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Film, Surf

Denali

June 10, 2015

For Brian.

There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, especially when they’ve supported you through your darkest times.

Made possible by Patagonia
Generous support from: First Descents, Ruffwear and Snow Peak

In order of appearance: Ben Moon & Denali
Producer: Ben Moon // Moonhouse
Directed / edited / written: Ben Knight // Felt Soul Media
DP: Skip Armstrong // Wazee Motion Pictures
Second Camera: Page Stephenson
Co-Writer: Katie Klingsporn
Wet Camera: Justin Harris
Sound Recordist: Jim Hurst
Music Supervisor: Ben Knight and Chris Parker
Sound Mix: Justin Harris
Narrated by: Ben Knight

Music by: Chihei Hatakeyama, Images of a Broken Light ? chihei.org
Music by: Odesza, It’s Only [feat. Zyra] In Return, odesza.com, courtesy of Counter Records 2014

Still Photographs by: Ben Moon, Lisa Hensel, Carli Davidson, Miranda Moon, Vivian Moon, Jean Redle Dawn Kish, Lisa Skaff, Pete Rudge, Kristen & Ian Yurdin, and John Sterling

Almanac

For Toby

December 10, 2014

Last night, a beautiful soul moved on to his next adventure. In October, I sent Toby the following message:

Who you are to me.

You’ve always been a positive person. I always looked up to my older brother’s friends, and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, but age and timing almost always made that difficult. Although you aren’t the exact same age as him, you’re close enough that I always associated you with that group of people. The difference was that you were accessible, and didn’t mind hanging out with a 16 year old punk. You didn’t mind caterwauling stratacasters with me in my parents’ basement, even though I had no idea what the hell I was doing. What I was playing sounded like an episode of looney tunes, played backwards while being run through a meat grinder. Still, there you were, standing across the room, rocking out like Hendrix, with a giant smile on your face, looking back at me & cheering me on.

When my guitar playing progressed enough to allow me to actually play along with other people, you were the one who sat with me on the steps at Veteran’s park, running through Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Today,’ and threading lead notes through whatever three chords I knew at the time. It was you and me, getting stoned on three steps that lead to the bottom of a river, actualizing thoughts through music.

It’s no surprise that you were part of the first band I was ever a member of. Forged in the projection room of the Malek Theater, Couch Trip was an alt-psycodelic-prog-rock-power-trio, the likes of which Buchanan County had never seen. If I remember correctly, we had one practice, and it was earth shattering.

Did you know that I had a reoccurring dream about you for about 7 years? When I was 14, I was walking up main street and you came power sliding around the corner by Security State Bank, with leather gloves on your hands, and a Powel Parelta under your feet. That 5 second memory would show up in the middle of random dreams for the better part of a decade. There I’d be, flying through Metropolis, playing on stage with Pearl Jam, or making love to a woman, and all the sudden, BOOM! Here’s Toby Albright! Skate or Die Mother fucker!

I was just as happy to see you in those dreams as I was to see you in person the last time we were face to face. I was visiting from Seattle, and ran through Independence with my parents. We were hungry and stopped at Subway. I was standing in line, and caught a smile out of the corner of my eye that could only belong to you. I walked over. We both started laughing, and without saying a word, gave each other a giant hug. You were the only familiar and loving face I saw during that stop in Independence, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So, this is who you are to me. You are a positive, loving, inspirational person, who loves laughing and encouraging other people to laugh with you. Without you, I never would have continued playing guitar. If I had given up playing guitar, I wouldn’t have the life I do now.

My life is pretty darn good. Thank you for helping create that possibility.

Carry on, Toby. Kiss the sky.

If you know Toby, please consider donating on gofundme… which will help cover his medical expenses.

Film, Surf

Surf Berlin: Kickstarter

November 28, 2014

About a year ago, I interviewed Ira Mowen. Ira is on a quest to catch the only German wave, before the ship that produces it is gone forever. He’s been documenting his journey, in a film named Surf Berlin. That film now has a kickstarter campaign.

Check out the Surf Berlin Kickstarter campaign here. My interview with Ira can be read here.

Almanac, Music

Music: Tiny Messengers – Ukulele Christmas

December 22, 2013

My friend Kimo recorded a great Christmas album a few years back. If you’re looking for something new to listen to this season, shelve the Mannheim Steamroller, and listen to some heartfelt ukulele music, by the talented Kimo Muraki & his Tiny Messengers. You can stream the album here. If you enjoy it, please consider purchasing the album on Kimo’s Bandcamp page.

