Why I need to become a native.

If I could travel to any time and place it would have to be Hawaii in 1866, to watch Mark Twain try and fail to surf with the locals. Even if I’m overestimating the potential for amusement here, at least I’d be in Hawaii.

While on assignment for the Sacramento Union in Hawaii, a job which launched his career as a writer, the 31-year old reporter “came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing. Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea (taking a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell! It did not seem that a lightning express-train could shoot along at a more hair-lifting speed. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself. The board struck the shore in three-quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom at about the same time, with a couple barrels of water in me. None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing completely.”

He wrote this in Roughing It. I think it might be my favorite bit of Twain’s prose and I’m inspired to start exaggerating like he did on a more regular basis.

Wiping out and Cashing out

It was the beautiful, sunny, promising Saturday before Father’s Day at Sunset Beach, when I took a spill over the falls. It was one of those moments where you know you’re about to lose complete control of the situation and just say “No, wait!” to no one in particular, and then surrender yourself to physics. Otherwise, nothing too exciting happened. I did notice that there was a much larger proportion of surfer ladies out there than usual, representing. And no, Blue Crush has nothing to do with more girls learning to surf. Personally, seeing Kate Bosworth almost drown had the opposite effect on me.

Later that day I went to the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Ventura with my dad. We got there just in time for the Blasters, who played a great set. Phil Alvin was melting away, his light pink shirt soaked through with sweat in spite the air being a breezy 68 degrees. A few songs in, he dedicated the next one to “All the surfers out there who take the inside break instead of the outside break and stick their nose in the sand.” It was an awesome surf jam. Just for me obviously.

The Blasters, killin' it!

Since I worked on the PR for the festival, we got to hang out at the VIP tent, enjoying some free food and beverages, which greatly impressed Dad, while we listened to Kris Kristofferson. His performance was quiet and subdued, especially after the Blasters brought down the house, but since he has payed his dues in the world of Country Music he can sing everyone to sleep should it please him.

X. Someday I will drive north up the PCH playing "Los Angeles."

Last but not least X got on stage, and all the remaining revelers who hadn’t been paying full attention to Mr. Kristofferson rushed the stage including Dad and me. People got so into it, in fact, that the cops entered the crowd on horses to maintain decorum, not that I saw any overly rambunctious fans or anything close to a mosh pit. It was John Doe who ultimately got people to behave so they could keep playing, and they played fantastically. Clearly time as not been kind to all, at least outwardly, but they still got it. In the words of Dad, “Old people rule!”

This car also rules. The guy in the driver's seat almost makes this one of those Awkward Family Photos, I realize.

I Am a Birder

I did finally brush the cobwebs off my board last weekend, but when I took it in the water at Huntington Beach I mostly just laid on it and watched the pelicans. I tried to catch few waves but was gently rejected, due in part to the fact that I wasn’t paddling ferociously enough, I was told.

Looking around, however, I noticed few people were catching anything, unless you count the pelicans catching fish. Plenty of action there. I generally harbor a benign animosity toward birds, as I’ve been bit and poo-bombed a couple too many times. But I give mad props to pelicans. They are like avian ninjas. Plus, I think if any bird were to be compared to a surfer it would be a pelican. If you see the way they glide into position and then quickly dive to catch a completely bewildered fish, it’s sort of like getting in the right position on a wave and paddling super hard to get picked up.

According to Wikipedia (I don’t care what my teachers said, it’s legit) the species we see in these parts is the Brown pelican, which exists only in North America. It is also the only species out of the six total that plunge-dive. Fact about feeding: pelicans have to drain their throat pouches after catching a fish, and in the process said fish can be snatched away by another thieving seabird. I would like to know exactly what seabird is capable of absconding with a fish from a rather intimidating penguin beak. I can’t think of a common seabird that is bigger than a pelican, and so said seabird must therefore rely on swiftness and cunning. In which case, I might have to add to my list of birds that do not suck. Puffins and penguins make the cut, obviously.