May 30, 2006

Tom Curren slotted in a South Pacific barrel.

Friday party at Mollusk.
Cuties and scenesters.
Guy telling me about doing Exctasy at least twice a week, every week for two years. Now all he does is smoke chronic and shape surfboards.
Dudes in one-size-too-small izod shirts and sperry topsiders.
Good vibes.
Cajun Pacific open.

Hayes Valley street fair.
Oh my lord this city is holding!
Beautiful, stylish women all over the place.
Thank you to all the demure, low-key, funky girl-next-doors.

RIP Greg Frydenlund.
Didn't know him but a large group of people paddled out in his honor the other day.
Life is precious and short.

A few waves lapped up over the weekend.
Lerm smacked a number of lips.
Watched a smooth asian guy slice through a few.
I mostly kooked, as usual.
Caught one decent one this morning.

Backdoorish takeoff on a shoulder-high insider.
Low-tide shallowness creates concave pocket.
Ledgy take-off followed by immediate couple-a-pumps along a glassy wall.
A defined lip presents itself and i bottom turn then ride up to meet the waiting lip.
A soft impact is followed by a pleasurable ride down with the whitewater.
Mellowly ride it out.


Currently reading Marquis de Sade's Justine. One of the antagonists in the story had this to say in regard to people's belief in God, "Primitive man, terrified by the phenomena which harried him, had necessarily to believe that a sublime being unknown to him had the direction of their operation and influence; it is native to weakness to suppose strength and to fear it; the human mind, then too much in its infancy to explore, to discover in Nature's depths the laws of motion, the unique springs of the entire mechanism that struck him with awe, found it simpler to fancy a motor in this Nature than to view Nature as her own mover."


Just a reminder that the comments are still eff'ed up. If you've already logged in and it still says, "click here to sign in." Just refresh your screen a few times and it should work. No internet at home makes it tough for me to work on the back-end stuff. Hopefully in the next few weeks i'll be able to stay late at work and either upgrade moveable type or install a whole new blog software (wordpress). We'll see. thanks for being patient!


someone posted these on the forum

Posted by Ethan at 09:33 AM
May 26, 2006
Pete Dennison

Ralph Dennison is a serious man. He grew up on an Idaho farm as one of six children. His father, a physically intimidating, no-nonsense type of guy stood 6'6" and weighed 260lbs. Mean, strict, hard-working, all business. Pop Dennison ran the farm like a well-oiled machine. When Ralph hit puberty he grew into a giant. One of those physical freaks. Naturally ripped, impossibly strong. Ralph was also blessed with coordination and speed. In rural Idaho, like many other podunk towns, high-school football ruled. Ralph soon became a star. Played both ways. Took his team to State Championships three times. He received scholarship offers all over the place but decided on Stanford because of its balance of academics and athletics. At Stanford Ralph also excelled. He played tight-end and was known for his stickum hands and deep knowledge of the game.

At Stanford Ralph was captivated by a tall, lithe, jovial swimmer named Alice Reed. Unlike Ralph, Alice was more free-spirited and experimental. But she was also a totally bad-ass swimmer who later made the olympic team in the 100 backstroke and the medley relay. At first Alice was turned off by Ralph's gruff demeanor and no-nonsense approach to life. "Why are you so stern and grim all the time" she often asked him.

Ralph later went on to play pro football for the Rams. He made it to a few pro bowls and enjoyed a highly successful 8 year career, after which he and Alice moved to a pimpin' house on Point Dume. Soon after a few kids came along.

Pete, the oldest, took a lot of harshness from his dad. Ralph's expectations were high from the beginning and Pete grew up feeling like he could never live up. Luckily for Pete his mom Alice was more cruisy and the two of them shared a love for swimming and the ocean. Pete inherited his dad's physique but not his aggressiveness or fire. He was more of a technician, like his mom. His dad pushed him into football as a youngster but it never stuck. Pete didn't like bashing into other kids and hurting them. When he refused to play junior-high football Ralph took it personally and a strong rift began between father and son. Pete excelled at swimming and water-polo and loved playing both. But.. soon.. a neighborhood friend convinced Pete to come down to the beach for a surf. The two of them went up to Zuma and Pete was hooked from the first ride. Within a year Pete was a shredder. By highschool Pete looked like Pancho Sullivan on steroids. Big, tall, muscular and radical. His athleticism and ease in the water allowed him to advance quickly. It also helped that he had a semi-private point break right in his backyard. Soon Pete was kicking ass on the NSSA and getting barrels at Supertubes. His dad did not approve.

Ralph's disapproval of surfing had never been a secret. Even before Pete started doing it Ralph would ridicule those, "lifeless, druggy losers wasting their lives!" every time he saw someone with a surfboard. "It's an insult to society!" Ralph would say. "It's wasteful and irresponsible." "Fucking hippies!"

But Pete was unperturbed. He knew what he liked. He liked getting barrelled. He liked punting giant airs and blowing minds with his unprecedented power attack. His physical bearing alone but him in another class. Before Pete's time the best surfers were mostly smaller guys. Little guys. Their quickness and lightness allowed them to flit around on waves like agile little birds. Pete just blew doors on that whole paradigm. He used his size and strength to do things on waves that had never been done before. He manhandled waves. Fast, strong, loose, powerful, and just a tad crazy. He took chances. He had supreme confidence in his ability. He felt deeply at home in the water. Pete killed it and in doing so inspired legions of bigger and taller guys.

The final straw came when Pete graduated from Brentwood high school. He turned down a waterpolo scholarship to Stanford to pursue pro surfing full time. Ralph actually lost his control and slugged his son right in the mouth. That moment created a permanent wedge in the family but also strengthened Pete's resolve to follow his dream.

3 world championships later Pete still remembers that punch with horror. His masterful wave-riding and unprecedented skill in slaying waves still do little to assuage the pain of a father who never accepted him.

Mark Hagen snapped this photo of "Lindonesia"

Posted by Ethan at 10:24 AM
May 25, 2006

Glassy peeling waves.
Grand soaring mountains.
Goopy murky sludge.
Unfathomable pregnant belly.
Spinning in vessel earth.
In between ice ages.
Internecine turmoil.
Galactic onrushing acceleration.
A speck on a speck in a speck of a speck.
Each the God of our personal universe.

