LUNADA BAY SPEAKS <EXCLUSIVE>
On condition of anonymity, a lifelong Lunada Bay local speaks to Animals. Get an inside perspective on the media's one-sided reporting, plaintiff's dubious motives, and locals' traditional values!!!
A: Where did you grow up?
X: I grew up in Palos Verdes Estates, California
A: How long have you been surfing Lunada Bay?
X: I’ve been surfing Lunada for almost XX years now. First time I walked down the trail I was scared as shit. Just because, you know, you think everybody’s gonna give you shit from the get go. My friends already surfed out there so they gave me shit because I didn’t know how to surf.
A: Where in the lineup do you sit now?
X: I sit on the inside of the peak. I get set waves sometimes. It depends on who’s out there, and it depends on the day. Sometimes I sit on the peak, but if there are guys who have been there for 25 years longer than you, they paddle around you and you don’t say shit and it’s not a big deal. It’s cool to look at them and think, “When I’m 60 years old I hope I can do that, and I hope this place is still the same way.”
Because you know what? When I was 16 I was surfing on the inside. I got heckled like everyone gets heckled. When you first go down there it isn’t like people say, “Hey! You’re the kid who lives down the street, welcome!” No. You get looked at like, “There’s another kid who’s gonna take my waves. Fuck you.” I mean kinda. It just takes a bit to get people to warm up. Actually most of the guys have always been super welcoming to kids.
I mainly got heckled by the guys who are a few years older than me, who had maybe been surfing there a year or more longer. And it’s all in good fun, you see them at a party and it’s friendly. It’s all about growing up, those guys are my family.
A: But it took you XX years to get to the inside of the peak?
X: Yes. I get set waves too, but it depends on the day, on who is out that day. It’s a culture, you start at the bottom and you work your way up. You don’t come down with three of your buddies and paddle around everybody. You don’t come to Lunada to learn how to surf, you will get heckled. Learn the basics somewhere else. You start on the inside and work your way up slowly. That is for safety reasons too. The rocks are sharp, the bottom is a carpet of urchins. If you come down you should come alone and you should not wear your wetsuit down the trail and the fact that people don’t understand that concept is strange to me.
The main thing to me about not wearing your wetsuit down the trail isn’t about the trail getting wet. The main things are:
A: You’re gonna look like a fucking buffoon running around on top of the cliff in your suit, and
B: It says “I’m here to take waves and split.”
The culture is about hanging out and paying dues. You go down there, and you pick some rocks up, and you make our patio a little bit more comfortable. You pick up trash, you collect firewood, and you surf the inside. You come alone, show respect, don’t back-paddle the locals. All these ideas are central to surfing for me and always have been. You come down the cliff in your suit and you’re saying you’re there to take, not contribute. It’s a place that you give to before you take.
A: So, what’s been going on recently at Lunada?
X: It started with Chris Toloa. He comes from Hawaii, and some of the older Lunada guys have roots in Hawaii. There may be some drama that goes back a lot of years, but I don’t know a lot about that. The story has been alluded to by Toloa in interviews but again I don’t know first hand so I am not going to say. Anyway a number of years ago Toloa was brought around by XXX to another friend XXXXXX’s house who lives right on The Bay.
Remember, Toloa rides a Boogie Board. That means something here. The guy can surf, he is a great surfer, but Lunada is long, fast point break. It isn’t well suited to Boogie Boarding. Whatever the merits of Boogie Boarding are, Lunada is a terrible place to apply them. Here, you don’t even start on a boogie board, it’s kooky. But despite that fact he was given respect and shown around. XXXXXX was nice, served him coffee, and XXX said Toloa wanted to surf The Point. XXXXXX actually gave him some advice. He said: be sure you come early in the morning, come alone, don’t wear your wetsuit down the trail, be respectful.
