Posts Tagged ‘California Gold Coast’

Sacred Craft 2010: A Cultural Backmarker

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Sacred Craft

Sacred Craft

This morning I woke up from a nightmare-dream at 3:30 am. In the dream I was glossing boards, and had lost the hot batch of finishing resin. I found it in the nick of time, and was just completing the last board as it went off. I even had the acrid smell of an over catalyzed hot batch in my nostrils as I hopped out of bed and felt my feet hit cool wood floor in the blackness. Yeesh, surfboard subliminals. I built surfboards for about 20 years. They have been on my mind a lot lately, obviously.

What makes a¬† thing sacred is found in the root meaning of the very word. Sacred refers to the setting apart of something for a special purpose. So it follows that Scott Bass would call his surf culture show which retains primary focus on the surfboard and it’s creators, Sacred Craft.

Yesterday I saw an un named shot of an old guy at the Sacred Craft tribute, which was held in Ventura at The Fairgrounds April 10th and 11th and that honored one of the surfboard industry’s founding Fathers, Rennie Yater,. The un named shot of the old guy in the shaping room was of Dennis Ryder, who along with Bill Hubbina, started one of the first surf shops in Ventura, (William-Dennis), which still exists today, as Ventura Surf shop.

Dennis Ryder

Dennis Ryder

Dennis shaped what is probably the first incarnation of the shortboard, when he worked production at Morey-Pope and was doing the McTavish split vee in the 60′s. Having him back in Ventura after living for many years in Hawaii is very cool. One of the best guys around, along with Gene Cooper, and Yater, in terms of craftsmanship. All three live here on California‚Äôs Golden Coast

Gold Rincon

Gold Rincon

The Tribute involved shaping a replica of a Yater spoon, which aside from a six channel bottom, is probably one of the more difficult designs to build.

Local shapers Todd Proctor, Matt Moore, Dennis Ryder, Wayne Rich and Michel Junod along with Nick Palandrini from Nor Cal, were the invitees.

The shaper who got the nod for doing the best replica of the Spoon was Wayne Rich. That was very cool, since he broke his neck surfing El Cap a few years ago, and almost did not make it back. An incredible come back, when you consider that he shapes surfboards for a living. Surfboard shaping is physically quite arduous, and demands a very high skill level and depth of experience. Master surfboard craftsmen are a dying breed. Quite literally, as the industry has changed so dramatically and the normal cottage industry apprenticeship chain, disappeared years ago.

Surf Art

Surf Art

There was a hall way formed by two rows of Yaters, and each board had a picture and date on it. Pretty remarkable that Rennie is able to document so much of his and surfing’s past. Just mind blowing. I shaped around 16k surfboards over a 20 year period, and could not even think about accomplishing that. The Surfing Heritage Museum played a large role in this fantastic back marker. The organization had both Curator Barry Haun and¬† head, Dick Metz, on hand the entire week end.

Dick Metz in the Surf Story Hall

Dick Metz in the Surf Story Hall

Surf Story by Rob Havassy (two different site links)

The¬† entire second hall at Sacred Craft was about the book Surf Story, and the book tells the story of its own existence pretty well. Most surfers, if they read about what happened, will probably get a bit pissed off. The actual tale goes all the way back to when Abercrombie purloined one of¬† the legendary Leroy Grannis’ images of a bunch of surf icons and used it in an ad campaign. And when the surfers took exception to that, and having their names and likenesses used to promote a company like A&F (and Hollister), were blown off, they sued A&F and forced the issue on an intellectual property rights violation basis.¬† A&F ran a nationwide ad campaign of a monkey holding a¬† surfboard, as their response to surfing and the people who had a large hand in making the sport what it is after the fact. (Got to admire having enough money and humor to do what they did, but it was a very obvious statement about what they really think of you all)

Then, when Rob’s art was taken, and duplicated in similar fashion, he went after them as well. Since A&F was buying somewhere around 10000 mags a month, the surf publishing industry ignored Rob as he sued A&F, not wanting to piss their vendor off. (It appeared as if surf publishing had sold out the sport, by not supporting one of their own, and instead, going with A&F by their silence, in some industry observers opinions)

So the book uses that as a catalyst. Everybody was invited to contribute, as this is the first of a likely series. So the people not IN the book this time around, are conspicuous in their absence. What that means, is they did not want to be in it, or like me, just did not really understand completely what the book was all about.( Rob would have included them.) I had been very busy when Mary Osborne first told me about the book project. I almost did not get my submission in.

