Nate Lytle may be only 23, but he's well-known among Gulf Coast surfers. He's an energetic, friendly guy who's always been eager to help out anyone in a pinch.
Unlike most surfers, or at least most surfers we've run into, he's also deeply religious.
Lytle never shied away from taking on seemingly dangerous waves, so it's a damn shame that he's now in a hospital bed with a traumatic brain injury because he fell off a ladder.
Lytle's accident occurred June 4, just days after he stopped being covered by the medical benefits from his four-year stint in the U.S. Coast Guard. The local surfing community is rallying to raise cash.
"We all leave a wake as we paddle through life. Nate's wake is deep, wide, & significant," says one poster to the forum at www.elride.net, the Web home for Gulf surfers.
The fund-raising effort isn't limited to just Gulf surfers. It now includes surfers from outer space.
Mike Black, a former Houstonian now living in California, is hosting a benefit viewing of his film Invasion! From Planet C at the Aurora Picture Show July 6 and in Galveston, at Yaga's Tropical Café, on July 5. Half the proceeds will go to the Nate Lytle Recovery Fund.
"I know how expensive a hospital stay can be," says Black, producer and star of the film. Black, who also has a graduate degree in mathematics from UC-Santa Barbara, suffered his own massive brain injury in a surfing accident several years ago.
We're not saying Black's head injury had anything to do with the plot of Invasion!, but here it is, in his own words (and FYI, "stoke" is the rush you get from riding a great wave): "The story is about a planet that has run out of stoke. Planet C will explode without stoke. Two humanoids (Casanova and Gnar Gnar) are sent from Planet C to harvest earth's stoke...At the end we learn that stoke is not something that is harvested, rather it is something you become."
Oooookay. Good to see that recovery's coming right along.
Invasion! may not be a cinematic masterpiece (although the Santa Barbara Independent called it "a blast," and it features surfing footage from New Zealand, Costa Rica and Fiji). In fact, we're pretty sure it isn't.
But it is fun, and it is for an undeniably good cause.
Elsewhere in this week's Houston Press, you can see our examination of the world of sports-talk radio in Houston. A couple of things that didn't make it into the story:
First, the start-up station KILE-AM, which will begin broadcasting sports and "guy talk" in the fall (becoming, improbably, the fourth sports-talk station in Houston), has announced its all-important afternoon drive team. And it includes a guy whose radio experience has consisted pretty much only of being a caller into sports-talk shows.
Sean Pendergast has made a name for himself by being a five-time winner of the "smack-off" contest on the nationally broadcast Jim Rome Show, a contest where callers try to outdo each other in mocking rants. (He'll be joined by John Harris, a college-football Web writer who also has never hosted a show.)
Just because Pendergast can make a hilarious four-minute speech, does that mean he can carry a four-hour show?
"Absolutely," says KILE vice-president John Granato. "This is their first big gig in radio and they are so enthusiastic and gonna be so hardworking, it will be great."
We'll see. Or hear, we guess.
There was also this anecdote, which we had never heard but which everyone who is a veteran of Houston sports radio has.
It comes from the Jack Pardee, run-and-shoot days of the Houston Oilers. Quarterback Warren Moon had a weekly show on KTRH, cohosted with Jerry Trupiano.
One week Moon was injured and was going to be replaced in an upcoming game by backup Cody Carlson.
Moon was on the phone and not in the studio for the show, but callers were talking to him and Trupiano about all the things people talk about on sports radio.
Then one guy calls in. He talks for a minute or so, in a completely normal voice, about the matchup with the Raiders that week and what the Oilers' chances were. "He sounded completely lucid, normal, a typical sports-show caller," says one radio guy.
Then, in the same completely normal voice, he added: "But what I really called to ask about: Do you think the offensive line is going to block as well for Cody Carlson as they do for that fucking nigger?"
Stunned silence ensued.
"Un-fricking-believable," says one of the radio guys who told us the tale. "I was driving and I nearly went off the road."
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Moon stayed silent; Trupiano asked, "Are you still there, Warren?" and then moved quickly very quickly, we're sure to another subject.
Houston sports fans ya gotta love 'em!!
The Dog Days of Summer
Summer is upon us here in Houston, and its become somewhat obvious that the Houston Astros will offer no relief from the torture. They have been playing dull, mediocre, losing ball all year, and they show no signs of changing. Yes, we know theyve mounted big comebacks in the second half of previous seasons, and that the NL Central Division is so bad the 1962 Mets would have a good chance in it. But theres nothing much indicating things are going to turn around this time. Enjoy the dog days of summer, folks.