Surf Nazis Must Die (or at least go away very soon)!
In 1965 if you surfed on a Rockaway, Queens beach, the police ticketed you. After someone drowned a few years ago, authorities began persecuting the water people again, banning surfing. Rockaway people grow up surfing, many become lifeguards, then firefighters or police. Rockaway Beach is the surfy Dogtown of the East Coast. They won't take any crap. So last Spring, After vigorous protest, the ocean from Beach 87 Street to Beach 92 Street was liberated, and a designated surf beach now sits, open and free. No swimmers.
Across the bridge in Nazi County, Long Beach too, has it's designated surf beaches--where longboarders and shortboarders gaze the horizon, dazed, teabags soaking in the sun, waiting, watching. Swimmers are corralled into a tiny, over-crowded area, patrolled by zealous lifeguards. Stranded in the netherworld of brown jettied water are bodyboarders. Even with fins and a professional quality board, we are ocean pariahs, outlaws. We ride prone, close to the water, they stand-up. According to Long Beach logic, a grom (newbie) stand-up surfer with no skills or Aloha etiquette on a soft longboard is qualified for the designated zone, but a decorated bodyboarding Amazon warrior from Rockaway with fins, a 42" stringer and hard bottom board is not. Dudes, we ain't gonna take it! Even though we lost our main magazine, we're organizing worldwide. ( http://www.bodyboarder.com/)
Bodyboarding is the "bastard child" of surfing, looked down upon as a novice sport. We humble spongers are often expected to swim among general populations in crowded areas 15 feet wide. That means slamming into little kids, families and ropes. We can't mix with the longboard/softboard population because of all the jerks that have turned this spiritual practice into another testfest jock ritual of extreme sports. Surfing became mainstream about five years ago, and today beachside parking lots are crowded with Range Rovers and Jaguars toting top-shelf gear; the waters are increasingly becoming fight clubs pitting angry locals against arrogant day trippers. Even though females now surf, the line-up looks like an army of sperm waiting to pounce on a disinterested egg.
Spongers (so called, cause our boards are made of foam and hard plastic slick bottoms) compete internationally, just like longboarders, and kneeboarders, (http://www.isasurf.org/index.php?page=20&subpage=26). The Eastern Surfing Association and Surfrider (www.surfrider.org) both recognize Bodyboarding as a competitive class, we have magazines dedicated to the sport, and heroes too, like Guilherme Tamega and Karla Costa of Brazil. But we get no respect and nada surf. Last week I was hanging out on Pacific, a spot with nice breaks. I got thrown out of the water 3 times for bodyboarding outside the ropes. There I sat, surfsick, overlooking about 60 feet of clean, glassy breaks, outside the ropes, forbidden to enter to the empty water.
It hurt. But actually, I gave up my bodyboard years ago. Today I prefer to bodysurf, just like my heros, Hawaiian Patron Saint Duke Kahanamoku did when he visited my homeland, Rockaway in the 1930's. God made the ocean, so I split, in search of the Divine. I headed East, to a quiet sacred place where, if there's no rips or serious shorebreakers, Lifeguards trust you to swim at your own risk outside the dopey ropes. And there I was able to do what I came for; surfy prayer and meditation. I chanted, "I submit myself, body spirit and soul to you, Lord Neptune." The wave of the season broke over my first chakra and moved up, eventually to my crown, like Kundalini energy, rising up to the top of my head, cleansing me. I caught a forty foot ride that day, zoomed all the way to the shoreline, on my hardbelly board. The one He gave me.
Respect the Beach, Free the Ocean, Amen.