South African Brand Mami Wata Brings a More Diverse Vision of Surf Culture to Abbot Kinney

South African Brand Mami Wata Brings a More Diverse Vision of Surf Culture to Abbot Kinney

For decades, the image of a surf lifestyle has been one of Southern California’s chief exports, but for too long it’s been tied to an all-white, geographically limited ideal.

South African surf lifestyle brand Mami Wata is out to change that.

“Everyone assumed the surf industry was surf culture, and the best thing brands did was convince us that was the definition,” said L.A. brand cofounder, sports commentator and TV host Selema Masekela, referring to big names in Orange County and Down Under, Billabong and Ripcurl among them. “I see a huge opportunity for that to be smashed.”

This week, Mami Wata opened its first U.S. store in Venice on SoCal’s high-end beach retail row Abbot Kinney, where brands like James Perse and Aviator Nation have outposts nearby.

At the opening party Wednesday night, Lupita Nyong’o, Rita Ora, members of the band LANY and pro surfer Julian Williams were among those who stopped by to lend support, shop and sip South African wine.

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“Venice surf culture is not homogenous, all types of folks get down in the water here, so it made sense,” Masekela said during an interview about the location of the pop-up. “And Venice has become a destination for people in SoCal and around the world. I’ve lived here 17 years, and watched Abbot Kinney go from a place for locals to a place where brands have to be to have relevance.

“This pop-up represents a key marketing piece for us, and hopefully it will be shared virally. We are a small company with global goals,” he said.

With a giant banana over the door and a dice-patterned facade, the 1,800-square-foot store is eye-catching, and the joyful clothing inside even more so.

The brand’s mermaid Mami Wata (which means “Mother Ocean” in West African pidgin) logo is splashed on baseball caps and hoodies, while T-shirts are emblazoned with slogans such as “The Ocean Is My Church.”

The spring ’22 “Animism: Luck Is Alive” collection, $50 to $140, includes swim trunks, rash guards, shorts and bowling shirts that have whimsical allover robot dice, motorbike or cartoon face prints. Everything is made in Africa using spun cotton from Zimbabwe and Malawi, among other materials, and visual references from all over the continent.

At the party, guests were snapping photos of the brand’s colorful surfboards, shaped by Hugh Thompson in Jeffrey’s Bay, and Masekela was being asked to autograph Mami Wata’s popular cocktail book, “Afrosurf.”

Mami Wata Brings a More Diverse
Mami Wata, Venice, Calif. Courtesy of Greyson Tarantino/Mami Wata

The cofounders produced it themselves during lockdown, turning to Kickstarter for funding, then sparking a bidding war among publishing houses which was ultimately won by Penguin Random House.

More than 15,000 copies of the book featuring profiles of African surfers, essays, photos and illustrations about surf culture have sold, helping to spread Mami Wata’s message and keep its momentum going through COVID-19. All proceeds from the book go to Waves for Change and other African surf therapy organizations, with philanthropy a brand cornerstone.

Mami Wata Brings a More Diverse
“Afrosurf” book and Mami Wata logo hat. Courtesy of Greyson Tarantino/Mami Wata

Launched in 2015 in South Africa,  the brand opened its first store in Capetown. Masekela joined in 2018, bringing his own African-American perspective informed by years spent on the road with his father, famous trumpeter and South African political activist and exile Hugh Masekela, by growing up in Southern California and being on the surf commentating circuit.

It was when his father was playing on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” tour in Australia that Masekela saw surfing for the first time at Bondi Beach. “To me it was like watching a B Boy, breakdancing on water. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I had to try it.”

When the family moved to Carlsbad, Calif., in the 1980s, he got a chance.

“I was lucky I moved to a place where surfing was how the community functioned and everything revolved around the ocean, so it wasn’t something people did for novelty or sport, it was lifestyle,” he said.

Not that it was easy. “I went to a school where nobody looked like me…and when I told [a classmate] I wanted to learn to surf, he said, ‘You guys don’t even swim, what do you mean?’”

That lit a fire under Masekela, and he spent 153 days straight on the beach so he could catch up to the other kids. Standing up on the board for the first time is an experience he speaks of in spiritual terms. “This was the first time I felt closeness to God,” he said, explaining how surfing led to his life’s passion and work, founding a couple of brands before Mami Wata, and commentating on the sport on ESPN and NBC around the world.

Mami Wata Brings a More Diverse
Selema Masekela signs a copy of “Afrosurf.”

“I never saw the brands reflect anything that looked like me, and to be a surfer you had to get as close to the idea of the SoCal or South Australian perspective as possible. I was that kid who was trying to lighten my hair to look like these people and be accepted.”

