the surf art of wolfgang bloch

1 08 2011

There’s no question I’ve spent more time looking for waves than riding them.

Apparently, that’s part of the fun.

I’m not so sure, but it is pretty special stumbling onto a good one after driving half the day.

Wolfgang Bloch also knows that moment; when you crest another dusty ridge and first glimpse distant, windswept perfection.

His palette of rocky browns and stormy greys bookend perfect pointbreaks, reeling off unridden in some faraway place.

It’s the sort of art that encourages you to get off the couch and hit the road and that’s very cool.


United States of Strange. Part 3: A Trip to the Feast

6 08 2009

‘Are you gonna be here for the Feast?’

‘Have you heard about the Feast?’

‘Only one week til the Feast…’

This is all I have heard from the New Bedfordites since arriving at the start of June.

The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament has been running 95 years and purports to be — among other things — the largest Portuguese feast in the world, and to hold a record for the most wine consumed per square foot, anywhere in the world.

No one seems to know exactly what it celebrates; a festival of Madeiran culture seems to be the popular answer.

But if this is Madeiran culture, I can only advise you stay the hell away from that particular island.

Cardoza looks for a fire pit to sear his meat

Cardoza looks for a fire pit to sear his meat

Despite the vaguely religious title, the Feast involves thousands of people crowding into the Feast Grounds (a park which remains empty 361 days a year), and getting absolutely hammered on cheap wine and beef.

But that sounds right up Ben’s alley, I hear you say.

Yeh, kind of, but this one was a bit of a letdown after hearing the hype for the past three months.

and you wonder why kids are scared of clowns?

and you wonder why kids are scared of clowns?

I guess it’s fun for locals to catch up with their mates if they can push through the crowd, but one night of having my feet stepped on and overproof Madeiran wine sloshed all over me was enough. It goes on for four days…

There are also fights all weekend, grabbing girls’ asses is considered fair game by the throngs of teenagers and they don’t serve wine in bottles anymore after someone was killed a few years back.

Classy, right? I call: Hoax.

United States of Strange. Part 1: Notes on a Big City.

6 08 2009
times square busy busy busy

times square busy busy busy

Growing tired of increasingly weird New Bedford, I took a midweek trip to New York city with fellow foreigner, Joaŏ, an engineer who hails from Portugal.

After a few hours chugging south on the bus, we stepped out into the bustling heat of Chinatown, NYC, on a steamy midafternoon.

Cheap eats abound here, but not cheap accommodation. Hmph.

Organised as ever, we had nothing booked, so we called around to find many places full, before settling on an overpriced double room in Chelsea, the Big Apple’s Big Gay Heart.

Did anyone else know about this den of same-sex love?

Anyway, it wasn’t so bad once you got used to the men in leather chaps asking if you’d like to step into their blacked-out bar and we quickly discovered an upside.

Stepping out for an evening beer on our first summery night in Chelsea we picked a curbside bar to watch the parade of well-groomed man-couples walking tiny dogs.

Our handsome waiter however, wasted no time plying us with free beers after the first round.

We tipped him well and walked away confused as to what was expected of us.

It probably didn’t help we were two blokes wandering round together, occasionally hand-in-hand, but only when we were scared…

central park

central park

foggy skyline from the 25th floor

foggy skyline from the 25th floor

The rest of the city was a blast to explore and easy too, linked by a devastatingly effective, clean, subway system.

It’s even air-conditioned – take note, London transport people.

Highlights included bumbling along through Central Park on a sunny afternoon, tearing through peak-hour traffic on rented cycles and standing in line for 45 minutes at some unnamed nightclub before realising the prick on the door was only letting women and his mates in.

times square again

times square again

NYC itself was kind of groovy, but suffers from that affliction common to so many big cities which sees numerous inhabitants just trying a bit too hard.

The other interesting thing was the mix of cultures. Or rather, the lack of mixing.

The joint is home to sooo many different folks of different strokes, but there is really little or no interaction.

Black guys hang on the corner talking to black guys. Indian cab drivers talk Hindi to their colleagues. The sound of Mandarin echoes through every Chinese bbq. Jewish deli owners serve mainly Jewish clients. Mexican cleaners work alongside Mexican cleaners.

A melting pot it ain’t. People just swirl around the Manhattan salad bowl while staying strangely apart from their fellows.

brooklyn mural

brooklyn mural


8 06 2009

I’ve shared a flat in London with six other people.
I’ve crouched down to shower in a bathroom built too close to the roof at my friend’s house in Clapham.
I was recently forced to tape rubber tubing across the five-foot doorways in our Spanish apartment after enduring repeated head wounds.
So I can only conclude there are too many people living in Europe and they are all very tiny people. (I know this isn’t true, but really, who’s designing this shit?)


Happily, not everyone lives like this.
My former rental in West Oz was a ramshackle federation home with 12ft ceilings, jarrah floors and fireplaces in every bedroom.
Needless to say, I loved that house, especially for the welcome sense of space when you arrived home to flop on a couch. And, yep, I thought that was an enjoyably huge place to live.

So nothing could prepare me for the sense of awe I felt when my buddy Nick unlocked the 3rd storey door to his New Bedford joint.
We had just passed shelves filled with antique clocks and a display of ancient cameras. “Cool foyer,” I thought. Nope, just the beginning.


camera porn

camera porn


Somehow, Nick has secured the rights to a soaring penthouse loft, the kind I imagined hip, overpaid graphic designers might frequent.
Fully furnished, the trappings include leather couches, a grand piano, four-poster beds, hardwood floors, a 15ft fireplace, antique lamps, a telescope(?!) and best of all, a wrought-iron spiral staircase to nowhere (they haven’t built the roof terrace yet…). 

An apartment I can stand tall in. About time.

new digs

new digs