Archive for September, 2007

noniIt is assumed that Noni (“Aspirin of the Ancients”) originated in Southeast Asia (Indonesia) and was brought, approximately 2000 years ago, by ancient peoples of French Polynesia to the islands of the South Pacific. Captain Cook recorded it’s use in Tahiti (Nono) in the 1700s, and later documents show its use in Fiji (Kura), Samoa, Roratonga, Australia (Cheesefruit), Guam (Lada), Caribbean Islands (Painkiller Tree), Africa (Bumbo), India (Indian Mulberry)…. Its hardy seeds have the ability to float which has also contributed to its distribution throughout seacoasts in the South Pacific region. In Hawai’i (Noni – Morinda citrifolia) it is a common medicine. Depending upon latitude, it grows 0-2600ft, though Hawai’ian noni seems to thrive in rainforest lava rock nearest to the ocean. But while some here utilize it for any ailment, and noni producers sometimes swipe up (too) much of the fresh fruit off public trees, there are still many who live here who don’t seem to take advantage of its availability. At the same time, across the mainland and around the world, people are spending upwards of $40 a bottle, as it’s being packaged for consumption, from health food stores to Costco, as yet another “miracle cure”…perhaps the only popular miracle cure that is concurrently being debated as “the foulest liquid ever tasted.”noni and bee mandala

It is pretty stank, though bees like it, and the smell grows on you, as you become recipient of its benefits. Yet, I can imagine if one is taking these noni tonics and not noticing immediate results, they might easily write it off as another supplement marketing rip-off. Personally, most of the “manufactured” noni I’ve tried didn’t seem to do much. But there’s always something that happens from the fresh fruit to the processed product, and surely quality varies depending upon each company’s methods and their ability to best capture the medicinal qualities. All I can tell ya is this, drinking the fresh juice or pureé or soaking in the fruit is a whole different story, and you can’t deny its effects, because you feel them immediately.

Noni is likely one of the most powerful natural medicines I have ever tried. Part of being able to experience it properly is having easy access to the plant, as it grows in abundance in many areas of Hawai’i. Secondly, that Hawai’i is a breeding ground for so many ailments in which the noni can have obvious beneficial results; things like staph and skin infections, diabetes, a slew of surf injuries 🙂 ….

Some use noni in a casual manner, but to others it is a powerful plant that is not intended for daily use. Similar to people who take kava to sleep, for many kava involves a ceremony and spiritual relationship with the plant. There are traditional beliefs regarding plants considered “sacred” by native peoples who have utilized them for generations. For those attuned to or interested in the knowledge, that is a righteous endeavor, because we often look too simply at the gifts of the earth. But personally, I don’t believe those who have a limited comprehension of the spiritual aspects disavow themselves from attaining positive results (its use alone might inevitably bring about an understanding leading one on that journey of awareness).

Noni has various chemical constituents. First, it has an impressive array of terpene compounds, three of which—L. Asperuloside, aucubin, and glucose—have been identified by their actyl derivatives. Both caproic and caprylic acids have been isolated. Second, bushfruits, a category of which noni fruit is a member, are also considered a good source of vitamin C. Third, Hawaiin noni has been linked to the synthesis of xeronine in the body which has significant and widespread health implications. Last, the alkaloid content of the noni fruit is thought to be responsible for its therapeutic actions. Alkaloids exhibit a wide range of pharmacological and biological activities in the human body. They are nitrogen-containing organic compounds which can react with acids to form salts and which are the basis of many medicines.

noni fermentingThe traditional method (though there are many variations) seems to be picking yellow fruit (as opposed to the too young green), allowing the fruit to ferment by placing it in a bottle and letting it stew for a week, a month, some let it go for a year in the sun (though many agree at least two days is needed). The fruit is then squeezed/filtered. Since gases build up during the fermentation process, many do not use airtight lids but those with anoni process fermenting fermentation lock or some other homemade device. Most producers of noni agree glass is preferred over plastic as some plastics can leach into the finished product and affect its quality. Though it’ll smell rotten to anyone unfamiliar with the scent, there is a particular odor of good fermented noni and bad (kinda like making fine wine). If you’re going to get technical, you can test the juice’s PH with a cheap PH test strip kit; noni should read at 3.5 or less (anything higher may be contaminated or have undesirable organisms). Aged, fermented noni juice (dark in color) can be stored at room temperature indefinitely, while the fresh (light in color) needs to be refrigerated.

