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February 03 2018

Harvest 2017 - Gathering Bundles

After my 17 th trip to Lao and after Loy Kratong observances immediately upon my return, it was time to harvest the rice on our farms.

Thip out cutting rice stalks on 9 Rai.

There are five basic phases to each year’s harvest on each farm, which all together take up from one week to two:
  1. Cutting the rice from all but the top of the stalks
  2. Drying and tying small bundles of upper rice stalks
  3. Transporting the bundles to one central pile, stacked
  4. Threshing and bagging
  5. Transport and storage

This year, Thip’s brother Sawt (who organizes the yearly planting and harvesting on both farms) learned that with bigger crews, things not only go quicker but also cheaper.

For instance, 20 people can cut rice on 9 or 8.5 rai in one day. Compare this to five people working 5-6 days (getting slower and slower due to tiredness). Money is saved on days paid and most especially on cost of food provided.

Another thing Sawt has learned is that if you plant and harvest early, there are more people available to hire. When most people are planting or harvesting, crews demand a higher price and there’s less people around to employ.

February 01 2018

Shared History - Oct 2017

With this post, I am beginning a new series here at LEGENDARY SURFERS I call "Shared History." The title has a dual meaning: surf history that is shared and surf history that we have been a part of.

This history is not particular to the month that it is listed (in this case, "October 2017"). It's just that the material concerning the surfing history or item of surfing cultural significance reached my desk on that month and that is the month I've collected a group of the best. Material ranges from the earliest recorded writings about surfing to the latest video, just released. As a writer of surfing's history and culture for over 25 years, this is information I feel is important for readers and viewers who are most interested in our history as surfers and the culture we share.

This first group consists of links I've collected during the month of October 2017 (LEGENDARY SURFERS Newsletter #99). Each month I will pass along a new list for you to check out. Aloha!

Mike Bright - Melbourne, Australia. Photo courtesy of the Bright Family.

January 31 2018

January 26 2018

Lao Trip 17.4 - Retrospective

Checking out of the Anusone , the old lady who either managed or owned the place was bad mouthing me to another Lao guy who was also checking out. She thought I didn’t know the language, so freely spoke her mind about the mess I had made, yesterday . I couldn’t blame her. It was a mess. But, I paid extra for its clean-up, so that shut her up -- at least while I was still around. I apologized, paid up and left.

On the way back home, I thought about the trip, appreciating the time that Savath and Lav Su Sai had spent with me and the bills they picked up.

I was glad to have met Naphaphone and hoped I’d see her again.

I was sorry to have missed Duangtar and D’Dao , but knew that someday we would meet again -- barring any difficulty with my health, which so far is good.

As always, I especially appreciated the quiet moments I had at Khoun Ten:

January 12 2018

Dad (1924-2018)

My adopted father, the Reverend Edwin S. Gault , Jr. (Ted), 93, entered into eternal rest at home on Monday, January 8, 2018.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1924 to Edwin and Helen Gault. In April of 1943, he enlisted in the US Navy during World War II and was initially assigned as a Seaman Apprentice. The majority of his service was on the USS Adair and finished on the SS Bound Brook. He was awarded the European Theater Ribbon, the Pacific Theater Ribbon, the American Theater Ribbon and the WW II Victory Medal during his 3-years of Service; honorably discharged in March of 1946 with the rank of Signalman 2 nd Class Petty Officer.

With the help of the GI Bill, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College, continued his graduate studies at Oxford University earning a Masters of Divinity from Yale University Divinity School. At the University of Edinburgh, he worked on his PhD.

In 1950 he set off on his path of ecumenical service. He was ordained by the United Methodist Church in 1952. He served as Youth Director at First Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT; Student Pastor at South Methodist Church, Middletown, CT; Student Assistant for Youth Work, Cairns Memorial Church of Scotland; Pastor, the Village Church-Methodist, Bayville, NY; Pastor, United Methodist Church, Commack, NY; Pastor, Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church, Brooklyn, NY; Assistant to the President, The Interchurch Center, New York, NY.

He served the United Methodist Church Conference as Secretary, the New York East Conference, Conference Commission on Higher Education, Conference Board of Pensions, Conference Committee on Rules, Delegate for the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, Delegate World Methodist Conference London, Chair Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference Secretaries’ Association.

He was also board member and President of the Ecumenical Foundation for Higher Education in Metropolitan New York; founding member of unifying agency for campus ministry at Columbia, NYU, Hunter and New York City educational institutions eventually becoming the Foundation for Higher Education in Metropolitan New York.; Nassau County Council of Churches, Dean, School of Religion and President, Nassau County Ministers’ Association; member of the Board of Directors of the Morningside Alliance NY, NY.

In retirement in New York, he served as interim pastor at Orient Methodist Church, NY; New Paltz Methodist Church, NY. He performed numerous wedding and baptismal ceremonies around the country for family and friends.

