Thursday, November 3, 2011

We set sail

We set sail on the 15th of September in 2012. It was only a week before my 40th birthday and the election was still almost two months away but it was clear what was going to happen. It was clear to most of us at least. Or so we thought. The morning was crisp and there were stars still visible in the sky as dawn began slowly in the east. A massive fog bank sat just a few miles off the coast, between us and the islands. I remember, as I guided The Experience out of her slip, thinking that it was perfect – to be sailing into that fog. On one level it was symbolic of what we were doing – sailing off into the unknown, that big grey area of human experience. We were leaving our safe and solid homes and heading south. We had come to realize that our homes were not as safe or as solid as we had always thought they were. We had grown up in a bubble, and now the bubble was about to burst and we were floating. We weren’t going to wait to be victims of whatever happened back on the mainland, we had tied our destiny, quite literally, to the wind. On a more practical level the fog was an easily attainable goal that I had set my sights on as we motored out of Santa Barbara harbor and prepared to hoist the main sail. We had only to race the two or three miles to its grey womb and we would be invisible. We would easily be there before the light came up. Of course, The Experience would still show up on radar, but none of the coast guard guys would be very keen on chasing a small boat through fog this thick at 5am. There was only one boat assigned to patrol at this hour anyway and there was no way that we could be distinguished from the several other day trippers that were leaving the harbor at the same time. Jeff had been the one who insisted on the name change for our boat. She had been The Santa Rosa for more than ten years. He had said that this should be a fresh beginning in all ways and that the new name symbolized a new way to relate to the world. Sometimes I thought that Jeff was a visionary, and other times it seemed that he had smoked a little too much ganja to make sense anymore. The boat’s name change would turn out to be a little of both. The outer harbor buoy slid past on the starboard, silently playing along with our ruse, as the main sail filled gently with warm offshore breeze. You can almost bet on offshore wind this time of year in California. It made for an easy time out and a tough sail back in if it blew hard enough. But we weren’t going to have to worry about that. I took a long last swig of the coffee I had brought from our empty house and nursed for the last two hours. It was cold and felt like poison in my stomach. Alice came up from below where she had been stowing our belongings in the fore cabin. She scanned the gentle pink light rimming the mountains to the south-east and seemed to relax some, leaning back against the hull. She had one of those ageless faces. She still looked like the girl I had met on the grass at the Shoreline Amphitheater, dancing in circles, all those years ago. I couldn’t imagine her getting older. As I watched the light turn on the side of her face, she looked at me as if to check and see if everything was alright. “Coast is clear,” I called back, smiling.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Well, it has been a week...

Darin and Michelle were an interesting couple. Michelle had a daughter from a previous relationship. Alla was four and an angel. To Michelle I think Alla was a responsibility that she was in constant struggle to remind herself that she had chosen. Darin was at least twenty years older than her and a great guy by my count. He was loaded rich and owned a house the size of a small palace on the top of the hill behind the botanic gardens. Alla was one lucky girl, and so was Michelle.
They had thrown a Christmas party that year, the year it all fell apart. The second Obama administration was a little more than a month away and although the crash was obviously coming, appearances had not changed. It was business as usual. I had met Emily downtown before the party and we called a cab to take us up the hill. As I look back I realize that this event perfectly represents the America that we all knew and loved, but that was sick at the center. The America of total gluttony and beautiful overindulgence. The America of pure individual pursuit. Really not so different from the way it all ends. Just without the food riots.
I had never been up to Darin’s house before. I knew that he was well off. It was a hot topic of gossip among the girls. Jealous commentary about disgusting sex with old men mostly. It didn’t bother me at all. They were both getting something out of it. This is the way most marriages operate, it was just easier to see from the outside in this case. I guess the first thing that made me take notice was the mile long driveway. It just kept going and going, winding around the hill till we were at the top, in front of one of those Santa Barbara monstrosities that you usually see just a glimpse of through the gates in Montecito or inside of a real estate magazine.
Thank god Emily had warned me to dress up because we were met at the door by a kid in a tuxedo shirt and bow-tie, holding the door open for us. I swear I had seen this kid out surfing a dozen times or so down at Rincon. I think he was one of the carp locals. I think he recognized me too, but he just smiled and offered to take Emily’s coat.

more later...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

...this is the third post, but blogs are backwards.