My favorite way to drink noni is fresh super ripe fruit (kinda fermenting in the skin) squeezed through a cheese cloth into a homemade lemon or limeade (two cups of purified water, add 2-3 heaping tablespoons raw sugar, heat ’til crystals dissolve, cool some, add 1 tablespoon of raw coconut syrup or crystals, stir, add ice to cool more, mix in juice of 2-3 lemons, add juice of one very ripe noni, add water to taste, stirring well – should make a small pitcher). And the effects, dependent on your condition beforehand: warmth through the veins, clear head, energy, vitality. Usually I find it preferable to drink on an empty stomach for the best results, like a morning elixir or when I’m crashing in the afternoon, and wait half hour before consuming food, coffee or medications, etc.noni processing

I imagine the more fermented the noni the more potent its effects, especially good for use for more chronic, debilitating medical conditions. While the lighter and more sweet fresh fruit can benefit as a daily elixir for those with general constitution building or specific short-term ailments, such as a cold, infections, tiredness, headache, etc. The list of claimed benefits of noni (via the leaf, the flower, the bark, the root, the fruit) seems to be never ending: laxative, inflammation of joints, astringent, emollient, emmenagogue, sedative, hypotension (lowers blood pressure), blood purifier, tonic, immune system modulator, pesticide poisoning, parasitic, delayed menstruation, arthritis, boils, aphrodisiac, eye inflamation (flowers), malaria (bark), E. Coli, Asthma, Diarrhea, Colic, Autism….

In addition, a compound found in the fruit called damnacanthol is believed to help inhibit certain viruses and cellular mutations involved in cancer. [Phase One of a cancer study has already taken place]… Recent surveys have suggested that noni fruit exerts antioxidant [and] antibiotic action. In fact, a variety of compounds which have antibacterial properties (such as aucubin) have been identified in the fruit. Constituents found in the fruit portion have exhibited antimicrobial action amino acids…. Because proteins and enzymes have so many varied roles within cell processes, the normalization of these proteins with noni supplementation could initiate a very wide variety of body responses and treat many disease conditions.

noni plantI have enjoyed playing with it, feeling it out, and utilizing the plant when it seems to call to me. Because of that, I’ve had a few unique experiences with noni. One that I never read about is that it is the ultimate sunburn cure. It sounds unappealing, to put a strong fruit on one’s skin after it’s been burned. Aloe is typically the more obvious plant to use in such instances, and it seems a more soothing solution. But one day, when on antibiotics, I got severely burned while surfing in the strong Kona sun. It was actually an antibiotic eye drop I was taking because I had had Lasik surgery, and they kinda drained into the sinus cavity leaving me more photosensitive. Of course, I wasn’t thinking eyedrops would get into my system enough to affect my ability to handle the sun, but I ended up with small blisters all over my upper back and chest; hundreds of them. Aloe wasn’t working; nothing was. Being that I only burn on rare occasion I didn’t know what to do, besides the aloe and drinking lots of water. By the second day I was so frustrated I was willing to try anything. I had some noni which I’d found on one of the few noni trees located in the lava rock/desert ecosystem of Kailua-Kona’s Pine Trees (before it was surely uprooted as the family-oriented surf spot was churning into yet another high-end golf course and fulfilling the important fifth home market for the rich and oblivious mainlanders). For some reason I decided to rub it all over the blistered area. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking, but within one hour it was as if the blisters got sucked into my body. They literally disappeared before my very eyes.

Of course, noni on its own can burn too. I learned that because I used to soak in the rotten fruit my aunty would bring me. I’d make a bed: plastic garbage bag with towel over it and then a sort of old person diaper/pee pad that you can find at Longs atop that and mush about 3-5 super ripe noni atop it and lie in it for hours and hours to help heal some broken bones, relax muscles, sooth sore hips. It was the only thing, besides hideous pain killers, that allowed me to exist, even walk around, pain-free. When you break a bone here, that’s the first thing your auntie will bring over; noni juice, noni fruit, noni leaves. And how does it work? Fug if I know, we’ll leave some things a mystery, but the fruit will create a heat that deeply penetrates the body and brings healing to the area. Anyway, my auntie usually uses a sarong on the skin and the noni above or wrapped within the sarong, covered with noni leaves, so the fruit isn’t actually touching the skin. Then she recommends lying in the sun, to allow the sun to add more heat and generate more potent affect of the noni. All I have to say is don’t use plastic wrap as I did one day out of convenience; it surely would have been fine for the intended hour, but I fell asleep with it on and ended up with some serious degree burn.

Since it’s so easy to end up with Staph here, as the moist climate seems to breed it in the body and on the land, it’s important to have solutions that don’t lead to antibiotic use. One reef cut and a slightly off PH/sugary environment and you’ll easily find the infection spreading. You have to stay on top of it here, as many who’ve let it go untreated realized the hard way: in the hospital getting chunks of their body cut out. The most simple and immediate cure? Wash boo-boo with hot water, grab a piece of the fresh ripe noni fruit and simply place a chunk on the cut. If you smooth it in place it will actually stay there and create a seal and if it does fall off just apply again. This will help the cut disinfect and protect it as well. Then you take a more concentrate shot of noni juice at least once a day for up to two weeks.

