Saturday, January 28, 2012

Das Fro

Big Wednesday

This is a film about a nearly forgotten sub-generation, a small but culturally distinct group consisting of the babies born during the war. Forming the last separate cultural group before the baby boomers, they are very different from those of us born a few years earlier or later. They were neither part of the do-wop/rockabilly era nor the age of the Beatles. The children born between 1941 and 1945 were all between 14 and 18 on February 3, 1959, which means that they were all of the kids sitting in high school classes on "the day the music died," the day Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper died in the crash of a private plane. Not surprisingly, Don McLean was conceived during the war, was in high school that day, and later raised that memory to the level of a cultural myth. Elvis entered the army in 1958, the the Big Three crashed down in 1959, so do-wop was dead or dying and the Beatles were four years in the future. It was the era of the folk craze, and the surf-'n'-car classics. California, or at least the romance of California, took the cultural lead for the first time in memory.
When those war babies went to college, the world really hadn't changed much since the Eisenhower years. In other words, the war babies missed "the 60s" completely. Oh, some of them graduated as late as 1967, but the period of time which we now remember as "the sixties" - the anti-war movement, the protests, the campus revolts, the hippie days, the cultural revolution - had not yet begun. That era actually started in the summer of 1967 and lasted until Nixon resigned in the summer of 1974. Some people say it ended earlier, that the 1972 McGovern campaign was really the last significant gathering of The Movement. Maybe so. The point is this - if you graduated from college in 1967, as the last of the war babies did, your school years completely missed the entire period we now know as the 60's. Your graduation day may have been seven years into the decade, but the era was still waiting to be defined.
When the baby boomers arrived at the universities, everything changed dramatically. To those of you who were not there, I can't convey how dramatic the shift was at a certain point in time. The change was revolutionary, not evolutionary. I started college in 1966, with the old rules in place, in an Eisenhower world. The last war babies were still there as seniors, and I got to experience their world for a quarter of my college time. We had to sign in and out of our dorms. No women or alcohol were allowed in the rooms. We had a monitor living at the end of the hall. We wore ties to class. We had beer blasts and panty raids. When the last war babies graduated in the summer of 1967, everything changed immediately. The world went crazy in that summer between my freshman and sophomore years. By Thanksgiving of sophomore year, we had essentially no rules at all, campus buildings were in flame, and the administration was terrified. At that point, the administrators would have been happy to let us go back and have those women and kegs in the dorms, because that would have taken our minds off the drugs and the violent riots. The change was really that abrupt: June 1967 in the beer-drinkin' Eisenhower world, November 1967 in the drugged-out anti-war hippie haze.
The story of the baby boom generation is writ bold across the cultural landscape, and sung oft in popular minstrelsy, but there have not been so many voices, nor such loud ones, to tell the tale of the war babies. Big Wednesday is the unofficial sociological summary of the coming of age period for the cultural icons of the small and forgotten sub-generation that came before the resounding baby boom. Writer/director John Milius was born during the war and, in the haziness of hindsight, defined the romance of surfing as the iconographic glue that held together the sub-generation or war babies. Searching for the perfect wave was not just their recreation, but their spiritual quest. Just as the pre-war babies had Elvis, and the boomers had The English Invasion, the war babies had The Beach Boys. Milius was definitely an insider in that culture. He was a friend of many of the famous surfers, and went to USC from 1962-1967, almost exactly concurrent with the era of those beach party movies which seemed like quaint, irrelevant relics just a year or so after Milius graduated. Milius loved surfing so much that he even found an improbable but memorable way to work it into his script for Apocalypse Now.
The first half of Big Wednesday is episodic, and the episodes are based on actual events, or at least the mythological versions of those events,  from the lives of the legendary surfers from that golden era. (See the article below this one for details.) It's light comedic froth which seems amusing but pointless. Three friends surf together, have wild parties, and live their carefree youth in the California Dream. A girl from the Midwest says,  " ... it's so different here. Back home, being young is just something you have to do for a while before you grow up. Here it's everything." That's part of what the war baby generation was all about - avoiding adulthood and adult concerns as long as possible. One of the characteristics that marked the war babies as culturally distinct from their successors is that they were content to live as adolescents in an adult-centered world. Before the combination of the draft and the Vietnam War came along and made geopolitics personal, there were not a lot of young Americans interested in global events, so surfing makes an excellent metaphor for their disassociation from the grave concerns of the adult world.
The second half of Big Wednesday is more dramatic, and concentrates more on the nature of friendship. The Vietnam War comes along and brings a grim reality into the surfers' lives. One of the best episodes is their induction physical, a comedic vignette which demonstrates just about every draft-evading scam used in those days. The dramatic conclusion of the film creates its title. Big Wednesday was an actual day during The Great Swell in 1974 when record 20 foot waves hit Southern California. The three friends, their lives long since gone in separate directions, reunite for that day to test themselves once more against giant waves. says that Big Wednesday is the one and only time when Hollywood ever nailed down the culture of surfing and its tiny sub-generation. Probably so. My late friend Dale Davis, a famed surfing filmmaker who was a true insider in that culture, felt the same way. (See below for my interview with him made shortly before his death in 2001.) The movie itself is picaresque, and only a so-so movie, but it is worthwhile, if only to understand the pop culture landscape of the forgotten war baby generation.

