Friday, February 27, 2009

Julian says...

Julian Wilson has been promoting breast cancer awareness by surfing a pink surfboard, which is great. I've read many articles where he has discussed the issue and his attachment to it through his mum's experience and I think it's great that he's been trying to do the awareness thing in such a fun and public way. Yay for Julian!

However, the much loved and admired glamour boy of pro surfing might just have gone just a little further to the dark side (aka, trying to impress Stab writers and readers so he can remain their 2nd favourite little surfer in the world after Dane Reynolds) with his latest quoted offering that was published in this story in The Courier Mail* about the Quicksilver Pro...

Meanwhile, the quote of day went to Sunshine Coast grommet Julian Wilson, who has won a wildcard into the Quiksilver Pro.

Asked about his decision to ride a pink surfboard to promote breast cancer checks, Wilson told the media he was "just raising awareness for the young girls and women out there . . . to check their tits".

Gracious - what a way with words the young man has developed! Don't they give these people media training or something?

Come on ladies, what are you waiting for? As Julian says "remember to check your tits!"

*And I am fully aware that The Courier Mail is not the most reliable source of news and information in the state, nation, world, but hey! let's go with this.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Natural beauty?

A few weeks ago, I was at the beautician's getting my waxing done...

As I lay there with my legs splayed, I asked the women waxing me if she ever waxes any men?

"Oh NO! I'd never do that!" she shuddered. "And anyway, it's not natural!"

I looked at her as she pasted the thick, hot wax down the inside of my groin, pushed a cotton strip on top of it and winced as she painfully tore it back off again.

"This isn't natural either," I suggested.

She blushed,

"Yes, but, well, you know... It's different."


Lots of girls I know hate their body hair, saying that they just don't feel like a woman if they have it. I don't feel like that. Having hair on my legs isn't really an issue for me, but I do know that other people judge me by it and are repulsed by it, so I keep it all in check more for them than for me.

With surfing it's an even bigger issue - imagine paddling out in swimmers when you've been lax with your bikini waxing? There's been lots of times when I've been walking to the water with girlfriends and we've exchanged "Don't look at my bikini line - it's feral!!" and giggled at each other! The problem can largely be countered by holding your board carefully as you walk down the beach, and letting the water cover the rest when you wait between waves. Well, that's what I do anyway.

There have been times when I've worn my spring suit un-necessarily to cover myself during a particularly ungroomed patch, although I imagine boardshorts (if I wore them) would be fairly useful for this purpose too.

The thing is though, that I like being uncovered in the water. I like wearing as little as I can get away with, other than sun protection, but I hate being made to feel as though any part of my body is un-natural! Nonetheless, I still go to the salon and get my hair rip-torn out as often as I understand to be necessary. I don't want to be stared at and I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable and, I hate to admit, I don't want to be judged.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Paddle, paddle, paddle!!

I’m a longboarder, so quite often I find myself surrounded in the water by, well, umm, older gents. And it’s interesting because they often tend to get all paternal on me!

I don’t know if there’s something about me in particular that lends people towards a kind of encouraging protectiveness, but when I paddle out, I often end up with several new dads. They give me advice, call me into waves and, in one particularly excessive display, PUSH MY BOARD INTO WAVES THAT I’M MORE THAN CAPABLE OF PADDLING INTO ON MY OWN! Which is nice. I suppose. Kind of. In theory.

I mean, it’s nice that they’re so encouraging. But what would be even nicer would be if it didn’t feel so patronising.

I have one girlfriend in particular who is a pretty accomplished surfer, but even so, she's just stoked if she can go for a wave, get back to her car, pack up and leave without some old guy offering her advice for how to be better. She just wants to go for a surf!

For all the times that I’ve seen women called into waves by men, I can’t really recall as many occasions that I’ve seen them do the same to another guy (except for one crazy French guy who sings What A Wonderful World at the top of his voice as he paddles out, but I think we can leave him out of the equation...).

“Come on girl!”

“Paddle!! Paddle!!”


“Nearly there!”

Many men appear to still be trying to negotiate ways to include women in the surf. They seem to find it hard to fit us in to their already established categories that they use to understand other men, so they’re trying to sort out how to understand and include women in other ways. Heaven forbid just treating them the same!

For the older guys, it seems that this can be especially hard as they have pretty set ideas about what women can and cannot, should and should not be doing, so I understand that it’s a challenge. I try to understand anyway. And I’m not making excuses for the behaviour that I’m describing – it’s patronising, annoying and often it’s degrading as well - but I can also see that a lot of the time the dudes get so stoked that women are there that they can over-compensate.

