Monday, July 17, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. It was a clean, windless summer dusk at Santa Claus Lane, the only near-town spot that would break consistently in the summer. We'd gotten used to heading down there to spin out in the dumping beach break and every now and then we'd get lucky with real waves. My first real foray into a personal style happened here. I'd drop into a wave, bottom turn, drifting up the face as quickly as possible. Once back at the top I'd stand straight up right in the curl with a little dramatic pause, necessitating a second, last minute sweeping drop where I'd try to climb back up the face before it closed. Imagine this all pretty fast; Santa Claus Lane isn't a point. After one particular evening session, the waves a touch bigger than usual, maybe a little overhead even, that first customary peak-pause often meant I'd be thrown, Gabe gave me that novel and still pride swelling compliment over a plate of tacos at Super Rica that he liked my surfing because it had a style all its own.

2. Years later I would be filming street footballers in Amsterdam for a big sportswear brand. On the last night of the shoot the client took us all out for drinks in a little Irish bar set besides a typically idyllic canal and I drank beers and whiskeys for a while, quiet and exhausted. The place was crowded and the vibe was friendly and a big black Englishman wearing a loose fitting white suit sat next to me at the bar. Maybe ten or fifteen years my senior, everyone seemed to know him and he had that kind of garrulous chin that makes grins even grinnier. "Oi, you look like another retired sportsman. What'd you do? What was your game?" He was talking to me, referring to himself in camaraderie and expecting way too much. I suspected he really was some sort of sporting great and I was stuck there, a few sheets to, and looking for an exit before I'd start lying.

3. Last Sunday I needed to drop off some errant sun glasses to a friend at a restaurant and walked in on a small party containing Bill Murray. I've had glancing dealings with Bill Murray in the past and he remembered my wife right away because she's the sort that charms the pants off off-kilter smart people. We sat down for a minute, returned the wayward specs to our friend in the gang and made to go. But Bill Murray just doesn't want to let people go. Tales of his eccentric, yet wholly, almost supernaturally, human kindness are pretty legend. He's a playful goofball guy who fully understands the cultural import that derives from the character that is, naturally, Bill Murray. But we have to go. And Bill Murray is sorta doing his damnedest to keep us there. Asking us questions, talking up mixology, explaining his favorite cars. But my three year old is getting antsy. And we have to go to the grocery store. And I gotta get my house ready for a barbecue that night. I let this last one slip. Bill Murray, ever watchful for his moment to pounce, says "Hey! You want some hotdogs? They make great Chicago style hot dogs here!" I don't hesitate, because who doesn't want some extra hot dogs for a barbecue? "How many?" Bill Murray asks. "Six!" I respond. Bill Murray marches into the kitchen and asks for six Chicago style hot dogs to be made up right away. And I realize he means for me to eat them, right then and there. That's Bill Murray.

4. There is always a moment at the beginning of Beat It when I think it's gonna be Roxanne.

5. I think it's safe to say that at the heart of the human experience is the hope for acceptance, inclusion, appreciation. Generally, people want to feel as if they're part of something bigger than themselves. But the opposite doesn't necessarily hold true. Our greatest fear, at least the one we trumpet, is rarely loneliness. It's usually things like sharks, line cutters and incontinence.

6. The latest entry into the EBNY Urban Dictionary : Diatribinous

7. A sign of the apocalypse or simply proving a tired adage wrong? After a lifetime of actively disliking cherries I am suddenly interested.

8. It feels like there is a regular mistake made conflating giving something due context with making an apology for it. Why can't we delve reasonably into hypothetical motivation, be it for an action warranted or unwarranted, without losing our ability to be upset about the thing? There is a growing disease out there which causes a refusal of empathic conversation about justifications for fear of making bad guys look less bad. The bad guys are bad whether you make them look that way or not.

9. And at my house we have a few rules. One of them is: before you switch off the T.V., set the channel to the tennis channel.

10. There is a moment, also mid-summer, when peaches make sense as the de facto meat in nearly any dish.

11. Yesterday I introduced my three year old's three year old body to body surfing. This morning his brain asked to do it again.