After apartheid started to be dismantled, and he returned with his father to his native South Africa in 1991, Masekela was confronted with racism again, when he was nearly arrested for surfing on what had once been a whites-only beach.

“That trip made me curious about how to expand the landscape, because every time I ran into a Black surfer, and sometimes it would be so intermittently that years would go by, there would always be a moment of recognition that we’d had the same touch points and battles.”

He was introduced through a friend to the three Mami Wata cofounders Nick Dutton, Andy Davis and Peet Pienaar.

“I went to their store in Capetown and was blown away seeing people like me working at a surf shop, and this idea of Afrosurf. I said, ‘What if we can make this global, and redefine what surf culture looks like?’ he said of joining the team as a cofounder based in the U.S.

The brand has been on a steady rise since, starting initially with d-t-c, then going into wholesale with Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges and others.

The brand had an early collaboration with Moncler, which unfortunately came out right as lockdown was beginning in 2020. But Masekela has his eye on other opportunities, including, perhaps in the hospitality space.

“Hello 1 Hotels!” he laughed. “For so long it’s been about SoCal and Australia being the driving force, and this explorer mentality of going to a place, conquering a wave, and then maybe building a surf camp,” he explained about changing the mindset. “Hopefully, what we’re doing is also happening in other regions of world and the idea of surf culture can have more breadth.”

Mami Wata Brings a More Diverse
Inside the Mama Wata store. Courtesy of Greyson Tarantino/Mami Wata

There are encouraging signs, he said, name checking Vans’ recent collaboration with Black women’s surfing collective Textured Waves as an example.

“And look at Brazilian surfing, from the late 2000s to now when it has dominated the World Championship Tour,” he said. “Until recently it was common practice to belittle and write off Brazilian culture in surfing as not being a part of surf culture. Their attitude, language barrier, they are not cool. Now you have Ítalo Ferreira as the face of Billabong and Gabriel Medina as the face of Ripcurl. Viewership of the world tour is 80 percent Brazilian.”

Mami Wata is in talks with some African pro surfers about sponsorship, but it is not a brand aspiring to be plastered on the world tour, Masekela explained.

“I’ve commentated it for two decades, but it’s such a small microcosm of what surfing is. For so long, brands have put all their money into 30 individuals. That’s a surf life but not how most people live a surf lifestyle.”

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Isla Vista Beaches Closed for Deltopia Event

Isla Vista Beaches Closed for Deltopia Event

Source: Santa Barbara County

The Santa Barbara County Community Services Department has announced that the beaches at Isla Vista will be closed due to the potential for a large event commonly known as “Deltopia” on Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3.

The closure is to prevent a re-occurrence of the conditions that resulted from a 2009 unsanctioned event which resulted in damage to the environment and community of Isla Vista. This event was then known as “Floatopia”. The Santa Barbara County Code (Section 26-11) authorizes the Community Services Department to close any County recreation area including beaches if conditions are warranted.

Following the “Floatopia” event of 2009, the beaches at Isla Vista were left strewn with trash and debris, including human waste. This large-scale event with thousands of participants had no provision for the health and well-being of the public, including no facilities for human sanitation or refuse collection. The County of Santa Barbara, therefore has acted to close the Isla Vista beaches for similar events since 2010 in order to prevent harm to the environment.

The “Deltopia” event announced for April 1-3, 2022 is not a sanctioned nor sponsored event and there are no approved permits issued. As such, the County Community Services Department will post the Isla Vista beaches as closed to public entry to protect public health and safety and to protect the beach from excessive waste and litter.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department will enforce the closure.

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QUEEN OF THE COAST | A short history of Rincon Point, 1939-69 – VC Reporter | Times Media Group

QUEEN OF THE COAST | A short history of Rincon Point, 1939-69 – VC Reporter | Times Media Group

PICTURED: Gates Foss at Rincon Point, ca. 1944. Foss was one of the first Americans to surf Rincon Point. Photo credit: Foss Family

by Vince Burns

`The Chumash had a sizable settlement (called Shuku) at Rincon Point, so it’s likely that their ancestors were the first people to “surf” the Point, riding their sleek plank tomols onto the beach after fishing or trading excursions. By contrast, modern Americans have been riding the waves of the “Queen of the Coast” on boards for less than a century. Between the Chumash and this year’s Rincon Classic, there’s enough surf history to fill a large book. Until that is written, here is a small down payment: an abbreviated surf history of Rincon Point.


Before wetsuits, crowds, branded beachwear and kooks, there were the lifeguards. As best we can tell, two Santa Barbara lifeguards were the first to ride massive wooden boards at Rincon Point. In the 1930s, Gates Foss (1915-1990) and Mike Sturmer regularly surfed “Three Mile,” so called because of its distance from the Carpinteria train station. Photographs show both men (wearing their lifeguard pith helmets) in a lineup of presumed local lifeguards holding their gigantic boards around 1938. We also have a photograph of Foss riding good-sized waves at Rincon Point around the early 1940s.

