SURFING MAGAZINE: We understand you’re an Israeli surfer.
MICKEY KOOK: That’s right.

And how long have you been living in the United States?
About five years.

But you’ve been surfing since you were a menehune in Tel Aviv, right?
Yeah, I surfed on the Israeli national team for a number of years. Went to the European championships, competed in the world champs at Lacanau and Scotland, and have basically traveled all over in pursuit of surf.

And you ended up in Carlsbad?
Yeah: I just finished a business degree at San Diego State. I’m working on distributing a major surf brand in Israel.

Through all your travels and dealing with surfers, have you encountered any strangeness when you tell someone your last name?
My last name? (laughs)

The Kook! (laughs) To be honest, the first time I found out about “kook” was here in the States. It wasn’t a big deal anywhere else, but here, it was like, “Woahhhh. . .a kook!” But I have fun with it. It’s not an embarrassment at all. It’s good — makes people laugh. And I know I surf well enough not to be a kook.

Are there a lot of kooks in Israel?
Oh, there’s tons of kooks in Israel. Er. . .do you mean the last name?

There’s lots of people, streets and other things named “Kook” in Israel. Rabbi Kook was a big figure in the nation’s creation — I think I’m even related to him.

What Hebrew word do you use for our definition of “kook”?
Oh, man, there’s so many. We usually use, “efes,” which means, “zero.”

So a Mickey Efes would face a similar fate in Israel.
Trust me: I’d way rather be a kook than an efes.

[For more Pulse fodder, check the April issue of SURFING — on newsstands now.]