12. Try your hardest but don't let that stop you from succeeding.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happening: Jamie Brisick in Convo

Jamie burst upon my surf scene thanks to a handful of appearances in the late 80s surf magazines I was furtively sneaking into my mom's shopping basket. Burst may be just generous enough a verb to actually cover his real appearance in my life some 22ish years later. Chris Gentile called up from the Mollusk shop, saying Jamie had some time to kill and an interest in talking turkeym offering to send him around the corner to my studio for a hello. When I got off the phone with Chris, I was thinking "Cool! Jamie Brisick!" knowing exactly why I knew who Jamie was, just unable remember which. Which surf guy from my youthful fascination was he, his name like a clear bell tone bouncing around the inside of my skull. Once I laid eyes on him I could almost remember the very cutback from one of the Surfing photos. I think I probably still have those mags somewhere in a box. Anyhow, since that time he's impressed himself into my esteem with a strength I would not have foreseen. A true intellect, a very good writer, a fine surfer and a lovely person, I am sure this is an event not to miss.

"We are proud to be presenting Jamie Brisick, a prolific contributor to the culture of surfing, for an evening of surf literature, film, and photography. Jamie Brisick has spent more than four decades deeply immersed in surfing, first as a professional surfer in the '80s and '90s, and since then as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. An author of several books, an editor of international surf magazines, and a Fulbright scholar, he is an astute observer of the culture. In conversation with Chris Gentile, founder of Pilgrim Surf + Supply, and through a selection of his photographs, Jamie will discuss his life in surfing, as well as show excerpts from a few of his favorite surf films, which include Jack McCoy's Stormriders, Greg Schell's Chasing the Lotus, and Alby Falzon's Morning of the Earth." 

Read more about the event and buy tickets here.

Monday, June 5, 2017


This Week In Not Surfing

1. Head High Hammonds Reef, early to mid nineties, the old, heavy red 9'6" single fin. Springtime. A good crowd was out, and I can't remember whether the tide was pushing or pulling. For some reason I was riding without a leash and lost the board to the shore. After retrieving it, paddling out felt funny and I flipped the board over to find the fin box had cracked, fin gone. It was such a beautiful early evening and I was surfing well, maybe the best I'd yet surfed. I had North Shore fresh in my mind and I figured I'd give it the old Chandler go, sans fin. After spinning and kooking for a couple waves, a local heavy paddled up and inquired after my fitness to surf the break. I flipped the board over, his eyes got a little wide and with a laugh he said "take the next one," a fresh set popping up. In that one ride it all came together. The foot drag, the hand dig, the subtle shimmy slippage, a long ride and finally the 360 ending in a whooping face plant. The heavy would provide cover for me the rest of the evening.

2. Slightly Overhead Mira Mar, early to mid nineties, probably the old Cactus Mexican popout three finned hybrid 8'11". Yes, slightly overhead at Mira Mar. The break getting crowded and Hammonds looking like it was really working, Ian and I start to paddle up past the mansions when a clean up set appears out of nowhere with the two of us somehow in the perfect spot. We both drop in and weave back and forth, hopscotching across the face, passing all the gassers, all the way to the beach.

3. Knee High Refugio, 1997, a borrowed 60's single fin plank. Mid romance, a month before getting married. I'd been watching this older guy struggling with the board for a while and when he finally paddled in, I asked him if I could give it a go. After about 45 minutes of truly magical fun I returned the board and the guy asks, "are you a pro?" This moment was perhaps the height of my surfing hubris, at knee high. A few months on and I'd be sitting in the somewhat scarier swell at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, pissing in my suit, wondering where I could find that guy.

4. North County San Diego, a handful of years ago, Whitney's hybrid Leucadia 9'0". Surfing between San Onofre, Grannie & Papa's in Carlsbad and Swami's for about a week over the winter holidays I magically find my groove again. Deeper-than-they-should-be cutbacks, easy foot fiddling and lots of nose time on a board certainly not made for it. I haven't felt as proficient since.

5. In between there were lots of silly moments. A few trips where I underperformed to the point of questioning my memory. There were some fun days in Montauk. At Gilgo. At Smith Point. A few good waves in Saladita, a handful of great sessions at C Street. One or two waves in Puerto Rico. A good day in Rockaway. Lotsa mornings at Old Mans. Some fun days between Washington and Laurelton.

6. A couple years ago, on a shoot for Nike in Long Beach south of L.A. I show up at Ian's house in Torrance for an early surf off the Esplanade. Knee high, at best. Wavestorms. The water is unseasonably warm, incredibly clear. My ankle is killing me. Ian's knee is killing him. The waves are small, short and foolishly fun.

7. There was that one time I opened solo for a band at that big music hall on Bowery and played Radiohead's Creep on the ukulele. It seemed like a packed house. As far as I know this was the first time anyone had played Creep on the ukulele. I'd never heard it done anyhow. This was before the hipster ukulele craze. I also played the Happy Birthday song. That brought the house down.

