Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mongoose Turns 70

Mickey "Mongoose" Munoz turns 70 this week and there's a party at Doheny on Friday, 8/24 to celebrate...

(click image to go to Mickey's website)

[ The following is excerpted from "'Mongoose' turns 70, no worse for wear," by Corky Carroll (, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, August 18, 2007 ]

It seems that lately I have had to write way too many columns about somebody passing away. So many great surfers and cool dudes have been doing that lately that it has been scary.

We just lost the great Leslie "Birdman" Williams, who was once called "the best there is at Malibu" by Mickey Dora himself. And also legendary big wave rider Tommy Lee, who became famous for his horrible cannonball wipeout at Waimea Bay back in the early 1960s.

This morning my neighbor, the Iguana, and I had to check the obits just to make sure we were still here.

Thankfully, we are. I have one foot on the banana peel and he has both, but we are still standin'.

And then I am going through today's e-mail and one pops up with the subject "Mickey Munoz." My heart stops. "Oh nooooooo, not Mickey too?" I am thinking.

But, happily, it wasn't bad news. In fact it was great news. Mickey, aka the "Mongoose," is turning 70 years old and is having a birthday party.

Seventy? Wow, that's almost 100. It seems like just the other day he was a mere child of 67. And now a full 70. Incredible!

Mickey is one of the real legends of surfing. He was one of my childhood idols and a real role model for me when I was a kid.

I can still remember one day when I saw him coming up the beach and he was a surf star and I was a little puck nothing. I ran up to him and said, "Hey, Mickey, whatcha been up to?" Just like I knew the dude or somethin'.

He looked me up and down, well mostly up because he was only like 4-foot-4 and I was bigger than him even at 12 years old, and he matter-of-factly said, "Drinkin', smokin', swearin' and something to do with women that I can't print here."

I thought to myself, "Wowie, so that's what those dudes do. I wanna be a surf star too." And my life was forever changed from that moment on.

The drinkin', smokin' and swearin' parts didn't intrigue me so much but that thing to do with the women had my attention big time. I knew I wanted some of that stuff.

The Mongoose and I have been pals ever since and I can proudly say that I learned a lot from that guy both about surfing and enjoying life. He, like me, is one of those loco people who choose lifestyle over wealth and possessions.

One of the more important things I learned from Mickey Munoz is how to laugh at just about anything. That little dude has one of the biggest senses of humor on the planet. He baked my water watch in the oven one day and had me laughing about it.

When he was younger and in his very prominent party animal stage, you could hear his distinctive laugh three bars away.

He also, along with Mike Doyle, taught me how to compete. Mickey was an expert at how to get the very most out of a wave, no matter how big or small it was.

Mickey has been a surf star since the days when you had to cut down a tree to shape a surfboard. And he is one of the all-time greatest surfboard shapers on Earth. Got a good tree in your back yard? He's the dude to shape it.

Along with Hobie Alter and Phil Edwards, he was co-inventor of the "noserider" model longboard that is still in use today. He parlayed his fame from a very successful competitive surfing career and his skills as a craftsman into a lifetime surfboard shaping and designing career.

One of the many classic things this guy did during his endless career was being the surfing double for Sandra Dee in the movie "Gidget." They dressed him in a bikini and put a blonde girls' wig on him and he was the one really riding the waves.

As I remember it, there was actually one shot of him sitting on Mickey Dora's shoulders.

On Friday a few of the Mongoose's close pals are gathering at Doheny State Beach from noon to 10 p.m. to celebrate the big 70. It's a bring-all-your-own stuff kinda party, no glass please, and they are asking for no presents.

But there is a silent auction to raise money for a worthy cause that has something to do with Doheny State Park.


Mickey and Da Boyz as Beatles:

(Thanks for the heads-up, NeoN (larger screen)!

Also, here's some more info from MM Party @ Doheny

Surfer Mickey Munoz to turn 70 at Doheny

August 21st, 2007 · Posted by lconnelly

On the phone, surfing legend Mickey Munoz already sounds like he’s at a party. Women chatter in the background, and at first, it seems like he has more pressing things to do than be interviewed.

“Hold on a minute,” he says. He starts talking to one of the chattering background voices, discussing something about scallops. Then his attention returns to the phone.

“Ok,” he sighs. “I’m just organizing and trying to get my life in order.”

Munoz, one of the first surfing icons and a Capo Beach resident, is preparing the party for his 70th birthday, which will be held at Doheny State Beach on Friday. Munoz isn’t sure how many people will turn out, but his wife Peggy said the number might be around 1,000.

Having such a huge bash wasn’t exactly Munoz’s idea.

“It’s gotten totally out of control,” he says with a laugh. “The girls want it perfect, so we’re in the process of making it perfect.”

The celebration will take over two campsites at the state park, and will feature food, an informal surf contest and a raffle to raise funds for the Doheny Interpretive Association. Guests aren’t supposed to bring gifts for Munoz. Instead, Munoz says, a donation to the Doheny fundraiser will suffice.

Munoz, who started surfing in 1947, has impressive credentials in surfing history: He won the first noseriding competition, pioneered the massive waves at Waimea Bay in Hawaii and designed some of the most influential surfboards around.

But he’s not stuck in history: He still surfs every chance he gets, designs boards, and — most importantly, Munoz says — has the surfer state of mind.

“Surfing is one of those things where if you’re a surfer, you’re a surfer — no matter what you do,” he says.

In the past few years, he’s gotten his ship captain’s license, surfed the waves in South Africa and helped launch Tom Jones’s paddleboarding journey down the West Coast. Those kinds have activities have racked him up an “eclectic” group of far-flung friends, many of whom will be trekking to Doheny for his party.

“I’m sure there are gonna be a lot of people I haven’t seen in years,” he says. “There’ll be a lot of people I’ll never see again for years, or I may not see again, period.”

Getting a good mix of “surfers, snowboarders, artists and artisans” is the reason for the party, Munoz says — “to see what comes out of it.” That doesn’t quite mean the festivities are open to the public, though.

“If it’s a group that obviously doesn’t know my name, I don’t think they’re gonna get in,” he says.

The party will take place on Aug. 24 at Doheny State Beach, sites A and B, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Doheny Longboard Association, the San Onofre Surf Club and the Hawaiian Surf Association are helping put it on...

–Spencer Kornhaber

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday Mongoose from the Greenback Surf Club since 1968! You have always inspired us!!!! We love you!!!!


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