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A Definitive History of Surfing's Culture and Heroes
By  Malcolm Gault-Williams

This Chapter Updated:  14 April 2008
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Kemp Aaberg and the Phenomenal Rise of California Surfing

An Interview with William Hale Clarke and David Dahlquist in Carpintaria, California. 12/23/2001.


(Image Courtesy of Bud Browne)

Before Gidget there was nothing. Well... certainly at the time surfing went public with the release of "Gidget" in 1959, few had any idea the movie would launch a billion dollar sports industry. "Gidget", was loosly based on the adventures of Kathy Kohner a Westwood High School tomboy who learns to surf with "the guys at Malibu". Kemp Aaberg was one of those "guys" and one of her high school friends. Aaberg, a tremendous natural athlete, later went on to become a Malibu lifeguard. He fit the image of a young, blond, wave rider that has become the sport's prototype. As one of the stuntmen for the surfing scenes in Gidget, Kemp along with Mickey Dora and Johny Fain made up the crew that introduced the world to surfing. "The rest is history..."



APPRECIATION:

William Hale Clarke wrote: "Kemp Aaberg resides in the hills overlooking Santa Barbara, is an accomplished Spanish classical guitar soloist and respected Rincon local. Thanks to Kemp for revealing these many insights into the phenomenal rise of California surfing. Many thanks to longtime friend and Rincon local Dave Dahlquist for allowing us to use his Carpenteria workshop for this December 2001 interview."


INTERVIEW:

KA:

"I'm definitely what you would call an "antique" surfer...kind of like the old time longboarder. And any of my surfing explorations were definitely done on the big, straight, "tongue depressors" with the fin stuck right on the tail. Cause I've been around surfing for a long time, and many, many decades have passed now since the middle fifties when I first started surfing. So I'd say that any given person would probably never have even heard of me really...although I was totally amped out of my mind in what you would call the forefront of development of what you would call "hot dog" surfing during that time of the late fifties and early sixties. So incredible as you reflect on it... it was an incredible period of time. Everything was being invented, the whole thing was bubbling forth like it would anyway but it was just happening then in the late fifties because the boards became developed. They cut them down to about nine feet and got the redwood stringers out of there... threw those out. Pretty soon people could start turning for the first time. And when that turn started happening, that's when surfing really caught on and I'd say that the advent of Dewey Weber and the movie called"The Big Surf" by Bud Browne, young gremmies in the South Bay saw that performance by Dewey Weber cranking giant turns on about 10 or 12 foot Makaha waves...all the little South Bay gremmies of all ages went, "Wooow!!! where is the surfboard shop!!!" and they headed to Velzy/Jacobs both partners and at that time there were only three, actually four board makers along the coast of any significance; there was Hobie in Dana Point, and there was Gordy, Gordon Duane in Huntington Beach and then you go up to Velzy and Jacobs in L.A. and Santa Monica and they were both partners hacking the boards out with draw knives."

"Like I said, every gremmie in the South Bay that knew anything about the ocean was going to get his new "Pig Board", which was a wide tailed board that would barely kick-out. And that was really where surfing started bubbling forth and becoming popular like it is today. And the last board maker was up in Santa Cruz and that was O'Niell. Jack O'Niell was also hacking away at balsa blanks. So think about that though, it was a very undeveloped and incredeably packed with potential sport. I wish I'd realized it more then. All I was, was a stoked high school enthusiast that was lucky enough to tune into Malibu in its hay day and concerning this Rincon area where I spent most of my years riding a surfboard. I used to come up on a Friday night, it was the most exciting thing in the world, driving along on the Coast Highway through all the stop signs in Ventura and we'd get up here in the middle of the night and run down to the beach and if you could hear the waves pounding, like I heard last night at the Biltmore."

