maandag, oktober 31, 2005

Week 6: Skateboard Fever Art Show / 4 days in Barcelona

After another week in Hossegor, Biarritz and Anglet, with a few fun surf sessions, meeting more people from all over Europe, and hanging out, driving around in the trunk and speaking French with my friend Bertrand who lives in Anglet, it was time to venture to Spain, down to Barcelona where my friends from Germany were putting on a Skateboard art show. I took the bus to the border town of Irun, and then hopped on a 7 hour train ride to Barcelona. Making the train with only minutes to remain, I sat down and recollected my scattered thoughts from my strange life I now live. The train was a non-smoking train, but that didn’t seem to stop any of the passengers from going between cars and smoking it up. I kept thinking I smelled cloves, and finally when I smelt another guy smoking something I got up and went to investigate. The younger Spanish guy who spoke no English seemed a bit nervous at first and was trying to explain that it wasn’t a cigarette he was smoking. No problema! 20 minutes into Spain and I smoked a joint with this guy with whom I struggled to communicate. I asked him if smoking weed was allowed in Spain, and he said, “Espagne… ‘living the vida loca!’” Welcome to Spain I thought! Let’s get crazy. I then returned to my seat, in total confusion, wondering what I was doing, and realizing I did not know how to communicate in Spanish, after finally being able to hang on to a conversation in French.

7 hours passed quickly and I arrived in Barcelona at the train station, and immediately went and picked up a Spanish-English phrase book. I made my way to the correct estacion where the hostel that had been recommended to me was situated, and within an hour found it and checked in. A 6 bed hostel room to my self with free internet access. Not bad. Then came the fun activity of trying to find a place to eat and ordering food with my all but forgotten Spanish, which was never good to begin with. I eventually found a little restaurant and ordered the first thing on the menu. Biztec and some other stuff I’d never heard of. Well, to my chagrin, it was a thin grey steak and eggs over easy, too things I do not like to eat, but I wolfed them down readily, with a beer, and I was good for the night. The following morning I struggled for the words to get 100 negatives scanned which I lucked out on because the guy in FNAC (the European mega electronics/photography/music/bookstore) was cool and scanned them all in 90 minutes for 8 euros.

After taking care of some ‘business’ I headed out to Skateboard Fever: A History of Skateboard Art, featuring Jeremy Fish, and Andy Howell, among others. I arrived at the art show right about on time for free Budweisers and to meet a lot of cool people. I re-met Silly Pink Bunny artist Jeremy Fish, whom I chilled out with off and on for the rest of my stay, and my German friends who were putting on the art show, Daniel and Juergen , who proved to be excellent people who allowed me to not feel lost in a very foreign land. My Spanish at that point did not improve too much with all the German and Suisse people speaking English very well, and Jeremy Fish and Andy Howell and other Americans and Brits speaking English. The art show was awesome with a history of skateboarding and an amazing collection of skateboards from the early days of cement and clay wheels to modern day skateboard art.

Randomly, across the street was a Red Bull video editing contest where teams from all over the world (US, Spain, Suisse, Austria, and Germany) had already won the contest in their country and were competing for the Red Bull prize of filming and editing a skate video in a city in 2 days, this time, the city being street skateboarding Mecca: Barcelona. The night ended in the Mau Mau underground club, and then ended again at some club called the Apollo where I saw Andy Howell and posse waiting in a line to get in. The club was a bit silly (not being much of a clubber myself), but crazy loud music, and a bunch of random Barcelonans partying on the dance floor until 5 in the morning. At some point I fell asleep on the stage lying back with my camera bag on. I knew it was time to try and walk or take a taxi home, but luckily the metro had started up again at 5:30, and I followed the punks in the metro’s example of hopping the line and riding for free. I got back to my hostel at 6:30 and slept for a few hours and then headed out to find a hostel in the center of town, away from the skyscrapers, banks and mega-corporations.

