Saturday, February 24, 2007

The surf is crap this weekend.

Yesterday I visited my dear friend, Louise, in hospital.

Being an advertising guy you work with a lot of people in a lot of different offices, as the nature of the business means burn out if you stay too long, and also,if an account goes wrong, you're out of a job.

Most become 'friends' to some degree or another, but few have had a deep impact on my life outside the business.
Indeed, I think my career would be much more lucrative if I had played that game of lunches, award shows, all that crap.

I was always too aware of the call of the other, and I was and am still working in an industry I'd happily see the back of.

That being said, sometimes you meet classic, wonderful people.

Louie was my copywriter over 20 years ago, and again back in the mid nineties we teamed up again, then as part of a "Threem' (as in three people in a team), so it was me, Lou, and Heather Rose (what a wonderful name).

Two writers and an art director. Work was fun.

Then the account went west, and so did half the agency.

By then though, a great friendship was forged though with Louie, Bruce, Kara and Mimi. I'd sung her girls to sleep, and Sue and I have had many wonderfully funny evenings, laughing at Bruce's endless jokes and one liners, or sitting open mouthed at Louie's appalling language and wicked sense of humour.

Actually, we're all pretty good at being appalling.

Today the girls are both Bachelors of Music, Cara in violin, and Mimi, one of the best little jazz singers you'll ever see.

Louise is a published author, and running a writing school. Bruce has piffed art direction (yes, he was one too) to begin a new career in photography, his great passion.

Just when things were going swimmingly, Louie is diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

She nearly died during her stem cell transplant. Into remission with hopes high, she and Bruce took her students on a writing/photography tour of Italy. A great success.

Now she's relapsed.

Yesterday I popped in to see her, to be confronted but her curled up in a little ball. Bruce said - Mick's here to see you darling - and she turned, smiled and started to cry.

Take me out of here Micky, it hurts so much.

By then I was sitting on the bed with her and said - Louie, if they let me I'd grab you by the heels and drag you out the bloody door.

She laughed at this and rallied, sat up and revealed a chest like a pin cushion, with bruises, tubes and bandages detailing a couple of weeks of desperation as the doctors searched for a chemo alternative that would make a dent in this miserable disease's progress.

As she sat up her nightie started to fall from her knees so I said - Watch it Louie or I'm gonna get a view straight up your fanny.

She laughed - Don't worry Micky, they've got me in a fucking NAPPY!

The old Lou was back and Bruce wheeled her out into the garden. It's hot (again), and as we stepped into the sun I began to think we should try and get some sunscreen. I looked down to Lou as she threw her gown off and arched her neck to take in every blessed ray.

I laughed at myself. The last thing she has to worry about is skin cancer.

We got talking about a lot of stuff, including death.

I'm not afraid at all, says Louie, I just worry about leaving everyone behind.

She's not religious, Louie, nor am I.

No one knows what lies on that other side, and I reflected inwardly something I've said to Lou in earlier chats, and have often said to the kids.

They've asked me, more than once, as they've grown older - Dad what happens when we die?

I tell them what the different religions believe, about Heaven for the Christians, Jews and the people of Islam, about achieving Nirvana after a long cycle of reincarnations for Buddhists, and my favourite part of Buddhist belief.

That there is an ocean of universal life, and individual lives are like waves that rise up from it, travel for awhile, before falling back into that great universal sea.

In truth, we haven't a clue.

So I say to the kids, two things.

Did you know that every atom in your bodies formed inside stars billions of years ago?


You're made of stardust.


And remember before you were born?


Was that so bad?


Well that's the worst thing that can happen.

Their faces relax.

And when you die, one day you'll be stardust again.

Be the best you can, treat people the way you'd like to be treated, and whatever you choose to believe, don't force it on anybody else.

Just before I left Louise got some good news. Chemo is working. Better blood count. No more dialysis. You'll be home next week.