So Toloa went out and he got some shit. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it didn’t sit well with him. So, the next time he comes he brings a news van. He claimed that he was there to save everyone from the terrorists at Lunada Bay, and that the kids from the neighborhood can’t surf there, and people are getting their tires slashed, and people are getting beat up, and that the locals are racists. Basically, pulling every card he can possibly pull.
I don’t know what his problem is. He shows up at this spot and thinks someone is gonna roll out a carpet for him. That guy XXX was cool to show him spots when it wasn’t breaking and introduce him around. I mean, that right there is the red carpet. You don’t get that kind of treatment.
It’s so hard to get around the fact that he is from the North Shore. He is known to be a long time, very violent enforcer there. An ass kicker. The guy can fight, he is tough. He knows Jiu Jitsu, whatever else he knows. He knows localism.
There’s a whole interview with him in Surfer magazine from i think 1997, where he talks about pointing guns at people who challenge him for waves in Hawaii, tying them to trees overnight, making them dig their own graves. He said another whole thing on Facebook about smashing people’s teeth out and shoving garbage into their mouths for surfing Velzyland without permission. Really sick and frightening things. He isn’t some saint. Toloa has a long a brutal history as a violent person who regularly severely beat people for localism infractions.
A: Wait, the second time he came around he brought a news van? When was this?
X: 2013. Yeah. And 90% of the claims he made are lies. No one’s tires are getting slashed. You might get the air let out of your tires. It happened to me when I was a kid, but you know what? You want to act like a kook you’re gonna get your tires aired. And you might feel like an idiot because you have to call AAA or drive to the gas station but no one is damaging your property.
I guess back in the day you would get your car thrown off the cliff. In fact, there was a car, the remnants of a car, at the bottom of the cliff for as long as I can remember and they just removed it when they removed the patio.
A: So, the Toloa issues started a couple of years ago?
X: Yeah 2013, then he put up the Aloha Point Facebook page. He has a couple thousand followers. It says that fat, white, rich guys are holding the point hostage and that’s just not the reality. Families go down there all the time.
There aren’t a lot of surfers that go there because they don’t want to start at the bottom like we all did and work their way up. They want to come in and take the good waves and leave. If that is your attitude you’re gonna get yelled at. Too bad you got your ass hurt so much about it, but if you can’t wait in line you shouldn’t go out there.
He was inviting people to come down, but only a couple people came, seemed like relatives or whatever, for the first year or two. But now he has Diana Reed, who seems to be just out for money.
Diana Reed doesn’t even surf. She came down the first time with her boyfriend and a couple old boards. It was pumping, double overhead. They came down the trail in their wetsuits. They were wearing body armor like they were at Mavericks, these weird flotation devices, and helmets. Plus, they were carrying video cameras. Some drunk guy kinda yelled at them but they were laughing, it’s all on video you can see them laughing.
A: Did they even make it out?
X: Well here’s the thing. They didn’t come to surf, they came to get harassed.
A: How do you know that?
X: When it’s pumping like that it’s hard to jump off at the point, it’s dangerous and you’re gonna get hurt. But there is a channel. The way I was raised, you wait and watch a spot before you go, so you can see where people paddle out, where the channel is.
There is a channel at the Bay, anyone who surfs can see it in five minutes. But do they paddle out at the channel? No. They walked right past it, and right up to the patio. If you can’t find the channel, you probably shouldn’t be surfing here. Period. So, they got heckled a little bit by the guys at the patio, as you’d expect. And immediately they call the police.
This is right after Toloa made up stories about how he had to hire security guards to protect his car. He had created this overdramatic, sensationalized version of events. He is from localism so he gets it, and he speaks confidently so he can say these things and people buy into it.
Diana came down the following week and got on the cover of the LA Times saying she got harassed and wasn’t allowed to surf there.
A: What is the story with Toloa?
X: He’s paddling out on a boogie board, he’s paddling around everybody, and he’s loud and obnoxious, harassing people. He has already brought news cameras and already is very publicly trying to fill the lineup with people who don’t respect the culture that exists, so why would anyone like him?
