A Custom Board & Amazing People (Pt. 1)
Updated: Jul 21
Daniel and Jackie doin' some designin'...
This day had been a while in the making...
For many years I have been wanting to drive from Tofino, BC to San Diego, CA to go to all the famous west coast surfing spots. I just want to sit there to watch/listen, take some photos, and write. Soak every aspect of it in, and being completely taken within the moment!
You see, I live in a perpetual state of internal torture. Every day hurts terribly because I can't surf and study kung fu. They both go through my head at least once at some point each and every day...but usually more.
Every. Single. Damned. Day!!
In one respect, it's a story for a different time, but what is necessary here, is that my soul is a little more fractured every day because of having the ability to be able to surf and study kung fu taken away from me. I've lost most everything I love to do, but those are the two that lace my heart with a crippling pain that burns like acid. It drives me nuts.
Since writing has kinda infiltrated itself into my life the way it has, I have dreamt of being able to do this trip down the west coast. Fiji is the place that would be the ultimate mecca for me as I had dreamed about surfing it since I was around 9 years old from when I read something about it in a surfing magazine before I hit double digits years old.
Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, CA - Photo of Ian Walsh by Richard Podgurski - Jr@RichardPodJr
Fiji seems like a different-life-away kinda thing, but driving the coast to Mavericks, just south of San Francisco, is just getting in my van with my doggie-o, and hittin' the road. So, after years of painfully having this in my heart, it's finally happening where I'm gonna be able to be in front of these waves.
I know standing there, and not being able to surf, but only watch, it's gonna crush my soul to pieces in a very profoundly emotional way. I have no doubt that I will be reduced to tears numerous times over. (Don't worry, I'm used to crying...I'm a Toronto Maple Leaf...battle hardened on the tears.) It will be both a simultaneous conjuring of almost 30 years of this internal torture that explodes inside, but also be an infusion of a purity of bliss That I believe I'm not even aware that exists yet.
Standing there in front of Mavericks, or the point at Santa Cruz, will re-write a new aspect of how bliss is truly defined, but at the exact same moment, just absolutely level me with devastation that I have yet to have knowledge of.
I know you can't predict the future, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that it's gonna overwhelm me with emotion.
In thinking about this trip, I know I have to go to Venice Beach. We camped out there one night in December 1993 when we drove out from Toronto for the Grateful Dead's winter tour...the tour that I had to fly home from because that's when my body was first falling apart. I went virtually straight from the airport to the hospital in Toronto. (Only stopping to drop off my bags and have a quick grilled cheese.)
**I was sellin' grilled cheese like mutherfucker at those LA & San Diego shows. (There's no other way to put it.) "Grillies, grillies...get yer red hot grillies! Help me get back to Canada. Grillies, grillies..." My bros knew exactly where I was 'cause they could hear me from all over the lot swingin' the pitch, so I kinda became the meeting point for everyone...and the holder of information because of it.
Venice Beach is a big thing to me. Growing up as a kid, that's where the Dog Town crew pushed skateboarding out to the world...and I bought in. That shit was fun. There was also Gold's Gym because of Arnold, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and the old school Red Hot Chili Peppers...the, "True Men Don't Kill Coyotes" Chili Peppers, and even Hulk Hogan with the prayers and "vitamins."
Jeff Spicoli! (If you know, you know!) I molded my life around that guy.
LA Raiders! (If you know, you know - Part 2!!)
Growing up as a kid in the 80's, with such a fascination with the surfing and skate scene, L.A. was the gawd damned shit! Then along came NWA, and they kicked the door in like a mutherfucker, and blew that shit wide open! (Ice Cube is one of the very few humans that I would get kinda giddy and loss of words if I was ever to somehow meet him. Ice T might be the OG, but Ice Cube is the original franchise. The one who took it all over!)
When we were there in December '93, that was between the Rodney King riots and just before the big earthquake in Jan '94.
The 80's through to start of 90's L.A held such a presence. When we went there on a family trip for a wedding in the summer of 1986, when we were asked what we wanted to do for the day, Disney or whatever like that, we just wanted to go to the beach. Our parents said we have a beach at home that we can go to any time, and suggested we should do something that we can't do there. (I grew up on the world's longest fresh water beach - Wasaga Beach, Ontario.) My oldest step-brother, who is the same age as me, and I, insisted that we go to the beach...
For the waves!
I remember some kids down there on BMX's having a showdown with, "It's Tricky" by RUN DMC blaring from a ghetto blaster. It was heaven!
Life has been about waves seemingly forever, despite having that ripped away from me by the time I was 19...just a kid.
Venice Beach was the beating heart of skateboarding...the Mecca...like Rucker Park in Harlem for ballin', so obviously I have to go to that skate park. I mean, we're talkin' Jay Adams in the deep bowl. It's a no-brainer.
Last year, I found my way to Daniel Nelson's 'Happy Little Slabs' live edge furniture place. I went to get a sweet piece of wood for some carving. When I rolled up there for the first time, I immediately started noticing something you don't see every day at one's home...
He has built, or should I say, he is constantly building a skate part at his house...literally attached to his house in areas.
When I walked up to him, he was all over my Jeff Spicoli shirt that I was wearing. That immediately said pretty much all I needed to know...
We were gonna get along just fine!
It turns out that Daniel is an ex-pro skateboarder, and he's building his own lil' skate utopia at his home. (My words, not his!) The depth of that, in regard to his overall vision, is for a different time that I'll write soon.
Happy Little Slabs is his business where he makes live edge furniture, but also mixes in his obvious passion for skateboarding, so it should come as no surprise that he makes some boards too.
When I was thinking about this whole Tofino to San Diego trip, and going to Venice Beach to pay some respect to the spirit of Jay Adams, I somehow got it in my head that I want to get Daniel to make me a custom board that I can bring to Venice with me. I want to let other people ride it, and write about whatever comes to me while I'm there watching them roll.
I ran the idea past Daniel, and he was totally into it. Only one thought went through my little head at that point...
"Steve is super psyched!!"