Subject: I am a Camera

Date: 17 Jan 1999 00:00:00 GMT

From: tarla@xtra.co.nz

Organization: http://extra.newsguy.com

Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

One of the best things about New Zealand is that everyone has a great

fish story...and all of them are true. If, like me, you enjoy the more

equitable form of hunting known as "fishing," you will discover NZ to

be a paradise. I believe I've written about the Great Trout Fish (if

not, and you REALLY want to hear about me fishing, tell me and I'll

dredge it up out of memory), so now it's time to tell you about the

Great Ocean Fish.

 

Very soon after I arrived here, Brian told me about this fishing trip

that a workmate was arranging. I said, "Sign us up!" So he did. The

trip finally took place yesterday (Sat.) . At 6:45 am we left the

house and drove the 45 minutes to Gulf Harbour to board the boat that

would take us to Little Barrier Island (or at least the waters off of

it.) From Gulf Harbour to Little Barrier is about an hour and a half's

boat ride at pretty decent speeds all the way.

 

When we boarded the boat, it looked like the beginning of a perfect

day. As the boat left the marina, though, the fog began to roll in,

the clouds lowered from the sky to embrace the land masses. We were

driving into grey air over a smooth sea. I looked around me and

realized that if God was a Director, He was Fellini, and I was His

Camera.

 

When you look through the eyes of different Directors, you get a

different view of the exact same incident. If God had been playing

David Lynch, it would have looked the same, but felt more sinister If

He'd been Ridley Scott, it might have felt similar, but the visuals

would have emphasized the dark clouds looming and the watery surfaces

of the boat itself. But for the moment, God was Fellini and all I

could see was the strangeness of the faces and the surreal aspects of

the thing.

 

There was the ship's Captain, a 40 year old man with the remains of a

dimple in his right cheek and his 8 year old son, a mirror image of

the man with the dimple intact. There was Simon, the arranger of the

trip, with his Terry Thomas dyastema, his gunshot half-calf, his

incessant smoking, chatting it up with the captain over the sea

charts, wearing his fish knife with no small pride, in a sheath on his

be-shorted hip. There was his wife, Carol, a mousy quiet little

strawberry blond with terrifically stained teeth behind her typically

thin Kiwi lips. Beside her sat Edward, a native Chinese man wearing a

floppy sun hat and a suitably inscrutable expression upon his face.

The camera panned right.

 

There sit Gillian and Dean. He's an athletic looking man with the

rugged version of the Kiwi Manface. Gillian is a pretty, trim young

woman who looks quite appealing in right profile. Then just when you

think, "Ah..here's the heroine...." she looks directly into the camera

and you see that she has one hell of a wandering left eye. All beauty

is flawed in Fellini's world. Next to Dean sits Alice. Alice is to

play the role of The Plain Girl. She is pleasant, stable, responsible

and lonely. To the rear of the boat is the good-looking teenager,

Alex, who is actually the Hero of the movie. He is the all-American

boy, thrown into a strange soup, who will emerge the victor at the end

of the film.

 

The camera pans left now, passing those already seen and lingering for

a moment or two on Brian, the Bearded Man who will puke for hours

throughout the film. Next to him is the Camera. It continues panning

left to rest upon Alan, the skinny bearded man who will catch nothing

but a nasty sunburn. He will join Brian in the feeding of the fish

later, but for now, he is just a sort of effeminate, but not quite gay

character study. Lastly there is Neil, the tackle-master. He is the

competant seaman, the middle-aged wisdom of the ocean, a good mate.

 

The boat skims over the surface of the ocean, heading toward the

nothingness of the fog. Suddenly to the right of the boat appears a

solid object out of the gloom, an ocean marker, made larger by the

emptiness it marks.

 

The camera pans the sky for a bit. Large rolls of cumulus fill the air

in alternating layers of white and grey. There are breaks in the

clouds and they reveal brilliant blue sky in varying hues depending

upon how close the breaks are to the horizon. At horizon level, the

sky is a pale cerulean, mid way up, it is pure cerelean, overhead it

is French Ultramarine, straight from the tube. The camera focuses on

these variations in color for a bit, defying the viewer to deny the

truth of this reality.

 

After a time, the sun breaks through the clouds, the fog rolls back to

a distance, but still hovers at the tops of the land masses, the sea

grows glassy and the Island appears. Water sparkles where the sun hits

it. Seagulls fly in formation, tucking their wings at the same time,

rising and falling in the same spots, they play follow the leader a

wing's breadth from the surface of the water.