Dad and Mom moved to Ft. Myers in 1992, where Dad continued his service as a member of the 
McKellar Club; Whiskey Creek Membership; choir member at St. Hilary’s Episcopal Church and assisted as needed during services; founding member of the Southwest Florida Symphonic Chorale; honored by the Southwest Florida Symphony Society as member of the year 2001-2002; and member of the Yale Alumni Association of Ft. Myers. He enjoyed boating, a good baseball game, sitting on the beach, traveling and being surrounded by family.

Ted is survived by his wife of 44 years Carol, his five children, Malcolm (Thip), Cathie, Fred (Eva), Ann (Steve) and Peter (Kelleen); 17 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his sister Jan and his son Chuck (Doreen).

Dad on Armistice Day, 2017 

Memorial Service - Saturday, January 20, 2018, 10:00 a.m., St. Hilary's Episcopal Church, 5011 McGregor Boulevard, Ft. Myers, Florida 33901. In lieu of flowers, we respectfully request that you make a donation to St. Hilary's "Repay, Restore and Re-imagine Capital Campaign." This is a Capital Campaign near and dear to Mom and Dad's hearts.

Inurnment Service - Saturday, May 26, 2018, 1:00 p.m., The Columbarium at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, New York, New York.

January 10 2018


Malcolm Gault-Williams filling in at KTYD, Santa Barbara, California, May 1st 1981. - Length: 41:05 - Audio Quality: Very Good - Notable: LITTLE WING SET - War: "The World Is A Ghetto" - brief/edited break - Neil Young: "Little Wing" - Jimi Hendrix: "Red House" (live) - Jimi Hendrix: "Little Wing" - station legal ID - Derek and The Dominoes: "Little Wing" - break - Peter Feldman and "Blue Grass Breakdown" promo - Robin Trower: "Carmen" - unknown - unknown (fade out)

Lao Trip 17.3 - Mess & Miss

Last night, I had tried my best to watch what I was eating and also not eat too much. Even so, overnight I had the worst case of loose bowels I have ever had -- not counting the food poisoning episode I had down in the Thousand Islands area. I tried to clean it up, but I still needed the morning room cleaning crew go over it thoroughly to make the room good and fresh again.

Ever since retiring in the Thai countryside, I've had to watch my shit for lack of a better description. It's always been a delicate balance and usually I’m running more liquid than firm, like it used to be in The States. It may be that I'm not eating enough rice. As far as meat is concerned, most Thais and Lao do not cook pork long enough and adequate hygiene is often lacking. It used to be that when I lived in the United States, I usually wouldn’t have to worry about my farts, except for the smell and politeness. In Thailand and traveling in Southeast Asia, I always need to be careful to make sure what's going to come out is gas and not liquid.

I bring this up because it is a issue those Falangs of us in Southeast Asia don’t talk about in public because -- you know -- who wants to hear about that stuff? But it's important to know if you're thinking of moving or even just visiting here. You really need to make sure you have plenty of roughage in your diet and that the meat is well cooked. Not much you can do about vegetables or fruit. These are often grown with hefty amounts of chemical fertilizers. Your best bet is to shop for your food at local Farmers Markets where you are much more likely to get them organic.

On my way to brunch at Khem Kong , I noticed an off-roader and some off road motorcycles at Seng Chalerm. This guest house remains a favorite stopping point for off-road motorcyclists both going north and going south.

In the restaurant, I didn’t get what I ordered. The owners daughter or daughter-in-law either didn't get it right or they were out of ingredients for my favorite #23: Stir fry basil and beef. What I got was still good.

I hit the Pak Lai market, as I usually do, but everything was just too expensive and either made in Thailand or China. In Thailand, I can get the same things for almost half the price.

I went back to my guest house for a nap and shower and to check up on the cleaning job. I also prepped for my rendezvous with Duangtar and D’Dao and whomever else they were going to bring along. It turns out, though, that there was a last-minute change in plans. They had a meeting to attend at Palisard and could not meet me that afternoon.

I saw Naphaphone on Facebook, so I sent her a message to see if we could meet, but she was working. It could have been a good excuse not to see me, but it’s probably true. That was OK, because I was a little scared to see her again. Next visit back to PL2, I will give it another try.

I went down to Khoun Ten, anyway, in case Duangtar and crew still might show. I had french fries again and a couple of sets of Beer Lao. It’s always a little sad to reach that point where you have to start tracing your steps back or going to the next spot that will take you home, but I was now at that point. Nonetheless, an afternoon at Khoun Ten was still a great way to end my little vacation.

Still popular on the karaoke jukebox at Khoun Ten: “Pai Jai” by Mai Charoenpura, from 2014. A favorite of mine:

Very hot on the karaoke jukeboxes and radios in Lao and Thailand is Mike Piromphon’s hit “Change Your Mind”... like this one a lot, too.

