Planet Europe

Planet Europe

Observations, short stories, and jumbled ramblings from the continent.

by Adam Blakey

intro by Simon Weekes

Europe, well, what is it about this place? It’s not so much the vibrant array of massively diverse cultures crammed into a space fraught with history and broadsword legacy, it’s not so much that you can drive through four countries in a day, fly into a blistering desert moonscape in under three hours from the Eiffel Tower, hear 57 languages in London just going for a walk, stand in the shadow of the now not-so-leaning tower of Pisa, visit Arthur’s castle, eat pigs’ feet, throw telegraph poles around for fun, chase blocks of cheese down very steep hills, or sprint desperately away from a blood-lusting bull down a very narrow Spanish street. Europe’s no bullshit clown show or fickle puppeteering for audiences with two-minute attention spans–it’s where a billion humans live and die, dream and wake, love and hate, exist. Nor is Europe always convenience-oriented. Try to buy your groceries after 1:00 p.m. in rural Spain and you’ll find everything shut for siesta. Give it a week, though, and you’ll find yourself slipping into a post-lunch coma quite naturally.

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Europe just seems to happen to you. It’s like you step off a plane, paddle out, and you’re swept away in a cosmopolitan current. You find yourself struggling against it for a while, then realizing it’s futile, and easing into the cacophony. You don’t start things or end things or change things here, because Europe is everything you could want and nothing you could have dreamed. It moves through unions and wars and subdivisions and reunions. It moves through fads and boy bands and girl bands and heroes and martyrs and storms and droughts and floods and things get built and things get destroyed and riotous mobs obsess over football and sullen cafe-goers drink politics with trimmed moustaches … and … and … and it won’t stop so you can breathe and try to make sense of it all. And as such it is this place that demands evolution, demands tolerance, demands humility and personal growth. It demands that you wake up every day with a new adventure, ’cause the man who owns the supermarket is out playing boulle and sipping vino tinto from a leather calabash, and he doesn’t give a f–k that you’re used to getting a nicely packaged fruit drink with your lunch. So get on with it.–Simon Weekes

France

It’s About Time For Dan Malloy

In Paris, Dan Malloy likes to be alone but seldom is. Thanks to his profile as one of the world’s best surfers, he is in high demand. Make an appearance here. Go on a trip there. Try to do this and that for him and her and whomever else. Dan does his best to accommodate everyone, but he does so at a cost, a cost he was barely aware of until a recent trip to Paris. It was initially nothing more than a three-day stopover. The plan was to go and see his good friend Thomas Campbell’s art exhibition at one of the city’s chic little galleries, then after a couple of days hanging out, the two of them would travel on to Sri Lanka. But things got off to a heady start.

The three board bags (complete with two eleven-foot longboards) Dan had flown in with were refused carriage by every cab driver at the airport. With no other choice he was forced to slap down the plastic, hire a car and take on the labyrinth that is the City of Lights. Above and below ground Paris weaves. Through narrow boulevards and extravagant avenues, through rat-infested sewers and secret canals, through the absurdly rich, through the miserably poor, through the enchanted nights and bustling days. Through past and present, good and evil, it dodges and dishes up them all. Dan tooon the maelstrom and somehow got to within one street of his hotel. Then he drove for another hour without finding it and checked in somewhere else.

By the time he got to his room, night had fallen and a new mission was at hand: finding Thomas. Easy? Maybe 2,000 years ago, before all the bourgeois cafes, outrageous designer stores, bohemian poets, tortured artists, world wars, civil revolutions, and Roman take-overs, when Paris was nothing more than a small fishing village prone to the odd flood. But f–k it! When you’ve been driving for three hours, sometimes you just gotta walk, so that’s what Dan did. He walked. And he walked some more. And pretty soon he’d forgotten where he was walking, or why. And the urgency seemed to slip from his steps like weight from his shoulders. And as he watched the anonymous faces drift by, and took in the soft shadows of ancient architecture blurred by drizzling rain, and listened to muted voices he couldn’t understand, he realized that for the first time in a long time he was alone. In the most timeless city on Earth, Dan Malloy found some time for himself.

