November 30, 2005

Large, powerful, growling.
Excellent wind.
Paddle-out denials.
Lurching, arcing slabs.
Overhead behemoths.
Smooth, tantalizing sections.
Breaks in the onslaught.
Keyholes in the mayhem?
Grueling paddle-out.
Ridiculous close-outs.
Perfect for those who enjoy winter-style, oversized solitude.
Might be fantastico through certain zones toward the end of the day.
All you flexi-workers, non-workers and extendo-lunchbreakers suck sucking suckables.
Hammonds maybe?
Particular coves and pocket beaches a few hours away?
Might be worth the drive?

Whack those whacking whackables



When i go through stretches of no surf (currently 6 days) the music takes over. I just want to say Thank you John Coltrane!

Posted by Ethan at 10:00 AM
November 29, 2005

In the Dallas airport yesterday, awaiting a connecting flight. CJ befriended this energetic little 6 yr. old in a spiderman outfit. He looked pale and scrawny but he was happy and fun-loving. CJ asked why he was going to San Francisco with his dad. He lifted up his shirt to reveal a large scar on his chest. There was also a new bandage and tube sticking out of his arm. He had cancer. He asked his dad to explain, "tell her about it daddy."

They're headed to UCSF for a bone-marrow transplant. 6 weeks in the hospital. The dad was apprehensive about the big city, explaining in his thick Oklahoma drawl, "They don't have any food we're used to. We're just small town folk out of our element." When CJ and I got a moment to ourselves we watched the little grom run around the terminal, spinning imaginary spiderman webs. We nearly died of sorrow.

Enjoy what you have. Don't take it for granted.


Posted by Ethan at 09:57 AM
November 22, 2005
the party's over.

Well, maybe not quite over everywhere.
But... where we surfed it was pretty frustrating.
Same beautiful offshore flow as days past.
Same radiant sunshine.
Waves breaking mushily on the outside, then here or there on the inside.
Difficult to find the right zones.
Caught one zippy left but my legs were pretty stiff from sitting immobile on my board for the previous 20 minutes.
Maybe other stretches of coast are working better?
Could be worth a little drive if you have time?


My neighbors have an 8th grader who's deciding which high school to attend. He goes to public school now and is pretty bright and creative. He wants to go to SOTA (School of the Arts) for creative writing but the school only accepts 5 kids each year for that program. He's also considering Lowell but acceptance is fiercly competitive. He looked at Lick Wilmerding and dug it but it's $25,000 a year. St. Ignatius, Sacred heart and Urban are also crazy expensive. He's kinda scared of Lincoln high school but is worried that's where he's going to end up. It makes me nervous as a future parent (way future!). The schooling situation in the city seems pretty dicey. You either fight and scrap to get your kids in the very few quality elementary schools or you suck it up and drop $20,000 a year for private school. Then, if your kid is in public school in 8th grade he/she has to go through entrance-exams, possible rejection, deciding if they want to focus on a particular discipline, etc.. this is in 8th grade, not 11th! gnarly.

Youth Brigade:
well i've been around the country
and i've met a lot of kids
some kids are smart and some kids are dumb
but i don't pass judgement they're just having fun
some kids get fucked up and others refrain
but that's what makes the world so great no one should be the same
the kids of the future you can see it in their eyes
they must overcome nationality if the world is to survive

and we'll sink with california when it falls into the sea

Posted by Ethan at 09:44 AM
November 21, 2005
oh my.

Pelicans soar along plate-glass wave forms.
Chisled peaks rise-up and throw-out.
Hiking to escape the throngs.
Paddling to escape the throngs.
Over the ledge and into the pit.
Shellacked, offshore-molded oil-glass.
Backside barrels.
Lips crackin'.
Jaws droppin'.
Not too heavy.
Not perfect...
Guys who look like rippers flailing over the falls.
Guys who look like kooks taking off deep and pulling in.
You never can tell.
We get out 1 or 2 weeks a year, enjoy it.

