October 4th, 2009

the new york surf film festival, pt. 2

Tragic.  Searching for Michael Peterson is the well-produced, gripping account of the rise and fall of one Australia's best.  After winning almost every contest he entered, after starring in Alby Falzon's classic film, Morning of the Earth, and after confounding friends and contest organizers with brilliance in the water and disturbing behavior on land, in the late-'70s MP began his descent into paranoid schizophrenia.  Jailed after being apprehended in a 15 car police chase in 1983 , he never surfed again.  The final current-day shot of MP as a bloated, balding, barely-there shell of a man, standing on the beach at a surf contest with his mother at his side, is beyond heartbreaking.

MP -- ghosts in his machine.

On a lighter note, Karim Rejeb's My Toys takes the surf aesthetic inside, rolling construction paper and carpets into waves and surf's them Mr. Bill style:  "Oh, Mr. Bill -- look out!  That gnarly grinder is gonna break on your head!"  For more of his art, go to Rejeb's website.

Back to a darker note.  Sea of Darkness is the doc of a group of early '70s surfers, conmen, raconteurs and drug smugglers who plied their trade aboard the Indies Trader in the early days of Indo discovery.  Some of them died, some ended up in jail and some lived to tell about it.  An edge-of-the-seat slide into a side of surfing few will experience.

Arguably, for most people (because most people will never surf), surfing is more about the art/photo/visual side of the sport than the actual act.  Hanging Five profiles five surfer/artists to get at why they surf, why they do (their widely differing styles of) art, and what their worlds are like when the two intersect.  Featured are Andy Davis (great, jazzy soundtrack), Julie Goldstein (winsome, whimsical, "the only girl out"), Alex Knost (photographer/musician), Tyler Warren (Edward Hopper goes surfing) and Wolfgang Bloch (found mixed media).  Pamella and I attended the openings for the most recent work of  Warren and Bloch when we were in San Diego this summer.

Andy Davis in his studio.

the surfer's journal . . .

editor / publisher, Steve Pezman, from the Dora book (p. 35):  "People surf the way they dance, they way they act.  Personality is revealed.  When you're young and you're surfing, you can't imagine how anyone leaves it.  You're there early and you stay late, and the fire in your belly is geared around being there for the perfect moment.  In truth, you're there for all the moments, and you get the perfect ones and take full advantage only because you've been training through all the imperfect moments."

The perfect moment.

the ny surf film festival, finis

Films we missed, wished we coulda seen:

Madera, a short about Tom Blake's wood board-building technique.

Epic: A Savage Journey.  From the program notes: "Blustering locals, embittered soul surfers and homophobic professionals all fall victim to their own delusions.  Follow three different surfers as they babble their way into corners of hypocrisy and self-loathing, peeling away layers of misconception and phony facades like a rotten onion until there's nothing left but a rancid surfer.

Modern Collective.

Can't wait til next year.  Cheers!

dora, cont'd

"When [his father] left him alone, Miki would roam around unsupervised, in packs with other children.  He became a feral child growing up on the beach at San Onofre.  Not that he was antisocial, but he was unsocialized.  He didn't really know right from wrong, and he was brought up in a junglelike culture.  He lived like a wolf.  Or a cat.  Anything went.  The code was survival."  -- Martin Sugarman, p. 45

"Miki's mother gave me five dollars a week for food and we'd scrounge the rest.  Usually we'd pick up bottles from the beach, take them into San Clemente, and collect the deposit money.

"On the way to San Onofre we'd turn off at South Laguna and go to a small market that sold horse meat.  We'd buy ten or fifteen pounds and put it in the cooler and have food for two or three days.  As long as it had lots of garlic it tasted pretty good."  -- Dora mentor Merritt Stanfield, p. 45

Still on the wall at Malibu.