Liquid Lines

Hoping You Never Have to Hear This Terrible Christmas Song While Wrapping Up 2017

Awful Holiday Ditty, Great Early Winter Waves, Trump vs. Patagonia, and a Look Back at a Very Solid Year
By JON COEN | Dec 13, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Johnson Happy Holidays from LBI. The first few swells of ‘winter’ have been very rideable and ideal for getting us into the upcoming season.

I was in the supermarket when I heard it. This holiday… You’ll be far away…And I’ll be all alone. So please remember this December to fully charge your phone.

It was a female voice over saccharine-like poppy doo wop with the familiar feel of that somewhat nauseating Mariah Carey “All I Really Want for Christmas” ditty that’s been playing since before the sweet potatoes got cold on Thanksgiving.

… And text me Merry Christmas. Let me know you care. Just a word or two of text from you will remind me you’re still there. You don’t have to add much to it. One smiley face will do. Baby, text me Merry Christmas. Cause I’m missing kissing you.

Have you suffered through this song yet? Unable to tune it out as I looked for something to throw in with the Spanish rice that evening, I listened to determine if this was really a 2017 Christmas carol. Then came the male vocals, which were even worse.

Text me Merry Christmas. Make my holiday complete. Though you’re far from me, say you’ll BRB. That’s a text I’ll never delete. Choose just the right emoji. One that makes me LOL. And if you text me something naughty, I promise I won’t tell.

Full disclosure, I don’t know what the hell BRB means. If these two actually got into the “naughty” territory, it would have been more bland than that envelope of plain instant oatmeal that no one ever wants in the variety pack. But holiday sexting aside, I couldn’t believe this was actually on the airwaves.

They both came in for the next verse: I don’t care if you spell things right. I just wanna hear from you tonight. Stroke those keys with your delicate touch. And type those little words that mean so much!

Was this really happening? It was. And it wasn’t satire. This is what passes for a holiday song in 2017. I’ve long wondered how folks in retail handle nine hours a day of holiday music, but cashiers, stockers and sales folks who have to listen to this track for five weeks can make a good case for an unsafe workplace –because someone’s going to crack.

I later found out that the group responsible for this piece of yuletide brilliance is called Straight No Chaser (terrible name), and “Text Me Merry Christmas” is their collaboration with actress Kristen Bell. This is where I might give a brief bio of who the band is, where they’re from and the work that best defines them. But I refuse to waste 45 seconds on Wikipedia learning a single damn thing about these goons.

Then they do some disgusting back and forth banter and … A Facebook message isn’t quite as sweet. I need more from you than just a tweet. A snap on Snapchat doesn’t last. And voicemail? That’s from Christmas past….

OK. I’m actually with them there. Stop leaving voicemails. Text me, or I’ll call you back. But that’s the only inch I’m giving.

There have been some awesome original ditties and renditions of classic holiday tunes over the years. Elvis comes to mind, the Jackson 5 – Springsteen belts the hell out “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.

There’s RUN-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and Johnny Cash’s entire “The Christmas Spirit” album, which is beautiful and kind of haunting. I mean even Bad Religion does some serious work on eight traditional numbers. You aren’t feeling the season until you’ve heard devout atheists harmonize “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

The world doesn’t need a ridiculous song about texting on Christmas.

Text me Merry Christmas. Send a selfie, too. If you do, I’ll go ’neath the mistletoe and pretend my screen is you.


And then it occurred to me that song will likely make them more money than my entire career at the SandPaper. Straight No Chaser should be boiled in their own pudding.

IDEAL WINTER SWELLS: There are winter swells and then there are winter swells. There are the blizzards when the wind whips out of the northeast for three days, followed by violent offshore winds, ripping drifts and long walks to the car across icy streets and beaches to recover from frozen beatings and maybe “that one” or two good giant waves you had.

And then there are those that are a bit less memorable, but more enjoyable: decent size, not absolutely frozen, light offshore winds and a chance to get a whole lot of waves. We’ve had two of those in the last week.

