The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: art

A Thanks to Brian Lam, Matt Warshaw, Jeremy Spencer, Chronicle Books – and Everyone who’s Made this Ocean Life Possible


My first ever rejection letter. Courtesy of Surfer Magazine and Matt Warshaw. 1989. 

It’s weird the stuff you decide to file in your folder book of memories. The above note is one such recently found object. It’s my very first, of very, very many professional rejection notes. If you’re a writer, you get used to rejection notes from editors. If you don’t, well, you’d better find other work. Aside from being a first, what makes this letter so very damn special is that it was written and signed by none other than Matt Warshaw. If you’re a surfer who’s worth even a grain of salt, you know him. If you’re not a surfer, suffice to say that the author of The History of Surfing and editor of The Encyclopedia of Surfing is to our sport as Ken Burns is to baseball – or James Michener is to Hawaii.


Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Warshaw’s note in the back of my garage, amidst a stack of yellowing articles and letters. I’d completely forgotten this little nugget, but I vividly remember when it arrived. It was late 1989. I was a hopeful young journalism graduate, freshly minted from the University of Georgia, freshly cast off by my UGA girlfriend and freshly rendered unemployed and homeless by hurricane Hugo’s godawful smashing of the South Carolina coast. Forlorn and filled with a twenty-something’s boundless capacity for angst, I’d found temporary refuge in the basement of my dad’s Atlanta condo, and a temporary job shuffling fonts around on a Macintosh computer at his advertising agency. I reckoned the only way out of depression and self-pity was to write, and get the hell back to the beach.

Read more»

“The Lady of the Lake.” This Is What the Gales of November Look Like on Lake Erie


“There have been moments on Lake Erie where I have lowered my camera,looked over it & literally out loud said to myself “What. The. Hell… Did I just see” and my jaw drops.. This was one of those moments” — Photographer Dave Sandford.

. . . And, this is the weather that took down the 729-foot iron ore carrier the Edmund Fitzgerald on nearby Lake Superior over 40 years ago this fall.

London photographer Dave Sandford wanted to see the gales of November on the Great Lakes for himself, so he set out for Canada this past fall to capture some of the most treacherous conditions Lake Erie could produce. The results are enough to evoke terror and humility in any waterperson, salty or sweet.

Read more»

Wish You Were Here: The Lobster Roll. A South Sea Interpretation.

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

IMG_6273 (1)

Photo: Owen James Burke.

This past week, I’ve been spending a lot of time rooting around in the kelp-laden rocks along the lobster-rich eastern shore of New Zealand, where spring tides bring the post-spawn crustaceans into the shallows.

So, naturally, having had lobster–or ‘crayfish’ as they’re known in New Zealand–about nine different ways (sashimi–still my favorite, steamed, seared in oil with chillies, curried, in a taco . . .) I couldn’t help but turn back and attempt to recreate the simple but classic New England lobster roll–or at least my South Pacific take on the dish–as I knew it growing up.

Read more»

Muralist Alexis Diaz Brings Ocean Creatures to Life in Cities Around the World


London, England. Mural by Alexis Diaz.

Puerto Rican muralist Alexis Diaz  brings mythical, ocean-dwelling creatures to life on urban building canvases around the world. These ocean hybrids grace the walls from Paris to Vienna and London to Miami.


Vienna, Austria.Mural by Alexis Diaz.


Paris, France. Mural by Alexis Diaz.

Read more»

“I’m Going to Bite Someone.” A Shark in Existential Crisis.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.25.26 PM

“We really have to swim at some point.” – Reasonable Shark.

Poor Angry Shark (left) has seen enough of the overexploitation of his species and he’s setting out to perform a little PR stunt in order to have his voice heard. His friend, “Reasonable Shark” tries to cool his jets, but there’s simply no saving him from his imminent doom. Video below.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 8.47.35 PM

“Let’s make this quick. I’ll let you swim back to shore if you do me a favor. . . . I have some environmental issues I’d like to bring to the forefront.” – Angry Shark.

Read more»

A Happy 180th Birthday to Mark Twain, And a Video Tribute to the Late, Great Pioneer of Western Surf Prose.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 1.03.08 PM

Screenshot from the 1909 Edison film below.

Mark Twain was not merely the greatest American humorist, novelist and social critic to grace the globe; he may well have been western prose’s first surf writer, evidenced by his eloquent description of his failed attempt at ‘surf-bathing’ while visiting the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1872 (excerpt from Roughing It):

I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself. The board struck the shore in three-quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me. None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.

This Edison film of a later-years Mr. Clemens and (supposedly) his daughters Clara and Susy was taken in 1909 outside ‘Stormfield’, the American humorist, novelist and social critic’s home in Redding, Connecticut, one year before he passed. Notice Twain’s ever stern and steady delivery of some wry quip which makes his daughter chuckle wholesomely over tea on the patio:

YouTube Preview Image

Read more»

Ray Cicin Is Bringing Back the Art of Ballpoint Pens With His Deep Blue Series


A box of ballpoints, patience and talent is all you need to create delicate masterpieces like this. Image from Ray Cicin.

Multi-media artist Ray Cicin uses ballpoint pen as his medium for this octopus drawing as part of his Deep Blue series. This drawing took close to a year to finish. Many artists have used pens over the years, including Andy Warhol and Alberto Giacometti, and the simple pen, bless its little soul, continues to work its wonders in contemporary drawings of all types and sizes.


Cicin interpretation of an Ernst Von Haeckel octopus lithograph. Image from Ray Cicin.

Read more»

Listen to the Song of the Wind and Waves – Played by the Incredible Sea Organ of Zadar, Croatia


The Sea Organ. Photo by The Real Croatia.

Located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, a monotonous sea wall erected after World War II was transformed into the world’s first pipe organ that plays music using wind and waves. Designed by Nikola Bašić in 2005, the architectural instrument has a system of polyethylene tubes and a resonating cavity, underneath a set of large marble steps.

The Sea Organ is 230 ft. long and narrow crevices are carved into the steps that lead to organ pipes. When the waves lap against the steps, air is pushed through the pipes to make enchanting, unrehearsed and gentle sounds – similar to a wind chime.

Read more»