William Katt and his mom, Barbara Hale, played son and mother in the movie.
William Katt and Jan-Michael Vincent were actually ardent surfers who did some of their own board work in the movie. (That was not them on the 20 foot waves, however). Gary Busey wasn't a surfer, but he learned enough to lend credibility to the film.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Green Room

The Seven Levels of Surfers

Soul Surfer - Level 7
This is the highest level, the pinnacle of surfing spirituality equivalent to Nirvana, Satori, Total Enlightenment, etc. and is rarely attained. The Soul Surfer expresses himself through his unity with the breaking wave. He borrows the wave's spirit for a short while and uses his body and equipment to translate the essence of the wave's spirit into Art. Other Surfers respond to this and immediately recognize the Soul Surfer whether they admit it or not.
The Soul Surfer is a complete master of his tools, body and board. The Soul Surfer may train his body and practice with his board when not creating his Art, however, when he becomes one with the wave, his body and board are extensions of his mind. No conscious thought is expended upon the surfing techniques he uses to express the spirit of the wave with casual virtuosity. To make a musical analogy, a guitarist may woodshed his scales, but when he's jamming he's not even thinking about fingerings. He's lost in the passion of the moment. Just like a Photographic Artist who may have several cameras and many lenses, the Soul Surfer could have a quiver of a dozen boards each with a different purpose. Likewise, other Soul Surfers may have only one board, or none at all.

Soul Surfers sometimes dress strangely and say things that make seem to make sense but you have no idea what they mean. Soul Surfers often rise from sleep very early to create their Art in private. Few people witness the Art of a true Soul Surfer since they do not think to promote themselves. Many do not even realize they have attained the highest level of surfing spirituality or appreciate their tremendous skill as they are beyond the need for any sort of evaluation. Those that do become conscious of their own expertise often regress to the lower level of Whore which sadly and paradoxically means you will almost never see the Art of a Soul Surfer unless you know one personally or are lucky enough to be at the right break at the right time.

Soul Surfers use any sort of surfing equipment: longboard, shortboard or no board at all. They use whatever tool their Art requires to express the spirit of the wave and are constantly evolving in their ongoing exploration of the wave-human unity. Soul Surfers are the human embodiment of Stoke.

Whore - Level 6

A Whore is a Soul Surfer who sold their soul by accepting money, drugs, sex, etc in compensation for their Art. The worst form is the Media Whore who sells his soul for fame and fortune by posing for sponsor photographs in advertisements run in surfing magazines. By lowering himself to this level his vision and ability to become one with the wave is compromised. Why? Because when one depends on selling one's soul to pay for one's food and pad, one does not screw with the program. This means one does not try new things due to the risk. If a Whore's work pays his bills after years of trying, it's unlikely any such Whore will be open to experimentation while he still needs the dough.