You could have bottled her smile.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Just picked up some shots I had on an old roll of film. Mid last year we went and stayed at Allenvale, our friend's holiday cottages down at Lorne.

A more idyllic place you couldn't find, and a great getaway for us over many years.

Our fourteen year old, Joey, took his first steps here.

Allenvale lies on the back of the hill Lorne fronts, and is 10 minutes from any number of top surf spots... Cathedral Rock, Weeds, George River, and on, and on. A fantastic place to sit in front of a fire, too.

Platypus and trout live in the river that runs past the cottages.

This cottage, called Kero, is nearly 100 years old, and in the 70's was home to Wayne Lynch, who needs no introduction if you know your surf history.

Can you imagine a nicer place to live?

The other shot is a shot taken around the same time, pretty average Bells, but lovely light.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Whipped down for a quick session today, just got back.

Good waves, apparently better yesterday, and a red hot left at Woolamai, amongst a myriad of good banks. Paddled out to a mellow 3 or four guys then 'THE LOCALS" hit, talking it up, complaining about the kooks, and then doing the shut everyone out and share waves routine.

After about an hour of this I gave it a miss, paddled over to the less than perfect right across the channel, and had a very pleasant couple of hours as the wave got much better, with a crew that knew how to smile.

The shots are later, the left has one last stalwart on it as the wind swung cross shore, and I couldn't be bothered sweltering (it's 38C. about 104F) waiting to get a shot of the right. The right shown was another, straight out the from of the carpark. It wasn't bad either.

There's a swell on the way.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


We've all heard the cliched line, but sometimes you do find a nice stick. One fell off our almond tree a few years back, and something about it's shape resonated, so I whittled all the bark off.

It sat in the backyard for ages, got weathered, cracked, until one day the kids were driving us mad...

Dad we're bored, there's nothing to do, all that.

Right, we're going to paint the stick.


That's right, we're painting that stick leaning over there against the fence.

Aw, Dad.

So I dig out the paints, mix up a nice thick base coat of blues (cobalt, ultramarine, and maybe a touch of white) and off we go. Once that was down they each had a brush with the handle end cut flat, then we sat there, dotting, just like they do out back.

They loved it.

And now we have a Nice Stick, which hangs in the kitchen.

Another Nice Stick was owned by a guy who paddled past me at Estagnots, near Hossegor in France, one day in 1978. He looked very familiar, and it all dawned on me as he took off.

Miki Dora.

Hey mate, is your name Miki?

I can't remember his exact reply, but it was in the affirmative, and we sat and had a yap for awhile, until a set came and I started paddling for a wave. Taking off, I was horrified to realise Da Cat was behind me.

Holy shit, I thought, with images of a flying kickout and 7'10 of gunny Doraboard heading straight for my scone.

Miki though, had other ideas.

Stay on, man.

Well I wasn't about to swing into a big cutty, so I stepped forward, cheater fived on my 6'5" double wing round pin, and trimmed away, looking back at a bit of Mickey jive, as we cruised along a very clean little French wall.

Later on the beach, we caught up again, me, Mickey and my travelling mate, Rene.

Sat in his big, green, Benz camper while he told tales of Malibu, Manson, and all sorts of madness, tinged with a little paranoia of the establishment which I later came to realise was more that a little prophetic.

In the van was his little library, and in it was a copy of Helter Skelter, the book of the Sharon Tate/Manson killings.

Miki had apparently crossed paths with Manson back then, and had already told us how Manson had tried to get him involved in the Family, because of the influence he had over the surfing community.

Fat chance.

But Miki says take the book, just get it back to me.

Not long after, Ren and I headed into Spain, and Portugal, scored big time, but everywhere we went we'd bump into guys going, " Are you Mick and Rene?. Miki wants his book back."


Heading back to France a few months later, and the first break we hit is Guethary. Clean, 6 foot, two guys out... and one of them is Miki.

We paddle out.

Hey guys, you got my book?

Don't worry mate, it's in the van.

Two years later, I couldn't let the travelling go and I'm back in France, standing in the car park above Lafitania.

