Mike Hynson—Transcendental Memories of a Surf Rebel reads like a who’s who of fifties and sixties culture—Duke Kahanamoku, Hobie Alter, Bruce Brown, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Timothy Leary, Jimi Hendrix, and is an authentic and gritty portrayal of Hynson’s adventurous frolic spanning three decades— questioning, exploring, breaking new ground.
Endless Dreams Publishing
The Vietnam War or Endless Summer? Thanks to a persistent draft board, the decision was a no-brainer for hotshot surfer, Mike Hynson. The producer of Endless Summer, Bruce Brown had a long list of surfers besides Hynson that he was considering for his movie, however. Even though Hynson lived above Brown’s garage and they’d discussed the film since its inception, there was one deciding factor that would determine the chosen two. Before anybody flew off around the world on the legendary surfing safari they had to come up with the $1,400 airfare. Now Hynson had another problem, how was he going to produce that kind of cash that quickly? So he hightailed it over to the only person he knew he could count on, his boss, Hobie Alter. Hobie had always come through for him in the past, but in the back of Hynson’s mind he still worried that he was never really forgiven for stealing six of his surfboards years earlier.
On the edge, that’s the way Hynson lived his entire life, from his formative years as a Navy Brat in the forties and fifties bouncing between Hawaii and San Diego, to his timing and innovation that kept him at the forefront of the surfing industry throughout the sixties. He helped found the legendary WindanSea Surf Club in 1962, planted the seed in Tom Morey’s head for the Boogie Board in 1965 at the first professional surf contest, revolutionized the sport forever two years later with his faster, more maneuverable down rail board, and transformed a surf demo into Rainbow Bridge, a cult-film shot in Maui in which he recruited Jimi Hendrix to write the score and perform on stage at the base of Haleakala two short months before his death.
But Mike Hynson—Transcendental Memories of a Surf Rebel is about more than just surfing. Hynson was also involved with the infamous Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a religious and idealistic band of hippies who emerged from Laguna Canyon as multi-million dollar, international drug smugglers. Hynson respectfully recounts his close friendship with Johnny Griggs, the true leader of the Brotherhood, and details the group’s rise and fall, including fearing for his life on his first smuggling trip to Katmandu and the years Timothy Leary spent with them in the Canyon.
Remember the rumor about the Beatles coming to Laguna or when President Nixon declared the city the drug capital of the world? Did those things really happen? The one about a helicopter dropping 4,000 tabs of acid on the 1970 Christmas Concert did. Every child of the sixties will delight in hearing about Hynson’s escapades. Whether they’re still marching to the beat of a different drummer or not, readers will be surprised to learn that the Brotherhood’s misinterpreted motivation for dropping LSD was actually a spiritual quest.
It’s also a love story. The flip side of Hynson’s bad boy persona was the “golden boy” of surfing and he could have had any woman he wanted. That all changed in 1962, down at WindanSea. At first sight he thought she was a mermaid. In reality, her name was Melinda Merryweather. She was a Ford fashion model from New York, the daughter of a State Senator, and visiting her grandmother in La Jolla. Over time she became the driving force behind his inspiration. Hynson recounts the long-term, long distance pursuit of the love of his life, woven simultaneously through the danger and intrigue of smuggling psychic tools and creating a pure experience for the soul surfer.
THE ROAD TO RAINBOW BRIDGE
Melinda and I were relaxing with Terry and Nina Stafford on their lanai on Front Street in Lahaina. Melinda’s crush on Terry was buried long ago and we all become good friends. We even had an invitation to stay with them any time we were in town. Maui was also the place I came whenever I needed peace and quiet and boy did I need it, thanks to the shitty week I had back home in San Diego.
“Michael, Jimi Hendrix’ Manager is here,” Les Potts burst onto the Stafford’s patio almost out of breath. “He’s at the Pioneer and he wants to buy some acid.” Les hightailed it over from the Inn as fast as possible where he and his sun-scorched friends had been trying to hustle someone into loaning them ten grand to open a surf shop. When a middle-aged Englishman with thick coke-bottle glasses, kind of an Austin Powers look-alike, walked up to their table and introduced himself as Hendrix’ manager, nobody believed him. But when he mentioned he was interested in investing in their idea, suddenly the guys were all ears. The man then pulled out a small tape recorder to play some of Jimi’s new songs and asked where he could score some pot or acid.
Why wouldn’t I believe Les? He was this scrappy toe-headed surfer from Huntington Beach that I met at one of the Sunday Sessions and made boards with for a while.
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“Mid-sixties, Hynson was the shaper,” says Les. “Although I’d studied Sonny Vardemen, Gordie, and Mike Marshall, I was busy trying to figure out what designs would work. Mike already knew. I was still hungry for information so I studied his every move. Shaping is one of those art forms where there is no school. You have to learn hands-on as an apprentice under a master.”
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Les was also part of my crew on Maui. He’d been over in the Islands for a couple of years now after he got out of the service and we usually hooked up when I’d get into town. So it wasn’t strange when he showed up at the Staffords. The coincidence was that he brought up Hendrix after everything I’d been through the week before. I reached in my pocket for some Orange Sunshine, pulled out my stash, and gave Les three hits. “Go back to the Pioneer and tell him no charge.”
Things started getting shitty nine days earlier when I woke up to a radio announcement in La Jolla. Jimi Hendrix was playing that night at the San Diego Sports Arena. After years of listening to the sounds of Hendrix, from my first splash at the Monterey Pop Festival where he burned his stick, to blowing his arms off at the concerts up in Frisco, Hendrix’ music has always been the lead in this psychedelic free-from style of John Coltrane. I felt his style of rock and roll was really a movement, an expression of the human soul and it jived well with the feeling that surfing provided.
Hendrix was just the sound I needed for a surf demo I was making for Bill Bahne. It all started when I passed on an idea to him that George Downing came up with for a replaceable fin. It wasn’t like I was ripping George off. There were no existing patent restrictions and Bahne agreed to pay him royalties. Now I’m pretty spontaneous when it comes to designing boards and Bahne, well he’s the mathematician. With his keen business sense and an incredible engineering ability, the fin box was introduced through Fins Unlimited.