I was there last night at the Biltmore and it was shaking the Sea Wall a little bit and I'm going, "Oh boy, this is great" and I remember some vivid, vivid times, sleeping over in the State Park, waking up in the morning and you'ld see the likes of people like, Phil Edwards as he strolled out on a picnic bench sleeping overnight and Peter Van Dyke who was into big waves at the time and we'd go down to Rincon and it would be 8+ and 10 and with no wetsuit, balsa board, just cranking these giant walls. I can remember Phil who we definitely emulated, because when I saw some of his first rides I went, "Oh my gosh this guy has got something cooking!" I did not know that his secret was riding a board that was so gol-danged heavy it would plow through anything. It was about a 45 pound, wide tailed balsa board that you could barely pick up. Cause I remember as a kid being on the beach picking up his board and going, "Oh God, how does he ride this thing?" But what he would really do was stall that giant board. It was about a ten foot board that he called "Babe" and he would lean back on the tailblock and stall the board and it would just get get hung up in the curl and then he'd take a couple of steps forward and with all that weight, he would just blast through sections, soup, tubes, the whole nine yards and we were going "All right!!" Just absolutely influencing the gremmies on the beach. So I became a guy who would stagger around my board and bounce of the soup and basically copy what was going on until the boards got better.

WC:

Can you talk about that famous shot of you at Rincon in the early sixties doing an arch?

KA:

Well that shot was taken in the winter of 1959 and it was a shot by John Severson set up on the rocks there. He was sitting amongst the clam diggers.

DD:

That's a classic shot.

WC:

It is... It's a real enduring image.

KA:

It became the logo for Surfer Magazine and they punctuated every article with it which is amazing. The track record on that thing was just amazing. It just sustained.

WC:

You had the perfect form... the "archtypal" form.

KA:

I don't know, let's put it this way, I went, "Whooow!" and put my hands up in the air for a moment... I don't know. But Severson liked the shot so he utilized it for a logo for his magazine. Like I said, alot of things were developing then; magazines, movies, surf music, surf clothing... but most important of all and especially to me, was improvement with the boards so that you could turn 'em because the whole exciting thing about surfing was making good bank turns. And of course they've gone further than I really want to go with these short boards and all the gyro... you know... I can't go into the "cuisinart blender" when you wipe out on those things and the fins are roaring around like a vegetable chopper. It's wild. I had a neighbor, a gal, in the late eighties who crashed at Hammond's Reef with the short boarder in front of her the board spun around when she was in the wipeout and the board caught her in the eye and took it out.

DD:

I remember that accident.

KA:

Sally Sebatoni. Not pretty. She's a sweet gal, real fit, strong... bad accident. Surfing is dangerous, you got to be careful. There was this guy, Sarlo, Allen Sarlo, at Malibu in the summer... ripping accross the main wall... and some guy launched a large surfboard and it cut him from his ear almost all the way around his whole throat. He survived..and I just thank God I wasn't the lifeguard on that. I used to be the lifeguard at Malibu. And aside from controlling "Tubesteak", I mean controlling "Porkchops". Tubesteak keeping his beer in a bag. I experienced years of fun surfing and getting paid for it.

WC:

I wanted to resolve something once and for all: Is it true that Tubesteak Tracy's namesake originated because he collected bottles on the beach and bought hot dogs with the proceeds? I ask this because in a magazine interview he said that he worked in Malibu Restaurant called "The Tubesteak" and that was how the name originated.

KA:

Do you know what, I can't verify anything. But if you call him Terry, he'll go, "Don't call me that... that's what my mother calls me!" Then what do I call you Terry? (....his name is Terry Tracy) and he goes, "Tubesteak 'll do". He has a very dry sense of humor. I've known him since I was sixteen and he was a very colorful... he says, "Some people surf... other people have personality....I don't need to ride waves..I have the personality".

WC:

He just hung out on the beach, he didn't surf at all?

KA:

At San Onofre he put a card table out there on the sand halfway between the parking lot and the water. and he put a phone out there on the card table and an umbrella and then he'd sit there in a little lounge chair sipping some sort of white wine and you'ld walk by and say, "Tubesteak, what's the phone for?" and he goes, "Just in case my agent calls". And then he would also go on all the time down there at San Onofre, he would say that he was "between pictures". And he would complain, not only was he "between pictures"...he would complain that the beach had no leadership whatsoever... that it had no direction, noone to talk to... noone to give out advice and that was going to be his function there. He was sort of like a social worker. "Alot of these guys are just wandering around here aimlessly without any leadership. He was funny, really funny.

WC:

Malibu used to have all these characters down there. I remember guys living up by the lagoon - "squatters", did you have to deal with that as a lifeguard?

KA:

No. At that time there was very little of that - that would be in the early sixties... they'd actually go home to their mothers. Malibu was riddled with characters though. No doubt about it... a turnstyle of characters.

WC:

So you started surfing in '56 right? And that was the year Kathy Kohner (the Gidget) started surfing...