Media Whores with sponsors (meaning they are represented by a commercial entity such as a clothing manufacturer just as Pimps do in the sex trade) may lose their sponsor's support if they change their style. This means they will lose their money, cool pad and shallow girl/boyfriends unless another pimp/sponsor steps in to fill the void. Therefore, once a Whore has successfully sold their surfing soul, they rarely return to the higher plane. Their Art, while at a high level, is static and does not grow.

Whores seem to almost always use boards made by Channel Islands Surfboards or Rusty festooned with sponsor decals. Whores had Stoke but lost it with their soul.

Amateur - Level 5

The Amateur is also simply known as a Surfer. The discussion of the Amateur or Surfer must begin with a digression. Every person with a surfboard who paddles out into the break and rides a wave is NOT a Surfer. This is obvious to those who have attained this level of surfing spirituality. If this is not obvious to you, you are not a Surfer.

The Amateur does not earn the major portion of their income from surfing. This level has nothing to do with their skill level or the technical quality of their surfing. This person loves to surf for its own sake; the simple pleasure of riding the wave is enough. Good Amateurs of pure spirit and Stoke can sometimes transcend the other levels to the effortless and egoless mastery of the Soul Surfer. People who compete in the odd local contest or have a write up in a magazine are still Amateurs. They are usually just Amateurs who surf better than the other Amateurs surrounding them and have received warranted accolades for their technical proficiency.

Amateurs run one especially serious risk - Amateurs who think that having more or better surfboards will improve their surfing and help them attain a higher level are at risk of descending to the lowest level of surfing spirituality, the QuiverBaiter. Too many Amateurs have been misled by the large surfboard manufacturers into thinking that they need new and different boards to create surfing Art. The worst of these are the manufacturers who sell 'pro-models' or 'signature-series' boards that attempt to entice the Amateur into thinking the equipment of a Professional or Whore will help them attain similar levels. Being and Amateur is a good thing; from this l evel one can rise to the level of Soul Surfer.

Amateurs almost always use boards from small custom shapers that are local to their break. Amateurs have Stoke and use it frequently.

Weekender - Level 4

The Weekender is a slightly less evolved Surfer than the Amateur but still a Surfer whether they realize it or not. They will often deny their Surferness if openly asked. This is actually the most group into which most Surfers fall. A Weekender is the guy who goes to the beach to surf on weekends or his odd vacations days but may not put the highest priority on making time for surfing compared to other pursuits such as family, work or some other Art. The Weekender will take his kids to the break to teach them to appreciate the beauty of the ocean as well as watermanship, how to surf and especially how to not act like a kook.

Weekenders who are artists in other mediums and are also physically fit often create beautiful Art while riding a wave that impress all knowledgeable viewers. These special Weekenders are really Soul Surfers and they don't even realize it! They usually dress better and speak more lucidly than the Soul Surfers who only think they are Soul Surfers when they are really Whores. They are usually nicer too.

Weekenders use any old board, mat or sponge but many ride longboards. If they surf a board, it's usually an off the rack model like the McTavish Original that needs to have several dings repaired. Weekenders have Stoke but sometimes don't get to show it as often as they would like.

Professional - Level 3

A Professional is a Surfer who earns his living and receives his motivation from participating in surfing contests. The Professional is the lowest level that can still qualify for the designation of Surfer. Many Professionals are often part-time Media Whores.

Professionals do not express the spirit of the wave through a sense of unity and movement. Professionals use their extremely high level of technical expertise to perform a series of athletic exercises across the face of a wave to be evaluated by Judges (Judges are on a negative level below the seven presented here). These exercises are used for the evaluation of the Professional's proficiency as compared to the other Professionals. By definition, this desire to be compared to and rated above fellow Surfers is egoistic and the exact antithesis of the Soul Surfer.

Occasionally, some Professionals may attain the temporary state of Soul Surfer. After all, they are usually the Surfers with skill level needed to effortlessly interface with the wave. However, this state is always on their own time and never when anyone is watching lest they be Judged. It is especially not during the filming of a surfing video regardless of how much the filmmakers want you to believe in their soulfulness. This is another reason you rarely see Soul Surfers.