Stinkeye photos



Posted by Ethan at 09:53 AM
November 18, 2005

Up late last night playing music and then watched an amazing classical guitarist rip it up at the Starry Plough on Shattuck in Berkeley. Back home around 1:15am and the flags are snapping hard in the offshore breeze. Holy snacks it's gonna be fuego in the morning. What seemed like 2 minutes later it's 6:45am, time to go surf. Shimmering thoughts of rumbling 12-foot Haleiwa swept through my mind. Should i take the gun? Is it firing? What's happening? Is Kamcatchka here? Kaiser calls and says it's less than large.

Grab the shorty and run down. Wetsuit totally dry from the indian-summer warmth. The ocean looking absolutely incredible from my house (can't see the waves, just the outer-water). Smooth, soft, inviting, magical. offshores i love you. Over the dunes and there are waves. Most of em' backing off and mushy. A few spinning and peeling and looking quite nice. Whispy fans of spindrift. More people than any midweek dawn-patrol of the last 2 months.. still not insanely crowded like saturdays at 10am or anything.

Some long long lulls. Some spots working better than others. northbound current. A few money sections if you could lock into the mysterious rhythms of the sets. A few fortunate souls lucked (skilled?) into some magazine-style waves. Plate glass, overhead, offshore-groomed, long, tapering walls with a little barrel-pit at the start... but.. there weren't a lot of those to go around.

I'm a bit saddened to admit that i really didn't lock into any of the super-picturesque insanso waves. I paddled all over friggin creation trying to get in the right spot but they eluded me. I took off on a few set waves but never quite put everything together for a multi-carving brain melder.

Some days the waves come to you. Some days they don't.

Want to give thanks for the relative physical and emotional health that i enjoy. I feel very grateful to be able to swim and surf in the ocean every day. My neighbor (lifelong surfer from Hermosa) went back to the hospital this morning with a relapse of a malignant brain tumor. He's 60 and had his first brain tumor at 38. He loves to surf and was out there a few months ago on his 10foot super-log. hope you're back out there soon Dave!!

Posted by Ethan at 10:09 AM
November 17, 2005

Smarkafats toff pone
Sloom forn hool pa
Bintle vlat.

small smooth, inviting.
A few largish offerings here and there.

CJ made the mission this morn.
Total trooper.

The white moon hung low in the western sky.
Dusty dead orbital offspring.

Flags whipping toward the ocean.
A site for sore eyes.

Frontdoor yesterday

BIX is a permanent light- and media installation for the Kunsthaus Graz in Austria (from

Will Cotton painting

Posted by Ethan at 09:36 AM
November 16, 2005
a few

Feathering shoulder-high lips.
A few sections.
Artifact takes off on a bomb out the back (nice one artifact!)
Kdalle smacks the lip with style on his big short board.
Diana M. tucks into a well-shaped left.
Steamwand pumps down the line as the sun silhouettes her rubber-clad body.
Christian looks frustrated midway through the session but toward the end slides into a nice, long left on which he cranks off a mellowly-pitchy lip.
Mexi shooting photos.
Kaiser superman-ing a few but also finding some open faces on his Campbell Bros. bonzer.
Korewin charging.
Myself i found a few nuggy lefts. Some smooth, tight, rounded pockets where i was able to slot right in there for a second or 3. A couple rights too. lots of waves but no life-affirming, consciousness-altering, soul-gratifying voyages or anything.
Beautiful weather.

if you didn't surf: you didn't miss much. small, crowded, inconsistent, dainty. don't sweat it.

W snapped a few photos at a beauty New Zealand beach break last summer



Posted by Ethan at 10:30 AM
November 15, 2005

The learning process.
The long, slow, determined road to improvement.
You begin a discipline with little knowledge of it's inner workings.
Your muscle-memory is a blank slate.
At first you're intrigued by some aspect of a pursuit.
How does that radio work?
How do they make that music?
How does the market react to sales of gold in Kenya?
How do they ride those waves like that?
Poetry is fun to read, how do you create it?