KA:

Kathy Kohner went to high school with me at University High School (next to UCLA in Westwood). We were both in the same class and in that University High School in 1956. There were; one, two... four of us interested in surfing. Four of us that did it. And one of the guys was showing me how to do it on his "toungue depressor" shaped 10' board that was terrrible... and Kathy somehow got into it and came down to the beach and she was one of the rare girls that would try surfing. There were 2 or 3. There was Marge Calhoun who was quite good at it and her daughter Candy Calhoun who was very good at body surfing and then there were some other people, 2 or 3 women. But then Kathy was the one that met all the beach guys that hung around down there and ran home and told her father, "Oh you should see this guy, he just lives on the beach!".

WC:

Moondoggie right?

KA:

No, different people. Moondoggie was actually a guy named Billy Al Bangston and he was a real formidable artist and he wore bizzarre clothing which Bob Cooper copied. He wore bumblebee sweaters, that had stripes on them and big hats and grew a giant beard. And Billy Al Bangston wasn't a real waterman, he could barely swim so he'd only ride inside the cove and he would throw his hands up in front of him and ride on the tip of the nose until crashed on the sand right in the shorebreak and then he'd walk out to waist deep water again with his board and just ride that little inside shore break. And his great stance was standing on the nose with his hands up and it was like a dog "howling at the moon" it was that particular image that the guys on the beach... see Malibu had a pit area (by the wall) and at that time it was tubesteaks "compound" and at that time it actually had barded wire wrapped around it so that only certain individuals could sit on all the discarded furniture that was inside this compound area.

WC:

There was a shack there too right?

KA:

There was a shack included, yeah, old coffee tables, couches, shack and stuff like that with barbed wire around it and stuff like that. And we'd look out and criticize... and at that time, you were worried about being criticized. That's because everthing was so shakey as far as surfing went. So you see Billy Al Bangston coming along in the shorebreak with his arms extending in front of him and his beard up in the air and he'd be crashing into the sand and into the shorebreak and he'd look like a dog, "howling at the moon"... therefore he was named "Moondoggie".

WC:

That's great! That's the truth?

KA:

That's the truth. He was the Moondoggie and Gidget had nothing to do with him, because he looked like, "Euwww, he's older..." She was interested in the younger guys like this guy, what's his name... its slipping my mind ' right now - Bill Jensen. This guy Bill Jensen who drove a beautiful like fifty two convertable Ford, board hanging out the back, he was mister clean, hair combed, went to college... you know, the "perfect' guy. And she had a crush on him but he never really cared that much about her. The deal on the gidget is, and this is it in a nutshell: She came down there to surf. Tubesteak realized that she loved the beach and suggested that she bring a picnic basket filled with food and come down and come into "the compound" and feed all these "bums". so she'd do it on a daily basis and bring down a picnic basket with sandwiches and a little cooler with drinks. That made Tubesteak happy because he didn't have to forage as heavy as he did. Every once and a while someone would give a suggestion about how to surf. And this is true and what is wild is this is the year 2001, last spring I was at a party in the Palisades and my old school friend, Kathy Kohner was there and we had a good talk people and places and high school and going to the beach and she said, "Kemp, you've got to come over to my house and see my old diary". I said, "Oh, you're kidding, is MY name in it too?" and she says, "Yes". And I went with her over to her house which was very near this party in the Palisades... went into her "boudoire" and she got out her original "Gidget" diary and I looked through that and there was things like, "Oh yeah and Micky (Dora) came down today and God, he looked so cool and Kemp, he's a nice guy" and that kind of thing. All this surf lingo garble which was read over very carefully by her dad. And her dad is the genius. He's the one that said, "Hey, there's a story here." and he synthesised the "Gidget" thing and then it became a movie.

WC:

And the rest is history.

KA:

The rest is history. And I in a naive way lived through all that because they were doing pilot films to see if surfing could be photographed. Surfing had not been photographed except for Bud Browne and then a few movie guys thought, "God, could we take movies of this?" and I remember going with Johny Fain, Micky Dora, myself... we were getting paid twenty bucks to ride up to Arroyo Secos and ride waves off the rock while they filmed and then they'd take the film into the studio and develop it. And they said, "Oh, this looks pretty good on film". And those were the pilot movies for "Gidget". And they selected a little guy like Micky Munoz to be a double for Kathy Kohner (Sandra Dee). Kathy didn't do any of her own surfing or anything.

