5:30 am. Spent the day yesterday drifting around the Pacific Ocean in Loren's 1968 Sea Ray, proving the old adage: that's why it's called fishing not catching.
You would think, after working 13 hrs at the ramp the day before, counting at least 1,000 rockfish, collecting data as re: coordinates, bottom depth and gear type, I might be able to put a Goddamned limit of rockfish in the boat!
But no. Great Poseidon, earth shaker, sees fit to torment me by forcing me to observe everyone's fish but my own.
Unreal. I mean we hit all the spots: shallow: 16-40. Middle-deep: 40-70. Deep: 70-120. Between the buoy's, the radio tower, The Hotel, Three Rock south... and for five hours of fishing managed to produce these stunning results: three gophers, five blacks, one blue, one copper and a greenling (friends don't let friends eat greenling). Of course we threw back about 20 sketchidelly blacks and a monstrous buffalo sculpin. (What the hell is it with me and the buffalo sculpins? Every time I go fishing I catch one of these prickly bastards!)
At one point we marked a massive school of baitfish about 15 feet below the surface. Dropped a shrimp fly through them and snagged one. Guess what it was? That's right. It was a surf smelt. H. pretiosus. I can't escape the osmerids, even when I try! Full of milt. I was expecting sardine or anchovy so this was a welcome surprise. A shame I didn't have a net onboard.
And then there was this ancient, rusted rod holder that sort of stuck out on the larboard rail. Everytime I passed this mean bastard I smashed my thigh into it. Neptune's balls! Like 6 times I did this--and I have the mother-of-all-bruises to prove it. At one point I thought I broke my left femur. Not kidding.
You'd think one brutal charlie-horse to the thigh would be enough, but it wasn't. My brain must be starting to go. Again and again, with an almost Oofty-Goofty like disregard for pain, I slammed my thigh into this cruel device. And now I'm limping around the house on my day off. That's okay. Nothing but paper work to do today. Reams of paper work... stacks... heaps... great primordial middens!
It dawns on me, this being the last quarter moon of August, that if there is going to be a last night-smelt run for 2010 it will be tonight. But how the hell do I get down to that particular stretch of closed beach at night? Hmmmm... maybe a bicycle will be involved?
I must have lost my mind. Bicycling down the trail at 10pm with 25 pounds of smelt. Just thinking out loud.
Every now and then the Monkeyface News editorial machine is forced to elaborate on one it's author's arcane historical references. It strikes me (no pun) that, inconceivable as it may be, much of my Bay-Area readership has in fact never heard of Oofty Goofty. Well then...
Oofty Goofty, like Emperor Norton, Abe Warner and Shanghai Kelly, is one of the great eccentrics in the history of San Francisco. A city which seems to have produced more of these "types" than any other town--and I'm living proof.
(MFN editorial note: drop everything and order a copy of Herbert Asbury's, The Barbary Coast).
Originally named Joshua Marks, it is thought that Oofty came to California as a deserter from the Prussian army. But this has never been confirmed, and it is also possible that he was a gold seeker, a drunk or a mere drifter. In any event it was not as "Joshua Marks" that he made his name.
Evidently, while wandering through the streets of SF, our hero was taken in by the owner of a Barbary Coast saloon and convinced that he had missed out on his true calling in life: Show Biz. All he would need to do, said this saloon owner, was to allow himself to be covered in hot roofing tar and have a bucket of horsehair and feathers dumped over him. Then, if he survived, he could sit in a booth at the back of the saloon and pretend to be a wild, man-eating cannibal from the savage island of Borneo. The local citizenry, would pay hand over fist to see such a thing--and the "wild man" would receive a percentage of the door plus all the (watered down) beer he could drink.
Well... this was evidently an offer Joshua Marks could not refuse. In short, he agreed to the conditions. He was covered in hot tar, doused with horsehair and goose down (in other places and times there was a name for this procedure: tarring and feathering), and placed in a cage at the back of Bottle Koenig's Saloon (actually I'm not sure it was Koenig's but in any case it was a similar joint, and I'd rather refer to the saloon keeper as "Koenig" than "the saloon keeper"). Then "Koenig" and our "wild-man" decided they would need to come up with some catchy phrase that sounded like authentic Bornean. Something our man could scream at the wide eyed public while rattling the bars of his cage.
