, miscellaneous science fiction books and other things we deem somewhat valuable or just happened to get thrown in there, I get sidetracked when I see my Polaroid 195 camera that I bought from Samy’s Camera in the late 1970’s.
We shot Polaroids to test the light, exposure, backgrounds or other things we might of been unsure of. Some times we called them Paranoids. There’s some film in the camera so I take my shirt off and go to a mirror and shoot a self portrait. It reminds me of another self portrait I shot in 1981 after my second open heart surgery in Houston, Texas. I had just met Debbie and couldn’t wait to get back home to see her.
Surfing is partially about texture. It’s about feeling. Feeling stripped down to the basics- you’re wearing baggies and a leash you’re tethered to your board. Smelling wax, salt water splashes in my face as Theo, Ollie and I make the long ass 1/2 mile paddle out to Tunnels and experience a true Hawaiian 6′- 8′ session. On the paddle in, my arms feeling like old dry rubber bands, flanked by my boys giggling, pulling on each others and my leash asking for a tow in, asking what’s for dinner. Back on the beach someone asks if there were waves out there. I say, “Yeah, we got a few.”
We take the road back instead of the beach our feet walking through mud puddles, pavement and pine needles. I’m pretty proud of these guys.
Sometimes it’s hard to hold onto things and they just slip away. Stored in our basement, covered in dust, there was a bottle of 1982 Chateau Montrose it’s label molding with time. It’s the last bottle from an incredible year. It came from a time from when we didn’t have kids, and had a bit of money to spend on first growth Bordeaux wine. Also in our basement is the tricycle which all our kids rode on, a play wooden refrigerator and stove which I made and various pairs of training wheels from our boys bikes which they won’t ever need again. It’s about timing. This bottle should have been drank a few years ago and I wanted to save it for a special occasion. I brought this bottle up from the basement one night when our friend Bruce was over and we were having brisket Debbie looked at me and gave me a look that said, “Really?”
Sometimes, when you are on the roof or the basement there’s a feeling you get. You are in a place that isn’t used too much and doesn’t get much traffic. The kids love going to these places. There’s a different point of view I suppose but there’s also a feeling of danger- like I shouldn’t be here. I suppose It’s the in between areas that we live most of our lives.
Yesterday, Henry said to me, “Dad. I don’t take no for an answer.”
I thought about what he said for a second and told him that there are certain times when you need to take no for answer. I said, “When someone says no about their bodies you better listen to them.” Henry didn’t know what the hell I was talking about probably because what we weren’t talking about didn’t pertain to someones else’s body but at sixteen It’s good to drop that line of thought in whenever you can…Which got me to thinking what he said.
What we were talking about were rules. Henry, probably like most kids, might have a problem with the word “No.” It limits them and sets boundaries for them.
We are raising a culture of kids who not only won’t take no for an answer but are reluctant to use the term, “I don’t know.” They’ve heard it countless times, “I don’t know is not an answer.” Especially, when you have a phone in your pocket which can give you the answer in a second.
We are all on an equal playing field when it comes with retrieving answers in the world. As parents might be giving our kids too much freedom- too much power to say “no” or “I don’t know.”
Continuing my Punked project with bass player and all around good guy Make Watt of Minutemen and Firehouse before a show at The Liquid Kitty. We chatted about San Pedro, the port shutdown, the Stooges and my buddy Alex Kirst while we ate hot dogs and he tuned his guitar.
I dream of Mars then Mexico. A screenwriter turned taxi driver. In this dream I’m playing pinball, the flippers not responding to my fingers and metal balls pile up like mercury at the bottom of the machine. Next to me, there’s a open packet of Chicklets and I’m shoving the little pieces of gum into my mouth. I can almost taste them.
Kurosawa said,” Man is a genius when he is dreaming.” What about our living dreams- our desires? Concocted, schemed and brewed in the complex factory of the mind and given birth and brought to life in the real world.
Day dreams seep from our unconscience and merge with a reality that often seems unbelievable.
I wake up. My right arm is still asleep. It’s tingling and it feels heavier then it really is. I move my fingers to bring them back from Mars and Mexico.
It’s Sam’s last day before he heads back to college. He asks me if I want to catch glass off with him in the afternoon. I tell him sure, but let’s wait until Ollie gets home from school. The last few days have been strange. Sam hanging around the house reading, visiting high school friends and looking for internships for the summer. Henry doesn’t understand why he doesn’t just create an App.
Sam is ready to go back. In a sense, he has a new life- a new home in the midwest. It probably feels natural to him. For us, it’s a bit more abrupt like a time lapse. It’s our new life with a boy who has matured into a young man.
Ollie, Sam and I pile into the Volvo and drive as far west as we can go. We paddle out and cut each other off with big smiles on our faces. Ollie is fearless in the water Sam always slow and steady.
From the beach were are nothing but silhouettes as the sun is setting. There’s a lull, and we find ourselves sitting in a a small tight circle on boards made of foam and resin. I’m nearly in tears- I just can’t contain the stuff life is made of as I paddle for my wave in.