How I Met GREG "DA BULL" NOLL
I first met Greg at the Surf Expo in 1990. I had some of my paintings being shown in THE ART OF SURFING Surf Art exhibit that Jay Gould was running. He along with Alan Seymour invited me down to the Expo. And that’s where I met Greg. He had a booth there and it was hard to miss him. Because there he stood in front of a giant poster of the most iconic photos in the history of surfing. The photo (above) was taken by John Severson (who ironically had several of his paintings in the art show).
Almost everyone in the Surf World is familiar with that image. I mean just look at it. Are you kidding me. I can remember looking at that photo and trying to imagine what kind of a human being would want to even think about paddling out into that huge surf. The wave is Pipeline. And if you know anything at all about Pipe, you would know that at this particular size, it is dangerous. Very dangerous.
Look at the board that’s resting against the crook of his neck and shoulder. And then look at that wave. I don’t know a single person who would say “Yeah that looks like fun. I’m out there.” Oh hell no. There were only a few in the 60’s who would dare think about that kind of insanity. And I was staring at one of them. There he was in the flesh. Greg “DA BULL” Noll.
I’m not sure what I said to him to break the ice. But I know I can’t be the only person who’s stumbled upon him and blurted out something stupid. And the way he greeted me, it was obvious that he’s dealt with plenty of small to medium wave kooks like me in the past. Besides, he’s in the business of selling his brand. He was no dummy, and he knew how to handle the star struck kooks like me.
Long story short, I introduced myself as one of the artists in the art show.
What I didn’t know is that he had a true love for surf art. And although I only had a few of my paintings in the show. One that I did for my wife for her birthday, and one that Jay himself commissioned me to do of a local pointbreak back home. He was interested in seeing my work. And much to my surprise he loved my work. He genuinely liked my style of painting.
Then he brought up the fact that he wished he had a painting of his famous last wave that he caught at Makaha. For those of you who are not familiar with Makaha, it is on the west side of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s a big wave spot that is on the same level as Waimea and Pipeline. You would only surf Makaha when the North Shore is out of control.
That statement really perked my interest.
I couldn’t believe that he didn’t have a photo of that wave and he didn’t have a painting of that wave. I mean, you all know where this is going right? Well, one thing led to another. And before the day was through, he commissioned me to paint his famous ride at Makaha on December 4th, 1969.
I was on cloud nine. Jay and Seymour were stoked for me.
I honestly believe he connected with me because, at the time he was riding that famous wave, and slugging it out in that giant surf, I was a Marine grunt in Vietnam, slugging it out with the North Vietnamese Army. Suffice it to say, we became instant friends. We talked about the parallel of surfing big waves and being in a war. Let me be perfectly clear here. I am NOT a big wave surfer. I have never been a big wave surfer. I have been out in big waves, but I am not a big wave surfer. I have however, been in a war.
And yes, I have been scared, but I have never been out at huge Hawaiian surf.
I’ve never surfed big Sunset (I have surfed small sunset), I’ve never surfed 2nd and 3rd reef Pipe, and I certainly have never surfed Waimea. I have surfed “Pinballs” which is what they call inside Waimea, when it’s really small, but I have never been out in the kind of surf that Greg and his buddies have surfed. Oh hell no. Little Ralphie don’t play that game. Still, the fact that I have “Faced the Tiger in Vietnam” was admirable enough for Greg to want to work with me, and get that painting of that infamous ride.
And that ride? If you don’t know about it you should google it.
The short story is, that day was unlike any other day he had faced. It was bigger and meaner than any of the days at the Bay, Pipe, and Sunset. It was like he knew he had reached the pinnacle. It’s really a fascinating read. Man vs the ocean.
But he made that conscious decision to try and catch one of those beasts. And he did.
I won’t tell you anymore about what happened, but I will tell you that I spent the following talking with Greg in pinpoint detail, over the phone, and other meetings about that incredible day. December 4th, 1969 a day of significant history, in the world of surfing. He even provided me with an 8 x 10 photo of a wave he rode earlier that day as a reference. I promised him I would never show that photo. The photo was shot hours before that big wave.
But it was significantly smaller than the big wave he caught later in the day.
I used the photo as a reference to the texture of the wave, and his stance, as well as other detailed items that only he could provide. It was an exciting time in my life and I think it was for him. I could tell he was excited as the year went along, and we talked about that day and his life.
I learned so much about that day, and about the man himself.