If summer lasted all through the fall, winter has been right on time. The solstice is technically next Thursday, but the season is already here in spirit.

The first swell we had was the result of a moderate low that blew through our region last Tuesday. The southeasterly winds were never particularly strong, but enough to fire up a 3- to 4-foot swell. The wind went offshore Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning was a bit of surf bliss.

The ocean is still in the mid-40s, which isn’t as cold as it will get. That certainly added to the pleasantries. Since it hadn’t been a particularly rough local storm, there was virtually no drift. The wind was offshore at just a few knots, and straight offshore, not threatening to go southwest. And best of all, it was a short to medium period swell, something we often overlook, making for fun, peaky waves. Yet there were still barrels, and actually Harvey Cedars’ Peter George got one of the longest right tubes I’ve seen on LBI in some time. Most spots were working. The most crowded streets had a few heads, but if you wanted, you could certainly surf alone. All in all, a great day for reacquainting with the full winter gear.

That was followed by a smaller version of the swell on Thursday with some spots having nearly perfect longboard waves. The surf was mostly down on Friday before our first snowfall of the year came on Saturday, a rare and somewhat idyllic meteorological scenario for winter surf.

This swell was set up by low pressure that swung out of the Gulf of Mexico. And while we had that nice dusting of white, the real weather was offshore, sending back medium period swell. The forecasts were all calling for Sunday to be decent sized, which was hard to believe with moderate northwest winds on Saturday evening and a 2-foot swell running.

Again, the low produced. Sure enough, Sunday had waist- to head-high surf breaking at all the usual spots. It was a weekend, so there were more heads on it. And making fresh tracks across the beach in the new-fallen snow is a huge part of the LBI surf experience. It proved to be a peaky swell that got better as the tide filled in.

Overall, these are pretty surreal winter weather events – fun waves and a pretty snowfall without all that drama that comes along with it. Plus, it’s December and we haven’t had a real winter in a few years. Talk to me in April when this happens and it will be a different story.

But this winter wonderland stuff isn’t going to last. Today should usher in some cold air that is more frigid than novel. Aside from a little bump on Friday, the surf looks mostly down.

RIP BRUCE: Bruce Brown, the famed film maker who was best known for “Endless Summer,” passed away earlier this week at the age of 80. I can’t be sure how much impact he’s had since the digital age, but “Endless Summer” came out some 25 years before my generation saw it, and it was still a bedrock of our surfing education. It is likely the most classic surf film of all time, with full credibility from the surf world, yet loved far beyond it. Brown had an amazing impact on surfing and truly was a godfather in the world of action documentaries. He will be missed.

PATAGONIA VS. THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to buy some Patagonia gear as Christmas gifts. Is it a bit more expensive? Yes. But it’s worth it considering the stuff lasts forever and when something rips, they will repair or replace. That alone makes it a good investment. And when it comes to production and business, they are a leader in environmentally sustainable practices.

But Patagonia is a political hero these days. You may have heard that between antagonizing unstable dictators with nuclear capabilities and cutting the tax rate indefinitely by 15 percent for companies that don’t want to list the chemicals they put in your food, Fearless 45 cut back the amount of protected land at Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah.

Aside from his other controversies, I’m often curious about how folks who love the great outdoors and voted for this guy can sleep at night.

If you saw the press conference, you’d have thought Native Americans and backpackers were throwing wildflowers at his feet. But take a closer look.

It’s well known that Obama protected these lands for all Americans in 2016. Trump phrased that as “locking up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.” He positions himself as putting the lands back into the control of the state of Utah. That means in the hands of Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has an environmental record somewhere between a Japanese whale hunting captain and Saruman from Lord of the Rings and was furious at Obama for it. Just so happens those lands are rich in uranium, oil and coal. Patagonia points out it’s the largest elimination of protected land In U.S. history.

Now five Native American groups are suing the president, as is Patagonia, which has long championed protecting our natural lands. Their rally cry has been pretty clear: “The President Stole Your Land.”

