KOOK TOO – SERENDIPITY STRIKES AGAIN!

SUNNY SURFS WITH KOOK AND SAINT

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

When SurfWriter Girl Sunny Magdaug went to see Peter Heller, author of the surf memoir KOOK, at the OC Register’s Book Club Evening With The Author Event this week she had no idea that serendipity would strike.

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KOOK book cover

And that the next morning she would be out in the ocean, getting her first surfing lesson from Michael Pless Sr., The Saint of Seal Beach, with Peter cheering her on.

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Saint-of-Seal-Beach

Sunny grew up in Los Alamitos and spent a lot of time at the beach, but never learned to surf. So, when she was sharing Wahoo’s tacos with Peter and Michael (who’s in KOOK) before the author event, she was surprised when Michael made her an offer she couldn’t refuse – “C’mon and join us in Seal Beach tomorrow. I’ll teach you how to surf.”

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Before she knew it, Sunny was at the M&M Surfing School van with Michael and Michael Jr. in Seal Beach, picking out a wetsuit and carrying a surfboard down to the water’s edge, full of anticipation and excitement.

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M & M Van

DSC05199AMichael and instructor Jon Larkin didn’t waste any time in explaining what to do out in the water. But, first they had her lie on the sand on a pretend surfboard and practice how to lie on the board, push up and stand up, following Michael’s Seven Steps.

Sunny learned how to position her feet and legs on the board, how to hold her body, what direction to face…and what to do if she fell off.

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Finally Sunny waded in with the board floating alongside her and hoisted herself onto it. Jon was in the water, guiding her to where the waves were breaking.

“Get ready! Get into position!” Jon said. He gave the board a push…Sunny stood up…Suddenly the wave was moving the board…And Sunny was riding the wave…It was awesome.

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Michael and Peter were watching from the shore, waving and taking photos.

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Michael Jr. was in the water giving kids a surf lesson. Laughing, he shouted to Sunny, “Don’t smile! It’s not fun.” But, it definitely was fun. More fun than Sunny could imagine.

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Later, after the lesson, everyone gathered at Michael and Jill Pless’ favorite restaurant El Burrito Jr. across from the pier. As they all laughed and talked about the day, Sunny had a warm sense of camaraderie now that she was a surfer, too.

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El Burrito

Still hyped from the day, she thought about what Peter had written in his book and felt the same joyful stoke:

“I was surfing! I saw green water at my feet. Then the wave broke around my knees and I rode the rough whitewater. I was frozen with amazement. I was yelling. I rode until the nose ground sand and the fins dug into the beach. A surge came behind and I toppled off into three inches of foamy water. I came up yelling, hands in the air. Did anybody see that? Oh, my God! That was so cool! The sense of speed! I am officially a surfer! Yay!”

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Sunny was hooked…a real Kook!

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HELLER’S BOOK IS A SURFING JOURNEY

KOOK LEARNS SURFING FROM A SAINT

KOOK book cover

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Kook – a newbie surfer

Serendipity – a fortunate accidental discovery

Michael Pless Sr, of the M & M Surfing School in Seal Beach, is in the spotlight now that the Orange County Register’s Register Book Club choice for October is Peter Heller’s book KOOK: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave.

Heller and surfboard

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Pless is the one who showed non-surfer Heller how to ride a surfboard…launching the 40-something-year-old on a 6-month surfing road trip in a vintage VW van.

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On a visit to SoCal Heller decided to teach himself to surf…with disastrous results. Then, as serendipity would have it, when he was in Seal Beach parked across from the pier, watching the waves with his friend Andy, “a beat up white van pulled in beside us.”M & M Van

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As Heller writes in his book, “A man of indeterminate age with sun-bleached blond hair past his shoulders and a big, round belly got out, saw us and smiled. The side of his van was painted with a Joe Cool pelican in shades holding a surfboard and the words M&M Surfing School.

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Surf school! We signed up on the spot, and the man, Michael Pless, heaved two boards up onto his head—the man was a bear—and hitched and shuffled down to the water.”

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Peter-Heller at beach

Heller, who’s written articles for outdoor magazines and authored several books, turned this chance meeting and his surf lessons into a surfin’ safari and a book chronicling his mid-life journey down the Cali coast to Baja California.

 

As for Pless, this isn’t his first brush with fame. He is already known as the Surfing Santa for his exploits during the holidays when he dons a red wetsuit, Santa hat and beard and surfs the waves in Seal Beach. He even gets his wife Jill on board as Mrs Claus.

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And, a painting of Pless, also known as The Saint of Seal Beach, hangs on the wall at Bogart’s Coffee House across from the Seal Beach Pier.DSC03025A

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are glad that Pless is getting his due once again as Seal Beach’s own Chairman of the Boards.

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If you want to get the inside story on KOOK, check out the Register Book Club. The newspaper is holding an Evening With The Author Event on October 20, from 6 – 8 pm.

Serendipity can make your wildest dreams come true!

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

 

Ahoy, Pirates!

Pirates Steal the Show in Pan

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With Pan, the prequel to Peter Pan, showing up on movie screens now much attention is on Peter, the eternal boy child who “won’t grow up.” At the same time, though, the spotlight is shining on pirates…especially the most famous of them all, Captain Hook.

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Hook on Pirate Ship

This got SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel thinking about what it must have been like in those swashbuckling days of adventure on the high seas.

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From the 16th to the 19th centuries pirates were the scourge of sailing ships across the Atlantic from Europe and Africa to the Caribbean.

At any moment a ship flying the black, skull and crossbones Jolly Roger flag might appear, ready to capture a vessel and plunder its bounty.

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With names and appearances that could strike fear in opponents, some pirates, like England’s Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins, traversed the seas for king and country, bringing the spoils of battle back to their homelands…and were knighted for their exploits.

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Sir Francis Drake stamp

Other pirates, like the notorious Blackbeard, flew under their own flags and kept their treasures for themselves.

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There were even women pirates – Anne Bonny and Mary Read – who went against the conventions of the day, disguised themselves as men and joined a pirate crew in 1718.

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As Spain, Portugal, England and France all were fighting for dominance of the Atlantic trade routes and the lands of the New World, it was an ongoing battle with cannons, muskets, swords and daggers at the ready.

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Ship battle

Some pirate ships even made their way around the tip of South America and up the Pacific to California’s Monterey Presidio in 1818.

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The lure of adventure and untold riches was strong. But, much of the pirate treasure ended up in Davy Jones locker, sunk to the bottom of the ocean as ships fell victim to cannon fire, rough seas, hurricanes, and more.

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Now, beneath the surface of the water, who knows what spoils hidden in the deep are waiting to be found?

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti are channeling our inner-pirate now and searching for treasures with a genuine pirate map

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.