The leaves are usually used for swelling, inflammation, arthritis, cuts, bruises rashes and boils. Heat/steam the leaves to soften them up for use, then place the side of the leaf that faces the sun on the body. You can place young leaves directly on the body as they are softer and have a more sticky quality. Some even throw leaves in a warm bath to release the healing oils.

As far as usage, everyone is different. But like any strong medicine, which has an effect of cleansing/detoxing one’s body, you should take a break between dosages. It’s strong, and overuse can be draining, and deplete organs instead of building them. Of course, it’s always best to confer with a physician and adequately trained herbalist or Hawaiian healer.noni fruit leather

So if you’re not in Hawai’i but you want to try noni, there are many companies out there that want to supply it to you. Yet, because of all the variables, I can not recommend any – you need to search out your own and see what works best for you. Though I’ve tried a few, from juice to tinctures, none have had any of same effects as my own processing of the fresh fruit off the tree. Though out of those I did try, strangely enough, it wasn’t the juice but the noni fruit leather that seemed the most potent. And if you’re a Hawai’i Island local and don’t have time to pick and prepare your own, Abundant Life makes their own Noni Puree which is nice. Otherwise, all I can say is this: look for non-pasteurized unadulterated juice packaged preferably noni bookin dark glass bottles. And call and ask to talk with the owner; usually you’ll get a vibe of where they’re coming from. If they’re too big to talk or email with individual customers, maybe they’re too big to pay much attention to quality. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to experience the beneficial effects of quality noni and decide for yourself whether it’s a stinky “miracle cure” or not.

* * * * *

Sites to check out:

The Noni Website/University of Hawai’i

Truth Be Known: Noni

Noni: Prize Herb of Hawai’i and the South Pacific


Noni by Diana Fairechild (a stewardess with pesticide poisoning and her journey of healing through noni)


Noni Shows Cancer Promise


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Venice Beach PissThere are a few surf-oriented web sites I like to check out on a regular basis – mostly for their surf reports, a scattering of surf-related news, vids, and such. For the most part they’re informational, some kinda generic, or ultimately catering to the business/contest-driven aspects of surf culture. But every so often you stumble upon greatness: the web site Random Thoughts of a Surf Forecaster (aka “Venice Surf Report”) is one of those.

For zine fans, this thing reminds me, in certain regards, of the handful of incisive punk zines of the day, like Cometbus, and even a dash of Ben Is Dead at our most street. In a mix of thousands of useless piece-o-shit blogs wasting web space, this is one example of the paperless ezine evolution that works. Not simply a daily updated surf report, this blog incorporates the atmosphere and environment that makes up the surf/culture of Venice Beach, California (thankfully he doesn’t get into the hippie stuff) – which means it includes the homeless men and women who, literally, call Venice Beach home.

Venice Beach boyo crewNicknamed the “boyos” (the female version dubbed “boyo toyos… though there have only been a few”) these guys are the ones you usually walk by, or step over, as you make your way to the Pier. But for some reason the author of Venice Surf Report, who goes by the name “Dogtown Surfer”, decided not to just walk by them on the way to the beach. He recognized they were a part of the whole experience. Well, maybe the interaction wasn’t so much egalitarian, as it “just kinda happened” as DTS explained to me in an email interview. And “once it did I decided to run with it, as I found it very very informative and was surprised by the life they lead.” But I had to ask him to get more specific, because as friendly as one can be on their best day, usually people don’t intermingle with the homeless to the depth this man has.

I knew I wanted to do something more that just the surf report and I guess the friendship grew out of me not really ever asking anything more than “what’s going on today” and every once in a while I was a source of beer money. It has definitely progressed past that point, but I would say the whole thing just came from me wanting to write, and write about something I thought was interesting and that I wanted to learn about…

His March 8th report “First Approach to Pier Homelessness” explains in more detail the method to the madness:

I finally resolved last night to make some real effort to get to meet some of the homeless down by the pier. So, to start off, I drank about a fifth of vodka, put on some old ratty clothes and hopped on the bike. A quick reconnoiter failed to turn up any gatherings but I did see one old guy all huddled up trying to stay warm. It seemed rather incongruous – one old guy with nothing, surrounded by hundreds of beer swilling, sushi eating yuppies – so I took a few pictures from behind. Plus, the dude looked like he was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him. I wanted to give him a few bucks for using his likeness so I nudged him and told him I found three dollars on the ground right next to him, which he eagerly grabbed.

So I went into the Whaler for a quick beer as it looked like there was a comedy show going on…but all in all the comics were pretty lame…Knowing I couldn’t sit through that I made my way outside and what do I see? My buddy in the orange coat wide awake and full of piss and vinegar.

