Issue 78, 2014 / 15
Good Times and a dead dog
The night before this magazine rode the airwaves to a Singapore printing factory, I hadn’t written an opener. Fried from staring at pixels for too long, I left the office with intentions to write it that night. About what exactly, I didn’t know. I had a half-written piece from another story but it was a long bow. Too long. And, too lazy.
Cupboards bare, housemate selfish, there was no food. Now, I don’t do this often, in fact, only once before, but I walked down to my local pub to have dinner alone. It’s one of those time warp establishments, unchanged since the 80’s. Scottish kilt carpet, olive wallpaper, teak vinyl, fool’s gold capping everywhere. The publican lives across the road, boards hang from the roof beams, the ATM looks comparatively futuristic and the same souls sip every evening. It smells loved, you know, a night’s worth of spilt beer but someone’s at least gone to the effort of trying to clean it.
I caught a glimpse of ocean on a screen wedged between two horse race results and took the front table. Fiddling with the table number that queue my medium steak, I thought, what the fuck am I going to write?
On the screen Taylor Steele was being interviewed. He was wearing a fedora and before I sniggered and turned back to my beer some surfing started. Nostalgia can be a danger word when writing, but I was hooked on this grainy, un-colour-corrected surfing. Before signing out for an ad break, the title appeared: Good Times.
Now, for some reading these pages, you’ll know this film. You’ve probably also got a mortgage and believe Bit Torrents to be an epidemic disease. Which is totally fine. For others, like me, you were about five years old when Good Times was released, and perhaps watched a section or two on recommendation, but you don’t know it like you know Montaj. It’s a sign of the times we’re in. The young and dumb are here and having a hell time.
But, having a disconnect to this film gave me objectivity I haven’t had in a while. And without a soundtrack I was paralysed to watch just the surfing.
I saw Tim Curren blowing pockets and drawing wild lines. And combos. So many combos! Take off into pocket jam, roundhouse and then reverse out of the foam ball, pump and throw a Noa Deane boned air, just smaller. The early 90’s board lengths in this film, you’d expect to see on a Sunset wall now, twice overhead. Rob Machado reappointed himself my favourite surfer, Shane Dorian wore a tube suit and it all made sense why Ross Williams’ opinions matters so much.
Board throws and drop-ins and no-makes and collisions and bulls and long-sleeve tees and middle parts through bowl cuts and Morpheus’ silver lenses. Dorian even had a goat by the horns. And it was alive this time. This film had personality. It felt less about bettering each other, more about showcasing who these guys were at a point in time. Momentum charm!
I began thinking about this magazine. Mason Ho is on the cover. Naked. His nickname is Naked Mase and he epitomises absolutely nothing. And that’s refreshing. Wade Goodall, who I thank for my distaste of shit champagne, says fuck it, I can be a dad and still mosh in Portugal and surf the best I have in five years. Photographer John Respondek, on a trip to Macaronis where Ozzie Wright channeled his Seven Days Seven Slaves memoirs, reckons #surfpals is a thing. Of course it’s not, but it’s great, because it’s a collective of three characters who hung together this one time. And parallels began appearing.
Right as I began wondering where Kelly’s section was, sure to be equally enlightening, my phone rang. It was my little sister. It was a bizarre time to call. Not early enough for just a chat, not late enough that she was in trouble. I answered, and for a split second I couldn’t tell if she was laughing or crying. “No, I’m not okay” and an explosion of tears spilled down the line. The family dog had been bitten by a paralysis tick. The little bastard had been on a covert mission for a few days, taken the dog’s legs, and the poison had made its way to her lungs. She was at the vet, a machine doing her breathing at a cool $2k per day. The question had to be asked and it was a pretty easy answer.
I was bummed the dog was gone – or going – and I finished my steak and beer and left.
I walked out thinking how fucked the night had been. I hadn’t realised yet, that this magazine was its own kaleidoscope of personality. And that it was not too dissimilar in variation to the 90’s film I watched alone at my local pub before my dog died. And I definitely didn’t realise that I’d finished my opener.