Daniel (Fauxami) in the Barcelona beachside park

Without going into detail of being lost in Barcelona for hours, I found the hostel and met up with the German’s and a Spanish artist/skater called Carlos Canillas who took us to the little skatepark next to the beach, where I did not skate but took photos of the Daniel and Juergen and watched some completely gnarly BMXers. The fact that I didn’t skate reminds me that I skipped a day. The previous night after attending the Red Bull contest for the video winner and going to some other underground club when I should have just gone back to my hostel and slept, I learned a new trick. The shoulder plant. Here’s a little how to ‘pull’ the shoulder plant:
1) Skate to a club and watch the Red Bull video contest
2) Cash in your 4 "free" drink tickets (all vodka drinks)
3) Take a pee in the bushes in the back and get kicked out by big bouncer guy
4) Try and get back in to get your skateboard in the coat check and get your skateboard back but not yourself back in
5) Go with the late night German stragglers to another ‘underground’ somewhat sketchy club for free
6) "Buy" your first (and last) drink of the night
7) Skate home
8) The next step is a bit hazy, due to a possible Concussion, but it involves flying through the air and landing on your shoulder and smacking your eye on the sidewalk
9) Wipe blood from eye and ride away like you can pull this maneuver any time any place
10) Finally, ask people in Drunk-Spanglish how to get back to your hostel

Easy. Anyone can do it if you follow my ‘how-to’ closely, or even somewhat closely. So, the next day I was worried I had broken my shoulder and made sure I hadn’t forgotten to get stitches, but all was ok, except my damn shoulder was screwed up for about 10 days. I gladly watched others eat shit skating the shody cement spin ramp with hammered down almost non-existent coping and made it back early to sleep by 12:30.

The following day was my last day in Barcelona, I mulled around the streets photographing some street performers, went to Gaudi park (oh wait, that was the day before when I went solo but same difference for you the reader), and then went with Daniel, Juergen and their girlfriends and a few other Germans to the unfinished Gaudi church which he supposedly designed on Mushrooms. He died 100 years ago or something ,and they are still building the church, and it is a trip. Very psychedelic. We climbed the spiraled turrets to the top and had a view of all of Barcelona. We returned to the art gallery and then I headed off out of Barcelona on the night train to Paris, which came complete with beds to sleep in and cost way way more money than I had intended (wished, dreamed) it to cost. I spent the next week working my ass off in Christine’s apartment (oh yeah we broke up a while ago), and then met my mom and step dad at the airport in Paris (who had just returned from visiting my relatives in England), and drove with them up to Bretagne, in the North of France for a relaxing 3 days where I would work on websites in the car while driving around to beautiful scenic spots and eating good food (the most famous spot in the world to eat Oysters) and staying in a nice farmhouse with a bed without a bunch of drunk snoring farting guys keeping me up all night. I finally obtained some serious rest and lack of spending money which I seriously needed. After I return to Paris for a few days, hang out with Luidgi and possee from the skate shop, and showing my parents around some tourist spots (The Louvre/Sacre Coeur), I am heading back to Anglet to pick up my surfboard and wetsuit I left there, and to surf Anglet and Hossegor and hopefully find some quiet place to work on some websites. The hostel in Anglet is the cheapest place I have found to stay in France, as well as being one block from some damn good waves. Photos coming as soon as I get somewhere where I stay longer than 5 days so I can get my film developed. - Jonny ‘homeless’ Haywire

Or check out: for photos from the artshow in Barcelona.

zaterdag, oktober 01, 2005

Week4: Beach Lurker Escapes the City

It’s been ten days and maybe more since I have recollected my thoughts. I have been living day to day not knowing exactly what the next day holds, the complete opposite to my prior life in Santa Cruz. I have been to Biarritz, back to Paris, and back to Hossegor for the Quiksilver World Championship Surf Contest. Over the last three weeks many crazy things have gone down, and it’s a rare occasion such as this that I share my tales, albeit in brief, as I am on the bus back to Hossegor to pick up my photos and hopefully surf.

Biarritz Lighthouse - Chambre d'Amour, Anglet

I’ll start from where I left off. I arrived in Biarritz not knowing much about anything except where I would be staying for the night. I took the bus to a small town adjacent to Biarritz called Anglet. Anglet has excellent waves, and is less known than the ritzy Biarritz(y). The hostel is a 5 minute walk to the beach, which is like 5 kilometers of beach break, similar to Waddel Creek north of Santa Cruz. I surfed without a wetsuit for the first time since I was in Fiji 10 years ago. The water isn’t very cold, but most French surfers wear spring suits or full suits, and the temperature is dropping so I will join the masses and wear my wetsuit soon and bake for a few weeks until the water is cold enough to warrant a full suit (or steamer as the aussies say). The hostel I stay at is very diverse with people from all over Europe (England, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, etc) as well as your usual slew of Aussie traveling surfers (and Kiwis) and a few South Africans. Most people are cool and friendly and I have met plenty of contacts for places to visit all over Europe which is good because I struggle to work near the ocean with lots of surfing, photographing, and partying with live music at times. The last band that played at the hostel were a Spanish Ska-punk band which attracted many people from all over Biarrtiz and Anglet, a really good time unlike any party I have been to, due to the international diversity and different languages.