Thomas Venice Beach

Turns out his name is Thomas and he has been living at the pier for something like 20 years. My three bucks had immediately gone to a 40 oz. Colt 45 and it seemed to do wonders for him; what was a comatose old man 30 minutes ago was now an expansive and eager storyteller. Seeing as the Colt 45 had had such an effect I immediately bought him three more and a Heineken for myself. Even though I was a little too drunk to make much sense I explained what I wanted to do as far as using him as one of my correspondents at the pier and he was all for it. I left him knowing that I had found the right person indeed.

As proof of that, I saw Tom again this morning at 7:15 am (in the exact same spot where I left him at 10 pm last night) and as he sees me he calls out my name and starts telling the other two about our discussion last night. They were also eager to help, which is reassuring, but then I notice that Tom is holding what? Three Colt 45’s! I remarked at his discipline for saving them for the morning and he just shook his head and looked at me like I was the dumbest guy on the beach. “Son, these ain’t from last night; these’re my breakfast!”alcoholic rat

So beer plus boyo equals good stories. The amount of beer needed: unlimited supply. And the cast as it were, have all become important members of the daily reporting (including transient friends, weirdo locals, even alcoholic pets: rats, dogs, guinea pigs). On a smaller scale it’s something like Howard Stern’s Whack Pack. From blow-jobs to passin’ out in their piss – an endless adventure. And the coverage is accomplished with a balance of compassion, realism and virulence.

boyos on the beach veniceIt’s not really one of those jobs everyone is equipt for. Picturing myself doing the same “field reporting” I imagined I’d likely think twice before drinking a fifth of vodka, putting on old ratty clothes and hopping on my bike to talk story with some homeless guys in the middle of the night in Venice. So I asked him if he has ever found himself in a dangerous situation, to which he explained that at 6’5″ and 290 pounds he never really feels threatened (man, if I could be that big for a day!).

An interesting factoid about the author, “Dogtown Surfer” (who choses to keep his real name to himself due to occasional hate mail and a potential psychotic finding his home – though here’s a pict here of him and Victor), is that he only started surfing two years ago at 38 years of age, when he moved todogtown surfer and victor Venice Beach, California from Little Rock, Arkansas (originally from Greenwich, CT and NYC) in early ’05. He was doing a surf report for swellmagnet.com since late ’05 on a volunteer basis. But that all changed when the owner switched it to a pay site and started censoring him, which he explained with his first post entitled No More Bullshit:

To give you the full rundown on what started this, yesterday I wrote a Top Ten list on what Al Sharpton would do if he found out he really was related to Strom Thurmond, whose greatgrand-daddy apparently owned Shrpton’s great-granddaddy back in the days of slavery. The point was that Al would all of a sudden start doing white, redneck things like fire the “darky” that worked in his kitchen. Maybe not the funniest thing in the world but hey, I was trying to give the Swellmagnet readers something for their $$$ on a day when surf was questionable.

Anywho, some dude named Shane (who apparently does the silkscreening for the Swellmagnet t-shirts ) writes this rambling letter telling me I am going to ruin the site cause people will be offended and his future (is silk screening a future? Sounds more like a lack of one to me) is in the site and blah blah blah. So, I post his email on the site and my response calling him an illiterate retard. Oh, he did go out of his way to call Sharpton and Jesse Jackson “bags of shit” but apparently my racism was just so much more blatant.

Al Sharpton, Strom Thurmond…sounds like reasonable “flat condition” surf report material to me! Despite the brouhaha, he still does the surf report for them, a more typical one paragraph of conditions and picts, for which he now gets paid, but the creative stuff all goes to his blog. Thus Random Thoughts was born, with a smirk and a big fuck you, on February 27th, 2007.

And as promised from day one, and unlike most bloggers who start their site with such New Year’s resolution-type optimism, this guy posts almost every single day! The first thing a surfer wonders…especially when you work full time is…how do you have time for surf?!

I am strictly a PM surfer during the week. I have to work NY hours ’cause of my job so I hit the pier at Sunrise, take a few pics, talk to the boyos, drive to downtown LA and hit my desk by 6:50 or so. I then post the pics and write for maybe 10-15 minutes. Which means I am home by 3:45 or so, so can surf the blown out, crappy PM conditions we have here in Venice 99.999% of the time (yes, that is bitterness you are detecting). So, the report takes slight precedence over the job in the am on the weekdays, but on the weekend if it’s good, and even if it’s not, you will find me in the water. That’s why the weekend reports tend to focus on the surf exclusively. Plus, I get the feeling people read the blog primarily as a 5 minute distraction at work.

