This has easily been one of the greatest undertakings of my life. Several years ago, I had the idea to do a series of mini documentaries that focused on the Long Beach Island region. Every year, thousands and thousands of people come from near and far to experience what a special place this is. But I wanted to do something a little deeper.
Sure, everyone comes to our little sandbar to swim in the Atlantic and eat cotton candy. What I wanted to show was just beneath the surface, the characters, the work ethic and the way of life that has created this community by the sea.
After a whole lot of work with the talented guys at Oak Leaf Media unwavering support from the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, a pilot episode, gathering local sponsors, and a lot of time in post production, I am very proud to release the first episode of Season One, "Pineys and Paddles."
The whole idea is to be the antithesis to every reality show you've ever seen about New Jersey. Get past all the bullshit and you can find the real New Jersey, and our life lived on the water. My goal isn't just to bring more visitors to our area, but to make the current visitors more engaged.
We will release three more episodes through 2017 that we are very excited about. Look for some free diving, shipwrecks, ripping surfers, interesting homes, life behind the bar and chasing striped bass. Thanks to the Mud City family of restaurants, Dave's Electric, Farias Surf, Volatile Media, and Ship Bottom Brewery.
Since I started snowboarding, it was always very deeply tied to surfing and skating. Even though I've always been merely average at all three, I've has this fascination with the crossover - surfing a big north swell at Holyoke in the morning and running up to the Poconos for the twilight session, hiking a hit in Northern California and then checking the jetty at Humboldt before dark, riding at Whistler one day and then making the trek out to Vancouver Island to surf the next. I love it.
So I was fairly excited when Red Bull asked me to work with them on Switchboard, an event that involved surfing in Asbury and riding Mountain Creek... in the same day. And while we're at it, why not skate the bowl at Fourth Union? (Thanks Uncle Derek.) Unlike so many events that are designed to spotlight the elite, this was all about a bucket list experience that anyone could enjoy.
Yep, the surf was ridiculously flat last Saturday when we all met on the beach (23 degrees - nice touch, New Jersey) so we had a few hearty souls jump in the drink for effect. My bud, Dave Werner is a very good sport.
We skated the bowl and then headed up to Mountain Creek, where I learned to ride over two decades ago. I helped direct the content with photographer Kyle Arcomano and Foreword Films.
While this was based at the college demographic in California for a few years, in New Jersey it was everyone from awesome Dads with kids to pro surfers. Every got in some laps, a few surf turns and messed around in the park before all the high fives and hot waffles at the base. Great time, great people.
And they used this old man's blunt stall as the feature image at RedBulll.com with my story, which is hysterical.
Admittedly, I am not much of a sports fan. No Sunday football in our house; no fantasy teams. Not even soccer like all my punk friends. And baseball can pretty much suck it.
But if there is one event of the year I watch, it's the Pipe Masters. I covered, and Ann shot the Pipe Masters, for about six straight years. The last few years, I have watched it via webcast from a warm living room while swell has been building for the next day in the cold Atlantic.
This year, I started writing some writing "Break Breakdowns," for the World Surf League, including the Billabong Pipeline Masters. (Full disclosure: the only time I surfed Pipe it was tiny with sand on the reef and they wound up moving the event to Off the Wall that year.)
Surfline is calling for a new west/northwest swell to fill in tonight. If they run tomorrow, the trials and first round action could see sets of 15 to 22-foot, and possibly bigger. The swell holds for Thursday and is supposed to be triple overhead and flawless. The swell, combined with the fact that there are six (holy shit, six?) surfers who could possibly take the 2015 title at Pipe means it could be one of the most dramatic season finales ever. Keep an eye out for my report on the title at GrindTV.com.
So, yeah, I'm kind of excited about a sporting event...
Earlier this year I did a feature on Gabriel Medina, Tyler Warren and John John Florence's boards, talking to Jon Pyzel, Johnny Cabana, and Warren about shapes for Surfing Life Japan Pretty interesting stuff, if anyone can read Japanese.
By now, you have likely seen Kelly Slater's bizzaro sorta flyaway air-reverse that he sorta landed at the Hurley Pro Trestles. The event only has one more day to finish up, but they're on a third lay day in a row. In fact, I am in San Clemente now. I surfed Lowers this morning with no crowd, at one point I had it all to myself ....apparently Californians don't like the rain. Got a few fun rights despite the dying swell and south wind, the did the long hike back in a downpour. Pretty surreal for California considering LBI is 77 and sunny today.
