Notes From The Blue Room

Malcolm and I semi-seriously batted around the idea of a project titled “Notes From The Blue Room”, based on the interesting (at least to us, anyway), esoteric and eclectic conversations that we’d have while shaping in our adjoining rooms.

The topics would range from art and music to religion and politcs, love, heartbreak, family and friends, and how all the threads wove themselves together to form a lifestyle. The word “lifestyle” can sound frivolous and superficial, but I mean it in the true sense of a complete way of life.

Once in a while we even talked about surfing and surfboards! Seriously, though, surfing and shaping were integral parts of all this- the binding energy, the practice, process and product.

I’ll back up here a bit to 1973, and to the Lighting Bolt shop on Kapiolani Boulevard. I’m a 13 year old skinny, blond and freckled kid from Kailua who often rode Da Bus after school over to Town to lust over surfboards.

After my window shopping, I’d usually make my way out to Point Panic to get a ride home with my Dad, who worked at the U of H lab building out there.

This particular day, I picked the Bolt shop as my jump-off point. I remember it like it was yesterday: a hole-in-the-wall space, the smell of resin and maybe rubbing compound floating in the air (were they glassing in the back?), spellbindingly beautiful shiny 'Bolts shaped by a cast of legends, a barrel full of SexWax and a poster of a hot girl skier with her top unzipped, that said “Keep Those Tips Up”.

It was the absolute height of cool perfection! Heaven on Earth!

And there on a rack of of its own, perpendicular to the Bolts was an incredible, shiny, all-black Bonzer. The old-school, deep-concave, long runner style.

Right then and there I think I fell totally in love with the idea of making surfboards. I was a geeky kid anyway- I built model airplanes and balsa gliders and rockets and stuff, so it wasn’t a huge leap to building boards. Just a bit messier.

Not long after that we moved to Santa Barbara, and I pretty much took over the garage, building my own boards, boards for friends, and glassing other boards- Bradburys, mostly, that for some reason people would trust a 15 year old kid to glass. I loved the look of John’s boards, and had him shape me a couple, but for some reason they just weren’t working for me, so I stuck with my own shapes. I also had a thriving ding-repair business, mostly through the CI shop down on Helena. Up through '76 it was a good time, and the work kept me in gas money and (somewhat) out of trouble.

Jump forward a few years to 1984. A lot of happened between 76 and 84, the old family-disintegration thing, lots of moving around, and so on. Ultimately I wound up back in SB, working at Haaks for a little while, where I got word that Al was looking for help because he had more work than he could do. So next thing I know, I’m back down on Helena Street, looking at a stack of orders and a pile of blanks. Well, get to it!

I felt like I’d been buried under an avalanche of foam! I was digging my way out, one board at a time. A few months later, Al decided to bring another shaper in…Malcolm Campbell was on the top of the list. I’d met a few shapers by then, and was of the opinion that they were, as a whole, a somewhat arrogant and egotistical lot, and so I was pleasantly surprised meeting Malcolm to find that he was a thoughtful and genuinely nice guy.

That was late 84, early 85, maybe- right at the upswing of the Tommy period- and we wound up working together up until this last spring.


(…more, later, perhaps…)

Sounds like a worthy project indeed…you and malcolm are two of my favorite guys i’ve met over the last few years here in SB.

You’ve got my attention!


Hey Ryan

Thanks. I just re-read what I wrote and it seemed more like a melancholic ramble than anything particulary illuminating (sparked by listening to some odl Van Morrison/Dylan stuff on youtube).

Not even sure why I posted it- Its a surfBOARD forum, fercryinoutloud. Maybe reading stuff by novice shapers and grizzled veterans, and trying to sort out exactly where I fit in that continuum.

And gettin MC to the keyboard might be quite a trick (though he writes quite well).


Those ramblings were a pleasure to read.

it is what it is, i’ve had a few in depth conversations with guys form this forum on just those topics…whatever comes to mind. nothing in particular, but a cool way to get to know someone better.

hi alan, yes it is a surfboard forum and boards are still made by people. i’d love to read more background stories - surfing is so much more then hitting a lip or rail bands.



It is really cool. Some music triggers a flood of memories. A picture. Etc. I like the fact that many of those perfect moments in the past kinda caught me when I least expected them. I can still see my first frontside barrel. I remember snappin a fin off after getting to the bottom of a concrete barrier wall after a cold surf in Japan because my foot was numb but it was all about the stoke inside. I can stiil feel the mushy bottom of the drop at Diamond Head that tweaked my knee. Strange I don’t remember the pain. My friends frozen purple lips sayin, “the rock is my friend” one cold day at Zumas.

We are lucky because some of this really is forever I guess.

Tell us more about the B room.