After it fell apart with Sarah (my second wife- yes, I have fucked it up royally, or had a really good time, depending on how you look at it) I moved up the coast a bit to Carpenteria. It put me back in touch with the ocean and something that I felt that I had lost while being in Hollywood, something intangible. I saw the kids every weekend still. I usually picked them up on Saturday and then brought them home Sunday night. Truth is that I think that I chose Carp because it was an hour away and I couldn’t rationalize being any further from my girls. If I could have gotten further from LA I would have. I wanted to get as far as I could and in a way I succeeded. The little condo on the creek where I could hear the surf was a world away from Melrose. The drives to LA were the price I was willing to pay to stay in the girls lives and still stay sane.
It was rough at first. Kirra and Anise fought in the back seat. Sometimes it was sweltering hot. My car had no AC. They were tired. There had been a lot of drama because of the breakup and I wanted them to feel good about their Dad. I began to tell this story to them each week, making it up as I want along about a penguin named Haole. At first I began telling it to them whenever there was a dull moment or if they seemed tired, but after just a couple weeks they began asking for it and I had to start rationing it out. I would sometimes tell 45 minutes worth of the story on the way up from Pasadena to Carp and then another 45 minutes or so on the way back down with them on Sunday night constantly interrupting with questions asking all kinds of things. I started to do research so that I could tell them things like how the penguin’s feathers kept them warm. Here is how it started.
I think that I said, “This is the strange story of Haole, the most important and amazing penguin that has ever lived…
Think of the last time you were in the snow. Was it cold? Really cold? Did you feel like your nose was going to freeze? That is nothing compared to Antarctica. The Antarctic is the coldest place on earth. The coldest day in your home town is like a warm summer day in the Antarctic, down at the bottom of the world. So it seems insane, to say the least, that penguins, as a group, choose to spend their time pretty much evenly split between standing on the ice sheet in the freezing wind, and, of all things, swimming! Talk about cold! Talk about crazy! Birds like this must be prone to do wild and crazy things.
But, you see, that’s just it: they are not crazy at all. In fact, they are a little boring (not Haole, of course, but we’ll get to that in a bit). Penguins, like adult people, tend to concentrate on just one thing with a kind of dull single-mindedness. What is that one thing? Fish.

“Fish,” said Haole under his breath as he waddled his way back from the water just a few days before our story takes place. He was shaking his head and trying not to listen to the mindless penguin banter coming from the other penguins walking with him.
“What was that, Haole?” said the nearest older penguin, “did you say something about fish?” Haole winced. “No,” he said quickly, “I didn’t say anything.”
The older penguin acted as if he hadn’t heard him. “I was just telling Kami here about the silverfish today.”
“Hi, Haole.” Kami leaned his head around the older penguin and gave Haole a cheerful grin. “How’s fishing?”
“I was telling Kami,” continued the older penguin, “that there must have been a million silverfish out there today.”
“Two million,” corrected Kami with that same silly grin on his face.
“And mackerel,” added the older penguin.
“Mackerel are so delicious,” Kami was really trying to engage Haole in a conversation.
Haole winced again and slowed down to try and get the older penguin between them as he had been before.
The older penguin saw Haole’s expression as he did this. “Is there something wrong, Haole?” he asked.
Haole looked frustrated. “It’s just that all you ever talk about is fish,” Haole blurted out.
The older penguin cleared his throat as if he was going to argue with young Haole, but then he caught himself (after all, it was true). “And what’s wrong with that?” he asked.
“It’s just that it’s boring,” Haole offered.
“Boring?” They seemed shocked.
“It’s just that it’s the same thing every time. You chase the fish. You catch the fish. You eat the fish,” complained Haole.
Both of the other penguins stopped in their tracks. You see, just as people tend to get caught up and myopic about work and money, penguins do the same thing about fishing and fish. Boring, you say? Well, I agree with you. Haole agrees with you.
As soon as Haole had voiced his opinion both of the other penguins turned towards him and gave him an incredulous look of pity that was normally reserved for small penguins that had recently lost their mothers to killer whales.
“Haole, fish make the world go ‘round,” the older one stated in an emphatic, matter of fact voice.

Friday, May 7, 2010

(little south swell pulse the last two days... sunburnt.)

