Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dear & Yonder

Frustrated at my apparent inability to actually commit words to paper this morning, I went and looked for some inspiration at my some of my favourite blogs including one where I found this film poster (thanks!)...

Click the poster for a link to the trailer

Although perhaps a little cliche (water-colours, slow-motion shots, giggling), the surfing looks like its rad and this film looks pretty interesting. While seemingly full of the usual suspects, their blurb seems to point to exploring women who aren't professional or already well-known, which is exciting I think. Although they are amazing, I do get sick of seeing the same women surfers all the time, so it's good to see new surfers, styles and stories about women. Although there seem to be a growing number of examples coming out of the USA, these kinds of films are sadly lacking here in Australia!

I want to see it!

So now, instead of finding inspiration to write, I have simply found a reason to wish I was living in New York at the moment!

Music to glower to

Whenever I'm pissed off/have a seething rage/slightly cranky and find myself in need of a good 'angry' song, I always find that a Johnny Cash* moment does the trick...




And The Horrors aren't too bad for it either...




*Yes friends. I know it's a Depeche Mode song. But this version is so much better!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One surf

Seagulls

Terns

2 x Brahminy Kites (aka Red-backed Sea Eagles and the logo for my old hockey club)

3 x pelicans (all flying together)

lots of fish

a pod of dolphins feeding under my feet

a shark (apparently)

a Humpback whale (breathing not breaching)

bush turkeys

sunshine

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The time that 1980 got it so so right!

Please, try and describe something to me that is better than the heady combination of Olivia Newton-John, ELO (that's Electric Light Orchestra to the uninitiated), rollerskating, gold shoes and jumpsuits.

"Xanadu! Your neon lights will shine for you, Xanadu!

Xanadu indeed!



Although she could probably stand to lose that fluffy-haired guy.















(Is it Friday yet?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gerry Wedd has an exhibition!!

If you are lucky enough to live in Sydney at the moment, then you might like to take the time to get on down to the Legge Gallery in Redfern and check out the Gerry Wedd exhibition on there. But it only runs til the 25th July so hurry!!

That's what I'd be doing anyway!!

I've written about him and his work before and I am a fan and I can assure you that if you go, you won't be disappointed!

And if you do go, can you please lust over it all on my behalf as well. Thanks.






P.S. And buy me something pretty while you're there..?!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dear 1989, what were you thinking?

Yes. Yes I did go and find this clip today.

You only have to watch it to the 1.30 mark, but dear lord is it worth it!



(Cringe factor? One billion!!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some days it pays to have a good sense of humour...

This morning I paddled out at Wategos - it was small, but it was a spectacularly sunny winter day and every so often a nice set would come through that made the whole exercise worth it.

So after some conversation and consultation with the old mal crew on the beach, I went out...

I got a few waves and it was nothing special, but it was fine. I was just cruising and enjoying the day, blah, blah, blah. The old guys would paddle past me and take waves, but whatever, it was fine.

Then a nice set came through. I decided they could kiss my arse and I was getting me some of that. There was a guy behind me, but he'd just come back out and he knew it was my wave so he backed off a bit. I turned and paddled harder and just as I felt the wave catch me, I also felt a "helping hand" on my foot, giving me a push into the wave.

Yes, that's right. THE GUY PUSHED ME INTO A WAVE THAT I WAS MORE THAN CAPABLE OF GETTING ON MY OWN THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SIR!!

I mean seriously. How many dude-strangers do you reckon he's pushed into waves? I'm guessing none.

I was enraged. Enraged! And embarrassed. And perplexed.

And all of this was going through my head as I jumped up. As I picked my bumpy, wind-blown line I was confused and ashamed and worried that I'd have to talk to him again and so I gave in and twisted my board off the wave and just sat there. A few guys were paddling towards me, heading back out to the lineup. Had they seen that? Is that what they were smiling about? No, of course not, but I was so humiliated!

And yeah, I know, I know - get over it Rebecca! And I have, but at the time...