Heard the founder of Patrick Henry University (evangelical Christian school for home-schooled Christians) on Terry Gross yesterday. The guy seemed pretty convinced that the bible was the literal word of God. He also had no doubt of Jesus' divinity or that a divine savior would return to earth someday. He thought that the current trend of societal tolerance was a "fad" and that the theory of evolution was laughable when compared to creationism. He was a very effective debater and whenever Terry attempted to corner him about something he would craftily squirm around it.

How can evangelical Christians have so much assurance that a creator God exists? Or that Jesus was any more than a normal human being? I mean i guess there is a chance that some divine entity initiated the universe way back when but there's just as much chance that the universe is a fiction existing in each of our minds. Or maybe the universe has just always existed, without beginning or end? Our presupposition of an ultimate beginning just a bias within our own understanding? Have biblical literalists simply been taught all their lives that the Bible is the be-all-end-all and should be held higher than science or basic rational thought? It baffles me. To each his own i guess.

Fundamentalism of any stripe is frightening.

Terry Gross interviews Gene Simmons

Kim Cogan paintings (Kim is a friend of Bagel and an up-and-coming wave-rider. Check out his interview on fecalface


photos from

Posted by Ethan at 09:48 AM
May 24, 2006

At the bottom of the Marin Headlands the coast is peppered with bends and points. The potential for a rideable wave seems high. Could the right swell/tide/wind produce a little right point? Bay Area surfers have been asking that question for decades. Access might be tough.. but.. with north winds blowing offshore and the majesty of the Golden Gate as your backdrop it seems worth an investigation. That's at least what i've casually pondered each time i drove across the bridge. Never noticed anything peeling though.. That is until I received a message last night from a guy I hardly know named Rack. I don't know if that's his real name but it's what everyone calls him. I guess he reads the surf report and is a fan of all the random characters and whatnot. He emailed and told me about a Marin County wave that would probably be working in the morning. I was skeptical but figured I'd check it out with him. We met at 5am in the parking lot near the Golden Gate bridge and he drove me across. He had one of those windowless white vans with random tools and rubber and huge metal plates strewn through the back. He talked excitedly and had a wild gleam in his eye. He also had a giant scar running from the bottom of his right eye all the way down his cheek to the top of his neck. He saw me looking at it and told me matter-of-factly that he'd gotten the scar as a Navy Seal twenty years earlier. A mission in Nicaragua went wrong and a piece of shrapnel from an explosion ripped through his face, nearly killing him. "Daaaamn!" I said.

Twenty minutes later, after driving around some of the backroads near Chronkite, Rack suddenly lurched the van off onto this wide, unpaved bike-path. Silently we bumped down the path, around a few corners and then he pulled over and parked the van. It was still dark so i couldn't really see where we were. He said, "We can walk down from here." So we grabbed our boards and suits and began walking down this steep goat-path. Rack led and used ropes that he had anchored there years ago to descend the steep cliff. It was sketchy.

We finally get to the bottom and I can see Fort Point and Lands End across the way. The city lights still glimmering in the first hints of dawn. Beautiful. We walk across a small beach and then around a few corners. He tells me we have to swim from here so we don the wetsuits and paddle around another headland. When we round the corner I see it. A small, wedgy right peeling close to the wall at the NW end of this little pocket beach. It looks like the left that the long-haired guy Caffey surfs in Stoney Baloney, only this is a right. Glassy, inconsistent, punchy, shallow, fast.

We surf it for an hour or so before the tide starts to kill it. Then we paddle back and head up the cliff to the van.

Rack tells me on the way home not to worry about secrecy as the wave only works a few times a year.


The comments are still tweaky. My lazy ass didn't have time to get in there yesterday. Artifact emailed that he's been getting denied when trying to comment. If it keeps asking you to "sign in" just refresh the page a few times. If you're still having problems kick me an email at and tell me wass happenin'.




the above story may or may not be a fictionalized account


Posted by Ethan at 09:37 AM
May 23, 2006
Bait Balls

Small, lackluster waves.
Squadrons of pelicans and seagulls hovering over what seemed like a probable bait-ball of fish.
Fisherman going bananas.
Lining the beach.
Endless duckdives even though it looked tiny.
Probably 80 duckdives for the three rides i caught.
One good left.
One so-so right.
South wind.

Jefferson's Brother
Playing in the Foam (5mb mp3)


The comments template is royally fucked up again! ARGHG!! Fucking computers! I was trying to continue fixing it last night and somehow i lost the template that was sort-of working and now i'm back to square one. Plus the server keeps crapping out when i try to rebuild the blog. Not to mention the things that i remember being effective in terms of getting typekey to recognize niceness and getting the comments template to do cookies, etc.. now don't seem to work at all. Fucking FUCK!!! Ever since the hack niceness has been in ill-health. Hopefully in the next week commenting will be back. maybe.
Sorry for the lameness. SUcks!

If there are any programming maestros in the niceness community who want to lend a hand and get this shit back on track please email me at


Posted by Ethan at 09:43 AM
May 22, 2006
weekend update

Friday afternoon get home from work, look at the surf... ahh.. shitty, windy and stormy.
Have a few beers and play music.
It rains some. Then the weather shifts around.
Bagel and i drive over to Hockey Haven and check the beach on the way.
Grag! What the?!?!
Blissful, glassy south-swell lines. Beautiful. Argh!
Too late to make it happen. Fun to watch though.
Saw some barrels and some airs.

Saturday morn saw some niceness peelers.
Hordes of folks in little pods. The rest of the coast empty.

Saturday night i went to The Coalition of the Willing show at the Independent.
My friend is a bit of a mover/shaker in the music world and got us VIP passes.
The band killed it all night. Groovy, a-synchronous, bad-ass improvisational mastery.
Charlie Hunter on a six-string, sounding like he's played it all his life.
Skerik adding the extra oomph to everthing and also throwing down some soulful solos.
Happy, fun-loving vibes on stage. Refreshing.
During set-break my friend took me to smoke a bone with some of his peeps.
Turns out the keyboardist from the band was among them.
Marco Benevento plays keys in a jam-band called the Benevento-Russo duo.
They're getting pretty huge in the jam circuit.
He was a character; animated and psyched.
Hot girlfriend.
Talking, gesticulating, yelling, carrying-on.
Very friendly.
It turns out that Trey Anastasio asked him and the other guy in his duo to record an album and tour with Trey and Mike Gordon from Phish.
Trey recently sent him a CD with 14 songs to learn.
This guy is probably 24 years old, if that, and actually toured with Phish, as a fan.
Now he's in the band.
Now he'll be in a pimping tour-bus.
Playing huge venues.
Wahines begging for it.
Whatever party-favors he likes.
Playing music all night every night with a total legend.
He was frothing about it, saying, "I'm going on tour! for real!"
Dude is psyched.