I’m patient and I smile.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It was summer.

It was holidays.

It was busy.

Everyone was competing for waves. Everyone was bitching and moaning about tourists. But one guy in particular, who clearly thought himself quite important and some kind of general surf-break ‘authority’, was surfing with a very particular brand of heroic arrogance, sitting with his chest puffed out and loudly bitching and moaning and carrying on and swearing at people, so that everyone around him could hear how much he hated “this”. He was a total downer. I couldn’t help myself and had to ask,

Me: “What are you taking about? What’s ‘this’?

Him: “All these people in the water! It’s shit.”

Me: “People? You hate people?”

Him: “Ohh, well, you know, when it’s busy like this. I hate it.”

Me: “Well, it’s Saturday morning at Wategos, so what did you expect?”

His friend laughed and shook his head conspiratorially with me as I paddled away...

Busy surf breaks are a reality where I’m from. Even with only the locals a break can seem crowded on most days, but throw a mid-summer holiday crew into the mix and what you’ve got is an instant party! Well, maybe not a party exactly, but some kind of major gathering of feuding people. Well, maybe not that either, maybe it’s just a surf break! But whatever it is, it really is a funny little dynamic. There are insults and threats being thrown about as well as flirtation and laughter. I’ve heard the older locals bitching in the mornings about the amount of young people in the water (“Don’t worry mate. The school bell will ring soon and they’ll clear out! Ho ho ho. Guffaw, guffaw”), I’ve heard young crew carping on at the older guys (“Fucking old man longboarders”), I’ve heard tourists banging on about the locals (“They’re so aggro”). I’ve even thrown about some 'screw-you' comment myself! In fact, I think it’s fair to say that none of us are angels when it comes to surf-break etiquette.

Waves and their apparent scarcity are the cause for all sorts of disputes, insults and small kindnesses in the water. And I love it. Not always, but if I want to be on my own, or just with my friends, then there are a host of options to choose from. So if I take myself into a break that’s busy and popular and heavily trafficked, then that’s my choice and I have to take it on. It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated, but in the end I try to reflect in my behaviour that it was my choice.

And anyway, I’m a bit of a voyeur. I love "this". I love watching how other people surf, especially in a crowd. I love seeing who gives waves away and who weaves through the beginners and who insists on taking everything they can and who is trying something different and who is flirting with who, and who’s surfing with friends, or alone, and what boards they’re riding and how…

The other day, a friend and I were discussing how sometimes surfing isn’t at all about waves. Sometimes it’s about being in the water and cruising and hanging and spending time with people and trying different things and not asserting yourself. Sometimes it’s about being in a crowd. Sometimes its about sharing.

Whatever it is, it’s not rocket science.

Then again, that all goes out the window when I can’t get a table at my favourite cafe…

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bondi Jitterbug: George Caddy and his camera

Yesterday, in the rain, I went out into the city and saw a beautiful exhibition of photographs by George Caddy at the State Library of NSW.

The highlights of the collection include a series that show 'Beachobatics', which were an impressive show of health, fitness, strength, balance and beauty.

The picture below is my favourite from the whole exhibition. I imagine how it would feel to be that woman in mid-flight, completely trusting and relying upon the arms reaching out to catch her. She looks joyful.

Another aspect of the exhibition that got me rather excited (and clapping my hands) was the pictures of Jitterbugging. George Caddy was an enthusiastic and prize-winning Jitterbug dancer, which was a form of Swing. The exhibition even held three short reels of film that show Jitterbugging in all it's jittery glory! I wish I could tell you just how enthralled I was by these films, but looking at this picture below you might be able to get an idea why...

The clothes and the hair are fan-tas-tic!

The exhibition only has a few days left, so you should get there if you can...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Claire Bevilacqua


I found this clip over at Curl Magazine...

Interestingly, it also provides a comprehensive list of things that I am not!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Criminals, deviants and people more interesting than me

I don't know if this says something morbid about my personality, but I have been reading this blog from the curators of the Justice and Police Museum in Sydney and it is fascinating.

The focus on the people, crimes and personalities, as opposed to skewed thoughts on policing and justice has sucked me right in, and the accompanying photos are both terrible and so interesting.

Monday, February 09, 2009


After a long afternoon spent trawling around YouTube looking at some fantastic moments of musical performance (such as those posted below**), I very suddenly and painfully missed the water and so started looking for something other than Dolly Parton film clips...

