Sunday, September 19, 2010

Surf and Song

"Surfing is very much like making love. It always feels good no matter how many times you've done it." - Surfmeister Paul Staunch.

Dane Reynolds catching air off a 6-ft wave.
I know what you are thinking, how could I possibly have gotten this far writing a blog about California culture without having talked about surfing. Trust me, it's been on my mind since the beginning, I just needed a good event to cover so I could approach it right. Surfing is the mellow lifeblood of California that stops the heart attacks that should be caused by our always-time-crunched personas that can only be compared to Alice's white rabbit. Surfing gives us a chance in the morning or evening to slow down, a chance to time our lives by each wave set rather than the second hand on our watches (at least the analog ones). The ocean was once a mistress of mine that I kept secret from the craggy mountain perches. Now as I'm realizing and solidifying who I am as a person, as many of us do in our mid-20s (and many others in their 40s), I've come to find that none of us choose the ocean, in some strange way, regardless of how inland we live, she eventually finds and demands our attention. Enough about my romance, let's talk waves.

Hurley Pro Champion Kelly Slater floating down the wave.
Starting Thursday and finishing Saturday, Trestles beach hosted the Hurley Pro surf competition. Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Dane Reynolds, Andy Irons, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning were all present for the competition and carved the 6-ft early morning surf while on-lookers holding next-to-godly cameras took pictures and cheered them on. Kelly Slater justly took first floating off the crest of each wave while I wondered, "How the hell is that even possible?" Even more incredible is that this all happened at Trestles. Wondering why? Slater kicked off his surfing career 20-years ago with a victory at this very same beach. That's right, 20-years of surfing and Slater is still the king of Trestles. Slater will now go on to surf the Quicksilver Pro France and hopefully solidify his 1st place ranking over Jordy Smith, giving Slater his 10th ASP World Title. After receiving the $105,000 cash prize for first, Slater states, "I'd let a hundred thousand people punch me in the face to surf these waves." The guy loves what he does.

Frankenreiter: pro surfer, musical genius,
'stache afficianado, child-naming savant.

Surf culture never remains at the beach. Guitar and ukelele are both prominant parts of surf culture and were brought to the musical foreground by artists such as Jack Johnson and Donovan Frankenreiter. Last night at the OC Great Park (which I have written about previously here), Donovan Frankenreiter performed a free show for over 1,000 eager fans. Frankenreiter, a once-professional Billabong surfer, incorporates his love for the ocean and 60's and 70's music into his own style. As a surfer he is a champion in the water, as a musician he is mellow and fun, and stylistically he is my hero. Frankenreiter not only has a 'stache that Mario and Luigi (even at their most SUPER of times) would be jealous of, but also named his two children Ozzy and Hendrix, pretty rad.

As you can tell, it's been a pretty good week for surf culture. Here are some videos for you:

First day highlights of the Hurley Pro

Donovan Frankenreiter's "Free."

Stay Cultured,
The Culture Hound.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Exploring the Unknown

Arthur C. Clarke - famed science fiction

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean." - Arthur C. Clarke

Clarke had a pretty open mind and an extremely wild imagination. He is best known for writing 2001: A Space Odyssey and later adapting it into a screenplay with Stanley Kubrick. Early pioneers of science fiction such as Clarke are astonishing to me. Their imagination fueled the flames of a multitude of other imaginations; like wildfire, the unknown and mysterious became a focal point of discussion and furthered the cause behind the question: "What is out there?"

Me and my extreme snorkeling team.
Being a father of stellar curiosity, I'm glad that Clarke had a deep appreciation for the ocean. The few statistics I have heard about the Ocean while working under the legacy of the Cousteau family are unbelievable to me. We have explored less than 5% of the ocean and through assumption have discovered only 1% of the species living within it. And so the Culture Hound has taken on a beautiful romance with the ocean. Southern California has an avast array of wildlife. The world's largest creature, the blue whale (110 ft on average) pass by our coastline for 5-6 months of the year. We have "grunion running" (a fish only breeding on California/Baja shores) during the summer months, and hundreds of other aquatic marvels hiding within our offshore kelp forests. If there was any sport to get in to, it would be snorkeling and diving, and what better place to do this than the clear-water shores of Laguna Beach?

They (whoever THEY are) say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here we go:
1.5 ft Sheep Crab 
Blue Whale off Laguna's Coast
2ft wide jellyfish
6ft wide bat ray above sea grass
Leopard Shark I saw earlier today!

Stay Cultured,
The Culture Hound

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oil For The Engines And Your Life.

"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." - Steve McQueen in Le Mans.

Steve McQueen: Actor, speed enthusiast, and canonized among the "American Cool" (alongside Dean and Newman). Let's face it, McQueen bled so much "badass" and "cool" onto the silver screen that they are still trying to mop it up and squeeze it into buckets for modern-day-wannabe usage. McQueen became my personal idol after I saw Bullitt years ago and to this day he still holds the number one spot. In an effort to find a way to pay him a small tribute within this meagerly written blog, I set out to find a car show. Everyone I asked knew exactly where to point me: "Coffee and Cars." CC (as it is referred to by the car owners) meets every Saturday morning off of Gateway in Irvine (Next to the Irvine Spectrum).

Getting up with the sun I drove over to the parking lot where muscle cars, sleek sport cars, and rice racers gather (I'm talking to you guy with the suped-up Honda Civic!). All the cars are arranged by make which makes it easy to navigate the labyrinth of vehicles. Attendees are gifted to prey witness on classic Porsche, Lamborghinis, Austin Martins (The name's Bond, James Bond), Austin Healeys, Ferraris, and classics I had never even heard of like the silver Morgan shown below. The whole event has an excellent and refreshing vibe. Everyone is just getting started with their weekend, sipping "joe" as the sun comes up, and talking engines and chrome. This event is a must-go for anyone who lives in the area.