 

Brian looks unhappy. How can this be? The water is so calm, that

instead of the violent movement one expects, there is a gentle up and

down motion that forces his stomach into a corner and defies it to

puke. He wants to...but he cannot...yet.

 

Gillian and Dean begin catching small snapper that must be returned to

the sea. The Camera focuses on the snapper, drowning in oxygen, one

eye rolling in panic as the hook is removed before it is returned to

the cold water where it can breathe. Simon eschews the hired gear and

assembles his rod and reel. He instructs his wife on the finer points

of catching fish. Alice catches a snapper worth keeping. Alan is now

looking queasy and doesn't approach the fishing with much fervor. He

is just going through the motions. Brian doesn't bother with the

motions. He just sits, looking unhappy. The little boy, Zach, is

running around happily watching everything, trying to bond with Alex,

sensing he is the only other blithe spirit present. Alex tolerates his

excitement with good humor.

 

At first, Alex is catching nothing. He is next to the Camera, and

neither of them is having any luck. On the other side of the boat, a

few decent fish are being caught. Alex decides to move to the bow,

where Neil is sitting, fishing quietly. He gets a bite immediately and

pulls in a nice snapper. "You should move to the front," he tells the

camera. After Simon gets his lines entangled with hers several times,

the Camera agrees and moves to the forward end of the ship and sits

next to The Boy.

 

You view the scene through the eye of the Camera. The line is dropped.

You watch it descend through the amazingly clear water, the breem's

silver, dancing in circles as the sinker draws it down through the

stiff current. It turns bluer as it descends out of sight. A second or

two later, you see the tip of the rod jerk slightly, the reel is

engaged and a quiet struggle begins. The camera does not call out, or

in any way indicate that a significant catch is at the end of the

line. This struggle must be private to truly be enjoyed. Only the boy

notices and he offers encouragement in low tones, instinctively

understanding the nature of the pleasurable battle. It is a strong

fish, it fights harder than a snapper, pulling out the line that has

been reeled in, many times. The battle continues for at least ten

minutes before the boy cries out, "Holy shit, that's a big one." You

can almost feel the Camera smiling. The little boy, Zach, comes

running over, wanting to pull the line out of the water, where the

large fish is struggling. The Camera denies him ,"It's too heavy. Get

the net. I don't want to lose this one by having the hook torn out of

its mouth." The net is brought and a large trevally is removed from

the ocean. It weighs at least 12 pounds. The teenager is gratified. "I

told you the fishing was better up here!"

 

"Why didn't you tell us you had a big one on the hook?" asks the

Captain. We could have all enjoyed it that way." The Captain obviously

doesn't understand the nature of the Camera's joy. It was the silence,

the NOT crowing over a big catch, the deliberate humility of the

procedings that made it such fun. Particularly when Simon was so

obviously fuming over the fact that almost everyone had caught

something except him. The Captain did not understand the pleasure of

perversity, but the Teenager did. He just smiled into the Camera

knowingly.

 

A few minutes later, the Camera catches another fish, a small snapper

that must be returned to the ocean. Brian comes forward only to begin

puking off the bow. The Camera only catches the beginnings of what

turns out to be a magnificent pukefest, but the sound guy is on the

job, capturing every painful heave. As soon as the vomiting ends, the

excitement begins. Carol has caught a large fish, a very strong fish,

a Kingfish if the Captain and Neil know their fish...and they do. Zach

is delighted, "A daddy King!" he cries out, letting everyone know that

he, too, knows his fish. Carol is fitted with a support around her

waist, so that she can reel the fish in and still be in motion. All

lines are reeled in so that Carol can move about with no

entanglements. She fights the fish, working it hard for at least a

half an hour before it can be seen in the waters below, electric

turquoise, whipping back and forth, fifty feet down. It is incredibly

beautiful, unimaginable. The color is the effect of the ocean water,

reflecting the sky onto the silver-grey-green color of the kingfish.

Carol continues reeling slowly, her arms are growing tired now. The

hook is brought out as the fish breaks the surface, strugging mightily

against the line. The Kingfish is landed on the floor of the boat, the

color running out of it, leaving only the yellow fins to testify to

its former beauty in the water. It weighs at least 25 pounds. It takes

a long time to die, gasping for air for more than 45 minutes. Carol

glows quietly. Simon alternates between praising her, and glowering.

He still hasn't caught a thing.