WC:

I was reading that Johny Fain did the double for her (Sandra Dee) because she thought she would get caught in the kelp.

KA:

He also was a double. Fain and Munoz who was a Santa Monica Canyon guy.

WC:

The "Quasimoto" guy. Around 1965... were you lifeguard when they had that riot at Malibu? There was some kind of riot on the beach? Bikers duking it out with surfers... right out of a "Beach Party" movie... Eric Von Zipper... greasers and surfers.

KA:

No.

Kemp's exploits were detailed further when his younger brother Denny cowrote 1978's "Big Wednesday" with John Melius. "Big Wednesday", another Hollywood effort to glorify Malibu's "Golden Era" has become a cult classic. According to a 2004 Surfline.com reader poll, "Big Wednesday" is considered the most accurate portrayal of surfers Hollywood has ever made. William Katt plays the "straight-up" character in the movie's triage - a flamenco playing surfer / lifeguard who voluntarily enlists in the military during the Viet Nam War - a character clearly based on Denny's older brother Kemp.

WC:

What was the biggest surf you ever saw at Malibu?

KA:

"Actually one of the biggest swells I ever saw was when I was just learning to surf and really didn't have the ability to surf it. '56... the summer of '56. I was more of an onlooker and looking at good, big, clean, huge 10' walls... stacked up like corderoy on the horizon coming off that point. And the guys that were ripping it were Matt Kevlin, Mickey Dora and Dewey Weber was just ripping it to pieces and he was doing these round house beautiful turns. And I really didn't know what surfing was all about then...I could body surf, I could work a skimboard and I was just learning to come along with surfing. I thought Malibu was like that all the time, that's how naive I was. I thought gee! well this is great, look at the fun those guys are having. There was a guy named Richard Jaeckle who was a contemporary of Peter Lawford. The movie star guys were riding. I'm not kidding, surf stories are surf stories but I swear off the point these big walls would just rise up, ruler edged wall on em and I would see guys streaking off the point on these long, sharp railed wood boards and pulling out at the pier. And I remember going out and sitting on the inside by pier and kind of like a little washing maching going, "where was that little 2 footer?" ... Seeing watching Dewey Weber just coming around on these beautiful turns and really, really looking good. Alot of energy in it."

WC:

Bruce Brown's son made a movie called "Endless Summer Revisted". It contains a sequence of you and Dewey Weber at Velzyland. You and Dewey are supposedly having a contest and he (Bruce Brown) goes. "Wait a minute, Dewey Weber is not competing fairly, he's surfing in slow motion" because Bruce slowed the film down showing (Dewey Weber) making this beautiful turn and then runs up to the nose"

KA:

That was an excerp from his movie "Slippery When Wet" done in 1958, and I don't know how they edited it but that was a balsa period, the foam board hadn't been seen.

WC:

That's balsa? Wow, really... cause his (Weber's) style on that wave is classic, I mean, you can't do much better than that.

KA:

You know Dewey was a champion wrestler. During that time, this was 1958, we were all living on the North Shore while Bruce was making his first movie and Dewey lived next door and when things would get boring in the Islands, he would come over an visit our house and put people in head locks and crunch ribs... like he would grab you like with some wrestling thing and then you'ld hear a few ribs snap and you'ld go, "Dewey! you asshole get out of here!" He was like wound up like a top. He was so strong and energetic, I think he was hyperactive. The thing I see with him alot, is that he would come off of that charge to the nose and walk back fast and as he walked back, he'd whip a cutback... just incredeable. Then coming around in the soup again and charging, his elbows pumping, charges up into the curl, and stomps his way up to the nose like an angry young man like, "God dang it - rip -rip-rip" That's where ripping started. He was good though. I used to surf in the South Bay on 22nd St. and I'd see Dewey out there and say, "What are you doing Dewey?" and he says, "TRAINING!" ... "Training for what?" He would just be like pumping it all the time.

WC:

I heard about some incedent where somebody drowned at Malibu in the fifties... hit the pier - a black guy.

KA:

Oh that's an old story. Just in big surf that some guy hit the pier and drowned but that was before my time That was in '52 or something like that. You don't shoot the Malibu Pier. The answer here is... do not shoot the Malibu Pier as you do the Huntington Beach Pier.

WC:

Have waves ever broken past the end of the Pier?

