Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A very belated reminder to all of you who read this from Brazil or are likely to be there over the very special six days in January (20 - 26), please go to Jair Bortoleto's wonderful Santos Surf Art Festival.

Jair has rare passion and judging too from his emails you couldn't find a nicer, more caring man.
A photographer, shaper and perhaps an artist of life, Jair has the generosity of spirit and the energy to make other people's work a passion too.

Visit the Santos blog, and you'll read interviews from surfer artists of all persuasions, some famous, some you may not know but should.
You can even read my ramblings.

And me?
Last post before New York.

Wish me luck, if you see me there, say hello, and if you are a film buyer type, grab me by the arm and make us an offer. The pic is an offering of mine from my 2004 Telos/Nias?Hinako trip.

I just love the smile.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A lacklustre Saturday surf.

Only chance for a surf this week was yesterday and very forlorn waves, but at least had an interesting chat or two in the water. The swell was due to rise and arrived overnight... after I'd left. Today is pretty epic.

Never mind. Family time before I go away.

With luck over the next week I'll be surfing New York and Malibu. Now that's a novelty week.

The pics are Nixon's Nose between Winki and Bells, and the shadow of myself not even bothering to take a pic of the waves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

After last week's visit to the hospital I've been feeling pretty bloody crook, but not crook enough for it to stop me having a splash on Sunday.. Bells again but a high tide windy, two swell weirdness that had only a couple of guys out and if you could look into the chaos of gale force winds, there were these lovely smaller sets running right through Rincon to the sand. Pure fun and I got quite a few.

The Big Sets were a hoax most of the time, but just after I left the water the wind started to drop and I suspect later on the afternoon it was pretty special.

New York in a week.

'Twill be interesting if my guts hold together.


Shots...the Big Set, the Rincon Run Through, The Shorebreak Peak and the Sand with Splashy Bit.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What a couple of days.

Wednesday I had to go down to Torquay to have a brief meeting in the Quiksilver headquarters. Never been there before and very low key, art filled offices spelled a gentler company than I'm used to in the world of surf business.

Then a dash for an hour in the waves, that hour being a little frustrated by an errant north wind which, though offshore for many of our breaks, means an ugly cross wind at Bells and Winki, both of which had been pretty damn fine until an hour or so before I became available to splash.

Eventually though I found a little peak at 13th and had a fun hour almost to myself before having to head back to the office. Felt a bit odd while out there and while driving, had a nice dinner and hit the sack around 10.30, only to wake in agony at about midnight. Rolled around the bed for about an hour then got up and drove the little porcelain bus for another 2 before deciding hospital was the only way out

Snuck out leaving a note and the family to sleep and drove to the emergency ward where I spent the next 12 hours. Bloody gall stone attack, lots of morphine and assorted pills, x-rays, ultra sound and proddings meant a variety packed day through the drug induced haze.

They were going to whip it out but decided against it, as the pain finally settled as something must have shifted in the Minotaur's Labyrinth that is my innards.

So back to work today, a bit woozy and sore, but ready for the weekend.

Other Things.

I'm off to New York in ten days to attend the New York Surf Film Festival and show my scruffy head on behalf of Musica Surfica, and perhaps find someone interested in showing it on the American telly. Whatever happens it'll be an interesting time as I've never been to the Big Apple, four days not enough to see it nor will I have the chance really but I guess I'll be doing a lot of gazing up, up, up and going 'fuck that's big".

Which never happens when I'm gazing down.

Still, it should be fun. If anyone who reads this is there, look me up as I'd love to catch up. Ras.. this is for you.

As part of all this I thought I'd begin to write something about the beginnings of the whole shebang. Hopefully for publication, but me being me, I thought I'd test drive the first bit on you, who manage to drop by the blog when you get a free moment.

So here is how Musica Surfica happened... right up to the first wave ridden. Comments gratefully accepted, critical and otherwise.

Musica Surfica the film was serendipity on celluloid.

A happy accident followed by many lucky moments written on blind faith and the fates.

When Richard Tognetti first asked if I’d like to join him on remote King Island off the south coast of Victoria, Australia, along with Derek Hynd, a mixed bag of surfers and surfer/musicians, to play and ride some surfboards without fins, my first response was.. “huh?”

He’d called out of the blue, about a month after my first contact with him, that being an email from me flying an idea I’d had, a “would he be interested letter” as, if that idea ever saw the filmic light of day, I’d like him to do the sound design.

Why Richard? Why ask an Australian National Living Treasure, a virtuoso violinist who’s art is played out on a 300 year old, ten million dollar violin, to do the soundtrack to a surf movie?

The clear and only answer was first, he is a surfer.

