From left to right: 6' 4" quad fish (aka the PCQ), custom shaped by Alan; 6' 10" Bonzer, custom shaped by Ted; 9' 0" 2+1 performance longboard, custom shaped by Craig Hollingsworth; 9' 6" classic noserider, custom shaped by Ted.
This started off as a Facebook meme, and happily it coincided with my decision to post more stuff on this blog regardless of quality. So, seeing as it's a meme and all, consider yourself tagged, so if you do this on your blog just post a comment indicating that you did and I will drop whatever it is I'm doing and will immediately rush to your blog and read your list of random things and you and I will marvel together at the sheer utter randomness of it all, our little lives, the world, the Universe, all of it.
25. I’ve been pecked in the leg by an irate emperor penguin. 24. I can play the bass guitar and the saxophone. 23. I went to high school in Anchorage, Alaska. 22. I was both a frat boy and a Republican in college. I'm not ashamed of being either. 21. I own four surfboards. 20. I've bribed a Mexican cop. 19. I was a contestant on “Jeopardy”. Yes, the real “Jeopardy”. With Alex Trebek. 18. I have a crippling fear of primates. 17. I've been in a shark cage and I've gone swimming with dolphins. 16. I'm turning 40 this May and am seriously considering buying a Harley. Don't tell anyone. 15. I'm a former rugby player. 14. I still ride a skateboard. 13. I'm a pretty good cook. 12. I have "hitchhiker's thumbs", i.e., they bend backwards when extended. It's kinda freaky. 11. For as much as I do it, and considering that I have a formal education in it, I frigging hate talking about politics. 10. I write for 5 blogs (one's a private surfing blog), yet I only regularly read a handful. 9. Dammit! I brought my lunch to work today but I left it in the car. Hopefully it won't spoil. 8. I have 11 different hats in the rotation. 3 beanies, 4 baseball caps, 2 driver's caps, 1 porkpie, and 1 fedora. 7. I'm not the Jason Avant who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. 6. I believe that most people who claim to love "The Wire" and Radiohead say that to make themselves look smart. 5. I've been to Loch Ness, but did not see the monster. 4. I have this weird bump under my right eye. It's been there for years. Should I have it looked at? 3. My personal Martini: 2 measures gin, 1 measure vodka, splash of vermouth, 2 blue cheese-stuffed olives. 2. I have no desire to get an iPhone. 1. I got more rhymes than Jamaica's got mangos.
We're what, 3 days into the Obama administration, and already it's begun. The bitching, the fearmongering, the blanket statements born of ignorance and failed ideology. I'm detecting a new tone, one that strikes a chord of utter revulsion: the drawing of "sides", the blunt statements of hope that this president and his policies fail.
I've tipped a cap to friends who I believe represent one of, perhaps THE, crucial element of a democracy: the Loyal Opposition. To make this thing we have work, there must be dissenting views, views that have the ability to impact the decision-making process in a lawful manner. Without it, we fall into the bottomless pit of intellectual dishonesty, of groupthink. This is basic civics, y'all, the shit that I fell asleep to during my PoliSci 101 class. The key word here is "loyal". One makes their opinion known, casts their vote, and (here's the important part) hopes for the best regardless of the decision.
Look, if you've read any of my rants here you know that I'm not a fan of the recently deceased administration. Most of what they did over the past 8 years...well. But here's the thing: even though I disagreed with 90% of Team Bush's decisions, I hoped that those decisions panned out. Because to hope for failure is to hope for what one should despise: loss of jobs, loss of homes, loss of limbs, loss of life. The savage in us hopes for ruin to come to one's enemy regardless of the cost to others; the true citizen may disagree with the means, but surely we all want the same outcomes. I'm sure that there were folks who wanted FDR to botch World War II, who wanted Lincoln to lose the Civil War, who wanted the Continental Congress to fuck up the Revolution. I'd lump 'em all in the same category.
It's been noted that a lot of Obama's inaugural speech mirrored sentiments echoed by past presidents, many of them Republicans. And of course there's been the snickering from those who voted against him, even from some of those who voted for him. It might be good to remind those folks who are so intent on perpetuating dischord, the Limbaughs, Coulters, Ralls, and other fringe nutcases who seem to not get the whole "e pluribus unum" thing, that there's a deeper reason why Obama's words echoed Bush's, Bush's words echoed Reagan's, Reagan's echoed Kennedy's. One can say that not everyone wins when a President succeeds, but when one fails, surely we all lose.
The day begins like any other, like every other. I beat the alarm: eyes snap open at 6:20, and there's a tinge of sunlight. Shuffle out into the house proper; the front of the place gets cold, so I turn up the heater a few notches. It wheezes and fires. Coffee. Six scoops, one per cup...eh, maybe a little more. There were martinis last night. I click on the TV, flip it over to the NBC affiliate. Did I run the dishwasher last night...yes, skillet, stovetop, medium high, carton of Egg Beaters, slice of cheese, English muffin. The coffeemaker gurgles and hisses. Hurry up, I think. Tendrils of sleep still cling to me. The baby monitor is lighting up; Zoe's awake. Quick diaper change - I do this with the speed and precision of a NASCAR pit crewman. Into the highchair with a bottle of milk. She grins. "BA!", she exclaims. I pour a cup of coffee. Beth and Lucas and Mick are still asleep. I sit down next to Zoe, and we both watch the TV for a few minutes, the clear cold blue sky, the flags, the monuments, the sea of faces, thousands, millions.
Here's a story; I believe my grandmother told it to me, or I may have heard it on the news, or it might be an urban legend.