Between the lifeguards and the early 1950s we have a gap in the surf record at Rincon. We know very little about 1940s Rincon Point. Probably a lucky few had the waves to themselves, but pulling their names from the salty mists of surf history is difficult. Joe Quigg (1925-2021) was one of those early pioneers. 

Quigg, sometimes called the “Father of the Modern Surfboard,” even designed a board to match the long-ride potential at Rincon. But most surf action took part down south, where Malibu was becoming “the” California point break and attracting everyone who was anyone in surfing. It was a small club; only a few hundred Californians rode any waves at this time. 


But in the early 1950s change was coming, and not just at Malibu.

Passions were stirring that had been stifled by the Depression and war, California’s population was booming, and new surfboard designs and technologies (from aeronautics) allowed surfboards to be lighter and more maneuverable. In short, the conditions for a cultural explosion were gathering.

A photograph taken by Dick Metz of his friends and surf fans at Rincon Point, 1951. Photo courtesy Dick Metz/Surfing Heritage and Culture Center Archives

The protagonists were a gang of free-thinkers and partiers who had completed their military service and were now interested in fun. Some of these pioneers would eventually discover their talents for business or design and soon helped create the surf “industry.” Others were vaguely influenced by the counterculture beatniks. Whether dreamer or schemer, most arrived in our area with few goals other than sun, (beer) suds and pursuing the opposite sex. Many were attracted by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s predecessor institutions, low rents and access to great waves. Non-conformity was in the air — not the draft-dodging variety, but the “let’s rent a cheap house in Summerland with a bunch of friends so we can surf every day and party every night” variety . . . while nominally attending school on G.I. Bill money. 

Toward the end of the decade, the last ingredient for the surf revolution came on scene in the form of a spunky, pint-sized surfing neophyte named Gidget. Although the Gidget film with Sandra Dee dripped saccharine sweetness, the original book was saltier (see sidebar) and meshes well with what we know of 1950s Rincon, which had a distinctly bohemian vibe. As surf historians Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul(1) have pointed out, it’s no coincidence that Kerouac’s Beatnik bible On the Road and the semi-fictional biography of Gidget both appeared in 1957. (Guess which sold better!) Something was indeed in the air. 


Gidget’s impact on the culture and surf scene cannot be overstated. Thousands of SoCal gremmies coveted the Malibu culture of Gidget and Moondoggie. And why not? Surfing had everything: sex appeal, the beach, showmanship and, most of all, “cool,” a term and aesthetic just coming into its moment. 

So who were the standouts at Rincon in these early days? Pre-Gidget, Dick Metz (b. 1929) and Billy Meng (b. 1930) were two well-known transplants from down south who first surfed Rincon in 1951. Post-Gidget, the floodgates opened: Rincon pilgrims included Mickey Munoz (b. 1937), brothers Kemp (b. 1940) and Denny Aaberg (b. 1947), Renny Yater (b. 1932), Bob Simmons (1919-1954), Matt Kivlin (1929-2014) and Ken Kesson (1928-2015).

“Listen, Gidget,” he said with a big smirk, “there are other things than surf-riding, praise the Lord.”
“Are there? Well, you can eat them raw . . . Bite it,” I said, and headed for the surf.
So goes a scene in Fred Kohner’s Gidget (1957), suggesting that Gidget was salty and more committed to surfing than chasing boys. Today, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman (b. 1941), whose father loosely based the character on his surf-smitten daughter, is going strong. Did she ever surf Rincon? Kohner Zuckerman believes she probably did, during a trip with Miki Dora in the aftermath of the book and film.
Gidget, published in 1957, sold 500,000 copies and launched the surfing craze.

And Gidget/Kohner was by no means the only woman in the water, even in these early days. We know of several women surfers at Rincon in the early 1950s. Perhaps the most famous: Ventura’s own “Mondo’s Mary.” Mary Monks (1919-2009) was a diminutive and fearless surfer who rode the Rincon Point waves beginning in 1955 at the tender age of 36. Monks was given her nickname by early Ventura surfer Jack Cantrell (1928-2012) for her prowess at the beach break between Rincon and Ventura. 

Despite some similarities — a point break with an elegant wave — Rincon was no Malibu, partly because it fired in the winter rather than the summer.  The Point’s semi-isolation gave it a mystical vibe that attracted some of the best talents and moments in surf culture. Perhaps the most important transplant was living-legend Renny Yater, who created his own classic surfing style and then built a line of boards around that style, wave-tested daily at the Point. Yater founded his Santa Barbara Surf Shop in 1959, famously bringing out in 1964 a highly maneuverable 10-footer that worked best in long point break surf . . . like that at Rincon. 

