Sunday, November 26, 2006

Iconoclasts: Vedder and Hamilton

A month ago, the Sundance Channel premiered their second season of Iconoclasts with an episode pairing surfer Laird Hamilton and Eddie Vedder. There was much buzz about it among the Pearl Jam fan base, as Eddie is rarely seen in such a personal and close-up light.

The hour-long show basically brings two figures together and films them interacting, discussing their crafts/artforms, and the audience presumably gets to eavesdrop on them in a "natural" setting.

The episode featuring these two iconoclasts was particularly poignant for me, as the bulk of the show is filmed in Hawai'i, on the island of Maui, and concerns the ocean and surfing. Admittedly, I was not a surfer while growing up in Honolulu, but the culture of Surf is part of the fabric of society there, and it is difficult not to come away with some form of connection to the sea. There's a link here to a clip on the channel.

Granted, mine is comparatively weak, but I loved boogie-boarding, and will bodysurf on the rare occasion when I have the opportunity. One thing that Hawai'i did instill in me is a snobbery that eschews beaches elsewhere. I deplored the cold, kelpy seas of Southern California, disdained the Mediterranean Sea the few weeks I was in proximity to it in Israel in 1983, and have yet, despite 9 years in New York, to set foot in the Atlantic.

I do recognize that true surf-souls do not share this snobbery; they would surf in toxic sludge if the waves were breaking right, and would find a way to paddle through swells on a glassy lake. (I'm sure some purists out there may question this, but this is my position until I change my mind.)

I do maintain that I am the only person in the world to be stung by a Portuguese Man O' War at his bar mitzvah reception, while boogie-boarding, but that's another story.

Anyway, Pearl Jam wrapped their Australian tour yesterday, and have 2 dates left: Honolulu at the Blaisdell Center on December 2, and at Aloha Stadium the following week, opening for U2. There are rumors that Eddie and Co. will be performing at a surf benefit on the North Shore during the time they are in Hawai'i, and I would imagine Eddie will be spending time with Mr. Hamilton.

So everything is sort of connected.

Anyway, the show was fascinating. It is repeating December 3, 7-11, 14, and Christmas Day. Check your local listings. Other episodes look good as well, and this may repeat itself, as cable episodes are wont to do. The ocean and surfing footage is amazing. Hamilton revolutionized Tow-in Surfing, in which 40+ foot waves are ridden after being towed out by jetski, or other apparatus. There's a nice discussion about how surfers provide perspective and scale to nature's size, vis-a-vis ocean waves.

I was truly moved by the experience.

Here's a preview:

If you can't wait to watch it next month on Sundance, the entire show, like most media in this day and age, has found its way to YouTube, broken up into 8 minute segments. Here's part 1, with the remaining 5 parts available, should you choose to watch online:


Tattoosday said...

A clarification: Melanie called me on my "yet to set foot in the Atlantic" remark.

As a child, I swam at the beach while visiting my grandparents on the West Coast of Florida. I may also have touched toe to sea while walking on the beaches in Atlantic City, NJ, and Jacksonville Beach and New Smyrna, Florida.

Tattoosday said...

Yes, Slater and Vedder are good friends, who have worked together on the Surfrider Foundation. July 7, 2006, was a date of envy for East Coast PJ fans - the band premiered the song "Big Wave" off the latest album, left off the first leg of the tour. Slater performed on "Rockin' in the Free World" during the show.