Cover Story continued

Unwavering Wisdom

Starting in the late 1930s, on a golden shore far, far away, a ragtag group of misfits drew upon legends of Hawaiian water-wisdom and begat surf culture. They weren’t angels, and they weren’t purists, except for an obsessive need to be in and around the ocean. They were perpetual kids, outliers who deliberately rejected the normal American path. If this sounds too much like the premise of Gidget, and the whole topic of surfing doesn’t exactly move your hipster meter, then in a strange way this book of short oral reminiscences by one of the life masters of surfing, Mickey Munoz, is for you. In No Bad Waves you will find weird true adventures that make whatever you did last First Friday seem contrived and amateurish. Here you will meet people who invented a culture and bequeathed it to the world without bothering to post it on Tumblr.

For instance, when it came time to film Gidget, the slightly built Munoz agreed to don a bikini as a stunt surf chiquita–anything to get paid–which led to a life of surfing in drag, both for the movies and for the extra pleasure it gave him to see people’s eyes pop. Munoz tells story after story (many familiar from The Surfer’s Journal, but it’s nice to have them in one place with so many period photos). Through him we see the evolution of surfboards, swimfins, sailboats (including the Hobiecat) and, not incidentally, the whole waterman philosophy of living rough as an antidote to cultural sterility and alienation.

A good oral/pictoral history like this is a gift. Those who need to revisit the past in order to survive the present will give it to themselves, or maybe to Dad on Father’s Day. Then, in classic RF style, steal it back from him.

No Bad Waves:Talking Story with Mickey Munoz

Mickey Munoz, foreward by Yvon Chouinard

Patagonia Books 2012


$35.95 hardcover.