Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Green Tea

Something that clearly struck me as amazing was the food in Japan! We ate like kings. Every time we ate anywhere it was an experience and a half. Everything from Moss Burger to Korean BBQ was absolutely delicious. Even McDonalds tasted better for some reason!

I went to sushi one evening with Ryo from Reunion wetsuits, my wetsuit sponsor, and my good friends Yama and Tsun. I really didn’t know what to expect other than amazing food. Although I love sushi in the U.S., it was quite different in Japan. The presentation was wonderful and it always tasted fresh. I mean, where else in the world do you go to sushi and the sushi chef does magic for you? I mean, come on! That’s exactly what happened that night. We were about half way through with our meal and all of the sudden the sushi chef started busting out magic tricks. At first, he mesmerized us with a couple card tricks that you’d figure any magician would be capable of doing. Then he got really crafty with the big finale at the end. By the looks on their faces, I had a feeling Ryo, Yama, and Tsun were exalting me in Japanese as he did wherever we went. The chef had me pull out a card and it was the ace of spades. Then he asked me to sign it. I concluded he was just asking for an autograph assuming Ryo had been telling him about the upcoming event in Taito, but little did I know he was contriving the finale of all finales. He slid the card back in the deck and set the stack of playing cards back on the table in front of me. I watched him carefully, not knowing what was coming next. He slowly pulled out a brand new, unopened bottle of green tea from a little cardboard box behind the sushi bar. Then he began signing something in Japanese on the top of the bottle; most likely his signature, but for all I know, it could decode the magic trick. I may never know. My eyes scoured it, watching his every move. He slowly ripped away the green wrapper from the little plastic bottle, and right away, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The ace of spades playing card I had just signed was now inside the unopened bottle of green tea! Even my Japanese friends that brought me there were in just as much shock (or more than) I was. We were astonished. None of us could believe our eyes. We thought of every way possible he could’ve done it, however, to this day, I still can’t make logical sense of it. I kept the souvenir and it still sits on a shelf in my room. Everybody asks what it is, and I always have an interesting story to reminisce upon. They always have the same reaction, “That’s not possible!” I tell them . . . “Only in Japan.”

Here’s what I’m listening to right now...

“Nantes” – Beruit

“Leyendecker” - Battles

“Gobbledigook” - Sigur Ros

“Better Things” - Passion Pit

“Build Me Up Buttercup” - Temptations

“Falling Away” - Benjamin Pacheco

“Changes” - Van She

“Gravity Rides Everything” - Modest Mouse

“Gone Again” - Tommy Guerrero

“Close To Me” - The Cure

“Get Up” - James Brown

“Ooh La La” - The Faces

“Crosses” - Jose Gonzales

“Paralyzed” - Japanese Motors

“Taper Jean Girl” - Kings of Leon

“Seaside” - The Kooks

“20 Dollar” - M.I.A.

“T.E.N.N.I.S.” - Dubious

“Non Photo-Blue” - Pinback

“RJD2” - Bus Stop Bities

Magic Carpet Ride

“Where’s your board?” a friend asks me as I’m submerged up to my chin in saltwater.

“Its right here,” I answer, as I shoot the board up out of submission, holding up what looks like an oversized longboard skateboard deck.

“What the hell is that? A plank of wood?” the curious friend asks, amazed at the capability of even paddling out on such a thing. “You’re joking right? How do you even paddle that thing; it just sinks?” he immediately hypothesizes.

“I dunno . . . I’m used to it. A little extra effort never hurt anyone right?” I smile.

“It looks like my grandma’s ironing board if you ask me. Is it some sort of piece of furniture?” he asks sincerely.
“No, it’s actually made for surfing and it’s called an Alaia. It’s a type of surfboard made of Paulownia wood, usually around six feet in length, used by the ancient Hawaiians in the early 19th century. I’ll bet you could iron some clothes on it if you had to though, it’s pretty flat,” I laugh.

“Do you use your foot as rudder?” he responds.

“No it turns because the rails act as a makeshift fin, slicing into the face of the wave.” I try to explain.

“Wow. That’s interesting,” he softly says to himself, mesmerized by the anorexic feeling of the overall plan of the board within his grip. “I couldn’t catch a wave on this thing to save my life but it sure would look cool in my living room,” he laughs and goes on his merry way paddling back out to join the pack of geezers conversing amongst one another on the outside. I can see discussion of the new phenomenon turning everyone’s heads.

I had my first glimpse of this new craze when I visited Australia for the Noosa Festival in March of 2007. My first interpretation wasn’t far off from the responses I’ve recently been intercepting from surfers when they first catch sight of the ride. The first guy I noticed riding Alaias was Jacob Stuth, a native Noosa shredder and Alaia expert. I asked similar questions at first like, where did you find that table top shaped like a surfboard? Or why are you riding that weird thing? From the moment I hopped on the thing I automatically judged it because I couldn’t accomplish a successful ride for the life of me. I had no idea of the fun that could be derived from the speed generated through such an avant garde yet ancient form of wave-riding.

Today, I ride my Alaia on a regular basis. People still look at me like I’m crazy for running down to the waters edge with such a thing but when they see what the board actually does on a wave, they’re usually quite surprised. The little piece of driftwood they once noticed you paddling is now going 100 miles an hour down the line like a little magic carpet ride.


Lower Trestles displays the talents of international surfers on regular basis. The world’s best sufers flock there annually and you can spot the best surfers of today exemplifying the highest performance in the evolution of the sport. It also inhabits the likes of legends brought up in the area, such as Herbie Fletcher. Herbie and I became close friends through surfing, our interest in art, and together and we’ve been making it happen since day one.

To take off on a wave with Herbie Fletcher is incredible. The intensity he drills into the ride while sharing the flow of water behind you, becomes tremendously apparent when you take into account the speed he maintains while noseriding through un-makeable sections. I’ve had the privilege to ride numerous waves with Herbie now, and ever since then, I’ve overcome any fear of riding a wave beside someone flying through sections on the nose. The best feeling in the world is to get a good clean hang ten, but when accompanied by one of your life-long mentors on the nose beside you, it makes for an even better ride. Some of my all-time most memorable waves are stored away in my mental files and I’ll never forget the rush that was involved in them.