EAST MEETS WEST: LOCAL SUMMER

I tried to keep some little columns consistent on this site, as it was fine to write to the stipulations each one held. East Meets West is a fun one, as I’ve lived in both sides of the United States for a decent chunk of time now. Here is me revisiting it since the last post on MARCH 3RD, 2020.

LOCAL SUMMER

Local summer is a phenomenon I really came to appreciate as I grew older and became more washed up. As a grom all throughout highschool and during my early years of college, I longed to be home for the summer. Lavallette (my hometown) is a special place in the summer. A town with the population of 2000 jumps to I don’t even know. I’d like to say it triples, and that might even be an understatement. This mile long town and the bordering small towns jam in as many people they can on the weekends, and even during the week it is still filled to the brim. The amount of traffic my small beach town would gain in the summer was one of the most exciting things to me as a kid. Memorial Day weekend was when the gates would open, the 4th of July marked a somewhat halfway point, and Labor Day weekend was the last hoorah.  Going from a school year with all my same classmates and the routine of school then to 3 months of more friends coming down from out of town, more to do, and more people to see. Working in Ocean Hut during the summer was always a ball. It’s always fun to see the same customers supporting the local business and chopping it up with pops and later me as I grew older right in front of them. I started working there in 8th grade, and stayed all the way until I was going into my senior year of college, so many regular customers saw me change quite a bit. Long story short, Lavallette summers were what I longed for every year.

It felt like my whole life I wanted to be 21 and truly enjoy summertime outside of the normal operations. But funnily enough, by the time I hit this life milestone my allure of summer had started to wear off. Don’t get me wrong, Summer at home is still probably the most fun time for me, as I have a ton of friends who don’t live in Lavallette so in the off season it’s quiet. But simple tasks like getting a coffee or driving to work take twice as long during the summer. Even parking is tough. It’s funny: little did I know it, but the place I now live in faces the same summertime influx. Newport is way more populated in the offseason than Lavallette, but in the summer we face the same overcrowding as home. This is where we make an ode to the local summer. 

AT HOME: A TRUE LOCAL SUMMER

Lavallette is a place that truly faces the pure definition of a local summer. When labor day weekend passes by and everyone goes back to schooling/work, the beaches become desolate. Days where there were once hundreds of people sprawled across the sane turn into days where you might see one or two people. Most local businesses are still open, but the lines and crowds are at a minimum. It is almost the best of both worlds, as weekends see the influx of people return, but still not as much as a summer day. The most crowded it gets is when there is surf during the local summer. Lavallette is an untouched beach town in this month or two span for the most part, as I have had so many surfs and beach days with absolutely no one around. The temperatures are still warm both on land and in the water. I haven’t got to experience September in a while back in Lavallette, as I come home roughly twice a year- once during the holidays and then usually once in the summer. But I think that needs to change. Hurricanes swells, warmth, and nonexistent crowds is what we are looking for, and fall typically delivers all the above. As far as really warm temperatures, September is where it is at, and October could be really nice or start to dip down.

CALIFORNIA: STILL CROWDED

California’s local summer is a little different, but not all that different. They typically coin local summer to include September and (potentially) October as the local summer season, and in California these might as well be extended summer months. This year in particular, we experienced extremely warm weather and water temperatures in both September and October, so I think the local summer has a little extension cord on the west coast by a month. Just last Sunday, I spent a day at the beach sunbathing on the first day of November. By that time at home, the temperatures have dipped. As far as crammed crowds and difficulty doing things, Newport gets just as bad as home in the summer months. People driving from inland to escape the heat and hit the beach make it hard to drive anywhere (especially to the beach) and navigate around town. In peak summer months, we typically bike to the beach to avoid the 30 minute extravaganza that is finding a stall. Businesses are booming, the same 3 holidays (MDW, The 4th, and LDW) are jam packed, and it isn’t much different than home. One stark contrast is that in Newport, summer can bring some solid swell and September and October I’ve had some of my favorite surfs (similar to how home is pretty good during (September/October). With the extended local summer, the crowds stick around till mid September, but by October you are in the clear.

Meet Your Next Surfboard

Besides Asher Pacey, this is the benchmark for high performance fish surfing (Asher’s boards have a lot more high-performance attributes to them, whereas Burch rides more traditional fishes, what I am trying to get you on).

To keep something fresh, sometimes changes need to be made. Mindset, environment, etc. The list goes on and on. Some people might fear change. This is definitely a problem, considering no man or woman has achieved greatness by staying stagnant or true to their routine for too long. Sure, having something dialed feels good and if they are good habits and routines keep them going. But the old saying goes “variety is the spice of life”, so incorporating things outside of your comfort zone is essential for development. 

