Tag Archives: surfing
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.
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.
It’s that time again when some of us guys go down to the Katin Surf Shop in Huntington Beach and have Sato Hughes make us a pair of trunks. Sato has been making custom surf wear at Katin for over 60 years and there’s not a Catanzaro boy around who hasn’t had her tape measure around our waist and inseam fitting us for our baggies. This year Theo picked out navy blue with a Hawaiian print pocket and waist and I went for a basic sea foam green. It was great seeing Sato’s smile.
I surfed Malibu this morning. It was 3′ and a south wind was making it a bit bumpy but it was good to get in the water again. Afterwards, while I was shooting this tailgate portrait of Joe, Ned Evans parked a few spaces next to me. Our kids went the Westside Waldorf School about a hundred years ago. We see each each at the beach a few times a year. We talked about the wind, how beautiful the day was and how tough and sometimes painful it is to be a parent. We both agreed that it all sort of melts away when you are in the water.
I started shooting these portraits a few months ago. It didn’t start out as a planned project but everyone seems to be responding well to the images so I’ll see where it goes. When I’m surfing with my boys, I am usually the first one out of the water and most definitely the first one dressed. I’m usually waiting around while they get out of the water and watching them struggle to get out of their wetsuits. It’s pretty funny watching them hopping up and down in the parking lot or rolling around in the backseat in various states of undress. I usually have a camera with me and there’s always some grip stuff in the trunk of my Volvo wagon so one morning I clamped this small painted backdrop to the tailgate and took a few portraits while waiting.
Yesterday, Debbie and I had a meeting at Malibu High with Henry and some of his teachers. We took two cars so I could surf for a bit before the meeting. The water was warm and clear. The sun was out and it didn’t seem fair especially since Sam told me it was 18 degrees below zero with the wind chill in Grinell this morning.
While driving home, my Volvo sputtered and back fired up a hill with with one last push and came to rest at 25000 Pacific Coast Highway. I checked under the hood. The water and oil levels looked good, all the hoses seemed to be connected, and no smoke was billowing so I went back into the car and turned the key but the engine wouldn’t turn over.
I called AAA, felt old as the dispatcher thanked me for 35 years of membership and said a tow truck would be there in an hour. After 1 1/2 hrs of sitting in my car listening to an audio book checked out from the library and practically finishing carving an egg from a piece of wood I got up and stretched my legs. It was a clear day, the wind was offshore and through some kudzu crawling up a wrought iron gate I could make out Catalina. The wood I was carving was reportedly reclaimed from the football bleachers at Stanford University years ago. The bleachers were made from trees grown and milled from Leland Stanford’s personal grove of Port Orford cedars. The smell of the wood in my hand was good and strong and it blended nicely with the smell of eucalyptus and wild coastal anise.
When the tow truck driver finally arrived and put my car on the flat bed, I was sitting up high next to him in the cab he apologized that he hadn’t taken a shower and that he might smell. I didn’t smell anything and I thought to myself what the hell was a guy who tows cars supposed to smell like anyways? The driver told me he just moved back to Oxnard from Seattle where he was apprenticing with his uncle who was a cobbler. His uncle had a successful shoe repair business and he learned the trade from him but moved back here after his uncle died of lung cancer. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my car perched on top of the tow truck with my longboard strapped to the roof like the space shuttle strapped to a 747.
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.
Sam, Ollie and I caught a little afternoon glass off at El Porto a couple of days after Christmas.
I started shooting these portraits a few weeks ago. It didn’t start out as a planned project but everyone seems to be responding well to the images so I’ll see where it goes. When I’m surfing with my boys, I am usually the first one out of the water and most definitely the first one dressed. I’m usually waiting around while they get out of the water and watching them struggle to get out of their wetsuits. It’s pretty funny watching them hopping up and down in the parking lot or rolling around in the backseat in various states of undress. I usually have a camera with me and there’s always some grip stuff in the trunk of my Volvo wagon so one morning I clamped this small painted backdrop to the tailgate and took a few portraits while waiting.