In addition to the Yater Spoon, other canonical Rincon moments began to pile up: Kemp Aaberg’s signature back-arch (performed at Rincon) became the Surfer magazine logo (1961). And of course the Beach Boys referenced the Point in “Surfin’ Safari” (1962). Rincon was definitely on the map. 


By the 1960s, home-grown talent could often outshine their peers from down south. And why not? Thanks to mentors like Billy Meng and Ken Kesson, the locals had been surfing the Point since childhood. Carpinteria High School (CHS) was so loaded with committed surf talent that the best athletes headed to the beach rather than the football field. 

An image that encapsulates this golden moment in local surfing culture is one featuring students posing in Fall 1966 for a CHS yearbook photo that has become a Rincon icon. Besides its beauty and gorgeous color, the image captures the fleeting nature of youth — one can almost hear the surf music coming from the transistor radio. Making the scene all the more poignant: The Vietnam War raged on the other side of the Pacific from Rincon and it needed 18-year-old males to keep it going, even nice boys from Ventura and Carpinteria.

Carpinteria High School’s surfing class of 1967.
The boys (L-R): Bernie Baker, Kent Williams, Bill Wheeler, Jeff Boyd and Mark Campbell.
The girls (L-R): Barbara Swing, Sarah Christie, Shelley Milne, Linda Gonzales, Jeanne Russell and Pam Cleveland.
Endpaper, CHS 1967 yearbook

“I have lived that moment in time all my life,” says Bernie Baker (b. 1949), a professional surf photographer and longtime Surfer magazine editor. One of those pictured, Baker wasn’t referring so much to that sunny day with friends at the beach in 1966, but to his entire early life in Carpinteria, a youth spent in the waves or riding his bike (and lugging a massive longboard) along the railroad path to get in a quick surf at the Point after school. For Baker and the others in the photograph, surfing wasn’t just a youthful pastime but a lifelong commitment. 


For Rincon fans, the year 1969 isn’t remembered for the moon landing or Woodstock but for an epic swell that closed out the decade. The year had started off terribly, first with a massive flood and then with the shattering oil spill at Union Oil’s Platform A, which soiled beaches from Ventura to Santa Barbara (and led eventually to the environmental movement). But the annus horribilis of 1969 ended with a fabled swell that 50 years later is still shrouded in myth and legend.

“Mondo’s Mary” Monks (center) with son Larry Farmer (left) and husband Bob Monks (right) in 1957. Photo courtesy of Mike Farmer

The meteorological facts: A collection of North Pacific storms merged into a monster front stretching from the Aleutians to Hawaii, generating deadly surf at Kauai and the North Shore. By early December the storm took aim at the California coast. To meet the swell, a half-forgotten cast of characters (perhaps 12 in all) paddled out on the afternoon of Dec. 5 to test themselves against the waves of the century. 

Surfing stories can be a bit like fish stories. A continually embellished narrative is passed from surfer to surfer but nothing is written down. In short, a fact-checker’s and historian’s nightmare. So we are lucky to have separate accounts from two principals: Mike Davis(2) and George Greenough(3). They describe in detail not only their own waves and experiences, but also the remarkable surf conditions that day at Rincon Point. 

Here’s their story: on Friday, Dec. 5, various road closures made access to Rincon difficult (highways and piers were closed, beach houses pummeled) just as the massive waves arrived on schedule, with surf building throughout the afternoon. Davis (b. 1947) arrived at the Point with Stu Fredericks and Miki Dora to see 15-plus-foot waves breaking, with each set’s waves bigger than the last. Greenough (b. 1941) was already in the water on his five-foot belly board. Also on scene were recent CHS grads Kevin Sears and Jeff Boyd. The group was confronted with a difficult paddle-out because the waves were breaking far out. The swell had revealed that the reef at Rincon (the accumulated debris from thousands of years of Rincon Creek runoff) extended further out to sea than anyone had thought. 

After a long paddle, Davis caught a massive wave, estimated to be 20-30 feet. But it was the iconoclast board innovator, filmographer and all-round waterman George Greenough who had the last word, catching the final wave of the day as darkness closed in. After reading Davis’s memories of the day, Greenough recently dove deeply into Rincon’s bathymetry (water-depth data) to explain the physics behind the waves that afternoon.

Greenough’s account (told with original drawings and calculations) is an impressive re-telling of his adventure that day. The highlight is a second-by-second record of the “Fantasy Wave” he rode just past sunset. He started his ride an astonishing two-thirds of a mile out to sea from the beach and nearly completed a 7,000-foot ride, ending at the old Rincon sea wall along the highway. 