I stayed wide and further down the line as I couldn't face that man. I know he was trying to be nice, but I was conflicted between that knowledge and my own embarrassment and outrage. Why did he think I needed help when I clearly didn't? Why? Am I that bad? No, no I'm not. I hold my own out there and it's not like they were even challenging waves either. Ugh!

So I stayed out there, semi-weirded out by the whole thing. And then it got worse... I got another wave and kooked it and as I tumbled in the whitewash, my vest broke.

So let me clarify a couple of points here to really paint the picture;

1. I wear a vest that zips up the front and it was the zip that broke. The whole thing split apart, all the way from my hips up to my throat, where it (bizarrely) stayed attached. So there I was lying in the water with the vest floating up around me, splaying out from my neck, totally exposing my chest and abandoning its task of offering me some protection from the cold water.

2. Those who know me know that I have, um, what some might refer to as, um, an ample bosom. So as I climbed back onto my board, vest flying open, I was further mortified to find one of my boobs had detached itself from my swimmers and sat proudly revealing itself to the entire lineup. Well, hey boys!

Wow.

So I sat, having been PUSHED INTO A WAVE by some stranger, enduring further humiliation by revealing myself to the all-dude lineup via a faulty zip.

And suddenly I started laughing. What else was there to do. And anyway, it was funny.

So I sorted out some form of dignity, paddled in and walked up the beach to my car looking like a total poser with her cleavage provocatively staring out from a weirdly (un)zipped vest.

"It's broken!" I explained to a couple of bug-eyed locals who promptly fell into fits of laughter.

Thanks.

Then I had a further comedy section of getting the thing off over my head before I could finally fix it.

And then, screw it, I went back out again. What did I have left to lose? And, after all, it was still sunny.

As I walked back down the beach the guy who had 'helped' me into that wave was walking up, smiling at me,

"Did you feel me give you that last little burst?"

I wanted to say 'yeah and there was no need you fool!' but I didn't. I did the polite, understanding and grown-up thing, and uncomfortably said,

"Yeah. I did."

"I was worried you'd think I was trying to pull you off?" he laughed.

"Nah, I knew..."

...and I walked away, knowing he was trying to be nice, but hating that sometimes you just have to bite your tongue.

(And checking that my vest wasn't creating a scene!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Broken Pipe

There is some new (or newly revealed?) graffiti at one of my favourite local breaks...



I asked around a bit and no-one seems to know much about it, let alone who might have done it. At least it makes a change from the usual focus on gripes about the presence of Sydney folk. The irony for me is that although this is a beach I almost literally grew up on (and still spend much time at now I'm in my adult stages), I now live part-time in Brisbane. So where does that leave me within this pathetic piece of localism? I guess it depends who wrote it and where I fit into their ideas of surfing...

Another funny bit of spray work (that is presumably from the same aerosol can) is this piece of hilarity residing beside the showers...


Its hard to read (damn sunlight!) but it says NO RETRO FISHES! Hmmm, are there other types of 'fishes' - perhaps 'modern fishes', 'cutting-edge fishes' or 'fish fishes' - which are perhaps more acceptable?

Sigh.

Get a grip people! Get a grip!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Munch

I've noticed I have predilections when it comes to my post-surf munch...

Early
Three options;
Cafe 1 - Banana and coconut bread and two coffees all smashed at a table in the sun.
Cafe 2 - Bacon and egg roll with BBQ sauce and two coffees at the big table inside while reading magazines.
Home - Avocado, Vegemite and lemon on toast, lots of cups of tea and the paper.

Midday
Three options;
1. Falafel
2. Sushi
3. Whatever's in the fridge/cupboard.
(All options finish with an organic doughnut from town)

Late
Only one option as far as I'm concerned;
1. Udon noodles with tempura veg - YUM!!

...and water! Always lots of water!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Women and The Waves - film review

Several months ago, I got a bit of a shock when a friend of a friend sniped at me,

“Why do women surf and then make it all about gender?”

I’d like to point out that he was sitting next to me and rudely failed to introduce himself or to even look up from flicking through the Saturday paper. He was, as it transpired, a complete arsehole, but nonetheless I patiently responded…

“They don’t.”

