The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: music

“I was Screaming Sea Shanteys and Shoutin’ at the Gods!” A Glimpse Inside John Lennon’s Sailing Diary.

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John Lennon. Bermuda Bound. Photo Source: Unknown. 

When I was a kid, I was a Beatles fanatic. I was turned onto the band, by my mom of all people, who for some reason gave me the album Magical Mystery Tour when I was maybe nine years old. For some reason too deep for my young mind to fathom, I literally wore out the vinyl grooves pondering its dense layers of sound and meaning. Yellow Submarine and Revolver would have the same effect. The band’s legend was always writ a little more large for me because my aunt lived in a building called the Oliver Cromwell, right across the street from the Dakota, which was home to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She caught occasional glimpses of the pair ducking in and out of their home right there in front of Central Park. I always craned my neck when we walked by the Dakota, but never got my own glimpse. When Lennon was shot, 35 years ago yesterday, I remember my aunt telling me how for days it was nearly impossible to leave her building for of all the mourners. Even though I was only in eighth grade, I wished I could have been among them.

Today, Scuttlefish commodore Brian Lam hipped me to something I didn’t know about Lennon. He actually became a pretty hardcore sailor late in life. In fact, he credits a hairball journey in June, 1980 from Rhode Island to Bermuda with curing a debilitating bout of writer’s block. It was a voyage that inspired “Watching the Wheels,” “I’m Losing You,” and an early version of “Woman.”

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John Lennon and his son Sean. Photo source: Unknown. 

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Humpback Whale Songs, in Sheet Music

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Screenshot from video below.

We first heard whale songs thanks to a network of microphones designed to detect Soviet submarines, but it wasn’t till a group of scientific researchers and mathematicians got together and aligned their clicks, moans and groans that we were able to make their sounds more “electronic than melodic, a full range of the kinds of crazy sounds that humans call music today,” writes David Rothenberg at Medium.

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Stan Rogers, “Barrett’s Privateers,” and the 20th Century Sea Shanty

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Photo via StanRogers.net.

Stan Rogers was a Canadian folk singer whose roots lay in music and the Canadian Maritime provinces, though he wasn’t from there. While Rogers took interest in hearing and playing rock & roll music while growing up with his contemporaries, but he also took a shining to traditional folk music–particularly in the sea shanties he would overhear while spending his summers in Nova Scotia. Rogers, who was singing just as soon as he was speaking, appreciated the melodic power of sea shanties, which, fortunately for him, paired immaculately with his sturdy and booming baritone voice.

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Growing up a Surfer and Rasta in Jamaica. Part III. A Trial by Fire and Herb. A Scuttlefish Feature.

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Growing up Rasta. Photo Courtesy: The Wilmots. 

My parents were once active in the Twelve Tribes of Israel organization – which is one of the major houses of Rastafari. Twelve Tribes came about for the purpose of repatriation to Ethiopia. The iconic Rasta colors; red, green and gold, when worn or arranged with the red at the bottom is indicative of the Twelve Tribes. You may have noticed this arrangement in the head-dress of Iconic reggae singers including Bob Marley. Twelve Tribes is also the Rasta movement with the strongest reggae music legacy. At their headquarters in Kingston, there is a music room located front and centre, which has honed many reggae greats.

The other major groups are the Bobo-Ashanti and the Nyabinghi Order. The Bobo-Ashanti wrap their locks in turbans and have separated from society in their communal village called ‘Bobo Hill’ in the hills of 9 Miles, Bull Bay. Curiously I have never visited the camp–which is only a mile from where I grew up – for no other reason than I’ve never had a reason to. However, my earliest exposure to the Bobo was in the person of a family friend named Priest Harrold who would visit regularly. He was without exception immaculately neat and one of the most pleasant persons I’ve ever known. As a little boy he would refer to me as ‘My Lord’.

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Growing Up a Surfer and Rasta in Jamaica Part II. Billy and Maggie Wilmot, and Our Surfing Family. A Scuttlefish Feature.

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Rude Boys. Photo courtesy of Inilek Wilmot.

My parents Anthony (Billy) and Claudette (Maggie) Wilmot were both Rastafari when I was welcomed into this world. At the time, the Rastafari movement was becoming more established, but still going through crucial stages of development and was viewed by society through a mix of lenses tinted with suspicion, ridicule, mystique and fear, but it was also demanding and commanding respect. When I was born, my father was the best surfer on the island of Jamaica. This didn’t mean much to most people, but would eventually mean the world to me.

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Mom and the kids. Maggie Imani Inilek Icah Ishack. Photo courtesy of Inilek Wilmot.

