BUSTIN' DOWN THE DOOR
The movie Bustin' Down the Door is named after the controversial article written by Rabbit Bartholomew for Surfer Mag in 1977 - and is a compelling piece of modern history depicting the radical style Australian and South African surfers introduced to Hawaii in the 70's, turning surfing into a professional sport
Man those guys done good! We used to hear about Shaun Tomson and realized that he was a world champion, but one never got the sense that he was a principle player amongst the vanguard of a new sporting sub-culture:
"The Free Ride revolutionaries, the enfants terrible who threatened to unseat the Old Guard on Oahu’s north shore."
Even if you're not into surfing, the movie and the article are well worth checking out.
To see the original article, and links to the movie trailer, click here: BUSTIN' DOWN THE DOOR
<i>Three issues after Gerry Lopez’s “Attitude Dancing” was published in SURFER in late 1976, young Australian Rabbit Bartholomew got his chance to respond on behalf of what are known today as the Free Ride revolutionaries, the enfants terrible who threatened to unseat the Old Guard on Oahu’s north shore.
"The fact is that when you are a young emerging rookie from Australia or South Africa you not only have to come through the backdoor...but you also have to bust that door down before they hear ya knocking."
In his treatise “Bustin’ Down the Door,” he described the other side of the cultural clash that stood to halt the radical, progressive surfing championed by the young Australian and South African surfers—and his title announced, in no uncertain terms, how they meant to achieve revolution. Though Bartholomew felt he made his case in a respectful tone, many Hawaiians seethed over Rabbit’s and his countrymen’s behavior in the water, and his essay, rather than quell their anger, had the opposite effect.
Weeks after “Bustin’ Down the Door” was published, Rabbit got in a tussle with Hawaiian legend Barry Kanaiaupuni during a competition in Australia. The following season on the North Shore would prove to be one Bartholomew would never forget. Death threats and punch-outs meted out by local surfers soon forced Rabbit and a handful of other Down Under crew to live in a state of siege in a nearby resort.
Fortunately, Hawaiian Eddie Aikau saw that things had gone too far. He and his highly-respected family stepped in and called together the aggrieved parties for some good old-fashioned ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian custom of putting things right in a group or family meeting. Held in a packed conference room at the Turtle Bay Hilton, this gathering of the tribes was a de facto public trial. The verdict: Rabbit had shown disrespect for the local people; he was banished from the North Shore, save only for his heats in the scheduled professional surfing contests.
Many believe that Aikau’s actions may have actually saved Rabbit’s life. It would be three years before he could return, and many more before he could stop looking over his shoulder. Today, Rabbit is the president of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) and stands in good graces with the Hawaiian surfing community. Still, in a 2005 SURFER interview with editor Chris Mauro, Rabbit felt the sting of old wounds, observing that the affair “cut me in half as a man.” </i>
<b>The intro above is from The Best of Surfer Magazine, Edited by Chris Mauro and Steve Hawk Foreword by Dave Parmenter.
BUSTIN'DOWN THE DOOR
<i>by Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew</i></b>
With the emphasis of our sport being placed on sophisticated lines of both human and mechanical technology, the year 1976 has thrust mankind into the last quarter of the current century cycle; and, as we draw ever closer towards that controversy-shrouded twenty-first century dateline, a now insignificant minority of individuals, whether they realize it or not, are psychologically adapting themselves for this coming evolution of time.
<img alt="" src="/files/images/rabbitpipe-600.img_assist_properties.jpg" style="width: 320px; height: 178px;">Certainly the ruthlessness of the industrialized material world has contributed to the attempted suffocation of individuality, but even in this year of politically celebrated bullshit, it cannot be denied that our race witnessed superhuman extensions of the accepted impossible, even though the recognition of personal achievement was somewhat smothered in the repetitious mode of daily madness.
From within the loose living, rowdy atmosphere of contemporary society has filtered individuals who are making accurate evaluations of their own potentials; and, through combined natural ability and total dedication, they are mentally gearing themselves to physically project towards their concept of the highest attainment in a given, or alternative, direction. Evidence of this movement was witnessed and displayed at the Montreal Olympics, in which swimming stars, no doubt motivated by Spitz’s notoriety, marginally reduced 95 percent of the existing world records; and also, for the first time in history, perfect scores were rewarded to Rumanian and Soviet gymnasts.
As people’s comprehension of perfection reaches new heights, in relation to the level they are currently at, they begin expanding their mental awareness, absorbing and utilizing all relevant experiences, and their physical coordinations simply become a reflection of their inner knowledge. Their imagination continually challenges their spontaneity, and they develop the ability to bounce off both positive and negative vibrations, like a computer absorbing, analyzing, assessing, and finally responding with a relevant statement.