KA:

I don't think so... unless the tide was so damn low... no I don't think so. In fact on a 10' day if you got the ride all the way to about the middle of the pier... and you pull out. And 10' days are very, very rare. When it comes up, its probably 5,6,7'. 8' is really, really big. The 10' stuff is like... epic. Like, "I can remember when..." I've seen 10' waves there though.

WC:

I saw the summer of '68 and there was all this erosion all the way down to the wall.

KA:

Seen it... love it... that's when coins were sticking out. I would run along that wall. There was a berm that was built up by the water coming into the cove and carving out the sand that had built up over the summer. And what is wonderful about that is that it would expose all of these coins that had been lost in the sand and they would just all be sticking like strata, they were layers and layers, you could just reach up and go, "fifty cents!" and it was all the public, the general public over many, many years had lost all these coins in the sand out of whatever. And there were actually some old coins there that were from the early 1900's.

DD:

So what was the origin of that wall?

KA:

That wall to do with that nice Spanish style Ringe Estate, it was part of the Rancho and has been unchanged, unmodified. It just kind of sits there like an old road. Its right by the old road. The old road is right there behind it. It was fenced off for years, it had barbed wire.

WC:

I heard that it was private. That nobody could go there. They had guards going up the beach with rifles and then Sam Reid supposedly was the first guy to surf it. Tom Blake and Sam Reid in the '20's.

WC:

I wanted to talk about "Big Wednesday". I know your brother's not here. But one of the characters in it is a lifeguard and obviously must be modeled on you.

KA:

Well... what they did was come up with an idea for a script and Melius while he was going to school out in Northridge, studying cinematography or film studies, hung around Malibu in the early sixties and he became stimulated to make a movie and they synthesised a script that probably could have been alot more interesting and since my brother Denny worked on it and Melius worked on it, they reached out to people that they knew and created characters out of real people that they knew and they did what they call "faction" a synthesis of fact and fiction. So these charachters have nothing to do with really accurate reality and vice versa.

WC:

I was wondering if you inspired that character?

KA:

Oh yes, William Katt's character of the guy who joined the military and be a straight laced guy and surfed after my particular behavior. But I never had any input of like, "Hey, why don't you take this guy and do that..." I never had anything to do with it myself. But my younger brother was more of an observer and he said, "well let's make this guy like Lance Carson, lets make this guy Ray Koontz, lets make this guy like Kemp... me you know. And they put together a story and God... people were so hurtin to see surf stuff I guess it went well.

WC:

It's a cult classic.

KA:

I think it came out about '78 and what can you say. "Things do what they're gonna do". I think its just admirable to get something out there out of the garage and out to the public you know what I mean? I could sit and shoot my mouth off as an authority 'til the cows come home and it doesn't mean diddle-d-squat because about as far as what I did was... I used to write surf articles once a month for the Santa Barbara News Press. That's about what I came up with. You can always say things could have been better, different or if it wasn't like that... you know what I mean?

DD:

You were part of that crew that surfed "The Ranch"... the Hollister Ranch Surfing Association.

KA:

Before that. When you would drive up there and just drive in... none of it was paved. And just ride along the dirt road until you saw the break you liked. And get out. I think I went up there in the real early sixties. Because I used to live right here. Of course surfing led me to come up to college up here. Becuase, God the University by the sea? So Severson used to come up to our house here, we lived on Butterfly Lane by the Biltmore... big two story house. I remember Severson taking us up there and shooting film. You know, open up a barbed wire gate, close it and keep on driving. No problem until more people created more complications and started chasing the cattle around. And then they started saying, "Hey, we're gonna have to NOT let you guys in." And by not letting any surfers in then a surf club of sorts... people that were screened to go in there started. And I left by then, I was gone. You know where the problem arises, one or two guys, the same thing at Hammonds. We used to drive right go over a bump accross the lawn and park right at the break. The Hammond Estate. And I met the young guy - Hammonds. He would come down, cause he knew my girlfriend at the time. We'd be parked right there surfing and he'd come down and say hello. He didn't surf at all. Me and this gal, Sally Bromfield, my girlfriend at the time, so they could talk. He'd have on a blue blazer and an ascott. And he'd say that "The waves were positively wonderful today... smashing waves!" My younger brother Denny and I were surfing out there a couple of days ago... and as we were sitting there waiting for waves, we were making jokes about these cottages and I said, "Which one are you staying in?" And he'd go, "The one right there, its closest to the beach...." Here are these multi million dollar, slate roofed cottages that you couldn't touch if you had to and someone is dialed into them. Boy, the grip of materialism is right there... The naive thing about kids is you think, that's the way it is, its gonna be like that forever and you can never even think of getting one because its off the scale and someone owns it and they must be some rich businessman thats somewhere. Thats the attitude, thats naive, because at that time back at City College when you guys were enrolling, you could drive right up onto the Mesa there, and any of those tract homes up there were all under $100K. They were like $40K, $65K.

