18 October 2019

not my photos

but my sentiment

04 October 2019

Future Primitive again and again and again and again

The bourgeoisie must be reconciled to their customary Orwellian entanglements, rushing to be saved by technology… and then saved from it. -Miki Dora.

24 September 2019

16 September 2019

Unfinished Song

Returning to my beach camp after a slightly above average surf session I was approached by a faux-hawked young man. His wetsuit was half peeled down, revealing a sculptured torso painted with terrible tattoos. He was smoking a cigarette and I immediately hated him. In between drags he asked me, 

 “Bro, how was it on a shortboard?” 

 “What?’ I said. 

 But really I meant, 

“Don’t bother me. I’m not here to talk to you. I talk all day every day for a living. When I’m at the beach, I’m here to let the ocean slap me around, maybe ride a few waves, gracefully if the universe permits, but I am not here to talk to you. Or anyone. Particularly surfers. Back off. I am not your bro." 

 “Shortboard, bro. I brought my 5’8” but I think I should have brought my long board. What do you think?” He went on. 

 “It was just fine.” I replied and then went on to disrobe, hopefully alone, in silence, just me and the sun drying the sea water into a salty crust on my wrinkling face. But "Bro" wouldn’t’ let it go. 

 “I’m pretty new to surfing.” 

 No shit. 

 And then it hit me. I am an arsehole. I am a grumpy 44 year old arsehole. Why am I being so rude to this guy? I’m tired of being rude and grumpy. I want to be nice. 

 “You’ll be OK on a shortboard. Its pretty steep and dumpy out there, perhaps its best you left the longboard at home but its fun. Get out there, man.”

 Faux-Hawked-tattooed-smoking-bro saw this as his invite to join me. So he left his pit bull at his camp and came over to share a seat on a fallen log with me. I learned he’s 28, a recovering opiate addict, trying to wean himself off methodone. Mainly a climber and new to surfing. Then his pitbull, Oliver began humping his guitar. 

 “Mate, your dog is humping your guitar.” I pointed out. 

 “Hey hey! Oliver get over here. He loves that thing. Must be the shape.” 

 And so I met Matt and Oliver. I liked Oliver right away. He gently licked the seawater off my dripping hand as I greeted him. Matt was growing on me also. Slowly. Matt was lonely, looking for a girlfriend. He said, he’d go five years in either direction for the right girl. He got a girl’s number the other day at this very beach, his age but she immediately played games with him, so he let it go. Matt’s disappointed with Portland people in general. A lot of fake people, he says.

 I say, you’re talking to the wrong person. I’ve been married nearly 20 years and we have a fifteen year old daughter. Matt loves this. He wants this. 

 I ask my first question, “So Matt, what do you do?” 

 Matt is pursuing his Masters in Social Work, he tells me. After a few years clean and sober and after living the life of drug addict on the run, he wants to give back. He wants to take young men in recovery into the wild to help them heal. I ponder, do I now tell him what I do for a living? Or is that going to open a whole clusterfuck of conversation and bonding I really do not want to embark on but again, I want to be nice. I’m tired of being a grumpy arsehole, so I tell him. I’m in social work myself. 

And so, Matt nearly looses his shit. A social worker! Like him! Who surfs and skates! We were destined to meet! “Pete, I like to network, can I have your number? Perhaps you can call me next time you go surfing or skateboarding? One day I want to start a non-profit taking clients surfing. It would be so cool if you.... ” 

 Goddamnit, a 28 year old dude wants my phone number. What do I do now? I don’t ‘network.’ I don’t give out my number. I keep my work life very very separate from my real life. It’s the only way I can keep sane. No one will ruin that for me. I think about telling Matt about all the young people I’ve know who are now in prison or dead, killed, overdosed, suicide, murdered, causes otherwise unknown, probably over two dozen at this point. It is never going to happen. The beach is my personal sanctuary. I can’t bring others into it. 

 But I give him my number. I wonder why. Even as I did it, I wondered why. 

 I will probably never call him. 

 But This is how I grow as a human. 

 Ever so slowly. 