A recent book called “Powers of Mind”, by Adam Smith, reports that professional athletes unknowingly sound like Zen masters, being that they’re on the mind-body trip where psychology fades into Oriental physiology. He claims that while gurus are guruing, and M.A.’s in psychology tell you what it’s all about, the pro golfers, tennis players, and footballers are assimilating Zen theories on meditation whilst in actual competition. By total concentration, or turning of the ego mind, one can slow down reality to a state where even the most intense situation can be dominated with total comfort and subtlety by simply being as one with the situation. Sounds like Pipeline to me.
But what does all of this have to do with SURFER Magazine, and you, and me, and us? Well I think that the development of modern-day surfing is a bitchin’ example of “the extended limits principle,” and it is still a fairly young trip. When surfing became a popular pastime roughly twenty years ago, the objectives and directions were quite basic, as the pure novelty of riding waves was in itself a breakthrough and a stoker. Gradually people became aware of water flow principles, and so began the evolution of surfboard design and theory. Actual style and performance were of little consequence until the arrival of the first superstar, Phil Edwards. In ’59, when Edwards went surfing , many of his down-the-line-peers could not completely comprehend and accept his approach, and he was, therefore, often criticized for executing such radical longboard maneuvers, And for incorporating pronounced body English, and his creativity wasn’t fully recognized until years later.
Surfing progressed through the various longboard eras, and it was the transition point between long and short board that planted the root to some of our modern-day concepts, and the impact of those young dudes from Down Under, namely Nat. McTavish and Company, blew the existing directions apart, and with their animal aggression and spontaneous direction changes, they presented radically carved faces to a then unsuspecting audience. People’s reactions ranged from being totally for this new revolution, to being totally anti-radicalized, or else they couldn’t give a stuff anyway.
The fact of the matter is that Nat, like Edwards and Nuuhiwa, had set his own standard of hot surfing, with high priority given to total performance, and he’d set his standard within himself while he was still a developing gremmie, long before he exposed it to the world. Nat simply opened the door to realistic extensions, and in the following years, many alternative directions were created by people such as Jock Sutherland, Lopez, Hakman, Greenough, B.K., Owl, Lynch, Reno, James Jones, Fitzgerald, Hamilton, and many others, and though each exhibits individuality and comes from varying sources, they all seemingly influence, and were thus influenced by, each other’s energies, and they created immense incentive for young kids to go surfing.
By synchronization with many seasons and cycles, these guys introduced many innovations to the surf vehicle, and were either directly or indirectly responsible for untold breakthroughs, including, with the help of people such as Hemmings and Downing, the introduction of professional surfing contests, and the overall commercialization of surfing. Another angle which is rarely reflected upon is the development of surf photography and the growth, expansion and influence of the surfing media, which, apart, from expressing both art and the game of surfing, supports quite a band of ocean-oriented people.
And here we are today, ’76, and yet another breed is establishing themselves, and creating new directions, and following contest circuits, and still finding remote surf spots, and generally laying their trip on the surfing world. Most names are known, including Bertleman, Ho, Buttons, Dunn, Liddell, and Kealoha from Hawaii; Paarman and Mike and Shaun Tomson from South Africa, and Richards, Peterson, Cairns, Warren, Townend, Raymond, and a few others from Australia, with Rasmussen and Flecky being more versatile mainlanders, along with the already established Crawford and Loehr.
In today’s interaction of professionals, an interesting development is occurring, being that the currently emerging crop is attempting to further extend the limits that the already established stars have attained, a process which once occupied the total being of the older pros, also. This courageous attempt has centered a great deal of attention upon various outstanding members of this new breed, namely Shaun and a few Austroids, and while many people have recently expressed their theories on why this new group have had so much competitive success and why they are considered to be HOT, very few verbal reactions have been reflected and recorded by the actual people in subject.
"To gain both media and competitive recognition, we had to paddle out on the gnarliest days at Pipeline and Sunset, and literally attempt impossible maneuvers."
In most articles, we’ve been given little credit for originality, and many of our peers have expressed criticism towards our whatever. We’ve been faced with charges ranging from assault, battery and arrogant defiance against the faces of waves; and, according to some of our peers, the basic flow of our surfing has been lost in a sea of battleground tactics and aggressive abuse to our Mother Ocean. Apparently, we’ve also breeched the Sixteenth Amendment, in that we’ve been overampingly gliding with too much glitter. Many minor charges have been submitted, and due to our conquering approach, as Gerry would say, we’re experiencing a reign of supremacy within the professional arena, which of course, has been thoroughly analyzed and finally diagnosed as probably only a temporary dominance, as we’ve all supposedly reached our peak. Oh, I shouldn’t really get bitchy like that.
