Idolizing arrogance

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Pictured: Dora in Kenya, 1975. After various stays in various holding cells, surfer Dora moved to South Africa in 1986, where he spent much of his later years. Photo by Linda Cuy

“Dora Lives: The Authorized Story of Miki Dora,”

by C. R. Stecyk, Drew Kampion, Steve Pezman

T. Adler Books, hardcover, $45

By Kevin Connelly / Special to The Malibu Times

There are those among us who find themselves inexplicably drawn to arrogant pseudo-rebels with bigoted views and criminal records to boot. Coddled teenage girls and Whitney Houston immediately come to mind. To the rest of us, this obnoxious type can prove to be, well … pretty obnoxious – coming to mind this time around are Simon Cowell and Miki Dora as depicted in “Dora Lives: The Authorized Story of Miki Dora.”

Edited by “Dogtown and Z-Boys” screenwriter C.R. Stecyk and Drew Kampion, a former editor of Surfer magazine, with a forward by Steve Pezman, former publisher of Surfer and now publisher of The Surfer’s Journal, “Dora” is a 142-page story with more than 100 photos that recounts the life of local surf legend Miki Dora, who died in 2002, through the voices of many familiar with his life. The book also includes Dora interviews, published writings and previously unpublished letters.

In one of his interviews, Dora reverentially recalls an evening when Gard Chapin, his stepfather at the time, had taken him to Hollywood Boulevard to destroy city parking meters because, huff huff, nobody was going to make him pay to park on the street. As engaging as this may sound, the problem here is while most are, in fact, turned off by the idea of people taking batting practice on public property, the book, as well as Dora himself, revels in such thoughts.

How rebellious … how juvenile a read.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1934 and moving to Los Angeles with his parents in 1935, Dora was surfing by age four. In his teenage years, when not attending Hollywood High School (which was apparently a great deal), Dora was emerging as one of the key figures on the Malibu surfing scene. Dora surfed the Malibu shores (his admitted refuge) throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s.

According to the book, Dora was in love with the Malibu area until Frederick Kohner’s “Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas” was published in 1957, drastically increasing the popularity of the sport and significantly over-populating Southern California’s beaches.

What Dora has to say about the Southern Californians who populate these beaches is not exactly endearing stuff: “Malibu is summer … summer is ruined. Now you have to share summer vacation with everybody-I hate to share my time with working slobs.”

Why is it that people with jobs (and I always thought it was people who did not work were the slobs) are not entitled to public beaches while unemployed criminals are? This was not properly explained in the text, but I’m sure Dora thought he was making sense at the time. Dora’s sense of entitlement in respects to everything that is surfing renders him-and the book-rather callow.

Speaking of callow, Dora’s criminal record is rather significant. After leaving the United States-for some odd reason, he did not fit in so well here-to surf the world in 1968, he was arrested in 1973 for using a false check, and he pled guilty to credit card fraud charges in 1982 for going on a two-year spending spree across the world on a forged Diners Club card.

After various trips to various holding cells, Dora moved to South Africa in 1986 and spent much of his later years there. On Jan. 3, 2002, Dora died in Montecito, Calif. from pancreatic cancer.

Although mostly brash and ignorant, there are actually a few moments in the book where Dora seems to have had some thought in him, as when he describes the cathartic effects of surfing:

“I drop in [to the wave and] all this stuff goes over my back: the screaming parents, teachers, police, priests, politicians-they’re all going over the falls head first into the reef. And when [the wave] starts to close out, I pull out the back, pick up another wave and do the same goddamn thing.”

On the whole, though, the Dora we meet in “Dora Lives” is an abrasive character at best. He is a man who is far too arrogant to fit in Malibu and far too immature, it seems, to realize this.

Dora’s isolation from the world can be summed up with a quite amusing Dora phrase quoted in the book:

“The world is full of idiots, which is why I don’t live there.”