8. There was that time I was flipping through the kung fu magazine in the editor's suite while waiting for a render, finding an ad for "Fei Yue" kung fu shoes for ten bucks. I ordered two pairs in different sizes over the phone. As far as I know I was the first person to buy those kung fu shoes for purely fashion purposes. After a couple months of regular wear around Williamsburg, I see them prominently displayed for sale in a shoe shop on Bedford.

9. There was the time I told the "Clown Joke" to warm up the crowd at an IPO party for some website at a big event hall in Dog Patch in the late nineties. I'm not sure how many people were there. A thousand? More? When I finished the joke, ten people laughed. They laughed hard.

10. True stories, as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


That fateful day my hand drifted along the drugstore newspaper rack from the magazines of the nascent snowboarding industry to the magazines of the full-bloom surfing industry. Among few others, this man has facilitated a great amount of joyful masochism.

Today's Thought

Friday, May 19, 2017


Click the pic for the Surfer magazine article where I swear and inexplicably reference Dave Rastovich and Ty Breuer sounds like a grown up.


Photo courtesy of ©Christopher Anderson.... Click the pic.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


"The most challenging aspects of surfing? Possibly accepting the loss of surf culture as a pursuit of contrary to social norms. The goons of Dora’s nightmares have evolved to both un the game and buy the product and shape the generational script. Accepting that surfing is the most conservative sport on the planet and yet feeling great to be a surfer is challenging. Maybe the way I’ve gone Stage Left is a product of wanting to run a mile from surfing’s bullshit."

I have had the pleasure and terror of hanging out with Derek a number of times over the last few years, an odd and unforeseeable honor. His cranky, acerbically honest spitfire writing was one of the things that initially yanked my attention away from other pursuits (read mountain stuff) in the late 80's early 90's. He is that voice of my own private surfy generation. 

"It’s humbling though, you see these people riding some of the best waves of their lives every day. Despite the low level there’s the redeeming nature of other peoples’ pure stoke which is generally contrary to the ‘meat head’ spots where bad manners and sense of entitlement reigns in the higher performance lineup"

Read Michael Adno's whole Indoek article but these two moments feel like they sum up a whole bunch.


It was the early nineties, Ian and I were regulars at Toes Tavern's hand shuffleboard table, specifically on Wednesday night's "Big Wednesday," when if you brought in your official "Big Wednesday" plastic cup, beers were half price. I had long, wild, shoulder length hair, a slight beard and a Central California mid-winter tan and over the course of a few weeks I felt the eyes of one beautiful blonde repeatedly scoping. At some point I got the courage to saddle up to her and after a few Wednesdays I had casually implanted the somewhat misleading story into her British expat student's mind that being from Seattle meant I grew up with both Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell, having spent summers fishing off Aberdeen when I wasn't surfing Westport. Let me be clear: she was out of my league. Not only did she seem slightly smarter and certainly prettier than me, but she was far more forward, and my embarrassment at having no place to take her at night (living in a Christian College dorm was not a sexy, or plausible, destination) eventually scuppered our budding non-relationship.

A year or two later, Ian and I would live together in a cabana in the hills of Montecito, working and surfing together and playing music. I remain a poor musician, but my ability to plunk out the baseline of "Hunger Strike" fueled more than a handful of jam sessions at various parties where the lyrics were changed to riff on the topic of Hushpuppies.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I stare at the keyboard.

2. I tell my wife I've finally figured out the title to the book I'm writing about emotional partnerships. "Studies in Comparative Satisfaction Economics" or "How to Guarantee Success in Dissatisfaction" or (the French title) "Un Peu de Merde." She is stone faced for a moment, then smirks, then is very quiet, choosing her words particularly and slowly hissing them out in a kind of staccato squeeze, "Pedantic, pandering, boring."

3. I am routinely thwarted at gas station air pumps. They never seem to work, stealing my precious quarters with impunity. And I don't have a pressure gauge.

4. We are living, it seems to me, within the near universal embrace of a delusion of degrees. To the left of me I see conservatives, to the right of me, conservatives. The outrage is outrageous, poured out in opinionated, soft bellied opprobrium that shoots past any reasonableness with which it may be too impatient to contend. Hypocrisy is evolution's wiliest gift.

5. Plastic bags stuffed in plastic bags, waiting for a purpose, haunt my kitchen.

6. The Lyft driver has a Turkish sounding name. He is Kurdish. He teaches us: "Tchoi," how are you? "Abashu," well. "Spas," thanks.