None of the younger guys can truthfully claim to have greater skill than the already established surfers simply because, B.K., Gerry, Hakman, and Nat, to name but a few, have been a major influence in contemporary surfing , and yet there is still room for individuals, whether known or unknown, to receive recognition by simply displaying originality and creativity. Today’s younger surfers have developed their skills in varying surfing environments; for example, Bertleman and Michael Ho were spawned in the paradise situations of Ala Moana, V-land and Backdoor; whereas Shaun Tomson put his act together in isolated waves of South Africa, and guys like Richards and Townend emerged from the competitive zones of Australia, and yet they were all drawn towards professionalism at roughly the same time.
It is true that we place quite a bit of emphasis on our competitive aspirations, but because of this fact, all the Australian and African stars have too often been categorized as having similar approaches and attitudes towards surfing and life in general, as though we’ve all been popped out of the same mold, and I really feel that our surfing goes much deeper than simply A, B, or C. Quotations like, “we’ve paid our dues,” and “we’re taking over now,” have been miscomprehended because people don’t realize the background and relevance of these statements. Some people even look upon our performances last winter as being overnight successes, but little do they realize how much time and money we spent in reaching our current status.
The fact is that when you are a young emerging rookie from Australia or Africa, you not only have to come through the backdoor to get invitations to the Pro meets, but you have to bust the door down before they hear ya knockin’. I mean, it was left up to people who weren’t even into surfing to say who was hot, and who was not. Our situation was that we had read about and seen photos and movies of all the established stars, for years and years, and then we’d travel to Hawaii as total anonymities, or nobodies, and literally eat shit each session, each day, each season. The pro contests were already full of super-hot surfers, and there were already a giant queue waiting to get in, so our only alternative was to surf each big-waves session with total abandon. Like there were ten young Aussies and Africans vying for three vacant slots in the contest circuit, knowing that at any time, Nat, Wayne and Midget could come over and snap up all the Australian quota of contest invitations.
There was no real need to have young blood in the circuit because the older guys were still red-hot, and to put some unknown Aussie kid in the lineup meant that some guy who’d put in maybe eight to ten seasons had to be put out, and understandably, nobody was keen for this to happen, except us, and so to gain both media and competitive recognition, we had to paddle out on the gnarliest days at Pipeline and Sunset, and literally attempt impossible maneuvers. This situation set the stage for the introduction of the hard rock-ripping, full-tilt boogie band, which, in true “Story of Pop” fashion, has for its first time climbed to the top of the hit parade, and now band members such as Shaun, Kanga and Mark Richards are top-billed features at many inside-out, upside-down jam sessions.
For sure, Gerry and Rory still provide the most in-tune front-side sessions at Pipeline; and B.K., Hakman and Reno are always showstoppers at Sunset, and their past notoriety is directly responsible for the emergence of the new boys, but this new band is developing the ability of versatility, in that they are displaying the same explosive intensity at 12-foot Pipeline and Sunset as they do at 6-foot V-land and Off-The-Wall. The already established surfers like B.K. and Hawk were into such heavy directions on our arrival that we were forced to delve into certain subtleties which they found unnecessary in their flights to new heights. Some people are either introducing original theatrical moves, or adding more flash to already established body English clichés, although some of Owl’s and Fitzgerald’s are patented, and increasing degrees of stylish statements, even the odd Jagger or Bowie-oriented moves are being witnessed on both large and small waves.
In today’s arena, there is no single best surfer like there was a decade ago when there was only one Nat and one David, but now, on any given day, any one of ten people may stand out as having the most positive session, and no current day champion can claim to be the greatest, just because he gave the most outstanding display on the contest day, because the very next day he might fail to relate to the ever-changing mood of the ocean, while the guy who placed 16th yesterday, might today be off on a different tangent, striking perfect chords with the rhythm of the ocean’s fickle majesty. Certainly, everyone has a different interpretation of who and what they consider to be great, and many leading surfers have claimed to be, “the greatest,” but the funny thing is that they are all accurate evaluations because each hot surfer is the best in his own direction.
"In today's arena, there is no single best surfer like there was a decade ago...and no current day champion can claim to be the greatest."
Surfing is such a simple expressive act, and yet at the same time it reflects all the complexities of the modern-day man, and can be as deep, mystical and undefined as the ocean itself. Varying levels of consciousness are displayed whilst surfing; for example, some people don’t care to make any explanations in relation to what a wave represents, but rather just take it as just take it all for granted, while others see waves as the end result of all significant elements of energy created within the earth’s atmosphere, while yet another person may relate to a wave as being a direct link to his or her concept of God, and on a fifteen-foot day at Pipeline, it’s quite easy to relate to waves in this way. It has been claimed that the meeting point between the ocean and the land is the highest point of the untapped energy on the earth, and surfers seem to be the only group utilizing this energy and successfully tapping this organically electrified current.