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Life in Salt: How Yacht Building Student Anthony Daniels Fashioned a Guitar from an Old Wooden Boat

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Anthony Daniels’ Boat Guitar, built from the planking of a 1952 Beetle Cat sailboat. Photo courtesy of Anthony Daniels.

Boats and music are deeply kindred throughout history, not just because music makes for a pastime during seaward transit, but because, as any purist of either two traditions knows, each should always be made of wood. Anthony Daniels, a first-year student at Rhode Island’s International Yacht Restoring School, also happens to be a guitar player. While rebuilding a sailboat, he came across some rare planking that was just too good for the trash. Two months later, with the purchasing of a few bits and pieces of terminal hardware, Boat Guitar was born. Next, Daniels has his heart set on putting together a wooden surfboard from reclaimed wooden boat parts.

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Anthony Daniels wanders out into frigid mid-winter surf at Middletown, Rhode Island’s 2nd Beach. Photo courtesy of Anthony Daniels.

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Growing Up a Surfer and Rasta in Jamaica. It Means Being More of an Outsider Than You’d Think. A Scuttlefish Feature.

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Marine biologist, fisherman and musician Inilek Wilmot (second from right) talks about the myth and reality of growing up a Rastafarian – and a surfer – in Jamaica. Photo Courtesy: Inilek Wilmot. 

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Inilek Wilmot. Not too Far from Trenchtown. Photo: Billy Wilmot. 

I grew up Rasta in Jamaica; I also grew up surfing on that rock. I didn’t and don’t however, see myself as a ‘Rasta-surfer’ – distinct from other surfers my family and I knew. The Jamaican surfing community was – and still is – so small that we’ve only ever seen ourselves as just surfers. We were spread across Jamaican cultural and socioeconomic borders but were a small enough tribe that there weren’t really any sub-groups – except perhaps being from Kingston, Bull Bay (the coastal community near Kingston where I grew up), or out east in rural Portland. Each of these subsets had their unique qualities, but whenever and wherever we came together, the fact that we were surfers has always overridden everything else.

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From Left: Brothers: Icah, Inilek and Ivah Wilmot, Trinidadian Pro Surfer Jason Apparicio and Billy Wilmot.
Photo Courtesy: Steve Gorrow

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Talking Doc’s Story. New York Times Conversations with the Paskowitz Family. Episode Five: Into the Dragon’s Den with Josh

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Photo Courtesy: Joshua Paskowitz. 

Editor’s Note.

On November 23, The New York Times published an obituary I wrote on Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz. The story was largely based on interviews with six of the nine kids Doc bore with his loving wife Juliette. The final NYT article came in at around 900 words, but anyone who’s ever seen the film Surfwise, or spent time talking with the Paskowitz clan, knows that the story of the mercurial Doc Paskowitz and his family goes way, way deeper than 900 words. In fact, after I’d finished my last interview, I had a count of around 10,000 words – and believe me, the talking story could have gone on far, far beyond that.

If anything became crystal clear during those conversations, it’s this simple fact: Each of the Paskowitz kids has had his – or her – own singular experience growing up in Doc’s formidable shadow. And each one has his – or her – own opinions on Doc Paskowitz and the sprawling, fascinating, troubled, brilliant and iconic family he spawned. Leading up to the December 13 Paddle Out for Doc in San Clemente, TheScuttle will publish outtakes from my conversations with six of Doc’s kids.

Today we’ll hear from child number nine. Joshua Ben was born in 1974. His clan’s ceaseless travels and copious downtime – free of electronic distractions and pesky things like homework led Josh deep into to music and art. Being the youngest, he also spent more time traveling with his mom and dad – and going through crazy shit – than almost anyone. 

Josh bailed on the Paskowitz camper life at 13, and lived a frightfully adventurous life before falling into drugs, becoming briefly famous as a singer with his brother Adam in the band The Flys, selling a million records and opening for the Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers. After leaving music he taught surfing for a few years with his brothers, sobered up, married, divorced, met the love of his life and today has two beautiful children. A couple of years ago, after putting it off for one too many years and reaching the end of his rope, Josh decided to make a serious go at actually making a living through his remarkable artwork. The result, today, has been an eruption of impressionist paintings that channel his life through the lens of what Josh calls “The Paskowitz Experience” and his view that life up to this point has been its own, most peculiar piece of performance art. Today, he’s opened a small gallery and performance space in San Clemente, called Aloha Doc, in honor of his father, and his muse, Dorian Paskowitz.

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Dorian Paskowitz, by Josh Paskowitz. 

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