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