 

Alex catches a trevally, smaller than the Camera's, but still quite

respectable. Alan decides to puke a bit, so that Brian will not feel

alone. Neil begins cooking up steaks and sausages for lunch. The smell

is not helping Brian's stomach, particularly toward the end when the

sausages are cooking on too high a heat; the smell of burning pork is

almost too much for him. He eyes the side of the boat with a mixture

of dread and longing. A few more snapper are caught after lunch.

Edward gets a few, Gillian and Dean snag a couple as does Alice. Simon

is still fish-free.

 

Alex gets a good bite off the tail of the boat. He starts to haul it

in. We cannot tell what kind of fish it is. It's heavier than a

snapper, but it doesn't fight as hard as a kingfish. The Camera looks

out into the sea. The Captain says, "I'll be damned! That's the first

time I've ever seen that...it's foul hooked....and caught." It seems

that Alex's kingfish, while thrashing against the hook in its mouth,

got its tail hooked and the line wrapped around it. As a result, it

was heavy to haul, but easy to reel in, since it couldn't fight. It

weighed about 18 pounds and was the second largest fish of the day. It

was the biggest fish he'd ever caught in his life. He couldn't stop

grinning.

 

Finally, Simon catches a kingfish. He removes his shirt to work it. If

Ron Howard had been directing, he would have looked manly, working the

fish toward the boat. If it had been a Woody Allen film, the role

would have been played by Alan Alda, but he wouldn't have taken his

shirt off. But this was a Fellini film and so the shirt was off, the

support belt was on, and the whiteness of the fish's belly was matched

almost exacly by the color of Simon's. The major difference between

the two was that the fish was all muscle. It was smaller than Alex's

but a king is a king. Brian turned and spoke into the camera, "Thank

God. I hate to think what he'd have been like if he hadn't caught

ANYTHING."

 

It was time to head back to port. On the way back Fellini must have

been getting tired, so Spielburg took over for a bit and celebrated

childhood. All the adults were worn out. The boat was unnaturally

quiet as everyone sort of dozed. Only the Captain, the First Mate, the

little boy and the Camera were attentive. Zach had nothing to do.

There were no fishes to be caught unless they could water ski.

Everyone, including the Teenager was nodding or sound asleep, except

the Camera. He winked into the lens and went to the side of the boat.

Leaning out, he balled up his fist and started punching the spray from

the side of the boat. It splashed onto the grownups. He squealed with

delight. Rather than remonstrate him for being a child, the Camera

decided to join him instead. From the Camera's viewpoint, they leaned

out over the side of the boat, the spray came close enough on every

third bounce of the boat to hit it with your fist. Fists balled, they

punched at the spray repeatedly, splashing themselves, laughing,

dripping enjoying the ocean. "We're getting the chips wet," said the

Camera. "So what?" said the boy, "This is FUN!" The Camera couldn't

have agreed more, so they kept playing. The boy ran inside the cabin

and his father saw how wet he was. He was restricted to the seat

behind his dad, showing the Camera a lower lip that indicated his

displeasure. Then he smiled at the Camera and mouthed the word, "FUN!"

and his dimpled showed itself again.

 

Fellini had rested up and returned. Neil walked out of the cabin

carrying a big tray covered in grapes, and another large bin filled

with ripe strawberries. The company fell upon it like vultures on a

dead donkey. Brian ate a few grapes to counter his dehydration and

wonder of wonders...kept them down. Not so lucky was Alan, who favored

the group with the sounds of retching just one more time before we got

to port. Out came the chocolate nut bars and caramel logs

(brownie-like objects not encountered in the US). Once again, raptors

on carrion. The marina came into sight. The camera pans across the

million dollar yachts swaying gently in their moorings. The boat is

docked and tied up. Now the unloading of the fish begins. The pile

grows larger and larger. By the time the bottom of the bin is reached,

there are four kingfish, three trevally, and a pile of snapper in

sizes from 30 to 45 cm. After capturing the moment in photos, we

started pulling our fish to the side in order to bag them. Alex had

caught the second largest kingfish, the second largest trevally, and

two respectable snapper. The Camera caught the largest trevally, one

of the smaller snapper, and one of the biggest. The Captain threw one

of his own snapper into their pile. The Boy looked down at

approximately 40 pounds of fish and said, "THAT was a good day's

fishing."

 

The Camera replied, "Think what it would have been if Brian had felt

like fishing..."

 

The Boy smiled, "I think it was his puke that drew the fish in. He may

be the reason we caught so many."

 

At that, my friends, was The End.