Friday, May 04, 2007

Kook Power!

During my last surf session, I must've heard the word "kook" used fifty times. On a log in front of the break the words, "Kooks Go Home!" is sprayed as a warning to anyone who doesn't understand the rules of the spot. When two kids in hoodies walked out on the rocks and tried to snap a picture, a barrage of "Fuck you, kooks!" and "No photos, kooks!" was thrown at the duo, who immediately lowered their camera and scurried back to the parking lot. The locals jokingly called eachother "kooks" when they blew waves or didn't make sections.

I sat in the lineup and felt somehow that after three years of paying my dues, I had earned the waves I got. But there was a time not too long ago that I was proud of being a kook.

When I started surfing, it had nothing to do with being cool or becoming a shredder. It was all about getting out of town with the boys and sharing crazy experiences. My first stick was a big plastic banana board with a flimsy 6-foot leash. I was so content to roll in my 4/3 wetsuit (bought at an online clearance house), get worked on the inside closeouts, surf tiny waves, and hoot and holler at every good set that came through, whether anyone was riding or not.

As a matter of fact, after thumbing through a couple surf mags and seeing the horrible ways surfing was being marketed to the masses, I decided that looking like a surfer was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I did get stoked. I surfed more and more and for longer sessions. My equipment changed gradually to a custom 7'0 egg, then to a 6'6 hybrid shape. Now I pull a $700 quad fish out of my bag and wear a 6/5 super-stretch hooded suit. I pick surf spots based on studying the online charts and don't even bother driving out to the beach if the swells are over 15 feet (we used to just go and play in the reforms).

Have I changed that much? I still think that mass-marketed surf culture is a joke, but now I try to support artisan shapers and buy quality outdoor gear. I get longer sessions because I'm warmer and better waves because I need them to satisfy my somewhat higher level of surfing. I know more about equipment and what works for me in the conditions we have up here.

Am I still a kook?

I still hoot at strangers on waves and grin from ear to ear after good rides--or good wipeouts. I look like a hodad most of the time (in and out of the water). I have no desire to boost airs.

If those things make me a kook, then I guess I still am--or at least I hope so.

The Kooks - Seaside


pushingtide said...

Damn. I must be a kook too.

Love the Kooks, the band. Do they really have a song called Seaside? Hilarious.

lawless said...

"As a matter of fact, after thumbing through a couple surf mags and seeing the horrible ways surfing was being marketed to the masses, I decided that looking like a surfer was the last thing I wanted to do."

This is such an interesting comment. I know so many guys who feel the same way but somehow they are always the ones people pick out of a crowd and ask "Are you a surfer?". Somehow people know, it's not the uniform it's the tell-tale signs of spending way too much time in the salt-water.

I saw a photo in the latest Surfer's Journal of Velzy I think it was. You could have cut him out and put him in a modern day photo and he would've been just as relevant. Wearing some cut-off chinos and a tight blank t-shirt. I believe the look is called "timeless". Solid gear, no logos. Letting your actions speak for you not your clothing. Tight style, it's all about self-confidence.

Gazelle said...

Kooks are kool!
(especially when they hoot at strangers)

Nash said...

Chum you aren't a kook, you're just a bit gay.

indytrucker said...

$700 quad fish?..WTF? How much is Manny's board gonna run you? Yeah 7 bills for a board that's under 6 ft.?..yeah.
Totally Kookified!

Chum said...

You got me there, Indy. Right around $700 for the Mandala, which is exactly my point. But I have to defend Manny in that his base rate is $650 for a board that is completely hand made - about $100 more than most other boards on the rack. $50 more for the kick ass Moonlight resin work.

The kook is kooking in the kitchen!

Patch said...

Kook is the new kewl...

Jeffery said...

In fairness, your question is a set up. The three criteria you set out for kookness are not really very kooky now are they?

If we set the correct criteria then we may be able to get a more qualified answer.

1. Are you on a pop out or a 'insert old pro name here' model Surftech?
2. Are you wearing this seasons board shorts?
3. Did you spend $100 for a beaver tail jacket? (
4. Do you expect to be accepted wherever you decide to paddle out?
5. Do you think old guys and long boards rule?
6. Are you a small wave specialist?
7. Do you willfully violate every surf no-no?
8. Do you wear booties to the beach?
9. Do you wear a LS rash guard with your spring suit?
10. Do you wonder weather others consider you to be a kook?

I think more than 2 in the yes column = kook, your mileage may vary.

Sharkbait said...

I don't know that it really matters whether you are a kook or not, because there will ALWAYS be some guy sitting on a peak yelling "KOOOOOOOK" regardless.

Kooks are like waves. Or the antithesis of them. They kind of speak for themselves.

Chum said...


I answered yes to the booties one. And yes to the one where I wondered if other people thought I was a kook - specifically at the spot where "kooks" are ejected from the line-up regularly.


You nailed it on the head about the guy who tries to make you fall on your take-off by yelling "KOOOOOK!" as you drop in. Were you out there last week?

Jeffery said...

I answered yes to 6 and 7, but I don't this is a fair assessment of my shredness.