WRESTLING ELEPHANTS

By Jamie Brisick

PIECES OF A MAN’S MEMOIR

My brothers and I were like a trio of puppies, forever kicking, clawing, and fighting over the last strawberry Pop-Tart. Born a year apart, we rarely had a moment alone. In my mélange of early memories, there’s the three of us in the bathtub, enacting maritime disasters with rubber sharks and plastic boats; the three of us curled up in front of the TV, enthralled by H.R. Pufnstuf; the three of us in the back seat of mom’s bone white Falcon station wagon, singing along to “Top of the World” by the Carpenters, jabbing elbows and pulling hair.

We lived in a mustard yellow one-story house at the top of Encino Hills and went to Lanai Road Elementary, a school teeming with the offspring of doctors, lawyers, and entertainment industry types. Though our family was decidedly middle class, we were surrounded by wealth and fame. Up Mulholland Drive was Lakers superstar “Wilt the Stilt” Chamberlain’s soaring redwood mansion. Perched atop a tree-covered ridge, it resembled a giant’s lair, albeit with walls of glass and sports cars in the driveway. Down the street was O.J. Simpson’s slick house. On Halloween we rang his doorbell and shouted “Trick or treat!” Instead of candy he handed out autographed pictures. My dad coached tee-ball, and one of his team members was Michael Landon Jr., whose father, “Little Joe” from Bonanza, we watched each week on TV.

I sat next to Janet Jackson in kindergarten, whose brothers, the Jackson 5, were the biggest thing in pop music. Their home, hidden behind black wrought iron gates, was to Encino what Boo Radley’s was to Maycomb. Rumor on the playground was that their in-house studio operated as a kind of child labor sweatshop. The Jackson kids played music around the clock. They rarely went outside. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and thus neither Santa nor the Easter Bunny paid them visits. They didn’t even celebrate birthdays!

April 20, 2011

IF YOU WANT TO LIVE LONGER…

Cruz Hernandez (3 May 1878 – 8 March 2007)

“If you want to live longer, you should—in addition to the obvious: eating less and losing weight—move to the country, not take work home, do what you enjoy and feel good about yourself, get a pet, learn to relax, live in the moment, laugh, listen to music, sleep 6 to 7 hours a night; be blessed with long-lived parents and grandparents (35 percent of your longevity is due to genetic factors); be married, hug, hold hands, have sex regularly, have a lot of children, get along with your mother, accept your children, nurture your grandchildren; be well-educated, stimulate your brain, learn new things; be optimistic, channel your anger in a positive way, not always have to be right; not smoke; use less salt; have chocolate occasionally, eat a Mediterranean diet of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and poultry, drink green tea and moderate amounts of red wine; exercise; have goals, take risks; confide in a friend, not be afraid to seek psychological counseling; be a volunteer, have a role in the community; attend church, find God.”

—from The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead by David Shields

April 11, 2011

I WAS GOOD IN THE EIGHTIES…

In 1984 I had Stiff Little Fingers songs swirling in my head, star-spangled Quiksilver boardshorts dangling from my hips, a shelf full of trophies, a head full of ASP pro tour ambitions, a galloping crush on a wiry blond who reduced me to stutters, recently divorced parents, a mild Pong addiction, a black Peugeot roadbike that felt winged, and the “pride and confidence” of the Western Surfing Association resting on my shoulders –

April 4, 2011

BURNING BOATS

If it’s not Somalian pirates in the Arabian Sea, it’s locals li’dat burning shark tour boats in Haleiwa Harbor…

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March 31, 2011

ANOTHER BEING ENTIRELY

“Sometimes my sex seemed to me another being entirely, a stupid animal living parasitically upon me, swelling and dwindling according to autonomous appetites, anchored to my flesh with claws I could not detach. Why do I have to carry you about from woman to woman, I asked: simply because you were born without legs? Would it make any difference to you if you were rooted in a cat or a dog instead of in me?”

—J.M. Coetzee, Waiting For The Barbarians

March 14, 2011

I’LL ALWAYS DO MY BEST FOR HER, ON THAT I GIVE MY WORD

March 10, 2011

I OFFERED UP MY INNOCENCE AND GOT REPAID IN SCORN

March 10, 2011

WHERE IT’S ALWAYS SAFE AND WARM

March 10, 2011

SLAVES TO THE RHYTHM

February 28, 2011

TRANSURFER

O australiano Peter Drouyn foi um dois mais importantes nomes do surf mundial por duas décadas. Agora, às vésperas de completar 60 anos, ressurgiu após longo sumiço. Virou Westerly Windina, senhora elegante e atrevida. E nunca foi tão feliz.

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January 31, 2011

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