With curiosity whet, you begin to explore that activity.
Read about it, do it, think about it, do it, watch it, do it.
Maybe you receive some instruction.
At first you're just atrocious.
Can't flow two chords together, two turns together, two functions together.
Maybe you have a natural inclination.
Maybe not.
But you love doing it.
Doesn't matter that you suck.
You're fascinated and swept up.
Interest turns to passion and soon you're hooked.
Focused, passionate repetition.
Trial and error.
Taking chances.
Discovering your ceiling.
Mental exploration of possibilities that are way beyond your ability.
A student of the game/task/activity.
You begin to notice a slight improvement.
After months and months of immersion.
You're a little more fluid, relaxed, skilled.
just a little.
Still humbled all the time.
Still a kook.
But... on the path.
Now you put the ax to the grindstone.
Practice, practice, practice.
Not resting on the small skills you've developed.
Constantly pushing above and beyond your comfort level.
Always pushing.
After a few years the noticeable progression slows.
You hit a huge wall.
The same approach to practice and improvement loses effectiveness.
You're stuck.
But you keep pushing.
Switching things around.
Shorten your stance.
Take a new class.
Stop playing with a pick.
Switch it up.
And slowly, over time, the progression picks up again.
New skills are added.
A shifted, enlarged perspective.
New avenues for refined muscle memory.
But always you're humbled by the greats.
By the naturals.
By the ridiculously talented and skilled.
Enthralled and uplifted by their mastery.
With time and effort, a reverence toward the pursuit is cultivated.
You love skating/acting/programming/love-making/embroidering/painting/whatever.
You begin to understand its depth, its wonder, its life.
The more you appreciate its glory, the more you can see the glory in many avenues of life.
Those pro scrabble players are maestros! good on em.
That theoretical physics wiz is in so deep!
That master sushi chef down the street. years of training and knowledge. awesome.


Posted by Ethan at 09:25 AM
November 14, 2005
whale bones

A powerful swell rolls toward the coast.
A friend suggests we drive to a certain zone for low-key, reef-shelf potential.
I'm game.
He picks me up as the silky moonlight illuminates the dark city streets.
We drive quietly along the ocean.
Dead raccoons and the smell of Eucalyptus.
Fresh Nor-Cal nugs and loping Bach Fugues.
Foggy windshields and anticipatory zeal.
We arrive to overhead walls and an empty lineup.
Glassy, mesmerizing, firing.
Suit up while exhaling steam.
The tide is low and huge gurgles and boils litter the surf-zone.
My friend warns of the shallow, kelp-covered shelf.
The place is hauntingly beautiful.
Majestic Cypress trees loom at the top of the cliffs.
Towering sea-stacks define the outermost peak.
My eye follows a turkey vulture as it swoops down from above.
We saunter through some woods to the waterline as the unmistakable smell of death assaults our nostrils.
There seem to be various carcass' strewn all over the shore.
A half-dozen turkey vultures crowd around a few rotting seal bodies.
A huge whale skeleton sits at the end of the reef, nearly picked-clean of meat.
White bones glow in the early-dawn stillness.
My friend and I exchange worrisome looks, but the waves are just going bananas.
Glassy line after glassy line chugging along the reef.
Seductively beckoning.
We paddle out.
The kelp is thick and grabby.
The waves are clean and beautiful.
We each flow into some long ones.
Cutbacks, speed, lip-smacks.
The tide gets lower and lower and the shallow reef is causing the lineup to gurgle with manic boils all over the place.
I pull into a close-out barrel and bounce hard off the reef.
The boils start to go ballistic.
It feels like we're sitting in a boiling broth.
Suddenly we realize something is happening.
Something not-quite-right.
The lineup is frothing with gargled white-water craziness.
It looks like a bait-ball of flailing fish churning the water all around.
Raw fear creeps up the back of our necks and we start to paddle in.
The kelp continues to grab, but now it feels more powerful.
We're soon entangled in the kelp.
Our hands touch the surface of the reef with each ineffectual paddle.
I look through the water and can see all these sea anemones and urchins on the reef.
They're moving around and reshuffling.
Now we're both stuck and scared shitless.
The water is going crazy and we now realize it's because of all the activity on the reef.
All the little critters are moving and organizing in a fast, frantic manner.
The vibe is heavy.
We're totally stuck.
I look down and I see this huge anemone moving toward me.
I thought they were stuck to the reef?
I look again and see what appears to be giant fangs where the soft fibrous tentacles usually are.
Next thing I know the anemone clamps down on my elbow.
A lightning bolt of excruciating pain courses through my body.
The little bitch has me in its death grip and is pulling me under.
As I submerge I see all these anemone's and hermit crabs and mussels and starfish.
They look pissed.
They're all about 5 times their normal size and they seem to be ganging up on me.
I see oversize, razor-sharp hermit-crab antennae - they burrow into my legs.
I see quick-chattering mussel shells, they rip into my stomach.
I see overly muscular starfish arms, they lock onto my face.
Fucking giant starfish injecting something into my mouth..


