Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rat Tales: Interview with Jason Collins, Part 1

Why is Cowell Beach important to you? I heard in an interview that you said it was a sacred place.

I grew up at the beach. I was in the ocean before I can even remember. My dad was a surfer. That’s how I learned to surf—at Cowell’s with my father when I was three or four years old. I was in the water there as far back as I can remember. We’d go there to relax, I’d go to Junior Lifeguards there, I’d go fishing at the pier when I was a little kid, and that was the place we’d go to get away from life’s troubles. For me, there’s another side, too. That beach is where my father passed away when we were surfing when I was twelve years old. We all went out—me, my best friend, and my father after school and my friend and I, for some reason, decided to surf down by the pier. We were surfing at Cowell’s where it breaks and I told my dad we were going to surf by the pier and we’d be back at—my mom was going to pick us up at 5. So, we got out of the water and went down to surf the pier and when we were coming back my dad was on the beach and had a heart attack and they were giving him CPR on the beach. So, we were walking back to meet my mom and I saw my dad on the beach basically dead. So, that little area has a special thing for me. It’s where I learned to surf, it’s where I was introduced to the ocean, and it’s where my father passed away, too.

What are some of your strongest memories of your dad?

Definitely surfing at the beach, being excited to get out of school and go surfing with him after school and on the weekends waking up early and going surfing down there, going and fishing on the pier. And my grandma was there too, we’d go to the beach with my grandma whenever possible.

What did your dad do for a living?

He was a graphic artist. We still have tons of posters and prints and sketches. He did a lot of stuff. He did stuff for the Boardwalk, he did the museum logo at the Santa Cruz Surf Museum. He did a lot of stuff.

On a related note, I know you’re married now—do you think you’re ever going to have kids?

Yeah, I hope so. We’re going to Japan soon and then hopefully in the next year or so that will happen.

Pretty exciting prospect, huh?

Yeah. It’s kind of scary, just seeing the town change and how much it’s changed even since I was a kid, you know? But, I think everywhere has changed, so—I think Santa Cruz is a great place to raise kids.

On a different note, do you remember your dreams?

Sometimes, yeah. For sure.

Do you ever dream about surfing?

Oh yeah. All the time. I have crazy dreams, vivid dreams—weird ones like just being out in the middle of the ocean, ‘cause I fish too, so I don’t know if that has an influence—being out in the middle of the ocean and getting that visual of rolling waves and I’ll have dreams where I’m just on a wave that’s not even breaking and I’m flying through the air forever and then all of the sudden I’ll land it and I’ll be super excited and proud of myself, like “whoah, I can’t believe I did that.” Dreams like that, or crazy tube riding dreams. I remember I had one where I was in this tube getting barreled and then I come out and all of the sudden I’m on the sand still on my surfboard.  Weird dreams like that.

Is there a place? Is the ocean recognizable to you as somewhere specific?

I never really have a “oh, I’m at the Lane” or any certain place. It’s just the ocean, usually.

I was going to ask you if you have recurring dreams, but it sounds like that is a recurring dream…

Yeah. I do, though, when I’m falling asleep-I’ll wake myself up dreaming about slipping off the rocks at the lane and falling. I’ve had that a lot of times when I’m falling asleep. I’ve also had a recurring one where I’m out at the point at the Lane going down and it’s all sandstone so it keeps getting smaller and smaller until I’m walking a tightrope getting out and surfing.

Interesting. So the eggier dreams are actually on land.

Oh yeah. For sure.

And the ones in water you feel more comfortable.

Yeah, the scarier ones are getting in and out of the water. Over the years and being a kid, that intimidation factor of getting in and out of the water is engrained, because it’s a dangerous thing. I’ve seen so many people—

What about, have you ever had a lucid dream? A dream where you know it’s a dream?

No. I wanna think that I have, but I can’t recall. It’d be pretty cool.

Have you ever dreamed about flying?

Yeah. I have flying ones, and it’s just me with my arms tucked back just cruising around flying, not flapping my wings, but it’s almost like the feeling I get surfing doing huge bank turns. It’s the same kind of a feeling, just cruising around flying.

Do you believe that there’s life on other planets?

I think there’s so many solar systems and so much that we can’t explore that there’s gotta be some life form somewhere else. I don’t know about aliens and this and that, but it would be pretty narrow minded to think that we were the only life in existence.

Do you think that there are waves on other planets?

I don’t know…Our planet’s pretty unique. The atmosphere and gravity, the way the tides work…I don’t know. Who knows if all of that combination is somewhere else, too. I wouldn’t count it out, but who knows? There’s probably some waves on the sun, solar flares…

Do you have any personal beliefs about a higher power?

That’s a tough one, because I was really religious when I was little. I went to a Christian school until fifth grade. My parents were really religious. And then, when my dad passed I had this question: “If there is a god, then why would he do that to my family? Why would he do that to me?” That’s when I put that all aside. I don’t know if there’s a higher power, but it seems like people who do bad things get what’s coming to them and there’s some kind of justice and karmic cause and effect.

What about the afterlife? Do you think there’s anything after you die?

Good question. I don’t know. I think about it all the time.

If you were a doctor, what kind of practice would you have? Do you think you have the steady hand to be a surgeon? Could you open up a head and operate on a brain?

I like the thought of fixing things, of untangling, you know precision type stuff. So, yeah, maybe a neurosurgeon because it’s really precise. You have to make sure you don’t cut this…

And the high pressure-you could take the pressure?

Yeah, for sure.

If you were a lawyer, would you be a prosecutor or a defender?

A prosecutor. I’d want to jack people up. Are you kidding me? I prosecute people every day. I think that would be the worst thing in the world: being a defense attorney and having to defend the scum of the earth. I know there are people who are unjustly accused of things, but I think that would be horrible. I couldn’t live with myself…

What category of crime would you most want to go after?

Probably sexual predator types, crimes against women and children. You’d have to be so mentally fucked up to do stuff like that. Any of that predatory kind of stuff…it’s sad.

Santa Cruz Seascapes in May 2013

Line and hook...
Blaze and blear...
Days and dreams...
A sacred place...

From the pier...

Drift and rip...

Crack and fix...

Rust and bloom...
Luck and love...

Handles and axes...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ben Coffey: Team O'Neill

Hometown: Santa Cruz
Stance: Goofy
Rights or Lefts:  Rights/ both
Boards: Ward Coffey
Breaks: The Lane, Rivermouth
Time to Surf: Early morning
Surfers: Kelly, Craig Anderson
Maneuver: Backside Finner
Meal: Mexican, Carne Asada or Carnitas
Magazine: Surfing, Surfer
Movie: Bending Colors
Other Boards: Skateboarding
Other Sport: Soccer to play, Basketball to watch
Superhero: Spiderman

How would you describe your work ethic? 

I always do enough to get the work done and I have no problem putting my head down when I've got my sights set on a goal.

Who has had the biggest influence on your surfing?

My dad, Ward.

Where would you most like to travel?

The Mentawis, and France. France has good waves and I want to see the Eiffel Tower in person.

If you were a car what would you be?

An older Porsche.

How much time do you spend online?

Not a lot. Maybe an hour a day.

What sites?

Surfline, mainly. Some blogs. Marine Layer-Dane's blog.

Macintosh or PC?


Ford, Chevy, or Prius


Favorite Candybar?

Mars Bar

Any goals in surfing for you?

To have fun and to compete in the Surfing America Prime series next year.

Who are your favorite people to surf with?

My brother Sam, Richie Schmidt, his dad and my dad...

Photo by Bob Zimway