|ALL FOR A FEW PERFECT WAVES had to be 500 pages or less --
not the original 850! Material was cut that, in the final analysis,
interrupted the dramatic flow and story. Some great scenes
were lost, but even a great scene can't just come out of
Maybe one day I'll do a special edition, an author's cut. But until
then....enjoy. And check back now and then for new stories,
and individual interview excerpts.
All stories Copyright David Rensin/All For a Few Perfect Waves.
You may link but you may not reproduce elsewhere without
|MIKI DORA IN MOROCCO
JANUARY THROUGH MARCH 1999
As you know, the original manuscript would have resulted in an 850
page book. Much had to be deleted. Below is a chapter about Miki’
s trip to Oulidia Surf Camp in Morocco. He’d just moved back to
Guéthary on the Cote Basque, and made a deal with Quiksilver to
be a representative without portfolio. In other words, Quiksilver,
through Miki’s friend Harry Hodge – who ran the company in
Europe – agreed (at their own suggestion) to pay Miki’s living
expenses, give him a car, insurance, golf and tennis club
memberships, and an allowance. In return Miki had only to be Miki .
. . that is, hang out with whomever he wanted to and be on the
scene. Wearing Quiksilver clothing and hawing company products
was not involved. Harry simply wanted to give the guy a way to
Mike McNeill worked for Quiksilver. Susan was his ex-wife.
Laurent Miramon ran the surf camp. Virginie is his sister. Rick
Hodgson knew Miki from Topanga, and had played a part in having
some of Miki’s belongings left behind in New Zealand returned to
him. Michael McDonnell is a movie producer. Cynthia Applewhite
met Miki in 1959 and was a lifelong friend. Barry McGrath also
worked for Quiksilver.
SUSAN MCNEILL: Miki would only compromise his freedom for
short periods of time, like when he was supposed to be working for
Harry Hodge, or when he would have to compromise to involve
himself with a woman. He would make small compromises, but he
saw them as a means to the end.
He would never say yes to projects because it would be too much
work. He was probably capable of running a large company, if he
had chosen to do so, but it would have taken too much time away
from his personal freedom. I think he resented people who would
give up their personal freedom in order to work the machine. He
was also a little jealous.
Part of Harry Hodge’s deal with Miki was that he was supposed to
be the Welcome Wagon. But when the first wagon came to town,
Miki went to a surf camp in Morocco and stayed three months. The
wagons came and went, came and went, and all these guys were
here who were supposed to be playing golf, going to the Alps and
surfing, and the guide was down there going, “Oh, I can’t get back.
I’ll be back next week.” Then he left a huge tab down there that
Quiksilver had to pay as well. And then he was always getting ill. He
used to say it was because of what he ate, but I knew it wasn’t.
Meanwhile, Bob Simpson was complaining: “He doesn’t get paid
very well.” I said, “Bob, he’s not doing anything.” I don’t think Bob
knew Miki very long, but there’s another one: he really loved Miki.
He did a lot for Miki, gave Miki so much.
VIRGINIE MIRAMON: He was sent by Harry Hodge to the surf
camp in Morocco, in a small village called Oualidia, in January,
1999, for a vacation. I was visiting my brother Laurent, who created
the camp and surf school for kids and adults fifteen years ago, and I
just happened to be there when Miki came. The surf camp was
sponsored by Quiksilver, in a way. Not financially speaking, but it
added to their image. He was supposed to stay two weeks, and he
ended up staying much longer.
MIKE MCNEILL: Quiksilver buys time in the camp, leasing it for a
two-week period to send our team riders down. They used to do an
exercise program where we’d get fit. Miki started out on one of
these deals, but then everyone left and Miki stayed. Which Miki
VIRGINIE MIRAMON: My brother always wanted to pass on his
knowledge of the ocean and surfing, especially kids. We were born
and raised in Morocco and had a fantastic childhood. We were
surrounded by wonderful ocean people who were always sharing
with us, teaching us, taking us fishing.
LAURENT MIRAMON: I have a special life here in Morocco. I
teach surf to kids and I’m very involved in preserving the surfing
conditions and the spirit of the area.
I work from March to November, then I have four months of
holidays. It’s the best period for surfing in Morocco, so it’s good for
me. Quiksilver called me in late December and asked me if I could
host Miki Dora for a week at the beginning of January because it
was too cold in France and Miki was tired. I said yes, with
pleasure.. He came for one week and he stayed three months, and I
spent my holidays taking care of Miki Dora. He should have been
back in France but he would always say, "No, I need one more day.
I picked up Miki at the airport. We had a very good feeling
immediately. Where I live is not crowded. We surfed alone on very
good waves. There are the famous waves off Safi, a right point
break, much like Jeffreys Bay. Oualidia is a beach break with rights
and lefts. Miki brought a special board. He was always trying to find
the special shape. He had a 9' with no rocker. Otherwise he was
traveling very light. He had a bag and a backpack. Some stones. He
opened a little bag and showed them to me one night. I was scared.
Tthere were some crazy pieces inside. It was a little fortune. I said,
“Let me put it in the office.” He said, “No no, it stays always with
me. This is my bank.”
When people arrive in Morocco I take their passports so they’re
really on holiday. They don’t have to think about their paper. I said
to Miki, “Give me the passport. I keep it with me. No problem.” He
didn’t want to. When you have a client who’s had his passport
stolen it’s big shit. I didn’t understand it.
I said, “Miki, it’s no problem.” Finally, he trusted me but he said,
“Hey Laurent, please take care. This is my heart. I haven’t got a
passport since 15 years.” He used to change the pictures. His
passport had no residency. That’s exceptional. It means you are not
registered really any place in the world. It means you don’t pay any
tax, any insurance, any anything. The residency of France was paid
by Quiksilver. It was an American passport he got when they
cleaned the case of Miki Dora at the FBI. Miki said, “You should
have seen the face of the young inspector from the FBI. They were
looking at my old case; it was like a mountain of paper, about 30
centimeters.” But it was nothing serious to chase a guy for 12 or 15
years. It was stupid. He had some stuff with American Express or
some fight, but he wasn’t a gangster.
He said the FBI came to his house in New Zealand and he escaped.
He left everything. The story is crazy. From France, when he went
back to New York to clean his case with the FBI. I said, “Hey,
Miki, why did you go back to New York?” He said, “For my
mother. She called me. She was sick.
She was getting too old.” She wanted to die thinking that everything
was okay for her son. So they took the best lawyer, and that’s the
way Miki went back to New York. Miki was tired after three or six
months in jail in Bayonne.
VIRGINIE MIRAMON: My first impression of Miki was that he
was a charming, well-educated, knowledgeable person. A very
complicated individual. I could tell he was complicated because I can
see through people. He was very curious; when he’s introduced to
someone, he would ask lots of questions. And yet he liked to keep
his privacy, he was secretive. You can see some looks in his eyes.
But he enjoyed being with us. We had a wonderful time. We surfed,
we played, we laughed, we enjoyed the sun, we read, we talked, we
played backgammon and ping-pong. I beat him all the time at
backgammon. He hated that! He was angered, tense. Of course, he’
s a Leo. I’m a Cancer. Leo is the father of the zodiac. Cancers are
Right away he told us who he was, the first day. He said, “OK, this
is who I am, this is where I come from, this is my story. I’m here to
relax. I don’t want to interact with people. I like my privacy. I don’t
like to have my photo taken.” That’s about it. We said, “OK, fine.” I
didn’t care much who he was – this “Miki Dora” legend. I had heard
of it from my brother, seen a couple of photos. To me he was like
every other person.
