A NEW OUTLET

I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a month now. For some reason I haven’t hit publish. And the reason is unknown to me.

Even with all the free time I’ve had on my hands, I still find myself having to choose what to do. You’d surely think I’d have time to do everything I wanted to with this new quarantine lifestyle. But maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? See here’s the thing: they say splitting your focus into too many different lanes is counterproductive. But I would disagree. I think things that are new and fresh are going to require more focus until you hone them to the level of expertise similar to other activities. So since trying new things, I’ve devoted more time to these activities I am far less familiar with. As usual, every morning consists of a surf. Just to get it out of the way. Not that it is a chore, but getting up early and striking before winds and crowds has definitely been my wavelength as of late. Even though it might be one of the things I am most an expert in (don’t take that the wrong way), I still love to give it the time and attention it deserves. Sure, I’ve woken up at 6 for the past xxx mornings, but I’ve fully gotten used to it and even when I don’t surf I still rise fairly early. If it’s a work day, I am preoccupied until around 5 or 6. Those days are a little more boring. I can pick 1 of the things I like to do after work. I have that 2 hour window to do whatever. Then it’s eat around 8 and watch a TV show with my roommates. In bed at 10. The TV show might be looked at as wasted time, but it’s time all of us sit on the couch and shoot the shit. Sometimes we pass on it but most of the time it’s our bonding (aside from our daily sunset bike cruise). So maybe I’ll fish. Or maybe I’ll read.  Maybe I’ll cook up a beat. Maybe I’ll go on a run. Maybe I’ll work out. Maybe I’ll surf. Maybe I’ll write. Do you see where I am going with this?

It seems like I keep writing these posts saying the same thing: writing has taken the backseat. But no longer! I had mentioned in an earlier piece about a side project I have quietly been working on, and I think it’s about time to let it rip. They say you have to fail a ton of times to succeed. And this might be a shot in the dark that amounts to nothing. But the cool aspect of it is that things are cemented on the internet, and I’ll always be able to look back on it and smile. And maybe learn from the mistakes. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know what the outcome could be. So here’s a quick synopsis on my new site.

Yes, it’s another website. Why? Because why not! I love this site, and it seems like (very few) others do too! Love is a strong word, but just work with me. It’s a snapshot of my professional career and me flexing my writing chops (if I even have any to flex). If you know me, you know I really don’t like things to be about me. If it doesn’t pertain to any but me, I usually don’t talk about it. I try not to gloat or boast. I (typically) am humble and quiet. As it should be. So it only made sense to make something that wasn’t all about me. Enter: Welcome Progress. I grew up glued to some surf media outlets. What Youth, Stab, SURFING (RIP), etc. Things have surely changed as far as paper magazines and how these sites are ran, but I loved reading interviews and pieces penned about things in the surf world I was enamored by. I still read articles off sites like GQ, Pitchfork, Stab, Inherent Bummer, etc. The shift from pure surf media started happening as I grew older and also more found of writing and styles. I am definitely a surf turkey by nature, but at this point in life I like to think I am a lot more. I think just being labeled a surfer got so stale. So let’s spin from that into what Welcome Progress will be about. It’s going to have some elements of surf. That’d go under the realm of “Activity”. There is also Mindset and Everyday. It’ll just be cheeky little pieces that fit into each one of those bins (or the trash bin if it sucks). Opinionated or fabricated pieces, made easily digestible. 

But it’ll be more than just my writing. I will reach out to others and post their shit. I want to talk to some of my friends and get their opinion, because I like to think I have a pretty diverse group of friends. With varying degrees of notoriety, hustle, and intellect. Some I talk to way more than others. Some tell me a lot more than others. But that’s not the point. I only know so much. Other people know a lot more. It would be strange to let other people in on a website that was named after me, so peer work will live here. Just a whole bunch of random shit! I also tried decently hard to make it look good. I think the layout is cool and a more complete site in comparison to my current site. The homepage is a mood board, linked to @welcomeprogress. It will be embedded with art, design, surf, and anything I think is cool or fits the brand. It’s still me at the helm, so you could probably guess the vibe (if you know me). Well, that’s it. Let’s see what happens!! If you are keen to give it a look, click HERE. If you want in on it, text me or reach out on the contact page. Come one come all! There’s not much currently, but if you want give the Instagram a follow and check out the little pieces I wrote under each category. 