Professionals use boards made by factory shapers such as Stewart, Channel Islands, Rusty, etc. If they are well known Professionals, the board may actually have been touched by the person who's name is on the logo. Professionals rarely worry about their boards since they don't pay for them, break them constantly and have several more exactly like the one that broke. They do not have the time or motivation to become attached to a specific board and they do not need to know the details behind the shape as someone else does this for them.

Professionals have Stoke every now and then, I guess.

Rich Amateur - Level 2

Rich Amateurs are not really Surfers although they think and say they are. These are Amateurs who by having too much money and too little Stoke buy lots of equipment that fetters their freedom of expression and prevents unity with the wave. They usually men, usually older and are often retired due to either age or wealth.

Rich Amateurs think standing and getting down the line 3 to a wave at Swami's, SanO or any other knee-high bit of watery mush is Art. They usually spend more time driving from break to break in late model SUV's with boards on top (fin to the rear) than they do surfing. 99% of the time, Rich Amateurs ride expensive brandname longboards, usually boards like the Robert August "What I Ride."
Some Rich Amateurs easily fall to the lowest level of QuiverBaiter because they are more concerned with their equipment than they are with the act of surfing. Others go straight on to create great Art and become Soul Surfers because they don't have any equipment worries or time constraints that conflict with their surfing evolution. Oddly, few Rich Amateurs are ordinary - they either evolve and rule or simply suck.

QuiverBaiter - Level 1

Lowest level, equivalent to "Hell" in Christian mythology or having just enough Karma to be reincarnated as a cockroach in Buddhism. These men (and they are always men) have no real interest in the spirit of the wave or the soul of surfing because they have no souls. Lacking souls, they cannot express the imagination and feeling required to become one with the wave and do not have the dedication needed to evolve any further. This is why if QuiverBaiters ever do bother to surf they are clueless kooks.

Most Quiverbaiters seem to come from technical avocations like engineering, computers or the research sciences. These people worry too much about having the latest or what they consider the 'best' equipment regardless of whether it is suitable for their location or ability. They are completely oblivious to the fact so obvious to Surfers of a higher level of surfing spirituality - the board does not make the Surfer, the combination of Soul and Stoke interacting harmoniously with the Wave is what makes the Surfer.
Because they buy one board after another looking for the one that will magically transform them into Surfers, they acquire huge quivers that never see salt water. This is why they are known as QuiverBaiters. These same men often play with audio equipment, computers or automobiles. Digital cameras seem to attract a disproportionate number of Quiverbaiters for some reason. They enjoy these tools for their own sake but rarely if ever actually use them for the intended purpose like listening to music, driving fast, taking photos of things other than test charts or even surfing. Rich Amateurs who become QuiverBaiters are the guys who collect and brag about expensive wine but never bother to catch a buzz.

QuiverBaiters will talk you ear off in the parking lot. They love to discuss the intricacies of the concave in the nose of their longboard or the fins they have in their Bonzer. However, if you ever ask them to paddle out with you on a good day, they will scurry away with an impromptu lame excuse like a sore shoulder or needing run some errand for the wife/girlfriend. Do not under any circumstances deal with these people, talk to them, read their websites or especially ask their advice on board selection! I cannot emphasize this point enough. To the innocent unevolved Amateur or Weekender, they may seem like a fount of knowledge, however their sick soulless carcasses would love to drag you into their own personal surfing Hell and have your spirit mired in worrying about the quality of your board compared to some other model, rotating fins or some other arcane silliness. If you start worrying about these things, you will begin to read surfing magazines, websites and Internet message boards instead of surfing and your soul too will flee your QuiverBaiting husk of a body.