And I was truly humbled by his presence and I felt so privileged to be that close to a true surf legend. It was almost like I had to pinch myself as I would talk with him over the months. I got to know Laura pretty well (over the phone) and I know how important she was to him. I did not know their four children but I knew of them. Like me, he was a faithful family man. At the time I met him Cory and I only had our first daughter Gabby. We would go onto have three children and three grandchildren. So we had that common bond.
As far as the painting itself? I’ll post the painting I did for him on my annual Surf Art Blog at the end of this month. Meanwhile, Rest In Peace Greg.
You truly were “A Legend Among Legends.”
" SURFING AND SURF ART HEALS ALL WOUNDS!"
This week's Ed's corner is from July 4th, 2009. This is Michael Taylor. Michael is the the guy who first suggested the HIT THE BEACH program to me in 2008. It was his idea. Suffice it to say it was a great idea. He and his wife have moved to California but they manage to be around for most of our HTB events
Photo by Ed O'Connell
*Click the photo above to see a larger version of Ed's Pic.
Now for Some Local and National News
In the "YOU HAVE TO BE SHITTING ME COLUMN"
Bill "The Pill" Cosby was released from prison after only serving 3 years . He was released by the PA Supreme Court after the disgraced actor's "Due process rights were violated".
Forget the fact that he violated 58 different women. Once again the justice system has failed the victims horribly. The 83yr old rapist only served 3 years of his 3 to 10 year sentence. So much for the "ME TOO" Movemnet. I think I'm as sickened over those who claim his innocence as I am with him. Bill The Pill Cosby.
It's that time of year again!
This is a great opportunity to showcase local and national surf artists. If you know of any surf artists please let them know about this annual Surf Art Blog.
And speaking of Surf Art.
My longtime Surf Artist/Surfer/Musician brother Stan Chew has a surf art Exhibit coming up at the end of August at the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery in Porstmouth. I love his work and I can't wait to attend.
Surf Art For Surfers and Lovers Of Surf.
KSM Photoshop of the Week
Once again leave it to Ole Khaliddy to give Bill The Pill a call to let him know about the ladies at GITMO. That sly nasty Sex Mutt is one disgusting Terrorist. Though I'm not sure how they are gonna pull this off. Wait a second, they are not gonna pull anything off. I make this shit up. Bill The Pill is going to shit the bed at home with his Clueless wife. And the only "Booty" the Sheik is gonna "Shake" is his own. Couple of losers.
And so my friends, please take advantage of this weekly photo shop of the mastermind who planned 9-11 and resulted in the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians by KSM (Khalid Sheik Mohammed).
*Note to self -must pick up a case of Quaaludes at
Home Depot this week.
HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE 4th OF JULY!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tree Todd Davidson July 4th, 2021!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Eli Ciarmataro July 4th, 2021!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Cory Fatello! June 30th, 2021!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dave Crop Cropper June 30th, 2021!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kyle Linseman June 30th, 2021!
PLEASE Keep 90 yr old Chuck Dreyer (Kim Grondin's dad)
in your thoughts and prayers.
PLEASE Keep JoEllen Bunton in your thoughts and prayers too as she transitions to the other side to be with Jerry (above) and my two late parents Eva and Gus.
PLEASE Keep longtime NH Surfer Greg Smith in your Prayers.
PLEASE Keep local Surfer/Musician Pete Kowalski in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year.
PLEASE SUPPORT THE DIPG AWARNESS TEAM!
Support ALL The photographers who contribute to
Ralph's Pic Of The Week every week for the last 16 years.
** BUY a HIGH RES Photo
from any of the weeks on RPOTW.
my friends... Surfing Heals All Wounds.
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.
Yesterday- HANGING OUT AT MARGINAL WAY 1975
(Below) This is another classic photo from Jerry Law. If you're at all familiar with Ogunquit, you know about this cool little paved walkway up on the bluff. From this vantage point you can take in all the action, and the passerbys as they walk on by. From left to right: Ronnie Freeman, Clive (Australia), Sandy Bigbee, and the late Joe Boutin. Rest In Peace Joe. Photo by Jerry Law
*Click on the pic to see a larger version.
I kept a daily Blog on my CATCH A WAVE FOR MOLLY surf campaign, when I surfed every single day for 365 consecutive days. Click on the Banner above to read entries of my daily journey. There's some really interesting and true experiences
that happened during that year. Some of which are to this day, unexplainable. Some are just mind blowing. But all true.
I started on July 26th, 2010 and ended on July 26th, 2011.
Some rainy Sunday, pour yourself a cup and go through the journal.
Pay close attention to the month of May in 2011. Read that month and let me know what you think of that. Be forewarned it will change you forever.