Take La Costa across the freeway, hang a left at El Camino Real, go up a mile or so, and on the left you'll see a nursing home. It looks like a nice place to live out one's final days, and indeed it is, as far as those places go. My great aunt was there for a while; there was a dog that live there, an elderly yellow lab whose name escapes me. He kept the residents company, and then he died, and shortly thereafter my great aunt followed him.
The story's not about them. Rather, it's about another resident, and it happened a couple of or perhaps several years ago. This was an elderly man, who may have been confined to a wheelchair, or perhaps he relied on a walker, but who in any case was not very mobile. The nurses would, on occasion, take him out to a bench in front of the home, and there he'd sit, taking in the fresh air, watching traffic come in and out: friends and children and grandchildren coming to visit, ambulances coming to make a final pickup. The elderly man would use this time for indiscretions: a cigar and a bottle of something strong. "Indiscretions." Fuck the rules. He'd earned it. He'd drink his Johnny Walker and smoke a Swisher Sweet and time would keep on keeping on.
One particular evening - the sun had gone down, ocean breezes blowing inland - the man somehow doused himself with whatever was in the bottle, lit himself on fire, and burned to death.
It was a bit of a mystery: was it an accident? Probably. The man was old, shaky, perhaps not possessing all of his faculties, as they say; it would be an easy thing for someone in their late 80's/early 90's to spill on themselves, fail to notice this, light a match, and drop that match on oneself. Everything leaves you when you're that old; your sense of touch, your sense of smell, your sense of self. And yet...surely, to burn like that, he'd have had to dump the entire flask on himself. A minor, accidental spill wouldn't have been enough to cause him to become engulfed in flames. And surely he would have screamed as his clothes and skin burned. The bench was right outside the entrance. Surely someone would have heard the shrieks.
Unless he didn't scream. Unless he somehow willed himself not to, because he'd made a decision, one that he'd see through, his last.
There's no moral here, and for all I know this story might not even be true. I think about that old man, about how it was that he reached that point, the insane courage it takes to commit suicide by immolation. (Don't worry, I'm in no way contemplating The Big Self-Checkout - the Watchmen movie is coming out in March, fer chrissakes!) Even if the story's fiction, it does contain a certain truth. I dunno. That story's been on my mind for a few days, and I felt the need to put it down in written form. Back tomorrow with thoughts on other, happier things.
The Hold Music. I've been subjected to it now for some 2 minutes, and these 2 minutes have been the longest of my life. They are an Einsteinian nightmare; time has been displaced, stretched out, sucked into a vortex from which even light cannot escape. Jaunty paino music on an endless loop. Hell is other people and Hell's soundtrack is this Hold Music. I have thoughts of lunch to buoy me while I wait for the conference call to begin. Prosciutto, stacked like Arby's might stack it were it processed roast beef, and fresh mozzerella - the kind that floats in the cheese water - on ciabatta. (More Hold Music.) Fuck me, that's a sandwich. I love sandwiches. All hail the Earl of Sandwich. (I'm now on the call. Muffled voices, saying things like "RFP" and "headcount" and "making the numbers") He, not Walter Raliegh, should have that statue in Trafalgar Square. What? Of course I know the statue's of Nelson. Not the point. (Something about a PowerPoint presentation.)The point is where would we be without the sandwich? (The conference call organizer just disconnected everyone by accident. Call's over. Good thing, because now I'm hungry again. Anyboy have a sandwich?)
I poured myself out of bed this morning, the kind of awakening where you don't feel like you really slept, only idled, like a car waiting in the grocery store parking lot, the passenger running in to pick up a few much-needed supplies. This was a boozy sleep; the Chargers having won an improbable victory, during the course of which a bottle of leftover Prosecco was downed, after which more was consumed. (I'm a fan of a different sort, that's for sure, but hey, there was cold pizza and Nacho Cheesier! Doritos).
It occurred to me as I made the coffee that for all intents and purposes the Holiday Season was over. We will be breaking down the tree, putting glass balls in their fragile box-cocoons for another year, wrapping up plastic garlands. Lucas will, of course be sad; one can only wonder what Zoe will think of it, although now when you ask her what a duck says, she goes "Qwah! Qwah!", which might be a window to a mind deeper than we expect. There is accompanying melancholy, not so much for the end of parties, presents, and waaaaay too much food and drink, but at watching another milepost speed by, another year gone, and don't they seem to go by a bit faster every time? The leisurely winding route becomes an autobahn of sorts.
So. More surfing, more reading, more writing, more connecting with new people and reconnecting with those left behind, more playing, more thinking, more exercise, more rest, more music, more cooking (Indian, because I've never, and Spanish, because I've gotten rusty), more everything.
The idea was for last night to have a Mad Men theme; we would serve kitschy food like ham and Nana's Cheese Ball and Ruffles with Onion Dip ("it's a chip and dip bowl"), mind-numbing drinks like my patented Special Martinis (2 shots Specter Gin, 1 shot Ketel One, splash of vermouth, 2 bleu cheese stuffed olives), dress like it was 1960, and eat/drink until sated. There were 7 grownups and our kids. The kids ran around and yelled and ended up stacked like Middle Passage cargo on our bed watching Kung Fu Panda. The grownups ate and drank. No one made it to midnight; I dozed off, woke up briefly to watch the pre-recorded ball drop, and sank into oblivion.
Today I'm watching the hockey, Blackhawks/Red Wings at Wrigley Field. Everyone is cold and loving it. I used to be a big hockey fan, and played in high school. I remember strapping on the pads, feeling invincible. Perhaps I'll paddle out later; it's a brilliant sunny day, and there seems to be something necessary about a plunge into frigid water, scanning the horizon to see what the ocean sends me. It's 2009.