Posted: Jan 09 2016
Long Island has always been home for me. Unlike some other stories you may have heard, I'm only here to talk about the good parts. The east end, and Joe Flow, to name a few.
We'll start here in New York, then we'll head over to the deepest jungles of the Amazon. A brief mention of California before heading back east for the summer. The story is about a man with a house in the woods near the beach. The epitome of hand shaped, he is a skilled craftsman. On a windy day in November, I visited his workshop at the end of a road, on a piece of land not far from a few ponds, a few bays, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. I'll tell you what I found, but first I'd like to introduce you to the man who brought me there...Sometime during my travels around the web I came across surfboards with animals printed on them. X-rays of animals to be more precise, placed as if the creatures had dissolved into the resin while glassing. The artist: Steve Miller (instagram: @stevemillerdotcom), his series: "The Health of the Planet".
What you need to know first about these boards is that the animals are from Brazil's Amazon River Basin. Steve calls this part of the world "the lungs of our planet" and his boards are a medical checkup of it's inhabitants.
The Amazon drainage basin covers an area of about 6,915,000 km2 (2,670,000 sq mi), or roughly 40 percent of the South American continent. It is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. Most of the basin is covered by the Amazon Rainforest, also known as Amazonia. With a 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) area of dense tropical forest, this is the largest rainforest in the world. (Wikipedia)
While researching this spectacular place, I found myself on a few long Wikipedia tangents (as any good internet savvy person would). I learned that Suriname, in the northeast of South America, is considered to be a culturally Caribbean country and is officially Dutch speaking... isn't that weird? Aside from it's natural ruggedness, this tiny country is also rather savage politically. The current president was apparently sentenced in the Netherlands to 11 years of imprisonment for drug trafficking (Wikipedia) and his son, Dino, was arrested in Panama for conspiring to import cocaine into the US, and for offering support to terrorists (Slate). It seems to me that in this case the land is to be respected more than the corrupt officials. It's hard to find dry parts of the earth as untamed as the ocean, but I say that this is worthy competition. You might run into some bad dudes in this corner of the world, but you could also stumble upon a Green Anaconda; the world's heaviest snake, found to grow up to 17ft long and over 150lbs. For the Wildlife Conservation Society, big isn't quite big enough... so find them an Anaconda longer than 30ft and claim your $50,000 bounty. You might say, and I would tend to agree, that Powerball is a more appealing and much less creepy jackpot. Also, this size snake would be rather difficult to fit on a surfboard. SUP anyone?
Although often less hair-raising (aside from the gnarliest of breaks), entering the ocean to go surfing is undoubtedly an experience that brings you back to nature. Raw, and vast, and free. Many perfect breaks on the map, but one can't help but wonder about the ones that are yet to be discovered. Also worth noting:
As much of the Amazon is unexplored, many of its indigenous plants animals and insects are unknown. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_basin)
Putting these indigenous animals on a surfboard draws so many awesome parallels, not to mention it makes for a strikingly beautiful piece of fine and fully functional art. Back to the subject; I was deeply moved, so I sent Steve a message via the contact form on his website (http://stevemiller.com/). I learned about the animals, the art, the amazon... there was only one missing piece that I needed to know. Who is the shaper?
Wikipedia fell short, but Steve delivered. For this, I owe him many thanks. He explained to me that each board is signed, numbered, and unique. He told me they are all hand shaped by Joe Trizzino of Southampton, NY - a short drive from home, I thought. Steve was nice enough to put me in touch with Joe, and Joe enough to welcome me to his home and his workshop. It was a Sunday morning I made my way east.
The air was fresh and crisp like apples. The fall on Long Island is another one of those good parts I mentioned earlier. Cool northeast winds blow summer crowds back to wherever it is they came from. Trees explode with color in one grand demonstration for the locals before the freeze. This is a time of change, for the better. The season was fitting of our interaction. As the weather cools off, the character warms up. I couldn't have imagined a pleasant and more genuine character than Joe, known also, affectionately, as "Flow" for his glide on water.
I stopped at Goldberg's for a spicy hobo; a bagel place and a killer breakfast sandwich, respectively. Food in hand, I was then on to Joe's place.
He was working on a board for Steve that day and he had plenty of others to show me. While he worked, I photographed a handful of his creations. Every so often he came out, dusted off, and talked a bit about various topics. He explained how the weather affects the ease with which the foam dust sprays off his clothes. He talked about going to California for a few months, shaping more boards and taking advantage of the good breaks and swell surplus on the other coast. He talked about the state of shaping in the early days of his career and now, and that it's never been the money maker for him, but a passion worth pursuing.
He showed me an apartment for rent above his shaping room. If you are not interested in a surfboard you can also contact me for a cool place to hole up, reasonably priced all year round! SHAPYR.com is a shop about people and stories, after all. Live above a shaping room on the eastern side of Long Island. Share some waves and make a story for yourself. Maybe Joe will let you mow some foam!
I left with a stronger love for my home, and the world. I try to always look at the good parts. With winter ahead, I found warmth. Nearly 100 miles east of New York City along a stretch of sand and rocks, I found creativity and passion. On a grey windy day I found... surfboards! Maybe "happiness" would have been a more suitable choice of words to round this story out, but can we not all agree that surfboards = happiness? The word stands.
Please also browse a collection of boards from Joe Trizzino, available now: http://shapyr.com/collections/joe-trizzino
As always, contact me with questions or to coordinate an order. To celebrate my home: free delivery anywhere in NYC and Long Island. Any transaction here will only "authorize" a card for the designated amount. I will contact Joe to confirm availability before accepting any payments.
Peace, love, and surfboards.