Friday, March 30, 2007


Photo of Berlin Wall by Henri Cartier Bresson

The following quote is from a 1962 brochure from the East German government (GDR) defending the Berlin Wall. It was published in English for foreign distribution.

"We no longer wanted to stand by passively and see how doctors, engineers, and skilled workers were induced to give up their secure existence in the GDR and work in West Germany or West Berlin. These and other manipulations cost the GDR annual losses amounting to 3.5 thousand million marks."

Attempts to scale the wall varied in their success. Some figures show that out of approximately three thousand attempts, around two thousand were successful. Two hundred and thirty-nine people died while attempting to cross into West Berlin - the last of these was 20 year old Chris Gueffroy, shot on February 5th, 1989.

The wall "fell" on Novemeber 9, 1989 in the wake of mass demonstrations against the East German government - it was clearly time for it to go. 80% of East Germans went on holiday for a week and streamed across the border. Official demolition of the Berlin Wall started June 13th, 1990 by East German border guards and demolition experts from the West German Federal Defense Force.

In July of 1990, Roger Waters lead a star-studded performance of "The Wall" on the no-man's land of Potsdamer Platz, a location where escapees from East Berlin had been gunned down by border guards. Ticket prices were far too expensive for most East Germans, but they gathered on surrounding rooftops to watch. After a few of the opening acts performed, concert security opened the gates for all to enter.

The GDR ceased to exist on October 3, 1990.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

does not strive

"The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao."

- Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Eight

Sunday, March 25, 2007

new island surf frontiers?

All Photos N.Y. Times

On the top is an image of the Faroe Islands, located halfway between Norway and Iceland - cold and lonely islands with lots of swell exposure. The islands are officially a part of Denmark now, but the inhabitants are descended from Norse Vikings. If any of the locals surf, you probably want to give them extra respect in the water.

The two lower photos are of Socotra, Yemen. This island has great exposure to some of the same Indian Ocean swells that would hit the Maldives and the horn of Africa. The island also sounds safe for foreigners (or at least much more so than the mainland), has a unique and isolated local culture, and is loaded with exotic flora and fauna. The travel articles linked below don't mention surfing, but what does a surfer think of first when he reads about an ocean island?

P.S. No surprise, but Yemen has been surfed, as has Socotra Island. There's not much info out there so it would still be quite an adventure. As for the Faroes, there is no info on surfing that I could find. But check out this beautiful photo showing some wave action there -

Saturday, March 24, 2007

el nino summer

Photo of Topanga Point by Colvin

There were days and days of continuous swell and really warm water. The highlight of it all was the very cooperative Hurricane Guillermo, which slowly churned for one solid week from south of Cabo slowly to the west northwest, driving swell up the entire coast from Baja all the way to Alaska. So. Cal. surfers started getting lazy and normally zooed spots became less crowded. And even when the spots were big and firing, there were plenty of waves and lots of surfers passing on the sets. I don't know if El Nino is a natural or man-made phenomenon, but summer '97 made me not care for awhile. The condition continued into the following winter, which broke all kinds of records for rain, snow, swell, and general havoc.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


1970's promotional photo for Trojan Nuclear Plant, Oregon.
Gee, with a team this groovy looking, nuclear must be the way to go!

Ever get really pissed off about advertising? Happens to me all the time, especially with TV commercials. I try to avoid TV and thereby avoid the problem, but sometimes I gotta catch the Daily Show and South Park, man. I often foolishly think this advertising crap will get to people -that they'll get off their asses and shout, "No more!" But the masses are complacent suckers and I've known that for a long time. Even a lot of the programs and movies themselves have become patterned after the pacing and style of advertising (not to mention the omnipresent product placement). Some good examples are the fluffy "reality" shows on HGTV or VH1 or MTV. So why do I still get riled over all of this? Maybe it's because I stay away from this crap enough that I'm shocked anew when I do catch it. Or, maybe I'm just a dork and I need to chill.

"Maybe Partying Will Help" - Minutemen

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

mountain meadows

What is it about a mountain meadow that is so relaxing? It's kind of like the beach - you just want to set up a chair and enjoy the view.
I've never been much of a mountain photographer, in part because when I'm up in the mountains I just want to kick back, explore, and observe without documenting everything. Another issue is carrying equipment when trying to travel light. That said, I do enjoy seeing mountain images of all kinds. If you haven't seen the work of Galen Rowell, check out the 'Mountain Light' link on my blog - he was one of the masters.

First photo of High Sierra meadow by Brian Klinowski

Second photo of Horsehoe Meadow, Golden Trout Wilderness, Sequoia National Forest by Cristalen

Monday, March 19, 2007

wasteland fun

Triangle Park, North Portland: during its industrial lifespan (early 1900's to about 1990), this property served as a lumber mill, concrete packing plant, ship building facility, dry dock, ironworks, and power plant. Suspected contaminants on the property include PCBs, hydrocarbons, PAHs (whatever those are), and heavy metals. After almost a century of nasty soil, groundwater, and Willamette River pollution - the public can readily trespass on this toxic wasteland. Grafitti artists use walls, skateboarders find challenging terrain among the loading docks and refuse, and others just wander, ride bikes, or drink beer. All of this will change when the University of Portland and federal, state, and city taxpayers start paying for environmental cleanup in the near future. The University will purchase the property to relocate and expand its athletic facilities. It won't be a toxic wasteland anymore, but sadly it won't be as interesting either.

Photos copyright Gazelle 2007

Saturday, March 17, 2007

we were fuckin' corndogs

Photo by BB, 1981

"punk rock changed our life..."