respect my peepsThe dichotomy between the rich and the poor is never so apparent as it is in the beach areas of Southern California. Where the rich are…so rich. And the poor are…the poorest. On top of that, Los Angeles is strewn with the famous as well. A place where you could easily run into one tv or movie star a day depending on your route and modus operandi. I recall as one of my favorite features in Ben Is Dead Magazine, when my sister, who was living on the streets of Hollywood at the time, compiled a piece of her spare change experiences with celebrities; who would give her the cash, and who would give her b.s. excuses. It’s always a tell-tale sign, how they react with the real world, to how real in fact they are (or aren’t). So, of course, when you mix celebrity with drunken bums, it has to evolve into something absolutely humorous. Especially when you’ve got Dogtown Surfer ready and waiting with his unexpected camera and truth-capturing pen. And certainly when these guys decide to indulge in a beer…Henry Hill

“Hey Matt, guess who this is?” asks Tommy.
“Henry Hill.”
The Henry Hill? The one you keep talking about?”
“Fucking right I’m the real Henry Hill, ya asshole!” Henry says.

Recognizing his voice from the Howard Stern Show, Matt (just out of the surf, runs home to get his camera) catches some shots of the ex-mobster from Goodfellas. But, what may seem like good fun at the time, sometimes ends up in threats. Like the sweet note from Henry’s girlfriend once they discovered the event exposed in a YouTube video.

TAKE THIS SHIT DOWN ill get henrys lawyers to sue you this isnt cool at all at least get him with good drunks not these scumbags

How dare she imply the boyos aren’t good drunks!

Minnie Driver HobOlympicsOr when, to everyone’s surprise, Minnie Driver showed up to watch the HobOlympics (well, actually she was coincidentally cruisin’ Venice Beach Pier on her bike and when they very politely asked for a picture, she got one whiff of the boyos and totally dissed them).

What’s a HobOlympics, you ask? When I read he was organizing a HobOlympics I got excited, thinking they were going to get the hobo’s on surfboards. I mean, some of the local guys at our beaches start drinking after their first session (meaning, by 9am) and their second sesh is completely DUI. You certainly don’t want to get too close, but otherwise it’sHobolympics t-shirts completely comical. But surely the homeless of Venice Beach with no surf experience might not survive even the manini So. Cal summer shore break. No, this HobOlympics was an athletic competition that included the “Snipe Hunt”, “Chug-of-War”…I think they were too fucked up to do much more….

This small excerpt should give you an idea of the atmosphere [note: this is after the winner of the Chug-of-War couldn’t quite hold it down]:

Randy was despondent. Not only was he not going to win the beer chugging contest and the $10 first prize, he had just wasted an entire Hurricane!chug-o-lug venice pier
“Matt, do I still win?”
“Well, I don’t know Randy. This was the chug of war, not the vomit competition. You think that was worth ten dollars?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Well, I don’t, and since I run the games my word is final.”
“It was not worth ten dollars – it was worth twenty! That was the coolest thing I have EVER seen. Here, take a $20.”
His eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas as he saw me pull the twenty out of my wallet. I would have taken a picture of him holding it up but I was still pretty much laughing at the memory of him puking his guts out, egged on by the motley crew that is the boyos, while Mom and Dad stroll the pier, trying to have a relaxing Saturday only to see a crew of the roughest looking characters this side of prison chuckling at someone blowing chow big time.

How many Surf Report readers showed up to cheer them on? Seven. Hey, that’s pretty good…they even had special t-shirts made for the event. Really, this guy has a large readership (300-600 per day) considering his blog is pretty fresh. But then again, if only we all had our own batch of boyos doing publicity…for the low low cost of a few beers! But I wondered, does he ever feel as if he’s taking advantage of these guys?

No, everything I do is strictly voluntary and there are one or two who have asked not to have their picture taken or be included and I respect that.

venice boyos

And on the the other end, does he ever think he might be able to help get these guys off the street (approx. 90% of whom are vets)?

Nope. Without exception they are there because they want to be. They all know how and where to get into treatment if they want and one of them, Dave, actually did go about a month ago. I help them by buying them beer when they can’t afford it and every Sunday night I cook a big, cheap dinner, like spaghetti, and pack it up and bring it down to them

Has your site, and your “contributions” helped them?

I don’t know. They get recognized constantly, the cops read it and I think have taken a little more empathy with them, even to the point where Bowser, the asshole cop of the month, went out of his way to explain that he doesn’t really give a shit what they do but that he is tired of getting calls about them. Of course, five minutes later he broke Kenny’s umbrella, so I don’t know how sincere he was. I guess the only thing I can say for sure is they find the site very funny, they really enjoy reading about themselves and if it makes them laugh then great.