WC:

When I moved to Santa Cruz in '75, you could buy those little cottages for $40K.

KA:

When "Big Wednesday" was being made, I lived out in Goleta, I had just started working for United Parcel, that's how I kept myself out of hot water. The houses that I bought were $70K... could you do that now? Jesus Christ, I can't even believe it. I got a house on the Mesa now that I thought I paid a fortune for, and the $300K at the time... and now its doubled. What is going to happen to all the young kids today that do not have a parents money to facilitate their life? In the old days, you could live in the back of your car til you got tired of it and then go pay cheap rent somewhere because you were paying cheap rent and then if you got sick of that you could work in a supermarket stocking shelves until you got enough capital to buy a house. Now you'll spend all your gol danged money at Taco Bell just to survive. I don't know how the kids are doing it. I predict, I hate to say it, there are going to be so many homeless or marginal people that are unable to make their rents. It used to be fun to rent places because it was a token payment for a temporary residence. Now it's like, can I scrape it together month from month just to survive. It is scary. But these early days that we're talking about, I think, I was very naive as to the landscape. And I had no comprehension, I thought real estate, Jesus don't get locked in that's worse than marraige... A mortgage? Mortgage and marraige go together like a horse and carraige.

DD:

I was 19, I got married, bought a house, had my own business and kids by the time I was 21.

WC:

You were the example to all of us; "Can it be done?"

DD:

The nice thing was surfing with my kid at Rincon when I was in my 30's and doing "Go behinds" on 8' waves!!

WC:

Both you and your brother are accomplished musicians.

KA:

That's a matter of opinion. He (Denny) can perform in public with bands.

WC:

You play serious flamanco guitar don't you?

KA:

Yeah. My brother (Denny) plays popular music and plays for surf movies and he plays at longboard contests during their evening parties. All that, I don't do at all. I basically study classical guitar, play written music and play Scarlotti.

WC:

You've been doing that for thirty or forty years right?

KA:

Yeah, I love it. Its self entertainment and keeps me busy and out of the "pool halls".

WC:

And you can read all those complicated scores?

KA:

Yep. Read the music. And then I play also some flamenco which is related to it but its a different type of music. Its more alot of strumming, its very rythmic. But to me its fascinating. And between the two sports, God I wish I was like Greenough because nothin is more fun to me than surfing and then playing the "geetar". Its really fun.

WC:

I love that Spanish style... the compositions are so beautiful.

KA:

They're so beautiful. The music has just hooked me but in the classical realm,you need about two or three lifetimes to eat up what the repetoire is. There's like all this baroque music which is just unbelievable and it goes all the way through into the 1900's. And classical guitars are playing ragtime, "Maple Leaf Rag", "The Entertainer", all those popular ones by Scott Joplin. And then all of the eras represent a giant repetoire like of the early Spanish Renaissance music, which I like alot and most people just go, "Whow...what do you like about that?".

WC:

Have you ever made a CD?

KA:

Never made a CD.

WC:

Have you and your brother ever thought of getting together and doing a project together?

KA:

Not really. We have fun sometimes. He plays a bit of classical and sometimes we work on songs.

WC:

I'm thinking of groups that combined acoustic and electric, "Pentangle" with John Renborn, Bert Jansch. They combined blues and jazz with English folk and had an incredible sound.