Before the event started, I interviewed Van's team rider Curren Caples about Lowers and the contest. Trestles is said to be the ultimate skate park wave, so why not interview the skater who surfs like we all wish we could?
Earlier this year, I started writing for Wavelength, Europe's original surf magazine. While we were away this winter, I penned a piece about the essential feelings of surfing that was recently published at Wavelengthmag.com. They're basic virtues that most modern surfers, anywhere in the world have experienced in some form. I had some help from Nat Young (the tour threat, not the legend) Cy Sutton, Brad Gerlach, and Doc Rosenblatt.
When I was a little kid, my father was still lifeguarding, so I was around the beach a lot. I started surfing at about 13 and for the next 20 years, lifeguards were little more than another inconvenience between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But the last few years, some of my friends have become lieutenants and even captains of local beach patrols. Here in Ship Bottom, we have a great relationship with the guards.
This summer, I was hired to co-direct a mini-documentary for Red Bull Surf and Rescue. The program sheds a light on the watermen and women of New Jersey - the history and the passion for lifeguarding. This was my first time being so involved in a film project. I learned a ton and sincerely enjoyed doing this. I did, however, see parts of Randy Townsend's upper legs that I can never unsee.
I have to thank my bud Keith Wescott at Red Bull for putting me on the crew, the Funk family, Jenna Parker, and Randy for being so easy to work with, Robbie Beach for nailing such crucial shots, and Chris Immel for teaching me more in a week than I have learned in a really long time.
In early 2014 I was invited by my buds at Jetty to get on a Nicaragua trip to gather marketing content for the coming year. It was non stop laughs the whole time. I also got to spend some real time with team rider, Tim Daley of Brigantine.
Eastern Surf Magazine included Daley in this year's Who Da Guy Issue, #168, August, 2015. I really appreciate surfers like Daley who know a thing or two about hard work in the real world.
"You know that ace on the surf trip? He’s not a pro, but he rips. He’s the good-looking one, but you never catch him in the mirror. He’s got a six-pack and sculpted pecs, but you don’t see him exercising. When the surf is firing, he puts himself into the slot of the day. And when it’s shithouse, he somehow finds the speed in mushy lines to crush crumbly lips. He gets friendly with the boat driver and somehow manages to nab a Spanish mackerel on the way back in. He never gets sunburned or spends a night barfing/shitting out some third world bacteria. Between his grasp of the language and natural disposition, he hits it off with the local ladies or some Euro backpackers. He knows exactly what to order at the bar in any country, but always holds his drink. And by the end of the night, he’s teaching a local Bad Religion chords on guitar, entertaining everyone in the room.
You want to hate him and his mustache, but in this case, you have to love him.
That guy is Brigantine’s Tim Daley."
The Jetty Rock Foundation continues to amaze. With the money raised at last year's Hop Sauce Festival, the JRF just purchased 50 iPads to be used at the Ethel Jacobsen and LBI Grade School. They also made a $5,000 donation to the Beach Haven Elementary School for new computers. As the president of the JRF, Ann helped bring this all together. Superintendent Karen T. McKeon set aside a room in each of the EJ and LBI Grade Schools as the new Jetty Tech Labs. The walls of these are adorned by Ann's photos that were designed by Jetty to be inspirational posters, printed by Typestries.
“These children are members of our community, and if we can nurture the education in our own backyard and promote the ‘pay it forward’ mentality, then we can only have a better community for the future,” Coen said, adding she personally feels education should be at the fore of American thinking, and budgetary cuts to education shortchange the potential of future community and national leaders.
In terms of the surfing world, especially the East Coast, this major news. Thanks to Red Bull, I took part in a swell chase mission in the Northeast with my friends Sam Hammer and Mike Gleason as well as global big wave chaser, Ian Walsh.
What it turned into was more of a gamble on a ledge, some 12 miles offshore. What we got absolutely blew our minds. I was sitting on a ski or the boat next to perhaps the most critical wave on the East Coast for two days. Men's Journal ran my piece on this pretty amazing and rare New England discovery. It was big and steep. Seeing the pros not making it look easy, I didn't even try to get one. But man, am I inspired for fall barrels.