Part of the adventure with the boyos is the cops. And it’s an endless game of boyos “drinking in public” and the cops wasting their time harassing and writing them tickets. As Dogtown explains:

The problem with the tickets is not the ticket itself, it’s the fact that if the cop runs your (real) name you get busted as you haven’t paid the last 23 tickets the cops have given you. None of the boyos have ID so it’s like a game they all play; the boyos pretend they’re going to pay the ticket and the cop pretends you’re telling him the truth when you give him your name and personal information.boyo and cops

Attitude is a big part of making this work, though, so no mouth or attitude to the cops. It’s all “yes, sir – no, sir”.

victor cops venice

Here’s Victor being lectured by the rookie and looking very contrite and serious as he signs and accepts his ticket.

He takes the thing, sits down and gives me this look like “Oh shit, I better hurry down to City Hall and pay my fine!”

victor smirk venice beach

What do you think the chances are this one gets paid?

How does he think the cops should deal with them? Should they ignore them/their drinking in public?

I think it is outrageous the amount of resources and time and money that goes into hassling these guys who are essentially harmless and who have nowhere else to go anyways. Let’s face it, kick them off the pier and where do they go? Somebody’s alleyway or carport or wherever and then they become one guys big problem rather than everyone’s slight inconvenience.boyo hobolympics venice pier

And if you were “in charge”, what would you do?

Like some of the cops do – see it, let them know the threat is there, treat them with a little respect and then generally the boyos do whatever those cops ask. There is one female officer in particular who never writes tickets, always stops by to see how they are when she is on duty, and they know when she is, they go out of their way to behave.

Considering how indiscreet and unobtrusive the author is not, he’s pretty much kept under the radar while behind the camera. Despite hanging out and drinking brewski’s with the boyos on occasion, printing shots of the officers in action, running “Asshole Cop of the Month” (which I believe evolved into “Cool Cop of the Month” to inspire a little more positive effects), he hasn’t gotten written up or hassled. Okay, maybe hassled a little bit. Like that time when he wouldn’t stop taking photos even when the cop told him to: “What the hell did I just tell you about taking pictures? You moving around and I don’t know if you have a gun or what you reaching for; just sit there and don’t move!” Of course, they love to pick on the homeless, and the homeless often respond amiably; they don’t want to be the brunt of the pig’s aggression. But sometimes the cops see that as a sign of weakness, and they go into predator mode. But when they threw Dogtown Surfer into the mix with the boyos and tried to treat him with the same lack of respect, he would have none of it: “Hey, dude, I’ll sit here and be quiet while you do your little investigation if it makes you happy, but I’m not doing anything wrong or illegal so don’t treat me like a fucking criminal. I run a website that 30,000 people a day look at and you so much as touch me or my camera and I will Rodney King your ass so fast you won’t know what hit you.” Okay, he made up the last line later, ’cause often our best comebacks are the ones we figure out hours after the scenario has already played itself out.homeless clean beach venice

Yeah, the meat of the site is not simply surf and shenanigans. DTS reports on litter at the beach (and how it’s the homeless guys who are always cleaning up after the beach slobs), serious issues involving some of the crew, how to’s for using the bike path (anyone who’s been to Venice knows how idiotic tourists can be), driving while putting on mascara (what about driving while taking photos?), and info on subprime and hedge funds (huh?). Well, fact is DTS is a bond trader…and every once in a while you might get a good financial tip. Personally, for the past few years while all has seemed hunky-dorey and my own friends have mentioned the attraction of buying houses with ridiculous adjustable rate loans, I have been warning them about the upcoming crashes and flashback wiffs of ’70s high interest to come….graph adjustable rate mortgage

So I asked his take on what’s happening to the economy?

Going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. We haven’t seen a credit / liquidity crunch in a real long time in this country and I don’t think anyone is prepared for just how ugly it could get. …This mess was created by mortgage writers that were able to separate themselves from the fallout of loans that blew up, investment banks that were willing to buy this shitty paper and homeowners that were stupid enough to put their house on the line so they could buy a new car or travel to Europe. Everyone who is going to feel pain is partly to blame. Not a bad time to be sitting on cash or Treasuries, frankly. Get that credit repaired, pay off your debt and hopefully get back in at the bottom.

What do his co-workers think of the site?

Most everyone I work with reads and enjoys it.

And his wife? Though he’s mentioned numerous occasions how she puts up with it, or how the boyos are an excuse to getting away from her now and again, his new Venice Beach lifestyle doesn’t seem to mesh with hers. He wouldn’t be the first surfer boy who’s lost a relationship over his calling. Last time I spoke with him he said they were getting divorced.

And besides losing a wife and making the transitional move to sunny So. Cal, how has surfing changed him?

