The Boat Ranch

The kids are too young. Too young to be toting machine guns and randomly stopping cars in the middle of a vacant, dusty highway that heads south into the desert. Their weapons glisten in the heat as they stare at the jumble of surfboards, cases of Pacifico beer and jugs of bottled water in the back of the truck. One looks at us and smiles. He surfs, too, he says in broken English. The others wave us on and we pass, heading down the Trans-American highway, looking for surf.

The road disappears into a haze of pollution and dust, sucking us deeper into Baja. The checkpoint, Tijuana, Ensenada and Santo Tomas left behind as we vanish into the heat waves on the horizon. The first Pacifico is opened as the sun sets, burnishing the last waves of the day, the sets pulsing in from the Pacific as night comes with a sudden hardness. From the top of the cliffs we can hear the surf surging across the rocks that line the beach. The waves glow with a faint hint of phosphorus as we settle in for the night. The trip has been a long one and the road has worn exhaustion into our bones.

The Boat Ranch sits at the end of a forgotten point. Created by a guy named Layton, a itinerant surfer from Southern California, the ranch is host to 12 boats in different states of metamorphosis. The first boat, hauled down from the states by Layton over the axle busting ruts that lead to the end of the point, has transmorgified into a rustic bungalow. The others are in various states of repair or disrepair, none seaworthy but all providing refuge those who travel to the vacant sliver of land that pushes out into the ocean. They?re fine accommodations, giving us all the luxury we need: shelter from the sun and rain, a place to cook simple meals that fill the belly, and from the deck of a boat called ?The Duke?, a clear view of the swell which batters the point.

Danse macabre iconography

Although the origins of the danse macabre, or Dance of Death, are still obscure, probably the most famous version was the (now lost) mural of 1424-25 with accompanying verses in the churchyard of the Franciscan convent Aux SS. Innocents in Paris. The scheme showed Death engaged in a dialogue with people from all ranks of society as he invites each to his dance. Around 1430, the poet John Lydgate produced a Middle-English 'translation', which came to be included in a lost scheme at Old St Paul's Cathedral, London. The theme became extremely popular across Europe, especially when printed editions appeared; best known is probably the series of prints by Hans Holbein the Younger (published in 1538), but Thomas Rowlandson produced a series of Dance of Death prints as late as the mid-1810s. There are regional variations: Death is usually armed with a scythe, spade, spear or dart in French and English versions, whereas German schemes tend to emphasize the musical aspect of the Dance.

The popularity of the danse macabre can also be observed in tomb iconography from the later fifteenth century on. The skeletal figure of Death with his dart is sometimes just a symbol of mortality (memento mori) in the overall composition, as at Doulting and Wellington, but one also finds Death threatening or attacking the commemorated person, exemplified by the monuments at Nieuwkapelle, Lowestoft, Hunsdon and Shepton Mallet. Unusual and early is the brass of John Rudyng at Biggleswade, which features a dialogue in Latin between Death and the spectator with a reminder that king, duke, prince and priest all must suffer this doom - a clear reference to the danse macabre. The skeleton on the incised slab at Wijk may represent the deceased, yet it could equally be Death himself with his dart, wearing a biretta in mockery of the dead clergyman.

The Seven Levels of Surfers

Soul Surfer - Level 7

This is the highest level, the pinnacle of surfing spirituality equivalent to Nirvana, Satori, Total Enlightenment, etc. and is rarely attained. The Soul Surfer expresses himself through his unity with the breaking wave. He borrows the wave's spirit for a short while and uses his body and equipment to translate the essence of the wave's spirit into Art. Other Surfers respond to this and immediately recognize the Soul Surfer whether they admit it or not.

The Soul Surfer is a complete master of his tools, body and board. The Soul Surfer may train his body and practice with his board when not creating his Art, however, when he becomes one with the wave, his body and board are extensions of his mind. No conscious thought is expended upon the surfing techniques he uses to express the spirit of the wave with casual virtuosity. To make a musical analogy, a guitarist may woodshed his scales, but when he's jamming he's not even thinking about fingerings. He's lost in the passion of the moment. Just like a Photographic Artist who may have several cameras and many lenses, the Soul Surfer could have a quiver of a dozen boards each with a different purpose. Likewise, other Soul Surfers may have only one board, or none at all.

Soul Surfers sometimes dress strangely and say things that make seem to make sense but you have no idea what they mean. Soul Surfers often rise from sleep very early to create their Art in private. Few people witness the Art of a true Soul Surfer since they do not think to promote themselves. Many do not even realize they have attained the highest level of surfing spirituality or appreciate their tremendous skill as they are beyond the need for any sort of evaluation. Those that do become conscious of their own expertise often regress to the lower level of Whore which sadly and paradoxically means you will almost never see the Art of a Soul Surfer unless you know one personally or are lucky enough to be at the right break at the right time.

