• Dazzling Blue #46: A Pen of All Work

    Posted:Feb 20 2017

     I first fell in love with Raymond Pettibon’s text/image drawings in the late ‘70s, when he made cover art for Black Flag records. They were witty, irreverent, subversive, pornographic, and highly intellectual, though I didn’t really understand this at the time. To my early teenage mind, they just looked cool.

                A couple of decades later, I wrote a piece about him for Huck magazine. Wading through his studio, swimming in his work, watching him whack a baseball, I came to the realization that Pettibon has turned art making into his nervous tic, the thing he defaults to without ceremony or procrastination.

                That may or may not be accurate.

                What’s for certain, though, is “A Pen of All Work,” his retrospective at the New Museum, which opened in early February and is up until April 9. If you’re anywhere near NYC in the next couple of months, by all means check it out. You don’t have to be interested in visual art to feel its galvanizing power. Like a Mozart symphony or a Shakespeare sonnet or a Dane Reynolds hack, it’s palpable to the uninitiated. It gets under your skin, reminds you to dig deep and access the voices within.

                Here’s a passage from the piece I wrote:

    I ask him what comes first: the text or the image. “Where the image stops and the words begin is not that clear cut,” he says. “It’s more a give and take, a back and forth, dialectic almost in between the two and/or both. Probably more times than not when I have problems it’s because I tend to overwrite, so it’s more learning when to stop.”

                And here’s a link to the piece itself:

    http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/raymond-pettibon-artist-punk/

    - Jamie Brisick

    The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow and Becoming Westerly. He lives in Los Angeles and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Twin Fin.

  • The Dazzling Blue #45: Standing Naked

    Posted:Feb 13 2017

    Many years ago, in what feels like another life, I was a professional surfer. I had sponsors. I got my picture in the mag. I had a healthy- to bursting-at-the-seams-sized ego.

              My father, a man of great humility and wisdom, observed me with a certain tilt. He knew the vicissitudes of life, the what goes up must come down-ness of it all.

              One night I was headed out to a party. I wore red patent leather Adidas high-tops of the Run DMC sort. My hair was carefully unwashed and unkempt. I was on the prowl, and my father sensed this. He called me over to the dinner table. He sat alone with a glass of wine, Luciano Pavarotti playing on the stereo.

              “Going out?” he asked.

              “Yep. Party.”

              “Girls?”

              “Hope so.”

              “You know, Jamie, when you’re with a woman it’s important that you stand naked before her.”

              I saw myself peeling off my T-shirt and shimmying out of my 501s in a bedroom of wine coolers and fluffy pillows, a delicious blonde waiting under the covers. I thought, How cool, Dad really gets it.

              My father continued—

              “And what I mean by naked is it’s not Jamie the Pro Surfer, or Jamie The Guy in the Surf Mags. When you’re intimate with someone, it’s really important that you leave behind those constructs of yourself. You can’t bring your surf trophies into bed, is what I’m saying. It’s just you—and you alone is enough.”

              I cannot remember if I found myself naked with a woman that night, but if I did, I sure as hell hope that I didn’t get there by playing the surf card. In truth, I was never that sort of guy, or least I don’t think I was. But I am eternally grateful to my father for keeping me in check when I was at my most superficial and hubristic.

    - Jamie Brisick

    The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow and Becoming Westerly. He lives in Los Angeles and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Twin Fin.

  • The Dazzling Blue #44: The Music You Hear

    Posted:Feb 06 2017

     

    Sometimes it’s not the music you hear but where you hear it. I heard Marcos Valle’s ‘80s boogie dance tune “Estrelar” while driving in rush-hour traffic through the San Fernando Valley. It didn’t really connect. Then I heard it while walking along the shoreline at Ipanema and it seemed to capture the spirit of Brazil.

    3 pm on a Saturday, sun bright and blazing, bottle green water the same temperature as human blood, "Morro Dois Irmãos" (Two Brothers Hill—that iconic granite mountain that presides over this iconic beach) gleaming and majestic, the sugary sand a sea of red umbrellas and bodies in every shape and size, the rush and retreat of shorebreak tickling my toes.

    A man in a Speedo and a woman in a dental-floss bikini whack a frescobol (Brazilian paddle ball) back and forth with ace dexterity, their dark muscles flexing, their hips gently swaying.

    Four teenage boys kick a soccer ball in a circle. The ball bounces off heads, bellies, shoulders, heels, thighs, backs. I’m reminded of the Harlem Globetrotters. They play with “ginga,” a distinctly Brazilian style that is part capoeira, part samba, all tapping into the deepest recesses of our individual souls.

    A man in Lawrence of Arabia robes sells kebabs. Another man carries a mobile bar on his back. Standing in knee-deep water and suddenly decide you want an icy cold caipirinha? He’ll whip one up and walk it out to you.