Sunday awoke to tasty rippables.
Good to catch a few with Kaiser.
Then walked over to catch the tail-end of Bay to Breakers.
Holy mother of all that is drunken.
Legions of googly-eyed inebriated revelers.
Beer-soaked, pimple-covered, exposed boobies.
The requisite flabby 40-yr-old naked men.
Pissing and fighting.
Girls looking hot in their pink bob wigs.
Team of Hulkamaniacs.
Team of Double-Dare participants.
Team of dodge-ballers.
Guys dressed in Bud-light boxes.
People trashing the park.
People swimming in the toy sailboat lake.
Seriously - "hide the children!"

Went to see the Mermen at Park Chalet but instead my friend Nathan's band was playing.
Chill dub/reggae style.
Then is started fucking pouring!

Later the surf got good.
Real good.
Tapering walls.
Multiple maneuvers.
Evening glass-off.
Thank you Huey!


the sign-in code for the comments is still screwy! Sorry to all that have been annoyed or discouraged by it. Hopefully today or tomorrow i'll have some time to get in there and figure it out. Thanks again for your patience. Eventually you should have to only sign-in once, then a cookie should be set on your machine so you'll never have to sign in again!! hopefully.


Jonathon Hoover continues to take beautiful black and white images of the Jers.



The Chron this morning

Doran Beach going off!

Posted by Ethan at 09:24 AM
May 19, 2006

The roots of surfing.
The heart of surfing.
Rising from a stationary hot-spot below a moving tectonic plate.
Powerful, mana-rich mountains.
Pre-contact surfing as ceremony and religion.
Wave riding as contests of manhood or celebrations of leisure.
Ka the god of war.
Human sacrifice.
Double-hulled canoes for intra-island voyages.
Guiding by the stars.
Guided by the heart.
Cook comes and then comes back again.
Supposedly his appearance coincidentally coincided with the holiday of a powerful god.
The Hawaiians thought he was the god.
They sent their women as offerings.
Later a hawaiian steals something from his boat and Cook sends men to retrieve it.
A skirmish ensues on the beach.
Cook comes to see what's wrong but the tide turns and the natives are restless.
Cook dies on the beach.
Soon ships and navy vessels make Lahaina and Waikiki regular stops in the Pacific.
Prostitution and other vices flourish.
Sugar plantations dot the land. Pineapples too.
Waves of immigrants come to work the fields.
Japanese, Chinese, Filipino.
The Missionaries come as well.
Instruct the islanders to wear more clothes, be industrious, don't lounge at the beach, don't surf, work work work.
Surfing wanes in popularity.
Surfing nearly dies.
In the 1800s it begins to pick up some steam.
The Waikiki beach boys gladly paddle pasty-white mainlanders out to Queens.
They gladly entertain the wealthy mainland ladies.
The Duke makes his worldwide tour.
Olympic fame.
Plants the surfing seed around the world.

Bonga Perkins

Rell Sunn Alii pose

Michael Ho

Posted by Ethan at 10:05 AM
May 18, 2006

Driving from Capetown to Durban.
The classic South African ramble.
A big swell lighting up the coast.
In your rickety combi van.
Dry, mountainous, golden-hilled California-like terrain.
Past Umptata and you see a ruckus up ahead on the road.
It looks like a collision but there is something not quite normal about the scene.
A crowd of local people dart and dash.
A few women cry out in what sounds like terror.
A few sprint past you, wide-eyed and frightened.
What the?
You begin to slow down when suddenly you hear a low, stomach-churning growl from up ahead.
You come to a stop and then see what cannot be, but is.
A huge beastial mammal lifts its head above the crashed car in the road.
It's some type of hyena/cheetah/baboon hybrid.
Patchy fur, cat-like eyes, ape-like head, gigantic muscular body.
What is that thing!!?
The real horror sets in when you realize what it's eating.
Clamped between it's bloody maw is an unmistakable human leg.
The beast looks to be really digging in.
Blood dripping down it's fanged mouth.
A wild look in it's eyes.
It sees you looking at it.
It stops chewing for an instant and stares you down.
In that moment your thoughts freeze.
The beast communicates.
"Don't fuck with me. I will come eat you in your dreams."
You turn the combi around and drive back to Port Elizabeth.
Back to Capetown.
Back to America.
Memories of the Transkei Diablo haunt your sleep.


soo.. the comments are sort-of working now! Hey!! I still need to work through the new stylesheets and get the font color and spacing and all that shit smoothed out.. But. there is a chance that if you register with typekey (click on the comment link) the whole enchelada will actually work (probably not though). Please email me if you experience problems (

SHit! nevermind.. it's not working for me now.. Fucking fuck fuck!!


Posted by Ethan at 10:03 AM
May 17, 2006
note from Alain

Slightly boggle the drop but hold on.
The wave forms up nicely.
A vertical wall looms large.
Just begging to be smacked.
Lots of speed.
Pivot off the bottom.
Whip up into the upper reaches of the lip.
Air-droppy re-entry.


Alain in Holland wrote this email:

hey e,
so today i committed to spending my summer indoors,
working in a design office here in Holland. I guess
there could be worse ways to spend the summer, but
it's still not cali. But I figured that since I had
already replaced the ocean with the pool and real
waves with the wind chop on the canals, I might as
well go all the way with this euro experience.
I have to say it has been a real humbling process
trying to re-define my identity outside of surfing and
the beach. But to be honest, I wish every wave rider
would make the sacrifice to put some time in away from
the coast. Not just because I am jealous of all the
fucks getting to surf everyday, but because enduring
the whole "fish out water" thing would have an
incredibly positive affect in lineups across the
globe. Or I guess it could work the other way around
and cause a lot of drunken fights in inland bars. as
for myself, i know when i return it won't take much
more than a 6in to make me stoked.
Anyways, during one of my class periods last week
we had to develop our own freestate. I took this ASL
debate I always read about on your blog and developed
my own version of living the ASL in SF. It is based
around the concept of living in a migrating costal
state-no fixed location. Tribal- living off the land,
squatting in abandoned monuments and following the
mico-weather/season patterns in SF. So that one may
can devote all their freetime to leisure. The poster
isn’t totally accurate but I attached the PDF anyways.
I thought you might get a kick out of it. I also
attached some waves if you are still looking for surf
pics to post. not the best quality, but they take me
close to the barrel and even closer to some summers of
fun during a much different life.
I have rid updating myself on most happenings back
home as I try to fully emerge here. But for some
reason, I still check your site everyday. It’s always
a treat. Your writing and perspective is addicting. I
find myself living through your written images,
getting amped along the way. Keep rocking it solid.
Steady and out.

