Thursday, March 21, 2013

The War Room.

A recent visit to see my parents meant that for the weekend I was billeted in the 'War Room'. This sanctuary is my fathers domain, it's his den where he writes and finds his muse, where he recollects and remembers. Below is a small snapshot of the relics that adorn the room, souvenirs of a time of great conflict, when very simple men like my father participated in very extraordinary events.

 Bullets of various calibre: in the rear are .50 cal's. its not hard to image how one of these could down an aircraft or take off an arm. I was always amazed by old war movies where a pilot was hit by one of these and then held his hand over a small trickle of blood, I would have thought he would have lost half his shoulder?

 Hand Grenade and a bottle of Atabrine. Atabrine was the wonder pill that staved off malaria, that is until you stopped taking it. My father arrived home and then one day on the tram he collapsed with a fever only to wake up in hospital with the shivers and sweats of the mosquito borne condition. Atabrine also had a much more popular side effect, it could be crushed and used as a yellow dye. Consequently it was highly desired by the natives who would use it to colour the grass skirts to sell to GI's as souvenirs of the South Pacific.

A Japanese helmet atop an American steel 'pot'.

The Australian equivalent, a British issue helmet that once issued was usually 'lost in action', many a South Pacific latrine is full of these.

Australian 2nd signal corps colour patches.

My favourite photo and an often inspirational look at the origins of the Papa Nui. Dad stands on a palm tree lined beach up in the islands, styling in his slouch hat and amazing belted vintage swim togs.

In uniform on Buna Beach August 1945.

Dad was a commercial artist before the war. He studied at East Sydney Art College under the tutorage of the likes of William Dobel. This water colour shows a patrol on a high ridge in New Guinea. Much of Dads experiences abroad were captured in his sketch books. Some of these I have posted previously. Drawing offered an opportunity to capture the every day experience of the campaign in the islands as possessing and maintaining a camera in those conditions was not easy.

Hand Grenade pin, possibly from a practice 'pineapple'? I have my eye of this one as a zipper-pull for my 
A-2 jacket. 

A collection of American campaign medals.

Dad's own 'gongs'. Every week before Anzac day the medals would come out and get the 'brasso' rub over, preparing themselves for the annual remembrance march on the 25th of April. The first one was held in 1949 and Dad never missed it ever. It was a major event in our household when I was growing up. Last year Dad did the march around the city for the final time. He is 89 years old and of his original section only 6 members are left. This year one wonders? A visit to the dawn service and then one or two 'bevvies' at the local Returned Serviceman's Club will probably be it for this year.

As you can imagine I've watched the annual parade almost my entire life, first as a child in front the Television broadcast then later as a young man I would venture into the city and stake out my piece of the side walk armed with a thermos and a camera and wait for Dad to come past resplendent in his beautiful Blue Blazer and chest adorned full of his coloured service ribbons marching to the drum beat behind a huge unfurled unit banner. As the years went by I stood there with my own children and after the parade we would walk up to Hyde park in front the sandstone memorial and meet up with Dad and his mates for a brief cup of tea and a biscuit put on by the Australian Red Cross. Those days are long gone now and his friends are no more, perhaps only one or two at most have the strength to attend. I find it quite strange to bare witness to this passing of a generation as its often difficult to accept the frailty and infirmity of age, to see your loved ones slowly fade from the glory of their youth. 
I have a favourite except for James A Michener's, 'Tales of the South Pacific', which although has a very American slant is still perhaps of the most beautifully articulate observations that I've read, so please indulge me this; 
" They will live a long time, these men of the South Pacific.They had an American quality. They, like their victories, will be remembered as long as our generation lives. After that, like the men of the Confederacy, they will become strangers. Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until their Guadalcanal sounds distance on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge".

Papa Nui Says.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Beach Battalion Hats 57-58-59cm

As of the 21st April 2013, Papa Nui declares that the famous Beach Battalion hat is sold out in every size. Keep your peepers peeled for all new cap styles coming soon!


Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Another Papa favourite in the air battle over Korean skies. Often used as a chase plane at the Muroc Army Airfield in the late 1940's, a P-80 flown by Bob Hoover was airborne to witness Chuck Yeager smash through the sound barrier on the 14th October '47.


There's something very special about the early Jet age, that period from 1946 to the early 1950's that produced an awesome array of naive but wonderful planes. Perhaps the pinnacle of design and function in this era was achieved in the North America F-86 Sabre Jet. It's ability to sweep the skies of the Russian Mig-15 during the Korean War is legendary. The terminology being 86'd came to mean being finished or out manoeuvred.

P-38 Twin boomed technology.

The Papa loves P-38's, it's his all time favourite plane of WWII. The lines of the twin boomed tail strike an aesthetic chord beyond all others. Along with the P-38, the other twin boomed beauties were the P-61 and perhaps one of the most gorgeous planes ever, Howard Hughes's XF-11.

At the beach.

The Beach Battalion on R&R.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The last post.

For those of you who don't know, I'm 'Chip', the Papa's number one back up man and I'm here to give you all one last chance to buy a genuine authentic Papa Nui Combat Beach Battalion Hat, just like the one I'm wearing now. I say last chance because Papa has only 57, 58 and 59 left in stock and after these have gone its sayanora baby and onto other projects. So don't go waiting around till that northern sun begins to shine and beat down on your brow, act now and pick up one of the frog skin beauties while you can, cause when its too late brother then its too late, dig?
$50 Australian all inclusive, airmail to anywhere on the globe, Paypal the Papa:

Overheard Somewhere in the South Pacific.

" Now come on fellas, we've come a long way to talk to the Papa and we have a package for him, no point in stalling any longer, where is he?"
"Well Major Sir, I'm afraid you don't talk to the Papa, Sir , you listen to him, and Sir, I am unaware of any such person or entity... nor would I be disposed to discuss such a person if he in fact did exist."
" Tell me where he is will you! Is he off surfing?"
" Surfing? What the hell do you know about surfing Major? You're from goddamned New Jersey!"


WWII chore coat.

As the weather is slowly turning down here in the antipodes my minds wanders to winter looks. Searching through the vaults today I turned up this old favourite. 1940's slubby indigo denim chore coat, blanket lined, 2 pockets, donut buttons and this wonderful early wings and star twill patch sans the red centre spot. Who wore this jacket 70 years ago? An Army Air Corps mechanic perhaps? This jacket would certainly have kept some 'fix'em up' boy warm whilst on hanger duty!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Papa says...Big Cuffs!

photo courtesy of  ?? Form Follows Function or Rivet-Head can't remember which  but both  fantatsic!

I'm absolutely loving this vintage image and if today's motorcycle enthusiast had this much style Id actually give them more than a passing glance. My focus on this photo is the denims and loggers boots, a combination that is much more apparent if you've studied the wardrobe of Chino's gang in the Wild One. Lee Marvin's boys is where all the styling is at! As winter approaches I have a brand new pair of Momotaro's to break in and I've allowed enough length for a 'turn up' of consequence. No dragging hems in the dirt this season, The Papa's riding high and dry all the way!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Papa's search.

Men of the beach battalion attention! The Papa is on the look out for a olive drab Sea Bees work shirt. Just missed out on this one from ebay for $39. So if your hoarding or find one please let me know, size 38"-40", approx 18" across the shoulders, should fit.

And again.

Finally this says it all!

Courtesy of

Again Style is Everything.

Alva reiterates the Papa at the Dog Bowl circa '78.

Style is everything.

C.R Styeck coins the phrase, Alex Knost applies it.

A side note on Style.

At times we mistakenly think that it's the Sun Surf shirt or the Diamond gab that's going to give us that point of difference, but the Papa needs to point out that most often the 'what' isn't as important as the 'how'.
This image lifted from Japan's OC blog courtesy of Vintage Engineer Boots's John Villanuevado attests to that fact. The 'how' is hard at work here and the result is refreshingly individual.

Postscripts from the Fry.