    In the surf, a goofy foot catches a streaking head-high left, races along the trim line, punts a lateral air reverse of the Gabriel Medina genus. Rio is home to some of the wedgiest beach breaks in the world. A few miles south, in the A-frames of Barra da Tijuca, flocks of early teenagers sharpen their air games with dreams of world titles in their heads. Such a shame that there will be no WSL Championship Tour event in Rio this year.

    A pixieish, freckle-faced girl squeals as a surge of water knocks her down like a bowling pin.

    A heavily pierced and tattooed guy with a blue Mohawk dashes for the water, boogie board under arm.

    A couple make out with a fervor that you rarely see in the US, and when you do, it’s only a matter of seconds before someone shouts the proverbial “Get a room!” Here in Rio, it’s perfectly okay to shut eyes, gnash tongues, and meld bodies in public. You see it in parks, at bars, in restaurants, and especially here at the beach. The couple lay in the sand a few yards from water’s edge. People walk around them, over them, the couple don’t care, they might as well be in the privacy of their own home. She wears a pink bikini. He wears…I can’t tell, her body pretty much covers his. There are four Skol beer cans next to their heads, and alongside them an old radio. It blares “Estrelar” in all its zooming and optimism-inducing and Brazilian spirit-capturing glory.

    Have a listen and feel that Brazilian spirit for yourself - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTPaDbt_USA

     

    - Jamie Brisick

    The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow and Becoming Westerly. He lives in Los Angeles and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Twin Fin.

  • The Dazzling Blue #42: Suspended Seconds

    Posted:Dec 19 2016

    Let’s play it back in the same blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace that it seemed to happen: There was “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the Zika virus outbreak, the EU Migrant Crisis, Obama’s historical visit to Cuba, the Orlando nightclub shooting, Brexit, many Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the Rio Olympics, the US presidential election, Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature, and most recently, the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire. There was a lot of tragedy and a lot of “truth stranger than fiction.” Closer to our aquatic home was the John John Florence world title, which seemed to be universally heart-warming and hope-inducing.

    We surfers get to experience time in a unique way. While tube riding is a fast-twitch, lightning-reflex game, it’s also a quiet meditation. Seconds are suspended. The ticking clock seems to accordion outward, breathing, giving space. And then there’s that profoundly poetic act of straddling board and contemplating the horizon. Is there a better place to think, ponder, reflect? “The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing” goes a Babylonian Proverb. The same could be said about surfing.

    - Jamie Brisick
    The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and SnowandBecoming Westerly. He lives in NYC and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Pod.

  • The Dazzling Blue #41: Winter’s Deeper (and Colder!) Shade of Blue

    Posted:Dec 12 2016

    Winter does different things to different places. In Hawaii and Florida, it doesn’t change the water temperatures too dramatically. On the west coast and in the northeast, though, water temps plummet, swells take on a slate grey harshness, and the surfing experience becomes the yang to summer’s yin.

    At 90th Street in Rockaway Beach, bootied, gloved, and hooded surfers trot across snow to ride sub-40° A-frames. Those short interval southeast swells can really kick your ass. At Sea Girt in New Jersey one icy December I remember getting caught inside so relentlessly, so whack! whack! whack! I thought I was going to go into a grand-mal seizure. Never have head-high waves hurt so bad. Never has the cranial freeze felt so personal.

    At Rincon, surfers don 4-3 full suits and booties and lay into about 27 bottom turns across infinite bottle-green walls. In the evening, the light takes on a bluish crispness, the pelicans swoop, the sunsets vibrate in brilliant color. It’s as if the chill in the air washes away some miasma we don’t so much see as feel. The barnacle-encrusted rocks emit a more pungent smell. The seals seem to bark louder. The surf life appears more visceral.

    I think of Maverick’s as the quintessence of winter’s cruelty. Mountainous widow’s peak of a wave, water like icy cement, thick wetsuits to semi-straitjacket you, a stand of rocks on the inside hungrily awaiting your fleshy corpus. There’s nothing kind or welcoming about it. And to make matters worse, it breaks way the hell out there. And gets real crowded, ensuring that you’ll go on waves you’d likely pass on if not for the fifty other 9’6”-wielding hell men and -women.

    And I think of New Year’s morning as the best time to score uncrowded surf. A six-foot northwest swell at an undisclosed North County reef break some five years ago. Bluebird skies, sapphire seas, a pod of kelp just outside the takeoff zone. Look left—no one. Look right—one other guy, though he’s a couple hundred yards away. A set looms. A double-overhead peak stands up right before you like some long lost lover. Your insides dance. You wheel around, stroke.

    - Jamie Brisick
    The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and SnowandBecoming Westerly. He lives in NYC and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Pod.

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