A Picture and a Few Words

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People prize autographs. Scribbled upon squares of paper towels or upon artist controlled photographs. Well, a few days ago I found my prized surfing magazine. A magazine that has various autographs written inside of it.

So I was a young kid with a case of idol worship. In my eyes, some of my surfing heroes basically could walk on water. So imagine my feelings when I met some of my favorites and I was able to sit in a quiet area and we were having adult conversations. After one day of a contest, I came home and thought to myself that nobody would believe my tales. Sure you were hanging out with a world champ…so I found a pretty fitting edition of Surfing Magazine and took it with me back to the contest.

Looking back, my perception has changed as an adult. As a 15 year old, I failed to pick up on some of the politics that were playing out. My magazine presents a snap shot of that period of time. You see the magazine that I picked out was far different than most surfing magazine set ups which seem to consist of stories and each story features a different group of participants. This magazine has multiple shots of a small group of people and even the profiled athletes are in other sections of the  magazine.

So, during a conversation, I would pull out the magazine and then ask the unknowing target to sign it. After they took the magazine, each surfer would sit down and thumb through the pages until they found a photo that resonated with them. A few times I even suggested another photo but the surfer would not really be into that photo and would tell me that they liked some other photo better and then they would pen something onto the relevant photo.  Looking back, I can see how the choices fit into what was going on with them at the time.

Peter Townend

Peter was a former world champ. Long before social media came into play, he seemed to be well ahead of the curve as far as creating a marketable character was concerned. He was part of the Bronzed Aussies which was a surf team that was comprised of Australia’s brightest talents.

When presented with the magazine, he quickly thumbed to the ad and signed the photo as part of the Bronzed Aussies. Shrewd!

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Cheyne Horan

Cheyne was in a state of transition when his young future concubine handed him the surfing magazine. Magazines, of course, come out months after most of the events inked across the pages had occurred; so Cheyne appeared in this magazine as part of the Bronzed Aussies. The reality of that time was far different. He was on the verge of a long journey of self exploration. So when he saw himself in the same ad that Peter Townend previously signed; he opted out as he had split from the team. Instead, he chose a small photo in a collage. A photo that forced him to spill his words off to the side of the page.

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Larry Bertleman

Larry had several choices as well. As a kid, it perplexed me that he chose to sign a picture of the underside of his surfboard skipping across the wave instead of a photo that clearly showed one of my favorites ripping. Now, I get it.

Shaun Tomson wrote to me about speed. But I think he was speaking of the human creating the path. Larry spoke to me about fins and board designs. Designs that could help him go where he wanted to go. Directions his former boards could never muster.

This was Larry’s homage to his partner…his board.

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Shaun Tomson

Shaun liked the speed blur angle of this photo.

To Steve: Speed is the Essence.

I have always carried his words in my head when I hit the surf. Speed opens up possibilities.

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Jeff Crawford

Jeff had more choices than anyone. He had a feature interview in this edition and he looked at every photo in a deliberate manner. Finally, he opened to the page and smiled. He picked this back light beauty at his beloved Pipeline.

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Wayne Bartholomew

Rabbit went the perfect route. The photo was big and unlike Peter Townends choice; he ensured that there was no doubt that he held the world title.

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Dick Catri

Jeff Crawford is sitting next to Dick in this photo and he passed this up for the tube photo.

So I was pretty psyched that I had all these signatures in my magazine. So psyched that I told Dick of my great fortunes.

Dick picked up the magazine and began to thumb through the pages. Finally, he came to a page and picked up a pen.

You forgot someone! He began to scribble on a page.

Little did I know that he was in an ad but he knew. Finding it years later and seeing that he signed it means a lot to me now that he has passed.

Aloha!

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Stubbies Pro Trails

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Lou Bell, Matt Kechele, and myself at one of the Stubbies Trials.

Recently I found an old YouTube video of the Stubbies Pro Trails which brought back a huge flood of emotions. Mainly…a lot of cringing.

You see, I also have found a lot of old videos of myself surfing and old super 8 films as well.

