Well hello, hello. Or should I say Ola. Sorry for the lack of a good column recently. Dr. Aqua has been on hiatus near the Equator, riding the Oil & Water bus and enjoying the surf and whitewater of sunny Central America with Seth Warren and Tyler Bradt. During their drive from Alaska to Argentina, Bradt and Warren have had enough time on their hands to name their camera’s (Billy and Bob), flashlight(Stacey) and even their ride. They’ve dubbed the vegetable oil-powered truck “The Baby.” I was thinking more “babe magnet.” Those two attracted more interest than a celebrity in a supermarket.
So let’s get right into some Paddling Notes. In my last column, I mentioned Andrew McAuley and his quest to boat the Tasman Sea from Tasmania to New Zealand. I predicted how he might go crazy from too much Jack Johnson on his i-pod. Looks like I was right. McAuley abandoned his trip 80km into the 1600km journey after he couldn’t get warmed up in the cockpit of his kayak while being pounded by huge swell and blistering waves (he was completely self-supporting and bedding down within). He’s the third to attempt the crossing and the third to fail. He hopes to try the expedition again next year. Maybe he should download Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem I Will Survive.
Eric Jackson is showing his colors. After dominating on the freestyle tour for years, Jackson has taken it to the steeps, joining Ben Stookesberry and his posse for some expedition boating in Mexico: darinm.blogspot.com. Dude is pushing his mid-forties and going big. His kids are growing up, his wife Kristine is probably sick of him. Time to spread the wings a bit. Good on ya’ mate. From slalom to freestyle to expeditions, this dude has reinvented himself more than Madonna without the foray into soft-porn. Well, unless you count kayak porn.
The Florida Boating Advisory council may soon require kayakers to pass a safety course before they can operate a kayak. Officials say boating-related deaths show the need for increased education. Of 81 boating deaths in 2005, a dozen involved non-motorized vessels, though none involved kayaks, according to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Uh, none involved kayaks. Am I missing something here? That’s kind of like someone else getting stupid-drunk, pissing and puking all over the bathroom at the bar, and now you’re the one who can’t use the toilet. Next thing you know they’ll be regulating the way you tie your boat on your car because there’s a chance it could fly off and rearrange someone’s face.
In related news, I was watching the O’Reilly Factor the other night. It should be called the O’Never-let-anybody-else-talk Factor. He had some poor Outside magazine editor on and was talking over him like he does with all his guests. O’Reilly suggested that some official should be standing around on places like Mount Hood, stopping climbers from going up there in the winter following the recent search for missing mountaineers on the burly Oregon mountain. Could you imagine if someone tried to regulate Class V like that? Boaters would go anarchy, wrapping the regulator in an inner tube and sending him down the river. Regulate that recirculating hydraulic bro!
In the name of complete randomness, there’s a strange 10th Anniversary this year in paddling that isn’t being celebrated and I’m a sucker for a conspiracy theory. In the world of espionage, mysterious things happen to well connected people. On April 29th, 1996, former CIA Director William Colby disappeared from his rural Maryland home, an apparent drowning victim on the nearby Wicomico River where his canoe was found swamped. His body was recovered a week later and the initial autopsy showed drowning.
But Washington insiders smelled a cover-up. Colby—once on the shortlist suspected of being the Watergate “Deep Throat”–was a contributor to Strategic Investment, a prominent financial newsletter critical of the Clinton Administration regarding the administration’s ties to the shady DC underbelly and the Whitewater scandal. His endorsement of such critical articles is believed by some to be his demise.
According to Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Washington D.C. reporter, several factors in Colby’s death remain in question. The autopsy report sited drowning induced by heart failure while the coroner found no evidence to support such claims. An Associated Press (AP) report stated that Colby’s wife had spoken to him the day of his death and he’d felt sick but was going canoeing anyway. She was away in Texas at the time and later refuted this claim that she spoke with the AP. Finally, Colby was an experienced canoeist and he died without a lifejacket (it’s said he never boated without one) and without shoes. The obvious question is why would someone having a heart attack take the time to remove their shoes or go out on a blustery spring day without them? Of course only Colby knows the answer. His high-profile death remains unsolved
The paddlesports magazine industry is beginning to look more and more like professional sports, watered down by firings, releases, free agency and more incestuous than a Kentucky family reunion. Different pay scales one glaring difference, however.
Instead, let’s use some garden variety accessories to compare (ie. tools)
First, former Paddler headman Eugene Buchanan left to start his own publication, Paddling Life, a noble cause after 14 years in the deadline-riddled publishing trenches. Later, dissatisfied with their working environment and unsure of their future at Paddler—after owners American Canoe Association canned the publishing of Kayak and were looking to reduce costs accordingly–most of his staff followed suit. We’ll tag them the garden hoses, ready to spray their considerable knowledge throughout the industry in a new way. Until the water bill comes.
Then Primedia, owners of Canoe and Kayak (C&K), dumped the current staff in favor of fresh meat ready to upgrade the product. Let’s tag them the electric hedge trimmers, grooming and manicuring the paddlesports story in their unique way—not unlike Edward Scissorhands. But going only as far as their deep-pocketed power source will take them.
Meanwhile, the ACA hired former C&K castoff Glen Bernard to head Paddler. He’d competed against Paddler for 16 of his 19 years at C&K. He then scooped up other former C&K employees, including a solid editor in Mike Kord, to head up the more family-friendly Paddler in Seattle. A good comparison might be a rake, a safe tool that even your kids could use.
Basically, Paddler got the old C&K staff and C&K (and Primedia) employ a mish-mash of old Paddler staff. This includes fresh hire Frederick Reimers, who was Paddler managing editor for two years; Tom Bie, managing editor at Paddler for two, and head of the action sports group at Primedia; Jim Marsh (C&K ad director, former-Paddler ad. exec.); Jeff Moag (Paddler managing editor for two years, now managing editor at C&K), Kevin Back (former Paddler ad executive now with Powder) and Matt Hansen (former Paddler associate editor now managing editor at Powder). Holy flip-flop.
If it’s confusing, let me further cloud the issue by summarizing thus: The garden hoses had their line severed thanks to a sheering of their staff by the hedge trimmers (and to be fair, by a thin paddlesports market). No joke. As you can see, nearly the whole of the C&K workforce, not to mention several other Primedia lackeys, got their start in the business thanks to Buchanan. Not to be bias towards someone who allows a marginal journalist to write a ranting column such as this, but I’d say there isn’t much need to worry about the quality of C&K’s staff.
And the rakes? Uh…ummmm. Well, I guess everyone’s a tool from the same shed?
This week’s football notes:
The Bowl series sucks. Period. The teams get a five week layoff before a computer gets to decide their ranking. I guess I’ll watch Boise State vs. Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl New Year’s Day, hopefully without a headache. Squeaky meats the Bully, David vs. Goliath. I’m going with David and Squeaky, 28-20.
The Monday night game this week is big in the AFC. Cincinnati at Indianapolis. Indy looks vulnerable lately with their turn-style defense giving up 300 yards a game on the ground. Will Peyton Manning, football’s Scott Shipley, ever win a Super Bowl? I’ll take Cincy, 35-31.