On my way back to Anusone , I stopped at Ram Khem Kong one more time, for a final beer. Checking the Internet, I had the place to myself as darkness fell.

January 07 2018

Ancient Beringians

December 23 2017

Lao Trip 17.2b - Night Out

Drinking Beer Lao and trading laughs with Savath and Lav Su Sai in Savath's house, I thought back on last year when Savath had S one translate our conversations for each of us. We even got to look at some land Savath had for sale. I liked Sone and wished I could have seen her this trip. When I met her last year, she was still single, in her late twenties, and still searching for a man. I hope she has found him.

Of course, the most memorable time at the Savath's was the first time I met him . It was my first time traveling in Lao by myself. I was looking around the Pak Lai market for anything I could use and buy. I came across some women preparing an after work party in front of their market stall and was invited to participate. I did my best to say "no" but one woman was so persistent that eventually I said yes.

One of the women who I had said "no" to actually seemed offended and asked why I had said "yes" to the one woman but "no" to the rest of them. I had to explain it was just that the other woman would not take "no" for an acceptable answer.

Looking back on it now, I am so happy that I eventually said "yes." Not only would I have missed out on a fun time, but I probably would have never gotten to meet Savath.

It was a time when I was still trying to find a comfortable mode of movement for myself, traveling in foreign countries. It was just about the time that I realized I needed to find a New Way to operate. Being stand-offish or reserved like Westerners generally are... just wasn't going to cut it.

One of the women of the group was very attractive, petite and spoke and understood English pretty well. Tukta had a government job and was just helping one of her friends that day. She made communication very easy. I hope, someday, I get to see her again.

Anyway, the party moved over to Savath's house and that's when I met him, in 2012. Five years later, we can't speak each other's languages very well, but between his little English, my little Lao, and the assist from interpreters, we understand each other pretty well. Also, I supplement my visits with messages and photos sent to Savath on Line , in both English and machine-translated Lao.

At any rate, Savath, Lav Su Sai and I set out for a night of bar hopping. They apologized to me a little bit because they knew I would have prefered Khoun Ten, but their preference was for the newer floating restaurant, Houane PairKok PairKham . When we got there Savath and Lav Su Sai were well-known to the woman owner/operator and given VIP treatment. It's like most everywhere else where you don't know anyone: it's hard to fit in. When you know someone high up, you're treated very well.

We had dinner and I don't know what the heck I ate. I know I was careful with volume, not trying to eat too much, being in unknown culinary territory. As day turned into night and more beer was drunk, I started to get drunk. It's good to be with friends when you feel yourself losing it.

Before I was too far gone, however, the owner/operator introduced us to her newest waitress Naphaphone. I indicated Lav Su Sai that I'd like to be friends with her or at least have her telephone number. She didn't have Line, but she was on Facebook, so I had her friend me on Facebook, which she seemed happy to do. I had her do it because, at this point, I didn't trust my abilities to set-up the communication connection without making a mistake.

Savath, Lav Su Sai and I moved over to Heuan Phair, next door, where we met some other girls and drank with them. But, by this time I was pretty wasted, so we called it a night.

December 13 2017

Lao Trip 17.2a - French Fries

Leaving Anusone guest house the next morning, I went up the street and had a Beer Lao at "Banna," the restaurant that overlooks the Mekong, which is part of Seng Chalerm guest house , where I used to stay when I visited here in my early years. I would have liked to have had breakfast, but the menu is all in the Lao language and doesn't have any pictures. I knew how to order a beer and ice, though, and that's what I did.

The two women who had been around for years recognized me and greeted me warmly. Since I had an Internet connection here, I got caught up on my communications and worldwide news.

After one bottle, I walked to the market and ran into the owner of Khoun Ten . She seemed genuinely excited to see me, urging me to go on down to the restaurant and she'd be back soon.

The place wasn't open yet and there was no one around. Often, I'm the first one here because I don't like to stay up late. Moving around in the daytime, I can see things better. Plus, it's just safer in a number of ways.

I was relieved to see Khoun Ten still operating and under it's old name. They had gone for a name change awhile back, but I don't think it caught on. After a few other people showed up, I was also happy to see the floating restaurant/bar/karaoke spot still had its special vibe.

When the owner came back, she showed me a potato and suggested she fix it for me. I said "french fries" and she knew we were talking about the same thing. Although they seemed to take forever, the fries were good and went well with the Beer Lao.

Nothing much happened that early afternoon, but I enjoyed being back in my sweet spot. I really like being along the Mekong, at river level, looking out and not having to see buildings. Thoughts here often drift to some of the memorable moments that have taken place at Khoun Ten in just a period of five years: the late afternoon the rainstorm blew in (2012); the night one of the owner's daughters had to help me up the rainy banks to the cement stairs (2013); the afternoon I met Nuey and swam with the boys in The Kong (2014); the afternoon I met Duangtar, D'Dao, Somneuk and K'Kong (2015); times watching cargo boats motor by; many karaoke songs sung by boys and girls... Few adults venture here.

