Thursday, July 20

A Stone's Throw

I've found a place to live in Santa Cruz. It's so close to the surf that - if it were high tide (and you had a strong arm) - you could probably throw a rock into the Pacific Ocean from the front yard.

The address is 360 36th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (use google maps to see where it is). In the photo, 36th is the Avenue on the far left. I'll be living about three houses from the coast. It's about 6 kms from work so with before-work surfs and a bike commute I should keep fit.

I'll be living in a 3 bed share house. One of my future housemates - Jay - is a keen surfer. So keen, in fact, that soon after I arrive he's due to get one of his ears drilled out because of surfer's ear. Surfer's ear is where repeated exposure to cold water causes your ear bones to grow and block up your ear. Fun.

If I'm going to be surfing in Santa Cruz with the Eastside Rippas I'll have to lift my game. So I took a day off work today for surfing. Unfortunately, I woke up with both a toothache and sore sinuses. Not exactly the best shape for charging overhead Woolamai beach. But, with a day off, I was hardly going to stay home and get bored so I went anyway. Needless to say, I was dealt a very sound thrashing.

When the exposed beaches east of Melbourne get overhead the surf forecast will say something like "Good waves if you're prepared to take a few on the head". The idea being that most waves will peel nicely but an occasional 'clean up set' will power through and close out the beach. You have no choice but to take it on the head (because if you sit far enough outside to paddle over it you'll be too far out to catch the waves that are makeable). I got my first long hold down for a while; long enough I had to think to myself, 'relax and do the star fish and you'll pop up eventually'. And I did.

After about 4pm the Phillip Island locals started knocking off work and hitting it. Jeesus some of them can surf. They were spraying cut backs and floaters like you'd see on the pro tour. This one ancient guy - must have been at least 60 - was riding a shortboard like a 20 year old. A set would come though and I'd scramble for the horizon just make it over and turn to see him landing an elevator take off and cutting a massive bottom turn. I was out of my depth.

So, near sunset, I wandered down the beach to where it was a little smaller and less crowded. I got a couple of ok waves but didn't fare much better. Tomorrow (I'm skiving off again) I'll head to the Surf Coast where it will be slightly more mellow.

It's less than a month now until I arrive in the US. While I'm very excited about Santa Cruz, I'm starting to feel just as sad about leaving Melbourne. It is hard to move so constantly - I seem to uproot myself before I get settled.

* The photo of 36th Ave - copyright Boots McGhee - is from the web page of Santa Cruz's Surfrider Foundation. They did an excellent project of documenting coastal development and erosion in Santa Cruz: check out their other photos of my neighborhood.

Thursday, July 6

The White Whale

Finally finished reading Moby Dick. It took some effort but, ultimately, was rewarding. It's important to read the major works of the canon; otherwise how are you going to pick up all the references in The Simpsons?

Case in point - one of Ahab's last lines in Moby Dick: "From Hell's heart, I stab at thee."

The line is also uttered by Mr Burns in the classic strike episode (the one where Homer becomes union boss) as he cuts the town's power. I had always assumed it was from Shakespeare but no, it's Melville.

Moby Dick is very heavy going at times (for example, an entire chapter titled 'The Crotch' devoted to describing the crotch, which, as best as I can tell from the dense text is just a harpoon stand) but then you encounter pure gold like the following passage:

Nor, at the time, had it failed to enter his monomaniac mind, that all the anguish of that then present suffering was but the direct issue of a former woe; and he too plainly seemed to see, that as the most poisonous reptile of the marsh perpetuates his kind as inevitably as the sweetest songster of the grove; so, equally with every felicity, all miserable events do naturally beget their like. Yea, more than equally, thought Ahab; since both the ancestry and posterity of Grief go further than the ancestry and posterity of Joy. For, not to hint of this: that it is an inference from certain canonic teachings, that while some natural enjoyments here shall have no children born to them for the other world, but, on the contrary, shall be followed by the joy-childlessness of all hell's despair; whereas, some guilty mortal miseries shall still fertilely beget to themselves an eternally progressive progeny of griefs beyond the grave; not at all to hint of this, there still seems an inequality in the deeper analysis of the thing. For, thought Ahab, while even the highest earthly felicities ever have a certain unsignifying pettiness lurking in them, but, at bottom, all heart-woes, a mystic significance, and, in some men, an archangelic grandeur; so do their diligent tracings-out not belie the obvious deduction. To trail the genealogies of these high mortal miseries, carries us at last among the sourceless primogenitures of the gods; so that, in the face of all the glad, hay-making suns, and soft-cymballing, round harvest- moons, we must needs give in to this: that the gods themselves are not for ever glad. The ineffaceable, sad birth-mark in the brow of man, is but the stamp of sorrow in the signers.



Monday, July 3

What Do You Get ...

... if you cross bad poetry with bad poetry? More bad poetry of course. (A good place to find some really really bad poetry is here. Find the real thing here and here.)

So, in time for the World Cup, here is a hybrid, gestalt entity - a duck-rabbit - of two other silly poems I once wrote:

watching football

is better than reading a novel
if it’s a novel
that’s self published on the internet

is better than sex
if it’s sex
that you’d later regret

is better than a movie
if it’s a movie
with Kevin Costner in it

better than going cold turkey
from your rhyming dictionary
or calling your mother
to tell her
you hate the rehab she paid for

(too many hippies, you explain, lamely)

but you sooth her and promise
you will never rhyme “roses”
with “cirrhosis”
ever again