Vince Burns is researching, writing, and collecting historical photographs and accounts for an upcoming book on the history of Rincon Point and the surrounding area. If you have historical photos or additional information, email [email protected]

(1) Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul’s The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing (2013), Crown, ISBN 978-0307719485.

(2) “Outside Dimension,” Mike Davis, Vol. 25.1 (2016), The Surfer’s Journal

(3) “Fantasy Wave: The Swell of the 20th Century,” George Greenough, Issue 2, September 2020, Acetone Magazine.

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What Is The Smallest Home For Sale In Pacifica?

What Is The Smallest Home For Sale In Pacifica?

PACIFICA, CA — This three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the Linda Mar neighborhood is the smallest home listed for sale in Pacifica, according to Redfin.

  • Address: 1027 Escalero Ave, Pacifica, CA
  • Price: $1000000
  • Square feet: 1040
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Listing Description: Charming, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom 2 car garage, Linda Mar rancher on oversized lot in coveted neighborhood. This property is tucked away from the hustle and bustle, yet close to the beach, highway access and shopping. Beautiful view towards Montara Mountain from the backyard. This home is ready for your personal touches to make it yours.

Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.

This listing appeared on For more information click here. See more photos of the listing below, courtesy of eXp Realty of California Inc.:

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Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.
Listed by: Kristjan Higdon, eXp Realty of California Inc.

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What’s brewing in Half Moon Bay (Part 2): Hop Dogma Brewing Co

What’s brewing in Half Moon Bay (Part 2): Hop Dogma Brewing Co

flavorable finds.eps

From homebrew to the Harbor Village in Half Moon Bay, Hop Dogma brings award-winning craft beer and a good time to the coast since 2013.

Hop Dogma_2.JPG

Hop Dogma Brewing Company at the Harbor Village in Half Moon Bay.

Born from the homebrewing movement, Dan Littlefield and a crew of his brewing buddies turned a hobby into Harbor Village’s Hop Dogma Brewing Company. “We want to have the latest and greatest”, Dan said, and is what motivates the flavors to come to life in their small batches. The process of making small batch at Hop Dogma is what Littlefield describes as “a labor of love.” Behind each beer is a collaboration effort of creativity and intention that is held to high quality standards. Hop Dogma’s unique and finely tuned beer frequently participates and wins at craft beer competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival to assure its customers are getting the very best.

Hop Dogma_3.JPG

A flight at Hop Dogma Brewing Company in Half Moon Bay.

For a first-timer, bartender Michael Cervantez recommends, “start with a flight so that you can try a variety.” A customer favorite and must try he said is Smile Medication, a West Coast double IPA brewed with Whole-Cone Centennial, Simcoe and Citra hops, having citrus, pine and resin flavors and aromas. Another favorite are the seasonal sours. Currently serving Strawberry Pucker Punch, a blond kettle sour ale conditioned with more than 400 pounds of strawberries. One of Hop Dogma’s award-winning beers is its Venti Is Large. This beer wins over all the coffee lovers with its rich coffee stout flavor brewed with Catahoula coffee beans and has a hint of vanilla.

Though they have perfected the art of craft beer, the Hop Dogma crew are no one trick ponies. During the early phases of the pandemic, the crew of brewers realized that craft beer wasn’t their only talent. Starting off as jam sessions, the False Bottom Band was formed (for reference, a false bottom lays in the bottom of a Mash Tun preventing grain from leaving while letting the wort flow freely to the boil kettle in the brewing process). The local False Bottom Band now features, Dan Littlefield (dobro and vocals), Lisa Marie Johnston (guitar and vocals), Ella Dawn Jenkins (harp, banjo, and vocals), Joan Wilson Rueter (fiddle, and vocals), Erich Shackenburger (upright bass), Jesse Jones (guitar) and Justin Wooster (mandolin, and vocals). They are well known up and down Highway 1 as an acoustic band that plays Bluegrass to Newgrass, and all the grasses in-between.

In alignment with the caring Half Moon Bay culture, Hop Dogma extends its philosophy to helping the community. Throughout the years, they have donated and invested in local education and even started a “Campfire Beer Campaign” for the victims of the Butte County wildfires in 2018. Hop Dogma also regularly partners with local food vendors for its live music and Comedy Shark events. Hop on over to its next live music event, hosting a Half Moon Bay favorite, the Blue J’s, at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27.

Next up: Sacrilege

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California crab fishing closures recommended after whale entanglements

California crab fishing closures recommended after whale entanglements

SAN FRANCISCO — Two humpback whales were tangled in fishing gear off central California in recent days and state wildlife officials are recommending commercial Dungeness crab fishing be suspended to reduce the risk of more entanglements as the whales migrate north.