The day of that email he called and we had a long conversation, we got on, understood each other, and the thread of a bond was formed.

His call a month later invited to me to an Australian Chamber Orchestra concert at the Victorian Arts Centre, and to catch up afterwards for a chat. “Derek Hynd and I are going to King Island, to surf without fins! Would you like to come and film it?” This is where I said: “Huh?” Then, walking through the cool Melbourne streets at 10.30 on a March Monday night, I began to ask questions. Later I wrote a two page treatment of what I thought they were trying to achieve, and what it could become. That treatment became Musica Surfica the Film.

Before I even began to get anywhere though, Richard said I had to meet Derek.

A week or so later Derek called me, we spoke for over an hour (which never happens with him) and then we arranged to meet in a little inner city Melbourne restaurant, to sound each other out. He was down to catch a Bells swell, had scored good waves and was to begin the thousand kilometre drive back to Sydney as soon as we’d eaten.

I was full of questions about how the hell you ride a board without fins, would they hold a trim, could you bottom turn, could you...well,... anything?

His answers were all... “yep”, ...except for the bit about could you do a cutback.

“Naaa, can’t really cutback, but I just head up toward the lip and do a three sixty.” Or nine, as I was soon to discover.

After dinner I was dying to find out what one of these things looked like and wandered back to his car on a dark, hooker filled Melbourne street. I stood agape in front of a couple of the strangest looking boards I’ve ever seen, not least because they were ridiculously short, so short in fact that they made the hookers miniskirts look positively Victorian.

Both around five foot eight, and pretty much reshaped knee boards with scallops in the rails, concaves and flutes on the bottoms, just subtle little experiments in drag and release. Derek had been thinking long and hard, and was experimenting in real time as he’s take a board home after a surf, scrape, grind and glass, take it back out, refining or discarding these strange little ideas on strange little boards generated in his strange, not so little mind.

Where these thoughts were taking him I had no real idea, but the scuttlebutt coming back from the coast was that he had been doing some weird, but very impressive things. To further confirm these impressions halfway through our meal a young guy came up to us, just having to compliment Derek on how good he had been surfing that afternoon.

Dropping backwards down an eight foot Bells wave and making it?

Getting tubed out there without fins or leg rope, and still rarely swimming?

I couldn’t wait to get to King Island.

To get there though required money and since I’d recently sold the family home to free up my life so that a dream or two might see the light of day, I had been prepared to throw, mad fool that I am, what I could at it. I’d called John Frank, of Litmus fame, to see if he might join me. A friend put me in touch with a freelance sound guy, Craig Johnson, who was to become a mainstay of the time down there. I got more and more nervous, wondering what the hell I was getting myself into, while I also marveled that it was actually happening to me.

And how would I ever make any money back? Stuff the money I thought back to myself. Things like this just doesn’t happen that often. In reality it had never happened before and could never, ever be repeated again, but I still didn’t know that, yet. I was on Cloud Nine, and didn’t really care.

Meanwhile, back on earth, wheels were turning.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra is a machine with many cogs, and one of the Big Cogs was Jessica Bloch, Assistant General Manager and a big fan of the treatment I’d written. She passed it on to a Board Member, who passed it onto his mate Kym Williams, head of Foxtel Australia, who passed it on to his documentary department who in turn decided they could help us. I suddenly had a (bit) bigger budget, and our team grew to include a producer friend of mine, Simon Whitney, who had a clue.... where I didn’t, and a mainstream director of photography. Tony Brennan didn’t have a clue about surfing, but did know how to shoot, and together with Jon they made a formidable team.

Two weeks later we were on King Island, and I was wondering what the fuck do I do now?

We did have plans, I’d shot listed certain scenes I wanted to get and my writing was all based around going with the flow with a vision of where I wanted it to all end up. With Derek running the surfing side of things it was very clearly, or it would soon become clear, really the Mad Cap Adventures of Dada Derek, as his deconstructionist tendencies nearly drove Simon mad, while I followed along, called waves for Tony, let Jon shoot surf from in the water and out to his heart’s content, and generally let things happen.

My God we were lucky.

Our first day at Martha’s, just hours after we landed, was high excitement for everyone. The atmosphere was electric as we unloaded the boards, boards so varied and in some cases, so damn beautiful, they begged to be ridden as, naturally, peoples’ internal visions of what they would do were, I imagined, spectacular and wildly successful.

When it came to the crunch though it proved to be wildly anything but. Wave after wave went by with fall after fall, until Derek... hit the water.

Almost the first wave he caught, a wedging peak rising from two feet to five saw him swing in a surprisingly tight trim and, climbing to its apex, suddenly throw five or six lightening fast three sixty degree turns before using the exit from the final spin to drive down the line and set up another display of surfing pyrotechnics.