These people are easy to identify. They always have a full quiver of brand new, never used boards in several lengths on top of their dedicated surf vehicle. The boards are almost always Surftechs of some other epoxy popout that is being pimped as better/lighter/stiffer or somesuch. If their board is not a SurfTech, it's a $1,000 custom longboard that is too valuable to actually be surfed. The best thing about QuiverBaiters is that they are easy to evade. You simply have to paddle out, free your Stoke and feel the spirit of the Wave.
Author's (Thomas Mitchell's)


There are actually a few more levels beyond these seven, and will be discussed later on these pages. DB


It’s amazing how misunderstood water is in our culture. Of course, we all are aware that it is essential for the kind of life we have on earth as carbon based systems to have water in order to function on even the most primitive biological levels. But beyond the molecular aspect, most see water as just a thing. Science did that for us, made it a compound and nothing more; H2O.
Let’s face it; we live on a water planet. 7/10ths of the surface of earth is water. On every level, we find water as prima materia for existence for all living things: plant, animal, human, whatever. This is common knowledge, as any grade school child knows.
We’ve also learned that water responds to thoughts and feelings, and this has been well-documented with microscopes and with photography available at Water has been upgraded in the public consciousness in the past few years as something more than just a primary building block compound into something that is highly responsive to intentions, thoughts, and feelings without any physical intervention. This tells us that water is reflective of higher dimensional realities implied by science, religion, etc., but never stated as such.
Those with vision have for millennia spoke about the elements of our existence as having these realities, though they didn’t have our modern ability to document this phenomenon in any kind of substantial way. Only those near to the display given over by the seer were witness to whatever demonstration regarding these phenomenal properties and aspects could actually understand what we being explained.
As a teenager, I learned that all water anywhere makes a musical note that is constant: F sharp. Anyone with a digital tuner can go to the ocean, a waterfall, a babbling brook, or wherever the sound of water is constant and test this for themselves. This tells us that water has a voice, more than just the roar of the ocean, or the trickle of water down a rain spout.
As time passes, our understanding of water (and life) increases. We begin to see how each of us affects the world around us and water proves this out quite nicely.
More than being simply responsive to thoughts and feelings, water is alive, has its own consciousness and has a reason for being. I’ve proved this countless times in the last few years with pictures posted on blogs and on various web sites. Beyond just simple faces in the water and sublime imagery wholly independent of any interference, water also communicates messages and this has been recently demonstrated as well.