And dude, get that blog back up.


Alain's creation

Alain photos






The comments should be working in the next few days. Still ironing out kinks. Thanks for your patience.


Posted by Ethan at 10:09 AM
May 16, 2006

Strong offshore wind.
Camping with a few friends in a rural, low-key area.
Wooded mountains, a touch of frost.
The winds are usually onshore here.
The surf usually big and disheveled.
The coast exposed.
But every dog has it's day.
And today this dog is howling!
Gazing out to sea from the top of the cliffs.
The reef looks serious.
Double-overhead, sucking, lurching ledges.
Peeling, exploding, firing, enticing.
Bust out the 7'6" mini-gun.
Gingerly pick down the cliffside.
Easy paddle out to the lineup.
The wind is raging and you can barely hear your friends as they hoot the incoming set.
The waves roar as they crack and explode down the line.
Look deep into the throaty, empty pit.
Forms take shape in the vaporized spit.
Large, powerful, grandiose.
Another set comes through and you commit.
The thing sucks out and you scramble for entry.
Sucking and sucking and pulling off the reef.
The wind makes it tough to find a ramp.
You look down and it's gonna be an iffy air-drop.
Finally feel the push and you're up and over the ledge.
Free-falling down into the destructive palm of the wave.
You just barely catch your inside edge and dig your fist into the face.
All hell tosses over your head and the tunnel enshrouds.
For a brief instant you anticipate an exit.
But the wave has other ideas and you get masticated like the gringo-chum you are.


If anyone has set up TypeKey authentication for moveable type kick me an email at My attempts have been unsuccessful so far. I'm an idiot!! argh!


Not to pimp Michael Kew any more, but his latest article in TWSurf sheds an interesting light on how many nor-cal locals feel about journalistic interlopers. Scary.


Vaque is vogue.


Good music coming to the Yay Area:
Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing
- at Amoeba (free show) and then the Independent
Bobby Previte is a legendary drummer (downtown NYC scene). Charlie Hunter is in this band playing a traditional electric guitar (as opposed to his usual 8 string). Skerik is also in this band. They basically kick ass!

Bill Frisell at Yoshi's.
Frisell is probably the leading jazz guitist today. But he's more than just a jazz guitar player. His ambiant/ethereal/moody improvisations are modern and avant-guard. Supposedly the drummer in this band is the real deal.


stinkeye photo

David Pu'u photo


ulu dance (can't remember who's photo this is?? sorry)

Typical day at Lindy


review of some tzadic-related shows from nyc (from a zorn email list i'm on)


I spent the weekend in New York, attending
Tzadik-related shows and thought some of you would
like to hear a bit about the Zorn-related
performances. The driving purpose of the trip was the
two Japan Society shows. The Japan Society has a
small theater (looked like about 200 seats, filled at
least 2/3 each night) and has asked Zorn to curate
shows of avant garde Japanese music for them-- the
program notes made it sound like they're hoping to
make this a series, so here's hoping we keep getting
phenomenal shows at the Japan Society.

Anyway, the show was billed as New Voices from Japan,
and featured Yamataka Eye, Haino Keiji and Makigame
Koichi (on Friday, he was sadly absent on Saturday)
joined by Jim O'Rourke, Mike Patton, Ikue Mori and
Zorn. The performances were sort of like the improv
parties-- subsets of the performers played together
on-stage, usually duos or trios, with everybody
performing the last piece both nights (and the first
piece Friday night). I got the distinct impression
the show was wholly improvised. Some impressions:

While I really disliked the Makigame solo voice record
from a few months back, I was stunned by his
performance-- his range alone was unbelievable-- if I
assessed correctly, he covered nearly six octaves
during the performance and a variety of techniques.
Given that I'm rather proud of my three octave range,
I was, needless to say, in awe. He's also one of
those performers who makes it look easy, he seemed to
barely move during the show.

The interaction between Zorn and Eye was purely
sublime-- whenever the two of them were on-stage,
fireworks abounded. Eye in particular was the monster
performer I had envisioned him being (I've never seen
him live before)-- bizarre, captivating, stuffing
microphones in his mouth and annunciating in his
throat, screaming, chanting and blowing on what looked
like a condom stretched over the microphone.

O'Rourke and Ikue Mori made for nice contrasts--
O'Rourke seemed to be playing with analog synths,
triggering largely organ sounds off a (invisible from
my standpoint) keyboard and a patch box where he moved
banana clips around, whereas Mori sat at her usual
laptop and triggered wacky electronic noises.

The audience was a lot of folks who I recognized from
Tonic and the Stone as well as a number of people who
were apparently pretty unfamiliar with this-- we had
expected significantly more people to leave early than
did however (based on experiences seeing Cecil Taylor
and Ornette Coleman at uptown theaters...), so
hopefully the wider exposure benefitted the artists
performing to some degree. There was one guy who
about five minutes in grabbed his stuff and ran (and I
mean RAN!) for the door as fast as possible, but for
the most part, a couple people I talked to who came in
with no idea what to expect but an open mind seemed to
really enjoy the show.



I attended Sunday's performance by Eugene Chadbourne
and John Zorn at The Stone-- I was too young to have
seen the two of them play back in the early days of
the downtown scene (I'm 28 now, so in the early '80s,
I was < 10), and as the two of them don't seem to do
this very often, I figured it was a

I had heard last time they played together, Zorn was
not into it at all, both both he and Chadbourne seemed
to be in particularly good spirits. I must confess,
I'm woefully unfamiliar with Chadbourne's work outside
of the downtown context, so forgive me if I'm stating
the obvious in talking about this.