Seeing the list above, I have to admit that within the past couple of years I have not had a real stand-out moment at Khoun Ten. This may reflect my becoming more boring ; aging; moving away from meeting young girls; and my focus shifting to friends that I already know.

After a while I made my way up to the market for my rendezvous with my friend Savath . At first, I forgot that he had moved his hardware store over to his house across the street from the market. Little to know overhead there.

Savath and his store manager welcomed me into the shop where I sat down and traded some simple conversation. I could see that Savath was in the process of closing out his financial books for the day, so I kept to myself and just watched. During that time, Savath sent out for his traditional gift of an inconspicuous plastic water bottle filled with lao khao from the vats he has them distilled somewhere not far away. He is, after all, the Beer Lao distributor for Pak Lai.

After Savath had completed his paperwork and prepared the bank deposit for the take of the day, we moved over to his house for beers and snacks. I got to meet his wife again and the grandmother -- not sure if it's his mother or his wife's.

Savath's associate Lav Su Sai showed up and the three of us prepared for the night activities. Last year, Savath had his sons' school teacher Sone as his interpreter for our conversations. This year, those duties fell to Lav Su Sai.

Being in Savath's house drinking beer, joking around, looking at the many pictures on his wall, I remembered the times I had been here before...

December 12 2017

Bruce Brown Has Passed

Bruce Brown (1937-2017) has passed on while in his sleep at home. Many memories, videos, pictures and expressions of gratitude for the film treasure chest Bruce has left us... are being shared at the LEGENDARY SURFERS Facebook Group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/99148475798/

December 11 2017


Malcolm Gault-Williams substituting at KTYD-FM, Santa Barbara, California, May 1981. - Length: 29:45 - Audio Quality: good, but some hiss and worn groove pops in well-worn "Southern Man" - Contents: Southern Man set followed by 20th Century set. - Malcolm, "sitting in for Samantha."

Doug Fiske and Early SURFING Magazine

Doug Fiske has written about his life as a surfer, photographer, editor and art director at SURFING Magazine, 1960s into the 1970s. A very personal retrospective, he's posted "The Blink of an I" online, along with a ton of graphics.

Doug's been gracious enough to let me include his memories in the  LEGENDARY SURFERS  collection. Please visit:

" The Blink of an I " by Doug Fiske

December 04 2017

Surfing Timeline

SurferToday has put together "The most important dates in the history of surfing" and it is located on their website at: https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/10553-the-most-important-dates-in-the-history-of-surfing - The list is a bit sketchy after the 1980s, but gives a good overview of major events and significant developments in recorded surf history: 