He snorted and a rather discouraging and upsetting conversation ensued, but his question got me to consider whether women do make surfing all about gender? The short answer of course is no, they don’t. Being a woman in the surf can make surfing a somewhat specific experience, but this doesn’t mean that it’s always front and centre in our minds. Being a woman in the water can also mean negotiating a host of different issues or experiences than men, but it doesn’t mean that you’re always conscious of it. Just like the way I negotiate the guys behaviour in the water they have to negotiate mine too and that means both sides are dealing with gender differences.

Another way to answer the question could be “women don’t make it all about gender, men do”, which, of course, is just as true. I am rarely ever simply a surfer, but more usually a chick surfer, surfer girl, Gidget (ugh!!) or a woman who surfs. Everywhere I look, gender differences do loom large in surfing and in magazines, in films, online, in conversations or in the lineup female surfers are mostly spoken of or referred to in certain ways and those ways always, always, always refer to their gender. Certainly women’s surfing abilities are almost always described in comparison to what men can (supposedly) do - if she surfs well then she surfs ‘good for a girl’ or ‘she surfs as good as a guy’.

But you know what? Sometimes it’s not so unspoken or implicit. Sometimes you do think about it. Sometimes you reflect on how being a chick means having to deal with a whole heap of extra things that the majority of the surfing population - guys - don’t. The ways you are often looked at, treated, spoken about and spoken to can be horrible, patronising and downright rude and frighteningly sexist.

The Women and The Waves is a beautiful film that attempts to negotiate the tension that is inherent in that rude man’s question – how can I surf as a woman, without having to make a big deal of it? And it does it really well.

Heather Hudson and Peck Euwer manage to craft the interviews in such a way to show how women deal with the same issues as surfers that dudes do. They see themselves in many of the same ways, in the same waves, in the same culture. She sets them up as surfers by showing how they use the usual surfing language, ideas, stories, history, media and approaches to surfing to make sure that we understand they are, at the core of it, surfers - surfing and going surfing is central in these people’s lives. The surfing footage is really great with styles ranging from logging in small waves to charging at Waimea and everything in between. There are chicks who surf crowded Malibu and women who go off entirely on their own trekking, camping and surfing in rather frightening looking cold places. The surfing is really, really great and the surfers rip, tear, flow and glide with all the skill, dynamism and grace that we have come to expect from the level of performance shown in surf films.

But the film doesn’t only try to paint women as surfing in a man’s world. The interviews show how they also sit slightly differently within these discourses and the ways that being a woman means they negotiate surfing in their own diversely female ways. It’s not saying that they’re better or worse, it’s saying that women may take a different approach to surfing than guys but, um, well… so what? So what?!! Does it actually matter?

The women in the film approach surfing in distinct ways and with distinct challenges. Whether as surfing pioneers (Linda Benson, Kim Mearig), as soul-surfing hippies (Ashley Lloyd), as young chargers (Shakira Westdorp, Jennifer Useldinger) or whatever, these women seem to have taken approaches and dealt with some experiences that are not so commonly discussed in the surfing media. They talk about fitting their relationships, kids and the house-work in around their commitment and need to be in the water, to get waves. They talk about the expectation that they will always know every other woman and girl out in the water, just by virtue of being a woman themselves (like there is a real sisterhood in surfing, which, in case you were wondering, there isn’t). They confess that if they’ve been the only woman surfing a break for a while they can get a bit jealous when other women come out and surf well too – kinda stealing their thunder. They also talk about localism and aggression being a primarily male occupation and regulation, and that they’re not particularly interested in it. The conversations that emerge from the interviews are interesting and contradictory and really enjoyable.

The other interesting thing, I thought, was that friends and partners were included in the film. When you think over the surf films you’ve seen in your life, consider how many times a woman so much as rates a mention? My point here is that men can easily and happily go on and on about surfing without so much as considering women, let alone including them. And when they do, it’s usually some patronising comment about how they’ve realised that women can surf really well too or that it’s really great that they get out there (prime example was Dan Malloy narrating in The Present. Grrr!). As highlighted in all these films, men (think they) can surf without women, but women can rarely surf without men. And would they want to? I find I surf with women and men in equal numbers and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The Women and The Waves acknowledges the role that men play in our surfing lives by including their voices in the film. Yes, yes, the voices are resolutely positive and supportive, but these voices exist. They’re not patronising, but inclusive. They’re not making excuses but are telling stories - surfing stories. Surfing stories that include women as centrally as they include guys.

