Dear Rory: “Shakas make me sick!”

Do you think the shaka is overused? Is it foolhardy to attempt?

Dear Rory,

Is the ‘Shaka’ overused? It really seems that every photo of every kook, pro, board shaper, artist, musician, 5 year old or 50 year old has a Shaka in it. Whether they are in Hawaii, San Clemente, Mt Hood, NYC, Maine or Florida, there is a Shaka. Fuck I am sick of them, never had a use for them and felt odd if I ever used one. Not from Hawaii, not a Hawaiian. What is the history of the Shaka anyways?

Shaka Hatin’ Haole Boy

Dear Rory says: Yep, the shaka can be pretty goony. Especially when you’re posing for a photo. It’s like Japanese people always throwing out the split finger “peace” sign. What’s up with that? Looks so awkward and lame.

A few years ago, when the in-laws came to visit, they got hammered on vodka and asked me to teach them how to throw a proper shaka. If I were a kind man I’d’ve said, “You just don’t. It looks stupid. Like a transplant trying to talk pidgin you just end up demonstrating how clueless you are.”

“Ho, brah! We go dakine holo holo! Shootz!”

But I’m not a kind man, so I explained how there are many different types of shakas. Like the myriad bows within various Asian cultures.

Of course, certain Asian cultures discourage Westerners trying to bow. In Thailand I was told I shouldn’t even attempt it. It was more likely I’d come across as disrespectful than friendly.

I explained to the family that the proper pronunciation of shaka is in fact, shuh- CAW. Like a crow. Your hand should be displayed palm forward, and lifted above your head. The further you extend your hand above your head, the more respect you are showing.

I find myself throwing shakas when someone lets me merge into traffic, or if I see a friend driving past. Just something I unintentionally picked up. Like saying manini and shootzProbably doesn’t make me look super rad, but I don’t really do it on purpose.

It was an amusing week. A lucid crew would’ve figured out fairly quickly I was fucking with them. But they were hammering down two handles of the aforemention booze every single day for the duration of their stay. I was relatively impressed they were able to remain upright and ambulatory, but their critical thinking skills were sorely lacking.

“Shuh- CAW, guys!”

“Shuh- CAW!”

Like any mannerism, it only works if it’s a unconscious thing. I find myself throwing shakas when someone lets me merge into traffic, or if I see a friend driving past. Just something I unintentionally picked up. Like saying manini and shootz. Probably doesn’t make me look super rad, but I don’t really do it on purpose.

As far as the history of the shaka… I have no fucking clue. The story they tell tourists is that it means “hand your net loosely.” Supposedly has something to do with laying nets for crabs.

But I don’t think that’s really true. Hawaiian cultural immersion attempts typically fall pretty flat. Like going to the Polynesian Cultural Center and realizing the majority of its staff are Mormon transplant college students whose religion tried damn hard to destroy the very culture they now exploit for profit.

The Star Bulletin has a different origin story. It seems as likely as any other.

But as to its origins, the prevailing local lore is that it originated with Hamana Kalili of Laie, who lost the middle three fingers on his right hand during an accident at the old Kahuku Sugar Mill.

Kalili’s grandnephew Vonn Logan, who works for Brigham Young University-Hawaii’s Department of Continuing Education, explained that Kalili’s job was to feed sugar cane into the rollers, which would squeeze out the juice. He lost his fingers when his hand got caught in the rollers, Logan said. Because he could no longer work in the mill, he became a security guard on the sugar train that used to travel between Sunset Beach and Kaaawa.

“One of his jobs was to keep all the kids off the train,” Logan said. “All the kids would try to jump the train to ride from town to town. So they started signaling each other. Since (Kalili) lost his fingers, the perfect signal was what we have now as the ‘shaka sign.’ That’s how you signaled the way was clear.”

I think the problem with the shaka comes down to the fact that, while it’s cool to appreciate a foreign culture, it’s downright foolhardy to attempt to emulate it. We are who we are, and you don’t make it into adulthood without being served a hefty pile of indoctrination. Damn hard to break those habits. Takes a hell of a lot longer than a typical vacation to go native.

And, like the internet’s weeaboo population has demonstrated time and again, being infatuated with a culture does not make you a part of it.

Caught in a jam? Stuck in a pickle? Send your life questions to [email protected]. Due to volume Rory cannot respond to every letter.

Ric Markmann (right) composes our greatest moments!
Ric Markmann (right) composes our greatest moments! | Photo: Jack English!

Listen: BeachGrit has a theme song!

And it was written for you by an Emmy winning composer!

Theme songs are essential to any truly glorious person, place or thing. What would Rocky be without his “Rocky Balboa” brilliantly composed by Bill Conti? Could Indiana Jones ride a horse or fight Nazi’s with such aplomb sans the eternal John Williams?

Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft! But you certainly wouldn’t know it without Isaac Hayes’ seminal work.

And now your very own BeachGrit has a theme song too composed especially for us, for you, by an Emmy-award winning artist named Ric Markmann.

It’s true!

Ric is a prolific and much sought after film and television composer, having written songs for Wedding Crashers, The Cove, Hot Pursuit, Sound City, The Art of Getting By, The Blindside, Conspiracy among many others. Read his IMDB here!

Yet he is also a surfer. Like you! Like me!

Oh when we were first introduced my mind raced at the possibilities. Soared even. All other surf websites could all wallow in their various pointlessness.

The Inertia writers could, for example, keep listening to Kenny Loggins while tickling each other and giggling in zipped together sleeping bags high on some hillock and I don’t mean “high” like drugs. I mean “high” like far away from the ocean.