He had traveled a lot, so he liked to talk about distant places and
other people’s ways. He was still upset over being in prison. And
upset about his house in South Africa catching on fire; and his dog
was his passion. He carried a photo of Scooter Boy with him
everywhere. And he was quite emotional about it, because at the
surf camp there’s lots of dogs.
I’m not here to judge him. I don’t want to go into analyzing who he
was, what he did. I’m not interested. I think he truly enjoyed and
appreciated that. He didn’t have to put an act together or play a
game. He didn’t have to be malicious. He just had to be…maybe
the true Miki. He was funny. He still had the hand gestures, always.
He was self-deprecating to the point that he was taking himself
down all the time. At that stage in his life, he was probably doing a
review of his life and what he had done, and was aware of all this
stuff. He didn’t do that good, and he was probably aware of what
he had done wrong. Because he was a smart individual.
I think we were a fresh breath of air for him because we did not care
– about what had happened, what he did. We didn’t want anything
from him. We just accepted him for who he was, with his heart and
his soul. It was good for him to interact with people who were not
from his past. It just simple with us.
LAURENT MIRAMON: I live a special life in a beautiful place. We
are the same distance between Casablanca and Marrakech, a two
hour drive, near Essaouira, also called Mogador. Mogador was a
very special place in the ‘60s hippie movement. Jimmy Hendrix was
there. You know the song about the castle made of sand? It was
written in Essaouira; there’s a castle on the beach. I also took Miki
there. I live in such a place and do good business, but I don’t sell
myself. That was the big complaint from Miki: all his friends sold
themselves. He stayed the same.
I took him to some special places like Desert Point where you have
to walk for one hour. But he was tired. Sometimes I could hear him
coughing all night long. He slept poorly and always with the
BBC radio on. It was impossible to sleep with him in the same
room, though we had to share sometimes when we traveled.
Because I thought he would only be one or two weeks, we went
straight on a trip to Marrakech and to Essaouria. He told me he’d
been to Morocco in the ‘60s, to Kenitra, in the north. There was an
American military base there and he went to see some friends.
I introduced him to James Stewart Church, a great painter. Stewart
was like Miki. He had the same character. He stopped painting
when he realized that his paintings were used in a commercial way.
In the USA, for stealing one pencil he went to jail for two months.
Finally he went to Tangiers in the ‘60s and stayed in Morocco. Miki
met Stewart in a beautiful house in Marrakech, like one out of A
Thousand and One Nights.
He had an old friend in Marrakech named Virgil Bertoné. He’s a
guy from Biarritz. In the ‘60s, ‘70s he had a limousine business. It
was also the ‘70s, so he had a good address with everything you
need to get happy: the best restaurant, the best wine, the best coke,
the best hash. He went also to jail many years. He’s been in
Morocco for 15 years and we found him for Miki. It was funny to
see the two guys together: “Hey, you’re getting old!” “No, you’re
Quiksilver paid for the first two weeks. After that, Harry wanted to
have Miki in France for marketing – parties for the company, surf
conferences, contests. He was really feeling bad. He was coughing.
It seemed serious. He took a lot of vitamins but no medicines. The
marketing guy sent a fax to Miki saying, “You must come back. We
will stop paying your bill in Morocco.” It was a little tough. It was a
young guy in marketing telling that one sentence to such a character
who was 64. I said to Miki, “Hey, no problem if you want to stay
VIRGINIE MIRAMON: We were concerned. “This guy isn’t
young. He’s not old, but he’s not doing well. What can we do?” He
had his own medicine cabinet. There was nothing we could give him.
Sometimes he stayed in his room for two days, and ask nicely if he
could have his dinner in his room --but that’s all the help he asked
LAURENT MIRAMON: Miki had some people who wanted to do
a movie. I remember only John Milius and another guy who did The
Usual Suspects, but there were others. Everyone who wanted to
contact Miki sent faxes to my office. I used to give the faxes to Miki
and every time he was, “Laurent, can you read this and tell me what
you think about this guy? I think he’s a stupid guy. He must be gay.”
I saw the fax from John Milius and said, “Miki, I don’t think he’s a
stupid guy.” It was a way for Miki to have fun and make shit about
all this. These guys wanted the bad past of his life and Miki didn’t
want to do a movie about being in jail. Miki wanted to do a movie
about his real life.
RICK HODGSON: I think he knew that if his story was really told,
that he wouldn’t look good. He old me that he saw the movie about
him being a Lawrence of Arabia sweeping epic, with all the
adventures, with the humor and the beauty and the scope. Probably
with a few clever, harmless scams, but not with the truly evil stuff.
However, when Miki hadn’t heard from McDonnell for a few weeks
he become anxious that the producer had suddenly lost interest.
Shortly after settling into the surf came, he wrote to Cynthia
Thank you for your encouraging FAX:! I left France Jan 1, for
Morocco to escape a flu epidemic. I didn’t make it. Its caught
me. I’m down for a week now. My trips in shambles… As for the
producer, before I left a 3 page fax was sent off with some
answer to questions he had sent me! No reply? Please try and
call Michael. I think he has lost interest. I haven’t heard a word
from anyone in a month now. I must plan my life accordingly.
This is a project he’s been thinking about for a long time and
now he has your permission, I’m sure he’s doing the job
efficiently, scouting out money, screenwriter, getting the star’s
interest, and all that a producer has to do to get it going. My
advice to you is don’t even think about it. I’ll all happen
without any effort on your part at all.
After I contact M.M. I’ll fax you what we talked about.
What an exciting movie this will make!
Don’t worry. This guy feels so lucky to get this opportunity to
create a movie of your life! Remember, Mickey! Your fascinating
image that intrigues everybody is that of a lone, aloof,
inaccessible, remote sports celebrity . So keep your image. Let
M.M. do it all for you. He hasn’t lost interest!
Right here I should put in the remark that this is Hollywood:
“Hurry up & wait.” Have
Faith – be cool – Love you.
Finally, McDonnell wrote:
Happy New Year Mickey.
Interestingly, I got put together with Johnny Fain in a doubles
game and now I’m his new favorite partner. He’s got bad knees
and an artificial hip. He likes me because I chase down all the
lobs that go over him. He’s still got pretty good ground strokes.
We’ve beaten guys that should have beaten us.
He wants me to do his story as a movie. He gave me the Surfers
Journal article on him. I called him yesterday to say that in my
view there is no movie there. Incredible stories, characters,
incidents yes, but no feature film. He’s a tenacious little
bastard, isn’t he? I’m not going to pursue it.
I called Milius. As you mentioned he was someone who always
seemed to respect you, and we talked at length (as he is wont to
do) about you, Malibu, Big Wednesday, and movies ivolving
surfing. He didn’t see where the movie is in your story at first
but seemed intrigued after I told him what I had in mind. He
invited me to lunch next week. I’ll see what I can learn from
him and I’ll fax you to tell you about it. I look forward to
meeting you one day.
Relieved, Miki replied on letterhead from the Hotel Kenzi
“I’m paying off the local-Controlling-Chieftain, against the
clock, so I won’t get slam-dunked by his snap of the finger
strong arm morons. So the world turns everything has its price,
even out of the dim past – ancient MOROCCO. You have to pay
for every wave! Time marches on . . . . I’m sorry to hear of
Johnny’s physical problems. I have not had a word from him in
30 years…! He was always a bit confused on the facts of life –
along with the rest of his generations….. The 60s were
audacious times to bad no one learned anything!
And yet the same day he faxed a letter to a trusted friend in Malibu,
in which he said, “I just might have to come back to the United
Snakes. It looks like I got a film option pending from the
producer of “The Usual Suspects.” Is it any good? Do you
know this joker Michael McDonnell of Malibu?