One humpback was caught in commercial crab nets off Moss Beach, just north of Half Moon Bay, on March 17. Two days later, a second whale was spotted trailing a set of crabbing lines in Monterey Bay, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.

Wildlife officials on Monday recommended commercial Dungeness crab fishing from Monterey Bay, south of San Francisco, to the Mexican border stop on April 8. The closures wouldn’t affect recreational Dungeness crab fishing.

Wildlife officials also recommended the lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab trap gear retrieval program begin on April 15.

“Due to migrating humpback and blue whales, a closure will help minimize additional entanglement risk in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6,” officials said.

The decision to implement the closures will be made by Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who will take into account staff recommendations and recommendations from the Dungeness crab Fishing Gear Working Group, which includes members of the commercial crab fleet, environmental organizations and other agencies.

Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity called news of the entanglements “devastating.”

“They’re proof that California has to do more to protect whales from crab gear,” Kilduff said. ”State officials have taken some important steps, but it’s time to get serious about moving this industry to ropeless, whale-safe gear that can’t maim and kill endangered wildlife.”

The whales migrate 10,000 miles (16,093 kilometers) round trip between feeding grounds in the Arctic and Mexico’s Baja California peninsula where they birth calves. They stay off the coast of California in spring and summer to feed on anchovies, sardines and krill before continuing on their northerly migration to cool, food-rich Arctic waters.

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Before Jimmy Buffett blew out his fateful flip flop and pioneered the trop rock musical genre, the Beach Boys brought California’s surf and summertime exuberance to music that’s spanned six decades.

Known for their iconic lyrics and harmonies, the Beach Boys took the stage on March 6 at Key West’s Coffee Butler Amphitheater with Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston.

Founded in Hawthorne, California in 1961, The Beach Boys were originally composed of the three teenaged Wilson brothers: Brian, Carl and Dennis; their cousin Mike Love; and school friend Al Jardine. They released their first album, “Surfin’ Safari,” in 1961.

“Rolling Stone” magazine ranked their album “Pet Sounds” No. 2 on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and ranked the Beach Boys No. 12 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” 

They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and had the Key West crowd on its feet and singing along to familiar and timeless classics such as “California Girls,” “Barbara Ann” and, of course, “Surfin’ Safari.”

Photos by LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

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Beach Boys Founding Member Al Jardine Brings His Musical Legacy to The Coach House March 19 – Newport Beach News

Beach Boys Founding Member Al Jardine Brings His Musical Legacy to The Coach House March 19 – Newport Beach News
Al Jardine and Matt Jardine on tour in 2019. Photo by Mary Ann Jardine

By Simone Goldstone | NB Indy Soundcheck Columnist 

“I like Newport Beach,” Al Jardine of the Beach Boys tells me over the phone.

He’s gearing up to play at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on March 19 (“I love that venue” he says), and fondly recounts his time visiting Orange County.

No other band cemented California into musical history like the Beach Boys. Their feel-good tunes of nostalgic care-free ocean days brought the surf-sound to the 1960s.

The group’s album “Pet Sounds” revolutionized the art of recording with the use of a theremin—an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact. Instrumental and influential, the Beach Boys have retained their status as one of the greatest groups of the 60s—and beyond.

Al Jardine, founding Beach Boys member, guitarist and sometimes vocalist, has seen it all. He caught up with the Newport Beach Independent and talked about being a Beach Boy, his solo album’s rerelease, and touring with Chicago.

When Jardine first joined the Beach Boys, he wanted them to be a folk band. Brian Wilson had talked him into the surf music thing.

“We all loved Doo-wop and the Top 10, but my musical life before the Beach Boys was folk music,” explained Jardine. “I thought forming a band with Brian would be my chance to record a folk song by the Kingston Trio. Brian talked me out of it, but of course he had a wonderful concept of harmonies. He seduced me with The Four Freshman harmonies and that great and wonderful ear of his. We learned several of those songs, until one day his brother suggested we learn a song about surfing.”

You can thank Jardine’s mother for the Beach Boys’ musical success.

“We didn’t have any instruments; we didn’t have anything to play. So, we auditioned for my mother, and she lent us the money to buy the instruments. We made the surf song (“Surfin’ in 1961), and we had a hit.”

Many more hits followed.

The Beach Boys’ 1966 album “Pet Sounds” is considered one of the first concept albums. The cycle of love songs reads like a novel, the emotional tunes a strong change of direction from the happy, feel-good seaside melodies. The use of the theremin revolutionized the recording sound.