Jeff had called me at 5am that first morning almost two years before. That wasn’t too unusual. Since we had met the previous summer we had gotten in the habit giving each other the surf check at first light. Whoever had gotten to the break first would call the other and report on the wind, tide and swell. Sometimes all that was needed was a “Get your ass down here!” howled as the caller hurried to pull his wetsuit from the trunk and start undressing. We had become good buddies.
I was usually the one calling, and it was flat, but when my cell rang that morning I knew who it was. “Jeff,” I whispered into the phone, “give me a second, Alice is sleeping.” I stumbled to find my stiff legs, lift myself to standing, and lurched softly for the door.
Jeff began rambling. “I can’t believe you’re not up yet. That woman might not be so good for you. The con has got nothing.” He was referring to Rincon, our local surf break. “I’m headed south to Shores, I don’t know what’s up with my chick. She was trippin’ on me last night. Maybe there’s just a pulse of that south left… she tried to tell me that I didn’t have any drive, can you believe that?”
“You don’t have any drive,” I stated in a whisper as I stepped softly from the bedroom, jeans clutched with my elbow, feeling along the wall with my hand to make it safely past the bookshelf where I flipped on the light.
“I don’t even know what she means.”
“She’s probably got a point then,” I half joked. We had had this same banter several times before. By now I knew the script.
“I know what is important to me. I’m up at dawn aren’t I? Isn’t that drive?”
“Are you in your car?”
“I’m passing Seaclif now.” He was just wasting gas, I thought, but there was an outside chance there were waves down south.
“Listen, you know what path you’re on. Don’t let her rattle you. That’s the real challenge with a woman. Be the mountain. Maintain consciousness.” I struggled to pull my jeans on with my free hand.
“I was in Ventura yesterday and I saw this sweet boat for sail. She’s a forty-six foot cabin cruiser. Double mast.” I could hear the car door open and slam shut in the background. He must have arrived at the fairgrounds. This was not the first time that he had brought up the idea of a boat, but this would turn out to be the one that stuck.
“How much?” I was only vaguely interested. A boat was an expense that neither of us could really handle at the moment.
“Fifty thousand. But she is a beauty. A real deal at that price… hey, there’s a nice little four foot set rolling through.”
“No shit?”
“No shit man. It’s glassy and about shoulder high… no, I’m just fucking with you. It’s flat. What a waste of gas.”
“I could have told you.”

We didn’t surf that day, the swell was dead, but Jeff did drag me down to Ventura the next afternoon to look at The Santa Rosa.
She was at the end of a row in the marina. Both of the boats on either side of her were bigger and one was nearly new so she didn’t look like much to me at first. The decking was weathered and even from the gangway there were visible cracks in the old teak. It had obviously been a while since she had been taken out and there was seagull crap splattered all over the deck, railing, boom and cabin. Cables clanged against the hollow masts of boats all over the marina as a stiff afternoon gust blew the smell of salt and kelp in from the channel. “Whatdya think?” Jeff prodded me.
Truth was that I didn’t think much.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This is a 2 minute version of the video posted below. I created it for a short video contest that SB is hosting about sustainability and the end of the age of oil.


more videos to come...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Island Trip

Here is a link to a 2 part video about surfing trip to the other side of Santa Cruz island.

Be The Light At The End Of The Tunnel!

Indonesia is on my mind. We can learn a lot from this amazing part of the world. Perhaps the most important thing is that happiness is not related to material wealth. This is not to say that money is bad. Money is only a tool. It can be used to do good or bad. Send me all your money - I will do amazing things with it!

So funny, the world today. So many people wanting to shout that the sky is falling. The economy, the environment, 2012... go figure... I, for one, have never seen so much hope in the world. Think about it. This coming year two electric car models are being released. It's possible to get one and then park a solar panel right next to it in the driveway. It's possible to eat a healthy, all locally produced diet. It's possible to be happy right now. It's possible to make a living doing anything. Tune in - turn on - drop in!

This is my new blog space, where I will write about my vision for the future and upcoming and current film projects, surfing, music, art, food and social consciousness. This has got to be the most exciting time to be alive. There are infinite possibilities.

I have been surfing since I was 9 years old and I see the world in surfing terms. Right now there is a big wave coming. The way I have always pictured it is like a wave approaching a point of land. See, as a wave travels across the ocean it becomes organized into a band of energy. The farther that wave travels, the more defined and organized it becomes. For example, in California, if a wave comes from a storm off Antarctica it will be far more organized than a wave from a storm only 500 miles off the coast. And so on. But these waves in the deep water of the open ocean can never become the beautiful, arching, peeling, pieces of magic that surfers live to ride until they reach the shallow waters and feel the bottom. As they come into contact with the bottom they grow, change, stand up, and become something new. They change form and break. In their breaking is revealed their highest beauty. They peel down that point of land as a majestic expression of the immutable magic of nature... and then they die. So wonderful how in their death is contained their greatest beauty.
I have for a long time thought of the progression of our society as a wave. The events of the early part of the new century are us first feeling, and then hitting, the bottom. I have hope that the wave will now stand up, change form, and peel.