Clearly, politics in this age is muddled and divisive. But I’m trying to understand anyone who supports this slashing of public space. Surely part of your American pride and heritage is the beauty from sea to shining sea, right? Until recently, it wasn’t a bipartisan issue, but 45 has made it one.

So Patagonia, ever champion of the wilderness, is going to battle with a coalition of preservation groups against the president on claims that his move was illegal, a history that shows states have sold off 70 percent of public trust lands in the past, and in the name of preserving nature for future generations. Of course, there are public comments and petitions to sign. There’s no need to spend money on things you don’t need. But we all need warm, durable gear and holiday gifts. There’s a nice selection at Farias, or you can shop online. Kind of a no-brainer.

REARVIEW: This will be my final Liquid Lines of 2017, and since there aren’t a whole lot of watersports community-related events around and following the holidays, it seems more appropriate to look at the year of waves behind us. And it was a good one. I’d go so far as to say historic.

Last winter was pretty mild, which most of us certainly didn’t mind. The surf was decent, if marked by swells with hard offshore winds. In the middle of March we had a massive easterly swell that brought comparisons to the Dooms Day swell of 2012. Because of the wind direction, LBI was ground zero, with the state’s top pros descending on Harvey Cedars for what will go down in the history books. We had somewhat of an early spring with a few swells, nothing great. We paid for the early spring, however, when it was still pretty nippy into May, and the ocean didn’t fully warm up until after July 4. You might recall pretty chilly water for a very epic day in June.

The summer exceeded expectations. With the tropical season starting slowly, we had plenty of windswells to keep us busy. The Jetty Coquina Jam had a bit of a nor’easter that was challenging. Then the ALO LBI Longboard Classic had a simply phenomenal day of thigh- to chest-high waves that stayed offshore all day.

If you had the right equipment, there was plenty of water time to be had. And the water warmed up big time. What followed was a run of swell like we’ve never seen. August gave us Hurricane Gert, which exceeded all of our expectations, followed by random windswells for days and a post-tropical depression that brought us huge summertime waves.

Then the tropical swell train kicked on and didn’t really stop until October. Irma, Jose and Maria brought a run of consecutive swells that surpassed the record-setting season of 1995. While not all of the swell was great, marred by long period and sideshore winds, it simply didn’t stop.

By the time the run was over, we were back into locally produced swells. And while LBI had its moments, what will now be remembered as the “Slater Swell” was simply mind-blowing for points to our north.

While there was plenty of mid-week swell, we didn’t get a proper weekend swell until Nov. 19 for the Jetty Clam Jam. That started out with unreal overhead rights. And even though it dropped down and was tough to surf with lower tides and insane offshores, the event was everything it’s supposed to be – bringing the local surf community together.

That was followed by the traditional Thanksgiving waves and the handful of locally fun days since. Of course, the same swells would have been better with our old jetties and more-prominent sandbars, but I think we’re mostly grateful.

A WRAP: And that pretty much puts a wrap on another year of living on the Sandbar. It’s an honor to get to cover such a fantastic scene, not only surfing, but the creatives and businesses that are inspired by this amazing place.

As mentioned above, these are some divisive times. And while I see leadership at the highest level being a riddle wrapped in an enigma, then dipped in melted lies, I think this is a good time to commend everyone in our local area for maintaining a level of normalcy no matter which side we’re on. Pretty much all of America, actually.

For those who agree with my Chuck D worldview, I am going to continue to call out affronts on human decency. Clearly my writings lean against the current party in power, but there are still folks on both sides who support my writing, and I’m specifically thankful to those who don’t agree with my every sentiment but continue to read Liquid Lines.

Again, thanks to my family, friends and a community that we never want to leave (except for maybe a few cold weeks in February, but that’s fair).

Happy holidays. Enjoy the break. I wish you all the best in 2018, and I hope you never have to hear “Text Me Merry Christmas.”

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