Gear

Making of: Almond Apparel

December 4, 2013

A fine bit of film, showing the creative process behind the clothing made possible by Almond Surfboards & Designs.

Description: Since Day 1 of Almond’s fairly short history, (5 or 6 years) we have strived to design and make products that we deemed to be essential to our mostly surf-centric way of life. We have spent the first 5 years really emphasizing the surfboard, the most essential of all surf essentials. Along the way we have learned a ton, met a lot of talented people and set our sights on more product-variety. This past year we’ve decided to make a more intentional and direct effort in the soft-goods realm, to sit alongside the surfboards that we will always emphasize. We have spent the last year and a half developing, experimenting, re-developing and launching a small collection of subtly surf-inspired, wearable clothing. Here’s a brief look into what that looks like for us. We’re continuing to grow the line, refine fits, try new washes, etc… but we’re thankful for the progress thus far, and increasingly excited with each new season.

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Under The Sun

November 29, 2013

To review Under the Sun as a surf film wouldnt give the movie its due credit. The film by the young director of Stoked & Broke and Riding Waves needs to be viewed as a documentary that enlightens and informs. In Suttons film he discusses the contrast between Australias Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Under the Sun continues to illuminate Sutton as an artist but more importantly we see Sutton growing as a filmmaker who asks his viewers to rethink the conventional ideals of the surfing community.

Juxtaposing Australias Gold Coast and Byron Bay, Sutton creates a wide crevasse with the contrasting images of Competition Surfer and Soul Surfer poised on each divided precipice. First Sutton gives a detailed history and emergence of each group: the greedy commercial industry sprouting from Gold Coast competition surfing and the bongo-drumming hippie pushing organic marmalade from the Byron Bay. Although I use these generalizations and stereotypes, Sutton does a great job of remaining passive and nonjudgmental. These two surfer types are then taken through their evolution into the 21st century. Gold Coast competition surfing grows into a cold and mechanical shit show in which the surfing industry sees an opportunity on which to fully capitalize. And then, surprisingly, Sutton shows the Soul Surfer for his/her true self. A point is made that Soul Surfers cannot live or surf without the aid of sponsors and all the free boards and accessories that arrive at their La Jolla bungalow free of charge. I think this is a truth we tend to disregard due to the free-spirited persona of the Soul Surfer, which we envy. Sutton illustrates soul surfing as something attained by money and commercialism ? the very evil for which the Gold Coast competitive surfer is so harshly judged. So what is Cyrus saying? What wisdom is this film trying to impart?

cyrus-sutton-under-the-sun

I believe Under the Sun is a film of middle grounds. Even though surf competitions have devolved into events as vapid as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, they still maintain some importance. In the film we hear that surfing competitions are places where young kids can focus their energy and learn social interaction and friendly competition (to say life is void of competition would be foolish). These are valuable skills for the young surfer, and the sport (depending if you ascribe to the idea) keeps the youngsters out of trouble. Also, as is stated throughout the film, surfing competitions allowed surfing to become visible to the outside world and therefore disseminate. Right now next to Lake Erie there is a group of friends shivering around a campfire, drinking seasonal beer, and recapping their days session ? to me that is a pretty awesome thing. Stoke is meant to be shared and competition surfing did exactly that. And, even though the Soul Surfer jet sets around the world on someone elses dime and poses nonchalantly, yet consciously, in a dangling palm branch for a photo-op, surfing is still the better because the soul surfer acts as evidence that a greedless, nature-oriented life of surfing is possible. It is a job just like anything else.

Under-The-Sun-Surf-Film

There is no need to demonize these two groups, which is why Suttons passivity is so important. Even though Sutton lightly brushes on environmentalism and population growth I believe Under the Suns true goal is to reveal the whole reality of both the competition surfer and the soul surfer. We tend to lump judgments into categories of right or wrong, black or white but there is a mammoth grey which is inherent in everything. The waves we ride are not concrete and rigid – why should our perceptions of our fellow surfers be? The surfing community has learned and will continue to learn a great deal from both of these groups. Commercialism and shitI dont knowġHippism? Beardism? Machado-ism? Either way we are all surfers under the sun.