Not having the greatest command of the Austronesian language groups, however, the phrase that they finally settled on was the decidedly un-Bornean: "Oofty Goofty!" The rest is, as they say, history.
Overnight, the man now forever to be known as "Oofty Goofty" became the biggest sensation in San Francisco. People lined up to lay down their ten cents and see the strange little hairy black (and I mean asphalt black) cannibal from the savage islands. In a few weeks Oofty Goofty became the most famous "performer" in all of California. The money flowed in. Success and fame the likes of which Joshua Marks had never dreamed possible.
And then, not surprisingly, Oofty Goofty started to die.
It's just not possible to live for an extended period of time with hardened roofing tar forming your epidermis. I guess this had never really occurred to Koenig--or Oofty Goofty for that matter. But a visit from a local doctor confirmed O.G.'s terminal condition. If the mixture of roofing tar horse hair and feathers was not removed, Oofty Goofty would not last another week. And so, with a certain amount of hesitancy it was decided to remove the tar. But how? Well... how does one remove old tar from a rooftop? Easy! With a chemical solvent that reacts with the sun to dissolve the tar. Only thing is, no one had ever tried out this stuff on a human being.
But there was no time to lose. No time for experimentation Oofty Goofty was taken to the roof of the saloon, tied down, and doused with roofing solvent. One can only imagine the man's suffering. For three days he lay there, letting the sun do it's thing, and each evening teams of whores scraped the calcified tar from his spindly frame (okay I made up the "teams of whores" thing, but you guys gotta give me some creative license here).
In the end they were successful. The tar was removed, Oofty Goofty recovered. But his career in show biz was officially over--for the time being.
He drifted for a while, no doubt licked his wounds, and then, faced with beggardom and the poorhouse, he tried to make a comeback. This didn't go very well. In his first night singing songs on stage at the Bella Union, the audience rose as one man, rushed the stage, grabbed Oofty, and threw him bodily out the door.
And this, oh fair reader, is where the story of Oofty Goofty begins.
Skidding on his face across the sidewalk, Oofty Goofty came to a sudden, profound realization: It didn't hurt. He slapped himself. Nothing. He pinched himself. Again, no sensation. His ordeal with the tar, the feathers, and the roofing solvent had somehow left him devoid of the ability to feel pain. Having now fully comprehended mankind's penchant for cruelty and violence, Oofty decided to cash in on his newfound insensitivity. He began working the bars, street corners, brothels, sporting events. For 25 cents you could punch him as hard as you wanted. For 50 cents you could hit him with a stick. For a dollar you could throw things at him... you get the idea. After a few months of this, once again his star began to rise. He shed his former linguistic leanings, stood on stage and sang off key, while audience members literally beat the shit out him. This was his act. And the people couldn't get enough of it! For years he existed... no that's not the word... he prospered in this manner.
Until finally, some time in the 1890s, he ran into the meanest, toughest and (arguably the) strongest man on earth: John L. Sullivan--the bare-knuckle heavy weight champion of North America. Unable to do any damage with his fists, the great John L., grabbed a pool cue, and broke it over Oofty Goofty's back. That was the end. It didn't kill him outright, but he never recovered. He was in and out of hospitals for a few years and then finally succumbed to the one wound he couldn't shake off: a broken spine. Not that anyone could ever say he lacked for backbone.
Sullivan vs. Killrain, the last bare-knuckle title fight. In these (largely Irish) affairs the corner bucket was filled with a 50:50 water to whisky solution. Imagine fighting 75 bare-knuckle rounds with a gallon of whisky sloshing around in your guts... actually, imagine fighting 75 rounds without a gallon whisky sloshing around in your guts!
Where The Hell Was I?
Anyway... where the hell was I? Oh right... like that--my thigh I mean. I'm saying... on the boat yesterday, in the Pacific Ocean. Like ouch.
Whoa gotta get out of here.
From the clammy halls of eeldom, this is Lombard Of The Intertidal saying: good day, good luck and goodbye.