Finally, Cynthia Applewhite met with McDonnell and reported back
As to your film: Mickey, you are lucky! This is a well-known film
producer who wants to do this and present you a la “Cool Hand
Luke,” starring Paul Newman, which was about a glamorous
non-conformist. Maybe you’ve seen it. If not, try to find it in a
video store over there and rent it.
Knowing this, you should have the confidence to just relax and
let him do it all, get the star, get the financing. When a deal
comes about, our agency, CAA, best in Hollywood, will act for
you and get you the most money. So just enjoy life and let the
wheels move. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. Could happen fast,
could take forever, could (sigh) all fall apart. We trust not, but
we’re all in the hands of Destiny. It’s taken almost a year for
them to select a screenwriter to do Louie’s life and
start on our project.
Michael wanted to go over there and interview you but I said,
“No, bring Mickey Dora over here and put him up in a good
hotel.” When I spoke to him yesterday to get your correct fax
number, he said they were going to do that -- bring you here.
Maybe rent you a car?
Yay! (We’ll also go to) El Cholo (restaurant and to) Dr. Starr’s
for checking you out on her magic machine and prescribing
youthifying and healthifying supplements to keep you feeling
great and limber and flexible for tennis, golf and WAVES!
PS: I hope I did right in suggesting they bring you here. Besides
my pleasure in seeing you again, I’m thinking: Mickey spending
more time with Senior Dora -- also face to face meeting with
CAA agent & discussing $ matters. Let me know when you’re
Miki wrote: “Thank you for faxing me back.I’m feeling a little
better now. Perhaps I “over-reacted”. When one is sick as I
was it’s a hell of a thing to fight it alone in a strange country. I’
m used to it but when some one I don’t know is juggling with
my life, I become a wee bit jittery, particularly when he plays
tennis with Johnny Fain. There’s no telling what this confused
little nincompoop puts into Michael’s head. Anyhow its not
important, there’s nothing anyone can do to me that has not
been done … He did however finally fax me. He’s off to Costa
Rica for a while. He claims he talked to John Milius. You know
how discomposed I get about my life! I went through a lot to
make it work; to let Hollywood carve me up in little chunks and
served up to the Public – with or without me, it makes my flesh
creep. I have no one to help me in these matters. If by some
trust to luck and tempt for time, this all comes to pass and I can
make something of it all, I will show you my appreciation! I don’
t want you to get too involved with this venture to the
impairment to your normal life, one only has so much energy to
After the flurry of Hollywood business that followed him to Oualidia,
Miki turned his energy to other matters.
LAURENT MIRAMON: He had a lot of time to think here. It’s a
beautiful place on a lagoon. In the winter it’s empty. He surfed with
me and he walked a lot on the beach. He was always thinking about
the places he saw in his life. Whenever he came back from a
promenade he would tell me about Malibu in the old times. He told
me about South Africa. It was sad. His house burned, his dog died.
He left from there with nothing. Just some stones in the pockets. He
said it was on purpose.
He wasn’t respecting the rules. He said he especially loved to in the
white parts with a black friend.
Miki was always giving me some advice. Every day I got three or
four stories from Miki’s life. He was always comparing his life and
my life from every point of view – surfing, women, everything. It was
fantastic to spend three months with him. He had always a view on
the future. He was always telling me, “Laurent, take care about this,
take care about that; it’s gonna happen like this, it’s gonna happen
He wanted to make a new board in balsa. He wanted to get a free
trip to Ecuador from Quiksilver to buy wood. He wanted to take me
there because I speak Spanish and I take care well of Miki. He said
to Harry, “I have to take Laurent with me.” He talked about special
skin for the wet suits. He was a little dreamer, talking like this. But in
one way he’s right. He’s whole concept was right. I think he met
Yvon Chouinard, from Patagonia, but quickly. He was always
talking about Yvon and what he did with textiles.
He was always giving me advice about the evolution of my business.
He saw the whole system, the capitalism, from the ‘60s. It’s hard to
deal in this world. He hated the surf industry except the special
relation he had with Harry Hodge. Harry was the part that Miki
wasn’t: he was successful and doing well. He had a lot of admiration
for Harry: he gave all his time to the business. It was very bizarre
because then most of the people I met had a bad opinion of Miki.
They didn’t understand why Harry was helping him. Miki was a man
abusing people. Harry was the only guy helping him. The relationship
After two months of not working I had twenty-five kids coming to
the camp. Miki said, “Hey, kids’ coming? I must leave! It’s time to
leave.” I told him, “Hey, Miki, no. There is no problem. You’re
gonna see the kids. There is a lot of respect. You can stay here.” He
did. Finally, at the end of the week, we were having dinner in the big
tent with all the kids on one side and me and Miki. He looked at me
and said, “Hey Laurent, they are very cool, these kids.” To him all
kids were a mess because of the education, the system, all that. Miki
had said, “They’re going to eat you! They’re gremlins.”
Another time a journalist from Eurosport came with a cameraman.
Miki got paranoid. “No, no! I leave! I leave!” Again, I said, “No,
they’re very cool. They’re going to respect you. I’m going to take
care of that.” I told them not to film him and obeyed. He spent the
week with them and had a very good feeling with them. A very good
time, having dinner, talking. He became more flexible and more open.
In fact., he began dancing salsa here.
I have Cuban blood and Spanish, and we love salsa. Most of the
time there is salsa and people dance, and he was very happy to see
people dancing like this: no party, just for the occasion. Great
dancers and girls. One night we were dancing until three or four. He
woke up and began dancing. He was very smart, dancing salsa. He
My sister dances very well, especially salsa. I heard the rumor that
he was in love with her.
VIRGINIE MIRAMON: The only reason I was at the camp so
often – I came down on weekends – is because I was on my way
back to America and I’d fallen in the street and dislocated my elbow
really bad. I had to stay there longer than I planned.
Later that year I was in France and Miki helped me find a place to
live in Guethary. We were in the same building. Whenever Miki was
invited to a party, he always would say, “Hey Virginie, I have an
invitation, do you want to come?” He was very nice to me. He was
a good friend. I heard he had a crush on me. But I couldn’t sense it.
Maybe I can see through people, but when I’m concerned, I have
no idea. From what I saw – and I saw him in the company of other
women – he was a real gentleman. I never saw him out of line with a
woman. My brother’s girlfriend at the time was Spanish and living in
San Sebastian. He liked her too, he liked being in her company. We’
d always spend a couple of hours together, having a coffee, playing
backgammon. He was the same with her as with me.
LAURENT MIRAMON: The FBI came to visit Miki at the surf
camp. I think they didn’t want to let Miki do a movie or a book. It
was bad advertising for them.
Imagine the situation. We were at the camp with five or six friends.
A guy came, a solid guy. He said he was a mountain guide and was
just back from the Kilimanjaro; it was the third time he’d done it. He
said, “Yeah, I’m a surfer.” He had no board. I said, “No problem. I’
ll rent you a board.” He began talking with people and with Miki. He
was a very friendly American guy. Smiling. Talking. We went for
dinner and the guy wanted to talk to Miki. Miki looked at me and
said, “Hey Laurent. Please tell this stupid guy that I don’t talk with
police.” The guy was laughing. He was next to him.It was very
uncomfortable even for me. I was like, “Oh. Miki’s radical.” The
guy was having fun, laughing. He tried again to talk with Miki. Miki
told me again, “He’s stupid really, this guy. I believe he’s really
stupid.” In front of him and in front of people.
That night Miki said, “This guy, are you sure he’s coming from the
Kilimanjaro? He’s not sunburned. His lips are fresh. They’re like lips
from New York. And look at his clothes: He’s so well-packed. He’
s not a guide.”
