SWELL 2 … ‘the moments between the moments’

The last time I saw Brian Bielmann he said,

“I want to show you the shots you never see…”

Cue the lights, cut to Jimmy Hendrix, the room full of big screens lit the capacity crowd and 5000 wide eyed 2010 TWSSF junkies had their minds blown at the pinnacle of the festival.  A surf photog at a snow, er, a Pro Photo Showdown?  Why not?  ‘Cause he’ll win that’s why!’  BOOM!! (CLICK)

$10K later a humble sun bathed Brian Bielmann with 25+ years of photos and memories and his family in tow accepted his prize and thanked God and the people of these mountains.

Fast forward nearly two years to a rainy September night far from the festivals and the crowds…the longest winter anyone can remember has passed followed by one month of summer, Brian’s good friend and surf hero Andy Irons has left us (CLICK), my son has learned to swim under water, the 2011 Tahiti swell that rocked the Billabong Pro and riveted Whistler locals to computer screens for days is the stuff of legend and SWELL 2 has landed Brian back in Whistler tonight, only this time, unplugged.

‘Everyone sets up for the same moment, or the moment after…I look for the moments between the moments.’ 

Brian stood mostly out of the spotlight as he spoke tonight. There was only one screen and there were just enough chairs in the foyer of the Conference Centre for the couple hundred (?) familiar faces that made their way between the seasons.

Dave and Wendy Clark were our hosts, as usual, local artists, Brian, TNF, and local businesses we all recognized donated auction items for a great cause.  My buddy Sean was bussing between seasons guiding and we both laughed knowing +8 in the valley overnight means there’s snow up there above the clouds.  Harvey from Art Junction showed an amazing collection of stainless Airstream trailer acrylics (sorry – don’t know the artist Harvey) and my wife and I fell in love with Brian’s 1978 Bob Marley photo and Molly Paterson’s ‘Ocean Fresh’ laundry pic.  Jack Crompton called me out quietly on the upcoming election and with beer and wine in hand we all debated whether Mark Richards’ pieces were photos or paintings (the answer is both).  All of that, and the silent “battle of the Andy Lambrecht paddle” will surely become the stuff of Whistler livingroom legend as the dust settles and we make our way home to our babysitters a little later than we had planned.

I know, I know.  You’re expecting photos of Tahiti and the story of Brian’s self-proclaimed best shot ever and a bunch of mind-blowing ‘Dude’ talk…but I apologize if I don’t wax poetic surf tonight because while it was a indeed trip into the realm of the watery fantastic for a people rooted in the majesty of Coast Range peaks, it was more so a tribute to friends and neighbors and our own ‘moments between the moments’ in a town where the spotlights so often shine in so many places so far from home.  Tonight was our ‘Aloha’ for a familiar face from just over there somewhere west of never.

Post script:

Brian shook my hand in the parking lot at the elementary school today while Dave and I picked up our boys after school.  He had no idea…

hours later after the show…

‘If you haven’t made the connection I’m the Street To Peak guy who wrote the story last time you were here.’ (CLICK)

‘My wife really loved your story…it means so much to know I met the person who wrote that.’

Thanks Brian.


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