 ...and I circle ten thousand years long; And I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm, or an unfinished song. -Rilke

29 July 2019

10 June 2019

M is for Mudhoney and Middle Age

     I think it was the summer of 1989, I was on my annual visit back to the UK from Bahrain and went to visit my friend Matt in Newcastle. We were likely getting a bit bored of Bay Area Thrash Metal and New York Hardcore at that point and Punk was in between periods of interest and relevance as far I as I could tell. But really, I knew nothing. I literally lived on a desert island many decades before Google and seeking out meaningful counter-culture was an arduous affair. 
     I was on a quest for something new and exciting to listen to that summer. When I read in Melody Maker or NME about this thing ‘grunge, ‘where Black Sabbath met Black Flag, ‘ I felt the need to roll the dice on a couple of albums. So, instead of buying a back up set of Santa Cruz Speedwheels, I purchased Nirvana’s “Bleach” and Mudhoney’s “Superfuzz Bigmuff.” After several listens all the way through, I determined Nirvana were OK and Mudhoney were fucking epic. Then we learned Mudhoney were playing Newcastle that very week and of course we asked Matt’s parents if we could go. It would have been my first gig and I was ready to get tanked up on Newcastle Brown Ale and loose my hearing. However, these two sheltered fourteen year olds weren’t allowed to go loose their punk rock virginity just yet. So it was back to Bahrain we went with a couple of new albums but another dry hot year to get through getting increasingly thirsty for radical youth culture happenings that were so far out of our reach. 
      Before long, CDs hit Bahrain and Rolling Stone Magazine might even have been available. However it happened, I somehow found out that this thing Grunge was now a big thing and there were many other bands to check out. I took note, trying to see what I might like based on album reviews I read, how the covers looked, song titles and so on. When you spend all your pocket money saving for disposable skateboards, you had to be very careful what you spent the rest of your money on (except the weekend six packs of course) so you couldn’t just but any old pap. Anyway, after very careful consideration I determined that this band Pearl Jam was worth looking into based on their connection to Mudhoney, Seattle and so on. So, I spent maybe nine Bahraini Dinars on Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten.’ 
     After purchase, I raced home, peeled off the plastic and popped the disc eagerly into my little player and waited to have my brain beaten to a pulp in the same way “Touch Me I’m Sick” did a few months earlier. Instead, I immediately felt robbed. Like actually, fucking cheated. Violated. I navigated my way through song after song only to wish I’d been mugged instead of wasting my money on such crap. That was a quarter of a new skate deck. I could have bought a SNFU or Snuff album but no I really wasted it on this terrible crooning classic rock drivel. And that was it, Pear Jam killed most of the interest I had in Seattle or grunge or whatever the shit was going on, to the point where I may have even hesitated to purchase “Nevermind.”

     A couple of summers back, I was catching a few morning grinds at a mostly empty Glenhaven Skatepark in Portland with an old hippy looking bloke and his step-son for company. It was baking hot and I wasn’t really in the mood for small talk, I just wanted to lock into a few smithgrinds before it hit triple digit heat. But the hippy and I got to talking about skateparks, and it was soon clear that this old geezer, named Steve was a real skate nerd. He grew on me the more he talked and the Grateful Dead vibes thankfully floated away. He told me about an upcoming trip he had and how he was going to check out some skateparks in Nevada and play music with his band. It sounded like a skate trip with a bit of music thrown in for fun. Cool. I still assumed he was in a Grateful Dead tribute band but it was only polite to ask, ‘Who’s your band?’ 

He hesitated and then sheepishly replied, 


“Oh you’re Steve Fucking Turner?!” Ha ha, yeah. So I told Steve Turner from Mudhoney about how I found out about his band while I lived on a cultural and literal desert island and how important it was. I also told him how shit I found all his contemporaries’ bands, until I realized they probably were/are still his friends and I should not be so bloody rude. Yet, he really had to know Pearl Jam had cheated me so horribly in my mid-teens. 
With this, he chuckled… a little… I think…

     I hear Mudhoney singer/ guitarist Mark Arm still packs boxes at SubPop and likes to surf. I know Steve is a record collector/ seller and loves to skate. I love that they are middle-aged nerds still doing it, without close to half the success or acclaim of some of those ‘other bands.’ And that’s why I’m spending $35 to finally see them thirty years later. One of their newer songs could have been written by fourteen year old me,

“I wanna ride
I wanna grind
I wanna get up in this bowl and leave that mess behind
I wanna carve
I wanna glide
I wanna get in the ocean and clear my mind
I wanna go
I wanna go for miles
I wanna ride my bike until everything's alright
Ohhhhh-ho-ho yeah
Ohhhhh-ho-ho yeah
Ohhhhh-ho-ho yeah!”