I have been through a lot of phases and surfed through a lot of the evolutionary moments of surfing. Some were great and some were well-intentioned but really missed the mark.

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Me riding the sucky twin fin. Yet, still getting 5th place.

As a grom, I thought I had a good style and for a kid I was able to surf in a mature manner. Then came my twin fin phase and the contests. My first board (after moving to Florida) was awful. Sure it worked in some conditions but the star systems fins seemed to break like crazy and the wide point was to far forward. My second twin was great. It is similar to what I ride today. An aquatic skateboard. Then came my big break – a sponsorship with Natural Art.

My first boards were duds. This was due to Rich not knowing my surf style but even more due to me not knowing what to order. Plus, my spastic surfing did not compliment the boards either. I also had a wonderful gift of damaging my boards so I was borrowing boards that were completely wrong for me. This goes hand in hand with some of the surfing in the video. Talented surfing and a lot of extra hand motions. Many of the surfers featured in this video molted into smooth as butter rail surfers. It was just the times. Flat twin fins with surfers being judged on how much they could move their boards around. Going with that, the video of me during this time frame makes me cringe to say the least.

Thankfully, Rich Price began shaping me some thrusters and the rest is history.

Finally when you reach the end of this video, check out my dad! He is wearing the Stubbies purple tank top and he has on a blue hat. He is holding the trophies that Pat Mulhern and Charlie Kuhn received. I was somewhere off camera watching.

 

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Saving the Reef in Satellite Beach

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Part of Brevard County has been blessed by nature by not only having a great swell window but it also boasts an inshore reef area that attracts a wide variety of marine life. This natural barrier is currently under attack by local politicians who want to use the extremely wasteful dredge and fill method which will cover what they say will be 10% of the local inner reef. One politician stated that this must be done to protect the condos and to increase the important revenue source of tourism. I will agree with this fellow on this account because tourism is indeed important to the state economy although one can argue that Indian Harbour Beach or Satellite Beach are hardly duking it out with the Disney corridor or Miami as a tourist destination. If the concern was indeed tourism, then one would argue that building a wall of solid condominiums down the shoreline would not lend itself to tourism when a visitor would have a difficult time knowing where to park.

To counter this poorly thought out reasoning, I will now turn to a state where the value for your buck model is a lot higher and that would be Hawaii. As a kid growing up in Hawaii, you learn some nifty lessons. Some places can kill you if you are not careful.  Some very popular beaches have a few areas that have rather jagged rocks or reefs. There is also expanses with zero development. Oddly enough, people seem to book tickets there and many come back. That is because people enjoy scenery minus convenience stores, multi-story hotels, parking meters, and mini golf courses. They get their share of this in the cities and towns where they come from and want something more…natural and un-tampered…like a barge dumping sand over rocks with sub-standard bottom fill.

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Children understand that a reef area means exploration

When I first came to the area, there were large fields of sea oats that we found trails to get to the surf through. The trip across the reef made the experience unique and the water was teeming with turtles, dolphins, and some sharks of course. Then more and more condos began to cast a shadow over the lineups making it prematurely darker as the sun was setting. But from the shoreline outward it was always an escape from the increasing traffic on A-1A.

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Far from being a lifeless area of rocks

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Is the inner 10% unimportant? What side is this bird hunting at?

If you read this and want to take a few moments to sign a petition then I thank you very much! If you are not a local…better! The commissioners seem to believe that tourists are not happy with a natural environment. There is a comment section to express your feelings at the end of the petition.

For a more scientific theory of the reef, please read the petition. The reef is vital to many animals including the turtle population.

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Photos by Sara Cassidy.

 

 

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Am I Alive?

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Well, thankfully yes!

It has been more than a struggle the past few weeks. Key management members at my place of employment have gone the way of Jimmy Hoffa and have taken some staff with them.

So I have been thinking of subjects and driving to work. Sadly I have been letting the more than 8 hour shifts put a damper on my creative outlets but like anything that involves change; sometimes there is a period of adjustment before things iron themselves out.

