THE JACK EDEN STORY: Part 1. Surfabout magazine photography “caught the mood” of a surfing nation in the sixties!

FRANK MORRIS

THE MIGHTY JACK TAKES TIME OUT TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED WITH HIS FAVORITE SURFBOARD.

JACK EDEN BEGAN CAPTURING SURF IMAGES ON FILM IN 1956. SUDDENLY, THE SIXTIES HAD ARRIVED. JACK, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, WANTED TO KNOW WHAT MADE THE SIXTIES TICK.

Regarded as the pioneer of surfing photography, Eden clicked his way “through truckloads of film” for his magazine, Surfabout, of which 24 issues were published between 1962 and 1968.

There’s no way he could have realised at the time that these images, which record the innocence, lifestyle and revolutionary surfing styles of this period, would be the focal point of a major national point of a major national Jack Eden’s Photographic exhibition more than 30 years on.

The original negatives had been squirreled away since those halcyon days in the back-room of his studio in Sydney’s south.

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ABOUT JACK EDEN …
FROM THE MID 1990s, THE JACK EDEN SURFABOUT REVISITED COLLECTION WAS ONE OF THE MAJOR EXHIBITIONS TO RECOGNISE THE INPUT OF JACK’S WORK DURING THE SURFING SIXTIES. IT STARTED IN PERTH AND WENDED ITS WAY ACROSS AUSTRALIA. OVERSEAS, IT WAS SHOWN AT THE TRITAN’S GALLERY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND. – FM.
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Eden has captured the quintessence of Australia and Australians in much the same way as the celebrated Max Dupain “defined Australia” in the 1930s.  Writing in The Australian Magazine, Mike Safe said: “His (Dupain’s) style – from the beach and bush scenes of the thirties…was direct, unadorned and strong.”

Says Eden: “The explosion of interest in the exhibition has been phenomenal.  Suddenly, everybody wants to know more about the sixties.”

Eden has been described as “the photographic biographer” of Australian surfing history.  He regards the sixties as surfing’s golden era.  He captured all the greats from the time and one of them, Midget Farrelly, was the seed from which this critically acclaimed exhibition grew.

Jack explains: “He (Midget) rang me up and said “Jack, don’t you realise that you are the recorder of our (surfing) history?”  At the time I thought Midget was having a go at me.  But that’s how the exhibition got started.”

It’s been said that when you talk to Jack about the sixties you’d better be prepared for a good ear bashing.
Says Tracks magazine: “Jack can talk under six foot of wet cement … he’s a human time machine ready to transport you back to the days when surfers could swim and boards were bloody heavy. (He) suspends your disbelief and you find yourself trimming along the lip of his surf stories.”

Retorts Eden: “Guilty as charged.  I found that it was a happy period.  There was an innocence in those days that is hard to explain.

But, obviously, my photographs have caught the mood, the feeling that people relate to.  We’ve noticed people of all ages, surfers and non-surfers alike, take great pleasure in viewing this record of an era that will never return.

“At the time we were regarded as bums – even though a lot of those bums were the top surfers of their day.  Now many of them are important people such as judges, lawyers and barristers … name it and you’ll find former surfers in the ranks.”

Below: Jack, kneeling in front of a portion of his photographic exhibition, with a protective arm around one of his most talk-about print.

SOURCE: The Jack Eden Story appeared in the Jack Eden’s Surfabout Revisited Collection: A time capsule in print, published in 1997.

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ABOUT JACK EDEN …
OF THE SURFING SIXTIES, JACK WAS QUITE LITERAL ABOUT THOSE TIMES. “IN THE ERA WE WERE REGARDED AS BUMS. BUT FOR SOME REASON A LOT OF THOSE BUMS WERE TOP SURFERS. IN THEIR DAY THEY WERE PRETTY IMPORTANT PEOPLE. THERE WERE JUDGES, BARRISTERS, LAWYERS, AND BIG BUILDERS’. YOU NAME IT”.


YOUR DOG: Libra in dogs makes them very snappish towards other people yet very understanding

FRANK MORRIS

I DON’T HAVE A NAME. I’M REFERRED TO AS ‘THE DOG’ WHEN IN THE POUND. BUT I SENSED THAT I LIKED IT VERY MUCH.

Let’s cut to the chase. Compared to other carnivorous domesticated hounds of all sizes, many well-bred; I have lived with a few of them! See, I’m a bit of wag tag sort of breed. I’ve got at least three strains in me, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not strange.

Eleven months ago, I was picked at a dog pound by a carer who had just lost his wife. One of his daughter’s was by his side.

“Let’s just name him my little Comfort,” said the carer. He was in his mid-sixties. The daughter agreed. She carried me to the car. After she got in she said, “Maybe I should get a small dog. What do you think? This one is so nice”.
Hmm, said the carer with a smile.

A whole bunch of ladies at the dog shelter treated us extra-well. And I spent my time frolicking around with a bright terrier a bit older than me. He taught me things – lots of things, in fact.

Libras, in the main, are very affectionate, and the carer spotted it. The carer wiggled his fingers and I ran towards him. I looked around at the terrier.

He was dumbfounded. His eyes were glazed over, not because I was going but he was going to lose a friend. I barked my cheery good-byes to him; and was gone.

