MSA Article - by Jerry Whitesides

Aloha Diane,

Your right, I didn't write last month because the waves were hitting from every direction. I think February has been the best month of the winter here in Hawaii. Besides some really clean north and west swells, there were a couple of outstanding powerful south swells. You know how the story goes; get it while you can.

Hmmmmm, MSA membership. It sounds to me like it's still the same kind of views and attitudes about who should qualify as it was back in 1960 when we formed the MSA. The first members were good friends and we decided to start a club. There were ten of us and we wrote into the by laws that we were permanent charter members and would never be removed from the club. Next we had to come up with a name and our band of merry men. By one vote, the now revered Malibu Surfing Association, could have been named "The Kelp Cats". It was close and some people were stoked and 

some were not. You know how it is when you have strong individual personalities. Of course in the end we all had a good laugh because that's really what it was all about. For Gods sake, we were all in high school. Remember that joke.

The charter members were as well as I can recall, Butch Linden, Dave Rochlen, Steve Perrin, Jim Gayle, Jon Ward, Frank Maxwell, Pat Johnston, Bob Barada, Jerry Whitesides and I think John Roberts, which is really weird I can't remember because he was one of my best friends. Anyhow the process of a growing club started from there. I remember so many meetings where the new proposed member would be discussed in an open meeting and then a vote would be cast and a ballot in writing put into a hat or something that would be passed around the room. Of course it would always be disrupted by someone putting some wise crack comment on the ballot, and it would have to start all over again. A Sgt. at arms would bust you for being too funny and you'd be called out of the room for swats. That was great for laughs and a sore butt. There was usually some tension because some of the people who wanted in were wonderful fun but couldn't surf that well. And hey, this was a surf club, so why let in kooks? Because they love surfing and are fun to be with. It always seemed that there were an equal amount of good surfers that were assholes that wanted in too. But hey, we want to be hot in the water. The early surf ego appears. Same crap as now. So what do you do? Beats me. I watched this go on in meetings we were having at Butches house in the Colony, Betty Hayden's house on Malibu Road, Our Lady of Malibu, the Malibu Inn, and the Jonathan Club. Eventually the politics pissed me off so much that I quit coming. Besides I had moved to Hawaii and that paddle every Wednesday night was ridiculous.

From my current perspective what I would consider important factors in building and maintaining an outstanding membership and organization ware a few simple questions each member can ask themselves. Why am I in the MSA? Is it to be part of developing an attitude and image of excellence, or something else. In evaluating prospective members consider what can their talents and personality do to make MSA excellent. Get together and do incredible stuff. You can!

Surfers are an elite breed. Don't let it go to your head just really appreciate the essence. How many people driving down PCH with their heads full of whatever, on their way to wherever know the feeling of the pray and the hiss of an offshore wind wave they have just slipped through hitting their back, and the image of a pelican gliding a wing tip inches above the ruler edge line of the next glistening wave in the set. Spin and go. Be stoked. Be happy. Be full. Radiate the essence of who you are. Bring that energy into your life and make the world a better place. This can be Knights of the Round Table kind of stuff. Congratulations. Your in a totally Bitchin club.

Go deep and never loose the joy of your sinuses draining at the most inconvenient times.

Jerry Whitesides.