Serious Surfin’ Dictionary Seems More Like a Radical Ruse

Cowabunga, yes. Stokaboka, no. Or: Surf jargon hits the Pope’s living room.

I’m convinced that surfers are consummate put-on artists when communicating with outsiders.

It started in the mid-1960s when Tom Wolfe discovered Windansea Beach in La Jolla and was thoroughly conned by the linguistic and lifestyle exaggerations of the surfers.

They must have had a glorious time pulling the literary leg of a dandified Easterner.


Wolfe supplied his own exaggerations in “The Pump House Gang,” and the cultural charade had begun:

Guileful surfers telling outrageous lies, gullible feature writers swallowing the full load.

Which brings us to “The Surfin’ary: A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak,” just published by ex-San Diego surfer Trevor Cralle and reviewed respectfully in The New York Times.

A little bit of inside lingo, fine, but when dissertations start being done on surfspeak (five at UC Santa Cruz, according to “Surfin’ary”), it’s funny-farm time.


I am willing to accept cowabunga (which was stolen from Howdy Doody), feebletosis, kelphead and doggers.

Also, talking to the seals (vomiting at sea) and skankamangus (a fat woman walking on the beach).

But I draw the believability line at stokaboka (said to be the penultimate cowabunga), chinselbogger (a weak surfer, supposedly) and scroozling (groveling).

And I reject as implausible the Pope’s living room (the curl of a wave) and kracka-pow (the sound of a surfboard flying off a car and hitting the pavement).


Some of the least believable words among the 3,000 in “Surfin’ary” were allegedly coined in San Diego County.

Have you ever heard anyone in North County use the word “passmodious,” meaning “really tired”?

Or can you imagine someone referring to a “whirlie,” a rite of passage where an older surfer supposedly holds an acolyte by the feet and “head-dips him into a public toilet and flushes it to give his hairdo a ‘whirlie’ ”?

“Surfin’ary,” 197 pages long and colorfully illustrated, tells us “whirlie” is used at La Jolla Shores. Sure it is.


Sounds to me like a clever ruse to lure Tom Wolfe back for some more fun.

Call for Help or 5-Yard Penalty?

See it now.

* Campus life.


Police at UC San Diego are urging students to buy “safety whistles” at the student bookstore for rape prevention. Also, earthquakes, lost hikers and “other emergencies.”

Being sold is the Fox 40, official whistle of the National Football League, $3.99 retail.

* Rohr Industries of Chula Vista, known for being close-mouthed with the press, has eliminated its public relations staff, Roger Renstrom and Gerald Broening.

Inquiries from reporters are being referred to chief financial officer David Ruggles, who says he wants to improve the firm’s press relations.


Whether that means more candor is unclear:

Ruggles on Thursday declined to even confirm or deny that Renstrom and Broening were sent packing.

* The Sierra Club, no friend of San Diego Councilman Bruce Henderson, is distributing “Henderson’s Lexicon of Environmental Terms,” including:

“DEVELOPER: (di-vel-up-er). n. 1. A natural predator of trees. Serves to keep tree population in check. 2. A valuable source of campaign contributions.”


* It’s a whole different story on the inside.

Recruits are being sought for the third Citizens Academy run by the San Diego police, starting Oct. 2.

It’s a 12-week (every Wednesday, 6-9 p.m.) program where civilians can watch cops at work and training.

* The word in Republican circles is that Gov. Pete Wilson is very worried about the reelection chances of Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego).


And he’s putting heavy pressure on the Legislature’s redistricting committee to carve a safer district for Lowery by dumping La Jolla and Del Mar and picking up more conservative areas in and near Rancho Bernardo.

Gang That Couldn’t Swipe Straight

Merchants at a Mission Valley shopping center are still talking about the ring of shoplifters that hit the center recently.

During the filching, the brains of the outfit waited outside in the luxury of a white stretch limousine.


It proved to be the gang that couldn’t swipe straight: Everybody was busted, and the limo was impounded.