Chadbourne performed on banjo and a square red
electric guitar with lipstick pickups, using finger
picks for the banjo and an assortment of oddities
(incuding what he referred to as a "She-Ra crystal" on
the guitar), Zorn stuck to his alto-- the same one he
played way back when, as Chadbourne observed.

They started a bit early (about 5 of 8) and finished
after about 40 minutes, but played an encore on the
desires of the enthusiastic packed house.

The performance was fantastic-- one of the best wholly
improvised shows I've ever seen-- it's clear that,
musically speaking, these guys came into their own
together-- there was a naturalness to their
performance that found them stunningly in sync--
Chadbourne generally presented a framework for Zorn,
whether on banjo or on guitar, and incorporated
elements of any number of genres, from country to
metal and loungey jazz and in between as well as a
healthy dose of skronk. Zorn, for his part, responded
in kind, pulling out all the stops in terms of
extended technique but also playing straight to match
the moods that Chadbourne established for him.
Occasionally, he pushed Chadbourne into different
directions-- the last piece of the set found Zorn
engaging in freewheeling squeals which Chadbourne
echoed and at times Zorn played nearly ambient,
rhythmically, and patiently, allowing Chadbourne the
opportunity to really breathe.

As a whole, I was most impressed with Chadbourne's
banjo performance, he seemed to really relish playing
the instrument and his performance on it seemed to
inspire Zorn-- a personal favorite moment was Zorn
playing along to Chadbourne's tuning his banjo and
Chadbourne deciding to continue twisting his tuning
knobs and coaxing sounds out of the instrument. Also
superb was a mournful, calling performance by Zorn on
alto mouthpiece with Chadbourne accompanying on a
whimsical banjo line.

I wish I could have stuck around for Chadbourne's solo
set, but I had to get back to Massachusetts.
Nonetheless, this was a great one.


Posted by Ethan at 09:51 AM
May 15, 2006

Hey Hey.
A little window of summertime yesterday.
I was camping down in Henry Cowell on Saturday night after surfing horrid, completely disorganized mayhem in the morning. I figured I could leave the coast for a day and not worry about missing quality waves. Ha!!
Got down to beautiful Felton, CA around 7pm and promply realized that i forgot my sleeping bag. Hell yeah! A night of frigid tossing and turning ensued. Tried to make the most of my stubby blanket. Did pushups to stay warm. Ended up reading the Johnny Cash autobiography most of the night until it began warming up around 7. The guy grew up picking cotton in Arkansas. He was friends with Elvis. Friends with Roy Orbison, who lost his wife and then two of his kids in a house fire. Johnny Cash also did a ton of speed. About 10 years worth of nearly daily amphetamines. He got into many car crashes while under the influence. One of which started a forest fire near Ojai. The fire displaced most of the California Condors that had been making a mini comeback in the area. Johnny went to court for starting the fire and was unrepetent when told about the Condors. He had to pay a huge fine.

Anyway.. then we took an amazing hike through the forest. Ended up swimming in the San Lorenzo river in the 90 degree sunshine. So fun..

but.. then soon after.. i received a few calls that the beach was going off. Glassy, peeling, fun, warm, bikinis, waves, dude where are you? arggh! Of course i was driving around San Jose on my way back to Oakland.

Jammed for a spell and then voyaged across the bridge to meet Elias for an end-of-the-day surf. Dude had his self-shaped, egg-like single fin and was pumped to catch a few. We found a lonely peak out there and enjoyed. Elias backdoored a purdy wave and found his way into a small tube. Pretty stylish. I mostly kooked on the few solid waves i tracked down. Blew most of the mouth-watering opportunities that rolled my way. Fumbled take-offs, lost my balance on perfect walls, chose the shitty first wave when the next four waves were succulent. but.. surfing still kicks ass. Thanks Huey for a day of surfables.

Looks white-capped and windy this morning.


I apologize to anyone who has tried to comment on the site. I still don't have the template quite right for registration so even if you register through typekey it won't work on niceness. I need to stay after work one of these days (no internet at home) and just crank through it. Hacker guy you rule!

If anyone has better ideas on how to deal with the discussion board (comments) please email me at Making people have to register will definitely change the character and vibe of the site. Most people agree that it will probably make it suck. sucks.



Another death at Ocean Beach


Mark Hagen sent some killer photos


Amazing photos from Michael Kew!


Bobby Martinez wins T-poo

Posted by Ethan at 08:55 AM
May 12, 2006
Bronchial Tubes

Watched a young couple revel in their obvious love on the N-Judah.
The girl was soft and rounded.
She had very pretty light blue eyes and smooth skin.
The guy was dorky but friendly-looking. Conservatively attired.
Neither of them could wipe the smile off their face the whole ride.
She kept caressing him and whispering in his ear.
He would blush and look around nervously... happily.
She had the look on her face like a women in heat.
Heavy eyelids and a wistful, easy grin.
Both confident in their emotions toward each other.
Both brimming with the strains of love.
The feel of it hovered around them like a resplendent halo.
A warm, tactile, gooey, shimmering light.
Softly bitten lips and a longing look in the eye.
An open, waiting mouth and subtle body-to-body contact.
The wheels of evolution turn strongly.


Sooo.. suffererd more of a beating than i originally thought the other day (thanks hacker guy!). The comments might be a few days in the works as we figure out how to re-establish the blogging software and the web server. Hopefully by next week it will be smoothly flowing.

A lot of harsh words were thrown around by countless people in the comments these last few years. People really enjoy taking digs at other folks while hidden safely within the anonymous confines of an interet discussion board. I guess it's just the way of the interweb. I guess one thing to be taken away from all of it is to just try to respect other people in the lineup. Try to be the better guy. If somebody is being lame out there... just paddle away. If you're out with rippers or seasoned veterans of a spot, give those guys respect. Know your place in the lineup. If you moved here from Ohio 4 years ago and you can take off and go down the line just fine... but you're not a shredder... know that there are people who have been surfing here their whole lives and have paid dues to be in the main rotation at a crowded spot on a good day. Let those guys get theirs. Maybe that means not surfing at all and just watching. Maybe that means coming back in two hours and surfing the leftovers. Also it would be great if people just let their surfing speak for itself (i should take note!). Nothing worse than watching some guy just kill it and then listen to him yell obsenities at some old kooky guy who lost his board while trying to duckdive. The chill guys who rip shit up are true inspirations! The older guy Greg who surfs with power and style. That guy rules! He fucking kills it but always has a smile and good vibes too. Andy Olive too.. kills it and is real chill out there. Doesn't hassle. Just drops in deep and shreds shredding shreddables. Elias is another shining example. The guy is super humble and kick-back. You might never guess that he has skills in the water. But then you see him out there just, "DUUDGE!!! DUUUDGEE!!!!!" Tearing the backs off waves and finding barrels and landing gnarly airdrops and just going insane. Inspiring man. To all the quiet, mellow guys who kill it! You're an inspiration!! thanks!