Stab’s team could play Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines on repeat, jamming away to a work exactly as original as their own.

We, on the other hand, would mean something because we, we alone, would have HAND-CRAFTED THEMATIC MUSIC! Like The Pink Panther! Like Dora the Explorer!

Would you like to listen?

It is called Arms for Battle and Ric says, “It feels hopeful and gloomy at the same time.”

Just like our mascot Cryin’ Jordy!

Stare into his eyes, listen to the music and feel your spirit soar/crash!

Oh…and don’t worry! This ain’t the end! Ric is the official BeachGrit Composer and he will set some wonderful moments in surf history to song. Wouldn’t Bobby Martinez’s “Fucking Tennis Tour” rant sound better against an operatic score?

What about Kolohe Andino flipping off the judges at the Hurley Pro backdropped by a subtle mournful violin solo?

Which moments would you like to hear? Let us and our wonderful composer know!

Conner Coffin stands tall even whilst holding the weight of Kieren Perrow's decision making on shoulders.
Conner Coffin stands tall even whilst holding the weight of Kieren Perrow's decision making on shoulders. | Photo: Steve Sherman / @tsherms

WSL: “Throw Conner down the well!”

The World Surf League finds their scapegoat for an embarrassing day!

Have you had enough of the Humbling at Hossegor yet? Yesterday’s two heat, and two heat only, beginning to the Quiksilver France Pro? That forced two world champions into the losers ledger?

I haven’t!

Much of the commentary class was under the general impression that commissioner Kieren Perrow should not have called the contest on but also extended him a fair amount of grace. Still, people wondered why?

Why call it on only to call it off two measly heats later even if things were weird?

This morning the World Surf League found their scapegoat, throwing all blame at the just turned 23 year-old from Santa Barbara, California.

In a hastily penned press release the office of WSL CEO Paul Speaker declared:


Blame Conner.

When WSL officials were debating whether to run the Quiksilver Pro Tuesday morning at Hossegor, Conner Coffin stroked into this wave at Culs Nus. Coincidence or not, the event was called on a few minutes later. Unfortunately the conditions didn’t hold. Less than 30 minutes later the lineup was out of control, with a rising swell and dropping tide tearing things apart.

(Watch his damning wave here)

Do you think they will slap the young regular foot with a fine? Will he be suspended for baiting his superiors into a regrettable decision? Will he be kicked off tour entirely?

Is VP of WSL communications Dave Prodan in a French cowboy bar right now singing the song In My Country There is a Problem except exchanging Conner’s name?

In my country there is problem and that problem is the Conner. He take everybody heat and he never give it back

[Chorus 2:] Throw the Conner down the well (repeat line) So my WSL can be free (repeat line) You must grab him by his horns (repeat line) Then we have a big party (repeat line)

[Verse 3:] If you see the Conner coming You must be careful of his teeth. You must grab him by his money And I tell you what to do

[Chorus x2]

Watch: This Dazzling Quiksilver Pro short!

It defines the power struggle between the Young Prince, the Golden Child and The Big Man!

Surf contest shorts don’t usually get the crowd hollerin’. A wipeout here,  tube-ride there, maybe some kind of brazen Filipe Toledo air, and all cut to a generic guitar track. Enough to wet the tongue, not enough to emancipate real emotion.

Want to see something that radiates?

This thirty-second promo by the director and surfer Luke Farquhar, for Fox Sports, is perfect in its ability to define the power struggle between the Young Prince (whose fans adore his caterwauling over judging decisions that don’t swing his way), The Golden Child (who only enjoys revealing himself on his own terms) and The Big Man (the Adonis-Christ figure.)

The script, also written by the director, is painfully delivered by…uh… me, channelling, I hoped, Jacques Brel but sounding more like a dumb Australian murdering la langue d’amour.



Parker Coffin Nland surf park
Parker Coffin, the funnier though less pretty of the famous Coffin brothers, tore hell out of the Austin Wavegarden recently.

Texas Wavegarden Opens Friday!

Ninety bucks an hour to surf!

What a dazzle wavepools are. Yeah, I know, I read the comments, some of us aren’t so much into the hum and throb of ploughs mowing through a lagoon to make tidal-esque burgers. Where’s the magic of the ocean? The gradual unlocking of its secrets over a lifetime?

But if you live where there ain’t waves or you’re in the middle of two-week flat-spell, like me, they can’t come soon enough. And, for those who live near the Texas capital, Austin, you’re going to get waves, endless waves if you have the cash, come Friday, October 7.

The NLand surf park you might recall from the myriad stories we’ve written about it (here, here and hereOh! Here, too!) , has been funded by Doug Coors, yeah from the Colorado brewing family, and promises a hell of a good time.

It ain’t cheap, howevs, a legacy more, I’d presume, of the cost of setting up and running a Wavegarden than price gouging.

To ride NLand surf park will cost:

Sixty to ninety dollars for a one-hour session. Sixty gets you the Bay and Inside waves; Ninety for the Reef wave.

Bay and Inside waves are described thus: Playful white water waves ideal for new surfers and juniors. Pop up, ride and feel the rush of a wave beneath your feet for the first time. (Bay.) 

Welcome to our party wave. You and your friends can catch a long ride, learn to traverse and perfect your turns on the Inside Wave. (Inside.)

And this is the Reef: Our steep, high performance wave, with a 35-second ride, will delight top surfers and challenge those looking to up their game.

A coaching clinic will cost you between sixty-five to one hundred and ninety dollars for ninety minutes.

Land Surf park is twenty minutes from downtown Austin.

Click here to book.