This latest information is being ignored in toto. For it reveals that water is a living presence in our lives and if water is alive, has essence, soul, and all the other attributes attributed to a life form, than by logic and reason, so must the earth, the air, fire, and so on. What goes for one aspect of creation must be for the other aspects, too. Simple logic says it must be so.
And if all these elements are really alive and have been proven as such, then how much more are we? We are combinations of these elements. It’s what makes us who we are so we can live. What class of soul is water? Or air, for that matter?
The questions build once we understand these basics precepts as demonstrable facts beyond dispute.
  • If water is a living substance, what kind of life is it?
  • As a living substance, how does its life influence our body chemistry and functionality? In what ways and to what purposes?
  • How does it come to be, know, perceive, grow, learn, and exist? For these are all realities of consciousness whether you are a dog or a human being and…apparently and quite obviously, water.
  • We understand that we have the power to influence water’s basic composition on a molecular level, just by thought and feeling. Why is this so? In turn, how does this effect create parallel changes within us, being mostly made of water?
  • If thinking loving thoughts around water changes it from any kind of dead condition to a visibly beautiful structure (and vice versa), do not the water structures in our body also reflect this change? To what effect? What kind of long-term benefits can be seen from such a reality? Toward what end?
  • How and why does water communicate its intentions to us? Why do pictures taken of water lovingly blessed actually spell out letters and words, coupled with amazing picture-form imagery? What is in control of this process and to what purposes? How does it know the language of the person so blessing it, and return a visible message that can be readily understood in that person’s native tongue? Who or what gives it this ability, understanding, and communications skill set?
  • Given the above, isn’t this most visible symbiotic relationship something that can be further explored to the mutual benefit of all peoples, elements and life forms? How? The mere fact that someone such as I can establish such a rapport and then document such communication, indicates that anyone one can do so, too. What happens when a group of people gather to bless a stream, a lake, or an ocean? I’ve tried this with four people and the results were amazing. What happens when a thousand people gather for just such a purpose?
  • Water as a primary element is without bias in its gift of life to any reality of existence on earth, and gives back to all that is, exactly what is given to it. When someone is hateful, cruel, and vicious, water reflects that quality in its physical form. Water then becomes the ultimate mirror of what we are inside ourselves, as thinking and feeling souls.
  • Water…wow.
It’s ironic isn’t it? The world is going “green” and all are so very concerned about the environment, but it’s also building that perception on lies. The carbon footprint lie, the greenhouse lie, the global warming lie, and all the rest. The real truth of our environment is that it is undergoing change, as are we all. This change is being initiated on spiritual and dimensional levels and has nothing to do with mankind’s carbon exhaust.
The real damage to the environment has never been spoken of, ever, by anyone, at all. Because to do so, would put heavily our enormous responsibility on ourselves for the world we live in. If our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions affect an ice crystal, what then do the collective thoughts and feelings of a city do upon its water supply? That everyone drinks, bathes in, and cooks? If everyone is sucking down discordant music, self-serving thinking as well as living in fear, doubt, anger, and lust, and is sliding headlong into dark thoughts and abusive negative self-images, don’t these impact the water all around us?
Of course they do.
When water is blessed, it produces amazingly beautiful forms. When hateful, cruel, and selfish thoughts are given out, the images are nasty, distorted, and utterly horrible. This reveals to us a great truth.
If we allow our minds to sink into negative imagery, thoughts, and intentions, we adversely affect our constitution, creating for ourselves physical, emotional, and mental maladies that no amount of chemistry or therapy will be able to fix. I say this realizing that life these days in filled with negative realities all forced upon us by the controllers who are making life here on earth a veritable hell. They create the false realities, instill fear and paranoia in the world, and force feed us poisons on every level to keep us down.
Yet, this is the challenge. To rise beyond their petty machinations and make every effort to reflect back to this collective ugliness something noble, beautiful, and filled with loving warmth. This is said knowing how deep and wide they can pressure the world and individuals with hate. I’ve experienced a lifetime of this and it still is a daily issue that’s brought to my door without letup and from every possible direction.
Once we take hold of ourselves and truly understand the ideas presented in this article, we can then move to a relationship with the element of water.
The moment we start on that path, we can then discern that in reality, there is more than just water. The earth, air, and spirit and so on all are primary elements that make up the existence of life on earth. Once we establish a relationship with one element, we see how there always has been a relationship with all the elements of existence.
Then the big one occurs. That there is a divine presence, purpose, and unity in all creation. More of life beyond the world of number, weight, and measure becomes visible to our consciousness and that it is all connected and on every level. There is a great divine presence behind all that is, that lovingly nurtures the best within us and all the varying expressions of life, even down to water, simple H2O.
That’s where the road leads, friends. Unity of purpose, divinity expressed at every level of creation and it has always been so.
The miracles of the past make sense, when we understand this symbiotic connection between the divine and the expression of the divine, the corporeal world. We can see how someone such as a Christ can do what he did, being in perfect agreement with the expression of all that is, being a Divine Soul, as He was. It all makes sense; the pieces fit.
No longer do the old perceptions of reality as given over by narrow-minded and blind devotees of the old system answer the call of our generation that sees, knows, and understands these basic ideas as facts now commonplace in the world. We see now, only what Great Souls in the past have been for ages, speaking about at every turn. Blind faith takes place to seeing, knowing, and understanding the great truths of antiquity.
It’s up to us to explore these emerging doorways at every possible opportunity and help others see, know, and understand. This helps all of earth to realize that one great truth of our existence. There is a loving Creator and His hand is evident on every level of existence and its His Will that we see and know, so that we can make the right choices in our life; especially as the satanic overlords have taken hold of so much of our life and have reduced it to such a deplorable state of affairs.
Let us become part of this growing reality that becomes more aware and connected to the emerging reality of spirit behind the form. It’s a pursuit and passion that makes for a life well spent, beyond any other consideration. For in that pursuit we see the truth of reality, beyond taking anyone’s word that a thing is thus and so. We see, know, and perceive the great gift and blessing of being alive. That all is divinity, on even the smallest molecular level. How much more than a glass of water are we, in the eyes of the One Creator?

Surfing In Ventura

Must have waves. Must have waves NOW!