Friday, August 15, 2014

Quincy Symonds: surfer, skater, hero.

This is a great story, and this girl, Quincy Symonds, is one hell of a person. (Via the wonderful, spectacular, government-funded, nationally available, Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A small surfer makes big waves from ABC Open on Vimeo.

From the online article:
“It just doesn’t make sense to me, how she’s able to do what she does,” says Jake [her dad]. “I’m amazed by it. I’m really proud of it but, to be honest, I can’t comprehend how she does it.”
“She has no fear,” offers Quincy’s coach Anthony Pope. “And she just doesn’t fall off. She has incredible balance and her ability to judge the conditions and adjust is at a level I’ve never seen in someone her age.”
When the waves were too big for her to surf, Quincy took up skateboarding. As you’d expect, she took to a board on land just as deftly as in the surf. Looking over the edge of the 12-foot skate bowl as I filmed one of Quincy’s skating sessions, I felt immediately uneasy. But there was Quincy with her back foot planted on her board ready to drop in, with a smile from ear to ear.
She just loves it so, so much. She reminds me of my niece, who just can't ever get enough and who has no fear at all. It's awesome. The way Quincy's body moves that board around is so impressive. She totally knows what she's doing.

I like that her folks and her coach directly talked about whether or not they'll head towards competition - they seem to have clear thinking on that. And it's great that her coach knows that people can lose their stoke for it if pushed too hard, which he doesn't at all want for her. At the same time it's a bummer to know that's the first thing that comes to mind for us all.

But for now, she's stoked and she has all the encouragement and support possible so she can get in the surf and to go skating, which is so great to see.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Einstein was a surfer

Um, WHY have I never heard of this song before? Did it do the blog rounds last year when it was released and I wasn't paying attention? Having missed this song, I feel... inadequate. Not that the song is great, but conceptually... AMAZING!

And the photo Jimmy Buffet is talking about is real and here it is!

And here is a bonus Einstein sporting shorts and a devil may care attitude!

Now, LYRICS!! With the obviously winning lines being 'Cause the universe was his home break/And we’re still all paddlin’ out'.


There’s a photo of a genius
Standing by the ocean
In a pea coat and cool hat
In 1943

On a beach in Santa Barbara
He’s looking quite contented
His world is only matter
And energy

Past the Channel Islands
Out into the cosmos
There are worlds in motion
That only he can see

He’s smiling as he’s thinking
The harbor lights are blinking
He’s the smartest cookie
Ever was, ever will be

Einstein was a surfer
There really is no doubt
Cause the universe was his home break
And we’re still all paddlin’ out

On an iceberg off Newfoundland
A lyric sits half-frozen
Waiting for a comet
To crash into the sea

It’s drifting towards the tropics
And melting into topics
Fills the sea with answers
That have always worked for me

Bass notes from the chasm
At speeds that we can’t fathom
Music is the language
Of the near and distant stars

Black holes humming b-flat
Heard only by street cats
Astronauts in orbit
And singers in the bars

Einstein was a sailor
With a universal song
His sails were tight, his course was right
So let’s just all cruise along

Order to disorder
It’s the way we all fly
Light speed is all you need
To pass the future by

There’s a YouTube of a genius
Gliding over liquid
Sultan of the short board
In two thousand and ten

He looks like Valentino
Moving like neutrinos
To the oceans in the heavens
Where no wave rider’s been

Einstein was a surfer
Who found the perfect break
Where the strings of time
Meet the final chime
It’s the path all surfers take


And since we're talking about Jimmy Buffet (and since my unsuccessfully searching for it on iTunes was the catalyst for this post, and since I live alone and am about to play and dance about my house anyway), it would be remiss of me not to play this song:

Monday, August 11, 2014

When should a blanket just be a blanket?

I just wrote a really long post about the focus on the small-scale production of bespoke items in surfing culture at the moment. There's a pretty solid niche brand, handmade, homemade, up-cycling vibe in surfing culture at the moment, and it's great and I see lots of lovely things and I even purchase some of these things (especially swimwear). A lot of the time, this is about owning something unique or individualised or local, which is based on the use of small-run or second hand fabrics, many of which are sourced from jaunts to second hand stores. I wrote how great this is - financially, ethically and aesthetically. I was trying to set a tone for my point which would reflect that I like this DIY-esque approach, while allowing me to admit that I've got a bone to pick about one aspect of it. But instead of dancing around the issue, I've decided get straight to my point, which is this:

Can everyone please stop cutting up woollen blankets to make surfboard covers. 

Currently, down here in the southern hemisphere, it's winter, which means that even in the most temperate places it gets really cold at night. Cold, which can in part be staved off by owning woollen blankets, which are expensive to buy new, but much more affordable if you buy them second hand. So I'm suggesting that those blankets could be put to better use. I mean, do our surfboards really need to be covered in cut up woollen blankets? Aren't there a bunch of other options that are less... useful?

The reason for all this is thinking about low income earners and homelessness and winter and being cold. For example, I just looked up the stats for homelessness in Australia based on the 2011 census (the 2013 numbers aren't available yet). I want to clarify that homelessness is not just about sleeping on the street, or not having family. Women and children escaping domestic violence partners are often homeless for a while. People in between affordable accommodation and teenagers kicked out of home who find themselves couch surfing are homeless. I just don't want to you to think that I'm going all out with a street-life assumption of what homelessness is. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it's not. But often being homeless - despite ho it manifests - can also mean replying on others for things like, for example, bedding. 