Soul Surfers use any sort of surfing equipment: longboard, shortboard or no board at all. They use whatever tool their Art requires to express the spirit of the wave and are constantly evolving in their ongoing exploration of the wave-human unity. Soul Surfers are the human embodiment of Stoke.

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Green Card Lottery Results

82,000 winners have been selected by the US State Dept. in the 2005 Green Card Lottery. Green Card winners and their families can live, work and study permanently in the United States. The following is the statistical breakdown by country of those registered for the 2005 lottery (called DV-2007). Only participants in the DV-2007 program who were selected for further processing have been notified. Winning notices were sent by regular mail to the address specified on the application. Those who have not received notification were not selected. They may register for the 2006 lottery.


The Prisoner's Handbook

...written by a group of 'old-heads' (longtime prisoners) in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections:

"A prison psychology specialist, suggested that I write a little 'handbook' or guide for prisoners who are new to jail. After some thought, I got together with a few other "old-heads." Between us we've got over 100 years in Pennsylvania hell-holes. We know our sh*t! We came up with this little list of suggestions for the tens of thousands of young ment who are being railroaded into prison, Pennsylvania's fastest growning business. If you have a husband, son or friend who's been thrown into prison in the past year or so, I suggest that you print out this handbook and send it to him.

Rule 6: Don't comment on your cell-partner's personal habits. Farts, snoring, toilet practices and so forth are personal traits which you must learn to tolerate, or you must change cell-partners. Criticizing personal habits is, generally speaking, counter productive. Remember that you have personal habits which irritate your cell-partner. Talking about them just adds to the irritation.

Rule 13: Help those prisoners that you find you are able to help. Share your criminal skins with them. After all, that's what prison is all about: education in crime. But, where you're able, go beyond grooming the other guy to be a more skilled crook. If you can help him read or write, or work on the law, try to do those things. Conversely, never belittle or make fun of the thousands of prisoners who can't read, can't write and can't perform simple intellectual chores. In most cases, if the guys could read and write, they wouldn't be in prison in the first place. Then where would Pennsylvania's rednecks be?

Rule 20:
Do one day at a time. It's an old cliche, but it's true. Live for today. Chances are that tomorrow will come.

005 DonDiva Magazine®


Miki Dora

Imagine a California coastline devoid of surfers. Imagine Malibu without surfboards all over the lineup. El Porto without vehicles stacked with surfboards. The inescapable fact of surfing here is the crowd. Wherever there are good waves there is a pack of surfers. One can only imagine a time before the crowd. Miki Dora died on Jan. 3, 2002 at the age of 67. He was one of the guys who surfed Malibu before the crowd took over.
"Waves are the ultimate illusion. They come out of nowhere, instantaneously materialize and just as quickly they break and vanish. Chasing such fleeting mirages is a complete waste of time. That is what I choose to do with my life."

Miklos Sandor Dora
1934 - 2002
When the '50s rolled around Dora was one of the few to surf Palos Verdes Cove, a favorite of these paddleboard surfers. He was one of a loose crew surfing at Malibu. There a writer followed his teenage daughter to the beach one day and came up with a novel. "Gidget" had arrived. The cornball Hollywood film gave surfing a free, and unwanted, national promotion. The party was over. The pristine world of Miki Dora was invaded. Seething in frustration, Dora, "da Cat," the Malibu master, became the man who went against the grain of all that surfing was to become.

Not long before he died at his father's home in Santa Barbara, Dora lived in Guethary, France. He would be seen on a certain park bench watching the waves. If it was good, he'd go surfing. In the end, Dora bought the dream that the magazines promote so relentlessly of the wandering, carefree surfer. But like everyone else, he had to sell out and join the crowd. That's sad, but that's the way life is. I respect Miki Dora more for what he tried to do than for what he accomplished. He tried to take the Hollywood out of surfing, to make it a bold, individualistic, artistic statement. And, in the end he forgot about the crowd, the hype, the lost world and picked up his board and paddled out.

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On Good and Evil

It is right in principle that those should be the best loved who have contributed most to the elevation of the human race and human life. But, if one goes on to ask who they are, one finds oneself in no inconsiderable difficulties.

In the case of political, and even of religious, leaders, it is often very doubtful whether they have done more good or harm. Hence I most seriously believe that one does people the best service by giving them some elevating work to do and thus indirectly elevating them. This applies most of all to the great artist, but also in a lesser degree, to the scientist.

To be sure, it is not the fruits of scientific research that elevate a man and enrich his nature, but the urge to understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive. It would surely be absurd to judge the value of the Talmud, for instance, by its intellectual fruits.

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.