 

Quarantine Listens Pt.1

We have a lot of time on our hands. Whether we like it or not, we are going to be stuck in the same routine for a while. Working from home, not really leaving the house, and seeing whoever you live with all day long are going to be very real circumstances for the time being (and most likely quite some time after). If you dwell on it too much, you are going to bum yourself out. Remember: it is for the greater good. The quicker we oblige to social distancing and quarantine practices, the quicker we can get out of the very funky time (hopefully). With all this free time on our hands and about a quarter of the social interactions we are used to on the daily, you need some noise to fill the gaps. Music is obviously a great choice (and that, we will be saving for pt. 2), but sometimes we need to switch it up. Ever listen to a podcast? Well, now’s the time to start. Here are some recommendations per the writers interests and biases (with duration included, as some are into short-form and others into long-form):

MUSIC

The Joe Budden Podcast (Long)

This podcast got me through transitioning from working in places that required interaction with customers to working in an office space. While I have loved all my previous and current coworkers, there are certainly times where I just need to plug in and focus to get things done. I felt often that music I was familiar with I would sing along or get easily sidetracked. Locking into a podcast of just banter was one of the best ways I could effectively get work done (at the time, this was mainly copywriting so it wouldn’t side track my word flow on docs). The Joe Budden Podcast is predominantly a music podcast, starting with roots in hip-hop but now covering most everything music related (from releases to the business to specific artists, even to Joe’s music career). The more you listen, the more you start to know about each of the characters and get the jokes that often fly under the table. In it’s evolution, they also cover current events and just about anything that makes headlines. The JBP is for sure the podcast I listen to most, and haven’t missed an episode since 217 (they are now on 334). 

Dissect (Medium)

https://open.spotify.com/show/2b025hq3gJ17tQdxS3aV43?si=jmpKwZkRTjW_MF8Wgz0sYA

This music podcast differs starkly from the JBP. It’s main contributor is Cole Cuchna, a music nerd much like myself, but he is on a completely different level. Dissect takes iconic albums and breaks them down song by song, really taking a deep dive on underlying themes and even the construction of modern music. His selection is for sure Hip-Hop based, but covers some of the most critically acclaimed albums, from KDots TPAB and DAMN to Kanye’s MBDTF. I started with the Kanye album, and by the time I was finished I would argue that MBDTF is probably the best album of the 2000s. While some of it might be a little too in depth on musical notes and history, it does feel awesome to finish a season and have a whole new understanding of an album you already loved.   

SURF

Lipped the Surfers Podcast (Short-Medium)

https://open.spotify.com/show/6QZX2yvefx8sUdIWEeDa94

The first surf podcast I really took a liking to and since I’ve I listened and enjoyed every episode. The two hosts carry the show quite well, one a more average surfer and one an ex-QS surfer turned coach. They both typically tend to have varying perspectives, but always are crushing salt lagers (beers) in unison. Whether it’s contest wrap-ups, contest previews, fantasy surf picks, or the odd guests, they have classic surf banter you and your mates have. They definitely are tapped in to surfing, and especially that coming from their homeland (Australia). It is always nice to hear from the ex-QS surfer (Cahill Bell-Warren) as he has had a wildcard spot on the CT and has grinded the QS for quite some time. Now a surf coach, it’s funny to hear him talk either ultra technical as far as surfing or aussie-slang heavy about surfs or nights out on the piss. 

L8 Night with Choccy

https://open.spotify.com/show/6zEvoIxlqCO3UUrzoz9Yfh

Guilty bias since my dad was a guest on this one (you even can here me chime in on occasion), I actually had listened to the podcast before the invite was extended. The surf world is massive, and there is a lot going on in between the CT surfers, huge corporate brands, and just the culture itself. L8 Night and Choccy do a great job highlighting the more low key but integral parts of surfing’s upbringing. Whether it’s lifelong shop owners, people who steered some of the biggest brands before buyouts, or small groups of surf-minded individuals (companies or boardrider clubs), they cover it all. Both lifelong rippers and both currently working in the industry, it doesn’t get much more core. Whether it’s surf talk, brand talk, or just about anything surrounding the sport or the industry, these guys have the inside scoop.

BONUS: The Lineup and Forerunners 

https://www.worldsurfleague.com/watch/431187/the-lineup-with-dave-prodan?playlistId=431187&s1=watch

https://www.surfline.com/series/forerunners

I really like The Lineup. For me, I am guilty of listening to them all but really only love the ones based on the guest. One thing I love about every single episode though is the lightning round: 10 questions for the guest. My favorite to hear people’s response to is best & worst person to share a session with.

Forerunners is a Surfline-powered podcast that explains wave forecasts to their perspective zones. I couldn’t put it as a favorite since it covers everywhere, and I don’t need to listen to the east coast forecast if I ain’t gonna be over there. But I do love to get the most in-depth breakdown on surf if there is a forecast that looks promising.

