Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Did the Pre-Raphaelites surf?

There's some cultural anthropologists out there with too much overthinking time on their hands positing ideas like "surfing's infatuation with wood and the retro designs of the Golden Age parallels the Pre-Raphaelite's reaction to the industrial revolution and the emergence of the SteamPunk phenomenon".
Big call. Dirty big call.
Isn't it all just about cheap labour, using advertising and social media to create a demand and moving units so as to maximise profits? But lets hear them out.
As Britain lumbered inexorably towards the ecological wasteland and dehumanisation of the Industrial Revolution and it's climax with the complete devaluation of human life at the mercy of "misery technology" in the First World War, the Pre-Raphaelites constructed an artistic universe (and the occasional commune) in which medieval culture had always existed and Nature was to be revered and represented in colourful detail. The glorious past of the Italian renaissance could be invoked in dirty, grey, Industrial Revolution England.
Escapism and denial maybe, but bloody great masterpieces nonetheless.
Steve Miller from the Caloundra Mal Club showing
what a 50+ goofy footer can do with a tasty beachie.
And so we surfers are at the beach head again. The planet is getting buggered on a daily basis to feed our aspirations. Our leaders and the "free" press whip up xenophobic fear and hostility towards harmless souls fleeing hostile regimes - their lives devalued, their individualism reduced to a soundbite "swarms of boat people invading our shores". (Sounds like Botany Bay 1770 revisited)
And in some quarters of hipster cool, the shortboard was never invented, everybody free surfs for a living and let's all dress like 19th century sailors, with 21st century gadgets.
Which brings me to the SteamPunk movement.
The SteamPunk movement takes these notions to the extreme and posits an alternative history where the internal combustion engine never happened and steam driven technology evolved and mashed with art, fashion and music. And yes Led Zeppelin's craft was real. Hobits existed.
If you're in SE Qld on the weekend, check out their two day SteamPunk exposition. Me, I'll be at the Wooden Surf Show not because of any infatuation with low-fi and past-tech, but as a matter of necessity - eventually we will all be riding wood instead of these petro-chemical projectiles of resin and foam. Might take a film camera.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Motivation - the thunderbox

When I was a little kid, our home didn't have a toilet that flushed. Instead. at the end of a concrete path that my Dad laid in the backyard, was a little wooden toilet shed with a wooden "thunder box"inside. This was our toilet for at least 10 years - a hole on top of a wooden box and a little door at the front.

With one income to clothe and feed eight mouths, we were too poor for toilet paper. Instead, there were newspapers cut into strips and a can of sawdust in the corner from which you would grab a handful and chuck in the hole after you were done. I don't recall it being smelly, but man it was dark as in the little outhouse. There was also a wooden axe handle (without the metal bit) in the corner for protection at night. After all, The Bush started at the end of the little dirt road we lived in.

I never felt embarrassed or ashamed of this primitive set up as that was all I knew and besides, everybody in the area was in the same situation - tres egalitarian in an underdog, Aussie kinda way.

Every week a large green and red truck would pull up at the crack of dawn and it's sign "Hunter Brothers" bore the first words I could read. Some rough looking guys would run into our yard, open the little door of the thunderbox, take out the can of contents, lift it to their shouldders and run it out to their truck.My Dad instilled a keen desire to learn and get good grades by saying if you did bad at school, then you'd end up working for Hunter Brothers.

It kinda worked. I came top of my class in Year One!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Monochrome Monday (Name Withheld)

Got this message from a mate as I nursed a chest cold which is keeping me out of the water

"Got a good little wave at NAME WITHHELD yesterday morning 2-3 ft wrapping around the point and offshore really long rides had to go in and walk back up the point rather than paddle back I was the only one out for about half an hour then two guys on a yacht pulled up and came over on SUPs I felt a little better then as the odds of me being taken by a great white decreased with two others out in the water - will post some pics when I get home"

The Other Steve Miller

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"It's a wide open road"

Almost 50 years ago, my Dad took this photo of the Pacific Highway near Childers.
Almost 30 years ago Aussie band, The Triffids had a hit called Wide Open Road.
Today the spirit of travel and discovery remains stronger than ever, resonating with the wanderer in my DNA.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shutter Lag

 Quite a few times I have been asked "What camera do you use?"
And the answer is "many" - Canon DSLR, Canon point and shoot, mobile phone and a bunch of film cameras- Nikonos, Holga, Rolleicord (1936 model), Fotoman 612.
Today's photos were all taken with a little digital range finder Canon G12 in either full manual or AV mode. There's no mirror which is great for hand held slow shutter stuff (and my shaky hands).
I've taken this little black box all over Australia as well as the Maldives and Morocco. Dropped it in the sand. Dropped it on the ground. Still working.
People take no notice in the street as it doesn't look real professional.
One down side is the shutter lag - the time it takes for the camera to agree with my trigger finger to actually take the shot. But if you want something in between expensive and cheap, this is the one. Of course it's obsolete. The current model is G15 or something.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Delta Lady and the Hard Road

We were in the back of a hired 8 seater mini-van the other day, talking about Aussie hip hop and the Hilltop Hoods crew after another family funeral (three in one week) when my mind went blank. It was a terrible feeling knowing I couldn't remember a musician's name.
We were talking about the song The Hard Road and I was trying to explain that the sample in the song was by a legend (albeit nameless at that stage) musician admired by the deceased fella we had been toasting for the preceding few hours. Maybe the beer was blocking my memory. 
Two days lady, I remember.

