Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ebb and Flow: Snapshots from the Past

I was thumbing through an old photo album at my parents' house and I found a couple vintage snapshots from "Phase One" of my surfing life. Having embraced the latest surf fashion craze as skaters, my friend Ebb and I were not content to just wear Jimmy'z velcro pants and pink Quiksilver tees - we needed to actually live the dream. Somehow in our landlocked Oregon locale, we managed to scrounge up a couple surfboards and flimsy wetsuits. Above is a pic of our first surf trip to Harris Beach - near Brookings, Oregon - from 1987. As you can see, I have an old Rusty and Ebb has an amazing Cort Gion thruster with a rainbow rasta airbrush job. For anybody reading this who isn't familiar with Cort, he's still considered one of the most well-respected shapers in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, being 14-year-old gremlins, we were totally oblivious to that fact.

This second photo is from a couple years later, after Ebb and I actually got drivers licenses and our very own boards from California. I had family in Los Angeles, so I bought my gear from SoCal surfshops. The result is a 5'11" Ludwig thruster plastered in stickers (note the tribal head logo that is currently being resurrected by Quiksilver) and day glow yellow/violet wetsuit. Ebb's grandparents lived in Manresa Beach near Santa Cruz, and it shows: O'Neill hooded wetsuit and Pearson Arrow four channel fish-type shape with a detachable center fin. It must have been about 5'6"!

In 1989, at the time of the second picture, Ebb and I were best friends. We were inseperable. We listened to the Clash, Black Flag, JFA, and INXS on vinyl. We did hand plants and bonelesses on our skateboards. Ebb had a Christian Hosoi, I had a Vision Shredder. I got a subscription to Surfer, Ebb had Surfing. Ebb loved Martin Potter and Tommy Carroll, I was into Occy and Brad Gerlach. Ebb was always a better surfer than me. He was a gymnast, a great breakdancer, and a strong skateboarder. But on our countless 3-hour drives to the Oregon Coast and 10-hour bombs to Santa Cruz, a bond was formed between us that only two trembling teens who have been caught inside at Steamers Lane can know. Our parents must have been insane to allow us to go on those adventures - thanks, guys!

Unfortunately, I discovered the joy of the opposite sex the following year. This, it turned out, was a much more compelling (and ultimately more dangerous) adventure for a 17-year-old kid. I fell head over heels in love and our surf trips became less regular. Three years later, I had gone away to LMU in Southern California and only surfed once there, having been dumped by my "true love" from high school. Ebb went to UCSB and kept surfing. He spent some time in Costa Rica. I returned to Oregon and adopted the rainsoaked Bukowski-meets-Pollock persona with Tom Waits providing the bar ballad soundtrack. I always imagined Ebb surfing big hollow waves in some third world country and admired his clean-living adventurer's life.

Where is he now? Last time I saw him was at my wedding and we hardly had time to talk. I heard he lives in Chicago, which is an unlikely place for a waterman to land. But maybe he's back... I often think about Ebb as I sit on my surfboard, blowing on my hands and waiting for the next set to come. I wonder if he ever misses surfing. I wonder if he'd like to go again. I think I'll give him a call.

Love and Rockets - "Here on Earth"


megliemoo said...

Ohio Rick! Great to hear from you and fun to read your blog. This must be a week for reminiscing about old friends. My post was also about people from the past. I'll keep checking out your post from time to time! Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars :-)

Patch said...


Classic shots and classic story. I remember ditching High school on occassion and surfing the 'bu during the early 80's. Life was good, all you needed was enough gas money to get you there and some loose change for a 99¢ breakfast at Don Ricardos. We'd make it back in time for nutrition or lunch with a glow on our face. We didn't do this often but when we did it was pure bliss.

One of the guys we used to surf with supposedly lives in the hills somewhere around Countyline, or so I'm told. I've also been told that he's happy and he doesn't surf.

Happy and doesn't surf? How can that be.

P.S. The last few song choices have been classic.

Music: The Specials — A message to you Rudy

Connie said...

Don't you love to look back at old pictures and conjure up the memories they represent? Great pics and story. Hope you get in touch with Ebb. I am sure he would love to hear from you.

Candi said...

Ha! I think I was with you when I bought my first Quicksilver shirt in San Luis Obispo. Great stories...great memories you shared. Definitely call him. Great to keep in touch with those that have touched our lives. I bet he'd like to read your blog and kep up with your surfing adventures.

Slim said...

That Gion is awesome.

G said...

Classic shots! Ebb, where art thou? Probably busting some sick electric bugaloo in the windy city. Glad to see you figured out how to post illustrations...Penelope might want royalties on that O'Neill story. Maybe a run to the water this week...?

Chum said...

I called Ebb's number here in Ashland (I still had it memorized) and talked to his dad.

It turns out that Ebb lives in Santa Cruz and works as a graphic designer for Fox (the motorcross/surf company)! He still surfs regularly and is considering a move to Oregon - maybe Bend, maybe Portland.

I left a message on his phone in S.C. and told him that he's going to have to move to Portland. Bend is too far inland, despite what Jerry Lopez thinks.

OS said...

Chum...Give Ebb my regards. I remember more than one occassion when the two of you dragged us out to the foggy banks of the Pacific in a vain attempt to share the stoke with your unappreciative friends. If we'd only known then what we know now.

With that said, I can't help but think that it was my vivid memories of yours and Ebb's stoke-fuelled smiles and unwavering determination to paddle into the grey cold abyss that somehow lead me out into the water later in life.

Diane said...

You are welcome, Son. I am glad you had a life that sounds so interesting and that you are blessed enough to continue your favorite obsessions even today.

Chum said...

I just was thinking about how many of our old friends from high school ended up surfers:

Dak's Bro

Must be something to it!

Tim said...

hey rick

found you through amy's blog... just wanted to thank you for reminding me how much love & rockets rocks:)

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