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Dave Wielenga's article "Bored Competition" [July 25] turned out pretty cynical. What could have been an opportunity to encourage the growing contributions of surfers and the surf industry in the protection of our beaches turned into just another piece of inaccurate reportage. I can tell you that the Surfrider Foundation's annual donation from this relatively small industry has increased in excess of 600 percent (by the end of 2003) in the past four years. The article also fails to acknowledge the efforts of surfers in groups such as Surfrider, Surfer's Environmental Alliance, Surfers Tired of Pollution (STOP) and others, whose army of volunteer activists donate thousands of volunteer hours each year toward such efforts as beach cleanups, water quality monitoring and educational outreach. In many communities across the country, these surfer-based organizations are the only groups doing any work to address critical coastal environmental issues! Finally, Wielenga's assertion that the surf industry or surfers failed to support last year's victory in stopping the sewage waiver is flat wrong. It was a lone Surfrider Foundation member who was practically the single voice of opposition to the waiver years ago on the day it was granted. Having attended many of the final hearings myself, I can tell you that they were packed with surfers and many who work in the industry.
U.S. Executive Director
The Surfrider Foundation
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Dave Wielenga and Glenn Hening of the Groundswell Society offered your readers a story full of accusations, half-truths and personal opinion. The one aspect of the article we agree on is that ocean waters in Orange County are polluted and that more can be done by everyone—the surf industry, surfers and local residents. However, the implications by Wielenga, Hening and Surfer editor Sam George that the surf industry doesn't care, and doesn't need to care, about the ocean environment is completely unfounded. The one example Wielenga gives to support his claim that surf companies "generally have a rotten record of recycling their profits into environmental causes" is the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) Waterman's Weekend fundraising event. Raising $2 million over 14 years may not seem like much from a $3.3 billion-a-year industry, but $3.3 billion represents the cumulative sales volume of surf industry companies—a much larger figure than the profits retained by surf industry companies. Moreover, what wasn't told to your readers is that the industry hasn't been a $3.3 billion industry over the past 14 years and that funds raised at the Waterman's Weekend have increased 300 percent in the last three years alone—a period of time when the county's water-quality problems have come to a head.
CEO/Billabong USA, president/SIMA Environmental Fund and VP/SIMA
The Clean Water Now! Coalition has been confronting every layer of government in South County in an attempt to stem the tide of inland pollution that has become overwhelming. Neurotoxins (herbicides/pesticides), PCB, entero-viruses, and heavy metals dominate our watersheds and are puked out into our now-dead tidal zones. We have never been offered or received one penny from the so-called "surfing industry." In fact, we've been told we're too controversial, too radical and too aggressive. Funny, but those are the same qualities that won surfing contests 30 years ago. Surfing is no longer about the spiritual path I entered upon in 1961 as a teenager. It's about the bling-bling. Go to the SIMA website: "Product & Promotion" are the mantras. Surfing was a way of life. Now it's just a cash cow, a Hollywood scam that sells you an image.
Roger von Butow
Chairman, Clean Water Now! Coalition
Re: Matt Coker's article on Kobe Bryant ["He Really Is Like Mike," July 25]: I'm dismayed at the surprise expressed out there, when the only surprise we should be expressing is why we haven't heard this sort of thing about Kobe earlier. After all, he's merely aping the tastes of the man who signs his paychecks. Kobe is charged with sexual assault on a 19-year-old girl. Well, what a coincidence. It seems 19-year-old girls are the flavor of choice of Dr. Jerry Buss. I recall years ago reading a gushy Los Angeles Times article on the Lakers owner. Buss kept pushing some photo albums at the reporter. It turned out they were albums of Polaroids of all the young girls he'd fuc . . . er . . . dated.
It's an axiom among sexual harassment experts that ownership sets the tone in the workplace. In March 2002, Sports Illustrated wrote that "Jerry Buss was escorted by his usual matched set of debutantes. Combined, the two women's ages couldn't have been much more than 40." Buss once told a bold and probing Los Angeles Times journalist, "Just because I'm a public figure doesn't mean I don't get to live my life." By living his life, he means screwing girls young enough to be his grandchildren.
Shame on Steve Lowery and shame on OC Weekly for letting him write that thing [Diary of a Mad County, Aug. 1] about Kobe Bryant never sexually assaulting anyone on a basketball court "if you don't count the time he dunked over Yao Ming." I have never written a letter to a newspaper, since I have never fallen out of my chair because I was laughing so hard. Shame on you, Steve Lowery, I'm going to be saying a lot of Hail Marys because of you.
I just read Buddy Seigal's interview concerning Bob Dylan ["There is Nothing New But Dylan," July 25], in which there was some question as to why Dylan wore that crazy wig and beard at the Newport Folk Festival last year. If you saw the video, he did it for the song he wrote for the movie Gods and Generals—you'll notice Dylan wore the wig and beard in the video. I think he wore it to the folk festival because he knew of the attention that would be on him and didn't want his photo taken, as is often the case, and no doubt did it to make people think he was nutty.
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