Hard cut. 

Everyone should own a fish. And no, not a gold or beta fish. A surfboard fish. It can be a twin fin or a quad fin fish. Ideally, start with a twinnie. If you happen to be my friend and ever talk about what board you want next, you’ve heard of this spiel. Unless you have a concrete image of the board you want, I always recommend a fish. A fish is classic. A fish has truly lasted throughout the test of time, and are having a huge resurgence. You probably see just as many fishes as shortboards in the lineup of recent (especially back home, where waves are tiny and weak).

There are two main reasons I recommend someone starts riding a fish. The first one is that it gets you in the water when the waves don’t look that fun. Personally, I think fishes tend to almost work best on medium to bigger canvases. It’s hard to fit such a wide and voluminous board in such small curvers. But having a short, wide, chunky twin fin fish can get you out there when it’s two-feet-and-firing. The glide these boards give you is unlike any other. The fish can help get you in the water when it is tiny. Take off and instantly you get a burst of speed. Catching waves is also a breeze, and you have to catch small waves first before you can surf them. Also in the bad wave spectrum, super fat reform waves are also the bread and butter for a fish. Generating speed easily and having the float and glide to get back to the power source or hop to another power source on the same wave are how the fish fries fat waves. A low rocker and middle to front of the board wide point help you catch waves and glide effortlessly. 

Now on the other hand, owning a fish and riding it in both good waves and bigger waves can really open a new realm to your surfing. Riding different boards forces you to draw different lines. And the line you can draw on a fish is a fast one. Whether it is highlining a section instead of going low or getting in front of the wave before burning speed going back to the lip are things a fish is more conducive to rather than your standard shortie. Since the board isn’t as sleek as your regular shortboard, having a bigger more slopey than steep wave really grants you a blank canvas to paint upon. Riding a fish in these waves makes it really hard to get back on a regular board afterwards. And I know I am not the only one who feels this way. 

The lines you learn to draw on your twinnie can really open up new routes and ways to plane when you hop back on a shortboard. Also in this same realm, getting the feel of the twinnie and then hopping to a quad fish will just elevate the ability to rip the same lines. Currently, I am stuck on quads. The amount of speed you can generate is incredible, and works quite well at walled beach breaks or gutless reforms (unfortunately the bulk of what I surf). Surfing your shortboards with the same flow and routine you might on your twinnie will eliminate extra pumps and help you draw cleaner, smoother lines. You will learn how to ride the contour of the wave for speed instead of hopping around pumping. In surfing, speed is your best friend. So gaining it effortlessly is always an added bonus. 

If you don’t have a fish yet in your quiver, get on it. This is for my friends on both the east and west coasts. Getting those sneaky fun sessions when no one is out (almost impossible in California but very apparent in New Jersey) really keeps the stoke high. The days when you don’t expect a surf and end up scoring a fun little 30 minutes or hour are when you leave the water with the biggest smile (only tied with when the waves are absolutely cooking). I know, surfboards aren’t the cheapest things in the world. But next time you are looking to grab a freshie, looks towards the fun twin finned fish to round out your quiver.

This is more realistic: smaller waves with no push featuring Mr. Burch.

Living in the Paddle Battle Capital

ABOVE: AN EXAMPLE OF PADDLE BATTLING AT IT’S APEX (AT LEAST IT IS FOR A LICK OF WORLD CLASS WAVES).

Southern California is a tropical paradise. Ok, tropical paradise might be a little bit of a stretch. But in my short life and sheltered viewpoints as far as travel and locations, California really has it all. Nice weather most of the time, fun surf, nice beaches, cute girls. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I have longed to live in California since I was a child. Sure, I might like the beaches back home in NJ more. And the pizza is not as good out here. Back home, Summer time was crowded and congested. Where I live, it is even worse. Southern California definitely has a crowd problem, both in and out of the water. Nothing grinds my gears more than trying to navigate an uber-crowded lineup or waiting 45 minutes to get into a bar just to order 2 drinks before it’s time to go home. Fun stuff. All this bitching and moaning aside, California for now has my heart, and it’s not too hard to see why. 

But let’s hone in real quick. If I had to have ONE major qualm with the golden state, it involves surfing. California single handedly has to be the paddle battle capital of America. I’m sure you make the argument that peak season on the north shore might give it a run for its money, but California 365 days out of the year has to have the most wave hungry surfers. In some instances I get it. I know that if I am going to surf a battlefield like Lowers or pumping 56th street, it would be cute to think I wouldn’t have to get in peoples space and take waves. I think that’s maybe where it starts: having to actually take waves in order to catch them when it’s crowded. I like to think I give people a decent amount of waves. And I don’t get many given back to me. On a rare occasion someone that isn’t my friend will chest pass me a wave. I always make it a point to thank that person afterwards, much like if someone gave you a free coffee or something like that. It’s just basic etiquette. When I am not catching waves and no one is giving any waves away, this is when it gets eggy. I think this sometimes brings out the absolute worst surfer in me and others. While I always am respectful and never burn or heavy back paddle people, sometimes I give out absolutely zero handouts and sweep up every wave that comes where I am the deepest (unless a friend is on the shoulder). 