KA:

The thing I'm doing now, which I like, is I'm going to start in Santa Barbara. And I want to start the very, very biginners flamenco class. So that a guy that doesn't know what a "resciotto" is, or doesn't know what. In fact, I just wrote an article which I should send you. Its called, "How to speak Flamenco". Its a fun little thing, its about my first experiencerunning into it. But the thing is I see, when I first ran into it, I went, "Boy, that's faxcinating! But it looks so "hairy"... like the hell could you ever do it, its really complex, my God! If someone in Santa Barbara would clue into me, "I'm gonna start a class in beginning flamenco". So that the very, very beginning concepts of the guitar can be related to substantial knowledge about how to strum "Soliares" or how to do a "Resciotto" or what the structure of "Seviannas" is...You know what I mean? These are songs. So I'm kind of stoked on it. I want to see how many people will surface when I advertise that. I used to do a class at the YMCA in classical. People really liked that. I was surprised at how many people said, "Oh, I'll read music!". Alot of people don't want it, they just want a scales training and a pick.

WC:

I got a book by "Noad".

KA:

You know Frederick Noad, I dearly liked that man, he was fabulous. He lived nearby here. He lived in Ojai, which is just over the hill. He published all of the great learning books. He even had a TV program too on instructional classical. Unfortunately, he has died within the last two months.

WC:

I started and could see that even the simple written melodies could really draw you in.

KA:

You know what it was for me alot, its the perfect thing to do for a traveling surfer that was a positive and progressive use of time. It excercised the mind and was also intrinsically valuable. Like you can't go buy this chunk of knowledge that I might sit here with right now. You have to struggle through it and go through it for a long time. So like when I was traveling I'd be in Western Australia let's say and be camped out somewhere... and every place blows out and you aren't gonna sit there... Reading books is fine. And I never was much of a like, "find out where the nearest pub" was. But to like sit there, in a van on the beach or in a chair, and to be reading beautiful music and then coordinating your hands to get better and better. All of a sudden you become totally rapt in it, and you can forget about, you know, the time it takes for the waves to come up again. And yet you're involved in a craft like your (Dave's) woodwork. You know how it is to get, "Wow, this cut's gotta be just right. And that will fit just with this and ah! I've got an idea for this". Its a craft. And its an assembly of pitches and rhythm and I loved it as a way to complement surf surfari, basically, or surf adventure. I mean, I do it at home now. But what I'm saying is that when you're on the road and you have no place to go and you're camping... and stuff like that. Or you're a gypsie or transient. The guitar becomes something that fills in all the time. You aren't just out there...you know... I lived on the isle of Mull for a while in a trailer. I was alone there. And I was studying these Lute pieces. I can't say I ever got bored. There were tons of days of just wind blowing accross the heather. And I'd just sit in this trailer, just plunk away...and its so involving and so much fun. Its a real personal therapy. Music therapy for yourself. That's the way it got me going.

WC:

Has anybody focused on you about your classical guitar playing?

KA:

The only article I've had ever done was by Russ Spencer, who's a local here in Santa Barbara. And he did a profile for Surfer's Journal. That was a while back.

WC:

Denny did the soundtrack for "Innermost Limits of Pure Fun"?

KA:

Yeah, he has songs on there. One of them he sang the other night which I thought was kind of cute. A real cute little tune that he made up the lyrics to... and we were at a Christmas get together the other night, a dinner party, and he played the song called, "Crumple Car". It's really cute, "Rambling down the road in an old VW Bus" like you're bouncing along a dirt road. You'll hear it on "The Innermost Limits" if you see it. But it is cute. I thought, Wow! here he is alive singing this gol danged song that he made up in the sixties. I thought it was corn ball at the time. but now, "Its really a classic!" . " Innermost Limits" is kind of fun. It shows really the primordial "stoke" of surfing. If you watch it, Greenough edits it like... picking the film off the floor and connecting it to the next one on the table like this. So basically when you're watching it, you're jerked from Hawaii, to Australia and up and down. And there's no sense at all. But the subject material is so interesting to watch historically. And it gives you that feeling of really being stoked on surfing. And that thing of going to the beach, having the waves there and getting out and like... Bob Mctavish type enthusiasm of ripping waves... the feeling of "sliding".

WC:

The thing I liked about Greenough's photography was the water... the water textures and patterns of movement as seen through a wide angle "fish eye" lens... That point of view was totally original in surfing. Bruce Brown, Greg McGillvery, Dan Merkel adopted it much later. Greenough invented that and you see derivitives of the technique right up to the present day - on Surfer Magazine covers - Aicher comes to mind .

KA:

You know what, I have to say that, "He was thinking". Because everyone else was just tripod and Greenough is not a standup surfer, he was a kneeboarder basically. And he saw and said, "Hey, I've got to get that on film." I think he was thinking very creatively....closer to the element...what is it like when these "crystal shingles" come pouring over you.