The sample is from the song Out in the Woods by none other than the legendary Leon Russell who played in the very first "live aid style" Concert for Bangladesh (below) in 1970 as well as playing on albums by everybody from Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis, George Harrison, Gram Parsons, Delaney Bramlett, Ringo Starr, Doris Day, Elton John, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, The Ventures, Willie Nelson, Badfinger, Tijuana Brass, Frank Sinatra, The Band, Bob Dylan, BB King, Dave Mason, Glen Campbell to the Rolling Stones.
"Well, I'm goin' down, 
goin down a hard road
Just don't know, 
don't know where I've been
But I think I've been a-walkin', 
I'm a-walkin' 'round in circles
Can't even find a friend"
 from OUT IN THE WOODS by Leon Russell

Friday, July 19, 2013

1 - 2 - 3

This was one of the smaller but cleaner ones on a crowded morning in the middle of the Indian Ocean. (We had all swallowed the advertorial of uncrowded tropical bliss)
The spot was Jails in the Maldives -  shooting from a tinny on the shoulder. Suddenly a rogue set sweeps in and nearly cleans us up. As the tinny skipper shouts "Is safe. Is safe" I'm shouting back "Go go go!!"
Later that morning the tinny's outboard motor broke down. Luckily I had put the camera away by then.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Magic light

This is a cropped tweaked scanned and recycled 35mm Nikonos film shot I took of Japanese surfer Tehru(?) three winters back. I've used it before but am not up for much today so feel some magic winter light is required.
This one's for the Wilkies. Hang tight.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Monochrome Monday (Mourning)

Only a fool lives in a magical land where the surf is always uncrowded, glassy and perfect and where life is always wonderful and where even the lemons it serves up are only for the tequila. Still, its crazy how we have perceptions about people we don't really know and their lives - perceptions that could be wildly inaccurate. 
And so I find myself wide awake at 315am worrying about the broken television, the broken back gate, the washing machine that has attitude, the work piling up at the office. 
But mostly in the dead of tonight, I'm thinking about the day ahead - travelling to another town three or four hours drive north to provide support to my late brother's son, wondering what the hell I'm going to say to comfort a young fella who's lost his 22 year old sister to an 8 year battle with cancer. 
500am and I down the first of many coffees. I can't help but feel grateful for the healing surf I had yesterday with old mates and new. I'm also feeling grateful to have experienced the dignity, the fight and wicked humour of a young lady who would still crack jokes using a pencil and pad even when bed bound and robbed of her voice by dire hospital treatments that failed to work.
So long Nikki. See you in the dreamtime.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Bronzed Hipster

There used to be a crew back in the day called the Bronzed Aussies - Mark Richards(?), Ian Cairns, Peter Townend. This was an early attempt to redefine the image of surfers as professional athletes worthy of Big Money sponsorship.
Image wise - surfing has kinda embraced a new, not so sporty looking, yet incredibly gifted surfers that traverse the globe "free surfing" while sporting the look of the Freemanle Fisho statue above. 
I christen them The Bronzed Hipsters.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Revenue, Roxy and Ridicule

"No money, no funny." one of my mates used to say. We all need it - at least in the early stages until we can purchase or roam around scrounging free and recycled stuff and live off the grid eating food we grow and riding boards we make out of trees we grow. (There's a beaut board at my Mum's that my brother got for free.) 
And if you run a business, you need a profile so customers know you're out there. And to get a profile, you usually need to advertise via a multitude of channels. So far so good.
Bill Stewart of Woosley Surfboards on a pre-1968 Wooseley board
 And if it wasn't for advertising, a lot of photographers wouldn't survive. So although I don't have any adverts popping up on my blog, I'll probably give you a waterproof business card if I get a good shot of you out in the brine. I've certainly shot or adverts but there's some topics like tobacco advertising that I won't touch.
What I find annoying and all a bit creepy (and I must confess I'm not across the nuances of modern surf comps) is the latest advert for Roxy where an unidentified woman wakes up topless, puts on a shirt, takes off a shirt, has a shower, drives to the beach, paddles out in a surf comp - supposedly Biaritz. It would never happen in real life like that. It's degrading and does nothing for the image of women surfing and worst of all there's no actual footage of actual real surfer women surfing to warrant a connection between the surf based product (Roxy) and the activity it's allegedly connected with.
On the good side, I hear somebody has done a spoof video where the camera's gaze lingers along an unattractive (whatever that is) chaps hairy legs etc. Kudos too to the recent Style Magazine fashion prade that featured women of avariety of ages and shapes  yes we wrinkly old buggers have cash to spend too.
Roxy, lift yer game.

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's not that complicated

Demystifying the mystical

It's not that complicated

There's a surfboard
No moving parts

There's a wave
Moves at a certain velocity 
over sand, rock or reef 

You sit on your butt
Catch a wave

 Paddle back out
Sit on your butt

Repeat until too tired, 
too sunburned, 
too crowded, 
too hungry

It's not that complicated