The day after, we went surfing. It was not big, but they were solid
five-, six-foot beach break. I saw the guy in the water. He was a
nut. He was not able to paddle correctly. He got crashed in the
waves. He broke the board. First day. He had to pay for the board.
He wasn’t a surfer. He probably was someone who had one week
of lessons to go into a surf camp and ask where is Miki Dora. It’s
ike a movie, I know, but we were convinced that this stupid guy was
We had three days like this. The third day I made like I was closing
the camp, to put this guy out. We went to Ksar. The guy went in my
van with us. I left the guy in the street at a hotel, and he was crazy.
He wanted to stay in contact with us. He wanted to get information.
He wanted to see us for dinner. But everybody was not simpatico
with him. I didn’t want to talk with him; Miki was radical with him;
my sister was the same. I believe he was like a general information,
maybe FBI or not. I don’t know, but it was very bizarre.
Another time, maybe one week later, a young man came to the
camp, maybe 25 years old. We were having coffee. They knew I
was closed, so he asked for a leash. I looked at the guy and said,
“You’re coming from Europe or the USA and you think you’re
going to find a leash in Morocco? If you come to surf in Morocco
you have a guide, and you must know the only surf shop is in
Casablanca. So why you didn’t go to Casablanca to buy a leash as
soon as you arrived?” It was another story. Another blah-blah-blah.
Me, I’m quite radical because we don’t have stuff. It’s hard
for us to get essentials and boards. Even if I have ten leashes I’m
going to tell such a guy, “No, I don’t have leash.” Leash for
Moroccans, not for foreigners who forgot his leash.
I said to the guy, “Go to Essaouira. It’s 160 kilometers. Maybe
there is a surf shop there and you can find a leash.” The guy had a
block of wax in his pocket. He said, “It’s hard to have material in
Morocco, so take this. I give you the block of wax.” I took the wax
and said, “Thank you! Thank you very much. Ciao. Bye-bye.”
He should have gone. It was three o’clock p.m. I went back to my
house. I was in the living room and he couldn’t see me, but the guy
was on the beach right in front of my house. An empty beach.
No t-shirt. Nude. I saw the guy was really fit. And he was always
looking always to my house. It’s the only house open in the
wintertime and he knew that Miki was there.
So, I don’t know exactly the truth about all this, but it was two very
strange visits. In all my relations, if it’s not clear I’m very sensitive. It’
s my job, communications, and I can feel people.
And I can tell you, these two guys were very bizarre.
When Miki finally went back to Biarritz, Harry wasn’t so happy that
he’d stayed so long in Morocco So Miki told Harry that I gave him
poison and tried to keep him in the camp because it was good
promotion for the camp. [laughs] It’s funny but he told Harry
seriously. People from inside and outside the company told me that.
He said, “It was a trap! They gave me drugs in Morocco, like black
magic.I was sick and I couldn’t move! I stayed there and it was
good for the camp.”
BARRY MCGRATH: A friend and I decided to go to Morocco, to
surf for a month or two. Through working with Quiksilver I knew
Miki, and that he was at a surf camp in Oualidia. He’d been there for
a few months, quite sick actually – caught chronic flu or bronchitis.
On the way to Taghazout, we decided to drop into the surf camp
and hook up with Miki to see what he was doing, and try to get
him out of his rut.
We stayed a few days, had a few meals, and Miki decided to come
with us, a few hundred kilometers further south to Taghazout. But
knowing his problems of sharing money for expenses, we were a bit
worried. Everything was OK until we got to the second or third
petrol station and by then Miki didn’t want to participate in anything.
At the same time, he was buying very expensive things in
At Taghazout we stayed in a little house on Anchor Point. Miki
immediately took over the biggest room, even though we were
paying. Miki actually went out for a couple of surfs, but after a
couple days, Miki just wasn’t participating in anything. After a
couple of weeks Miki was kind of freaking out a little bit as well,
listening to the radio all night, talking about some mad programs he
was listening to in China, and “we’re all going to get invaded by the
Generally, things not going well. My friend and I spoke about it, and
decided we didn’t want Miki to be with us anymore. We hinted
about it, he didn’t care. He just hung out. So we decided,
while we were surfing, we’d tell Miki. We were going to tell him
together, but my friend got out of the surf first. As I walked up on
the rocks, Miki comes running down to me, and says, “Fuck! What’s
going on?! Your friend’s just told me I have to get out of here!”
I said, “Miki, stop. I don’t know what my friend said to you, but
whatever it was, I completely agree with him.”
He said, “He wants me to get out on the next bus.”
I said, “OK, we’ll get your things together and take you to the bus
station.” We took him into town and got him a bus ticket and he left,
to, Agadir I suppose, then took a plane back to France. Later, he
thought what had happened was quite funny.
In the end, Miki told few people about his time in Morocco, but
when he did, it was often spun into a wild tale.I went with my best
friends for 35 years. We hadn’t been on a surf trip together for years
and years.So we didn’t really want to take Miki with us, but it
seemed OK, so we took him. Maybe under different circumstances
we probably would have held on a bit longer. But we just were
down for a month holiday, and had been working, and we didn’t
need Miki and his mad stories about being invaded by China.
Although there were some things that were quite interesting and
What’s funny is how Miki would do things like say, “It’s absolutely
impossible for me to help you guys out with petrol, absolutely
impossible,” and then he’d be buying fossilized shark teeth for loads
of money. He’d open his wallet and it was full of money, but it was
impossible to buy a carrot to put in the tagine. That was Miki. If it
hadn’t been Miki, we would have left him in the first petrol station.
But of course, it was Miki Dora. He told us loads of great stories, in
the beginning. It happened over probably two weeks, ten days,
there were lots of positive things. His New Zealand stories. It was
fantastic. But the hassles over time became stronger than the stories.
I must say when Miki got sick here afterwards, I saw Miki quite
often. We always had a beer together, hung out with the same
people, and he didn’t hold any grudges about that, I don’t think.
I think somewhere along the line, he thought, not that it was good
exactly, but at least it was a couple people not ass-licking Miki
Dora. I’d see him having beers in Guethary and everybody would
just be, “That’s Miki Dora! Miki Dora!” And of course, classic Miki
Dora, he didn’t want to be recognized.
When he got sick, he was a different person. We had a laugh. It was
great. It always comes down to basic, “He was Miki Dora.” Even in
South Morocco, people would go, “There’s Miki
Dora.” “Are you staying with Miki Dora?” And we’d say, “Yeah,
maybe he could stay with you!”
RICK HODGSON: Miki later told me that the only way he could
get into the surf camp in Morocco was by pack mule, that a Cuban
mercenary ran the camp. There were guards with automatic
weapons everywhere, and if you took off in front of anybody you’d
be shot. And the waves were black and the bottom so full of rocks
and poisonous things that you’d die if you didn’t make the take off.
Miki always liked you to think that he went right into hell and artfully
maneuvered out of hell with priceless panache and/or priceless
booty. That was his whole quest. That was the story he wrote for
himself; that was his real mythology. It was beautiful, but not what
was really happening. The beauty was the contrast with the real
story: When I was talking to a person unrelated to Miki, he said said
he’d just gotten a postcard from a friend in Morocco who said Miki
had been kicked out of this family surf camp because he wouldn’t
pay for food and he kept trying to weasel it from cafeteria. There
were no mercanaries, automatic weapons – nothing – except moms
and kids and surfers and he was trying to have a free ride.
Miki’s view of reality was so Walter Mitty. And he’d keep you
spellbound with the stories.He had an amazing ego with a life story
that, by design, was almost impossible to keep up with.
|Original working sketch for the most
famous surfboard ad of all time.
|Unused image for Pygmio Fainus, by Ivan
Hosoi. In the end they went with the
evolution pics right out of Time/Life
|Russ Spencer of Bison Films
interviews me about Miki
and the book. Click here.
