"Magic Carpet Ride" is the actual name of the sculpture that stands at the juncture of Chesterfield Avenue and the Coast Highway in Cardiff, California. It is constructed with customary foundry materials and features an anatomically correct figure.
Yet it would be a gross understatement to say that it has received negative criticism from the local surf community.
Well, as one local surfer put it, this installment would be the sculpted football equivalent of "a receiver stretching out for a pass, but then tripping and falling as the ball flies over his head."
Or, as another succinctly put it, "Because he's a f—ing kook, bro."
To many, The Cardiff Kook is an example of bad art, or maybe art gone bad.
But it's also an example of something else. It's an example of how, as surfers, we are constantly judging others.
We say stuff all the time, such as:
"That guy is such a kook," or,
"Oh my God, she's a complete nightmare," or,
"What a super creepy photographer that dude is."
Even if you've never said things like this out loud, I know you've had these thoughts.
Deep down, though, we all know being judgmental is fundamentally wrong. The Good Book tells us that it's wrong. Our moms tell us it's wrong. Our teachers tell us it's wrong.
But we do it anyway.
So how do we evolve? How do we crawl out of the judgmental slime?
As unlikely as it sounds, a path to non-judgmentalism, or at least overt non-judgmentalism, was recently discovered on a road between Bashiendong and Little Ding Dong Science Park. On a surf trip to Taiwan, in a full-size cargo van, Peter Mendia, Joe and Teasha Curren, and myself stumbled across a possible path to salvation.
For a pro surfer who makes his living on photo/video trips, being judgmental is actually necessary and important. Sharing information about fellow surfers is vital because the last thing you want is to get stuck in some foreign country with some eggy punk. Trapped at the Singapore customs counter with some reeking, vacuous wastrel. Cornered in a West African bar with a white supremacist.
So you compare notes. Talk about other surfers behind their backs to prevent disaster.
To stay out of jail. To survive.
So through the course of this kind of shared information, I happened to tell a story about a particular boat trip to Indo. How a friend of mine was stuck on a small boat in the Indian Ocean for 12 days with a couple of complete Barneys.
Everybody cringed. Chills traveled up spines. Neck hair rose. All of us had been there before and we agreed that of all the terrible fates one can suffer, there is nothing quite like being stuck on a boat with an unsavory moron.
Not to mention a pair of them.
Which led to an idea.
Instead of talking shit about someone, instead of publicly skewering him or her, instead of lambasting them behind their back, you could simply relay your feelings with a simple phrase, "He's on my boat trip."
As in, "He's on my boat trip from Hell."
So now, every time another surfer asks about someone you don't like, or find repulsive, or abhorrent, you can simply reply in a non-judgmental, but serious tone, "Put it this way: He's on my boat trip."
To this day, the new strategy has worked wonders for me. It's effective and fairly guilt-free. It's a way of conveying information without being overtly judgmental.
Or at least that's what I tell myself.
But as time goes by and hundreds of sessions pass, I am beginning to find a problem. A flaw in the strategy. A shortfall.
Apparently I'm going to need a bigger boat.