So much for the better. I live to surf now, basically, have made so many cool friends and know that no matter what, whenever I meet a fellow surfer, that I have more in common with him/her than I do with my own brother. It’s a club that money can’t get you into, you know?

* * * * *

waves at the pier

Yeah, despite the oft cocky attitude, DTS isn’t scared to express his sentimental side. What exposes it best might be an excerpt from piece he wrote for a contest on Surfline, about what got him into surfing:

Thirty eight.

That’s how old I was when I first grabbed the 8 ft piece of orange fiberglass, which, at the time, I thought was just an old surfboard. Having earlier wriggled into a brand new wetsuit that fit my chunky 6’5” frame I headed to the beach, board in hand, firm in my resolve to finally do what I had always wanted to: surf.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that what I had grabbed that day was not just a surfboard, it was a ticket of admission to a sport – no, a lifestyle – that would be more challenging than anything I had ever tried, something that would test the limits of my endurance and patience, pushing me to extremes I did not know I had inside me.

Venice PierBut they say that you don’t choose surfing, it chooses you, and by the time the first month was over I knew I was hooked forever. Just the thought of moving back to the godawful state in the Deep South from where I had come was enough to set me off for days, causing fights with my wife and family, all of them worth it as I found a way to stay in California.

Because eventually that day came – the day when I got up on that board, made a bottom turn and moved across the water propelled by nothing more than my desire and a 3 ft. swell generated thousands of miles away by a storm I would never see or feel. What I would feel, though, was the immense and humbling power of the ocean in head high beach break… Even as I write this the memory of that day, and that wave, puts a smile on my face that leads my co-workers to, most likely, question my sanity.

Like I said, you don’t choose surfing, it chooses you and my life is far, far better since I finally picked up the board, paddled out and answered that call.

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Yeah, every surfer can relate.

So if you’re ever down by the Pier, checking out the surf, don’t forget to stop by and give a shout out to the boyos, or better yet, buy them a beer, or even better yet, a malt liquor, something with High Gravity; who knows the misadventures you may find yourself involved in. And if you can’t make it, indulge in a visit to venicesurfreport.com, with your morning coffee, and enjoy some of the day’s highlights of the Venice Beach boyos and some random thoughts of a surf forecaster….

addendum: RIP Dogtown Surfer. no doubt you are missed.

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Superferry Hawaii SurfersAfter much ballyhoo regarding Hawaii’s Superferry, it seems that the State (which supported the project with a little bit of government funding – $40 million, that is) is going to let the Superferry continue its operations, at least to Kauai, while it’s awaiting word on whether or not it will need an environmental impact study (EIS). The service that began end of August was shut down after the first trip when activists got a judge to issue a TRO for its use of Maui’s Kahului Harbor and Kauai surfers, bodyboarders and kayakers took to the water to block Nawiliwili Harbor.

There are many issues at hand as to why people are protesting, even residents who ultimately support a ferry service between the islands. From invasive species to protecting whales in their breeding grounds, people simply wanted the company to perform a proper EIS (which is required for new projects like this that could easily have an impact on the environment). But that costs money, takes time, and somehow “those in charge” seemed to think once they got going with the project, that it would be too late to stop them.

In the end the only way to stop the ferry to Kaua’i was by physically blocking the harbor. Hawaii Superferry EIS“Well, we had tried … quote, unquote the legal way, and …[they] turned a deaf ear to us. So what was there left to do? To bring this to a head… to bring it to the attention of general public,” protester Dennis Chun said. As to why they waited til the last hour to protest…fact is, the public has been requesting to be heard by state and Superferry officials since the project was first announced.

Now Governor Linda Lingle is calling these same people “lawless” and instead of admitting the EIS should have been done and working on a better compromise, she’s bringing out the big guns. As reported in the Honolulu Advertiser:

The Coast Guard, under the authority of an emergency order, will create a security zone to allow protesters to demonstrate between Kalapaki Beach and Kuki’i Point but will use an ocean containment boom to physically separate them from the harbor entrance and the ferry’s path. The ocean boom is similar to what is used to clean up oil or chemical spills. A separate security zone will exist 100 yards around the ferry itself. Protesters who violate the security zone could face 10 years in prison and $10,000 fines. Federal civil penalties could be up to $25,000. The Coast Guard also warned that surfboards, kayaks and canoes used by protesters to violate the security zone could be seized and forfeited.

Ironically surf legend and devoted Republican and State Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings had urged last week that the Coast Guard or the Hawai’i National Guard ensure safe Kaua’i passage for the ferry and stated he was pleased with the new restrictions. “This is a good business that has a right to do business in Hawai’i,” Hemmings said. “It has given Hawai’i a black eye to have a handful of ill-informed protesters stop a business from legally operating. I’m glad the Coast Guard and other government agencies are doing their job.” While the Republicans are determined to protect businesses, the Democrates are concerned about military being used to control the people.

State Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, D-7th (Kaua’i, Ni’ihau), said he plans to send a letter to Superferry today asking that it keep its service to Kaua’i suspended until the courts rule on whether it can continue during an environmental assessment. Hooser said he is worried about potential confrontations between protesters and the Coast Guard. “I’m concerned about the escalation in rhetoric coming from the Coast Guard and I want to diffuse the situation,” he said. On Kaua’i, environmentalists and others who question the ferry accused the Coast Guard of turning Nawilwili into a “war zone.” “We should not be using military and police forces to enforce political decisions,” said state Rep. Hermina Morita D-14th (Hanalei, Anahola, Kapa’a).

Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter, criticized the move to resume service. “It is highly inappropriate for Superferry to travel to Nawiliwili before an environmental review is complete,” Mikulina said. “Not only is such a trip contrary to state law, it belies common sense. We study and prepare for adverse impacts before they happen, not after.” Interestingly, the usually extreme Sierra Club seemed to have the perspective with the most middle ground, claiming all they have wanted from the beginning was an EIS and even without it … would be willing to consider allowing Superferry to sail again under very strict controls. Before Lingle’s decision, Mikulina had hopeful stated, “Perhaps in the short term they put [in place] extreme measures to protect for those things then we understand what the impacts are and can go back and revise them. That could be an outcome.” But the State didn’t seem to want to bargain or budge.

And while the Coast Guard claims, “[We have] an obligation to facilitate commerce”, Rich Hoeppner, of People for the Preservation of Kaua’i, said the Coast Guard should have asked Superferry officials to wait. “The Coast Guard had two options,” he said. “They could spend millions of dollars on additional personnel and equipment, or make one call to (Superferry chief executive John) Garibaldi and tell him they wouldn’t protect him until he gets an EA as the Supreme Court requires. They chose to make it a war zone.” If the ferry returns to Kaua’i, “we’ll probably be here to show our displeasure,” Hoeppner said. Some of the Kaua’i protesters, who went to Oahu to explain their position, warned Superferry officials that the next confrontation will make the last one “look like a picnic” if the ferry tries to go to Kauai without an environmental assessment.

Lingle Press ReleaseIn a statement released yesterday, Governor Lingle announced that the ferry will be allowed to resume service, on a temporary daylight schedule, with the help of the US Coast Guard, Mayor Bryan Baptiste, Department of Public Safety, Transportation and Land and Natural Resources. The Superferry web site, which includes a slightly skewed “Latest Press Coverage” section, listed her announcement, as well their Voyage Status:

We are suspending service to and from Kaua‘i through Tuesday, September 25. We will be offering service between Kauai and O‘ahu starting on September 26. The voyages on September 26 and 27 will operate earlier in the day than our normal schedule. Until the schedule is finalized those voyages will not be available for purchase. Full details will be forthcoming. We are pleased to learn that Hawaii Superferry will be able to resume service to and from Kaua‘i commencing September 26. The Governor, the U.S. Coast Guard, and various state and county agencies have provided Hawaii Superferry with assurances regarding the safety of our passengers, employees and the members of the community when Kaua’i service is resumed.

Lingle also didn’t fail to mention that anyone who is “planning to recruit children or teenagers to participate in illegal protests that they could be held liable for child endangerment.”

So with the TRO rejected by a Kauai judge last week (and only perhaps if a permanent restraining order gets granted during a hearing September 17th), we shall see how it goes when the Superferry is set to begin its Oah’u to Kaua’i service again on September 26th. Of course to the surfers, as in any High Surf Advisory situation, be safe!

cuz don’t take superferry

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For more info on the boycott check out superferryimpact.com, boycottsuperferry.org or check back for my more detailed piece on the pro’s and con’s of the Superferry.

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View the raucous Superferry meeting with Kauai residents & Linda Lingle (9/20)

Superferry’s Kauai service halt is stayed (9/22)

KauaiWorld: Superferry showdown – Protesters delay landing

Kaua‘i legislators oppose Superferry special session

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Hawaiian Airlines logoWe like price wars and spontaneous specials – and thanks to the new competition in town, Go! Airlines, we get fun $9 fares if we’re lucky enough to get the scoop in time. Hawai’ian Airlines is the best, as far as being on time and having a more functional web site (Aloha doesn’t seem to be participating in this one – though maybe they’re just slow on the draw). Of course, try logging on right now and you may get caught in the traffic jam. ‘Til the day is done, Hawai’i time, you can score your inter-island vacation package way mo’ cheap; nine dolla’ cheap. It’s all based around Oahu of course, so if you’re going from Big Island to Kauai for example add on another $9 – still it’s under $30 each way! Good fun!

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