Monday, July 12, 2004

2nd Tour of Duty Begins...

Okay, so I think its been a little over a year since we moved to HB. But I pretty much haven't been in the water since getting back from Indo in early June (Bali burnout, if you will) and today really seems like the first genuine summer day we've had. So let's just make the call - July 12th - as the beginning of another tour in Huntington.

Weather-wise it was sunny this morning...a bit of a rarity here by the beach, even in July. It was never dead glass, I don't think, but it never got super windy either (paddled out at around noon). Saturday was gale force onshore shit...Sunday was calm almost all day...go figure.

Paddled out on the longboard todday. It's a bitch lugging that thing down to the beach on my bike, even with the racks. Then again, the racks are still bent and fucked up from when Keith crashed it. So basically I have to ride with one hand and kind of hold the tail up with my other hand...otherwise you can just see it trying to scrape the ground after each bump.

So anyhow, parked on the beach at 6th street. Typical summer weekday with tons of little groms running around with their red Jr. Lifeguard trunks and bike helmets with the straps undone. Not to digress, but has anyone else noticed this? It's funny, no matter what parents try to do to get their kids to wear bike helmets, it never quite works. I had a few buddies in elementary school (early 80's) whose moms made them wear helments. Well, I guess "wear" is the wrong word. They made them "bring" their helmets with them...which is to say, my buddies would leave the house, put their helmets on, get on their bikes, wave and smile at mom in the window, and then, half a block away would either take the helmet off and hang it on the handlebars, or get rid of it altogher by stashing it in a bush. Obviously other adults noticed this, so now it's a LAW that all kids under 18 have to WEAR a bike helmet. Unfortunately, no where in the law does it say the helment has to be STRAPPED on (kind of a key part of helmet functionality, don't you think?) In over a year, I have yet to see a single kid on a bike with his helmet strapped on. I love kids.

Back to surfing, the waves were pretty much typical mid-day, summer OC. Lot of knee-high cumbly closeouts. Every 20 minutes or so a few nice outside peaks would pop up, maybe chest high. Fucking crowded as ever. Must have been 30-40 bodies wedged into the north side of the pier. Things spaced out a bit the further north you went, as usual, but it was still pretty much Hands Across HB.

Didn't really recognize anyone out in the water...a few heads here and there that looked like they could be familiar. Fleshy man-child was out though. This kid has the size and build of an adult, but has the face and baby fat of a 14 year old. Real salty, slackjawed face...like a lot of HB kids, just looks kind of angry all the time. Normally I've seen him ride a longboard and he's fairly good. Mostly I remember him from some super flat days last winter on the south side of the pier. He and his buddy were paddling out as I dropped into the wave of the hour on my Dewey Weber longboard that a good friend had just given me for Christmas. I just remember him screaming from the shoulder, "Ride the NOSE, man!"

Fuckin' A...I can barely steer this thing and this kid is heckling me to go hang a few toes. I probably pearled. Anyhow, today the kid was riding a big fish...actually looked like a lot of fun. Big thick rails, twin fin...reminded me of Glenn's "Way Back Machine".

First few waves today were a bit sketchy. Getting back into the water after not surfing for a couple of weeks is tough. Kind of like getting your sea legs back I guess. After a half hour or so though I got back into the groove. Few late takeoffs. Few nice peaky sets. Got hooted at by another geezer on a log. This guy was cracking me up...had trunks, a vest, gloves, and a knee brace on. Plus, he had this big, powerlifter, stinkbug stance. Every wave he'd drop in backside, legs spread like he was getting frisked, race to the shoulder and then just power a big turn. Not pretty to watch, but he was having fun. Plus, he hooted my wave...and he was a geezer...so I liked him.

It was this one kid though that really cracked me up today. Let me preface by saying that in the past few years its become fashionable amongst the kids to go anti-gear. That is to say, go retro and instead of, say, wearing an expensive Volcom rashguard, they wear a baggy t-shirt out in the water. So the latest trend is hats. Not the goofy floppy Indo hats with chin straps that are MADE to go surfing in (there's that chin strap thing again), but baseball caps. Now, granted, it's always been somewhat fashionable to wear a not-made-for-surfing hat in the water. No one will admit it, but it's not really for sun protection either. Sunblock is just too effective and simple to cause someone to go, "Dammit, this shit ain't working...I need a HAT!" No, the hat tells other surfers, "I am good enough that I don't need to worry about falling and losing my hat, which isn't made for surfing and might easily fall off. Surfing is my thing, mate, and I can do all kinds of tricks whilst wearing this silly hat. Check me out."

So these two kids out in the water are wearing Volcom baseball hats. The first kid, well, I see him and think to myself, "Okay, it's noon...it's sunny...and while I'm pretty sure you're just trying to look cool, I can't prove it." Then I see his buddy. His buddy is also wearing a Volcom trucker hat, but his is OFF TO THE SIDE. Y'know, Ashton Kucher style? I mean, he's not even pretending his hat is to keep the sun off. But you know what? That's cool. I mean, I think he looks like a retard...as does everyone in the partially sideways trucker hat (which, despite what the surf shops say, actually got popular amongst surfers in the mid-90's and I'm thoroughly sick of it), but at least this kid is coming clean. The hat isn't for sun protection...this hat is to say to the world, "I surf real good...and I will do tricks...and my hat will not fall off."

Okay, so next summer I'm making the call - Vans slip-ons. Preferably the red and blue two-tones and not the black and white checkered ones, which have already been done to death, even in a retro sense. And please, these are not to be confused with Nike Aqua Socks. If you remember those, smile, and never speak of them again. Speak neither of OP lycra shorts, the O'neill "Animal", or iridium Oakley Blades (BTW, just how did those go from de-facto surf star shades to the specs of choice for mullet-wearing white trash so quickly?) I still, however, have a soft spot in my heart for Oakley Frogskins...the clear ones, with the purple lenses.

Bottom line, a typical summer day in HB. Gone to SF tomorrow, but will be back on Wednesday.

The Colonel says, "At ease".