Where would you be? Chambre D'Amour, Anglet

Speaking of languages, I have become friends with quite a few French people that hardly speak any English, so we struggle to communicate in depth, but my French is improving rapidly and I can now hold a conversation, although the French language is tres difficle pour moi, but most people I meet tell me my French is not bad and they appreciate the fact that I speak in French, as most travelers (even some people who have lived here for two years) still do not speak any French except Oui and Non. Actually, my English is getting worse, as I now speak in broken English as it is easier to communicate with French people when you get rid of the confusing English words.

I returned to Paris and stayed with Christine in her apartment for a week and finished a lot of work, making money, so I could return to the beach. I took the night train from Paris to Biarritz, sleeping on two chairs with my surfboard and skateboard clanking around, always getting lots of strange looks walking the streets in Paris with a surf board (“Ou est la Plage?) I joke sometimes. (Where’s the beach?)… I arrived in Biarritz and took the bus (the same one I am currently one) arriving in Hossegor, the Capital of Surfing in Europe. I walked towards the beach with a suitcase in tow, my camera bag, and a suitcase Christine persuaded me was better than my duffel bag. I luckily arrived at the beach, and the contest had just started, the light was perfect, and the waves were even more perfect. I drug my suitcase through the sand for 100 meters, plopped it down 20 meters from the beach, set up my mini tripod on my suitcase, set down my skateboard and box of Concussions, and started “working”, taking (hopefully) some of the best surf photos of my life. The waves were SICK and I traded off shooting the contest and the free surfers, which were among the worlds best surfers. I stayed the next two nights in a hotel for 43 euros a night ($55 dollars), the cheapest place to stay in Hossegor. Each morning I’d awake as soon as I could get out of bed, and go down and shoot the contest. Now I know the rough life Patrick Trefz and Jason Murray have to ‘endure’ when they go on these photo shoots. French girls, drooling pro surfer admirers and hundreds of photographers with bigger lenses than mine line the beach, they sell Fosters out of a tent and I sit there from 8-2 in the sun, without eating anything because food costs money, then I go for a surf.

Hossegor Quiksilver Pro - Danny Wills

I was shooting the sunset at the Hossegor lighthouse and met this cool French guy called Fabian who allowed me to spend the following night in his apartment, which helped to counter paying too much for the hotel. The contest continued all week, and I watched/photographed/videoed most of it. Kelly Slater lost to Damian Hobgood in the quarter finals by the largest margin of defeat in the whole contest, failing to get any of the really good waves. The French absolutely adore Kelly Slater, way more than in the US. When he comes out to his heat he is swarmed by 10 year old girls who he writes I LOVE KELLY all over their faces. Very amusing indeed. Some of the days the waves were 15-20 feet. They were doing tow ins behind the contest and before it started. The competition had wave runners to drag the surfers out through the waves… it was that big. And whoever says that they wouldn’t come to France for a surf trip, think again. The waves are way better than you would ever imagine and they are advanced, fast, and very, very hollow. I probably witnessed 200 in and out tube rides in one week, maybe more. I will post the photos soon, as a photo is worth a thousand words. So anyone who was thinking about coming out to see me, and NOT bringing their board, think again. You’d be blowing it! So the competition ended (Andy Irons won for the 3rd year in a row and if he had lost Kelly Slater would be the World Champion for the 7th time). Check out the see Concussion Website for video footage and photographs from the contest.

I returned to Anglet for the cheap hostel and am attempting to get some work done before I go to Bilbao (further into Basque across the Spanish border), and then to Barcelona to meet up with my friends Daniel and Juergen whom I met through Lee at Derby Skatepark in Santa Cruz. They are putting on an artshow of the history of Skateboard art in Barcelona, with American artists Andy Howell (see and Jeremy Fish (see any issue of Concussion). So I think that will be a great time and then I plan to return to Paris and figure out my next move from there. I’m also searching for my friend Bailey (excellent pool skater/Consolidated rider) who often returns to Basque and last I heard he was in Bilbao where they have a sick skate pool. I have hit up a few skateparks here that are quite good, indoor wooden bowls, and other cement oddities in tiny little towns. Before I left for the beach again, I took 4 rolls of street skating in Paris, a little different than the photos I usually have of skating, with lots of cool brick banks and other Parisian oddities one could imagine finding in an old European city. I am now arriving in Hossegor again (to pick up my black and white photos), and the journey continues. Until next time…a bientot. - Jonny Haywire

Nollie Heel Flip - Paris suburb