7. A woman in my neighborhood sings a song by Radio Head to the trees in the park across the street from my house. She twirls a piece of braided twine ritualistically as she shuffles from tree to tree.

8. WFMU "Wake & Bake" : look it up. A morning salve.

9. I meet a friend for lunch yesterday and we talk. I see him so rarely, I always feel like I have more to ask him without enough time. After we part I wonder that I forgot to ask him five more burning questions. There is rarely a silent beat in our conversation and I question if this exhausts him. I wonder if I am exhausting. No, I am exhausting.

10. This opinion article appeared in the New York Times. As Lentini is quick to point out, "It's far easier to surf than not surf. Not surfing is the hardest thing in the world." I'm not sure you shouldn't read into that statement further than perhaps you are. I don't take it the way perhaps you are taking it.

11. On that note, may I grow old in the sea.

Monday, March 20, 2017



It’s that time of year again to bring out your most creative and boldest designs. SMASH Productions, Picture Farm Gallery and BoardPorn are pleased to announce the fourth installment of the It Doesn’t Not Work Surfboard Show.

IDNW will once again make space for the presentation of experimental shapes to support the community of innovators keeping the art & craft of surf-riding design interesting. This is a call out to all shapers to submit their wildest and most experimental boards: thrusters, single fins, no fins, twin fins, bonzers, alaias, handplanes, paipos, slashers, mashers, trimmers, swimmers and as-yet-to-be-named experiments for display and symposium at Picture Farm Gallery starting May 19-21, 2017.

Share your work in progress, your masterpieces, and be sure not to leave out your greatest disappointments. It Doesn’t Not Work celebrates the journey behind surf craft design. We want to know the boards that are proven to work, the crafts that are proven to not work and the thought process that lead from one model to the next.

Send us your designs: Submissions of an original shape or a unique construction that you have built yourself. Extra points if you've built more than one, have revised the design and can show the evolution! Submissions: Go to It Doesn't Not Work Registration to submit your wave riding apparatus. Submissions end May 1st, 2017. Please include images of each entry and please be sure to include a description of the design.

It Doesn’t Not Work will be a weekend pop-up event filled with conversation, mind expansion, film screenings, prizes, and beer! The process of surf craft design is not one limited to the big machines of the surf industry, or solely belonging to the heralded masters of the craft, it is a living folk art on an equally democratic level. Join us in the continually evolving conversation between local craftsman and the sea… and the creations that relationship spawns.

About It Doesnt Not Work: The IDNW inaugural event took place in May of 2014, a result of some mental sparks between S.M.A.S.H Surf's Tyler Breuer, Imaginary Surf Co.'s David Murphy and Picture Farm's Toddy Stewart. A surf craft exposition that explores the process of the art & craft of surf-riding design, the event aims to discuss these experimental shapes, works in progress and tried-and-true formulas.

For more information go to All queries and comments please contact:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I look at myself in the mirror and realize I haven't done so in a long time. The last time I can remember looking at myself this way was maybe high school. I'm talking about looking at myself and really trying to discern what I might look like to other people. I try on a few looks I can remember I might throw at my kids, my wife or a co-worker. Surprise. Disbelief. Confusion. Each expression looks unfamiliar to me.

2. Two weeks ago I hit a point in my clothing cycle when most my shoes gave up on me. I just looked at them all and they all looked back apologetically, shrugging their shoulders.

3. Questions:
A) Do you use your windshield wipers sparingly or do you just flick them on, letting them flap away?
B) Do you try to avoid using a shopping cart at all costs, filling up the little basket to the point of discomfort?
C) When making your child's bed, do you take extra time to carefully arrange his/her stuffed animals so no one feels left out or lonely?
D) Do you find the seeming uselessness of laundry lint galling?

4. My younger child plays an uncanny resemblance to those baby pandas in the baby panda videos people send around on Facebook. The videos where the baby pandas cling to the zoo keeper, turn over the baskets full of gathered leaves and generally disrupting any attempt to make their life more orderly. My older son plays a decent mimic of those sloth videos.

5. I firmly believe that nine out of ten dogs operate on the spectrum.

6. I think there were some ridable surfboard riding waves in the greater New York urban area today. The surfboard shaper guys across the hall from my studio had what looked like a wet wet suit in the bed of their truck. I haven't surfed since the last time I surfed, and that certainly wasn't today.