It’s good to thrust yourself through the links in the food chain every now and again.
So many millions of eons have passed since humyns were part of the cycles of life that, well, let’s just say it’s gone to the collective head of our species. I mean shit, how many mountain-top removal mining projects could you engineer if you were worried about sabre tooth cats pouncing on your all too mortal ass? How many suburban developments could you design if there were massive toothed birds flying around looking for some rather defenseless squishy bipeds to eat? How many low value timber sales could you draft for incredibly steep post-disaster ecosystems if there were packs of tundra wolves sniffing around the ice for your warm blood?
I reckon the fact it’s been such a long time since humyns were seen as prey by larger or more voracious critters that we’ve developed that peculiar Christian arrogance where we feel ourselves more god-like than mammalian and mortal. Hence, humynkind’s seemingly terminal inability to see itself within a larger web of life. Which of course gives us things like CAT D14 bulldozers, Ford Excursions, the Bonneville Power Administration, and fucking Good Charlotte (all that eyeliner cannot be good for the earth!)
These are the things a person thinks about as they’re paddling out at some remote reefbreak in the North Pacific. It’s a different reality up here than any episode of Baywatch or Beach Boys song ever showed. There are no lifeguards, no tan women in bikinis or buff Biffs flexing on the sandy beach. No “Hey bro”s or “Nice ride”s or “Go Home Kook!”s. Hell, there’s not even another humyn for a good five miles any direction. Out here, on the Oregon Coast, you may as well be surfing in the fucking Oligocene period. Massive igneous headlands and seastacks mar the coastline like some geological version of Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Ancient species of critters like goosebarnacles, starfish and anemones cling precariously to subtidal rocks as yet another storm throws 48º waves at them full force. Leathery Cormorants and Murres dive in and out of the water, their wings better suited for swimming than flying. Sea lions stare you down as they float by in search of whatever the sea creature du jour is.
A thick belt of fog clings to the entire coastline like a wet towel, shrouding your world in a vague gray haze so dense you can’t see the tip of the cape or the spruce covered mountains to the East. As you reach the lineup, that sacred space between open ocean and the point where the waves begin to thrust skyward, you can’t help but feel small and vulnerable.
It’s cold. You’re alone and awkward in the oldest of the world’s ecosystems with critters who have predation mechanisms 500 million years more advanced than your meager little fists, unarmored skin or dull teeth. A hard rock reef lies unseen but very much felt below your dangling feet. As you stare into the misty gray, waiting for the dark shapes of waves feeling their way ashore after so many thousands of miles traveling, you try not to think about what could happen to you.
Out here, you are no longer top dog. You have no chainsaws. No 40 ton excavators or magnum caliber rifles. All of the things that gave your species the ability to exploit, denigrate and kill are conspicuously absent. Like a soft bodied hermit crab scurrying around to find a new shell, you just sit there as quietly as you can, hoping you’ll get some good waves before any bigger, toothier creatures take a healthy biological interest in you.
Sure, the numbers don’t make becoming prey very likely. Great White sharks and their cousins the Blues and the Mako are listed as endangered species and are protected by volumes upon volumes of Federal and International legal code. You’d statistically be more likely to be a back up singer for Aretha Franklin than dinner for a dinosaur fish.
However, like timber harvest data and government budgets, statistics often lie. You are currently right under the sneeze guard in one of the great marine buffets of the North Pacific. Below your neoprene shrouded legs lies a hugely productive reef, teeming with life. The point to your right, the one with the great rip current that makes paddling out so easy? That’s one of the largest sea lion rookeries in the area, a place where the same overgrown marine dogs who were giving you stink eye earlier go to feed, fuck and sleep. It’s like Las Vegas for pinnipeds, a fact not lost on the toothy fish below who’ve been feasting on the fatty flesh of sea mammals since they were invented by the often humorous forces of evolution some 5 million years ago.
It’s not that the White or Mako or Blue sharks would even want to eat you if they recognized you bobbing up and down waiting for your waves. The 5 mm neoprene condom you’re wearing tastes like shit, as do the indigestible tofu scramble and half gallon of truck stop coffee you’ve still got slurping around in your stomach. The issue here is the fact you’re a breathing example of false advertising. The sharks, using their lateral lines, can feel every move you make from hundreds and hundreds of yards away. Their noses, sensitive after so many millions of years of honing, can smell the blood platelets and remnants of $3 Trader Joes Chianti in your piss and the olive oil seeping from your hands. As they circle below you, undetected as they would be unappreciated, their eyes twist upwards, discerning a shape that like it or not, sure resembles a sea lion swimming around the rookery in search of ass and a nice lobster dinner. Every now and again, about once every four months, a shark will pop up and grab or nudge a hapless surfer on this stretch of coast. It’s an honest mistake and you’ll more than likely be spit out, but all the same, you were the one dressed up in a shiny black suit mimicking the patterns of sea mammals. If the number of shark attacks in this part of the North Pacific were put into a per capita formula, it would undoubtedly be the most dangerous place to surf in the Americas. But again, these are the things you’re trying not to think about.
As a set rolls in, you notice how you’ve lost any feelings of biological supremacy global death culture has ingrained you with. Though not happy about the prospect of being eviscerated by an ancient, ancient predator, you are resigned to the fact that yes, every once in a while, it is good for the humyn soul to step back into the cycles of nature.
PS- Speaking of evolution, I am so stoked to see kids dancing at punk shows again I could fucking explode. It seems after 10+ years of pretentious ass, pseudo-political, no dancing Christian Footloose bullshit, the younger generation has come back to make punk something more than a PC penitence. Circle pits and stage dives are low carb, ecologically friendly and a nice addition to any hardcore show.
PSS- Check out BANE play if you get a chance. Though they’re far from Amebix musically, they are one of the most amazing bands around today. I promise they will make you not only remember, but appreciate, why you’ve given so many years to hardcore.