With surprise cameo from the CIA!
If you’re new to surfing, you might think it a fad in much the same manner as frisbees and “jogging” in the nineteen-seventies, a silly short-lived diversion from the misery and suffering of life, adored by celebrities and advertising.
Therefore the notion that surfing and the culture surrounding it used to be…wild… in its purest sense, might be difficult to get your head around.
A new book by the surf explorer and filmmaker Jack McCoy and fellow traveller Mike Ritter (who co-authored Thai Stick with BeachGrit favourite Petey Maguire), “Grajagan –Surfing in the Tiger’s Lair: 1972-1984”, takes the reader back into the magical world of secret waves, the smuggling of drugs to generate the money to chase these waves, and the spectre of death and madness that seemed to lurk around every corner.
More than that, it frames East Java in a historical context, briefly touches on nearby Bali’s insane bloodletting of 1965 and 1965 when 100,000 souls were murdered for suspected ties to the Commies, those first surfs at Uluwatu and paints a vivid picture of that most mythical of surf explorers and scammers Mike Boyum.
The main star, howevs, is Grajagan and all the construction of the world’s first surf camp.
A brief-ish excerpt.
Before Bob left the Madrigal to camp ashore he had asked Abdul to fill a 35mm film canister with cocaine. Abdul had just returned from South America with a supply of the powder. Inside the same film can Bob stuffed a row of windowpane LSD. Salt water must have leaked into the can, because when Bob opened the can the cocaine had turned into a paste.
The windowpane was coated with the stuff. Thinking nothing of the consequences, Bob wiped the strip of acid with his finger and smeared the paste on his gums. He soon became lost in a psychedelic journey revved up with cocaine and he retreated to his platform to be alone. Later that night a loud whirring sound alerted Bob’s stoned senses. Looking up he saw flashing bright lights directly overhead. A beam of light shone directly onto Chris and Barry sleeping on the jungle floor. Bob was sure he was seeing a flying saucer. He thought the beam of light was going to transport Chris and Barry into an alien spaceship. After a long breath-held moment, the flashing ceased and the whirring apparition disappeared.
The next morning Bob asked Chris and Barry if they had seen the UFO. “Nah,” said Barry, “it was a helicopter. Probably CIA.”
As unlikely as both Bob’s and Barry’s assumptions seem today, Barry might have been closer to the truth. During the 1960s Indonesia was a hotbed of cold-war activity. With support from Russia and China, the country almost became a communist state until the Indonesian army took control in 1965. The CIA backed the army. Perhaps a paranoid intelligence officer worried the surfers were insurgents attempting to establish a foothold on the desolate peninsula. Actually, they were.
It’s impossible to recommend this book more highly.
Australians can pre-order the regular volume, which costs $54.50 here, Americanos pay thirty-five bucks (click here), or if you wanna get real tricky pay $A150 for the collector’s edition, signed by the authors, limited run of 300, and with a leather cover, gilded edges and a ribbon marker.