3000-1000 BCE: Peruvian fishermen build and ride " caballitos de totora " to transport their nets and collect fish;
900 BCE: Ancient Polynesians ride "olo" boards as a traditional, religious art form;
1769: Botanist Joseph Banks writes first description of wave riding at Matavai Bay, Tahiti;
1778: Captain James Cook touches the Hawaiian Islands;
1866: Mark Twain tries surfing in Hawaii;
1885: Three Hawaiian princes surf for the first time in the USA, at the San Lorenzo river mouth, in Santa Cruz;
1898: Hawaii is annexed by the USA;
1906: Thomas Edison films surfers for the first time, at Waikiki, Hawaii;
1907: Jack London visits Hawaii and tries surfing at Waikiki, Hawaii;
1907: George Freeth is publicly announced as the "Hawaiian wonder" who could "walk on water", at Redondo Beach;
1907: Surf Life Saving Association is founded in Australia;
1908: Alexander Hume Ford founds the Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard Club;
1911: Duke Kahanamoku, Knute Cottrell and Ken Winter found Hui Nalu;
1914: Duke Kahanamoku introduces surfing to Australia, at Freshwater Beach;
1920: Duke Kahanamoku wins two gold medals for the USA at the Olympic Games, in Antwerp;
1920 Edward, Prince of Wales , is photographed surfing in Hawaii;
1922 Agatha Christie , the crime novelist, learns how to surf in South Africa;
1926: Tom Blake and Sam Reid surf Malibu for the first time;
1926: The  first waves ridden in Europe  are filmed in Leca da Palmeira, Portugal;
1928: Tom Blake organizes the first Pacific Coast Surfriding Championship, at Corona del Mar;
1929 Lewis Rosenberg  rides the first waves in the UK;
1929: The world's first artificial wave pool is built in Munich, Germany;
1930: Tom Blake build the first waterproof surf camera housing;
1930: The "Swastika" is the world's first mass-produced surfboard;
1933: San Onofre is surfed for the first time;
1935: Alfred Gallant Jr. applies floor wax to his surfboard;
1935: Tom Blake writes "Hawaiian Surfboard", surfing's first full-length surf book;
1935: Tom Blake introduces the first stabilizing fin on a surfboard;
1935: John "Doc" Ball founds the Palos Verdes Surf Club in California;
1935: Tom Blake writes an article on how to build a surfboard in " Popular Mechanics " magazine;
1940: Gene "Tarzan" Smith paddles a 14-foot board from Oahu to Kauai, in Hawaii;
1943: Hawaiian big wave pioneer Dickie Cross dies at Sunset Beach, in Hawaii;
1944: John Crowell, Charles Bates and Harold Cauthery work on  surf forecasting for the Allied Invasion of Normandy;
1943: Tom Blake adds a twin fin system to a hollow timber board;
1945: Frank Adler founds the Australian Surf Board Association;
1948: John Lind founds the Waikiki Surf Club;
1951: Hugh Bradner, a MIT physicist, produces the world's first neoprene wetsuit;
1952: Jack O'Neill opens his "Surf Shop" in San Francisco;
1954: Hobie Alter opens his surfboard factory at Dana Point;
1954: Wally Froiseth organizes the Makaha International Surfing Championships;
1956: First waves ridden in France, at Biarritz;
1956: Dave Sweet shapes the world's first polyurethane foam surfboard;
1957: Mike Stange, Greg Noll, Pat Curren, Mickey Munoz and Harry Schurch ride Waimea Bay for the first time;
1957: Hollywood surf movie " Gidget " is released;
1958: Marge Calhoun becomes the world's first female surfing champion after winning the Makaha International;
1959: John Severson founds "The Surfer", the world's first surfing magazine;
1961 Philip Edwards  rides Banzai Pipeline, in Hawaii, for the first time;
1961: Dick Dale pioneers the  surf music  genre;
1962: The Beach Boys release "Surfin' Safari";
1962: Bob Evans founds "Surfing World", Australia's first surf magazine;
1964: The World Surfing Championships hit Manly Beach, in Australia;
1964: Eduardo Arena is elected the first president of the International Surfing Federation (ISF);
1964: John Kelly founds Save Our Surf;
1966: Bruce Brown releases " The Endless Summer ", the world's first surf movie;
1967: Alex Matienzo, Jim Thompson, and Dick Knottmeyer surf Mavericks for the first time;
1969: Greg Noll rides one of the biggest waves of all time at Makaha, Hawaii;
1969: Steve Russ, a kneeboarder, invents the surf leash in Santa Cruz, California;
1969: Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer found Rip Curl in Torquay, Australia;
1969: Alan Green and John Law found Quiksilver in Torquay, Australia;
1970: O'Neill markets the one-piece fullsuit;
1971: Tom Morey invents the  bodyboard ;
1971: Jeff Hakman wins the first edition of the Pipeline Masters;
1972: Kelly Slater, the most successful competitive surfer of all time, is born in Cocoa Beach, Florida;
1973: Ian Cairns wins the first world surfing title, at the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Championships;
1973: Gordon and Rena Merchant found Billabong in the Gold Coast, Australia;
1978: Hawaiian lifeguard, surfer and waterman  Eddie Aikau , 31, is lost at sea, south of Molokai, never to be found;
1979: Michel Barland designs the world's first commercial computerized shaping machine;
1979: Lacanau Pro, the first ever surfing competition held in Europe, debuts in the southwest of France;
1980: Simon Anderson creates the " Thruster " surfboard fin system;
1982: Ian Cairns founds the Association of Surfing Professionals;
1983: Michael Ho wins the first edition of the Triple Crown of Surfing;
1984: Glen Hening and Tom Pratte found the Surfrider Foundation;
1984: Tom Carrol and Kim Mearig win the first ever ASP World Tour;
1986: Mike Stewart and Ben Severson surf  Teahupoo , in Tahiti, for the first time;
1986: Herbie Fletcher tows Tom Carroll, Martin Potter and Gary Elkerton into 10-foot waves at Pipeline, Hawaii;
1987: " California Games " is the world's first video game featuring surfing;
1992: Kelly Slater wins his first ASP World Tour title;
1995: The Olympic Movement recognizes the International Surfing Association as the world's governing body for surfing;
2000: Laird Hamilton rides the  Millennium Wave  at Teahupoo, Tahiti;
2005: Clark Foam, producer of 60% of the world's surfboard blanks, shuts down;
2011: Garrett McNamara rides  the biggest wave of all time , in Nazaré, Portugal;
2014 Gabriel Medina  is the first ever Brazilian to win a world surfing title;
2016: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes unanimously for the inclusion of surfing in the  Tokyo 2020  Olympic Games;

November 29 2017

Lao Trip 17.1b - 1st Night in Town

On my way to look for a guest house, I was pulled into a party at the Saybaidee. Workers from the tourist boat we're losing no time getting wasted on Beer Lao and insisted I drink with them, which I was happy to do, even contributing some bottles, myself.

