by Corky Carroll
I just got a message telling me that Pacific City, in Huntington Beach, is holding a celebration in honor of Harbour Surfboards 60th anniversary in business. It runs now through May 5th and includes exhibitions, surf films and all kinds of fun stuff. I was thinking that this is pretty cool and it jarred loose some great memories that I have from when Richard Harbour first started making boards in Seal Beach.
Like most surfboard shapers Rich started out knocking out garage boards, but it didn’t take long to see that he had a talent for it and, as surfing was just about to blossom into a full-fledged national fad, he was in the right place at the right time. Gidget had just hit the screen and Frankie and Annette, the former Mousekateer with boobs, were soon to follow. With the support of his mom he was able to open up his business in a very nice little shop right across from the Bay Theater on Main Street.
Sometime around 1961 Rich offered to sponsor me with free boards. The best deals I had before that were “free color” from OLE and “free color and all the stringers I wanted” from SURFBOARDS BY THE CROW. Getting a real sponsor and free boards was a huge step in my surfing career. Rich and I became pals and it was on a beautiful glassy summer afternoon that he took me to Cotton’s Point, a surf spot at the south end of San Clemente, for my first time. This was the beginning of a long love affair I had with that spot. He also started taking me to surf contests up and down the coast along with two other local up and coming surf kids, Danny Lenahan and Eddie Bonham.
In 1962 he made me a magical board that had a beautiful purple and white color job on it. Rich was not only a great shaper, but he also did incredible fiberglassing and color work, one of those guys who could do the whole board himself. I got a cool looking pair of surf trunks custom made from Nancy and Walter Katin that were white with stripes down the side, matched up perfectly with my new board. If nothing else, I looked dam good coming down the beach. In August of that year Rich took me to the San Clemente Surf Capades, the first contest on my new board. It was my very first contest win. Up until then I had never even made it out of a preliminary heat. This was a real life changer and what gave me the confidence to decide that somehow, someway, I was going to become a top surfer and was going to make my living that way. I was so proud of winning that trophy that I had Rich drop me off at the end of our street so I could show it off to all the neighbors on the way home. One of them, Jerry Motes, told me to not let it go to my head. Obviously I didn’t listen to those words of advice. Also, the first time I had my picture in SURFER magazine was in a HARBOUR SURFBOARDS ad, along with Rich Chew. My time with Rich was instrumental in planting the seeds to my life as a surfer, which is thankfully still going.
As time went on I would move down to the south end of the county and went to work for HOBIE in Dana Point. Rich and I have remained friends for all of these years and I always have thought of him as my “Uncle Harbie,” as he was more like an uncle or family member to me than simply a guy who made my surfboards. I have always respected his craftsmanship and the fact that he has been able to survive in the surfboard business all these years. This is a HUGE accomplishment; it is not an easy business. Most board builders have clothing lines and huge chain stores to get by. He is still in that same shop on Main Street in Seal Beach and still making excellent surfboards, no big hype, no additives or glamor ad campaigns. Just a quality product and the love of making them and being a surfer. Happy 60th Uncle Harbie, you rock.
by Corky Carroll
I woke up this morning, as I do most mornings, looking straight at the wall on the right side of my bed. Being a side sleeper and in the habit of laying on my left side I wake up facing that same wall each morning. On that wall is my copy of Rick Griffins famous “Flying Eyeball” poster for a Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Albert King concert from 1968. As I was laying there this morning debating with myself the merits of getting up, or just going back to sleep, I guess I was kind of subliminally looking at the poster and the idea popped into my semi functional little mind to write about my old pal Rick Griffin for todays trek down the wordily wonderland that is my column.
Some history: Rick was a surfer/artist that grew up in the South
Bay in 1950’s. He started out doing cartoon art for Greg Noll Surfboards and then became well known when John Severson hired him to do his infamous “Murphy” cartoons for SURFER MAGAZINE in 1961. This was followed by the Griffin-Stoner cartoon strips depicting adventures of himself and photographer Ron Stoner. In the later 1960’s Rick and his wife Ida moved to San Francisco where he would become world famous for his psychedelic concert posters, Grateful Dead album covers and even designing the script artwork for the masthead of ROLLING STONE magazine. In 1969 he moved back to San Clemente and did more work with John Severson, including the poster for his great surf movie “Pacific Vibrations.” He also worked with Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman on their classic film, “Five Summer Stories.” These were two of the greatest surf movies ever made. Rick would continue to do work on surf projects, album covers, posters, Christian art and paintings. He did the only surfing comic book ever, “Tales from the Tube,” and worked for the Christian based Maranatha Music. One of his great works was his visual telling of “The Gospel of John.” In 1991 he was killed riding his motorcycle without a helmet in Santa Rosa, he was only 47 years old.