That trunk is literally a trunk! I bet it's full of hitchhiker secrets.
I have a big soft spot for Cobras, they just look so suave.
So many books written about your evil assembly lines, Ford...
I still have to say its a good looking design though, sir.
The Morgan. Never heard of this car make, but it is a piece of art.
Stay Cultured,
The Culture Hound.

For more auto-asphyxiation visit: 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Say it AND Spray it.

Jackson Pollock once said, "Every good painter paints what he is." 

Pollock's chaotic abstracts have always peeked my interest, and so in a fit of self-discovery I brought out the acrylics and spray paint. I started off flicking acrylic paint from a tooth brush onto the 80's vinyl records of men-who-look-like-women before they were forgotten within the grunge of the 90's and the Gaga's of the new millennium. Before I could create anything Pollock-esque, my self-inflections took a turn toward the art of Banksy; a well-known ruffian from across the pond known for his deft hands with a spray can and nimble legs for escaping the "bobbies." 

Combining Pollock's self-inflective painting and Banksy's stenciled tagging I thought back to my video gamer roots and sprayed one of my oldest buddies from way-back-when...before I had discovered the sun (Make all your "know your roots" jokes now).

Stay Cultured,
Culture Hound

They have so many possibilities when they are blank.
My old friend Yoshi
If you look at him, he will stop moving.
Tried for Bubble Bobble, came out rough...
AND went for the hat trick by hollowing out a book...sacrilegious,
but a necessity for all of us spies.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

B-boys Under the Balloon

The OC Great Park balloon is free
take up and gives a view of the
entire proposed park.
B-boy (noun) - a young man who is involved in hip-hop culture.

Most of us living here in Orange County have become familiar with the giant orange balloon that marks the spot of the eagerly anticipated OC Great Park. Even though it's completion is still years away, the OC Great Park refuses to wait for a grand opening to have fun. The OC Great Park has hosted parties, guest DJs, and incredible dance crews in a collaboration they call "Flights and Sounds Summer Festival."

Last night was a sneak peek of just how incredible the Great Park is going to be. The park, which will be the largest park in the United States at its completion, was honored to host "Last For One." These 10 South Korean dance prodigies lit up the stage with dance moves that put Newton's laws of gravity on trial. The B-boy crew has dedicated their lives to their art, and because I think that the term "dedicating one's life" is often under-rated or skimmed over I'll emphasize; they have dedicated their WHOLE lives to dance. The ten members took a risky gamble of pursuing dance over excelled education, much to the dismay of many of their parents. Packing themselves into a small apartment like sardines, the crew danced from dawn until post-dusk for 8 years; insert Rocky Balboa-esque montage. In 2005 all the sweat, blood, and concussions paid off when the crew took first place over Japan in Battle of the Year (The World Cup of breaking). The crew now travels all over the world breaking for large audiences and leading b-boy dance classes. Their travels have led them all over Asia, Europe, Africa, and last night brought them to the OC Great Park.

"Last For One" slid, flew, spun, and even slam dunked on the stage for an hour and a half. My hands literally hurt from clapping; every single head-spin and impossible slide demanded applause. I could keep writing about how great they were, but it's a pretty visual thing, so here is a video from their victory in 2005 to quell your eager appetites:

Alright, well I hope this got you as pumped up as it got me. When asked about b-boying, one member from Last For One said, "It's like the engine in a car, I cannot move without dancing." It's easy to see that these dance-floor gurus have the b-boy culture flowing through their veins.

Until next time, keep it cultured.
The Hound

Check out more events at the OC Great Park:

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Breakdown

This is me, Jordan Carver: outdoorsman, writer, and occasional night-life enthusiast. About now you are asking yourself, why the name "Culture Hound" for this blog? The answer is simple. Among the many definitions of hunting dogs and despicable gents, the word "hound" is informally defined as an addict or a devotee. So, to be a Culture Hound I can't think of a better place to live than in Southern California. California is saturated with culture. We have every form of culture you can imagine. We have underground rock concerts, celebrity-ridden clubs, and all the outdoor activities you could dream up in your recommended 8 hours. We get up as the sun rises and go surfing, snorkeling, wake boarding, snowboarding, hiking, or biking all before putting on a tie and climbing the corporate ladder. This exploration and addiction to culture and adventure is precisely what this blog is about; uncovering and more importantly experiencing all the culture that California has to offer.

So why me, right? What makes Jordan Carver think that he is the guy to do this job? Well, first off I don't expect to do this alone. I'm banking on others to help me hound out the more unknown cultures of California. Second, I'm not exceptional at anything I've done, but I have done an incredible amount of things. I've traveled to 14 countries at my early age of 24 and more importantly I've always remained open to any experience while in those countries. Saying "no" gets you no where, so why not live? Whether it's riding elephants around Thailand, climbing mountains in Africa to see Silverback gorillas, or bungee jumping off rickety bridges in Ecuador, life needs to be experienced. So, now it is time for me to hound out some California culture.

Out of all the things that I wanted to start with I decided I should start with an extreme sporting event; "The Tough Mudder." This mud-run is held annually in NorCal at the Bear Valley Mountain. It's a grueling 8-mile run through 19 of the most difficult obstacles that would make a weaker man tremble. The obstacles, including a 100-ft ice climb, a rope crawl over a freshly desurfaced river, and a run through a field of fire (YES, FIRE!), were all designed by British Special Forces. So, this event will take place on October 9th and I will be there to cover and experience the event.