I re-met the manager who goes by the name of “Pinkie” on Line . She and I had done a karaoke rendition of “ Sai Wa Si Bor Tim Kun ” last year when I had visited the bar with Savath . In a way, this was a special place for me because this was where I first learned how to hang out with Lao people in a bar setting, back in 2012. A group of off-roaders had set the example and I followed their lead. I’ll always be thankful for that and appreciate their encouraging me to insert myself into the mix.

Here at the Saybaidee now, I broke away from the group when things started to get a little too wild. I moved to the back of the restaurant and got friendly with one of the girls working there. I was now getting a bit high and the girl at first looked like Tae . On closer look, she could have been her older sister. She was nice, but did not know any English.

Sayadeth guest house had become my go-to place when staying in Pak Lai, but this time I stopped in at the brand new Anusone guest house. I found out that for as little as the equivalent of two Beer Lao’s a day more, I could get a corner room on the third floor with a Mekong view. I treated myself.

After showering and an early dinner at Khemkong Restaurant , I made my way to PL2.

When I first arrived in Pak Lai, I had discovered the new floating restaurant -- Houane PairKok PairKham, originally moored in back of the bank -- had gone. Now, when I walked to Heuan Phair ThaPho , I found it moored right next door. I could not imagine how either floating bar/restaurant could make a profit in such close proximity to each other.

I had a beer Lao at Houane PairKok PairKham. While there, I noticed a Falang with a Lao sao and the manager/owner. The guy was in his upper twenties and sported some tatoos. I found out later he was involved with mining in the area.

Things that I had noticed about this bar before I was reminded of again. It was difficult to meet anybody. Everybody was into their own thing. So I went next door to Heuan Phair Tha Pho and had another Beer Lao. This floating bar/restaurant I had patronized many a time before and had had various memorable moments in. Tonight, I noticed that they are now set-up for live music. Maybe this is the way both floaters can coexist so close to each other: differentiation.

The owner and somewhat of a friend to me was not around. The guys running the karaoke music box I had never seen before. They played a bunch of English language songs over the sound system -- probably for my benefit, but I would have rather listened to Thai or Lao songs, to be honest.

Navigating my way through the barking soi dogs, I made it back to Anusone and collapsed.

KFML AM & FM Begins

Friend and radio compatriot Herb Neu checked in recently after viewing the write-up on KFML at: http://denverradio.tripod.com/kfml.html# (be careful opening the page, there is also a commercial page that also opens up when you visit).

Herb wanted to clarify a few things about how freeform KFML got started:

"I noticed a discrepancy in the KFML Link. The originators were Brian Kreizenbeck, Thom Trunnell and Herb Neu.

"Thom had left WLS-FM to become the PD of a San Francisco free form station and I left WLS-FM to become sales manager at KOME in San Jose. Prior to WLS-FM we were with KMYR in Denver, which was owned by Doubleday. They fired the entire staff and management because we were "subversive."

"ABC hired all of us except for Ashford who chose to hang around Denver. AFter we came to the Bay Area, Thom and I hated our respective gigs. Brian was in Denver and he let us know that KFML was in trouble and there was a chance for us to get involved.

"I called Joe McGoey and we set up a meeting with him. We hopped in my soon-to-be-repossessed VW and drove to Denver for the meeting. The deal we worked out was that we could provide a complete staff for a weekly salary of $100 each plus profit sharing."


Malcolm Gault-Williams substituting at KTYD-FM, Santa Barbara, California, May 1st 1981 - In "the land of the Chrysler 440 cubic engine." - Length: 12:40 - Audio Quality: Very Good. - Notable: surf music set with Gerry DeWitt's "Sixties Revisted" promo at end.

November 25 2017

Buzzy Bent (1935-2015)

Alfred Ernest Bent III, aka “Buzzy”, was born on May 6, 1935, in La Jolla, California.1 His father was a B-24 pilot killed in World War II. His “mom was the sweetest, kindest, and a beautiful mother in La Jolla raising two boys as a widow near the beach at Windansea,” his friend John Elwell recalled.2

At 12 years old he was white snow blond, tan, well built, muscular, high spirited and at the beach every day after school. He borrowed a shortened plank that had been made for a dwarf who lived nearby; the son of a Navy Captain, Tommy Hederman.3

“Buzzy was surfing this short traditionally shaped plank with amazing maneuverability; exhibiting extraordinary balance and coordination,” recalled Elwell. “He was the apex example of the California beach boy to come: wild, aggressive, successful, full of life on a meteoric path.”4

Many did not, but the Windansea surfers of the 1930’s that did return from World War II resumed surfing only to find younger surfers on the beach and on the waves. Buzzy was part of the new generation. The old returning surfers became their unofficial mentors and the younger guys became “gremmies.”5