Now I can recognize this and slow it down, but for the most part if I am being respectful I don’t see too much trouble in it. No one bitches at other people when they are catching a ton of waves, but for some reason I tend to cop it on the head pretty often. Certain places require this cutthroat mindset, as much as you dislike having to throw it on. The problem arises when people resort to shit etiquette to catch waves. Getting super close to someone while paddling for a wave, telling them to fuck off, or just blatantly burning someone is when it tends to cross the line. The best part: the people who resort to this definitely are in the bottom of the talent pool when it comes to ability. They can only catch waves by doing these strange actions. Or their uber-macho localism shines through and they just feel they have the right to deliver fades left and right. Luckily, it is not like every session we have to deal with this. But if the waves are good, the chances of a lineup altercation or getting torched increase exponentially. 

Even on the smallest and most dismal of surfs, I can find myself getting paddle battled to catch a two foot closeout. In these instances, we just need to lighten up and laugh a little. Nothing is better than really wanting to catch a wave (a shit one at that), making sure the person trying to shoulder hop sees you, and then that person lets out a sarcastic statement or still decides to go because maybe you’ve been getting a bunch of waves or they haven’t gotten one in 20 minutes. Often people like to say shit just for no reason or fade you just because fuck it. There are a lot of bad eggs in the California lineups. No matter how shit of a session I am having or how crowded it may be, I can proudly say I rarely fade people. 

Lowers is in a whole different universe in itself, like we touched upon earlier. People will do anything to get a wave out there. And I have been on the receiving end of a lot of these strange exchanges. In my mind, if I can’t get a wave the right way, without back paddling anyone or doing anything that would label me as cheap, then I might as well just not catch that wave. I have caught plenty of sets there without any foul play. It’s not the hardest thing to do. Unfortunately, a lot of other people do not feel this way. There are so many tactics and ways to appear like you are in the right, but at this point I just kick out. People really can get offended if you call them on their bullshit, even if they are blatantly in the wrong. Some people really just don’t get it. Or really think their ability or some other defining factor about them makes it ok to act up in the lineup. 

However, I think this passage might be painting the wrong picture. As my years of living in California lengthen, I tend to know the nooks and crannies to enjoy a peaceful, quiet session as long as it’s under head high. And there are plenty of times everyone is smiling and sharing waves. We just came off a pretty fun run of swell, and it seems like everyone has had their fair share of waves. With a long flat swell incoming and summer crowds still looming their ugly head, I am positive the next solid swell we will have plenty of  people that are going to be going mad to subdue the wave-stricken appetite of not surfing a head high wave for a while. If you find yourself tangled up in one of these strange altercations next time you are in the water, just shrug it off and keep surfing. Like I said in my last post, surfing is so fun. Don’t make it not so fun for the others around you. 

The Writer’s Block Part 2

If I am struggling on the inspiration side, I invested in a nifty little “book” titled The Writer’s Block. I don’t particularly like leaning on this for a post, but it does offer a new challenge and spices up form my usually writing. So I opened the square up and landed here, and ended up writing the little passage below:

IMG_2873

I WISH EVERYTHING WOULD GO BACK TO NORMAL. I miss meeting new people and changing things up.

I WISH I WOULDN’T GET HUNGOVER. After not drinking much at all during quarantine and finding a night or two to hang with friends, I quickly was reminded of the wrath of hangovers. 

I WISH I COULD TOSS FULL ROTATION AIRS. They say you never get what you really want. I think airs are the coolest shit ever but I am stuck going straight. 

I WISH TATTOOS WERE FREE.They aren’t. They are actually quite expensive. 

I WISH PROBLEMS WOULDN’T EXIST. I am one of the least confrontational people out there. And I think a lot of people should follow suit. 

I WISH I COULD SEE FRIENDS AND FAMILY FROM HOME MORE. New Jersey is just too far and the flight is too expensive. 

I WISH SOME OF MY FRIENDS LIVED CLOSER. I have a lot of close friends in California that live more than an hour away. That kinda sucks. 

I WISH WRITING WAS ALWAYS EASY. Today and recently it just hasn’t been there. I guess that is what gives the satisfaction after writing something good though.