He is claiming there is a bunch of illegal activity going on. He talks about how “All the Bay Boys are drinking themselves silly at the patio” You know what? It’s unfortunate that some people do drink themselves silly but last I checked it isn’t a felony to have a beer at the beach. They act like you can’t get down the trail without getting yelled at.
Another good point comes to mind here. No one has ever drowned at Lunada and it gets pretty big there. People have drowned at other places in PV but not there and it’s because of the hierarchy. People stay safe. You’re working your way up, not only to protect yourself, but to protect other people too. People bailing their boards and paddling for the shoulder when they’re not supposed to. It’s surf etiquette 101, but here it matters because there are consequences if you fuck up. It’s a very, very tight take off zone at the peak, at the inside of the peak, at the rock.
This culture we have is to us clean, and righteous, and good. Within any group of 100 people you are going to have people who do drugs and die, who drink themselves silly, who say the wrong things to people, and those things can’t be helped. It’s unfortunate. The way this story is being spun is that there is an organized gang that does drugs and plots to harass people, and that simply isn’t true. It’s sad. I don’t see how he can be proud of himself.
A: What’s the substance of the lawsuit?
X: They are trying to certify a class, to get enough people to say the Bay Boys are a criminal street gang. The fact of the matter is the Bay Boys don’t exist. No one refers to themselves that way, there are no meetings or initiations. Someone named people who surf the bay that way back in the day. [Between the interview and posting this article, the judge threw out the class certification]
This guy Vic Otten has gone to great length. The lawsuit is targeting a very specific group of individuals who have gotten in trouble in the past, or have kids who have gotten in trouble. They aren’t necessarily wealthy individuals. Each one has done something in the past that is making them a target now.
One guy hasn’t even lived in PV five years, has never met Toloa. He got picked because he said some things to Surfer Magazine years ago about localism, so that is coming back to haunt him.
Another guy’s son was involved in a bad situation. He was with some kids who robbed a liquor store. This is to the best of my knowledge, but the son didn’t know what was going on inside the store, he was still in the car, so he drove the car away. Then he turned himself in. The lawsuit is trying to claim this was all done somehow in the name of the Bay Boys. It’s ridiculous.
A: What is the motivation for all this?
A: Money? So, there is a civil suit?
X: Yes. Diana Reed is the main witness. She has come down to the Bay at least a dozen times since she has been on the cover of the Times. She doesn’t even bother to bring a board anymore, she just comes down with a video camera and films us.
The beach is narrow, like five feet wide, so she stands there trying to obstruct people so they have to bump into her or say something. I have personally had her stand in my way three or four times holding her camera. Sometimes she brings friends and they just sit and film.
Diana Reed is saying that Jalian (Allen Johnston, former pro surfer and local who changed his name to Jalian) exposed himself to her and dumped a beer on her head. I was there, that was not what happened. He spoke to her he was a little condescending but he wasn’t mean. Then he opened a beer and some of it splashed on her arm. That was it.
What’s going unreported is that Diana’s friend, who was there with her, got the case dismissed because their stories were vastly different. He didn’t dump a beer on her, much less on her head. He didn’t expose himself to her at all.
A: That incident was referenced in the paper today like it was true.
X: Yeah, they are still reporting it but it didn’t happen. The DA threw the case out because it didn’t happen. That incident was the fuel they used to get “The Fort” dismantled. No one's ever called it a "fort." That's a derogatory term you'd use to describe something malicious. It’s called the patio.
This guy Vic Otten took a survey of however many biased people, and asked them how they feel about Lunada Bay, and they all said they feel unwelcome. Otten used that survey to get the Coastal Commissioner involved, who threatened to ﬁne the city if they didn't permit the patio or take it down.
A: Was the patio old?