At that moment I knew I had a movie.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday. Well at least I got a post in before a week had passed by.

Fathers Day yesterday and what a cock up it was.

My Dear Old Dad came down to Melbourne from his home in Brisbane last Friday for a funeral, as happens with unfortunate frequency as you get older. When you're 80 as it is in Dad's case, it's a bit like hail, banging away all around you and every one reminding you sooner or later one is gonna hit you on the head.

Sad duties but Dad's a Tough Old Coot and he gets though these necessary reminders of one's mortality with some aplomb.

Unlike me. I've got a funeral tomorrow, a former workmate who was sideswiped by leukemia last week. Not looking forward to it.

Anyway, back to Old Coot's and Cock Ups.

Because of all sorts of miscommunications, assumptions and plain wrong headedness on my part, Dad got the wrong idea and, thinking I had a full weekend with kids and stuff, 'made other plans' while down here, which meant I thought I had a free Sunday morning, ....which meant I went for a splash, ...and afterwards I took some snaps, ...and after that I had a yap with some mates in the carpark, ...and then I took some more snaps, ...and then I got in the car ...and realised I'd just missed a call from him, ...and then he turned his phone off.

For the rest of the day.

So the Roast Lamb Dinner for Father's Day was just us and I felt like a selfish dick head because if I had just called him earlier the whole thing wouldn't have happened.

Sorry Dad.

We caught up finally this morning and managed to have a coffee at the airport and hold hands for a bit.

Sounds silly maybe but I love The Old Coot.

Surfwise, very nice, fairly uncrowded Bells because the unselfish ones were at home with their families, whereas my family's present to Their Old Coot was a surf and I wasn't yelled at by anyone except my conscience.

Pics are, as ever lately, the venerable Bells, a guy about to get shacked at Winki, and the road out from Bells heading to Southside, with a clear indication as to why Australia's colours are green and gold. It's spring, and the wattle is out.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I wish I could break this one day of waves a week cycle. God I hate being responsible.

This week's serve was again dished up at Bells, which after being a tad quiet is awakening again with a succession of reasonably good days. My pull of the slot machine delivered a mixed bag as we had five or six seasons in a day. Sun, rain, lightening, thunder, off and onshore, cold, and well... cold.

Rich and I headed down at around 7am, with the ritual our usual of restacking the boards as I pile my selection on top of his Golf, then aim for Cafe Racer, on the St Kilda foreshore.

A nice sunrise so I snap the lighthouse out the front on a flat and disconcertingly onshore bay.

Permanently and purposefully inhabited by lycra clad lads and lasses getting their caffeine hit before heading down the road, Racer is a great pre-drive pit stop. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in kevlar peddling machines out the front, it's denizens usually well heeled bike nuts with the odd Tour de France nutter turning up occasionally. Amongst the regulars are some celebrity types, Eric Bana of Black Hawk Down, the Hulk and Troy fame being one.

As for Rich and I, at least when we go in they say "surfing again today boys?". Of course they flatter us. Boys? The last part of me that deserved the boy badge flaked off years ago.

Still they do a mean strawberry jam croissant and that and the coffee keeps me happy until I get to the caffeine inspired toilet stop once I hit the beach.

Oh to be old.

Then the drive down where we catch up on life and the kids, which usually follows the route of how well his little Louis has been doing, followed by me telling of how I've just bailed Tomas out of the lockup again and that he's being allowed off his chain at home every second Thursday. On reaching the Bells car park I spot Maurice Cole and dear Jack Finlay chatting away right next to the parking spot we aimed at. We started having a laugh with them, Maurice gives me the board I rode last week and says take it out again, so I don't argue. Then I spot my mate Morgan, who's just getting out of the water. More yapping. Just as Morgan exits stage left Bruce drives up. Bruce I met in Hossegor in France back in '78 and now he runs a landscaping business in Torquay, has for years, and lives half a mile, half his luck, from Bells.

Eventually I got to paddle out.

Good waves with a rising tide, so I headed across to Rincon and managed a few long runs through the bowl before my toes froze off. I need some new booties. Naturally by the end of the session I'd achieved waist down paralysis and looked a real goose on my last wave so I started to paddled in.

To top things off a thunderstorm hit, and I sat with a rather concerned look on my face as lightening pounded across the sky above, rain... rained down on us but thankfully no bolts touched the waves to par boil us as we froze.

A catch up bacon and eggs in Torquay with another old mate who I spotted in the line up and it was back home and over the bridge to a storm shrouded Melbourne.

The bean bag was very comfy that afternoon.