I WISH READING WAS JUST A TINY BIT MORE EXCITING. Some books are far more entertaining than others. But overall, it is just quiet and monotonous. 

I WISH I COULD CATCH A FISH EVERY TIME I WENT FISHING. Lately I’ve been on a streak of not even getting a bite. I guess it’s not called catching for a reason. 

I WISH EVERYONE WOULD TREAT EVERYONE HOW THEY WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED. The Golden Rule. It really is as simple as that.

East Meets West: Weather

In the world we live in, the year is broken into 4 quadrants of weather patterns. Named seasons, there is winter, spring, summer, and fall. Depending on where you are in the world, these seasons can come at all different times. Depending on where you are in the world, these seasons could be starkly different or pretty similar. In the USA, we start and end the year in winter (which now that I am thinking about it is kind of wack, imagine christmas and NYE in the summer? That would be pretty tight.).Out of winter it feels like we crawl into spring, sprint through summer, breeze through fall, and just like that it is winter again. Having grown up on the east coast and lived on the west coast for a little while now, I have experienced both types of seasonal years. While starkly different, I have my likings and dislikings to both. Read below, as I break the two coasts into a single con and single pro for the year:

 

EAST

Like: Layers and a Functional Wardrobe. 

I love outerwear. If you opened up my current closet in California, you would first scratch your head at the sheer number of T-shirts I own. But once you looked past that, you would realize how many heavy jackets and thick coats that line the right side. In California, realistically, there are about 3 months in which you might need a heavy jacket. Most of the time this is only necessary at night, in which I am either firmly planted on my couch or going out for the night and do not want to carry around a bulky jacket or sweat bullets all night. So I can wear these nice pieces to work. But I am guilty of just throwing on a sweatshirt and heading out the door in comfort. To make matters worse, I own a ton of rainwear that gets little action unless we stumble upon a wet week. While I can wear them when it is dry, it just defeats the tech I so proudly love to sport. I also love to layer, which almost never happens since it rarely drops below 50. Being home lets me go from boardies and a T-shirt to pants and a long sleeve to bundled up for winter. And back around the spectrum again. 

Dislike: The Ice-cold Wind Vortex

One thing in which I will NEVER miss from my hometown of NJ is something that is so unbelievably brutal that I truly do nothing when it comes around. When we reach the three months of January, February, and March, the weather dips to an extreme low. Both April and December can be quite cold, although more often than not it is around the 50-60s and sunny, occasionally dipping to the 40s and hopefully not the 30s. But you really never know. But for those three months, there are often week long stints of sub 30 degree weather with over 20 MPH winds. When it is cold, sometimes I can tough it out and try and do something outside. But when it is cold AND windy, it is just terrible. The wind chill drops the weather about 10 degrees, and also can really chap your lips and give you the runniest of noses. The only time in which this is not the worst thing ever is if the wind is offshore and there is waves, but even then I am not enthused to tug on 5 millimeters of rubber and bob up and down in the icebath. 

 

WEST

Like: The Endless Summer

California truly can experience an endless summer. Although south swells, warm water, and summer crowds leave with the seasonal change, the warm weather tends to stay. Sure, every once in a while the temperature takes a dip and the winter and you can’t wear flip flops or not wear a jacket. But for the most part, if the sun is up, you can get away with being pretty warm with minimal clothing on. Although I like seasonal variety and being able to tap into a full wardrobe, I think I like being warm most of the time and never really having to shiver from the weather alone. In the Summer it’s hot. In the Fall it’s hot. In the Winter it can be hot. And in the Spring it’s hot. I truly loved the warm weather when I was at university, as pool parties were a plenty. I truly despised the warm weather when I broke a sweat walking to class or just breathing inside our house since AC costed an arm and a leg. But in the end, 365 warmth triumphs all faults and favoritism. 

Dislike: The Occasional Wet Season

I have always disliked rain. I have come to not dislike it as much, as sometimes a day off just vegging out on the couch is necessary. But growing up as a hyper teen, I disliked it strongly. An avid skateboarder and BMXer, these were my vessels to roam the streets. When it was raining and I didn’t have a license, this meant I was house locked. I would ruin my skateboard in the rain and potentially rust my bike in the rain. The one thing I could do is surf, and always enjoy the tranquil conditions rain would bring. The waves are flat most of the time at home, so sparingly would I score this session. In California, rain brings dirty water. Dirty water means no surf. And no surfing means I get grumpy. Sure, I tempt fate more than most and take on the bacterial water every now and then. But even I know when it has rained a bunch and it’s a no go. I also just get bored not being able to go outside. And when it never rains even 3 days of rain feels long.