When asked about the making of this legendary record, Al thoughtfully replied: “That was a navigational effort for sure! That was challenging. The production style change, we weren’t prepared for it. We toured 150 days a year, so Brian had a lot of time on his hands and was able to experiment. And oh boy did he come up with something! We just got in the studio and supported him. We weren’t afraid to take on new challenges.”

Al Jardine concert at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Phoenix, Arizona on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Fred Kuhlman.

These new challenges pushed the decade into new musical territory. The Beatles and the Beach Boys inspired and influenced each other, the respectful rivalry producing some of the greatest musical works of all time.

The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” influenced “Pet Sounds,” and “Pet Sounds” directly influenced “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Paul McCartney once said that he played “Pet Sounds” for John Lennon so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence.

“If records had a director within a band, I sort of directed ‘Pepper.’ And my influence was basically the ‘Pet Sounds’ album.”

When asked about the revered rivalry between the Fab Four and the Beach Boys, Jardine laughed.

“That was rough! Those guys, their songwriting was incomparable. It’s about sound, isn’t it? And they had that euro sound. The sound, the look, the songs. We were looking okay, we were sounding ok, too. It didn’t prevent us from having success in that category, but it created an entire wave of music. The competition got pretty stiff! What a talented bunch of people. Music has transformed the world, and there is talent everywhere. That’s what I learned; it isn’t just us anymore. There’s talent everywhere.”

Despite being the only non-family member of the Beach Boys, Al fit right in.

“I felt like part of the family,” he wistfully recalls, “We all enjoyed each other, I got a lot of support from the guys. It just seemed natural the way we gravitated towards each other. We ate together, slept together, travelled together.”

It’s these deep friendships formed in bands that last a lifetime, through all the ups and downs. Jardine and Brian Wilson are going on tour together again, co-headlining with the band Chicago, later this year. In 1975, Jardine toured with Chicago during the famed “Beachago” tour, and recalls the time period.

“I enjoyed singing with Robert Lamm (Chicago’s founding singer/keyboardist). There was a lot of material from that time that has yet to see the light of day. It stays in the vault forever until some courageous soul goes in and gets it. Some of the lead singers weren’t heard, there were some political issues in that group that prevented them from finishing it.”

Jardine’s love of performing in groups carries over to his 2010 solo album, “A Postcard from California.” Jardine recruited icons such as Neil Young, Glen Campbell, Flea, and even his Beach Boys bandmates for various songs.

“Neil [Young] must have thought I was nuts, probably,” Jardine chuckles, “I kept badgering him, and his wife kept informing him of my timeline. So, he came up and he’d said he’d had some great times on the road with me, since Buffalo Springfield opened for us on tour in the early days. He was just captivated by the memories, and he added his two cents along with Stephen Stills.”

Jardine is re-releasing “A Postcard From California” this fall. The record pays homage to the California coastline, which Al enjoys driving down and exploring small beach cities.

“I love this little place south of Hearse Castle,” he says, referencing San Simeon, “And I did a concert in Morro Bay. I just love that little area. One of my songs is about the elephant seals and celebrates that little spot. The song goes, ‘San Simeon, where the seals have their refuge.’ I thought that’s the first time that’s ever been done, a song about elephant seals! I couldn’t be more wrong! There are lots of songs about elephant seals. But maybe I should do that song at the show.”

I asked Jardine what the most valuable thing was that he’s learned being a Beach Boy. He responded with the perfect answer: “Brian would say ‘finish your song!’ When you think about it, it’s pretty good advice. Most people would want to know how to write a song, but his challenge is finishing a song. I’ve started a song, and now I’ve got to finish it for someone else. It’s called “Seaside Vibration”. In this Covid age of ours, we all need a calming effect, and I can’t think of a better place to do it then the seaside and picking up the good vibrations from that. We always say we’re going to do something, but do we actually do it, and do we finish it? I’ll have to remind Brian of that, too.”

For tickets to see Al Jardine at the Coach House on March 19, visit

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The Beach Boys song that found Brian Wilson being “naive”

The Beach Boys song that found Brian Wilson being “naive”

Brain Wilson had an undeniable fascination with youth. From the very beginning of The Beach Boys, the group focused on representing the upstart surf movement that teenagers were embracing during the early 1960s in California. The members themselves were teenagers in the band’s earliest days, so it felt appropriate for them to be spokesmen for the evolving adolescent scenes of America. 

But by the mid-1960s, Wilson was maturing at a remarkable rate. Still in his early 20s, Wilson nonetheless took leadership of the group away from his father Murray and began to incorporate influences from Phil Spector and classical orchestra music. Wilson knew that a massive shift away from the beaches probably wasn’t possible, but he continued to evolve his fascination with the innocence of youth into his newly-grown up material.