On an unrelated but semi-related note - agrokook sent me this email:

It has been a while since there has been violence at a surf spot in the bay area. It has happened again at Rockaway in Pacifica. You might want to alert your readers. It has been a very tense place to surf over the last couple of months. Beginners from Linda Mar have been driving the locals nuts. It finally blew up like a bad teenage movie. The Bad Lieutenant, a mavericks surfer from Ocean Beach, picked a fight with some pacifica locals on Tuedays night.

There was a lot of yelling in the water for 10-15 minutes. He called them to the beach telling them he'd kick there asses. Like some poorly made kung fu movie, it erupted into a full on brawl. The Bad Lieutenant got his ass kicked bad. At the end he was begging for mercy. The crazy thing is 3 of his buddies stood and watched him get worked?

Even though he deserved it. It made me sick to my stomach.


photos from

Posted by Ethan at 09:29 AM
May 11, 2006
Off the bottom

Good wave comes.
Take off backside.
Steep drop but no pigdog.
Stay low and balanced.
Carve hard off the bottom...
Abruptly and with intention.
Look up at your target.
Steer up toward vertical.
Seek and destroy.
Punch up at the lip with your fins.
Flow the turn with power and precision.
Arcing, rounded, fast, low.
Push out from within.
Look toward where you're going next.
Enjoy the sensation of the power turn.


Sooo.. somebody with malicious intent brought down niceness for a few hours yesterday. Awesome! They also posted an old address of mine in an effort to threaten me i guess? Thanks a lot dude! I really hate to do what this guy suggested but i think it's time to try a comment registration system. Policing the comments is getting really tiresome. Soo.. we'll see if this typekey registration thingy works. I'll post a link when i get it settled. Thanks to the 99% of chill, good-vibed people out there in niceness land. Sorry to have to make you deal with registering and all that. Hopefully you won't just bail! Seriously, it's been fun as all hell to read what you guys (and girls) post. The anonymous commenting was rad because of its sponteneity and randomness. but.. the whole locals this and that bru-ha-ha was getting too gnarly for me to deal with.

eg pimp's jetty this morning

Posted by Ethan at 08:57 AM
May 10, 2006
niceness hacked

well... sort-of hacked. Not sure exactly what happened but it looks like some lovely person successfully overloaded the server using a little script. We haven't figured out all the details yet. Due to the fact that i have work to do here at work i can't really look deep right now. I've temporarily shut the comments off. Sorry. You have some random hater out in internet-land to thank for that.
Thanks buddy.

Posted by Ethan at 03:33 PM
Father Doom

Two friends sit in ocean at the end of the day.
The sunset casts vermilion ribbons streaking across the sky.
Or.. wait.. those red streaks aren't part of the sunset.
What the hell are those huge flaming balls?
Holy shit there are 100s of them.
They're getting closer.
The first projectile slams into the Mt. Davidson area.
The two surfers can feel the shockwave blow their hair back.
First the red-hot explosion and then a black mushroom cloud rises up.
Sirens can be heard in the city.
People screaming.
More projectiles hit and explode.
Up in Marin.
Down in Pacifica.
The two surfers just sit there in shock.
Now much of the city is on fire.
More screams and sounds of tires screeching.
Another gigantic flaming death-ball scorches from the sky and impacts down near the zoo.
The surfers faces nearly melt from the heat of the detonation.
Everything moves in slow motion.
Everything feels surreal.
More of the projectiles fall.
Impossibly loud and violent.
Then the surfers look up and the know it's the end.
An enormous, devilish ball of flame is coming down right on top of them.
For a second there is consciousness.
The next second death.


Slugger sent in these crisp photos of his ripper friend who hails from New York but now lives down in SC. Style.


SD rider took this photo of a San Diego spot with his phone

Posted by Ethan at 09:26 AM
May 09, 2006
Mexico's drug law

Many "hmmmms" were sounded last week when news of Mexico's drug decriminalization law spread throughout the interweb. The Mexican Congress passed a bill that would allow people to legally posess small quantities of ganja, lsd, cocaine, meth, peyote and heroin. President Vicente Fox looked like he was going to pass it into law.

The Mexican Congress drafted the legislation, which also closed loopholes for drug traffickers and supposedly would make it more difficult for dealers and cartels to bribe and coerce the Mexican court system, in an effort to steer their resources toward capturing and imprisoning the big dogs rather than the Jonny Joint-on-Saturday-night type of people.

Surfers everywhere relished the thought of bringing a few doobers down to baja with them without fear of hassles by the federales. Spring-Breakers were probably psyched to be able to score a few worry-free bumps to keep their raging going all night in Cancun or Acapulco. Mexican taxpayers were probably happy not to have to pay to incarcerate the thousands of inmates charged with small-scale possession.

On the other hand many people worried that the new law would encourage drug-seeking vacationers to come to Mexico looking to score. Business owners in many Mexican tourist towns worried that the new law would only inflame the already rampant drug problems plaguing their streets. The drug cartels in Mexico are becoming more and more powerful, especially as some of the major Columbian king pins are captured and imprisoned. In the border town of Nuevo Laredo, four undercover drug agents were killed after a video was released on the web showing them in a shootout with members of a drug cartel. The police chief was also killed and now no-one has applied to take the job. In Acapulco the heads of four drug agents were found under a sign that warned the police to "give respect." Their bodies were later found miles away wrapped in plastic.

The United States was officially very unhappy about this bill and publicly pressured Vicente Fox to stop it. A few days ago Vicente Fox did just that, sending the bill back to Congress. Officially the Fox administration said, "With sensitivity toward the opinions expressed by various sectors of society, the administration has decided to suggest changes to the content of the bill." The Mexican Congress is now on hiatus for the summer and will resume discussions when they return in the fall. However, there will be a shuffling of representatives with a new election so who knows what will happen.