Minutemen, History Lesson, Part II

After school skate sessions, special pilgrimages to far away record stores, long drives to gigs, drinking beers in brown paper bags, absurd fantasies about meeting hot punk chicks - we were fuckin' corndogs, pure and simple.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

surfing with god(s)

"Surfing isn’t a religion, because there’s no deity involved in catching a wave. But, surfing is a spiritual connector. It’s like a conduit where one could appreciate God and the forces of the world.”

- Rabbi Nachum Shifren, AKA The Surfing Rabbi

I have to disagree with the Rabbi that there is no deity involved in catching a wave - I mean, who's responsible for the wave? And if it's an insane drop and the surfer pulls it off, isn't that kinda godlike?

I agree that surfing isn't a "true" religion but there's definitely some of the divine in it. For more on this, take a look at the link below. It's not a thesis on the topic, but it is higher quality writing than you usually get in Surfer. And as usual, I like what the Buddhist has to say most of all. Too bad the author didn't get the Native American perspective. Hmmm, I'll do a google search and see what I can find...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

the calming shore

"I really like surfing. It's a form of meditation, a way of focusing and stopping the mind from thinking."

Geshe Sonam Thargye, Tibetan Buddhist monk, teacher and surfer

ramming whalers is punk rock

Captain Paul Watson is coming to Portland! April 18, Lewis & Clark Law School.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

fucked up + photocopied

Instant Art of The Punk Rock Movement

Check out the link below to this great book on art from the N. American punk scene in the late 70's and 80's. The editors of this volume did an excellent job on all fronts: compiling the artwork, design/layout, and gathering contributors to add reflections on the scenes as they were. Portland even has its own section, along with cities all across the continent. Going through this book fires me up on the energy of those days, and the unique musical and artistic styles of each local scene.

wasted youth

I recently attended a benefit "punk" show headlined by a band that actually tours the world and has a small, but loyal, global following. This is like a 6th generation punk band - the members were not even born when I was first going to gigs. Hearing their music made me think this genre is rather played out (the band sounds a bit like old Green Day, a 3rd or 4th generation punk band themselves). Then I remembered that it wasn't always the music that kept the kids stoked - it was the message, and these guys were saying a lot. An example from my teenage days was the LA band Wasted Youth. Certainly not one of the more talented punk bands from that era, but the lyric "Reagan's In, We're Gone for Good" was nonetheless a revelation for me at the time - an early political awakening of sorts (this in spite of the fact that most of their lyrics were ludicrous). All that said, I'd rather see kids groove on this kind of music than most of today's popular music.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Photo copyright 1999 Gazelle
  1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
  2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
  3. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill
The Balinese people possess these qualities in truckloads. We could all learn a lot from their example. Photo taken on eve of village festival, central Bali highlands.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

rare bird

Photo by KJ

On this bright winter day in 1999, Rincon was double overhead and packed. 10 miles west this little point known for being flat about 360 days a year was shoulder high, reeling, and populated with about 4 surfers. A good time was had by all.

Monday, March 5, 2007

south swell

Photo of BB by Quiggly

Water in the low 70's, glassy and sunny all day, multiple sessions between snacking and snoozing, shoulder high + barrels. South side, Aliso Pier, circa 1982.

Friday, March 2, 2007

east meets west

Photos copyright 2000 Gazelle

Istanbul - for a long time there has been a lot of talk about how this city is a place where the western and eastern worlds meet. I've visited twice and found that there's much truth to the talk. On the surface, the city is comparable to San Francisco in that it is hilly, surrounded by water, and full of distinctive architecture. But of course it is not much like San Francisco otherwise. Istanbul is full of ancient mystery and Turkish and Islamic ambiance, and yet it is simultaneously a modern city with a European feel.

On my last visit in 2000, I chatted with a merchant in the Grand Bazaar. When he learned that I had visited Istanbul in 1990, he eagerly asked what, if any, changes had I noticed. I told him that I felt like it had become a more crowded, busy, and intense place. He nodded affirmatively
but was obviously saddened by the thought (generally, you'd think a merchant would be pleased with this development). He told me the population had increased significantly during the past ten years and that the streets were more than ever full of hurrying people. I think that the three photographs above capture the bustle of the city at that time. I can only imagine that the pace of life in Istanbul is even more frantic now as the city hurries to catch up with the western pace of economic productivity.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

high energy

This is simply one of my all-time favorite rock and roll photographs, from the band with the High Energy Plan, Nine Nine Nine, circa 1981.

custom board

For a surfer, there's nothing quite like the ritual, anticipation and excitement of ordering a brand new custom board. There are few sports with a comparable aspect - a hand-built from scratch instrument to realize your goals. And it's always a different experience, depending in large part on the shaper and your expectations. Plus, you never really know what the board will perform like until you hop up on a nice wave, which of course just adds to the excitement of it all.

The above photo documents me with my 3rd surfboard, and my first custom shape: A 6'2" Herbie Fletcher rounded pintail with twin concave wings. The red rails and blue Fletcher logo were my choices and man, was I stoked. This board was ordered about 2 years prior to the thruster coming on the scene. It probably would have been more of a revelation for my surfing if I'd ordered this board as a twin fin (and I almost did, inspired by the surfing of MR and Bertlemann). But the Herbie performed well for a couple years at my home break, and even on a sojourn to Hawaii, before I jumped on the early 80's thruster bandwagon.

Photo by Poppa Loppa, aka Grandpa Rosie