I first met Rick when he was originally working for SURFER doing the Murphy and Griffin-Stoner cartoons. I was also pals with Ron Stoner at time. We became good friends and when he moved back to San Clemente my first wife Cheryl and I would often trade baby sitting with he and Ida. When I was first starting out in music Rick did the cover for my first “single” release, “Skateboard Bill,” and also introduced me to the legendary musician Chris Darrow. Chris was big time, having played with Linda Ronstadt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Kaleidoscope as well as a solid solo career. He had just moved to San Clemente and we immediately became lifetime music and surf partners as well as friends. Rick also did a number of album covers for Chris. At one time we put together a make shift, yet actually dam good, surf band to play at one of Rick’s art shows at Chapman College. Some of my favorite times were hanging out with both Chris and Rick and our families at San Onofre Surf Beach having afternoon surf sessions and barbeques on the beach. The Paskowitz family was always there as well as Tubesteak Tracey and his tribe. Chris had a grapefruit tree in his front yard at the time and from these became the beginning of my love for tequila and grapefruit drinks, eventually leading to the now famous and extremely delightful “Corkarita.” It’s a zillion of these little things that you remember that seem to make up a life.
Rick eventually moved up to Petaluma and Chris moved back to his original home in Claremont. I didn’t see Rick again before he died, but Chris and I have continued to make music together, the latest being my recent album for Darla Records, “Blue Mango”, which also features Orange County musicians Matt Magiera, Richard Stekol, Doug Miller, Matt Marshall and Brad Fiedel.
So I wake up each day looking straight at Rick’s famous poster. Most of the time I really don’t think that much about it. But today, thankfully, it lit up my fading memory “find” button and this is what popped out the “retrieve your memory” slot.
by Corky Carroll
With all the talk about the new wave pools that produce perfect waves all day long, all the new surf destinations around the world that are reported to be incredible and all the videos available showing people getting insane rides on insane waves over and over I thought I would touch on the other side of the coin. Surfing really bad waves. This is something that people don’t really talk about much yet is a pretty interesting subject.
There is a saying in surfing that goes, “if you can ride really bad waves then you can ride anything.” And it’s true.
Let me regress to when I was a little kid and first learning how to surf. I lived in Surfside colony, just south of Seal Beach. Surfside, at that time, actually had some decent surf. But, as is the case in that area, the wind would get on it early every day and it would get what we would call “blown to smithereens.” Or full on “Victory at Sea,” (reference to a television series with that name that showed massive wind-blown seas in the credits.). So, surfing in the afternoons was marginal at best. But for an over energized surf stoked gremmie like me it really didn’t matter. I would go out in anything. I would try to convince my pals that it was worth going out, but they rarely would go for it. I probably spent 80% of my surfing time in horrible conditions, but learned how to figure out how to deal with gnarly twisted thumpers with little or no shape. The upside was that when I got in good surf it was like pullin’ onto the freeway in a 911 Porsche.
The most perfect example of this would be eleven-time World Champ Kelly Slater. Kelly grew up surfing at Cocoa Beach, Florida. Another place that can have good waves but usually doesn’t. When he and his brothers where young I used to watch them surf horrible wind-blown chop and look really good doing it. I knew that one day this kid was gonna be something very special because he would stay out all day in waves nobody else even considered “surfable.” The knowledge and skills learned from dealing with crud surf came in very handy when he got on the World Championship Tour and had to deal with different conditions all over the globe.
Another guy who rose to the top and had the foundation of surfing sub-par conditions is Tommy Curren. Now, in his case, it was a bit different. He grew up in Santa Barbara and had the luxury of surfing spots like Rincon and other perfect point breaks in that area. But what people don’t realize is those places are not good all the time, especially in summer. Tom would wind up surfing tiny nothing waves at places like Carpinteria. I was out with him and Al Merrick one day when he was maybe 12 or 13. Al and I sat there talking for about an hour and no waves came in at all during that time. Of course Tommy had been surfing the entire hour, shredding these ripples that barely could be called almost one foot. Totally amazed me. Same deal as Kelly, he grows up and becomes a multi time World Champ. This stuff is what makes for a solid foundation to your surfing skills.
Riding bad waves is hard and it takes a long time to figure it out. But if you do and take the time to really understand chop and ledges and side bump and all the other aqua obstacles then you not only will be a better surfer, but you will enjoy surfing on days when nobody else wants to go out. Everybody talks about the crowds these days; it’s really packed out there. You can beat that by picking a nice blown out peak somewhere down the beach in the middle of the afternoon and have it all to yourself. Bad waves can be a good thing, if you are willing to put the time into embracing their nasty goodness.
by Corky Carroll
I just received my copy of the new book from Joe Dunn titled “Lifestyle Retail, the Hobie Surf Shop Story.” I had been eager to see this one as I spent many years working at, around, and with the Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point, in one form or another. I was shop boy, salesman, manager and also ran the Hobie Surf Team out of there. This was all back in the 1960’s. Wonderful place to be at that time and surrounded by all sorts of classic and cool people.