Once again, surf publishing sort of ignored Rob, so he wound up self published the biggest, most comprehensive book on surf culture ever. It was both an independent creative statement to surf publishing, and his war to take back our culture from the people who had whored it out, and have a history of contributing little or nothing to the sport’s existence. (Commercial fashion and the rag business)

Rob's Salute to me for not manning my post

Rob's Salute to me for not manning my post

That is the gist of the story on Sacred Craft 2010, from where I stand. But the ‚Äúlesser details‚ÄĚ are rather fascinating.¬† I intend to write about it in greater detail. Or you can simply ask Rob Havassy or Scott Bass.

The Surf Story Hall housed shows-work, from twelve of the books 88 contributors, as well as a phenomenal selection of highest end Yaters, done as a collaboration between Kevin Ancell and Rennie. Many of the artists were on site plying their disciplines live. Pretty remarkable to watch.

Here are a few images from the show. The pleasant looking guy is Craig Peterson, who along with Kevin Naughton, was among the first surf photojournalists- adventurers from the US, and pioneered much at Surfer Magazine.  Rob Havassy, Craig and I were along the back wall, side by side. I consider that quite an honor. Glad I returned Rob’s call. I had a lot of stories to share with him.

Here is an addendum of sorts, as he just posted it. Seth Godin’s blog, that is a must read for every artist. Glad that Rob Havassy has this part down.

Craig Peterson: Pioneer

Craig Peterson: Pioneer

Get Surf Culture’s book. It is a very profound effort by all. Pure is in short supply these days, and Authenticity is something to be both lauded and supported.

The Gift

Friday, December 25th, 2009

A Christmas Card
It is Christmas Eve 2009. Christmas means a lot of different things to many people. The transformative and renewing aspects of the holiday have always struck me with the most repetitive sort of impact. Each year it is the same, yet different.

This season was a case in point along that theorem. I pondered that earlier this evening as my girlfriend Donna and I hummed along upcoast in our little Mazdaspeed, under the fading amber afterglow of a brilliant day, this eve before Christmas. The Channel Islands stood in purple shadow relief, as bright streaks of warm color stroked the deepening blue hues of sky.

Orange and blue, sistered each other in the dappled surface of a very calm sea.  It is my favorite color combination, and something I always enjoy capturing in my photography. Warm and cool: polar opposites in the energy spectrum. They complement each other, and in the realm of human emotion signify harmony. I won’t get into it here and now. You either get that or you don’t. It is fine either way.

I begin to meditate on the world and my affect in it each season. It is an accelerative process that slowly begins and follows a thread. Then things begin to drop into place confirming my line of thought. This year it was all about friends, and how mine define me. Without their light, I am not too great. I actually sort of suck. At everything. My one redeeming virtue however, seems to be that I recognize greatness, even when that remarkable thing may be hidden within an extravagantly formed, carefully wrought disguise.

I made a list yesterday, of all the people that I know whose light defines my path and art. I stopped counting at around sixty but the troop is far larger than that. In the past couple weeks, many have come to mind, and when they do, I ponder them and what they bring to the world and the table of my life. I give thanks, and ask for God to bless them, and pray that I can be a better friend.

There are far too many to ever physically touch on this very sacred holiday.

Umm, holiday, holy day, set apart day, sacred day: the celebration of the sacrament of gratitude. By grace and gratitude the entropy of this world sees the only real flow that it can. This season saw me get a special gift. So I now pass it along, as in doing so, the sacred nature of the gift will continue, and in its flow, transform and bless others. That is really what my work is about, the transference of blessing. I refuse to hide that light. It is probably why I am a photographer: the affinity for light thing.

Stanley Frantz and I met in the small surfboard factory of Dave Johnson in Goleta California around 1977. We entered the surfboard industry simultaneously. Over the years, our paths have repeatedly bisected.

Stan is unique, in that he has an artistic ability that allows him to communicate emotion in virtually any medium. Let that sink in. Painter, actor, writer, model, whatever form he eschews, Stan can make you feel. He has an innate ability that any aspiring artist would kill to possess.

But here is the interesting thing: he does not know it. I think this may be why it works so well. His mindset allows for him to portray a subject in complete honesty.  All that he does is uncontrived, and comes from an inner passion which burns with an intensity that few artists know.

He showed up almost capriciously here, in Ventura California this week. So I got to spend some time with him. We walked my town,  sat, stopped, I talked a little, but listened a lot. I learned many years ago that I would much rather sit and listen to a savant, than chatter about my own life and time. And Stanley obliged.