my friend Xaq sent me this email:

Cool wave phenomenon for you:
This month, Scientific American has a piece on modelling black holes
with fluid flow. According to the article, waves travelling in
nonuniformly flowing fluid exhibit behaviors like light in curved
spacetime. In some cases (eg a Laval nozzle or also surface ripples
in a rotating fluid with varying depth), the speed of sound is slower
than the fluid, and the waves vanish into an effective event horizon.
Mathematically the analogy is quite good, allegedly. And if the fluid
is cold enough (eg Bose Einstein condensate) then quantum effects
come into play so that Hawking radiation is produced, with phonon
pairs emerging at the event boundary. The physics apparently then
depends on the microstructure of the fluid. Apparently in general
relativity, theory breaks down at the planck length scale, where any
granularity of spacetime is unknown.

Crazy and beautiful!

This means that one could have a tangible demonstration of black hole
effects on waves.


To Rag On The Mag: A Reader's Take On Surf-Spot Exploitation - by Will Henry

Santa Cruz's Bud Freitas gets clocked in the head

Posted by Ethan at 08:39 AM
November 11, 2005

Been working through this Duke Ellington standard called Caravan over the last few weeks. We've been playing it in the band and i've been listening to it at work a lot. Rhapsody allows me to churn through 386 different versions of the same tune. How does Grant Green play it? Ella Fitzgerald? McCoy Tyner? Joe Pass? David Grisman? You can play them all back to back. In the end i really dig the Brian Setzer Orchestra version the best. Never really got into Setzer's whole 50's throwback rockabilly thing but he farking slays it while playing Caravan.. holy shit the dude has massive guitar chops. Too bad the rest of the album sucks... imho. Anyhoo it's pretty fascinating to unpack and decipher a rather small little jazz ditty such as Caravan. Cycle through the opening stanza two times, then the bridge, then back to the opening stanza. The complexity unravels when figuring out the theory behind what's happening in the song. The main lick starts in C, but it's root is F. The lick is predominantly in F harmonic minor, but there's also a D in it.. soo it doesn't fit exactly into F harmonic minor, which doesn't have a D. Turns out that alot of folks use an 8-note diminished scale to improvise over the opening stanza (whole step --> half step --> whole step --> half step --> etc.) It's weird to play within an 8 note scale (most scales have 7 unique notes) and i haven't figured out exactly how to overlay it onto the main feel of the song. SOOOO.. then there's this bridge that changes the feel of the song entirely. It took me forever to figure it out. It sounds simple but it's not. I basically sat in front of my computer and played back the 15 second bridge 20 times as i tried to piece together what was happening. I'm closer now but still not locked-D.

It's insane when you start imagining the mathematical gridworks of music theory, and the infinite nature of the possibilities. Similar to the first realization of the infinite pathways that fork from each move in chess. It's like a little kernal of knowledge opens up this enormous expanse of possibility and power. It just takes some gumption and fortitude to get the language down.

rock on.


Lerm and i are headed to Drums and Tuba tonight at the red devil lounge. These guys lay it down thick and lush. Layered, idiosyncratic, pulsing compositions. Unbridled musica irreverence.

Duke Ellington


Marc Ribot kills it!

Dave Brubeck plays a cool Caravan

Posted by Ethan at 09:48 AM
November 10, 2005
sun rays and such.