Eden Saul is the entrepreneurial owner of Dead Kooks surfboards, a celebrated log rider, lifeguard and representative of a new breed of surfer who is instrumental in changing the way we view surfing. The Papa caught up with Eden at the Fish Fry and posed the question as to why the professional surf body, propped up by the Saltwater Reichstag, had not yet adopted or embraced the many alternative surf sleds into its competitive arena. His off the record views mirrored what the Papa had suspected all along, "an ostrich mentality founded on commercialism and the perpetuation of profits had undermined the progression of the art".
The Thruster, long-time time choice of the profession's elite serves its master well. It homogenises the competitive circuit, creating comfort and familiarity and lashes thousands of aspiring young surfers to the wheel of conformity which in turn can be controlled by those at the top of the ziggurat. For the Pro Circuit judge, it places all competitors inside the box so that scores can be formalised and the expressions of individualism suppressed.
Thankfully however there is an alternative. Innovation in surfing is now the domain of the backyard shaper, the garage visionary who is re-thinking what can be achieved by different shapes and construction techniques, and so the Papa says, celebrate the different and embrace the new, challenge constantly and encourage the odd, in odd we should trust!
As a postscript to this dialogue  my son who was listening to this conversation, added as we walked away, "Y'know Dad it sounds a lot like Jay Adams at Del Mar", and in that one sentence he had summed up the entire affair. Jay turned up to the competition circuit from his backyard (Dogtown) and processed to destroy every convention the judging system had, the commentator couldn't even describe what was taking place, in that one moment things were never the same. We need more Jay Adams's, more Alva's, more Nat Young's and more Bob Simmons's and what's more when they come along we need to embrace what we see and dance gladly to the new piper.

The Papa meets the Surfing Shintaro.

One of the best highlights of this years Fish Fry was my chance meeting with Muneo-san, a travel writer for Japan's alternate surf magazine 'Blue'. He was on the road with his wife and daughter and came to the Fry to cover the event as well as showcase some handmade fins that he bought over from his hometown of Shizuoka on the coast of Honshu. As he carefully unwrapped his wares I became intrigued and approached him and introduced myself. What transpired was one of the most interesting and delightful conversations I had had in sometime. Muneo-san, like many Japanese, was a little eccentric, his gig was to travel the world with his flute. Not that this in itself was strange but Muneo-san likes to play his flute while surfing and so here was this endearing Japanese surfer paddling out into the line up with his flute, sword like tucked down the back of his black wetsuit reminiscent of some crazy Koga Ninja from Nippon's feudal past. The surf flute Ninja! I collapsed in hysterics at the vision, only the Japanese would conceive something so wonderful.
Muneo-san was showing me some beautifully hand crafted d-fins that a friend of his back home had made and a gorgeous kimono print cover to protect it. He explained that all of the items were a by-product of  'mot tai nai', which loosely translated means wastage or recycling. The concept he aligned to the Japanese way of using every resource, especially in cooking where perhaps every part of a fish would be utilised down to the carcass for stock, or a vegetable from leaf to root. In the surfing industry waste ends up in a dumpster, but for Muneo-san fibreglass off-cuts ended up as curios such as love hearts or swallows and fish, carved from the foam and then resin tinted and glassed into beautiful objects. This idea is not a new one in the land of the Rising Sun where we often see the art of 'tsugi-hagi' that has been practised for centuries. In this concept recycled fabric, usually an heirloom kimono that has seen better days is cut and resewn or patched to regenerate its use for future generations.. In contemporary usage the concept has fuelled itself in the vintage denim market where we see 60 year old jeans patched, re-enforced and resewn and then glossing the pages of collectors magazines such as Free&Easy.
Muneo and the Papa enjoyed this easy conversation despite language barriers and cultural differences because of a commonality of mind and a mutual understanding of ideas. For Muneo the world is truly his oyster as he surfs the globe communicating through his flute and capturing hearts with his  gracious good nature and easy charm.

Muneo-san, Shintaro of the Sea, the flute playing Ninja.