I wrote a guest blog post for the Portland Mercury. It’s about surf journalist Chas Smith doing a reading at Powell’s Books. I’m currently reading his book. Review to come later, perhaps.
This post gives some background information about environmentally-friendly surfboards and surf gear, as goes into my super simple journey to pick up an EcoBoard.
Surfers are a heterogeneous group, and we approach the activity from different perspectives. To some it is a sport/career, to others a spiritual endeavor (though the “spirit” may just be the natural elements of the earth), and to others simply a way of life. The thing that unites all surfers is our love for bobbing around in the shallow zones in the ocean until a wave comes along, and then paddling our butts off to catch and ride it for a few seconds. It’s a particular type of activity in that it totally relies on natural processes of wind, ocean, tides, and reefs in order to work. A disruption to these natural elements yields a disruption in our ability to access the waves we need. Yet, oddly enough, to ride the waves, we for the most part rely on petrochemical sleds that damage these elements.
There seems to be a bit of a disconnect there, but the simple explanation is that it’s the result of the market at work. Polyurethane (PU) surfboard blanks were the best viable alternative following wood blanks. Wood blanks are heavy and expensive and difficult to shape. PU boards are light, cheap, and easy to shape, and they brought forth a revolution in shapes and in surfing itself. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) blanks gained some popularity in the late ’70s, but never obtained a foothold in the market (I got one custom EPS/Epoxy board in the late ’90s, shaped by Max McDonald and glassed by epoxy guru Clyde Beatty Jr – it was one of my favorite boards, and it lasted 5 years of heavy use). EPS is the standard packing material foam. The sustainable surf gear movement looks to be embracing EPS foam as the most viable way to move beyond traditional PU into something eco-friendlier. I’ll go into some of the benefits and drawbacks of EPS.
SustainableSurf.org seems to be the largest organization making a coordinated effort to bring sustainably-made surfboards to the mainstream. They have a couple of successful projects, they provide waste/recycling support at events, and they have the endorsement of SIMA and many surf brands. One of their projects, the EcoBoard Project, provides a framework for surfboard manufacturers to follow if they’re aiming to build a less-wasteful board. Similar to LEED certification, they classify the materials used to construct a surfboard, and if the overall constructions qualifies, they label it an “EcoBoard” and enter it into their registry. The board I recently custom-ordered was around #1400 in the registry.
Here’s my board! More details about it further below…
In case you’re on Twitter, consider following an account of mine, @futurespa. Future Spa began as a pinball machine in the late ’70s. But it’s a rich concept – and it includes some of my main interests: science fiction, exercise, relaxation – and so I thought I would give an attempt at expanding upon the world.
(my pal Drew made that a few years ago for me)
The account is from the future, and provides updates on happenings at Future Spa. Such as:
News and warnings:
I’m not exactly sure where this all will go, in the end. I had a comic concept going for a while, but it faded. For now, it’s just fun to get creative, and to be somewhat-funny, and to think about the future.
Former professor at Otis College of Art and Design and current chair of the Fashion Design Department at Woodbury University, Kathryn Hagen, has been putting some great tutorials on youtube. While I’m not a fashion illustrator by any means, anyone interested in illustration can learn a lot from watching a masterful use of layers, highlights, and textures. She uses so many different types of pens and pencils, and just layers layers layers on the color. It is mesmerizing to watch the textures emerge.
I made a website this week for Los Angeles’ Pins and Needles pinball parlor. I really think that Pins and Needles is a unique and special place – it’s a labor of love, with a great line-up of prized pinball machines. It also serves as the hub for the Los Angeles Pinball League. Their previous site wasn’t as effective as it could be, so to help them get some additional business, awareness, and press, I volunteered to put together a new site for them.
For it, I opted for WordPress, so that the owner could easily update it with new content / blog posts.
If you’re in LA and you like pinball, you should check this place out. They have some great pins.
I snipped this clip out of the 1995 movie Good ‘N Plenty II.
I surfed this day at Hammonds – it was a big, epic winter day – and was on the beach when Curren showed up. He borrowed a board from a guy I went to high school with (Arrow). Check out the Black Flag sticker on it! He paddled out and caught just two waves. Thankfully, someone was filming!
Tom Curren grew up surfing Hammonds. I did, too. It was amazing to see him surf the spot. We were seriously in awe watching him out there. We had spent countless hours watching him in movies. Seeing him whip a tight cutback in person (at his/our home spot!) was a real highlight of my youth.
In recent surfing news, last weekend I surfed at Rincon, and my girlfriend filmed me on a wave! It’s a very small wave – not much to work with – but I got a few little turns in.
Pretty funny idea. You grow scabs, pick them, and place them in your scab jar. Picking scabs is a pretty satisfying activity. But I’m definitely more into the idea of possessing a virtual scab jar than a real one. Plus, I haven’t had a real scab in a while – probably because I don’t skateboard much these days.
Update! HuffPo reviewed it.
Ack! All of those surf videos that I’ve posted to megavideo.com are gone. megavideo.com is no more. That sucks (well, they kind of sucked, too – half of the videos I’d uploaded were permanently “temporarily unavailable”). I’ll try to figure out another way to host/stream them. I have another one to add, too (Above and Beyond).