Wild bolts of lightning.
Storm passing through.
This morning the wind went slack.
Gorgeous geometric cloud formations.
Valhalla sun-rays streaking down to earth.
Oil-slick veneer.
High-tide fatness.
Pelicans and sea-birds swooping along chest-high unbroken wave forms.
A few mega-glass moments for surfboard riding.
Lots of waiting.
Lots of back-offs.
Relatively bereft of humanity.
One shoulder-high peak spins my way.
Paddle then glide into it.
Stand, drop, turn off the bottom.
Section bowls as i scoot along.
Quiet turn back into the pocket as the wave slows.
Another section rears up.
Ride up along the lip.
Over the back as the wave closes out.
That was my best wave.
Sit and talk with Lerm.
Outer Hawaiin Islands.
The Degoba system.
Drums and Tuba (tomorrow night!)

Reading on the surfermag bb about the first time people had sex.

First time for me at the end of freshman year of college. with my Korean girlfiend Seung-Ah. She basically orchestrated the whole thing because i was hapless. two quick sessions that night. condom broke the second time. morning after pill. Seung-ah broke out in a rash all over her body. kinda sucked.

anyway... has some amazing photos. here are a few

Posted by Ethan at 09:35 AM
November 09, 2005


The mathematics of music:

Infinite possibility:
Juggle 15 balls.
Decipher neurological constructs.
Compose grandiose orchestral masterpieces.
Get spit out of a 5 second barrel.

Experiencing the mastery of others.
Organic chem midterm grade.
A wonderful girl denies you hard.
Face plant into your board while fumbling a takeoff on a 3 foot wave (me this morning)


Beautiful weather today. Warm, sunny, dynamic cloudscape, SSE winds.
Some frumpy utility waves out in waveland. A few bright spots in the mix if you're talented in sniffing them out. If you slept in and missed it - no worries.

Is this really Jack Black?? (mark dominic photo from pbase - found by artifact)
jack black


Philippino oldies

Posted by Ethan at 09:55 AM
November 08, 2005
Slater World Champion.






Posted by Ethan at 09:55 AM
November 07, 2005
Opportunities for the wave-hungry

After gorging all weekend on hefty chunks, this morning looked lacksluster and dismal.
However, compared to an average day in July this morning kills it.
It's all about perspective and expectation.
For years my personal surf stoke was fueled by the experience of growing up an east-coast surfer.
Compared to the often puny, weak, lake-like conditions of the East, the large, junky, crazy sauce of Nor Cal was a welcome change.
The water never gets freezing here.
You can pretty much find little sections even on the shittyest of days.
We're very very lucky to live and surf here.
But.. if you're thinking of moving here or surfing here.. of course you have to remember that the water is actually frigid (average 42 degrees), there are rabid pods of ferocious great white sharks that tend to chase surfers out of the water on a regular basis. The waves are always HUGE!! Minimum 800 duckdives to get out. The bloody-knuckled local crew are disgustingly inbred and violence-prone. Their favorite form of recreation is speed-balling meth and pcp and then rocking up to whatever surfspot is firing for some old-fashion fist-a-cuff brawling. Some call this crew the Brigade. They can spot an east-coast or LA tranny from a mile away and waste no time in yelling the obligatory, "Beat it ALIEN!" "Go back to Leo Carillo!"

The best bet for an aspiring surf-hound might be to go to Sharp Park everyday and tackle those supersuck anvils around the pier. If you can surf there, you can surf anywhere. no shit! If you can't make it past the powerful shorepound, just run out to the end of the pier and leap off.

But.. anyway.. thank you Huey for this past weekend! Thanks for that one right you tossed me.
Thick wave.
Steep drop.
Power cutback back to the pocket.
Gnarly, thundering section that raced and threatened.


Ian update:
Well hello everyone.

