I'm going to get some of the details wrong, but runner-up best prank, surf industry division, goes like this. Surfboard magnate Dewey Weber had a beloved dog, a German Shepherd mix, all white, named "Whitey." Dewey would call Whitey into the Weber Surfboards team van and take him to Hermosa Pier, Malibu, Rincon. Back at the office, the dog slept at his master's webbed feet (that’s right, webbed—look it up!) while Dewey planned global surf-world dominance. One morning, Whitey disappeared. Weber was frantic. Looked everywhere, but no luck. That afternoon, Whitey trotted happily into the showroom—covered nose to tail in shoe-black, with a sign hanging around his neck that said "Blackie." I'm not pointing fingers, but it sounds like Robert August and the Jacobs Surfboards guys. Possibly Greg Noll. But I'd bet on August.
I'm too old to prank these days, but wish I were more in the loop in terms of just hearing about pranks. A week after I left the SURFER house during my last visit to the North Shore — this would have been in the mid-'90s — the guys woke up to find a nice pink box of donuts on the front porch. A young photog kissing up? Something like that. Nobody asked questions, and a half-hour later, the box was empty. On the front porch the next morning there was a photo of Surfing Mag's North Shore crew, lined up in a row, bent over, donuts wedged in their butt cracks, with the pink box laying open in the foreground. "Hope you enjoyed the donuts!" or something like that, written on the photo.
Steve Hawk told me the story, and I was delighted. Hawk was, too, even though he ate a donut. Solid prank, and Steve's a guy who gives credit where it’s due. But for him, it also was, like, “Yeah, I ate a glazed donut that was in Skip Snead's ass—and it was totally delicious. But you, Skip, had to go in and wash sticky glazed sugar out of your crack.” Winning by losing. Or the other way around. Or both.
Now then. First-place prank, surf industry division. Surfing Mag was tanking in 1969. Missed pub dates, advertisers jumping ship, newly bought by a company headquartered in Sparta, Illinois. The mag was published out of New York—30 years before that was cool. SURFER, meanwhile, had just hired intellectual stoner-poet-jokerman Drew Kampion as editor. Drew, today, is an energetic ruralist up in Washington state, a lover of Whitman and God and environmental causes. But he used to have a mean streak, and was competitive as hell, and Surfing was a gently-lofted softball for Drew to clobber into the next time zone.
He got out an oversized padded envelope. Inside the envelope, neat and tidy, he put a plastic-protected sheath of reject Ron Stoner transparencies, shot at Hammond's two years earlier. On top of the photos, he added a single-page prose-poem titled "The Inner Tubes of Hammond's Reef." One passage read:
Sleepy village / Silent sea / Silver tubes and solitude / Waiting for the soul in me / Will my board and I travel thee?
My good Karma was really working today / Karma waves / Karma days / Karma brain in purple haze / I'll always cherish these days.
A wave approaches beckoning to all my skill / I, a surfer, an artist of the sea, am drawn to its hollow bosom / Breast of the sea / That comes to me / Whose fingers are like snow / Takes me into her womb / Revealing secrets I must know!
On top of the slides and the text, Kampion placed a cover letter, introducing himself as writer and photographer Dru Anderson, along with an author photo.
Surfing bit. Hook, line, sinker. The article ran in the July issue, five pages, without so much as a comma change. On the contributors section at the front of the mag, Dru Anderson was introduced as a writer who "gets away from traditional form." The author photo shows a young man, smiling broadly, with tousled brown hair. Handsome devil. It's SURFER founder John Severson. They didn't know what it was, but the surf overlords of Sparta felt a hot breath of laughter on their necks.