BOB FEIGEL'S SURFWRITER.NET
WANNA SURF (WORLD) MAPS
SURFING THE COTE BASQUE
INTERACTIVE MAP PAYS BASQUE
GOT A MILLION TO SPARE
JOE TABLER'S SURFBOOKS
FRED FOR YOUR HEAD
"Gidget on the Couch" in THE
MILLION DAYS TO DARKNESS
Death, Diamonds and the Episodic Wave
BY MICKEY DORA
Creator and prodigy of the Malibu Mystique, high-performance
pioneer, standard bearer of the surf rebel, prophet of surfing's
apocalypse and angry icon to an ever-expanding audience he
unwittingly helped to create...Mickey Dora has led a life dedicated to
the ultimate free ride. Yet, in many ways, Dora has paid a high price
for his philosophies of freedom: harassment and incarceration,
gossip, notoriety and blatant commercial rip-offs have proved to be a
relentless nemesis. He dropped off the public surf scene in 1974.
Now, after years of wandering in the desert, both metaphorically and
literally, Dora has delivered a new and ominously literal parable of our
sport and our times. Without blurring the lines between fact and
fiction and self-delusion, let me begin by recalling a few events.
The interrogation starts:
(Big Brother): Were you ever in the Military?
(Man in Custody): No.
Did you ever serve in any other Armed Forces?
Did you ever work for the Government?
Do you own any property?
Do you have a home?
No—just Post Restante only.
Do you have any insurance or a pension?
Do you have a bank account or credit card?
Have you ever been on welfare or food stamps?
Do you own anything?
Have you ever been married?
Are you homosexual?
Isn't everybody in this screwed-up country?
Who the hell do you think you are?
Who the hell do you want me to be?
Just answer the question, yes or no. How do you make your living?
By the oldest of livelihoods, Free Trade.
Now what the hell would that be?
You're a liar! You're trafficking in drugs.
You owe the IRS $300,000. Case closed.
To quote Faustus: "Youth and debauchery are magnificent, but
eventually you have the Devil to pay."
Stripped naked, I stood there manacled, shackled and chained, like
any other slave caught in the 20th century, where human beings are
trapped, brainwashed and otherwise destroyed by a mindless
No Amnesty International or bogus Helsinki Accord.
With everything I owned confiscated I was tossed a government-
issue jumpsuit accompanied by the inevitable standard caustic
remark, "Hey, man, what's your beef?"
With one of my particularly favorite prosaic facade expressions, I
responded "Among other things, improper abuse of credit."
A few of the local homeboys were checking me out as if I were a two-
bit purse snatcher. One blurted out, "Oh, yeah, went to Vegas for the
In my best diction, I replied, "No, not exactly. Just took a wee trip
"Huh? Oh, yeah! How long were you gone, man?"
And I was able to make the triumphant declaration: "Seven years,
A loud cheer burst forth as the guard escorted me to my cell:
Maximum Security, Terminal Island Federal Penitentiary, Long Beach,
From 1974 to 1981 I covered well over 200,000 miles over four
continents 90% of the time reconnoitering the coastal areas of India,
Africa, the Far East, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, South America
and hundreds of islands.
Only in Europe did Interpol or the Feds ever get close. Only after five
~passports and millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on the hunt did I,
with a gun pointed at my head, volunteer to return to the USA (just
visiting, thanks), thus ending the most extraordinary surfing odyssey
in the history of mankind.
Better to be judged by 12 than carried by six.
The way they laid down the law you'd have thought I was the top
Burgermeister of the Baader-Meinhof, or that I was in the power of
the Red Brigade, Black September and all their related modern
In the course of time, with a stroke of the pen, I was finally kicked out
of the pen with a federal misdemeanor, after being bottled up in their
suffocating reform schools for two very long, solitary years.
It was all too absurd: no trial, no dark suit, no presidential pardon.
They gave Nazi war criminals a better deal.
No doubt the question arises: Should I have gotten the firing squad
for all those amazing escapades I pulled off during the fifties, sixties
Anyhow, free again, I wasn't about to sit around waiting amid all the
trappings of modem urban materialism and let TV rigor mortis infest
my mind. I stand or fall, live or die, by my own decisions. To be
splattered across a California freeway is not my idea of a rewarding
end. I'll never rot in one of those jam-packed, clammy, dead-end
cemeteries of the North. I'd rather be consumed by a Great White
while riding perfect waves along the Wild Coast, or devoured by a
desert lion while diamond gazing somewhere in the Namib, the oldest
desert in existence, a land of splendor and grandeur, the land where
man first walked this planet.
What better place to end one's life than in Primordial Africa?
By adopting my particular type of self-imposed exile I can outdistance
these scourgers of mankind: those who believe in consciousness
without existence and those who believe in existence without
consciousness—these caricatures who go to ludicrous lengths to
assert their own importance, their own grotesque, overblown
The preconceived, hypocritical values of these scourges are their
calling cards to the temples of mediocrity and cultural impoverishment.
These schizos are forever in motion, spinning out of control, unable to
slow down for fear someone might get a glimpse of their hollowness,
their vulnerability and lack of moral courage,
I wonder what the ancient Hawaiians would think of today's world.
The once-prodigious, noble Hawaiian Enlightenment, with all its
virtues, tribal loyalties and irrecoverable surfing skills, has in the end
availed them nothing.
Africa represents a last chance for the Human Spirit; one of its few
remaining opportunities to return to the place from whence it came.
Since most of you are not yet intimate with my idiopathic mind, let me
explain that I've been commissioned by SURFER Magazine to
formulate my general principles of self-aggrandizement. My
hypothesis is 180° opposite to present-day logic (The Fool Plus One
Theory); Quantum Waveriding being the prime factor in the equation.
As child prodigies sometimes do, I continue to discover my aptitude,
which has endured to this present moment. If you are willing to
accept the assertion that surfing is a colossal waste of time, then I'll
concede I've wasted my life. But in a better and more graceful manner
than any of my two-legged counterparts, no matter what the cost or
As manifested in today's environment, it is extremely more hazardous
to compete with the five billion out-of-control human beings endlessly
copulating and howling to the gods of growth and planned waste,
rewarded with IOU paper promises to their nonexistent Promised
I’ve been globe-trotting since the age of three months. Getaway is
the name of the game, and I've been burning up the road ever since.
The flames are in my blood permanently.
I grew up in probably the most perfect climate in the world. In that
time dimension the California and Hawaii beaches were rarely used,
mostly wild, untamed and breathtaking.
It's hard for me to believe, but at the time of Christ (that's not even
one million days ago) there were only about 170 million people on
Earth. For over 1,000 years, the world's population stayed about the
same. Only near the turn of this century did the number of humans
start to become troublesome.
| Then, with the introduction of the massive credit system, which
gained momentum at the end of the fifties, unanimously endorsed by
the economists, politicians, professors and forecasters, the population
took off for the stratosphere.
Today, the world's population is out of control, raging like a prairie
fire. When will the finite limits of the globe suffer a cataclysmic collision
with a population gone wild? Will it take five, six or ten billion people?
It is all the evolution of the human race relentlessly approaching its
final destiny on this planet; a destiny which ultimately ignores the
futile efforts of those who think they are shaping the
It's too awful for me to contemplate. When anthropologists look back
on the sixties, seventies and eighties, they will shudder in disbelief.
"Let the fetus live so it can starve to death.”