Songs like ‘In My Room’ and ‘Caroline, No’ showed off a new scope of inspiration beyond burger stands and big waves, but it was on the kickoff track to 1966’s Pet Sounds, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, where Wilson truly tapped into the rich desire and longing that was truly evocative of being a teenager. Wilson treated the trials of young love as something more than just frivolous flings: true love, infatuation, marriage, and impending adulthood were all part of the equation that gave young thoughts true weight for perhaps the first time in pop music.

According to co-writer Tony Asher, that youthful innocence wasn’t contrived. Asher said that Wilson was “definitely infatuated by” his sister-in-law, the Honeys singer Diane Rovell. However, Wilson wasn’t lusting or even considering the infidelity involved in being in love with his wife’s sister. According to Asher, Wilson was attracted to this innocent aura that she seemed to possess. “Brian was really just so naive”. 

“He’d stop in the middle of writing a song or a conversation or whatever and start going on about Diane, about how innocent, sweet, and beautiful she was,” Asher recalled in Peter Carlin’s Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. “I’d be thinking, ‘Huh! Your wife’s in the next room, and you’re talking about her sister!’”

“I can remember in ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ that we’d both had the experience of being too young to have what the rest of the world would call a serious relationship with a girl and yet wanting to be able to have it taken seriously,” Asher recalled in the liner notes of The Pet Sounds Sessions. “It was autobiographical from the point of view of both of us. We were writing about what we both knew and had experienced”.

‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ went on to become one of The Beach Boys’ most popular songs, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and featuring on a number of compilation albums. Although Asher and Wilson were the primary composers, Mike Love was able to successfully gain a songwriting credit after a 1994 lawsuit, where he argued that his contribution of the song’s ending couplet “Goodnight baby / Sleep tight baby” warranted inclusion in the credits.

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Singing legend Dean Torrence reminisces in Huntington Harbour

Singing legend Dean Torrence reminisces in Huntington Harbour
Seal Beach author/historian Mike Heywood with singing sensation Dean Torrence. Photo by Chris MacDonald

Legendary musician/actor/artist/author Dean Torrence, 81, recently spoke about the early days of performing hit songs as part of the dynamic Jan & Dean duo and their long friendship with the Beach Boys. The 30-year Huntington Beach resident, whose hit, “Surf City,” is the official song of that coastal town, spoke at a recent Kiwanis Club meeting at Buon Gusto Italian Cuisine and Deli.

Surf City,” written by Brian Wilson and Jan Berry, including phrases from Torrence, became the Country’s #1 Record in 1963. It was the first surf song to reach #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Torrence helped Visit HB trademark “Surf City USA.”

Jan & Dean were pioneers of the California Sound and their vocal surf music style has influenced numerous bands and is still popular today. “I think one reason it’s still so popular is that it’s attached to a simpler era that’s long gone,” Torrence said. “The music is part of the soundtrack of millions of peoples’ lives.”

The popular SoCal singers went on to record many huge hits, such as Dead Man’s Curve, Little Old Lady From Pasadena, Honolulu Lulu. The Beach Boys were influenced by them and vice versa. They performed together many times.

“In 2018, Dean traveled to Sacramento with a large group of us to support a Senate vote on having an annual California Surfing Day (Sept. 20),” said Mike Posey, a Kiwanian and Huntington Beach mayor pro tem. “State Senator Janet Nguyen introduced the Resolution that was passed overwhelmingly.”

“What an adept story teller he is,” said Kiwanis historian and noted author Mike Heywood, who’s working on a Seal Beach history book. “I was hanging on his every word as he shared many cool anecdotes about his involvement and interaction with his singing partner Jan, as well as the Beach Boys, who they collaborated with on several hits!” Heywood is a former tenor saxophone band performer from the 1960s.

“Wow, what a life Dean has lived!” said Surfing Kiwanian Bob Slater, whose dad and step mom live in Seal Beach. “I grew up in the 1960s loving Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys music. It keeps you young just thinking about it.”

Many people don’t know that Torrence, who majored in advertising design at USC, is a Grammy Award-winning album designer. He’s created such classic covers for top stars like The Beach Boys, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Martin and The Temptations. The busy, friendly fellow still performs with the Surf City All Stars and is an author of several books.

“It was such a pleasure to have Dean Torrance speak at our meeting.” said Van Vu, president elect of the Kiwanis Club and Huntington Harbour commissioner. “I love his music and he’s such an icon in the surf culture.”

“Dean is an absolute HB treasure,” said Shawn Wood, the club’s immediate past president. “The stories and history about Surf City and it’s ties to our area and how it came to be, were remarkable.”

Torrence has been in several movies and TV Shows and is on the Board of Visit HB.

Singing legend Dean Torrence reminisces in Huntington Harbour

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