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YOUR DOG …
WHEN A DOG WANTS TO HANG OUT THE ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ SIGN AS ALL OF US DO NOW AND THEN, HE IS REGARDED AS A TRAITOR TO ALL HIS SPECIES. – ROMONA C. ALBERT.
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As I grew older, the carer always spoke kind words to me. He looked at me and said, “You’re a most elegant little animal”. I followed him around or kept an eye on him, even at play!

Then I fell asleep …

All I recall is the wide spaces. In my dreams, which were humungous, I was down at the park. It was here that I brought out another of my worldly traits; being artistic.

I don’t draw, I don’t paint, I don’t do, aah … but I can do artistic body-shapes on the field.

It was just natural. That’s not say that I also elected to do some damn painstaking practice to boot.

But I dreamed on …

First, the field comes alive with my antics playing catch-the-ball. They never witnessed anything like it.

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YOUR DOG …
WE ARE ALONE, ABSOLUTELY ALONE ON THIS PLANET, AND, AMID ALL THE FORMS OF LIFE THAT SURROUND US, NOT ONE, EXCEPTING THE DOG, HAS MADE AN ALLIANCE WITH US. – MAURICE MATERLINCK.
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The carer tosses the ball into the air, then I jump and let my body perform all the tricks.

On trick is (I call them tricks) that I’m in the air ready to catch the ball in my mouth; next is my front feet, protecting all my body, and showing amazing skill, grabbing the ball, with my shape-wise falling to the ground.

The crowd clapped.

I must have done at least a dozen tricks like this. The best one, I feel, was when I used my tummy to bounce the ball and me catching it with back paws.

It’s hard to believe but I travelled kilometres off the ground and I had a hypnotic view. The crowd loved it. Every artistic trick got the people gaping. Some with horror.

My performances draw people from all walks of life to the field. They expected to see a magnificent show. When it was over, so was the dream. You could see the relief in my face.

On this day, a district inspector came to see if my carer would be interested in a badge for the dog’s home.
“Yes, yes, yes!” said my carer.

As usual, I was sitting by his side. “Come on Comfort, let us get something to drink and eat.

You bet, I thought.

Below: Comfort: true and discreet Libra.


WALT DISNEY: Part 3. The secret life of Walter

JIM HOKERMAN     Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

FUHRER HITLER AND LENI RIEFENSTAHL. TOGETHER THEY PLOT A WAY THROUGH DISNEY’S FOIBLE.

WHEN LENI RIEFENSTAHL HIT HOLLYWOOD SHE ADROITLY PRESENTED HER PSEUDO-DOCO TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, THE FILM FOR WHICH SHE IS KNOWN.

When the Nazi film maker Leni Riefenstahl visited Hollywood in 1938, Disney was the only industry notable to greet her publicly.

Had he been smitten by the vision of totality, that she had so adroitly presented in her pseudo-doco Triumph of the Will (1934), was as controlled an artifice as any of Disney’s cartoons.

Although not everyone is as blunt as Kenneth Anger. (He told an interviewer that ‘Walt Disney was the Hitler of children. ‘He killed their imaginations by programming them with his saccharine prefab fantasies!’).

Anger said “it has more than once been observed that the mania for cleanliness, control and order was a trait that Uncle Walt happened to share with the Nazi dictator”.

Of course, Disney only indulged in the fantasy of mass murder, and it happened just once. Under the pressure of World War 2, but acting as a private citizen, he dreamed up Victory Through Air Power (1943).

It was a long-since suppressed feature-length cartoon that ended with the triumphant obliteration of Tokyo.

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GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS …
IT’S 1952, AND THE CHURCH IS OVERFLOWING WITH MOURNERS. MORE THAN 200 WAITED OUTSIDE AT THE TOORAK PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FOR THE FUNERAL OF SIR KEITH MURDOCH. PRESENT WERE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES FROM AUSTRALIA AND OVERSEAS, EVERY METROPOLITAN NEWSPAPER IN AUSTRALIA INCLUDING THE NEWSPAPER UNIONS -- AND FIVE HUNDRED WREATHS WHICH CARPETED THE LAWN. – FM.
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Apparently, the film displayed an alienation worthy of Riefenstahl’s.

A contemporary film reviewer cited the absence of “suffering and dying enemy civilians” underneath its animated explosions and called it “a gay dream of holocaust” that reduced war: it became a “morally simple (matter) of machine-eat-machine”.

But whatever else Walt and Hitler had in common, the Fuhrer (unlike his buddy Benito Mussolini) was not a fan of “Michael Maus”.

Evidently, no mouse could be clean enough for Hitler. He termed Mickey “the most miserable ideal ever revealed” and unsuccessfully attempted to have banned from his Reich.

Hitler’s failure to get rid of Mickey may explain the megalomaniac undercurrent in Disney’s response to this attack on his alter ego.

NEXT: More about the Fuhrer’s Empire and the back-biting over a bevy of anti-Hitler cartoons.

SOURCE: Adapted from The secret life of Walter Disney by Jim Hokerman, in the Nation Review, May 31, May 1979.

Below: A nightmare for the face of Hitler.

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YOUR DREAM …
O GOD, I COULD BE BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL AND COUNT MYSELF KING OF INFINITE SPACE WERE IT NOT THAT I HAVE HAD BAD DREAMS. – WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, HAMLET.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 11 October 19

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