Undaunted, I'm going to continue to live and evolve in this irrational
world, infected as it is with mysticism, superstition and grinding in-
competence. The virus has spread to every aspect of life on our
planet. Africa, in particular, is now riddled with demagogue dictators
who make the megalomaniac Emperor Bukasa of the Central African
Republic and Idi Amin look like pipsqueaks in comparison.
Reason and Justice are only mindless platitudes; the real rule on this
planet is “Might is Right." You must either conquer and rule or lose
and serve, triumph or suffer, be the hammer or the anvil. History
gushes with blood.
The coup de grace was the Berlin Conference of 1878, which was
bequeathed to Africa by the former Colonial Nations, cutting up the
continent so these power brokers could plunder at will, eventually
sapping the foundations of all tribal and linguistic uniqueness. It was
a blow that will take generations to undo—if such a I turnaround is
And the world wonders why the Black Continent is coming apart at
the seams. Starvation in the hundreds-of-millions is inevitable. AIDS is
pandemic. If a two-legged Black Mamba doesn't slit your throat, then
a fervent patriot might just put a bullet between your eyes for
blurting out liberal U.S. propaganda. The Afrikaners, Germans and
British have no great historical compulsion to be unduly fond of one
another; they act in desperate partnership here only because they
realize that if they fail to hang together, they will hang
Each day 375,000 black workers descend some 3,240 meters into the
bowels of the Earth, to a depth at which temperatures increase by 1°
C for every 50 meters of descent. These are the deepest gold mines
in the world, and the richest.
The gold deposits of the Witwaterstrand are the greatest
subterranean treasures so far found by man. Hundreds of black
workers die every year through explosions, cave-ins, and so forth.
Thousands of tons of rock and gravel are dug just to produce a few
ounces of gold. Tons of the pure metal is shipped to Central Bank
locations throughout the world, only to be placed underground, once
again, in vaults.
The U.S. Government says this gold is worth only $42 an ounce, but
anybody with a bit of common sense knows otherwise. The U.S.
Government says gold is too valuable to be used as money. I
presume then money should have no value.
It brings to mind that great American fanatic, William Jennings Bryan,
who railed against crucifying mankind upon a Cross of Gold. Better to
enslave him in a sea of debt.
It's a funny thing, in all the years I've lived in Africa (no affront
intended to Irving Berlin) not once have I heard God Bless America
sung. Unbelievable, eh? I keep my mouth shut, my mind alert, my
eyes straight on riding a few extra- ordinary waves.
In 1970 Jeffreys Bay was still relatively unknown. It's been
deteriorating ever since (like everyplace else).
However, the real treasure chest of waves lies somewhere else. No
matter what the population of the world ejaculates into, nobody is
going to venture into this world within a world, wherein the Final
Destination is the ultimate solitude—madness or death.
South of the Tropic of Capricorn, north of the meridian of the Cape of
Good Hope, 30° south, 18° east…In the Heavens of the Southern
Cross...below the sinister cycle of survival by killing and the
endless sacrifice of the weaker in order in make the strong stronger:
There lies Namaqualand and, north, the timeless prehistoric Africa, a
world of primitive drives and desires, inhabited by the Gikwe-Bushmen
25,000 years ago during the Middle Stone Age. Their ancestors
occupied the same territory continuously for 25 million years, since the
dawn of the world, when Man and Beast were brothers. They are
the oldest sitting tenants on Earth.
Near the mouth of the Orange River lay the richest deposits of gem
diamonds in the world. They were probably washed down by
prehistoric rivers from volcanic deposits inland. This soft material,
known as "kimberlite" or "blue ground," is a rich alluvial stew, the
most prized ingredient of which is the diamond.
In the language of the Hottentots, the word Namib, literally
translated, means Waterless Land of Death. The Atlantic shore of
Namib is known as the Skeleton Coast, a narrow belt of wasteland
some 80-180 kilometers wide and more than 2,000 kilometers long.
The Skeleton Coast begins near the Olifants River in the south and
ends near Mossameda in Angola to the north. Geologists blink their
eyes and scratch their heads in disbelief when they first view the
Namib. For myself, this is the most extraordinary geographical,
biological, phantasmagorical piece of real estate I have overcome
across. Bewildering and mesmerizing is this science fiction
landscape, and vain is my attempt to explain or justify it. Suffice
that it is one of the most savage and primeval scenes imaginable—
almost incomprehensible to modern man.
Few things have changed here over the last few million years. Where
great four-tusked elephants once made their own laws, roving bands
of black-backed jackals have now inherited this living nightmare.
Dwarf trees survive here that live 1,000 years, and have tentacle-like
leaves which produce a flower every 25 years. This is the hideout of
the baboon spider and the deadly black scorpion—and their
number-one enemy, the golden mole, a ferocious predator.
Like a surrealistic airbrushing, a few dust devils spin unconstrained
over glistening, bright-yellow sand dunes. These dunes look like
they've taken over the entire Earth, creating a mirage of unimaginable
The shoreline topography is a junkyard of rusting history littered with
relics of old) and modern shipwrecks, interspersed with whale
skeletons, fossils and semi-precious stones. Sporadically, washed-up
corpses of giant squid—predator to the Sperm whales that roam off
the continental shelf in the cold South Atlantic depths—seem to
levitate over the hot sands. Their ghostlike, distorted cadavers
somehow reflect into the misty environment, encasing the sea and its
waves, just a few meters away, in a shroud of ominous adversity.
Far above, in the metallic African atmosphere, a black eagle winding
down on Current of air produces a very unsettling sensation.
This neck of land would make an impression on the most invincible of
The Theory of Probability rapidly works against you the deeper you
manage to penetrate into this surreal stretch of coastline, until the on-
and-off chance of getting out alive becomes zilch.
Standing to the right, sand dunes, higher than those of the Sahara or
the Gobi, play tricks with your sense of time. They were in existence
200 million years before the Pharaohs. In this dry air your dehydrated
body, too, would be perfectly preserved like the Egyptian mummies,
forever, into perpetuity.
Ever seen a man dying of thirst? Do you know what happens to him?
He lurches around in a tight circle, eyeballs bulging out of his head,
choking, his tongue hanging down farther than his chin... cracked and
swollen, like a chunk of rotting liver.
At this stage, it's a hundred-to-one shot he's going to kick the bucket.
Water gushing forth from subterranean artesian wells encircled by a
lush date palm oasis is simply a pipe dream.
Checking out the snakebite outfit and a couple of extra boxes of
cartridges for the 375 Magnum Express, my Bushman sidekick and
bodyguard makes our base camp only a quarter of the way in. The
Land Rover contains our entire water supply. It would be a worthless
piece of junk if anything major went wrong with it. Water is our most
precious possession, and radiator evaporation wastes too much.
Nature here does not yield her secrets willingly. That's where my
Bushman colleague comes in. His world is a very strange and ancient
one. There is no doubt that the psychic powers of his people have
remained more delicately tuned than ours. Keeping others alive and
fed is his expertise. Do you think anything in this domain cares a hoot
about Apartheid or Capitalism or Socialism or Religion or Man’s Greed
and Cruelties? This land remains totally indifferent to all human
I would take only a Bushman on this venture; he can be trusted. A
white man would freak out, drink all your water, put a bullet in your
back, and nobody would be the wiser.
It is no traveler's tale or stretch of the truth when I say over five
million carats of diamonds were recovered along these ancient
beaches over a 15-year period, making the legendary King Solomon's
Mines seem puny in comparison. Unlike those mined in the Transvaal,
these are formed by volcanic action under the sea, and there are still
millions more to unearth. The world-renowned, 128-carat Tiffany
Diamond was found along this very coast.
