Paddle Out Memorials

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Paddle Out Memorials

Post by filthbarrel » Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:48 am

Any one know where the paddle out commemoration originated? Looking for when/how it started. I know that everyone has them now for anything from a fundraiser to a lost mate/mates - but where did they come from? Big one for Bali and 911.

Were they an invention of popular culture? First one I recall in popular culture was in Puberty Blues. Did it come from a naval idea of burial at sea?

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Post by Johnno » Wed Jul 13, 2005 11:11 am

I thought that started off over in the states somewhere as do remember first seeing one done there then a few years later they did one here at Bondi I think. Or did they do one for Eddie in Hawaii.

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Post by Nick Carroll » Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:37 pm

It's not a particularly Hawaiian tradition. Think it's got more to do with the Viking thing, the waterborne funeral.

Looked into this once and the first overt version I could find was the one Filth mentions in Puberty Blues, the 1978 Aussie coming of age movie. A kid ODs and his mates take his board out to sea with a memorial mound and set it alight.

At the Eddie event opening, the invitees paddle out along with anyone else who feels moved to do so, and everyone sits in a circle while Clyde talks about Eddie. Sometimes he will ask people in the circle to speak and some will do so. Leis are cast and everyone paddles for the six foot wave which always seems to rear its head on the boil at the time. It's not funereal, it just focuses everyone on the meaning of the event.

Other than that, I doubt we'll ever know where the idea originated, or even if there was one point of origin. There've been quite a few well known paddle-out memorials in the past 10 or 15 years or so, and they haven't seemed restricted to one coastline or nation. Maybe it's just one of those things we do because it feels profoundly right, and it's become more visible in recent years thanks to the sheer numbers involved.

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Post by filthbarrel » Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:05 am

Thanks NC. Excellent as always.

Puberty Blues the film directed by Bruce Beresford carries a 1981 publication date. The book was 1979. And the board is not set alight -it is cast adrift. You are thinking of the pyromaniacal petrochemical bonfire on the beach.

(But NC, what is the first film in which a board sacrifice -burning - appears -not a rhetorical question -I am looking for the answer)

That black inferno that today would see the EPA drag you through hell , accompanied by what may have been one of the year's strongest onshore winds, is one of the funniest scenes in Australian film. I can imagine the production department interacting with the 1st AD.

"Right, we have to have the bonfire scene, get it ready"

"But its an 80 knot south easter and the wood is wet"

"She'll be right, bung some petrol on it"

"Got no petrol"

"Use the turps and tyres"

The reissue of the book in 2002 has a forward by Germaine Greer that positions the yarn as a feminist text - and indeed it is. Worth looking at the film again twenty-five years down the track. T

The early Aussie surf feature/drama films - Highway One, Palm Beach and Summer City all worth a look for the nasty surfy druggies -post counterculture and post first wave femisinism - before clean corporate culture cleaned it all up.

You know, I think even though those films suck in some ways, they have a level of authenticity not noticeable in modern surfploitation like Liquid Bridge (godawful -not a frame redeemable -putrid beyond all belief -you must have a copy in your collection -file under so bad it is good genre) or the ultimate clanger of In Gods Hands.

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