10 February 2006

The Slapper

Before I move on to the topic at hand, I'll just come right out and say that today's session sucked. The waves seemed to disappear in the few minutes it took me and CYT to stretch before paddling out. A few set waves rolled through here and there. But for the most part, the session was a wash. There was no there there.

Anyway, who cares about an uneventful session? I still got wet and smiled a lot. That meant I was enjoying myself and that's all that matters to me. The person I want to talk about is "The Slapper". Remember I did that contest in Venice last summer? I wrote about this:
Okay, let's now talk about these out of control parents. I knew they could be found in all of the other sports. I didn't expect to see them at a surf contest. In fact, I didn't see this. Someone told me about it. Apparently, a non-competitor strayed into our area near the end of my heat. As my group was getting out and the next heat was getting in, the father of two kids who were competing started yelling to this guy to get out. The guy eventually did and then the father really got in his face. Well, the guy apparently said he didn't understand or something to that effect and these kids' dad hauled off and slapped him. Okay, CYT said the dad slapped him. My response was, "He bitch slapped that guy in front of all these people? That's cold." Question: is a woman allowed to use the term "bitch slapped"? Anyway, the guy on the receiving end did not fight back. I just wonder why the dad felt the need to act like that.
Well, today I saw him, the man CYT calls "The Slapper". Since the parking lot at the Breakwater is closed, we park in the neighborhood and walk to the break. As we drove down a small street in search of a space, CYT saw a guy on a skateboard and exclaimed, "That's him!" Of course, I screamed, "Who?!?" Then she looked at me and said quietly, "The Slapper." (Yes, a couple of bars of dramatic music could be heard when she said that.) We parked near the end of the block where we saw him. We then saw him go into a house a few doors away. I was just happy he was gone. Then, as we were waxing our boards, I could hear that another board was being waxed . . . a few doors away. Before we were done, out he came with his board, heading toward the break. I forget what I said to him, but he was quite civil and, believe it or not, even smiled. I was already a little worried, having heard that there'd been some serious localism going on around here lately. I kept wondering what would greet us once we got in the water. (Granted, people are always nice to me and I've never had a problem here.) We got down to the beach and found that hardly anyone was in the water. It looked like the waves were pumping a bit before we paddled out. I don't know what happened, but there wasn't much out there by the time we made it outside. Within 10 minutes of paddling out, I noticed The Slapper paddling toward us. I wasn't scared or anything, just curious about what would be said. Well, not much was said. He asked, "Are there any waves over here?" I laughed, told him no, and asked if there'd been any waves where he was. He said no, smiled, and paddled away.

This brush with The Slapper prompted me to once again acknowledge that there is a gray area to this localism thing. It's not cut and dried—not that I ever thought it was. I mean, I understand that if you've lived in a place and surfed in a place your entire life, that's yours whether anyone else likes it or not. This guy had "Venice" tattooed across his shoulders. Whether any of us likes it or not, he and the guys he's spent years surfing with will rule that break on a great day. (I've never been there on a great day; I've not witnessed the hostility people tell me about although I'm sure it's there at times.) I'm past the point of asking whether the localism thing is right or wrong. The violence is wrong. I do understand, though, that when you've done something long enough or been in a place long enough, you claim it after a time. We all do (in some way or another). Isn't it one of the reasons why wars are fought . . . okay, except for what's going on in Iraq right now? But I can't say that I blame Kala Alexander for doing what he has to do as the leader of The Wolfpak. Surfers cannot assume that the ocean is open to everyone. It isn't. Sometimes you have to be invited in. And even if you're not invited in and you crash the party, you still have to follow the rules established by the locals. Why? Cos that place is home to them. They make the rules. If you don't follow the rules, you'll be punished. We all do that in our own homes. When people don't act right, we put them out or simply don't invite them back. But since surfing is a sport of pure passion, the homeowners won't be as nice as they might be on land. I mean, some of you saw how angry I got when my neighbors acted up. Why do you think that was? It was because I've lived in the neighborhood my entire life and I don't take kindly to people who jeopardize my family's safety and enjoyment in a place I consider mine. Yeah, after 42 years, I think I've got the right to say it's mine. And I can see why people do it at their local breaks. You form an emotional bond with the things you've always known and then you get irrational when people $#!@ with them. So, I guess I'm trying to say that I don't agree with the violence of localism, but I understand where it comes from and I understand why it exists.


At 2/11/06, 12:48 PM, Blogger Alan_M said...

Any relation to the Clapper?

At 2/11/06, 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

aretha said it best.


#1 the slapper was out of line
#2 the free surfer who encroached the contest area was either clueless or equally out of line.
#3 contests suck for all the above reasons

At 2/12/06, 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry ... don't buy the localism argument at LA County public beaches or anywhere else that is not private property. I agree you need to be respectful out in the water and not jeopardize other people's safety ... but localism is ridiculous in 2006.

At 2/14/06, 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with both anons, especially #2. And I really hate how the surf mags glorify it.


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