However, my passion for great waves overshadows my lust for
diamonds. If you think these are the sun stroked deliriums of a
paranoid, let me try to explain. Just as when a negative is placed into
a solution a faint image emerges, then only later in the process does
the full picture become clear, so only in retrospect will this narrative
become discernible, bringing the full picture into focus,
The average fathead would shrug them off as inconsequential specks
of glorified glass. Perhaps. It's all in the way you perceive things.
Have any of you ever held and turned in your fingertips a 20-carat,
blue-white diamond, the purest and most sought-after stone of all? I
think not. If you had, you would know you were holding a mysterious,
Do you have any idea of its worth? If I told you half, you'd call me a
Its fiery beauty is as hard to account for as is its origin in the
volcanoes that turned night to day in the Proterozoic Period. They are
splinters of a mirror that simmered a hundred million years ago. In
their blue-white heart is the broken image of our Earth as it existed at
its birth. When you hold this gemstone you're holding a fragment of
the basic element of our planet.
Alas, the unquenchable allure of kleptomania is always present. No
one is immune. Lekker lewe: the sweet life or humbugged! Take my
word for it: If you are not a master of brilliant cunning, don't even let
it cross your mind. Let them lie where they are. You could lose your
life. Many a man has.
In South Africa it's an offense against the State if you are caught with
an uncut stone. The Golden Rule: If you find a diamond, throw it away.
A few years back this Australian bloke had a harebrained scheme to
sailboard in, make his fortune, then sail up near the Angolan border. I
warned him it would be a dangerous exercise in futility. He was sure
he had all the answers, though, including the best escape route.
All brawn and no brain, puffed-up and arrogant, in full regalia he
sailed off into the fog and resigned himself to Fate... never to be seen
A week-or-so later, near my encampment, I spotted a wandering
Strandloper landing south. The origin of these Strandlopers is
completely unknown. Even the Bushmen, who are conscious of
everything, are confused about their aboriginal ancestry. There are
only about a dozen Strandlopers left in existence. This naked
anthropoid was wearing the Australian's shredded boardshorts as his
It's been said before:
"He laughs best who laughs last."
So, can one get out alive with his inheritance? It's highly unlikely.
First off, walking out is a Herculean task. You probably wouldn't last
the day. The Namib Desert is merciless.
To the south is the forbidden area of Consolidated Diamond Mines,
De Beers and the Central Selling Organization. They make the law of
the land, and their Dumond Detectives are harsh enforcers.
If you're arrested, expect to be held incommunicado, fluoroscoped,
your hands tied into enormous metal-type gloves, then force-fed
ample doses of laxatives. God help you if any diamonds are found.
These chaps are humorless, slow-thinking and insufferably self-
There is no such thing as live-and-let-live in the diamond business. I
know what I'm talking about. I've been through it all.
So... to the north, Angola and the ANC. If they catch you, a necklace
party is guaranteed. I was once stopped by some Cuban commandos
who were going to waste me on the spot. One guy understood a little
French. I convinced him I was a French porno photographer and gave
him the address of my worst enemy in Paris.
I got their attention by promising that after they won the war I would
give them all positions as stunt thespians in my next production. I
ripped out a few sample pages from my outlawed, smuggled-in
Penthouse mag as a teaser. They looked disarranged as I made a
hasty retreat and got the hell out of there.
Of course, there's always the South Atlantic, but here we're dealing
with unimaginable actualities. For some 5,000 kilometers southward
from the Cape of Good Hope there is no other land, no shipping or
trade routes, no aircraft, no weather stations, nothing. There is only
the raging intensity of water whipped by the howling storms of the
Roaring Forties. Circulating anticlockwise, the Benguela Current
sweeps northward from Antarctica then collides with the warm
Agulhas Stream and the Mozambique Current, causing massive ocean
turbulences, generating chaos along the continental shelf and
inducing a Maelstrom Effect. This provokes a frightening instability
within the Coriolis Force.
One of the offshoots of these submerged disturbances is the
Upwelling Principle, and one of the main danger zones is between the
Walvis Ridge and the Cape Basin, where the real impending menace
looms as Episodic Waves.
From all my investigations, I am convinced the luxury liner Waratah
was hit by one of these rogue waves and lost without a trace in 1909
with 211 aboard.
According to my calculations, these killer waves are most likely to
occur during the Vernal Equinox. For example, the Mamohus, a 93,000-
ton tanker whose bows were swept away by one of these huge
waves in 1966, miraculously survived the encounter. Most ships are
not so fortunate; they are taken to the icy bottom in a matter of
Lloyds of London makes reference to the existence of these rogue
monsters in its marine-indemnity policies as "the Episodic Wave
Phenomenon." An encounter usually means a total loss and pay-out.
Annually, supertankers carry some 600 million tons of crude oil around
the southern coast of Africa, bound from the Middle East for Europe
and the Americas. If these sea routes were ever cut by the Russkies,
Europe would freeze to death instantly and America's economy would
probably cave in.
The way I figured it, the deeper I managed to get in with drinking
water, the better the chances of getting back out alive. For this
elementary reason 1 buried a few canteens at marked spots along
the way, so that when I retraced my footsore steps I'd have an ample
supply to prolong survival,
Alongside this strand of sand, always within a stone's throw, is an
array of world-class point breaks.
This one: Out of the vast bed of South Atlantic Ocean there emerges,
like a flash of greased lightning, a symmetrically smooth, 8' jet-black
wall of water, spiraling over a craggy and jagged cluster of fossilized
reefs. From its rooster-tail blow-back, its silvery rainbow spray
glimmers, then vanishes into an inky, vaporous
It is a sight that would confound any observer.
Imagine a devastating, 100-yard, coiling stand-up cylinder breaking in
4' of water over a razor-sharp, crustacean-covered bottom. A split-
second, vertical, semi-blind take-off must be executed with brute force
for serious follow-through drive. Compulsory is maximum
acceleration...and a full-out super trim.
One miscalculation and you're a dead man, being carried out of this
world. Injured-only is impossible.
That's why equipment must be perfectly balanced. Bottom curve,
rocker and rails have all been handcrafted from years of enlightened
theory (by the eye only). No power tools are ever used. This
understanding produces a heart-and-soul, 8'2" X 17-l/2"-wide, drawn-
to-the-limit, classic single-fin pin.
Rest assured, in this domain each wave envelops and lambastes all
five senses, leaving a lasting impression indelibly stamped in the
subconscious. Two billion brain cells are inflamed, stimulating
maximum concentration, computerized in Life-or-Death thrill ride that
is unsurpassable, making everything else in life, by comparison,
A day's walk farther north lies a panorama more deplorably desolate
than human imagination can conceive, created by a seismic cataclysm
a hundred million years ago. Here, I gaze at a sight no white man
has ever seen.
From my vantage point: the scorched-dry river terrace of an ancient
estuary. I can survey the ceaselessly heaving and churning
undercurrents and the savage shorebreak. Beyond, an apparition—an
optical illusion it seems at first, between the horizon and the
shoreline—rising from the depths: an immeasurably huge, writhing,
expanding wall of water. Its center looks like a hooded cobra head,
swaying and heaving; its reflection, magnified on the gray-black,
lacquer-smooth water below, exaggerates this abnormal monstrosity
for a fraction of a moment, then it explodes into oblivion.
My sense of wonder is heightened and renewed by this deadly
attraction. Lost in thought, I wonder if I have the courage.
Existing on Bushman rice (insect larvae, ants and their eggs),
chomping on other organic delicacies (snakes, scorpions, rats, mice,
lizards, frogs and locusts), jacked-up on a protein high, gnawing on
my last chunk of biltong, I am inspired by the gravity of this
remarkable spectacle. Unhinged, yet curious to confront this hybrid, I
am halted by a cautionary rush of adrenaline. There are very few
events left in life that are free from Social, Political and Religious
connotations, and this is unequivocally one of them.