Perspective

YNK (Medium)

Mike Stud has always been an artist I’ve been fond of since I found him. While I do like a ton of his songs, his personality at first is what sold me. I was tipped off by a friend to check him out around sophomore/junior year of college, and then fell into the vortex of his Tourings Boring series. One of the earliest vlogs for musicians (salute Wiz Khalifa with DayToday), it follows Stud and his childhood friends in all sorts of debauchery and trouble a couple of lower to mid-20 year olds could get into. Super loose, he was a party guy. When I listened to the first episode of the pod, I realized he had definitely made a lifestyle switch. Post break-up, Mike took his time to slow down and find himself, and in the process became very spiritual. He has taken the podcast platform to interview his friend circle and beyond: fellow musicians, top-level athletes, and entrepreneurs. You can cherry pick the people who you are familiar with, watch ’em all, or listen to their friendly banter when they are sans guests and just with the Steves. 

Airplane Mode (Short) 

https://open.spotify.com/show/14Lz5tpJshLyqUV4bDSdE7

Most of the pods spotlit during this post are in the middle or on the longer side. For me, I typically like to save podcasts for longer periods of time. However, there are some bite-sized podcasts out there that really give you a bang for your buck as far as quality content in a smaller package. While one that comes to mind is the NYTimes podcast The Daily, it recently got a little too corona crazy for me to want to listen to. The GQ podcast Airplane Mode gives you easy to digest tidbits of information, coming from all sorts of different people. From trainers to artists to writers, they all cover topics that they can transfer valuable info based on experience. From 30 minutes to an hour, with the odd long form podcast in there, Airplane mode is good to just get a quick fix. And I always gotta stay true to the GQ brand. 

2 Random 1s

The Nintendads (Short-Medium)

https://open.spotify.com/show/2L0Q8ut4bEk988B7y55H9t?si=2UR80Nb_TVO8Xll7GbGa1g

Here’s some shameless self(brother)-promotion. My brother recently beat me into getting into the podcast space (more on that potential later) by starting a pod with two of his closest friends. One thing brought them together when they were younger and it’s something they all still do currently, and that one thing is their love for classic nintendo games. Enter the Nintendads, as these 3 fathers chop it up about game news, express their biases, and overall just goof around. I gotta put some respect on the brozay, as they are only getting more and more quality. While I can’t always follow the subject matter, we all grew up on nintendo games, so the nostalgia just hits home. My one beef with theirs is that there is no video to go along with (while it is understandable since they do not live near each other). Knowing how all of them are, it would be pretty good to see their facial reactions to certain topics. 

The Medium Rare Podcast (Short-Medium)

This one is my newest discovery on the podcast front. It is for sure my guilty pleasure podcast. It is no way embarrassing, but sometimes I just think to myself “why am I watching this”. It pretty much details the late-night antics and clout-driven activities between 3 close friends with money. While I am sure if me and my buddies somehow attained a nice amount of loot and a social following, we would be doing the same shit. In a nutshell, it covers girls, going out, fashion, and food. The food part is definitely what first drew me in, as it is interesting to hear their opinions about different food scenes (although it is all very high-end dining, which I won’t be partaking in anytime soon). But like I said, I got sucked in and now am playing catch up. It will act as an inspiration for when we are off quarantine and back to sending it (that’s some shit they would say). This is one I’d say is essential to watch, just because you can see how close of friends they are based on the body language and jargon between them. 

