A Punxsutawney Crackup

posted by / Magazine / December 12, 2012

We were changing the game with this trip. Print? F–k print. Print’s dead.

All Photos By tom Carey

This content was being gathered exclusively for the Interweb. For our second-ever SURFING MEGAzine. In one digital publication we would embed photos, words, music, art and video. Fancy Mitch Coleborn’s Cartier watch? Click to buy. Want to hear M83 because that’s what Nate Tyler blares before he surfs? Click to listen. Or maybe it’s watching a motion picture that tickles you? Just press play. We were living in the future and the future was firing.

Firing every day. Every day, waves. Waves for days. Days the same. Same-same, but different.

Groundhog Day.

We were losing our minds.

“So…I just read this?” Miguel asks videographer Ryan Perry.

“Yeah. Just from here to here,” Ryan points to a section of pg. 61 in A Crackup at the Race Riots, by Harmony Korine. It’s the 12th day of the trip and Ryan’s eyes are wide, excited to be gathering this content for the MEGAzine. He aims a microphone toward Miguel, and Miguel begins to read the passage in broken English.

“My funnest memory is when I was traveling with Madonna on the ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour and I got to meet Cat Stevens.” Miguel looks at Ryan, like, that’s it?

“That was perfect!” Ryan assures Miggy, and asks him to go poke his head through the window of that thatched hut. And smile. Miguel’s got a great smile.

miggy
Miguel Pupo

A Crackup at the Race Riots is Mitch’s book, and a few days into the trip he started sharing some of his favorite passages at the dinner table. He read excerpts from some of the book’s sections, like “Letter from Tupac Shakur to a 19-Year-Old German Fan, July 1992” and “Suicide Note # 6” and “Pass His Ass (I Mean the Saltshaker).” The author, the same guy who wrote the movie Kids, has at least three screws loose. When we first heard the babysitting story, we were puzzled. Like, why would the little girl in the story call the deer a horse? But as the days blended together and we ate the same food, surfed the same waves, drank the same coffee and watched the same water buffalo trudge through the same river, the passages made more sense to our surf-saturated minds. So much sense that we decided that using personal readings from the book would serve as perfect voice-over introductions to each surfer’s video section in the MEGAzine. Yes, it made perfect sense now. The little girl in the story was too young to know the difference between a horse and a deer, which was why she shouldn’t be punished for killing it.

We were finding our minds.

There are no groundhogs in Indonesia, but there are scorpichickens.

The scorpichicken, according to Andy, our surf guide and camp owner, is a snake with a scorpion tail and the head of a chicken. He’s never seen one, but he’s talked with several locals who have. The animal lives underground beneath the husks of dried coconuts, which is why you should never reach your hand into those piles.

“What do they look like?” Conner Coffin asks Andy.

“They look like a snake with a scorpion tail and the head of a chicken,” he says.

“Can you draw one?” Nate Tyler asks.

“Can you?” Andy retorts.

“I can,” Mitch Coleborn says.

mitch
Mitch Coleborn

We’ve been drinking. Andy raises his eyebrows and laughs, then fetches a pile of papers and distributes them among the group. “Everyone draw a scorpichicken and then we’ll show Big Boss and he can tell us which one is most accurate.” Big Boss is the camp’s guard and a local. He’s probably seen at least a dozen scorpichickens.

So we take seven minutes and draw our own interpretation of a scorpichicken. Conner’s is pretty literal. Mitch’s is more abstract. Miguel Pupo’s is just plain weird. But in the end, when all the scorpichickens are pinned on the wall of the open-aired dining area, Big Boss decides, categorically, that Nate’s scorpichicken is the most accurate. What does Nate’s drawing look like? It looks like a snake with a scorpion tail and the head of a chicken.

We have lost our minds.

The wave in front of our camp pumped for 14 days straight­­—

an overhead peak that barreled both ways. Every day we’d wake up and sip our coffee or coconut and try and find something different. Looks a little bigger. Looks a bit smaller. Might be a new direction. But then we’d paddle out and it’d be exactly the same as the day before. Which was fine. Because it was really, really good.

“Why would a groundhog get its own day?” Nate asks one morning, between sets. “Lincoln doesn’t even have his own day and he freed the slaves. You’d think Honest Abe would have had priority when they were handing out days. But nope, the damn groundhog edged him out.”

conner
Conner Coffin

Conner and Mitch laugh and Conner asks, “Is that from the book?”

“Huh?”

“From the book. The Race Riots,” Conner clarifies. “Is the Groundhog Day thing from that book?”

“Oh. No, man. That’s just from life.” Nate says.

Mitch falls off his board, laughing maniacally.

Where’s Ryan? He should be filming this. We’re really coming up with some mind-blowing material.

The law. The mold. News. Bad. We were breaking the cardinal rule of surfing,

the one that says you should never leave good waves. But heck, it was perfect out front all day, e’ryday. And we had to give our readers, listeners, viewers and rabid fans a different look at this MEGAzine. It couldn’t be all A-frames, all the time. So we voyage by car to a playful beachbreak. By motorbike to a rampy left with forgiving landings. And by boat to a deep-water, round barrel that Conner is owning. He surfs it by himself while the rest of the crew, all of them goofyfeet, slowly put on sunscreen and slowly screw in fins. But then Mitch jumps in. And with photographer Tom Carey dangling a cover-shot carrot in front of his face, he paddles up the point, past Conner, to a spot that also has a round barrel. Just not deep water. Mitch threads some tubes until he finds one that implodes and he elbow-drops the reef. The coral is hungry and bites his right side. Injured, he paddles back to the boat, sucking on torture like a lollipop. But then comes the lime and he wails like the little girl in the babysitting story. Or maybe it’s maniacal laughter. Hard to tell. But one thing’s for sure: Mitch adds another shitty tattoo to his well-inked Conan (the Barbarian, not the O’Brien) body.

Later that evening, back at camp and exhausted, Conner and Nate paddle out to the peak for an evening session. It’s out of duty. They are sore and sun poisoned but they just can’t allow waves like that to go unsurfed. Miguel doesn’t surf. He talks on the phone to his girlfriend because he is 20 and in puppy love and, well, you should see his girlfriend — well worth a four-figured phone bill. And Mitch, Tom, Ryan and I go over the photos and footage of the day. Mitch is good and bandaged up, his whole right side sore. But he is Conan so he shows no sign of the pain. Tom brings up the image of the wave that removed Mitch from commission. A stunning fisheye shot. Mitch in perfect position. The water so clear you can see the fingers in the reef. A hint of the nearby island is visible out of the corner of the tube.

“What do you think,” Tom asks, and the three of them look at me. “Could it be a cover?”

My stomach turns. How do I deliver the bad news? They’re all looking at me. Mitch, poor Mitch.

“God…maybe for print. But not for the MEGAzine. Sorry, man.”

But he doesn’t seem to mind.—Taylor Paul

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