Being sucked out through the rip was the easy part. Under the
circumstances, the channel seemed safe enough—no erratic sets. In
fact, 200 yards out, and nothing.
Going alone really doesn't rattle my nervous system that much; I've
been doing this my entire life, in hundreds of bizarre spots throughout
But this experience was unique.
First off, the water seemed to stick to my fingertips, making it an
effort to paddle with any speed. This was a bit unnerving. Then,
without warning, it happened: In close proximity, a huge bubble
erupted up out of the water. Within it appeared a gigantic, blunt
head, then a body in airborne suspension, three times the size of a
bull elephant, scaring the holy brownie out of me. I almost swallowed
my tongue in a coronary fright.
Wrapped around the immense head, flailing spasmodically, were two
tentacle-sucking arms and eight shorter ones. Then came the shrill,
ear-splitting sounds of a giant cephalopoda squid getting munched,
its black ink gushing and squirting like a broken fire hydrant, bits
and pieces of flesh flying everywhere.
The battle lasted a few minutes. Then, with one gargantuan gulp, the
sperm whale swallowed the whole goddamn thing. The 30', 400-
pound body—all this nourishment consumed before my eyes—went
down the whale's gullet in slow motion.
An enormous bloodshot eye gave me a quick once-over, but bubbling
away in its digestive juices like a saintly Jonah was not to be my
Temporarily disoriented, I found myself dead-center of an advancing
set of waves. I barely made it over the second one, punching through
the feathering mass.
Awestruck, unable to believe my senses, the third was a towering
peak, pyramode in shape, unimaginable in size. I began to
hyperventilate for my inevitable keelhauling, stroking for my life
toward the channel and a last chance for escape.
Now, with an unnatural hissing sound... bending... this tremendous
substance began to change its course, aiming straight for me. I knew
in the back of my mind that I had survived closed-out Waimea, but
this perpendicular, midnight-black wall of water with a Cyclopean
center core was something else altogether.
Now the colossus was on me. With all my strength I paddled straight
for the eye, then rolled and jabbed my stiletto through the very top.
At that precise second the sun broke through the hazy atmosphere,
illuminating the puncture I was coming through with thousands of
dazzling, iridescent water particles. In the next instant everything
was caving in.
I took my last gasp of air as the top third of this giant wave pitched
out, tore my true love from my hands and snapped the legrope. In
this fraction of a second, clinging like a spider to its web in a
monsoon, looking back over my shoulder I through this translucent
skylight, I could see my board spinning out of control far beneath me.
Grabbing my knees in an egg-survival position, I anticipated a launch
into eternity. During the plummet, I just missed cannon-balling
through the deck of my board. Fortunately, my back only glanced off
the rail as the cascade of water above caught up with me.
I tried desperately to thrash through the back, but it was not to be.
The water held me tight, like a fly in a gluepot. The next moment was
one of tumultuous, disjointed dispersion.
With most high-quality waves over 10', the exploding water is
projected shoreward. In this instance, just the opposite occurred. The
massive throw-out curved back into its own base, exploded inward
and upward, forming a wave within a wave, theoretically devouring
itself. Anyone caught in this Episodic Creation would be unmercifully
spun in a horizontal vortex and plunged down to the icy depths for a
soundless inspection of Davy Jones' locker.
The secrets of all my triumphs are never to panic, and impeccable
This Epilogue is not just entertainment, it is Real Life. To thoroughly
end my account of this experience would take at least 20 more pages.
Highly impractical, Labor lost. Superfluous to the limited attention
span of this magazine's frivolous fraternity.
In short, tucked away in a safe deposit box in Paris are all the
photographs, sketches, charts and maps of the expedition, including a
10-carat black diamond encased in a fossilized oyster shell. In
addition, there is my exhaustive data, collected over a 20-year period,
on the explanatory premises of the Episodic Wave Theory.
Conceivably, someday I shall finish this accounting verbally, over a
bottle of Mouton '45, with an individual who has a highly inquisitive
mind. Until that very hour the bourgeoisie must be reconciled to their
customary Orwellian entanglements, rushing to be saved by
technology...and then saved from it.
In the words of Confucius:
"Bloodhound who keep nose
too close to ground never see charging tiger."
quotes accompany Million Days To Darkness
Before talking about your movie career, Mickey, tell us about your
What career? My personal involvement died in the late fifties when
the introverts were pushed out and the phony organized masses
took over. All the guys I started with are washed up. Whoever’s left is
ugly and overrated. The only thing left of my “career” is being
persecuted by cops and lifeguards, which are one and the same.
You've been accused of being ruthless on waves. What do you say
It's a lie. I'm vicious. We're all pushing and shoving, jockeying for
position, and If I get the wave first—if I'm in the best position— then
I feel I deserve it. So, when someone catches a wave I'm involved
with—when he takes off in front of me—well, he's stealing my wave.
He puts me in a position of either losing my board or going on the
rocks. So, if he's in my way—well, he gets tapped. And then I get the
blame and people say I'm pushing my weight around.
Well, what's your solution?
We should have had birth control 20 years ago. It’s too late now...
send them to Saigon.
How about the Islands?
How about it? I'd rather go to Selma, Alabama. There're too many
hard feelings over there.
Really, Mickey, these answers you've given...you can't be serious.
Well, I'll leave that up to the imagination of your comic book readers.
—"Interview: Mickey Chapin Dora:
SURFER Vol. 6. #3
"Malibu... is my perfect wave. And when it's right, it's right in the palm
of my hand. These wares will never change, only the people on them...
and that's what I remember, the waves I ride, not the crud that floats
"Up until '59 I had Malibu barren, with 6'+ power swells. These are my
cherished days I shall never reveal to anyone.
"(Today) I talk to kids I think, are in the know, who are still riding
waves for the sheer freedom they offer...(and) their concept of Malibu
is a complete Valley takeover, a fantasy of insanity filled with kooks of
all colors, super-egomania running rampant, fags, finks and pork chop-
ism. (And the) tragic thing is it's all true....
"However, I can’t help feeling there's something happening. New
philosophies are taking hold...in certain segments of the sport, and I
hope (they) want the same things I want: freedom to live and ride
nature's waves, without the oppressive hang-up of the mad, insane
complex that runs the world and this sick, sick war.
"Things are going to change drastically in the next year-or-so, for all
of us, whether we like it or not. Maybe a few will go forward and
make it a better world.
"These are incredible times.
"Thank. God for a few, free waves."
—"Mickey on Malibu"
SURRFER Vol. 8. #6
What part does surfing play in your life today?
When there's surf I'm totally committed; when there's none. It
What is your general philosophy of life and survival?
It's really quite simple: freedom from affectation and affiliation. To
expound upon the subject will only bring more ridicule upon myself.
Are you planning to get married?
Possibly in my ever-vague fantasies of idealism, yes. As a perverse
realist, never in California.
Would you enter a contest for $1,000-$2,000 prize money?
I ride for my pleasure only: no thanks.
Professionalism will be completely destructive to any control an
individual has over the sport at present. The organizers will call the
shots, collect the profits, while the waverider does all the labor and
receives little. Also, since surfing's alliance with the decadent big-
business interests is designed only as a temporary damper to
complete fiscal collapse, the completion of such a partnership will
serve only to accelerate the art's demise.
A surfer should think carefully before selling his being to these
"people”, since he's signing his own death warrant as a personal
Practically speaking, if any of this makes sense to someone, all my
mail will be forwarded to my retreat in Madagascar.