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The Rock Food Café

It’s hot, it’s sweaty, it’s 1:00 a.m. The Rock Food Café–surfing’s equivalent of Planet Hollywood–has just roared to life. The dance floor is an open market for any girl interested in acquiring some pro-surfing flesh. The tables, upon which earlier in the day CJ Hobgood was signing posters for a Rusty promo, are now a stage for Dean Morrison and Mick Fanning, who are busy making a gyrating man sandwich with a slice of barmaid. Occ and Kelly share a drink in a dark corner, occasionally glancing up between sips to catch themselves ripping on one of the many televisions that rotate surf flicks until closing. Meanwhile, Luke Egan, Jake Paterson, Andy Irons, and the rest of the crew with girlfriends arrive for a quick look and a drink before moving on to quieter surroundings.

As the night turns from respectable into a blinder, Roland the charismatic proprietor starts turning up the heat. “And here is Joel Parkinson, ladies–pro surfer and dance legend,” he announces to the frothing masses. They already knew who Joel was, of course, but with all this steam in the room and touching bodies and thumping music, the hype of celebrity company somehow makes the atmosphere even more electric. Roland knows this. He once announced in French that Donavon Frankenreiter was one of the lead guitarists in Lenny Kravitz’s band. Donavon unsure of why he was suddenly attracting so much unusual attention had to bail early for his own safety. But this night Joel is loving it, and the other surfers generally love it, too, when they receive the same treatment. They’ve left an assorted quiver on the walls as tokens of thanks to prove it. There’s a Tom Carroll gun, an Andy with a snapped nose and “Kauai Boys” scrawled between the fins in fading black marker, a paper-thin Taj from the Maurice Cole days, a late-career Gerr, and many others. These items hang from the ceilings and are nailed into the walls, but they look sad.

When night turns to day and the Centre Beach–less than ten steps from the front door of the Rock Food–starts pumping, those boards whose productive days are long gone can do nothing but stare out from behind the glass, covered in the thick black dew of perspiration, smoke, and the odd flying drink from the previous evenings festivities. But no one inside cares about that now. They don’t care what the surf will be like or what time it is or any of that shit. All they care about is Joel Parkinson, ’cause he’s up on stage and surfs for a living, and apparently he dances like a legend.

Mademoiselle

A French woman is like no other. She is fully aware of her feminine power. The insecurities bred by having Hollywood as a surrogate parent are no part of her being. When she walks she holds her head high. Dignified, confident. She loves the curves of her body. She is figure conscious but not obsessed. She lives to feel sunlight and ocean on her naked skin. She enjoys the eyes that enjoy her. Regardless of her size or shape she exudes a deep, thumping sexual energy. Her lips. Her lashes. The way she holds her cigarette. Dude, she’s got it all over you.

So what hope have you got? Well, a real woman needs a real man. But it’s not about being big or full of muscle or aggressive. It’s about subtle seduction. Brad Gerlach had the right idea when he cast off the conditioning of our overprotective societies and went surfing at a nude beach back in the nineties. After flaring up the session, the most beautiful girl at the beach was heard yelling: “Yes, Bradley! I love your freedom!” A girl who loves your freedom … they don’t get any better than that.

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Merde Du Chien

Dogs are second only to royalty in many parts of France. They are pampered and dressed, shaved and trimmed, kissed and hugged and even occasionally “stroked” to prevent testicular cancer in the mating off-season. Everyone has a dog, thus there are literally piles upon piles of excrement all over the place. Despite this fact, dogs are often allowed to eat in the finest restaurants–this does little to improve the scent of their deposits nor the texture, which once imbedded in your shoe renders them practically unwearable. You have been warned.

Spain

Filler Up

The swell is up but the famous French beachbreaks aren’t holding. You grab your passport, a pocket full of euros (in the old days it would have been “pesetas,” but it’s all one currency now), the keys to the van, and start driving south. Two hours later you’re at the border. Are there guards? Will they wave you over for the full-body inspection? Didn’t the guy who owned the car before you smuggle hash up from Morocco every summer? Maybe there’s still some hidden somewhere? Stupid thoughts pass by like lines on the road as you breeze through without even slowing.

The cultures and language of European countries don’t merge in and out of one another. They stop dead on the borderline and start anew on the other side. The first beach that comes into view is Zarautz, and from here ’til north turns into west coast, a veritable surfing smorgasbord awaits. River mouths, points, beachies, and reefs. No airfares necessary. No saving required. A tank full of gas and it’s all yours.