The idea of drug decriminalization is a thorny one. On one hand it's stupid to incarcerate people for light-core possession or for smoking a joint. It's also been proven that throwing addicts in jail doesn't really help their situation or that of the greater society. On the other hand if you're the only decriminalized country in your general geographic area, you might attract shady people who see business opportunity. You might also send the message to kids that, "hey, heroin's ok to use as long as you only have a little bit. In fact, it's legal!" I feel like many people don't even consider doing drugs (even weed) simply because of the fact that it's illegal. Outlawing drugs acts as a deterrent, plain and simple.

Drugs, politics, religion!


If anyone has surf photos they'd like posted up in the main blog entry send them over to


South Africa (photos from

Derick Moss photo

Beschen lip click (photos Alf Alderson)

Beschen pit

Posted by Ethan at 09:09 AM
May 08, 2006
The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan

In "The Omnivore's Dilemma - A Natural History of Four Meals," Michael Pollan traces the pathways of four different meals (Industrial, Organic, Industrial Organic, Hunted/Foraged/Grown) from their origin to our mouth. Using wit, intelligence, and easy prose, Pollen infuses his journalistic forays into the food industry with hard science and flavorful first-person accounts. Where does high-fructose corn syrup come from? What does "organic" mean? What's life like for a factory-farm cow? How do you decipher between deadly and delicious mushrooms? Pollan delves deep into questions like these, probing uncooperative feedlot workers, questioning lifelong slow-food zealots, hunting wild boar, and ultimately guiding the reader merrily along as he uncovers the answers to where our food comes from and what it took to produce.

It was disheartening to learn how many organic foods begin by being produced in small-scale, sustainable ways but end up nearly mirroring their industrial counterparts when produced in mammoth, massively-distributed quantities. The cows that produce organic milk are rarely treated any better than those that produce non-organic. Both are often confined to miserable, caged-in existences, fed diets of mostly corn (cows are ruminants meant to digest grasses), and living in overcrowded CAFOs wallowing in their own excrement. The only difference between organic and non-organic milk in many cases is that the organic cows haven't been given any growth hormones or antibiotics in their feed.

In another interesting section of the book Pollan discusses a week he spends on a "beyond organic" farm in rural Virginia called Polyface farm. The term "beyond organic" refers to the misgivings the proprietor of the farm (and many other serious foodies) have toward the label "organic." In truth the word has a flexible meaning and has been severely co-opted by the industrial food system to make it more lenient than it's original intention. Polyface farm produces beef, ham, chicken, and eggs for local consumption and relies on preciously little outside input to keep itself operating (no chemical-fertilizer/pesticides/herbicides). The health of the farm is based on interconnected webs of symbiosis. The cows eat the grass on a highly specific schedule so as to ensure optimum health for the grass. The grass feeds the cows. The hens enter a pasture a few days after the cows, eating the grubs and larvae that grow in the cow dung. They help to break down the manure and minimize the bug problem on the farm, which helps stave off disease. There are countless symbiotic balances set up on the farm by it's highly resourceful and well-informed owner. Balances involving the forest and water retention, the hogs and fertilizer creation, open-air killing stations and the trust of the customers. Polyface farms runs beautifully on the cyclical, conservative, intelligent reuse of it's waste and land.

The last meal created by Pollan comes from his own efforts to hunt, grow and forage all ingredients. With trepidation he goes boar hunting in Northern California. Likening the experience to the heightened sensory mindframe of cannabis, he stalks through the woods until coming face to face with a large, grunting sow. He traces his reflections on the act of hunting from primal fulfillment to sympathetic remorse. He does a wonderful job of expressing the spectrum of human emotions surrounding the act of hunting in modern times. He exalts in the hardwired, evolutionary life force of the hunting urge. But he also laments the barbaric and cruel practice of willfully stalking and killing a beautiful, highly-sentient wild beast. He skillfully leads the reader through both sides.

Since reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" I've paused for a moments reflection before chomping down on whatever i'm about to put in my mouth. Where does the yeast in these pretzels come from? What was the life of this chicken like? How many miles did this mango travel to get here? How much oil did it take to produce this hamburger? I might not be able to answer all these questions, but i feel more informed about the likely back stories.

Ted Slaughter snapped some unreal photos of this last south swell



Michael Kew shot of a faraway land

Posted by Ethan at 09:37 AM
May 05, 2006
dumpy dimples

hb shot

santa cruz

Jersey Juice (hoover pic)


lindy this morning

Indo kids dig beat boxing

Tenacious Deep




Shaw photo of the Mar

Posted by Ethan at 10:49 AM
May 04, 2006
Blink... Unblink

Casually walking down the street and i blink my eyes.
Unblink them and i'm in a different situation entirely.
No street, no fence, no lights, no concrete.
It's the same spot. The same hillside and ground contours.
I look down at myself and my sneakers are gone. I'm wearing form-fitting leather moccasins.
I'm also wearing a loin-cloth and that's about it.
My hair and beard are long.
I'm carrying a spear.
I keep walking down the path through the woods.
Eventually i smell a fire up ahead.
I approach cautiously.
I hide behind a tree and observe.
It's a small village tucked into a cliff-side.
Men and women mill around the fire.
It looks like they're preparing a meal.
It smells good.
Suddenly they notice me.
The men jump to attention and the women hide the children.
The men approach with a fierce look.
I contemplate running but instead i just step into the clear.
The men look at me wide-eyed.
Then one of them cocks back his spear and lets fly.
I blink.
Unblink and i'm in the same spot.
But not.
The shape of the hillside is the same but the environment is different.
I look down at myself and see stylish slacks and expensive Italian shoes.
My body feels stronger, more powerful.
I notice an almost-transparent interface at the upper-right corner of my right eye.
As my focus shifts toward it, it expands into a 3D graphical interface.
When i focus back to my surroundings it shrinks back to the corner.
I experience a slight desire for explanation and suddenly a monologue begins in my head,
"You are in the year 3200. The human race has achieved an enlightened homeostasis. Any desire can be fulfilled by simply requesting it, as long as that desire doesn't interfere with the happiness of others. All human brains are child nodes of a parent metabrain comprised of the species-wide collective consciousness."
The thought of surfing suddenly flashes through my mind.
Immediately the hillside shifts to a palm-fringed valley with a glassy point-break at the bottom.
I then think how much a few of my friend's would enjoy this scene.
Two of them appear.. blip! blap!
We surf for a while and it's great.
But.. something inside me is still restive and anxious.
I request fulfillment and emotional fortitute.
Peace and tranquility wash over me like a warm, luxurious cocoon.
Then i blink.