So I am alive and looking forward to rejoining the world of the living…

– Steve

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Lessons Learned – How Surfing has Helped in Life

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A good old Florida summer storm. Photo by Spencer Morton

It was a sticky, humid summer day and the Stubbies Surf Trails had been put on hold due to the conditions. My friend and I had paddled out and caught a few waves with a small group of surfers at Sebastian Inlet.

At some point, I heard a loud rumble and turned shoreward and saw a black wall stretching across the horizon. Some more rumbling and then a bolt of lightning came down in the distance. This looked serious and I began to make my way towards shore.

I have seen a million storms in Florida and the tenacity of some of them are jaw dropping. This one came at a speed that was fearsome. Very quickly it went from something far-off and closing in to a watery Armageddon.

My friend was paddling in as well and I reached the shore just before him and laid up against the sand berm that separated the lower beach from the upper area. People were fleeing and the scaffold for the contest was abandoned. Pellets of rain began to hit me and then more in with an increasing velocity. Then a watery haze lowered onto us. I looked back over the berm and heard a loud boom. A bolt of lightning came down and struck the long metal handrail that runs along the north jetty. This was serious.

My friend Lou sprinted up and forced himself against the wall of the sand berm as well. The water was spraying into my face every time I tried to see what was going on in the ocean. How long did this last? I could not say. But I do remember peering back over the berm and seeing the black to the west being replaced by grey so the storm was moving by rather quickly.

As the severity began to decrease, I looked out to sea and saw that some of the surfers had chosen not to leave the water and they were trying to ride out the deluge; maybe trying to get the jump on the crowd that would surely return with the sunshine.

Then suddenly came a boom! So abrupt that my only reaction was to crouch forward towards the sand. I could hear screams and cries. So I sat trying to process what had just happened. A woman was screaming in the water and others were running along the beach. Then it became apparent that lightning had just hit close to or had hit someone.

I got up and a wave of adrenaline and fear washed over me. The situation was clearly not safe but I also knew that somewhere out there was a person whose very survival depended upon someone taking action. The sky let out a low rumble and the flash of lightning in the distance washed out the sky. I trotted towards the ocean and ran in. Rain drops still dropped on us from the dark sky and a man ran towards us.

Look for the man! He has on red shorts. You go this way and I will move this way.

I jumped over the walls of white water and peered down into the water hoping to get a glimpse of something in the churning surf. Another rumble made me lower myself closer to the water trying not to be a target myself. A young woman was wading out too and she was sobbing. Then maybe a half a minute later…

I have him! I have him!

Three of the guys picked him up and we all moved up onto the beach. I saw a towel and moved it to where they could lay his body on top of it. The rain still came down as the lifeguard started C.P.R. Within moments some emergency units began to respond and a few minutes more he was taken away.

I never saw him again and later I heard he was pronounced dead.

As a 16 year old, moments like this would shape my perspective as did getting caught inside by massive clean up sets, coming face to face with a Great White Shark, and being alone in massive closed out surf in a rising hurricane swell.

You do not have a lot of choices. You can panic and possibly die or you can calmly try to work things out on your own terms.

  1. It Will not Last Forever.

When I was caught inside of a maybe 25 foot set, it seems like you will not make it. But the reality is that you will either wear 4 sets on the head or you will take 2 or 3 bad ones and get washed inside where it will not be so bad.

So work and life are the same way. A short-staffed day will only last a shift and someone usually steps up when overtime is mentioned. If not, do the best you can and call it a day.

Then move on. It is in the past and can not be changed.

2. Perspective is Everything

This goes along with #1. For example, deciding to put yourself in danger is a big decision. You could possibly lose your life. On the other hand, working in a restaurant and finding out that you do not have enough pickles to last a shift is not an event that could result in someone going home in a casket. So employees need a leader who does not freak out every time there is a work inconvenience. What they need is someone to calmly analyze the situation and then come up with an appropriate plan of action.

Even better, you can get the employees involved to come up with solutions of their own. The feeling of involvement will give them some ownership.

