From Dave Eggers to Barry McGee

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Another piece from the new Pallet. The magazine has this profile section where one interesting person recommends the next interesting person. In this case, Dave Eggers pointed to Barry McGee, the San Francisco artist and elder statesman of the graffiti world. We talked punk rock, surfing, garbage, and, of course, art. The best part of the piece, to my mind, was running into McGee in the water:

One sunny morning after my studio visit we run into each other in the water. The swell is mixed up—not big, but messy and tough to get a read on. He squints toward the west. “I’ve surfed worse.”
He likes to ride old boards, the heavier and more beaten-to-hell the better, in the interest of seeing what’s possible. His board today boasts a chunky, sawed-off-looking fin, an atavistic thing that’s more dinosaur tooth than sporting equipment. On the horizon, an irritable-looking wave rears up and I paddle toward it, trying to get over it before it breaks on my head. McGee makes the opposite calculation. He catches it, and his head disappears under the feathering crest.
Later, from the beach, I watch him surf for a couple of minutes. He sits by himself, closer to the shore than anyone else, catching one seemingly unpromising wave after another. He crouches low and then arches into standing position, stepping forward and then back on the board as needed, carving playful lines into waves others deem worthless. He tells me that it’s “the garbage waves that I like that nobody’s competing for.”

(Photograph by Carlos Chavarría.)