Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Q: What do artificial wave pools and fat chicks have in common?
A: They're both fun to ride until your friends see you on them.
Remember that cruel '80s joke about mopeds and fat chicks? I always thought it heartless, but then I witnessed something even more heartless...this video. It's an artificial wave pool somewhere in Europe. I could really care where; it's not the point. The point is that the industrial surf complex wants to sell board shorts and rash guards to pasty inlanders worldwide. I don't know what bothers me more, the idea of riding knee-high murky pond water or the surf industry stickers and flashy wetsuits of the wave garden riders. Maybe I wouldn't have minded so much if Bobby Martinez, Jordy Smith, and the others were surfing in jean cut-offs and John Deere caps (can't believe the Malloy bros missed that marketing opportunity). That would somehow do the wave garden justice in its doing an injustice to actual wave-riding.
Adding to the heartlessness was seeing Martinez ride that pathetic mushburger. Here's a man with one of the best backhand styles of all-time, who regularly rides one of the world's premiere pointbreaks, the geographical whim which is Rincon del Mar in Santa Barbara, CA. Here's that man riding this aqua fart. Gross.
The same can be said for Jordy, who rides the world's other best right-hand point break with the highest combo of progression and power seen by surfers thus far.
Surfing is visceral texture combined with mutability. It's as much about the salt as the water. It's about surfing a one of a kind wave from a one of a kind storm that is pushing swells into/around/upon a randomly formed coastal topography. Surfing is happenstance and luck. It is impermanence. You can't always have it and that's what makes it special. We consumers forget this in an age of right-clicking instant gratification.
The best, most agonizingly orgasmic thing about surfing is that the swell won't last. You can't just turn it on with a switch, a click of your mouse.
For more than twenty years, I've been surfing one of the most meager locales in the world: New England. Sadly, the waves of the Euro garden remind me of sessions I've had at my local breaks, but I'd like to think that I have done so with more dignity given the immense visceral qualities of the Atlantic, that I've done so in sub-zero temperatures, in snow, sleet, and rain. I grew up on the beach, swimming, snorkeling, skimboarding, and just plain living. This too is a necessary condition of calling yourself a surfer. You've got to have an actual relationship with the ocean. Sorry, you just do.
Me and my friends spent our entire summers on the beach. It was literally our backyard, but as often happens here in summer, a day or two of offshore winds would blow our warm gulf stream waters out to sea, dropping the local ocean temps below ankle-numbing. It can be 90 degrees and humid and the ocean will drop to 56. During one of these scorching summer days with an ice-cold ocean, a friend of mine called me over his house. He said that his mother had filled the back of her pickup truck with water and that he was going to go bodyboarding. It sounded bad-ass so I ran up the street with my Morey Waimea Pro under arm. I got there to find that his mom had laid a tarp in the bed of her green F-150 and filled it with a running garden hose. My friend was just sort of floating there like a corpse on his bodyboard. Aside from the Wave Garden video, it was the most heartless thing I've ever seen. He asked to me to hop in. I politely declined and went home. Sometimes it's better to not surf at all. Only a true surfer knows that feeling.
Monday, February 14, 2011
A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to see Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company. The man playing Reverend Samuel Parris seemed detached from the character’s hell-raising vanity. It was most noticeable in his articulation and tone. He delivered lines with a certain estrangement of voice. I don’t necessarily blame the actor. Other than God himself, who in their right mind would want to play such an asshole? Reverend Parris is a diehard megalomaniac with the worst kind of ego, one that achieves great heights by belittling others morally and economically. To use an oft spoken word in the play (with heaps of thematic resonance), his egotism is all pretense. Reverend Parris hasn’t done anything spectacular to warrant such a high and mighty self-opinion. Win a Pulitzer, sleep with Marilyn Monroe, and then you can preach your greatness to the choir.
I attribute the defunct performance of Reverend Parris to the character’s archaic fear and wonderment of God. Do such men exist anymore? I don’t think so. We certainly have our share of religious nuts, but to me their extreme devotion isn’t based in teleological astonishment or a reverence for the categorical imperative. Most Christians don’t attend church or believe in God in order to have the makings of the universe explained to them. They have Wikipedia for that. Their religiosity is based in exclusivity. Being Christian for many is an excuse to vilify and/or exclude others from their ideological environment, and by others I mean any person who represents characteristics which stand to confuse, refute, and/or mock the idea of Jehovah creating the universe in seven days, casting Adam and Eve from Eden, and persecuting individuals who want to marry someone of the same gender.
Even Christian extremists know better than to take the Bible’s fables literally. Furthermore, they don’t actually believe in God, never mind fearing or revering him. They attend church because they want themselves to be right and for everyone else to be wrong. It’s the lowest common denominator of self-realization. They fear progress. They are afraid of relinquishing the smallest iota of their ideological power to pacifists, secularists, homosexuals, tree-huggers, socialists, hipsters, vegans, Jews, book-readers, and logicians.
Man needed God to exist so he invented him, but that was a long time ago. We don’t need him anymore and for that reason I found The Crucible exhausting. Money grubbers and jealous lovers manipulating the church for their own gain, people claiming to have seen the devil, and worse, others believing those claims. I could barely sit in my seat. I was literally cringing. At various moments, I wanted to get up and slap a few bitches, Abigail, Reverend Parris, and Deputy Governor Danforth in particular. How could our society and government be so morally corrupt, so intellectually vapid? It made the George W. Bush era look like the flower power ‘60s.
All the evil/satanic melodrama. All that Linda Blair-like screaming. I actually started laughing at the play, and then it dawned on me. Arthur Miller meant for the play to be viewed and directed as a comedy of errors in which the subject of mistaken identity is the devil himself. I am now thinking of revisionist performances/translations of other religious texts under the same concept. Any suggestions?