It's about life - not 'lifestyle"
|THE SURF TRUNK GALLERY
|I realize I'm getting a little hazy about the years, but I know I had these trunks in Hawaii in 1973. Out of high school now, Carl Bilharz and I had an apartment down by the Ala Wai canal, just up from Waikiki Beach. I developed a crowd strategy which had me surfed out twice a day, with the rest of the time free to run wild. I was 18, which was "legal age" in Hawaii then, but Carl was only 17. This might have seemed like a problem then, but I suspect it kept us out of a lot of trouble.
Everywhere we went in daylight hours we would run into Buttons and Mark Liddel. Bertlemann was King, and Lopez around somewhere (perhaps Indonesia - I never saw him at Ala Moana), but Buttons and Mark were these incredibly hot kids everybody would see. I didn't know them ,and don't know what has become of them, but back then they were having the time of their lives.
So were we.
|More than fashion changes through the years. Vietnam was still going on, and I'd been among the last of the people to have to register for the draft and actually know I was going to go through the lottery. The war was still barely real to me - evrything is new to you when you're a kid - but I didn't want to get killed waiting around to turn the lights out.
Honolulu, where we spent most of our time, was still wide open. U.S. soldiers would remain in Vietnam for almost two more years, so the action remained fast and furious. I particularly remember the 4th of July, 1973. At one point we were on the beach at Waikiki, setting off firecrackers under abandoned soda cups, when three servicemen came down to the sand. They set off one bottle rocket thing and immediately a huge Hawaiian guy jumped down from a lifeguard tower and knocked the offender on his rear. He was a little guy, with short hair and army-issue black framed glasses, but he jumped right back up and started swinging. To this day that remains the most head-cracking fight I've ever witnessed.
The other two servicemen kept the other Hawaiians at Bay, and after a couple of minutes they stopped the fight. Everybody parted. I could look up and see Primo bottles around the Hawaiian encampment. I'm sure the servicemen were also suitably lit. I was a brown, blonde haole surf kid, and Carl looked practically Hawaiian. Nobody hassled us; I suspect they were not looking to stop the fireworks so much as to find somebody to fight.
Now all I hear about Hawaii and hassles is the word "respect". Violence comes from overcrowding and incredibly bad manners, fueled by camera and dollar lust. Violence becomes more gang-like than recreational. I wonder sometimes if some Hawaiians don't miss the Vietnam War...
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