He told me a story. It did not come out all in one straight ahead tome, but in bits and pieces, in little glimpses proferred over the course of a 24 hour period. And as Stanley Frantz shared his life and world of the past 12 years since we had seen each other last, the story he told leveled me.

It was something America needs to hear, told by the son of a steel worker. The emotion, the breadth, depth, scope, and the timeliness of the story is transformative in its ability to generate hope. It gives a crystal clear view of how we affect our world, and how wonderfully crafted a human being truly is.

Stan Frantz was my Christmas present this year. I hope that by next year, the story I sent him back home to write on his idyllic farm in Pennsylvania, will be ready, to strengthen your heart and lighten your soul, and give you renewed hope for the future.

The experience sort of summed up Christmas for me. In this vignette, I saw the truth in the Bible verse that says: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that who ever believes on him, will be saved.

Everybody needs salvation. Especially those who think that they have already earned it.

Silent Night. Beautiful.

An encouraging Merry Christmas note from Seth Godin is here. (Always surprised at how he manages to be so timely.) Thanks Seth!

Merry Christmas friends. Thank you for the light you bring on a cool dark Christmas Eve, in Ventura California.

Life is Seasonal

Life Renews

Life Ornaments

Life Ornaments

Stanley Frantz at Kiley's

Stanley Frantz at Kiley's

The Gift

The Gift

Fifty Waves to Leave Your Lover For

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009


I live in a place many consider to be California’s Gold Coast. The term conjures up images of glassy warm Winter days, and crisp blue green lines which  swell and pitch into morning light, flashing golden with a brilliance that is breathtaking and addicting as it sets an emotional hook in one’s soul.

Dolphins reflecting dawn on glistening lean muscular bodies are syncopating rhythmic reflections which dart into the pull of northwest groundswells and burst into amber flecked projectiles as energy and joy erupt in the life pulse of a distant storm,¬† that ebbs on the shores of this place. Their high pitched chatter and surging¬† wakes, massage my senses as the pod passes. A pedestrian’s view this most definitely is not. I will never tire of it. The serenade is otherworldly.

I swim manically. It is what I do. The season for taking best advantage of the unique geography and potential lighting conditions on the Gold Coast exists for maybe 4 months of the calendar year, as swell, sun angle and weather converge to create what is possibly the best natural studio in the world.

In the last 12 years of swimming each day, I have acquired maybe 20,000 wave images that made the grade and  I kept. The women in my life, well, they were hard to pull away from at O dark thirty when excitement roused me with its irresistible reveille. It is black outside and the wind chill near freezing, as air temperature cuts atmospheric haze and focuses the morning into crystalline brilliant clarity.

But I am not the first to be so plucked from warm bed and body, though I may be the most prolific. Nor will my passion, be mine alone.

Kudos to  Doc Ball, Leroy Grannis, Bruce Brown, Craig Peterson, Woody Woodworth, Scott Preiss, Greg Huglin, George Greeenough, Jeff Divine,  Alby Falzon, Mike Moir, Guy Motil, Dale Kobetich, Peter Crawford, Jack McCoy, Don King, Larry Haynes,  Flame, Aaron, Art, Sakamoto, Scott Aichner, Sean Davey, Vince Cavataio, Warren Bolster, Yuri and to everyone who everyone that goes down to the sea with a camera. They all share something transformative with us. The world can be a tough place. We will never see enough beauty or drink enough elixer from nature to transform this blue ball into the oasis it could be. But at least they tried.

Here is a great documentary done by Gregory Schell called The Far Shore. See it if you get the chance. The story documents the travels of two unique characters I had the pleasure of meeting at a slide show many years ago at Dan Johnson’s house in Santa Barbara. Just when I thought that I was getting good, one of them sent me an image just like mine, done 25 years prior. Got to love colleagues. They keep us in check. Their tone became Surfer Magazine and presaged surf travel as it exists today.

This was a fun gallery to put together. I am as humbled by my predecessors as I am by my subject. The ocean gives your heart scale.

To the newest “Best in the world”: Good luck. You will need it, swim lots, share what you see, live and learn. Seth Godin has this to say.

Here is a music piece by composer Mark Mancina, from the film August Rush. Maybe open it in a separate window and play it while you toggle through. It is a brilliant one. I have read that it took him over a year to write it.  I hope that he never stops either.

Here are fifty waves to leave a lover for. Click on the images for the back story and to enlarge them. Oh and thanks to Jason Murray, one of my editors at Surfer Magazine who pioneered this gallery concept in one of the most popular spreads that Surfer ever produced.

This was fun. I think I will do my Wiamea shorebreak and Keiki images next. (Kidding, sort of)

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.