Macho Men

What constitutes being a man? Is it being able to fix things that are broken? Is it being able to lift heavy objects? Is it not crying when Hugh Grant proposes to Julia Roberts during the press conference at the end of Notting Hill? In Spain it’s none of these things. In Spain, being a man is about marking your territory and protecting it with whatever force seems necessary. Mundaka is a good example of where you can see this theory in practice. Just paddle out on any perfect day and see how many sets you get. In fact, see what happens should you pipe up after being faded on a small one. A mouthful of Basque obscenities? A fistful of Spanish aggro? A board in the ribs? Any one of these things could come your way.

The Canary Islands are even worse. Park your car in a localized spot too long, and you’ll come in to find a nice big fire where your vehicle used to be. You can blame all this macho shit on passion. Watch a game of Spanish soccer and you’ll understand that the blood in these people can boil in an instant. It’s the same with surfing. Only the best will do, and they’ll be damned if they have to settle for less ’cause some blow-in happens to be on the inside. The best you can do is sod as a surrogate parent are no part of her being. When she walks she holds her head high. Dignified, confident. She loves the curves of her body. She is figure conscious but not obsessed. She lives to feel sunlight and ocean on her naked skin. She enjoys the eyes that enjoy her. Regardless of her size or shape she exudes a deep, thumping sexual energy. Her lips. Her lashes. The way she holds her cigarette. Dude, she’s got it all over you.

So what hope have you got? Well, a real woman needs a real man. But it’s not about being big or full of muscle or aggressive. It’s about subtle seduction. Brad Gerlach had the right idea when he cast off the conditioning of our overprotective societies and went surfing at a nude beach back in the nineties. After flaring up the session, the most beautiful girl at the beach was heard yelling: “Yes, Bradley! I love your freedom!” A girl who loves your freedom … they don’t get any better than that.

[IMAGE 3]

Merde Du Chien

Dogs are second only to royalty in many parts of France. They are pampered and dressed, shaved and trimmed, kissed and hugged and even occasionally “stroked” to prevent testicular cancer in the mating off-season. Everyone has a dog, thus there are literally piles upon piles of excrement all over the place. Despite this fact, dogs are often allowed to eat in the finest restaurants–this does little to improve the scent of their deposits nor the texture, which once imbedded in your shoe renders them practically unwearable. You have been warned.

Spain

Filler Up

The swell is up but the famous French beachbreaks aren’t holding. You grab your passport, a pocket full of euros (in the old days it would have been “pesetas,” but it’s all one currency now), the keys to the van, and start driving south. Two hours later you’re at the border. Are there guards? Will they wave you over for the full-body inspection? Didn’t the guy who owned the car before you smuggle hash up from Morocco every summer? Maybe there’s still some hidden somewhere? Stupid thoughts pass by like lines on the road as you breeze through without even slowing.

The cultures and language of European countries don’t merge in and out of one another. They stop dead on the borderline and start anew on the other side. The first beach that comes into view is Zarautz, and from here ’til north turns into west coast, a veritable surfing smorgasbord awaits. River mouths, points, beachies, and reefs. No airfares necessary. No saving required. A tank full of gas and it’s all yours.

Macho Men

What constitutes being a man? Is it being able to fix things that are broken? Is it being able to lift heavy objects? Is it not crying when Hugh Grant proposes to Julia Roberts during the press conference at the end of Notting Hill? In Spain it’s none of these things. In Spain, being a man is about marking your territory and protecting it with whatever force seems necessary. Mundaka is a good example of where you can see this theory in practice. Just paddle out on any perfect day and see how many sets you get. In fact, see what happens should you pipe up after being faded on a small one. A mouthful of Basque obscenities? A fistful of Spanish aggro? A board in the ribs? Any one of these things could come your way.

The Canary Islands are even worse. Park your car in a localized spot too long, and you’ll come in to find a nice big fire where your vehicle used to be. You can blame all this macho shit on passion. Watch a game of Spanish soccer and you’ll understand that the blood in these people can boil in an instant. It’s the same with surfing. Only the best will do, and they’ll be damned if they have to settle for less ’cause some blow-in happens to be on the inside. The best you can do is show them a little bit of respect, smile through their glares and get what you can. After all, a wave at Mundaka is still gonna be the best sand-bottom left you’ll ever ride in your life–whether the locals like it or not.