During the war, when things went wrong or got messed up in the military -- especially on board aircraft -- “gremlins” were blamed. These were little imaginary creatures that got into things and caused problems. When the WWII vets returned, they drew comparisons between gremlins and the young kids who were around on the beach getting in the way, throwing sand, and pulling off pranks. “Gremlins” was later slanged to “gremmies” which would later change to “hodads” -- those still learning to surf. The gremmies became the new “surf rats,” changing clothes in the street, mooning passersby -- things like that.6

“The board scene was of heavy ‘planks’ on The Coast after the war,” remembered Elwell. “Rumors were circulating of a new board and new name appearing on the horizon and it was Bob Simmons. Simmons had been making brief beach appearances in San Diego with his new boards and boomerangs; usually at lifeguard stations, then more frequently at the Tijuana Sloughs, at Imperial Beach, where Dempsey Holder was the San Diego County Lifeguard.”7

“In the late summer of 1950,” continued Elwell, “Windansea had a Luau and invited the Southern Californian surfing community. It turned out to be a wild bash with good size surf that day.

“Joe Quigg, Matt Kivlin, and Leslie Williams showed up with a new model of a surfboard they called ‘Malibu Boards’ [aka ‘Malibu Chips’ or just plain ‘Chips’] similar to Simmons boards but with pointed noses. They didn't do so well but caused interest. A San Diego City lifeguard Maynard Healtherly and his wife ordered the first couple of boards in San Diego, as did Buzzy Bent, and they had them by December of 1950. Buzzy bought a 10 foot Quigg that would be considered over-size today. They were an immediate success and immediately followed by board makers Velzy, Hobie, and others. Simmons had bowed out of mass producing.”8

“Buzzy knew and surfed with Simmons and was the only one who could take off inside of him and pressure him with speed on a wave. Simmons would stop by his house and pick oranges from his tree. They were good friends and Windansea was a favorite hang out for Simmons until his death in 1954.”9

L-to-R: Buzzy Bent, Dempsey Holder and Bobby Ekstrom
Image courtesy of The Surfing Heritage and Culture Center

“Buzzy Bent became a overnight phenom,” continued Elwell, “catching more rides, getting the the best waves, and creating a new standard of surfing in the next few years... Buzzy was nonpareil; none better and he became better each year.10

Not to be confused with Buzzy Trent, Buzzy Bent became a pioneering surfing stylist, often credited for inventing the “WindanSea bottom turn.” Dale Velzy said that in the early 1950’s, Buzzy Bent was "IT!" -- the surfer that all the other San Diego wave-riders looked to for cutting edge moves and inspiration.11

“Those of the time like Velzy, Quigg, and those that saw him were astounded by his skill,” Elwell remembered. “He was an inspiration to others like Pat Curren and every Windansea young surfer like Butch Van Artsdalen and Carl Ekstrom. Phil Edwards came around in the late 50’s and was equally as good as Buzzy, but considered not as strong. Surf photography was just coming in and there were no magazines until the 1960’s. But everyone knew then and by word of mouth who the best surfer was and it was Buzzy Bent.”12

Of the post-war new generation of surfers -- of which he and Buzzy were part -- John Elwell wrote: “Velzy was smoking pot under the Hermosa Pier shaping boards... Teen age drinking, pot, and regular trips to TJ. The post war generation lead to a cultural surfing change. They were the nuclear age surfers and lived under threat of nuclear annihilation and did not give a shit and wanted to get as many waves as possible before it happened. Buzzy and others portrayed this wild devil may care generation. Butch [Van Artsdalen] and many others did, also, and died early.”13

Buzzy Bent. Image courtesy of Swaylocks.com

“Buzzy went off to college at the University of Colorado and surfed during summers and skied during the winter,” recalled Elwell,14graduating with a degree in business.15 “He married his sweet heart at college and got a commission in the US Navy.”16He was commissioned as an officer in the Underwater Demolition Team (the precursor to the current Navy Seal Team) stationed at Coronado.”17

“Buzzy had been a very good high school athlete and student, and was physically strong,” Elwell continued. “He became stronger after UDT training.”18

After his time in the military, Buzzy made custom surf boards, working first with balsa and then foam during the transition in surfboard core materials. He bought a vintage wooden hulled ketch which he lived on in the San Diego harbor and sailed around Southern California and Mexico.19

Buzzy moved to Aspen in 1961 for a winter of skiing. He taught skiing, joined the Highland ski patrol, worked as a waiter and took on various other jobs before forming a partnership with Hawaiian surfer, Joey Cabell. They opened the Chart House restaurant on Durant Street across from the Little Nell, in Aspen, on July 4, 1962. 20

“The first location was modest, with just a few tables in a converted diner. However, two principles present in 1962 remain staples of every Chart House location – great food and equally impressive views.”21