I turn around to see a big green van parked away aways.

I wander over and say hi.

He looks at me quizzically for a moment, and I remind him of the Helter Skelter story.

He smiles, we have a chat for awhile and then I went for a surf.

That was the last time we crossed paths, later that year Miki was in jail, but it's always been fun to think I've been hanging out, and hanging five, with Miki.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Art again. The surf was crap on the weekend and St Kilda was in gridlock.

Once a year the St Kilda Festival is on, and 400,000 people (I kid you not) descend on my suburb. Arts, music, fairs, buskers and and a truckload of people. Batten down the hatches and don't attempt to drive anywhere.

Thus no waves, even if there were.

So here's a little bit of a sketch I did, up at Angourie (Nat Young land) done sitting on Spookies beach a couple of years back.

Sue's hat is in the foreground, and I show you only this fragment, because it's the bit I most like.

Following it is a scribble in charcoal and chalk of Tom jumping on the beach, drawn from a shot taken on the same day. It's a bit scrappy (hate his foot) but in spirit it is Tom.

Maybe next entry I'll tell the Miki Dora story.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Life. Art. Surfing. That's what it says at the top, but mostly all I've written about, or shown, is surf related stuff. My last foray into art related, with my little assemblage of a couple of months back, was greeted by a deafening silence.

Every so often, I attempt a painting, my efforts punctuated by periods of inactivity as other things, like life, get in the way.

This effort, Trapped, came out of trying something new, doodling a bit, and showing the state of mind I was in at the time. Boxed in by work and just feeling the pressure I suppose.

I was quite happy with it until someone said:

Hey Mick, I really like that painting of the guy with the big nose.

Oh well.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The kids wanted to go surfing last weekend... after the South Coast holiday they were all gee'd up to hit it more often. Come the day however, and Joey, my 14 year old, pulls out because he's too tired from rowing all day Saturday..(new school, he's taken rowing as a sport and it's his first week.. I couldn't argue, he looked stuffed).
So it's me and little Tom (11, almost 12) and down to the Island we go.

Woolamai is good, but very busy, and the sets are pushing 6'+, and looks a lot of hard work for the little fella. He's into it, but I'm erring on the side of caution.

Let's go 'round to Flynn's mate.

But Dad it won't be big enough..

Trust me.

We get there and are greeted by this.

A very nice 2-3', some slightly bigger sets and 3 guys out.
You beauty, says Tom as he high fives me and runs back to get his... Boogie board.

Now this is a great source of frustration to me as on a skateboard he has a wonderful, loose surf style. People asks if he surfs.

Thank Dog Town and the Z-Boys for putting a little art into his heart.

He's ok on a surfboard, but falls back on the booger for comfort and wave count. Again, I can't argue, and at least the time in the drink adds to his water craft. Until then, I think it's still great to look across to a son or two in the line-up.

As it worked out, the crowd hit almost as soon as we paddled out, they were ugly, and froze Tom out, then the wind picked up, so we bailed and he went for a skate when we got home.

Until next time.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

For all sorts of reasons last weekend I missed out on a decent surf even though I was on the coast.

Family, friends, too bloody stupid not to read the wind properly. Sunday night, back in town and I check Swellnet and nearly have a coronary when I see what it had been like that morning, while I was gazing out the window and thinking it was too south west. Very grumpy for the rest of the evening so I decided to do an early and get some waves Monday morning.


Slightly bumpy but cleaning up as the morning progressed, glassy, light offshore 3-5ft Winki with some bigger set (one or two pushing 8ft) and not too crowded (for Winki). When you got one, a lot of fun.

Enter the Mick Magnet.

Now if you've ever surfed Winki, it's a very busy sort of line up. Most guys paddle out from the corner of Bells, around the Button (the old jump off spot until John Pawson was killed attempting to paddle off it in the very early 80's...another story I'll tell you later) and into the lineup. This puts anyone paddling out into the head of the line up. It is good manners to not take the first wave that comes through when you've arrived there and to pass it up for guys who had already been waiting.