Golden Oldies

Old people make up a big part of Europe’s population, but nowhere are they more evident than in Spain. They don’t do much. They sit around in their funny little hats, they play chess or bocce, they smoke their pipes, they argue, they drink coffee and wine, they read papers. But they do it all outside, in the town center, in places they can be seen and heard. They’re not shipped off to some box like a confused herd of unwanted cattle. There’s something comforting about seeing what life will be like when your days of traveling and surfing and discovery are over. That you’ll just be hanging in your hometown with your bros telling stories to the village children. If you’re Spanish that is. For the rest of us, it’s off to the geriatric home–out of sight, out of mind.

Portugal

Tiles

There’s no surf in Lisbon, but good lord there are tiles. Millions of them. Everywhere. Above doors, along gutters, covering the entire walls of every building in sight. Individually, each tile is an intricate work of art, but together they combine to make the Portuguese capital one of the most magnificent cities in the world. And check this out: if you can’t get enough of all the ceramic pleasure around town you can always venture off to the tile museum to stare at even more little square masterpieces for hours upon hours on end. Is there no end to the fun in Europe?

The Hard And The Core

If you love dirt and rocks and wind and rain and huge brutal lines of swell hammering into jagged, razor-sharp urchin-infested reef, then you’ll love surfing Portugal. This little stretch of coastline is at the same time potentially the most unforgiving and rewarding in all of Europe. From the barreling perfection of Coxos to the long winding points of Madeira, there’re plenty of options when the swell gets serious. And you don’t even have to leave your room to see how big it is. Just walk to the window, run your finger down the glass, and if a salty film of Atlantic residue covers your print, leave the shorty in the cupboard and grab the nearest gun. Portugal is exposed to the elements. The land is dry, the towns well spaced, the people more wary. It is the hard and the core of the Euro surfing experience. So if you’re prone to losing fin keys, or if you frequently experience sudden back injuries when the ocean jacks you, best not venture this far south.

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is show them a little bit of respect, smile through their glares and get what you can. After all, a wave at Mundaka is still gonna be the best sand-bottom left you’ll ever ride in your life–whether the locals like it or not.

Golden Oldies

Old people make up a big part of Europe’s population, but nowhere are they more evident than in Spain. They don’t do much. They sit around in their funny little hats, they play chess or bocce, they smoke their pipes, they argue, they drink coffee and wine, they read papers. But they do it all outside, in the town center, in places they can be seen and heard. They’re not shipped off to some box like a confused herd of unwanted cattle. There’s something comforting about seeing what life will be like when your days of traveling and surfing and discovery are over. That you’ll just be hanging in your hometown with your bros telling stories to the village children. If you’re Spanish that is. For the rest of us, it’s off to the geriatric home–out of sight, out of mind.

Portugal

Tiles

There’s no surf in Lisbon, but good lord there are tiles. Millions of them. Everywhere. Above doors, along gutters, covering the entire walls of every building in sight. Individually, each tile is an intricate work of art, but together they combine to make the Portuguese capital one of the most magnificent cities in the world. And check this out: if you can’t get enough of all the ceramic pleasure around town you can always venture off to the tile museum to stare at even more little square masterpieces for hours upon hours on end. Is there no end to the fun in Europe?

The Hard And The Core

If you love dirt and rocks and wind and rain and huge brutal lines of swell hammering into jagged, razor-sharp urchin-infested reef, then you’ll love surfing Portugal. This liittle stretch of coastline is at the same time potentially the most unforgiving and rewarding in all of Europe. From the barreling perfection of Coxos to the long winding points of Madeira, there’re plenty of options when the swell gets serious. And you don’t even have to leave your room to see how big it is. Just walk to the window, run your finger down the glass, and if a salty film of Atlantic residue covers your print, leave the shorty in the cupboard and grab the nearest gun. Portugal is exposed to the elements. The land is dry, the towns well spaced, the people more wary. It is the hard and the core of the Euro surfing experience. So if you’re prone to losing fin keys, or if you frequently experience sudden back injuries when the ocean jacks you, best not venture this far south.

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