Hey All,

You can read about Dick Brewer and his incomparable divaness, or marvel at his gleaming Elves of Eregion Skil 100 planer, or call up yet again the famous image of the man in perfect Om-channeling full lotus. We do not lack in Brewer iconography. But there is no taking full measure of the man, no understanding the guru in toto, until you sit at Brewer's feet and hear the velvet-smooth basso voice and watch his million-dollar hands shape the air in anticipation of your future best-ever surfboard. And by "you" sitting at Brewer's feet, I mean Owl Chapman sitting at Brewer's feet, throwing some immaculate hand-jive of his own, and I'll now step back and let you take it in for yourself.

Maybe you've seen this clip before. It comes from Island Magic, a hardcore 1972 surf film by John Hitchcock that had the bad luck of coming out simultaneously with Five Summer Stories and Morning of the Earth. Unlike those two films, and despite it being Gerry Lopez' favorite surf movie, Island Magic vanished without a trace after its initial run. Bootleg copies eventually popped up—they always do. But by the time I got my keyboard-calloused hands on Island Magic, about 12 years ago, it had been stepped on at least three or four times (black-market VHS tape to first-gen DVD then ripped to over-compressed MP4 would be my guess) and beamed weakly from my computer screen like it was wrapped in dirty gauze.

Encyclopedia of Surfing
dick brewer, owl chapman, island magic, john hitchcock

A few years ago, not long before he died, Hitchcock handed the original 16mm version of Island Magic over to a friend, Jonathan Clark, who in turn sent it to Ira Opper and Dustin Hood at the SurfNetwork, who in turn had it restored and remastered. And that is what I'm getting at here in today's Joint, better late than never: at-risk surf media preservation work continues apace these days, and will only improve with AI, a development I both avoid and fear, and I make a hand-to-heart promise to you that EOS will remain an AI-free space—except that is exactly what an AI-generated Sunday Joint would say, oh man we are so fucked.

Where was I? Yes, the preservation work is happening around the world, with SurfNetwork and the Surf Film Archive and others, and the results are by and large fantastic, and just to bring this full circle, for a nominal price you can now watch the fully restored 75-minute Island Magic. But first try this one-minute Magic sampler, with Gerry Lopez putting the soft hustle on a local kid checking out a shiny new two-tone board at the Honolulu Bolt shop in 1972.

LOPEZ: Not bad, huh? It's about the right size.

KID: Yeah

LOPEZ: You don't want it too long. This one's got hard rails.

KID: Kind of a pointed nose.

LOPEZ: You don't want a wide nose.

KID: Not too thick?


KID: What kine glass you use on top?

LOPEZ: Awww, double-glass, man.

Lopez closed that deal easy as James Brown knee-dropping halfway through a double-funky horn solo.

That Elves of Eregion reference, above, reminds me of our own highest-ranking elf, Mickey Munoz, who at 86 is alive and well, probably SUPing Doheny as we speak, and still lighting up any gathering lucky enough to have him. I recently made a new Munoz edit, and here he is at Cotton's—even when he's pissed off it is somehow wise and endearing and, yes, elfin, look at the size difference between Mickey and the other guy.

mickey munoz, cottons point
mickey munoz, cottons point
mickey munoz, cottons point
mickey munoz, cottons point
mickey munoz, cottons point

Munoz' interview page also just went up. Piecing that one together reminded that much of my affection for Mickey, apart from his heart and decency and wit, has to do with the fact that he was always willing to stray from the beach and try other things, have new experiences, meet non-surfing people. His bear-wrestling story is one of my favorites, and it even comes with a photo—not that you'd ever doubt a thing Mickey says, but, I mean, bear-wrestling is something you'd want a receipt for and Munoz has it, complete with a referee and gold-spangled showgirl in the background. That's Mickey, in white T-shirt and navy-blue Keds, getting bear-slammed as advertised. 

I was hired by a sports variety show [in the early ’60s]. They’d set up a big canvas pool and wanted to know if I could ride tandem with a gal on a surfboard while being towed across the pool. I said of course I could. So they paid my way to Chicago and off I went. I was a jack-of-all-trades. I worked with a dog team act. I worked with some tumblers. There was an ex-pro wrestler that had a bear-wrestling act. He needed a shill to come out of the audience and wrestle the bear. The bear was a 400-pound black that loved beer and Coke and had a tongue on him about a foot long. He actually had some good moves. Ain’t no way you’re going to beat a bear. 

mickey munoz, wrestling bear

In 20 tries, I managed to get him down once. My strategy was to raise my arms and stand up tall, which he would mimic, then I'd suddenly dive down, grab him by the ankles and try to topple him over. The bigger the guy, the easier it was for the bear. He’d been declawed and de-fanged, but he’d grab you and lick your face with his big stinky tongue, and the crowd loved it. He had a tough time with me. I was small and could squirm around.

I'm 98% sure that is Victor the Wrestling Bear, who traveled America far and wide in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, appearing at car lots, sports shows, county fairs, carnivals, and actual WWA matches. If you saw Semi-Pro, Will Ferrell's undervalued 2008 tribute to the American Basketball Association, the scene where Ferrell wrestles a bear was based on an actual halftime show during a 1975 game between the Pacers and the Stars, featuring Victor, shortly before he died at 17 and was quietly replaced by a lookalike Victor. (Watch Victor II wrestle the Destroyer here.)

There will be no replacing Mickey Munoz, so here's hoping he wrestles another 10 or 15 years out of our 21st century semi-pro halftime show of existence.

mickey munoz, secos, leo carillo, john severson

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!


[Photo grid, clockwise from top left: Will Ferrell in "Semi-Pro"; Dick Brewer by Dave Darling; Mickey Munoz at Malibu in 1967 by Dick Graham; unknown 1960s wrestler getting de-pantsed by a bear; Bing surfboards shaped by Brewer; Gerry Lopez in "Island Magic." Brewer and Owl Chapman hand-jiving in the restored "Island Magic." Mickey Munoz sequence from John Severson's "Angry Sea." Munoz bear-wrestling in Chicago. Munoz at Secos, 1959, photo by Severson.]