Amongst other things, I came across Bodysurf - a beautiful collection of photos that satiated my aqueous needs for the time being (even if it did make me ache a little in the process).

**As well as the piece of musical magic below, my search provided me with my new favourite karaoke duet. Joy. (And it really is worth watching the entire clip because the attempts Kiki makes at dancing further down the line are off the hook, which is probably a consequence of her being off her head. Sic.)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Revolutionary Road

A few days ago, I finished reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (yeah, I know, so the fashion right now, but I once heard Marieke Hardy say it was very good and I trust her - and she was right) and it's only this afternoon that I can even bring myself to really think about it.

I travelled along Revolutionary Road with Yates, certain of what the outcome was going to be from the beginning and not wanting to have to endure it. But his words are so beautifully crafted and without pretension and honest, even though honest was the one thing his characters could never be with each other, nor themselves. They head to inevitable disappointment and ruin, and reach it through their own egotistical belief in their own goodness and selflessness, when all along they're the most blindly selfish people in a myriad of ways.

That book, that damn book, has made a kind of fear rise up inside me and tap against the back of my throat like an unwelcome visitor walking up the driveway. It's the kind of fear that, if I let it sit there uncontrolled for too long, could morph into hysteria, or depression, or a deep, deep sadness. It's the kind of fear that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Murakami), The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger), Post Office (Bukowski) managed to inspire in me and it's a fear that I'd rather not suffer, thanks anyway.

It's not that the authors necessarily mean to write such ultimate desperation into their works - often they manage to construct tenderness and empathy towards their subjects; Murakami develops great humanity in his relationships, Salinger speaks the fears we share and Bukowski's women, though shrill and irritating, and despite his treatment of them, draw great affection from him too. It's the hopelessness of the characters and their lives that really get to me.

Sometimes I hate fiction. I really do. I didn't read any fiction for years and years because I used to find that I couldn't deal with it. It's much easier to open characters out and leave them raw when they're simply characters and not people you need to be accountable to. People who live, or who have lived are left with some shred of things unknown and unknowable (except Florence Broadhurst, who sounds quite unforgiveable, despite living such an interesting life).

Ahhh, but it's all so beautiful too - vulnerability always is I think. Beautiful and sad and petrifying.

Maybe I should just stick to Maggie Alderson and Di Morrisey?


Then again, maybe sadness and fear aren't so bad after all...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lorelie V

The always delightful Lorelei V is not only a very good writer, but she loves music and is funny as well (not funny in a cheap one-liner kind of way, but funny in a thoughtful and sometimes incidental way). And she lives in Brisbane.

That makes her my favourite kind of new-person-to-meet.

And I have met her. And I wouldn't have had to use any of my back-up conversation starters because she is much too interesting for that (also, we shared, at the time, a common frustration with Brisbane).

Monday, February 02, 2009

So, how about them Broncos..?

I am generally terrible at making small-talk. In fact, I really hate it but since I find myself in small-talk situations a lot lately, I've considered some topics to talk about when an interaction requires polite, but genuine conversation...

1. The heat. EVERYONE is onto this one at the moment. It's inoffensive and not-at-all political, which makes it a winner for any situation. It also allows you to segue into some other topics too. For example, I went to the fruit and veg shop this morning and raised the heat in terms of whether it affects their fruit and veg? It led to an engaged and personalised discussion of the owner's business and allowed him to assure me of the quality of his produce. Innovative, no? In another exchange, it enabled my conversational partner to bring up the fact he used to live in Dubai. Also, it gives people a chance to whinge, which we all love.

2. The tennis. Now, as someone who finds tennis unutterably boring (and this from a lady who loves cricket!), I have, until today, struggled with this one. However, after watching most of the final the other night I have something to offer. Also, I can talk about what a nimrod Jim Courier is, which is, again, a subject on which most people can agree. Example? During the final he actually said "The net giveth and it also taketh away." SHUT UP Jim!

3. The Credit Crunch. Unfortunately, this one is a topic which I prefer to shy away from. I happen to be a hard-working taxpayer's worst nightmare in my almost blissful disengagement from most things economic and my constant use of publicly funded services. Nonetheless, I can listen.

4. "Did you get away for Xmas and New Year?" I'm still taking advantage of our proximity to everyone's favourite end/beginning of year celebration. If they did get away, the you have a chat about it. If they didn't, then, once more, you have given space for a whinge.

Anyway, sometimes it's a good idea to have a few non-offensive conversation starters up your sleeve...