X: It was very old. It's sad that it got demolished. I think the city was basically just trying to cover their ass. It was built there because back in the day, there weren't leashes. Even after leashes were invented you didn't wear a leash at Lunada because you were good enough to surf without one. That was the culture. The boys would sit up there and if you lost your board or whatever the guys would be there and they would get it out of the rocks, or they wouldn't, depending on whom you were.
Some people are dangerous in the water. If you come down and it's double overhead and you're wearing your ﬂoatation device, should you really be here? Because the rocks are pretty sharp, the reef is pretty shallow. And there's spots in the reef that can kill you, easily. If you don't know the wave because you didn't pay your dues, you're going to get yourself into some trouble.
Paying your dues is starting at the bottom, seeing where guys are taking off, for years watching them take off, watching what they do at this part of the wave, at that part of the wave. If you don't have that knowledge, and you think you're just going to jump in the water and go grab a set, you're probably going to get injured. Nobody wants that.
If this shit continues with people coming out there with their pretensions, somebody's going to get hurt. Not by anybody else, but by the water, by the rocks. People break arms, break legs, get stitches all the time. Local guys make mistakes, hit the rock head ﬁrst, lucky not to die. It's gnarly.
A: Talk about the maintenance of the area.
X: It's the duty of the younger guys, and everybody for that matter, to clean up the trash. When you're younger, you make sure you have a trash bag, and you clean up the trash. You come down with your trash bag, and you say what's up to your bros, and you ﬁgure out if anybody needs ﬁrewood, needs beers, needs trash to be cleaned up. As a younger person, that's what you do.
We clean up the grafﬁti. Since all this mess, with the media and bullshit, there has been so much more trash on the beach, and so much vandalism down in the bay. People have been desecrating the rocks and the patio with spray paint. The guys who love the place go down, and it's no sweat off their backs to paint over it and make it look respectable and nice.
We don't have city workers who go down there. It's our beach, we take care of it. It's out of respect, it's out of paying your dues. You've got to give before you take. You do these little things, and they make such an impact, even on yourself because you feel like you earned something. You feel like you're a part of something. I think it's good.
None of these people who have come have given a fuck about the place, they don't care. If you come down the cliff with your suit on, you deﬁnitely don't have a trash bag. You're deﬁnitely not going to wait until some of the older guys come in before you paddle out.
A: People wait for dudes to come in before they go out?
A: What's the protocol there?
X: Well, if you're super young, and there's no one sitting on the very inside, that's ﬁne. But if there's too many guys at the peak, if there's too many guys on the inside of the peak, if there's too many guys out, you don't go out. It's not like there's a registered rule about it. It's just disrespectful.
A: I'm just curious about the tradition of that.
X: When you're a kid, and you go down there, you're getting heckled. I mean young, like 16-17. You're learning how to do something that you didn't know how to do before. You're learning it from somebody who has more experience than you. They're not treating you like a bitch. They're showing you how things work. In some cases, how to be a man.
You know, Palos Verdes, there's a lot of money there. Some of the guys come from a lot of money, and some of them have none. For the most part, the guys are surfers. They're not these super rich bankers and lawyers. They surf, they love Lunada bay.
There's this story of Lunada, this "thing." It's something I don't really like to discuss because it's taboo and I don't want to let too many little things out. At the same time, this place has been so disrespected. Whether it be vandalism, spray paint, these people with their paparazzi, it infects not only the surﬁng community, but the community as a whole.
With all the negative shit that people have heard about throughout the years, you can see how it's like "Yeah, fuck these people, let's just go over and disrespect the shit out of them. Fuck them." If you want to surf Lunada, come by yourself and fucking work your way up from the bottom. If you want to come and disrespect the locals, you're just a fucking loser.
A: If you know what's true, and people are lying, it can be an attractive position to just say, "Well, I know the truth, fuck it. Truth will come out." It's a rare culture that doesn't want to expose itself, so being silent is a valuable thing. The problem there is that all the information publicly available about the battle at Lunada Bay is one sided. Nobody has spoken, from within that community, in any sort of coherent way. So, I just appreciate you doing that here.