Use this time wisely

As I penned the opening bit to my last piece, I was dwelling on the fact that 2020 was the start of a new decade and one that was often romanticized about as “the future”. I lightly touched upon “…a virus spreading…” just as a casual reference to something that has clearly blown up since I originally mentioned it. Never would I think the next couple days would play out the way they have. With the cancellation of all and any events and asking people to gather in groups no larger than 10, it seems like a quarantined world is looming eerily upon us and for our own good there isn’t much we can do about it. With how rapidly this virus has spread and the media hyping it up more and more, it seems like following the “social distancing” protocol isn’t a terrible idea. Many things will take hits while others might be able to blossom. I think the outlook we need to have on this situation is one of untapped potential rather than forced confinement. Some of the things that might take a toll: social life, sanity lost due to being confined to your house for both work and leisure, and much, much, more. While many will view this confinement as extremely negative (in reality, it is, as no one should shield themselves from the outside world and not engage in social norms [also, the situation with the actual virus is extremely negative]). But let’s shine light on some of the positives we can establish from this. This is a great time to work on yourself. Whether that is expanding your taste in certain areas, gaining more knowledge (from any outlet you may find), picking up things you don’t do nearly as often or have never done before, or just critical thinking about your past, present, or future. Now is a great time for reflection. Try not to dwell on the negative too much. Keep it positive and inspirational, rather than dismal and down. Also try not to be down thinking about the things you could be doing if you were not on quarantine. There is no way around it, and disregarding what is seen as best policy puts you and also others at an extreme risk. And you should be thinking about others more than yourself. Most of the people reading this are not the ones worrying. As age grows, so does concern and wariness. While improving on yourself, you should stimulate your mind and social skills while reaching out to people you might not speak to as much. Your social circle is going to be small and repetitive for quite some time, so reaching out to friendly faces far and wide will help cope with the stress and current state of affairs. Talk more with your roommates. Learn more about the people you care about. With technology, we have communication at our fingertips. Use it (just not in over abundance, and if you need tips on how to reduce screen time, check this out [TLDR: read, write, practice something analog, exercise])! Although we will be inside a lot more than typical, get outside. Sit on a deck (if you have one), go for a morning or sunset walk, surf (which cannot be stopped, and I am pretty stoked to just surf a shit ton while on quarantine), or even just sitting outdoors and in the sun will feel a lot better than inside walls. Take this post as just tips and tricks to stay sane in this wild and erratic time. People will spin it many ways, some truthful and others far from it. Thinking in a positive and rational mindset will give you the most success and clarity. It is a strange time in all of our lives, young and old. But it will all work out. It always does.

Lovers Day

Image result for heart

Valentines day. A day to dedicate to your significant other for putting up with your shit. Whether it’s spending too much time with your friends, you bailing on plans because the waves look fun, or just about anything, Valentine’s day is a great way to reset for the year and show your partner how much you love them. It doesn’t need to be a flashy gift or extravagant date (although most probably wish for one or the other, or both). It’s a day to celebrate new love, old love, and love that has been up and down like the waves. 

But Valentines day doesn’t just need to be for those in a committed relationship. Tell the girl you might be talking to happy valentines day, even if you met her a week ago (note: this might be a little much to some, so tread lightly). Say happy valentines day to your parents. Say Happy valentines day to your close friends (more of a girl thing, but fuck it). Say happy valentines day to your dog. Or cat. Or any pet. Post on social media about valentines day and your valentines (so far I’ve seen friends, family, and pets on my feed). Or don’t post, that’s fine too.

Do something you love. Whether that is as easy as going on a bike ride, playing video games, eating junk food, or all of those things at once. Go for a swim in the ocean (for my west coasters, but people in NJ are welcome to take a polar plunge). Read. Write. Draw. Take a nap. Do nothing. Scroll Instagram for an hour. It doesn’t matter to me. Or to the person next to me. If you don’t have anyone to share the day with, share it with yourself. Share it with nature. Share it with someone over the internet. Share it with someone new. Share it with someone old. 

If there’s one thing to do on Valentines day, it is to love. Person, place, thing, it does not matter. Maybe you are some weirdo and you don’t love ANYTHING. If in that case you are, how about you spread and show love. Talk positively. Compliment people you wouldn’t normally. Smile at people when you walk past them. Hold the door open. Buy someone their coffee. Give someone a set wave (unless you really want it, then you are expressing self love and they will get that). The 14th of February is a day mostly associated with love for a single person, but let’s change that. Love everyone. Try it just for one day. Then maybe next year the whole week of Valentines day. Then the month. Then just do it. 

 

A Great Way To Spend A Saturday: Road-tripping North

Piggybacking off of 2 blog posts ago (if you recall, we were talking about being open-arms to change in life, and almost seeking it rather than loathing it), one great way to spend a Saturday involves getting yourself out of your normal zone. We often grow accustomed to the same routine, whether it is the weekend nightlife destination or even just the local beach. From coffee to coastline, we tend to stick with what we know. And often this can leave us in a rut. Jumping in the car and heading north or south can help us alleviate the normalities of everyday life. And there are limitless possibilities in the path you can take whether it’s north south east or west (typically I like north and south, staying coastal and avoiding being on a boat in the middle of the ocean [unless it’s in Indonesia or French Polynesia]). So what did I do this past weekend? I got out of the bubble. It is far too easy to stay put over the weekend. Usually by Friday you are cooked by the workweek, or maybe you work weekends and have to stick around. But this go around I decided it was time. I used to flee the OC scene far more often in my early California years, but now more often than not I find myself anchored down in Newport. I hit the 405 and headed north to SB. Here are the tips and tricks (applicable to any location) from a Saturday spent north of helLA. 