And yeah, I’ll admit that the film is also full of the usual kind of surf film images and clich├ęs, which some viewers might find predictable at times, but these are important in setting the film up as being consumable by a surfing audience. I think it’s important that this is a ‘surf film’ in order that it can speak about surfing with some kind of genre-continuity and that it is not simply a girl-surf-movie. Because it’s not; it’s a story that is as much about your surf break as it is mine.

Often I read, hear and see stories that insinuate that women are increasingly ‘gaining access’ to the world of surfing. Such a comment makes me mad. It makes it sound like women want to surf just like men, when often this is far from the truth. Women want to surf and they want to do it however they like. What The Women and The Waves manages to show is that women aren’t gaining access to surfing because they don’t need to. Women are surfing and they’re surfing well and in greater numbers, and that might not fit the ideas and aspirations of surfing that many guys have but that’s bad luck.

Women surf.

They surf with aggression, with grace, with style, with courage, with fear, with trepidation, with flow and with power. And you know what else? Women surf with you.

You should see this film. It’s really, really good and I’m stoked that it’s out there!

Click for a link to buy this film. You know you want to!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Epicness

Do you remember how my boards were stolen a couple of months ago?
Yeah, me too.
Well, I got a new one made and it's pretty freaking rad...
I'm short on dollars, so my dad gave me some (thanks Pete!!) and my friends got it made and coloured and all up it's pretty wonderful .


And I surfed it this afternoon and
I
am
stoked.




Monday, July 06, 2009

Rivermouth

I clamber down the sandbags that now constitute my beach track and head south along the sand. The sky is clear and the sun is warm and my jumper comes off pretty fast. There's some little waves breaking out the front that might be fun later. It's been weeks since I've been anywhere near the beach, so I just want to go for a walk and look around and check it out again.

The beach seems pretty empty, but I notice a couple of guys up in the dunes looking south, checking the surf. And a couple more. And more. And some with chairs. They're really engrossed. It must still be working further down. Harley told me last night that it was about the only bank in the whole region doing anything at the moment.

The guys stand low in their bodies, arms stuffed in pockets or folded self-consciously across their chest. Low-slung jeans, checked shirts, hoodies and beanies (and the odd pair of ugg-boots) protect them from the wind and cold, and mark them out among the sea-grass and banksias. Alone, or in twos, they stand still and quiet, engrossed in their own little process of observation and decision-making - to go out or not to go out. There isn't much talking.

I feel a wave of affection for them all. Them and their flannelette shirts.

I walk further along, towards the break they're watching. Even from here I can see that it's pumping. The sets are peaking up into A-frames and every wave has someone slashing and dancing along its length before flicking themselves (dramatically) over the back as it closes out. Between sets it's almost flat with little movement at all. It's funny to look out at the water full of bodies bobbing about with no waves in sight. They look ridiculous. But there's not much waiting. The sets are coming through with impressive regularity.

The bank is a walk up or down the beach from the nearest carpark, so there is a steady stream of black-rubber-clad bodies running both towards and from the break, each one clutching a small, thin, white board under their arm. Black steamer, white board - the look is almost universal with only one pale blue wetsuit, a dark green fish, a yellow longboard, and an old stained blue and yellow single-fin breaking the monotony. Black steamers stretching themselves on the beach, reaching for their toes, reaching their arms behind them to open their chests. Black steamers grabbing their boards and running into the water like time itself is coming to an end.

When they walk back towards their cars and homes, the anticipation has gone out of their movements. The walk back delays the beginnings of the day, work, commitments. They keep looking back over their shoulders to watch. As they get to the beach tracks, they stop and answer the perfunctory questions from those standing around. Who? What? Where? How? The cold wet surfers don't stay long, rushing back to the warmth of their cars and changing back into their jeans, checked shirts and beanies before carrying on with their day.