No one's infallible with this, but most guys do try to be good. Of course when a really deep peak swings through it is understandable, as you'd imagine.

Once on the wave, it's a long run down the line, a good wave taking you at warp speed from Uppers, through Middles and into Lowers and the Valley (300+ metres and rare).

All the while spread through the lineup some very hot (and not) surfers are watching for an opportunity to pounce on a fall, or failure to make a section.

My session started a bit slow, a couple of short rides behind guys, a closeout, a fat one, all fun and not much bother as I could feel I was surfing ok and just needed to hook one that wasn't going to shut down and manage not to have someone in front or behind.

Sat out the back at Uppers for awhile, biding my time, let a few waves go to other guys and finally on the inside spot at and alone(ish) when a bunch of guys paddle out from Bells. Just as they arrive in the lineup a medium size set arrives. I'm paddling hard, and can see out of the corner of my eye a guy paddling up the face on the inside of me. As I'm pushing up into my take off he spins and takes off inside. One side of me is going "fuck it, he's snaked me", while another voice is saying "nice take off" and I decide to clear the section and get off.

As luck would have it I almost clear the section, pull too tight coming round it and get knocked off by the whitewater. Goose.

Not to worry and it appears the guy was too far inside anyway.

Shortly after, again out the back, waiting, waiting, a lovely one comes through, take off as it looks clear to my left, great wave, clean face and that perfect taper that spells fun, fun, fun!

Off the bottom, swing into a nice hooky top turn only to see the same guy (I think) coming 'round the whitewater.

Bugger. Out I get.

Five minutes later, out the back, paddle for another, definitely no one inside me, and I'm staring down at the same guy paddling towards me up the face in one of those "will he go left, will he go right" situations that ends up with me going straight over the top of him. I bailed (points for style.. zero) as he duck dove under me and no damage done. As I'm paddling back out I see him doing the stare and shaking head thing, which pissed me off.

I couldn't let it go as I'd intended to say sorry to him, but he clearly had the aggro's.

"What's with the shaking head, mate?"

"You're an idiot, pal. You're dropping in on everyone, you jump off in front of me (ouch) and now you nearly run me over.. you're a menace!"

Forgive me, but I saw a little red at this.

"Mate, the only dropping in I did was on you, and that was when you spun on me as I was taking off.
When I paddled out I let the guys that had been waiting get their waves before I paddled for one. You didn't have to spin on a wave I was obviously into just when you hit the lineup."

At this point it degenerated into essentially "It's the way of the world, blah blah, blah, blah...and that makes you a local I suppose", until I said " look mate, they're only waves, just calm down" and paddled away.

I sat out the back stewing for awhile, a couple of the real locals (ie live in Torquay) I know were smiling at me, and I told them what happened. One said, "That fuckwit, I nearly ran over him on my last wave myself"..

Shortly after I got a run of lovely waves that made up for the aggravation, and the guy disappeared from the lineup. I kind of hope he'd seen one of my later waves, seen I could surf (a bit) and decided to pull his head in, but that may be asking a bit much.

Which brings me to the "local" thing.

As a Melbourne surfer, I've driven (or been driven, before licence) one and a half hours for every non holiday/travel surf I've had since 1970, and I surf every week. I surf on four coasts, (West, Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, Down South) and have friends in the line up on all. There are very few places that do the "local" thing, hardcore.

What I'd wanted to say to my friend (after I'd cooled down) was that we're all locals. If anyone can be bothered to get up at six am to have a surf, they deserve a place in the lineup. Play by the rules, and be tolerant if they're broken, inadvertently, or not. We're spontaneous creatures, mistakes happen, accidents happen, shit happens.

A deep breath and a thought before reacting could make the water a happier place when something like this (me) happens again.

Oh, and this is what the waves were like.

PS: In a later post I'll tell you about sharing a wave with Miki Dora.