To a non-surfer, it is virtually impossible to visualize surfing as being anything other than a physical expression, but many of today’s more advanced surfers are approaching the ocean on the spiritual plane, and they are comprehending and absorbing all of her pulsating rhythms, and their surfing reflects an extremely deep relationship. They’re delving further into themselves, and whilst surfing, they become so self-centered that they often appear to be in a hypnotic trance, where the surfer, the board and the wave become as one, and they can actually dominate and alter the flow of a wave by total concentration and mind projections. I swear I’ve seen it happen and experienced it. I’ve witnessed Shaun, Ian, Gerry and others actually make a wave change to suit their flow and I know it’s possible for someone to mentally command a wave situation to instantaneously materialize by being so one-pointed, or self-centered that they actually become the wave, by seeking the wave’s power nucleus, and becoming as one with it.
Some professionals are developing their own mind psychology, becoming their own gurus, reaching naturally altered states and learning when and how to switch off certain parts of their mind, which is interested in everything except the here and now. Not many guys are into long hours of meditation, and yet by surfing upside-down, around and inside waves for hours, they are experiencing weird spaces, with the only difference being that there is no guru or roshi present to tell them what’s happening while their performances are getting better.
When one is surfing really big waves, total concentration is demanded, and your perception and awareness is extended to the point where every movement of the ocean is seen, and not one ripple of bump escapes your attention and one becomes totally harmonized with the present moment; you completely shut off all ego-centered thoughts to the point where your mind is dancing with the waves, and as you concentrate on the contours and subtleties on the wave’s face, the wave’s whole motion seems to slow down. This is simply the altered state which some people get to by meditation, and others get to by using a chemical.
A more down-to-earth example of this process is experienced when going to surfing on a 12- to 15-foot day at Pipeline, and on this occasion, I’ll go surfing, and you can come along for the ride. I’m sitting in an obscured spot amongst the bushes in front of the line-up house, and for the last fifteen minutes, though it seems like hours, my attention and concentration has been on nothing but waves. From this point of slight elevation, I’ve been able to observe sets moving in from miles out to sea. The swell begins as a long line stretching from outside Rocky to outside Waimea, and as it moves towards shore, it appears to begin focusing on one reef along that stretch, namely Pipeline. Banzai reef is such a dominant face on this day that it has literally magnetized this giant line moving in from the horizon, and has centered the total energy of this swell on this perfectly one-pointed pinnacle peak, which is being used as the takeoff spot by the surfers already out there. After battling out through the insanely heavy shorebreak sweep, I begin paddling towards this peak, which from my viewpoint, now appears to be a series of giant open-mouthed, roaring caves, which, after a cyclical process of turning themselves inside-out, send hissing vapors out the now partially closed off entrance.
My perception and concentration is intense, and I’m totally mesmerized by these liquid energy streamers. I reach the takeoff point during a lull, and line myself up with the exact spot that I know the wave that I’m after will soon be roaring through, and I wait. I’m at a spot a little further out than the peak, because not only can’t I let my concentration be taken away by speaking with others, but I know the biggest and meanest tubes can be picked up from where I’m at, and now I’m watching a large west set approach the outer reefs. I paddle over the first two in waves which twist and wrap onto the inside reef, and the third one rears up. I turn around and make about eight positive strokes, and I’m into it, dropping down the vortex of this giant cylinder whose sole intention is to suck every bit of spare water up its face, and then fire it all back down again in one heaving, cyclical motion; and yet, I’m in total control, I’m even in a relaxed state of mind, because my perception is at such an extended height that it appears as if the wave and everything around it is moving in super slow motion.
I know this sounds ridiculous but I have this giant, thick hungry, hollow tube exploding all around me, wanting to bury me into the nearly exposed coral bottom, and to me it’s like watching and participating in some beautiful, mystical ballet. I’ve got all the time in the world, time is standing still, I’m backside, and my instincts tell me to move NOW, and I feel that inner click, that feeling you get when you know a shot’s good before you throw it, and I move up into a perfectly shaped cylinder, get totally tubed, and as I’m spat out the end I give freedom to some of my inner emotions that I’ve been holding back and disciplining for the last hour.
Of course, every surfer has a different physical, emotional and intellectual breakdown, but that was just a first-person indication of how one could approach big-wave surfing, Every hot surfer, and there’s about thirty super hotties, all incorporating a different psychic technique to build up a big-wave session, and most good surfers reflect their wave consciousness in their various modes of living and their daily routine, and it is the combined energies of all the past and current personalities and characters that is developing surfing into one of this world’s most progressive activities and definitely our spaciest sport.