Michael Kew hasn't blinked yet

Frock photos from

Posted by Ethan at 09:21 AM
May 03, 2006
Zorn - Electric Masada

John Zorn - Electric Masada - 50th Birthday Edition Volume 4
Jarring, cerebral, soaring, discordant, strange, abstract, free, deeply grooving, radical. Zorn, as usual, defies easy categorization on this epic album off his own Tzadik label. Masada is the name given to a catalog of arrangements based on Klezmer/Jewish scales written by Zorn in the 80s. The Masada songs have been performed by a plethora of various musical groupings, with or without Zorn's presence. In my opinion Electric Masada kicks the most ass. The band might actually be my favorite band right now, or maybe of all time? Combining jazz fusion, improvisational mastery, celestial-rocking and chilled-out, futuristic sound scapes, this albums takes you through a fleshy spectrum of celebratory musical experience. The band members (Zorn on saxophone; Marc Ribot, guitar; Cyro Baptista, percussion; Jamie Saft, keyboards; Ikue Mori, laptronics; Trevor Dunn, bass; Kenny Wolleson, drums; and special guest Joey Baron, drums) communicate with deep fluidity, letting the music breath in and out, raging then caressing, hammering then soothing. Alternatively spewing hellacious scalding dragon-fire then icy oceanic sea-breezes. The music tests the listener. At times too manic, too crazy, too much. But, in true tension/release formula, the turbulent, difficult sections only tend to sweeten the fruit of the melodic, loping phrases. Like any great album, subtle musical nuances reveal themselves with each successive listen. Electric Masada picks up were Miles' "Bitches Brew" and "On the Corner" left off. It leaves the listener on the edge of their seat, thrilled, disturbed, intrigued, and ultimately... inspired.

Mountains of Madness is the other Electric Masada release. It's a double-CD that's even better that the 50th birthday celebration, in my humble opinion.

Posted by Ethan at 09:34 AM
May 02, 2006
Coltrane's wail

The night creeps in with darkness and fog.
Memories of laughter and levity enshroud perception.
Coltrane's horn wails in existential angst.
The bittersweet song of humanity.
Frantic explorations of the soul.
Searching for love, light and meaning.
Searching for strength, solidarity, reality.
Frantically searching, looking, seething.
Raging, sobbing, weeping.
Arcing manic tendrils of sonic paint.
Splattering wicked fractals of euphoria.
Deconstructing cultural lattices.
Preconceptions vanquished to a multi-dimensional muse.
Building from within.
Powering from within.
Letting the spirit fly.

Kew photo

coworker's dog Rusty

Posted by Ethan at 09:23 AM
May 01, 2006
interview with Brian

Brian is the high school Dream Theater fan who posts on here sometimes. A few people suggested that a Brian interview would be hilarious. I contacted him last week and he was game so Bagel and i loaded up my black people's wagon for a Sunday sojourn to the northlands.

In true art-star fashion Bagel stayed up to the wee hours on saturday night working the various art shows around town. I guess he ended up dancing salsa in the apartment of these cute hipster Argentinian senoritas until around 5am but that's another story. I pick him up at 7:30 and we hit the road. We were supposed to meet Brian at the Dillon beach campground at 9am, where he says he and his friends are in the "first spot." Bagel and i are thinking that dude is pretty psyched to be allowed to go coed camping with his friends on a saturday night in high school. My mom would've been like, "no way jose."

Pastoral nirvana from Petaluma to Dillon beach. Lush, verdant, rolling hills. Fragrant, delicate clumps of eucalyptus. Happy, pastured, grass-fed California cows. Pleasantly delapidated red barns, receding back to the earth. Classically old-west cowboy town of Tomales. All of it strikingly gorgeous.

We finally pull into the campground at 9:20 and there are about 8 trillion rvs and tents spread over the multi-acre zone at the mouth of Tomales bay. We pay the money and then try to find Brian, the needle in the haystack. We drive through some campsites, get yelled at for chanting, "Brian?, Brian?" amidst slumbering, post-party campers. I get a glimmer of service on my cell phone and discover that Brian just left the campground at 9:11. Bagel says, "oh yeah, i saw this Oldsmobile pull out with about 9 high-school kids in it while you were paying.. i thought it might have been Brian but i didn't know." Soooo.. Bagel and i decide to just surf Dillon.

Good-time rights flow into the rivermouth-like setup. Family-style surf vibes. Bagel rips into a few. Head-high, funky-but-workable walls. Good wind. Tons of dogs on the beach. Guy offers us beers at 11am. Potential sweetness along the shark-strewn rivermouth to the south. After the sesh check for messages from Brian.. he called twice but left no word. Huh? Call him and no answer.. hrm.

We pack it up and get burgers in Valley Ford. Smell of cow-shit-fertilizer wafts into our nostrils as we dig into cow-meat itself. Legions of Harley biker people roar through this one-store town. Llamas laze and graze in nearby pastures. Harley mommas and Harley kids. Sun-burned, american-flag-tatooed, small-helmetted, pot-bellied Harley Seniors tell us to "Domino those japanese bikes! Haha ha ha!!" as we pull out.

No sign of Brian..

Got the following email from the kid this morning:

"hey man. I was driving with some friends, a girl named Niki was the driver and i was in the back seat with a girl named kelsey and arthur was in the passenger seat, and we came around that corner by valley ford at like 35 miles and hour and lost control and flew into the ditch and hit a tree. we were all okay but the car got totalled and it was fucking trippy weird shit. i wasn't scared at all and i was suprised. hella weird. so then i got home and played some counter-strike and then went surfing for like 4 hours at doran, fucking Tore up those beautiful waist high waves. LOVED IT. my face is totally roasted. and then we got a gallon of milk, cigars, a Double-PepperJackCheez-Jalapeno burger and some potato wedges. then came home and had a nice glass of boont. so sorry shit didnt work out. talk to you later bro"

Redworm told me about this British artist named couscous


Posted by Ethan at 09:22 AM