Surﬁng has become super popular, and there's this new attitude “The ocean is for everybody”, which it is.
X: It is.
A: It totally is, which still doesn't mean that in a place where there's a constructed hierarchy, which exists for a reason, that is traditional and longstanding, that you get to ignore that. Those are two separate ideas. One doesn't override the other.
If you want to go to Old Man's, the ocean is for you. Kook out, who cares. Beautiful. And the ocean is also for you, it sounds like, at Lunada Bay if you're willing to go there with a "give before you take" attitude, and gently approach, and learn before you act, and be respectful and determined to wade through whatever kind of natural resistance is there.
If you can do that, then that part of the ocean is there for you too. But, the Lunada hierarchy situation is just an extension of the larger culture of surﬁng. The rules that govern surﬁng, that are traditional all over the planet for anybody who knows how to surf, are there for a reason.
The tide that pushes against surfing’s rules seems to be this sort of populist idea that “The ocean is for everybody”, and moreover is a misunderstanding of that sentence, in a way that might say, "Therefore, no tradition matters, therefore I get to paddle at the peak of every wave on the planet on my BZ foam top, because the ocean is for everybody."
Those two things can coexist, rules and availability. I think its super important that the rules of the ocean, for a myriad of reasons not the least of which as you mentioned is personal safety, stay in place.
The media who is talking about the struggle between rules and availability is largely not surf-based media, they don't understand any of this shit. From the perspective of somebody who has never been to the beach, or had any exposure to that kind of culture, it's easy to characterize surf culture as this dark, negative, adversarial thing that needs to be eradicated. They don't know what they're talking about at all.
Morgan Runyon once told me “Once you cross the ocean line into the water, the rules of the land don't apply anymore.” They're not supposed to apply anymore. If a beginner fucks up their bottom turn and runs into the rock, everybody in the water is suddenly responsible for their life. Now you've got to save a guy, and that should have never happened. Nobody's said any of that. It's just an underreported fact
X: Under or 'un'?
A: Yes, maybe an unreported fact. That the ocean is for everybody. And, also, that surf culture, and the way that it's grown up, is totally fucking valid for the world that it's in. Those are two things that get to coexist. If you try to push the rules out of the way, you misunderstand what the culture is in the ﬁrst place.
X: When you vilify a culture, it has no value. When you demonize, when you paint it red, when you paint it any color, it's no longer any other color, it's only one. From an outsider's perspective…I can't speak to that but I can try to see things from other people's perspective that really want to surf Lunada and feel like they haven't been able to.
They are trying to certify the lawsuit as a class action by saying 20,000 people have been prevented from surf Lunada. But, how many of those people have actually tried? Maybe they went down there one time and they got some shit, and they got their panties in a bunch over it, and they left. They never came back. I don't care. People come, and they take their turn, and they start at the bottom, and they help out, and they work their way slowly up, and they get shit sometimes, and eventually they become part of the place, and that definitely all happens. That is how we all started there. But if you come, and you think you can just take and take and not respect the culture, fuck you.
Toloa's all dialed in with surf culture. He knows all about that shit. He probably knows exactly what to do, to fuck things up and make a name for himself The fact remains that [he] lives forty miles away from here, and [he's] trying to make a big stink in my community. I think the public needs to understand who these people are that are really causing these issues for another community. That they're not all solid gold.
Toloa and his gang of misﬁts today [MLK day], they were harassing all kinds of people in the water. Is that okay? You just bomb over with thirty people and just start yelling at people and talking shit to girls and little kids, isn't that the premise that you're ﬁghting against? The guy's a troll. He's trying to break up a culture and he knows exactly what he's doing. He tries to play the victim, and it's sickening. Maybe he's trying to pay penance for all the shit that he's done in the past. But he's no angel, for sure.
Animals presents this article as an opinion piece and, with respect, cannot be held to account for the statements of the interview subject.