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Showing posts from 2016

Diversity is not a white woman

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A couple of days ago, I saw this film about 19-year-old surfer Kadiatu Kamara (aka KK) from Sierra Leone. It's a mesmerising film, in which surfing is a very recognisable aspect of KK's life, whose life is, in some ways, entirely unrecognisable to my own.


(Check out the rest of the Surfs Up series at Nowness)
What I like most about this film is the lack of narrative about white people bringing surfing to an African community. In this film, surfing is KK's own, removed from California, Waikiki, the North Shore, Byron Bay, Biarritz, Tahiti... And yet, we can hear ourselves in KK's relationship to the waves - to that sense of removal from the mundane, the stressful or the sad. KK's story is a surfing story, and yet it's something else as well. It's a story in which how we look, who we know, where we're local and have status is unimportant. It's a story that doesn't claim a place, or demand anything. It's a story that reminds me what surfing is …

The Ghost Ship

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Life can be brutal.

Often we focus on the joy and fun and freedom of surfing. There they are, these pleasures of surfing sparkling in the water, rising in us as we jump to our feet, filling us as we feel our strength pulling us into a breaking wave.

Much more rarely do we talk about those times when surfing is beyond our reach.

Ageing.

Injury.

Illness.

Disability.

Obligations of parenting and work.

The only one I can think of is my favourite surf film ever, The Surf Magazines Don't Talk About Lapsed Catholics, by Toddy Stewart.


The Surf Magazines Don't Talk About Lapsed Catholics from Todd Stewart on Vimeo.

I see myself in this film. Maybe not in the murky water, but in the guilt of not surfing and changing access to the sea. I see myself in the frustration of knowing myself as a surfer, but realising I rarely surf anymore. For now.

But films like Lapsed Catholics should be more common in surfing culture, because experiences like that are. I have watched as surfing friends ren…

Robin Lanei art

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I've been really enjoying Robin Lanaei's illustrations that she's posting on Instagram. It's so easy to recognise myself and other kinds of surfers in her drawings, sometimes, when I don't even want to!

I like that she's drawing about the everyday things that happen in the lineup, the internal dialogues that we have with ourselves, the things we'd like to say and do. I like her take on the moments of shame and embarrassment when we miss a wave or kook one, aware that the lineup is watching and judging us, while at the same time making sure we know it really doesn't matter. I like that the girls she draws aren't trying to be mermaids or #gurfers or anything like that. Instead, they're just people - grumpy and cranky and determined and sneaky and funny and fun. They seem to be white girls, for sure. But they're certainly recognisable in so many ways and with the kind of complexity and real-ness that I'm always searching for in any kind of …

Sea changing

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In Australia, we have a Federal election coming up on 2nd July. Even more significant, it's a double dissolution, which means the whole government is dissolved and is up for election, including the entire  (Senators sit for 6 years and usually only half the Senate is elected every 3 years). A double dissolution can be called if the Senate and House of Representatives fail to agree on a piece of legislation twice. The Governor-General (the Queen's is still our Head of State and the G-G is her representative. I KNOW!!) calls it, but the Prime Minister asks them to do so. There have only been seven double dissolutions since Australia's Federation, so it's a pretty big deal. Since we have three layers of government - federal, state and local - and since under Australian law, it is compulsory that all citizens over the age of 18 enrol and vote in elections, many Australians find elections annoying. Not me though. I love them.

I love elections for lots of reasons, not least …

Literal thinking

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In love with the world

One of the things I love most about surfing, is being outdoors and in nature. I love watching the surface of the water, the changing colours of the sky and sea, the clouds that drift across and light up in the sunrise and sunset, the birds that wheel above us, the creatures that swim below and around us, the line of the shore from the water, and the cool and warmth of the air, water and wind.

Being immersed in this world of light and colour and sensations and creatures has taught me a lot about my place in the world. It's taught me that I'm part of something, that my behaviour has effects, and that being a human in the sea has consequences. It's taught me I am not in control of the world and the plants and animals that inhabit it, but instead that I'm a part of that web - that ecosystem.

With so much of my focus on surfing being about the culture and the relationships between people - good and bad - there have been times when immersing myself in the beauty and immensit…

A woman alone, in public

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*To be filed under: #notallmen

One of the joys of life is walking alone, taking in the world around us. I love it. I love walking around cities in the day and night, looking at buildings, watching people, learning the lay of the land, but even more I love walking on the beach or in the forest - surrounded by trees and sand and rocks and water and birds and animals and clouds and sunrises and sunsets.Walking alone, taking it all in. Sometimes, I even run on tracks like these, challenging myself as I negotiate the twists and turns on the concrete paths, roads or bush tracks.


One of the places I often walk and run is the Lighthouse track in Byron Bay. It's beauty and accessibility makes it a very popular track with all kinds of people, from those returning from watching the most easterly sunrise on the mainland, to pairs and groups of women walking and chatting, pairs of men walking (and chatting?), as well as lots of people on their own running and walking, often with earphones in, …

Networked surfing

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It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the notion of mobile phones in the surf. I know it would be really useful for those whose jobs mean they're on call etc., by giving them more flexibility in the water, but still, the idea fills me with dread. I accept that it's inevitable, but it sucks.

Voluntarily and involuntarily, our lives these days are so connected to friends, social networks, knowledge, news and media. W're constantly looking, listening, watching, reading, absorbing, responding, capturing, posting and sharing, and I'm totally part of that and I think there's lots that is wonderful about it. I mean, I'm writing this on online an online blogging site, using social media video sharing capabilities of YouTube, with text messages popping up on my screen and two email accounts open in my browser, all while listening to Cat Power via Spotify. So, yeah. Because I have so little discipline when it comes to being logged on, I really love those moments w…

Dolphin chop

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As it happens, I've moved back to Australia! Back home to Byron Bay. It was a sudden move and it feels weird, but it's also wonderful and I'm enjoying the familiarity of home.

Yesterday, as I was looking at the shitty waves being messed about by a strong on-shore and strong currents, I noticed some commotion over at the Table of Knowledge*. I could see there was attention being paid to the nose of a longboard, so I went to have a stickybeak.

Sure enough, the board was damaged. A long incision that cut through the whole board, deep into the body of the nose. The cut was as long at the span of my outstretched hand from my middle finger to my thumb. Obviously, the board had been hit hard.

It was a dolphin! the man told me. He looked, while not exactly in shock, certainly in bewilderment.

Yeah look, it's left some skin behind, John pointed out, sticking his fingers into the torn fibreglass.

I stood, mouth open.



I took the opportunity to talk for a while about how I've be…