So, stats. Did you know that 1 in 200 people are homeless in Australia?
  • NSW 28,190 (40.8 people per 10,000) +20.4% since 2006
  • VIC 22,789 (42.6 people per 10,000) +20.7 since 2006
  • QLD 19,838 (48.5 people per 10,000) -5.1% since 2006
  • SA 5,985 (37.5 people per 10,000) +1.4% since 2006
  • WA 9,592 (42.8 people per 10,000) +1.1% since 2006
  • TAS 1,579 (31.9 people per 10,000) +32.9% since 2006
  • NT 15,479 (730.7 people per 10,000) -7.8% since 2006
  • ACT 1,785 (50 people per 10,000) +70.6% since 2006
And do you know what kind of accommodation they're living in? No, I didn't either.
  • Improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out 6%
  • Supported accommodation for the homeless 20%
  • Staying temporarily with other households 17%
  • Boarding houses 17%
  • Other temporary lodging 1%
  • “Severely” overcrowded dwellings 39%
You can check them out in more detail at Homelessness Australia

But my 'please-don't-use-blankets-to-make-boardbags-because-people-legitimately-need-them' point is not just based on homelessness. It's also about those who are on a low income. I mean, people who earn the least usually can't afford the best quality housing or heating, so access to cheaper, quality, second-hand, woollen blankets seems to me a cosy if imperfect thing to consider. It's what I would consider.

I'm not trying to have a go at anyone. I don't think that it's about anyone doing the wrong thing, and maybe all those blankets are coming from other places. But even if they are, if they're not needed by your friends and family, maybe donate them to someone, or a local organisation that will distribute them. Because when I see people using second-hand wool blankets up to make covers for expensive surfboards, I just think... no. It's not necessary. In fact, I think it's kind of insulting. Our surfboards are fine. Our surfboards aren't cold. 

In so many ways, up-cycling fabrics is a really great idea - please continue! - but maybe not everything needs to turned into something else. Maybe a blanket can just be... a blanket.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Well, he could write.

This second line about writing from Ernest Hemmingway just made me laugh out loud:
"No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over."
Love, love, love it. Also, I reckon I might be pretty guilty of this. Hemmingway would have hated the way I write.

Friday, July 04, 2014


I’ve been really, really wanting to go surfing. The days when it’s been sunny and nice, I’ve had to work and the days that I’m free and willing, it’s just a bit too wild for me on my longboard at these unknown breaks where I know no-one. Maybe I should feel shitty about not wanting to take such risks – maybe I’m meant to step up - but I don’t really care about any of that stuff. I don’t care if people think I’m lame or afraid or a wuss. I’ve got nothing to prove on that front.

The other day I looked and was dabbling in the idea of paddling out. It was wild and big and cold, but the fuller wide ones looked manageable and would keep me away from a total pounding on the inside. There were quite a lot of crew out there, and double that number standing on the sidelines watching – the place is like an amphitheatre, which is a bit daunting. I sat on the rocks and watched and wondered and hesitated. If I’d been with a friend, I wouldn’t have wondered at all. I would have gone out. My friends always seem to have more faith in my abilities than I do, which always gives me more courage and confidence. As I sat there, a guy skipped up the rocks towards hi car. What’s it like? I asked him. Pretty full on. There’s a strong rip that drags you around the corner. He didn't advise me against it, but he wasn't suggesting it was good enough out there to take it on either. I talked to him a while longer to avoid making a call on what to do. It's a knack I have.

After he went to get warm, I watched the floating bodies in the section I was thinking I could sit in and they seemed okay. They were all on shortboards too – bodies submerged and flailing, dragging themselves through the water, where I would float on the surface. I knew, really, that I would be okay. I can handle all that.

But then I hesitated. I looked again at the rocks, the steely water and the expanses of whitewash, all with that guy’s words in my ears and, well, that was that. I stayed ashore.


Monday, June 30, 2014


One of the things I love about the sea - well, about the world really - is the way it simply defies containment. We can make boundaries of and for things, but unless we work hard to keep them as we wish, they simple crumble away, or grow over, or spill out, or flood. That idea makes me think of parts of Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 
And spills the upper boulders in the sun; 
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know 
What I was walling in or walling out, 
And to whom I was like to give offense. 
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 
That wants it down.

The shifting, chancing nature of the sea - where the water line will be each day, each month, each season; the shifting sands; the currents that bring weeds, bluebottles, whales, warmth - all of it is far beyond my control, and that is something that I fear and love.

And that is what I thought about when I saw these artworks by Ana Teresa Barboza (via demilked).


In an interview (that includes many more of her works), she explains these pieces in terms of their craft and construction:

Both embroidery and crocheting are techniques that require time. I use these techniques in order to make a connection between manual work and the processes of nature; creating thread structures similar to the structures that make a plant for example. My aim is to create pieces of work that simulates experiments, aiming to reconstruct nature, teaching us to have a new and fresh look at it.

I like her points about this. But from where I'm sitting, what I see is the way that we can never really contain a place - not in an artwork, image or by building walls. And the minute that it breaks those boundaries the edges of things (of what we know or hoped to achieve) become less clear. They take a less defined form and fill space in new ways. 

I've had these images open in a tab on my internet browser for days now, and I'm not yet bored of them. Imagine one of the pieces of the sea in your home, taking up space that was never meant for it, falling and unwinding, even as you try to keep it hanging and in some kind of form. I doubt the weight of the thread, or the loose construction of the weave would allow it to do that, even as a completed work. 

Pretty awesome, huh.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Samantha Keely Smith

I saw these images on Facebook the other day and couldn't stop staring. They're the work of artist Samantha Keely Smith and they're beautiful.


You can see more of her work over on her website, and if you're in the USA (and in the region of the gallery over on the NE coast), you might want to check out her exhibition.