I mean that as both an insult and a complement. 

Anyway, I have no expectations. I have a little money now, and a few spare skate decks, so no worries if they are shit on Saturday (thank fuck its not a school night). I won’t feel robbed or violated either way but it would be nice if they are good in that skull-splitting way they hit me the first time though. 

24 May 2019

22 May 2019

'America' and 'Americans' are a lot of things. I hear many Brits making huge generalizations about this country and its people. Often looking just as idiotic, narrow-minded and bigoted as the people they think they are criticizing. I'm not here to defend 'America' or 'Americans' but I will say yes, it is indeed massive gaps between rich and poor, fucked up race relations, polarized and maddening politics, chain stores and fast food, genocidal history and all the horror and madness we all know about. Yes, it is even the loud-mouthed over-weight tourists walking around your 'quaint' village. But its also Alice Coltrane and Joe Henderson and this song Earth. Piss off.

16 April 2019

Our Lady Burns: Civilization Is Over-Rated

(But the only thing more over-rated than civilization are symbols of civilization.)

If we believe the narrative that is fed to us, this thing we call civilization is the epitome of human existence. The most logical and only desirable arrangement of the human experience, realized.

We have become civilized therefore we have, become.

But what is civilization?

Is it a socioeconomic arrangement? 
Capitalism Vs Socialism?
Is it intellectual thought?
Is it agriculture? 
Is it technological and scientific development?
Is it culture?
Is it religion? Language? Art? Literature? Politics? 
Is it global interconnection/ interdependence via modern forms of communication and travel?
A combination of development of all of the above?

We are told it is something to revere and without it we will surely perish. Without it we are nothing and we will return to a form of existence that was 'nasty, brutish and short.' This is a myth that has been busted many times.

Really, civilization is nothing but symbols. Abstract ideas that ultimately life does not require. It is a collection of ideas that often get in the way of the very things we are told depend on it. Harmony, quality of life, connectivity, a meaningful existence.

To blindly accept that pre-civilization, we had none of these things, is arrogant and incorrect. A number I like to quote often, is that for 99% of human existence we were not civilized. We were not domesticated, we did not farm, we did not have much of a religion (if any), our technology was very rudimentary, language was not necessary, and art was not needed or prevalent. What we did have was direct lived experience with very few symbols disconnecting us from real life. Arguably, day to day life was art, was religion, was science. We can look to the few remaining gatherer-hunter tribes for evidence of quality of life, pre-civ. 

Ultimately, untouchable abstract concepts do not substitute lived experience.

When we watch the flames of Notre Dame lick the Parisian sky, we naturally mourn the loss of a massive symbol of civilization and its achievements. Yet, we aren't mourning in quite the same way, the breaking up of the ice bergs, species extinction, young black men shot by police, Palestinian homes getting wrecked, the murder of trans-gendered person, kids dying in ICE detention and on and on. Yet, these are the natural outcomes of civilization. Religion, technology, economic disparity, politics, 'society,' are killing the planet and pitting us against each other. Now one of civilizations greatest symbols is up in flames, so perhaps it is a good time to seek some perspective and to ponder what really matters to us. Whether this thing we call 'civilization' is really all its cracked up to be... 

Nothing lasts. 

It will fall. It will crumble. It will burn. 

But everything that matters will survive.

Don't believe me? Or want to consider this more?

Start here:

-The Hazda
-Against Civilization
-The Garden of Peculiarities 
-Abundance Without Affluence
-A People's History of Civilization
-Why Hope?

08 April 2019

06 April 2019

Tight Corners

Not sure who took the above photos but these are two of my favorites. What is it about small tight transitions? Classic Spex photo from Bedminster '80s Bristol and Andrew Allen shallow ending.