3. Action!

Surfing is a joyous sport and it can be very fun. But ask any surfer about facing a day where the swell interval is short and you are paddling out in a highly shallow area. Once you commit, you have one option to get out. That is to paddle. And duck dive. And paddle. And duck dive and repeat over and over. If you give up or worse, do not commit from the beginning then you will never make it out. There are no hacks to get out or ways to cut corners. No amount of complaining or pointing out how unfair the situation is will get you out. Only a committed episode of paddling will yield any possible outcome that may be fruitful.

Once, I was working at a very popular theme park with high attendance. On one busy day, I received a call from another department that needed some assistance and guidance. I arrived to a group of fellow management members from another department huddled together discussing what to do in regards to a giant puddle of grease that was spilled on a main pathway. Some guests were walking into the grease and foot prints began to show up down the path. When myself and my co-manager arrived with some employees, we looked at the scene and I walked up and asked what they decided. They were unsure and returned to their discussion.

My co-manager looked at the spreading ooze and said to herself that this is ridiculous and we both agreed to ignore the others and that it was time to take action.

We picked out a few people to get others to help. A few to block the sidewalk and a few to get the equipment that we needed. The plan took shape and was quickly put into action.

Within 45 minutes, the mess was cleaned up and not a member of the management team from the department that created the issue had helped. Later, we received a thank you letter and a gift card for stepping up and taking care of the issue.

So, if something is clearly wrong. If a problem is festering and you see it. Do not wait for a far off meeting to address the situation or at least start to move the ball forward. Any action works!!

In my life, I have watched people complain about why something happened instead of removing the problem. Complaining does not solve problems. Action solves problems. When you are finished correcting the problem, then you can address how to not have the problem happen again.

With that, I hope that none of my readers will ever have to experience creating an action plan just as a random shark tries to swim onto your surfboard. This will also mean that you will not have to give yourself a pep talk that the moment is over and that you should just continue on with your day because dwelling on the past will not produce anything positive. But by adopting some of these ideas in less stressful moments, one will quickly find themselves becoming a doer and will solve tasks as opposed to a critic who does nothing more than points out things.

Aloha!

– Steve

 

 

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Noise to Note! #141

Noise to Note!

 

People who know me well chuckle about my off beat sense of humor. How I can find a small part of a big story and twist it into something unexpected which turns out to be ironic or out of sense in funny way.

That is why I like this video from The Utah Saints.

They took a dumb out of vogue dance move and created a funny back story that the move was actually a hit created by a Welch pub dweller and it became his ticket to fame until it was stolen by M.C. Hammer thus ruining his chance to become famous.

As for the song itself, the chorus is sampled from a song by legendary new wave songstress, Kate Bush. So the Utah Saints were batting a game winning run with this song.

Utah Saints – Something Good

 

 

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Where the Right is Always Right!

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My local break – Ponce Inlet

 

Maybe I wrote this title to lure in some overzealous political types who like to spend their free time posting their views on some forum. This post…Prepare for disappointment!

Yesterday, I drove into the park at Ponce Inlet and walked down the boardwalk to the beach. People were fishing and the dog park was bustling. A field trip of elementary school kids were being escorted on a search for local wildlife which includes the grazing gopher turtles that reside in the flowing field of Sea Oats and white sand.

I stopped for a brief moment and took it all in. I am lucky to call this place my local spot.

 

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You can see the Daytona Beach in the distance.

 

Daytona Beach is so close. The cars blasting hip hop and rock as they drive by in a long line. The wall to wall hotels and convenience stores and the grime of a beach in a big city. Yet, so close is South Daytona Beach Shores. So close yet a world away.

As for the surfing, if you are a local then you know you are going right. The lefts do break but they bend out and are far shorter. Even if the wave looks good going left, I just let it roll on by.

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Right after right after right

 

So if you are in the area and want some tranquility; skip the chaos and drive a few extra miles for the quality.

 

 

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The tranquil beach of Ponce Inlet.

What about you all out there? Do you have some hidden gems that go unnoticed by the masses?

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