This is a great read, it unravels the stories of a number of totally classic people who are all part of the story of how the Hobie Surf Shop came to be, what it was and many of the great stories that came from a very pioneering generation of surfers from the Orange County area. A lot of it tells about the involvement of Dick Metz. “Dicka doo doo,” as he is called by his friends, of which I am very happy to consider myself one of. Dick's dad had a café in Laguna Beach and from hanging out there and on the beaches he became pals with the infamous Brennen “Hevs” McClellend and George “Peanuts” Larson. These are two of the most colorful dudes in the history of surfing. From his friendship with them he got into surfing and met the likes of Hobie Alter, Rennie Yater and Gordon “Grubby” Clark. More surfing royalty. After college Metz took off and traveled all through Africa, hitchhiking a lot of the time. His journals have tons of great photos of him hanging out with packs of bare breasted native babes. When I was younger I thought that stuff was pretty cool. But as I have grown older and more mature I have to admit that now I think that stuff is REALLY cool.
When Dick got back to California Hobie Alter convinced him to move to Honolulu and open the first “away from home” Hobie shop. 1475 Kapiolani Blvd. I spend some happy times in there during my first summer in Hawaii, swept up after closing sometimes and met a few fun girls, it seemed a lot of them tended to swarm around Dick a doo doo so it turned out to be a kinda extra benefit to being the sweeper. From his travels in Africa it was actually Dick that tipped off Bruce Brown to the “perfect wave” at Cape Saint Francis, which became the focal point of his epic surf film, the “Endless Summer.”
Metz was also a big part, along with Hobie and Grubby Clark, of the early experimentation in foam surfboard blanks that changed surfing dramatically in the late 1950’s. He is one of those dudes that the public is not very aware of that has actually had his hand in all kinds of the history and growth of surfing, especially with the Hobie Company. He and Hevs McClellend also owned and ran a liquor store on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. I guess if you are gonna like to party a lot then it’s a good idea to own a liquor store, I thought Metz was pretty clever in that way. Like to surf and party, own a surf shop and a liquor store. Perfect.
The Hobie shop was a fixture on Coast Highway in Dana Point, all kinds of interesting characters working there at one time or another. Butch Van Artsdalen was once the repair guy out back, along with Gaylord Vermillea. One of my favorite guys was Jim Gilloon. Jim was the shop manager when I first worked there as a shop rat. He later took over as General Manager of the Hobie Surfboards company. Jim was a good surfer and fun to work for, pretty easy on a sassy little surf punk who more often deserved a slap in the face instead of a pat on the back.
The shop evolved over the years from a hard-core surf hut into a smoothly functioning retail store. Both Hobie and Dick became very involved in the Hobie Catamarans and sailing became a big part of the whole picture for both of them. More Hobie stores opened and it became the business of selling the lifestyle that guys like Dick Metz, Hobie Alter, Grubby, Hevs, Gilloon, Munoz, Phil Edwards, Terry Martin, Bosco Burns, the Patterson Brothers and so many more contributed to. The tradition continues. You really should get a copy of the book; I know it’s available through the Hobie Surf Shops.
by Joel Saltzman
Recently. we had a Blue Mango Surf Designers meeting with Corky, Mike and our Master BMS shaper, Jose. Our goal was to have both Corky and Mike create their two favorite shapes. As a bonus, They even co-designed one magic board and each signed it. Thus, the Legends of Surfing Signature Series Co-Design was born. We will be unveiling this board, along with several other of Corky and Mike's favs at this years Boardroom International Surfboard Shapers Expo May 4 and 5th at the Del Mar, CA. Fairgrounds.
We will also be playing Corky's Blue Mango CD both days along with his older material. Darla Records, Corky's Music Publisher, has graciously provided us with a dozen of Corky's latest "Blue Mango" CD's we plan to raffle off with lots of other cool t-shirts and surf gear. If you're in the San Diego area, this is a really cool annual event that draws the best shapers from all over the world.
by Joel Saltzman
The only thing related to surfing about this post is that I was able to buy a new surfboard with what I saved by dumping CVS as my local pharmacy.
Anyone out there who pays for their medication will love this story. Until my last week experience, I was under the impression that it was the drug manufacturers that were 100% guilty of why the US healthcare system had failed us. Apparently, your local pharmacy is also guilty of this ripoff and here is why...
My previous insurance plan covered 100% co-payment costs so I was totally oblivious to what my actual monthly medication costs were. My local CVS pharmacy informed me that without my insurance information, my Plavix generic prescription alone would now cost me $139 and the other two meds would raise my total costs to almost $300 per month.
I've been a Costco member for decades but never had a thought of using their pharmacy in the past. I remember reading somewhere that Costco's pharmacy did not require being a member. I remember hearing that their med pricing was half of the retail pharmacies.
Knowing this, I was still blown away when I called Costco's pharmacy to price check this. I had to ask twice to make sure the pricing he was giving me did not require any insurance. The generic that CVS asked $139 was only $11 at Costco, for the same exact thing!. In fact, all three of my prescriptions cost $43 to fill per month, not $300. I loved Costco before but really love the fact that they are doing something to combat big pharma. With what I just saved you, why not buy a BlueMango surfboard or a couple of T-Shirts?.
My local CVS might see me drive buy but I will never buy anything from them after this.