Tag Archives: money

Between A Rock and A Hard Place: New York’s Complicated, Cumbersome Surf Scene

Note: This piece was written between September 2010 and December 2012. It’s probably one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written, but it never found a home. If you enjoy reading it, please share.

The Rockstock & Barrels surf competition and music festival returns to the boardwalk at 90th Street in Rockaway, Queens on a sunny Saturday in June. The beach is full of Yankees caps and dyed black hair and intentionally disheveled-looking clothes. Their owners either ride pop-outs or no-expense-spared paragons of craftsmanship; nothing in between. They take to the waves in droves.

“It’s a circus out there on the weekends. It never used to be like this,” confides Rockaway-bred John Gutierrez as he watches hundreds of surfers jockey for chest-high waves.

“You really get everyone,” local Danny Jones says. “You get Wall Street guys that wanna rent soft tops on the weekends and you’ve got hipsters that come down with their freakin’ ripped wetsuits and their weird-shaped boards: ‘Yeah, I shaped it myself, bro.’ Old-timers, young kids…”

“Dailies.” That’s what Rock locals call visitors; interlopers who care little that this is actually someone’s home. At the end of their beach days, the sand is strewn with rubbish: Bottles, cans, you name it. You’ve never seen so much sea glass before.

Danny’s camera bag and lifeguard gear were pilfered from the beach and one of his friends was jumped somewhere in the “lower-numbered streets.” The area between Beach 32nd Street and Beach 84th Street is called Arverne-by-the-Sea. In the early 19th century, this neighborhood consisted mainly of charming (if “flimsy”) beach bungalows. When New York’s Commissioner of Public Works Robert Moses tore down inner-city housing in the mid-20th century, he re-classified Arverne’s summer rentals as year-round homes and moved the displaced residents into them. They were eventually shuffled into public housing projects, and didn’t fare well so far from their jobs. Until recently, most developers ignored Arverne, and what should be some of the most valuable land in the city is largely in tatters. Through much of Rockaway, abandoned beach-front high rises back up to low-income tenements, and many of the people who live in them–within 2,000 feet of the ocean–can’t swim.   Continue reading

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#LivingTheDream / “Risky Biscuits” . #Singapore .

Singapore.

Tuesday, 27 August. 9:09 p.m..

Dinner time. Again.

I’ve been in Singapore for 3.5 hours and it would be incredibly easy, if not for the fact that everything seems to require cash. money. dolla’ dolla’ bills, yo.

As a freelance journalist and gypsy, I probably rely [a little too heavily] upon worldwide acceptance of Visa cards in moments when bills that need to be paid eclipse invoices that have been paid. This is one of those moments.

Upon disembarking after my 11-hour flight from Auckland, I sent an email to the madre that stated, “I’m here! Got a new stamp in the ol’ passport, just waiting for my bag then heading to the city. Love you!” I collected said bag and discovered that I needed cash to buy a ride on the city shuttle. I needed SGD $9. With fear in my heart, I headed to the nearest ATM and my fears were realised when I saw that TD Bank had withdrawn its malevolent maintenance fee with laughably poor timing. Also, I hadn’t been paid in the previous 11 hours. In short, I was penniless. Literally. And I was stuck in the airport.

I happened to have some random international currency in my wallet and I pathetically exchanged five Aussie dollars and five U.S. dollars for a little more than 11 Singaporean bucks and slunk onto the shuttle. When I arrived at Pillows & Toast Heritage, I was reminded that I’d only booked the room with a deposit and–guess what! This hostel only accepts cash payments. Feck.

I was reduced to asking for a mini loan from my mum, which, I can tell you, does not feel good.

On the bright side, I can eat with chopsticks…

Someone recently told me that living this way is “risky biscuits.” I was like, “Yeah, heh.” And I merely thought, I’m gonna steal that turn of phrase. Today, as I contemplated purchasing strangers’ overpriced Frappuccinos in exchange for cold, hard cash, in order to escape the aeropuerto, I saw cookies in an utterly unappetising light. For the first time in the history of me.

Come on, lifestyle sponsor, where are you?

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Mainstreaming: Not Just For Vampires Anymore?

Photo: ASL/Jarrason Bitton

Photo: ASL/Jarrason Bitton

Arguably, one of the most magnificent and heartening things about surfing is its unchainable cool. Truly not giving a damn, yet harbouring, deep down, the utmost in passion. Having few resources and finding a way. Looking and behaving in manners not suitable for most dinner parties. Unless you’re amongst like-minded diners. Which, thankfully, most of us are. So, the question is, can Woolies ever be a like-minded diner?

Read about big corpos and surfing here on ASL.

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