I'm sure all of you have been DYING to hear from me, and what I've been doing with my time. No? Well, I'll fill you in anyway. At the moment, I'm in Florence, Italy with Jon and Chris. We picked Chris up from Paris 2 weeks ago. Drank a lot of wine (it's about $2 a bottle), then went to Amsterdam. We didn't drink there, if you catch the drift. From there we went to Prague in the Czech Republic. It's amazingly cheap there. It's also part of "beer country." Prague is where the original Budweiser was invented, and yes, it's good. You can get a liter of beer for $0.75. I guess we drank a lot there too. Then, we took the train from Prague to Munich (again). This time was just as fun as the last. We took a bike tour of the city and saw some AMAZING things that we wouldn't have otherwise, including people surfing in the river. You can imagine how excited I got when I saw that. I even had my wetsuit with me, but unfortunately, we didn't have time to try it out, but I did get pict ures. We got to visit the (touristy) Haufbrau haus, which isn't as cool as some the other ones, but it's the biggest one. We stayed with our friend Martha and her family. As you can imagine, they took great care of us and treated us like Kings. Funny enough, Chris's last name is Koenig, which actually means king in German.. Go figure. After we headed to Venice. Kind of a tourist trap, expensive, but it is extremely beautiful. I don't even think we heard anyone speaking Italian there. Then off to Verona. We got to visit Juliette's balcony, and her tomb. Pretty rad. Now, we're in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Florence. Luckily Amy wrote us up a huge list of places to go, so we have a lot to do and see. It easy to fall in love with this place because the people are so genuinely friendly and willing to help. We made a new friend, an owner of a cafe, who within 15 minutes was giving us free coffee and pastries I (I think he liked Jon). So, that's just a quick, and short r ecap of what's been going on. I could go on for days about the idiotic stories we've created, but I'll save them for when I'm home. I hope everyone is doing great! I miss you all, and can't wait to see everyone!



Posted by Ethan at 09:30 AM
November 03, 2005
magic month?

It's November now folks.
For months and months and months we've dealt with onshores, lackluster waves, onshores, freezing cold duckdives, onshores, messy closeouts, onshores, and... onshores.
Wellll.. the onshores are finally letting up a bit, it was actually blowing a bit offshore (SSE) at around 6:30.
A few areas looked pretty decent as i drove home from my girlfriend's house (Happy B-day CJ!) so figured it would be ok in front of my house too.
that would be killer!
Met lerm and ran down there.
Can we have just one day with beautiful waves?
please please please please.
When was the last time you sprinted to the water because the waves looked so ridiculously good?
When was the last time you stayed out longer than expected because the waves were just too epic to leave?
There may have been a few hours two weeks ago or 15 minutes last month.. but.. for me, i haven't been transfixed by the wonderment of perfect waves in a long time. A few crowded pointbreak experiences here or there where the waves peeled in ruler-edged succulence. but.. the crowds suck the stoke right out of it. I guess last March was the last time i remember it being friggin off it's pants out at the local.
A few good sessions down in Baja were nice.. but we never got that "oh my god those were the sickest waves i've ever surfed ever in my life holy shit that was ridiculous!"
oh well.. patience i guess.
spoiled jadedness?

Today during our session: Largish, lumpy, wonky, backing-off, ugly-looking rollers.
Doing the ol' outer-bar half-break-then-backoff thing.
The inner bar all over the place so it was difficult to find a spot to sit.
Lerm found a nice ride toward the end.
One decent, if slightly bumpy, left for me.
A few mushy drops.
An ugly over-the-falls wipeout like the kook i am.
Nice to be in the ocean on a clear, sunny morning.
Always fun to hunt and attempt to catch and ride waves.
Such a strange and fascinating pursuit.

Posted by Ethan at 09:24 AM
November 02, 2005

Stormy, jostled ocean surface.
Nice morning to sleep in.
Maybe waves somewhere??

Looking at photos of the Maldives last night.

meetings now.

peace out.

Posted by Ethan at 09:23 AM
November 01, 2005
gentle licks

Warm, windless calm.
- Troubadours croon and summon the spirit.
Early morning fogless sky.
- The collective unconscious pines and whirs.
A few tidbits in the mix.
- The meta-mind of mankind, toward what ultimate destination?
Dainty, smooth peaks.
- The dialectical progression coaxed toward resolution.
A couple spots breaking steep, then backing off.
- An ashen fleck of universal grandiosity.
Chunkalicious moments amid the mushy fake-outs.
- Infinite smallness, infinite largesse.
Then the wind came up.
- Beelzebub whispers, Yahweh commands.
Blown out by 7:45.
- Limitless unraveling of space-time.
Whitecaps at 8.
- A child's unfettered excitement.

The present is the only reality.
Make the most of where you are right now.
Don't be a hater.

Sylvia Ji paintings (check out for an interiew with the artist)
Sylvia ji

Sylvia ji

Sylvia ji

Posted by Ethan at 09:24 AM