“He met up with Joey Cabell who had restaurant experience in Hawaii,” remembered Elwell, “and with borrowed money started the first Chart House restaurant in Aspen. Then quickly had a chain of successful steak houses hiring close friends as managers and partners. They were quickly millionaires. Buzzy still surfed and became a Class A ski racer. He made brief appearances in Hawaii surfing and was far better than many others... Bud Browne said he filmed Buzzy on the biggest wave at that time at Waimea. Buzzy had the skill, strength, and courage to go toe to toe with the best in Hawaii and in the world by all who knew him and surfed with him. There are only a few photos of him surfing and he was forgotten as other surfers came into the spot light.”22

After the success of the first restaurant Buzzy and Joey went on to open three additional Chart House restaurants, including the one in La Jolla, before Buzzy sold his interest in the company.23

“Branches soon appeared in Redondo Beach, Newport Beach, and Honolulu...” wrote Matt Warshaw in The Encyclopedia of Surfing . “The Chart House became a kind of surfing institution, as generations of Californian and Hawaiian surfers took jobs there as waiters or bartenders, so as to free up daylight hours for surfing.”24

For Buzzy, there was a downside to the success of the Chart House chain, even though he did not realize it at the time. “There was so much money; too fast,” his friend John Elwell emphasized. “Buzzy bought an airplane, a Ferrarai, went into sky diving, drugs and alcohol; other women and divorce, and another marriage, relationships, and more children. Then, a succession of tragedies with his brother crashing and killing himself in the plane off Windansea, his mother dying of cancer, and a gifted beautiful, honor student, daughter dying in Nepal on a trip suddenly of disease.”25

One of the great tragedies in Buzzy's life,” remembered Butch Van Artsdalen’s sister Annette, “was the death of his younger brother PG Bent (along with Pete Sachsie) in a plane accident over WindanSea Beach.

“I was told that PG was always trying to measure up to Buzzy’s lofty reputation by doing daring things and that the plane crash was a result of one such thing. The source told me that Buzzy blamed and never forgave himself for his brother's death.”26

Buzzy took a pay off in the Chart Houses, as they declined,” recalled Elwell, “tried other restaurants, had a beautiful sail boat, invested in a movie that didn’t make it and lost more money. Joey Cabell kept the Hawaii Chart House. The management tried to buy the franchise out and the enterprise was sold and resold.”27

Buzzy continued to reside in Colorado where he owned an organic fruit farm in Paonia, lived in Telluride, and later returned to La Jolla to open a restaurant, ‘The Waves Bar and Grill,’ before settling in New Meadow, Idaho.28

What I will always remember about Buzz was his positive attitude,” wrote his friend Ed Andrews, “his genuine smile and his creative ingredient. His restaurant in Telluride, the ‘Cimarron’ had a model of his yacht on the wall in the bar area. In the dining room, there was a huge photograph (like 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide) of him and Greg Noll taking the drop at Waimea Bay on the biggest wave ridden that year (69). Buzzy was driving down the face of a 30 footer right next to Noll. He was fearless!” 29

“Buzz was never pompous or arrogant,” continued Ed Andrews. “I drove to McCall, Idaho to visit Buzz a few years back and saw the work he had done on the restaurant/cafe he wanted to open in New Hope. He took an old run down loggers cafe that had been closed for years and turned it into a beautiful interior which all of us would have been proud to have been a part of. It is so unfortunate that he never got to open it.”30

“Those who are still alive still remember Buzzy as ‘The Wunder Kind,’” John Elwell said of his friend. “A highly skilled surfer whose rapid rise to wealth combined with tragic circumstances... He will be remembered as Windansea’s earliest and best post-war surfer; a good guy by all that knew him.”31

2  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
3  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
4  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
5  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 18 November 2017.
6  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 18 November 2017.
7  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
8  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
9  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 1 and 17 November 2017.
10  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
12  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
13  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 18 November 2017.
14  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
16  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
18  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
22  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
24  Warshaw, Matt. The Encyclopedia of Surfing, ©2003, p. 97.
25  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
26  Surfing Heritage and Culture Center.“Those Who Leave Too Soon,” http://www.surfingheritage.org/2013/02/those-who-leave-to-soon.html.
27  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017.
29  Surfing Heritage and Culture Center.“Those Who Leave Too Soon,” http://www.surfingheritage.org/2013/02/those-who-leave-to-soon.html
30  Surfing Heritage and Culture Center.“Those Who Leave Too Soon,” http://www.surfingheritage.org/2013/02/those-who-leave-to-soon.html

31  Elwell, John. Email to Malcolm, 17 November 2017. Buzzy passed away on January 4, 2015.

Surfing's History Animated

Scott Laderman, author of "Empire in Waves" and director Silvia Prietov teamed up to create a short animated cartoon on the history of surfing, as part of the TEDEd Lessons Worth Learning project.

The cartoon touches the main ingredients of surfing - its cultural and spiritual roots, the first alaia, paipo, and olo boards, the US annexation of Hawaii, the revival of surfing, the pioneers of the sport, and the creation of a multi-billion dollar industry:

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