Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Frog and the Log

Back in HB today. Beautiful day. Lugged the log down to 6th St. again...this time around 11 AM. Looks like they're already staging for the US Open, unless there's another quick and dirty event beforehand. Then again, it seems like there's almost always some sort of event either being set up or torn down.

For those of you that don't know Huntington real well, the boarwalk does this funny cul-de-sac thing on the beach just a few steps from the parking lot at 6th St. Anyhow, that's where most of the events do their staging - they pile up the scaffolding, bring the trucks in and out, the laborers eat their lunch and flirt with chicks on the beach, etc.

Considering how it's sort of ground zero for beach traffic, they actually do a surprisingly good job of not getting in everyone's way. Then again, the bike racks I park at are right behind it, and more than once I've been fumbling with my lock as some 18 wheeler slowly and steadily backed up towards me. Kind of like that scene in Halloween where Michael Meyers is slowly walking across the street towards Jamie Lee Curtis while she panics and fumbles with her keys, trying to unlock her front door.

So far so good run-over boards or mangled bikes, nor have I had to stab anyone in the neck with a coat hanger. Yet.

Waves today were pretty fun. Pretty much the usual knee to waist high crumbly walls, but maybe a few more sets than on Monday. Slid into a few fun peaks and even connected a few on the inside. Water is still chilly, but it's so warm and sunny out that I don't think anybody cares. Can't be more than 65 degrees, but everyone's out in springers and trunks.

Not exactly a ton of interesting characters out. Couple of older construction types with tats on longboards. Few 12 year old towheads having trouble getting to their feet, but then trying to do vertical backside smacks and tailslides. I'm not sure about other places, but that's a really common sight in HB. You see these kids and they can't paddle very well. They take off on waves and look like those newborn foals...wobbly legs and all...but then the next thing you know they're boosting an air on the inside. Amazing. Can I flip that around? "Man, I sure can't bust an air, but damn if I can't paddle and takeoff like a motherfucker. And you should really see me duck-dive..."

BTW, if anyone is in the market for a wetsuit top, take my advice - make sure it fits really really snug. I know, they say that about all wetsuit products. However, your fullsuit isn't going to blow up around your torso every time you fall off your log if it's a half size too big.

I know this because I have this piece of shit ProLite wetsuit top that I bought as reef protection for my first Indo trip 3 years ago. Why the fuck I bought a ProLite ANYTHING other than a boardbag is beyond me. Probably because it's black and looks cool and the inside is coated with this slippery slick skin stuff, so it's really easy to get on and off. Anyhow, that same slippery shit is also what causes it to stay permanently wedged up around my armpits and forcing me to sit up after every wave and pull it back down (not only is that totally annoying, but it's not exactly keeping me warm either).

So anyway, this afternoon I drove over to the Frog House in Newport to pick up a new one that actually works. On the way home I was wondering why I drive all the way to Newport to go to a surf shop. I mean, shit, I live in "Surf City", man. I live 6 blocks from two of the biggest surf shops on the planet - Jack's and Huntington Surf & Sport. The conclusion I came to is that I hate those fucking places. It's like shopping at the mall, only instead of 20 year-old girls from Irvine working the counter, you've got hordes of pimply faced little twerps with New York rock band hair, skulking around with backstage passes around their necks (what the fuck are those things? ID badges? changing room keys? fin keys for a quick paddle-out on their coffee break?), asking me, "Hey bro, can I help you find anything?" Yeah, bro, you can help me find you a job application for McDonalds which is where surly, pimply-faced 16 year-olds should be working in the first place.

This isn't to say those big surf shops don't have good stuff. It's just that there's too much stuff. Too many people, too many customers, too many employees, too many fucking mesh trucker hats, too many NBA style tank tops, too many Roxy half shirts, too many faded retro Ezekiel t-shirts...just too much shit.

There's just something about the Frog House that I really like. It's a REAL surf shop (Chuck Dent in HB is real, but it's too real...they got boards and, well, pretty much just boards). The Frog House has everything you need, for anything. They've got a ton of boards, a ton of wetuits, all the accessories and videos and even a good selection of clothes. It's cramped but nicely organized. Actually, have you ever looked at the building itself? It's TINY. Reminds me of that old Popeye cartoon where Popeye's in the desert and Bluto has taken Olive Oyl captive in this tiny little sheik style tent. Popeye pokes his head in and inside it's like this massive palace with waterfalls, palm trees and marble staircases. That's totally the Frog House.

Plus, how many surf shops have you been to where the owner is hanging out, ringing up your purchases? Once I was there and this young guy was lurking behind the counter trying to order sandwiches for lunch while I just stood there with my stuff, waiting to pay. The owner walks up to him and just goes, "What are you doing??? How about doing some work first...we've got customers trying to give us money and you're on the phone ordering sandwiches."

The Colonel's kind of guy, for sure.

At ease.