PacificCoastHighwayMapDrivingDistance
Driving up

One thing that can really hinder the stoke-factor of your trip is traffic. Maybe not as big of a complication outside California, but miss-timing the traffic on a little road trip can add on hours upon hours of time in the car. While half the road trip is the time in the car with your pals, every extra hour or even couple minutes where you can be out of the car already feel like salt in an open wound. The problem especially with going north on any highway coming from Orange County is grinding out the LA portion of the drive. Time it right and cruise through it without going under 40 mph. Hit peak traffic time and prepare to be shifting between park and drive while furiously skipping through songs and checking Instagram. The tactic with avoiding traffic is dodging the prime time work commute hours. This means really early in the AM or after 7PM. If you can take the day off, cruise it between 11-3 and it’s smooth sailing. 

Morning Sip

Every great morning starts with a great cup. A bad cup of coffee can really throw your day off the rails, and dialing in coffee in an unknown area can be tougher than you think. In 2020, it is pretty easy to hop on google or yelp and search “coffee shop” and get pointed in the right direction. Still, the litmus test is the actual first sip. That first drip of joe to travel through your mouth is the real tell tale sign of a good or bad cup. Getting up and starting your morning off on the right foot is essential, so if you are in the SB area (although it is on the southern end) Lucky Llama is the zone. Owned by the son of local surfboard shaper and surf shop owner Matt Moore, this place is always busy and filled with happy customers. With delicious coffee, acai bowls, and baked treats, this is the perfect pit stop for before the sun rises or a mid morning pick me up. 

Beach Day

North of LA is cluttered with a ton of super fun surf spots to take a stab at while you are up there. From beachies to points, there’s a wave for everyone, novice to expert, goofy to regular. Whether it is a long roping point wave or a hollow punchy beach break, you can find it if you look hard enough. There is however, one wave that in particular if you are making your way up to it has a special place in most California surfers hearts. Especially if you are a regular footer. And even for some goofy footers. Rincon point is affectionately referred to as “The Queen of the Coast.” And if that doesn’t speak to the admiration of the wave, then let’s just get to the numbers. You can ride a right for up to 3/4s of a mile (maybe more, most of the time less). That’s comparable to a Jbay stint, minus the men in grey suits. If we are talking numbers, on any given weekend with swell the lineup could be littered with well over one hundred bodies, from bonafide rippers to log jammers going straight. We were talking about switching it up, so unless you regularly surf down at Trestles, there aren’t many comparable waves to Rincon in OC. And they still don’t stand a chance against the Queen on a good hair day. 

Fuel for the Day

This kind of goes off the point above. If you end up posting up on the beach at Rincon point, it’s going to be pretty hard to leave. With endless right handers and the crowd only getting thinker, being hunkered down on the beach for the long haul is a good way to maximize water time in the morning before the wind and wave warriors come in stronger and stronger. Packing light, nutrient dense, and refreshing snacks to munch on the cobbles in between run arounds is the move for an all-day surf bender. Protein bars, fruits, and lot’s of water. Maybe an extra coffee to get the paddle muscles re-awakened for another marathon sprint up the point. This will increase your time before you really need a solid lunch or meal and also help you avoid cramping. Post up with a cooler and tax it occasionally until it runs dry. When it’s empty, you know you only have a couple more laps around the point left. 

Last Bite

When you are venturing outside your usual comfort zone, it usually beckons for eating out and sampling the local flavors. Luckily, Santa Barbara has a TON of awesome eats and even better ambiance in most restaurants. However, I think there is a better way to go about finishing off a hard earned day of fun in the sun. While this can only be done if you have a couple of people you might know in the area, but eating over a friends house or a BBQ with some brews is the best way to cap off a successful day or weekend trip. Whether you grill a classic or try something new, making your own meal adds even more pride and accomplishment to already getting outside your local town and adventuring into the zones unknown. If this seems like too much trouble, finding a good place to eat in SB is easy. Just walk along or adjacent to State street in downtown SB and you’ll more often than not luck into a good bite to eat. 

Nighttime Sip

You’ve done it all today. Sucked down your morning cup of coffee. Took in your new surroundings. Hopefully got a surf in. Absorbed in a lot of vitamin D from the big bright circle in the sky. Ate a delicious dinner to help mend your sore muscles and pallets. And now the only thing left is a celebratory sud. A nice beer or two is the icing on the cake, and it tastes so much sweeter when it was worked for. As far as beers, you gotta stick with local breweries and trying beers you might not have ever had before. Just to make it easy, after you ate dinner around State street, hop in an Uber and head over to the funk zone. Whether it’s Topa Topa or Lama Dog, there are plenty of craft brew creators to pick from. Try one. Try three. Just don’t try none. Happy hunting.