WC:

And the whitewater hits and all the bubbles go off! That photography inspired Pink Floyd. They were so inspired by that photography that they wrote music for "Echoes", his next movie. Those shots of being in the tube and seeing this little piece of daylight and then comming out of it.

WC:

We got to see him at a very private session. We had a pass to the Ranch.

WC:

In the winter of '69-'70. He had the camera on his back and had a whole routine choreographed, but on one wave, a "macker", the curtain came down and he didn't come out and it knocked the film off the camera and he had to come in out of the water. And then we were talking to him on the beach... "The Mad Scientist" with that long blond hair... pure intelligence...

KA:

He is a real character... no doubt about it. And his ... ahhh..."unique situation" is what created him. His mother and dad had a beautiful houseon Miraposa Lane in Montecito and he is... how do you put it?

WC:

A "Trust funder"... but one who put his priviledged circumstance to good use.

KA:

But how many guys do you know that are just amped out of their gords... have unlimited funds behind em and go play hopity - skipity - go luckity and have a good time... without any restriction like him? ... He could have boats to go around the Islands in(Channel Islands), he could experiment... be barefooted at all times... never comb his hair if he ever wanted to... ah Fly to Australia. Any of us that want to go on a trip are going, "God, I can't leave because I'll have to dump this job and then when I leave, I'll just be scraping around...

WC:

We're "Working Class"!

KA:

All your fantasies are crushed by economic obligations... realities.

DD:

He was the icon for unlimited freedom for me.

KA:

But when you're just a young guy, its terrible. What is it, "things are wasted on the youth". But when you're a young guy, your impulses are like, "The hell with school! the hell with this! the hell with that... I just want to get out there and see the world and ride waves. I wanna go to Western Australia, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that. And boy, the possibility of doing that sometimes really hard to pull off. Or you have to really work your ass off in areas that are really a hassle. I did it... so I can talk alot about it... That would be a long talk.

WC:

You're surf travels?

DD:

Did you sacrifice your early education to do that?

KA:

I sacrificed alot of practical years of getting organized... just chasing around and living in a VW Van and putting up scaffold in Germany and working in a brickyard in Australia with all the "Brickies". I could go on and on, the whole nine yards. But I know what it's like to do it WITHOUT the support that Greenough had. Greenough was what you dreamed about. He was a walking "Dream Guy" cause he could just go out and do this non paying frivolous behavior involvment with his surfing and he was in there early enough also to have the fun and creativity of being unique and new and awesome and plus he's really contributed alot to it.

WC:

That's the thing, he contributed a tremendous amount of work; in radical surfing technique and photography.

KA:

He brought surfers closer to the wave. In fact his kneeboarding probably influenced to a great degree, on how guys are handling short boards. Getting sucked in that tube and working those little turns.

WC:

Nobody knew that you could hand that far back and still come out.

KA:

Yeah, why do you need ten feet of board?

WC:

The way he was doing "figure eights" on those big Rincon waves. At that time, who would have thought about that. Bouncing off the soup... "rocket turns".

KA:

The 360 (turn) was a move that was speculated on very early on, and we really came to the conclusion, I mean me and my peers, that it was impossible... Hah! Hah! Now they DO the impossible. Its an equipment issue.

WC:

Its equipment and technique. The grommets of today look at Kelly Slater and go, "Oh that's where you start!"

KA:

Denny and I were talking the other day about surfing and what you can do and really for comfort ability in the water, all of the niceties of riding a longboard is just so damn much easier. And that's why we stick into it, cause we're basically "Over the hill". These kids are so hot.

WC:

I was just looking at this book, with Dora hanging five(a Leroy Grannis shot). It looks like there's no board there, like he's standing on the water..its just such a beautiful shot.

KA:

Longboarding can be very beautiful, with trim control... agile moves... relaxation.

DD:

It's a different statement. I look at guys out there ripping. I remember being out there in the water one day with my son, just a beautiful day, and these guys were just ripping it. I was out there on a longboard and they were hooting me. It's just a different approach, different artistry, different generation.

WC:

I mean the idea is just that you're standing up... You're "walking on water". As long as you can do that.

KA:

You know what I think my next move is... is to go down to Rincon, not San Onofre... and get a little card table and a chair, with a phone on the table and just sit there. Offer as much "leadership" as I possibly can.


.......end.

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